DOWN MEMORY LANE Time capsules found on the downs during renovation project

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Those of you who frequent the South Downs may have noticed the mysterious disappearance of four curious totem pole-like structures – two along the South Downs Way from Duncton to Cocking, one below the Trundle in Seven Points car park (Goodwood), and one more north of Charlton.

These were, in fact, hunt posts installed in years gone by and in need of some loving restoration. And thanks to a devoted team consisting of South Downs rangers and Pauline Senior, they have received the much-needed love and restoration they require.

Pauline says: “The previous posts were put in during the 1970s; their aim being to give directional aid to those members of the Cowdray Hunt that had become lost in the mists and gathering evening gloom of the open downs, to their horse boxes and the safety, warmth and of course welcome swift half in the local pubs.”

The late Charles Shippam, one of Chichester’s favourite sons, was renowned for his work keeping the rights of way throughout Sussex clear, open, signposted and accessible to all.

He installed three of the four previous posts and thanks to the research of his daughter, Pauline, a great deal of information has been gathered regarding the history and people surrounding the posts.

Pauline says: “While removing the posts, we found buried beneath them, encased in concrete, treasure of historical value – time capsules, containing information on the story of the South Downs hunt posts.

“These items have all since been replaced, together with treasures outlining the history and installation of both the previous and current posts, hopefully to be found in another 40-plus years by those replacing the posts that stand so proudly over the downs, and continue the story of the South Downs hunt posts, until now known only to a select few.

“Thanks and acknowledgements are due to WL Wests and Sons Timber, for the construction and delivery of the posts, Pete Baldwin and Simon (B&M Plant Hire) for the removal of old posts and installation of the new posts, Nigel James and Thomas Parry, South Downs Rangers, for their logistical and financial support.”

Pauline Senior provided the research and inspirational support for the project.