Stunning New Book Published: A Year in the South Downs
A stunning new book celebrating the beauty and folk history of the south downs has been published by writer Kate Schuler and photographer Christopher Shoebridge. The couple who live in Sussex walked the South Downs Way over one calendar year, climbing Beachy Head at dawn on January 1stand arriving in Winchester as the sun went down on December 31st. In between, they say they enjoyed the best year of their lives.
A Year In The South Downsis a gift book, a story book, and a natural history book. It’s a book for photography lovers, for those who feel passionate about England’s wild places, and those who love the tales, myths and traditions of Old England. Its 216 pages are packed with Shoebridge’s stunning photographs and readers can dip into their favourite months, or travel along the Way and through the seasons alongside the authors.
Says writer Kate Schuler: “We have always loved the downs and take every opportunity to be on them, in them, beneath them or among them. After a day at work, we take the dogs and explore their paths. On the weekends, we pull on trainers and run up those magnificent hills. But in researching this book, we have really got to know them – the events that shaped them and the extraordinary lives lived among them – and that has made us love them all the more.”
The book details some of the more ghostly and ghastly stories associated with the area – the murderers, the gibbets and the folk tales handed down of witches eating their husbands or turning into hares. It reveals the giants who were said to dwell on these hills, the last fairies in England who dance at Cissbury, and all the signs and stories of the Devil himself.
There is tragedy here too and signs all around of hard lives and hard luck. Shipwrecks and smuggling. Almshouses and work houses. Isolation hospitals, ‘lunatic asylums’, and entire villages wiped out by the plague. The darkness of these stories is made all the more striking by the sheer, dazzling beauty of the places where they occurred.
Says the book’s photographer Christopher Shoebridge: “The sweep of the downs is endlessly majestic, and it is something I never tire of as a photographer. The downs’ beauty lies in the balance between transience and longevity – the roll of the seasons and the chance encounters with an owl or a hare versus the centuries-old inns and churches, the follies, the old flint smugglers’ houses and the hills themselves. Creating this book was something I have wanted to do ever since I first walked on the downs. I hope others fall in love with the area as I have.”
A Year in the South Downsis available via LoveTheSouthDowns.org.uk priced £21.99 plus p&p.
Some of the images from the book can also be found at LoveTheSouthDowns.org.ukand can be bought as prints, wall art and other keepsakes (mugs, coasters and fridge magnets). The website is regularly updated with some of the authors’ favourite circular walks and places of interest to visit in the downs.