It is that time of year and what has now become a biennial event took place on Sunday 26th May when Shermanbury Parish Council and the Friends of St Giles joined forces to repeat the extremely successful and popular event of 'Beating the Bounds'.
Rector, Revd Paul Doick, led the walk on a shortened route (the Parish boundary is some 12 miles) starting at St Giles next to Shermanbury Place. The large assembled group of parish councilors, local people, families, church members from our three churches (St Giles, St Peter's Henfield and St Peter's Woodmancote) and of course dogs walked the one mile round trip along 'The Grove', the bridle path to the cemetery in Frylands Lane. Many brought sticks and boughs to beat the bounds and others had more sturdy walking sticks.
THE FIRST STOP
There were two short stops for prayers reflecting the beauty of the countryside and the rich heritage handed down by the people of Shermanbury who had tilled the land and worshipped in the church over the past thousand years.
THE SECOND STOP
The second stop was beside the small chapel alongside the cemetery (main photo) where, after the prayers, Paul Lightburn gave a short talk about some of the interesting people who have been buried in the cemetery. As so many of the large crowd expressed interest in seeing inside the little chapel, which has undergone extensive restoration, it was opened for us to see the small altar and remembrance statue inside.
This year is Horsham’s Year of Culture and ‘heritage’ is the theme so the ancient tradition. of 'Beating the Bounds', which goes back to Anglo-Saxon times, held in the honour of Terminus, the God of Landmarks, was a very appropriate reminder of the heritage of the parish. In former times when maps were rare it was the custom to make a formal perambulation of the Parish boundaries on Ascension Day or during Rogation week. Knowledge of the limits of each parish needed to be handed down so that such matters as liability to contribute to the repair of the church, and the right to be buried within the churchyard were not disputed. The locals led by the Rector walked the boundary of the parish checking that boundary tones or markers were in the right place and ensuring that knowledge was passed on from generation to generation. During the procession the boundary markers were beaten with sticks and it is believed the youngsters of the parish were taught where the boundaries were by being held upside down with their heads in contact with the boundary markers to ensure they remembered where they were. Needless to say we saw no evidence of this happening on this year's walk or the latest strict rules on 'safeguarding' would no doubt have come into force!
Events of this kind are an ideal way of strengthening the community and giving it a sense of place, something the people of Shermanbury said was important to them during the neighbourhood planning process a couple of years ago. To strengthen this aim the Parish Council invited its neighbours in West Grinstead, Cowfold and Henfield Parishes to join them to learn a bit about the heritage of the area and it was great to see so many well-known councillors on the walk.
Undoubtedly one of the reasons that has become such a popular event is because of the fabulous cakes and teas prepared and served by the Friends of St Giles who were joined once again by Rick Lawson-Cruttenden with his freshly prepared ‘Indian Street Food’. On return from the walk to the welcome sight of the refreshment tents everyone relaxed and chatted and enjoyed the food. As it took place at the start of half term face painting was available for children of all ages and we were treated to seeing children's beaming faces enhanced by beautiful butterflies and other designs! Many of the adults also took the opportunity to go into the Grade ll listed Saxon St Giles’ church for a 10 minute talk on a thousand years of history by churchwarden Richard Putnam.
An excellent well-planned event that brought together people from throughout the local community this was a lovely friendly way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Photos: Barry Chaston
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