"...a special mention to the coffee table which is a magnificent piece of furniture and has already become a talking point." Mr & Mrs Bull, Sussex
This is the so called Long Bridge, over the River Cuckmere, that links the Sussex villages of Alfriston and Litlington. There has been a bridge here for centuries, possibly even as far back as the Domesday Book, and the route forms part of the Old Coach Road. The rather interestingly designed brick bridge, we see here, was built in the 1930's.
It actually consists of three parts. At the centre is a short hump back section, forming an elliptical arch over the river itself. Well, over the river in fairly calm conditions! This is flanked by two level sections, each with two flat top arches. The whole area sits on a flood plain and is prone to severe flooding, particularly in winter months, when heavy rainfall and high tides converge. When this happens, the flat top arches help to dissipate the potentially massive water pressure against the bridge.
Not too sure where the name Long Bridge originates from, but it's certainly historic and likely to be from the fact that it's quite a long bridge, in its entirety, by rural standards. The house just visible under the tree is also (variantly) called Longbridge.
The old brick structure has built-in provision for public access, to both river banks on the south side. I am actually standing on one of them to take the above photo (so access is to the right of picture).
Taking either bank, it's a fairly short walk from here to Alfriston village (photo below). Just be aware that there may be cattle grazing in either of these fields! The picturesque village of Alfriston boasts a number of shops, including several tea rooms, general provisions, antiques and art shops, as well as historic inns and restaurants. There is also the exquisite timber framed and thatched National Trust Clergy House. Well worth a visit.
You can just make out the spire of the Church of St Andrew in the distance (slightly left of centre), which marks the eastern side of the village.
You can continue walking southwards, past Alfriston, keeping it to your right, along the meandering east river bank to Litlington (about 3/4hr). Litlington is essentially a one street village with just one inn, The Plough and Harrow. It also has its own rather quaint tea rooms, reminiscent of a bygone age, complete with secluded gardens, a gift shop and a small plant centre.
In the photo below we are looking back towards the bridge, from the Alfriston side. You can see the two pairs of flat top arches either side of the main arch.
It's hard to believe, looking at the tranquil Cuckmere scene here, that the water level rises high enough to flood the banks of the river and completely submerge the lower plains.
The walls of the Long Bridge have been constructed using English bond brickwork, as seen below. This is a traditiona method of laying bricks, made up of alternate courses of headers (the brick ends visible) and stretchers (the long edge visible). This not only makes for an attractive appearance, but also gives the wall in-built strength.
In the photo below, I'm standing on the north side of the bridge, looking towards Berwick Court Farm (the white house just visible right of centre), where Early Oak Reproductions has its furniture and interiors showroom. The north west side (left of picture) is private land, but the east side (right of picture) does have public access. Over the wooden stile is a path, that takes you diagonally across the field towards the foot of the South Downs and the village of Milton Street.
Compared to the other two above, Milton Street is a relatively quiet village, albeit still with its requisite pretty cottages, some thatched, and just one pub; The Sussex Ox. The village is also accessible, by car, from the A27 main road, although parking is restricted to the pub car park only.
Where is the Long Bridge? Actually not that far from Early Oak Reproductions showroom. Travelling south past Berwick Court Farm, take the next left and you'll find it a few hundred metres down the lane.
From a small boy at infant school, I've had a passion for early furniture and architecture, embracing the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. I've spent almost three decades designing and making replica early oak furniture (and architectural woodwork)...with my own hands!
Nowadays, together with a team of highly skilled and equally passionate craftspeople, I use that valuable experience helping clients commission, from our company, the very best in bespoke oak reproduction furniture, with a particular emphasis on personal service.
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