Smugglers and Cream Teas in Alfriston
It's said that Alfriston is one of the most appealing villages in Sussex so I don't know why we've lived here all these years and only just managed to visit - maybe because its slightly tucked away, off the beaten track, and requires a tiny detour to get there, so we've never actually passed through it.
Surrounded by Downland and sitting on the banks of the gentle river Cuckmere, Alfriston's natural beauty is said to have inspired the popular hymn "Morning Has Broken" (written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1931 but later recorded by Cat Stevens in the 1970's).
The main street is narrow and slopes gently downhill and is lined with old houses, unique shops, tearooms and medieval inns.
Its hard to believe now that Alfriston used to be a port (before the 18th century) and because of its comparative isolation near a lonely stretch of coast, it was an ideal centre for smuggling with many reminders today of its smuggling past.
The village green is known as The Tye and on the far side of it sits the parish church of St Andrews, known as "The Cathedral of the South Downs" due to its size.
Close to the church, there's the Clergy House - this was originally the vicarage but became the very first property bought by the National Trust in 1896. A small but interesting building with tranquil gardens looking out onto the Downs and the river.
We had time to sit down for our last cream tea of the summer and enjoy the view across the Tye from the tea garden. The downside of eating jam outdoors in late summer is that the mad wasps soon find out and come to join the party! Fortunately the ladies in the tea room were prepared with little net "hats" for the jam pots which kept the wasps busy around the jam pot pushed to the far end of the table so they were too preoccupied to disturb us!
What a lovely, little village to escape to - I must go back soon!