In the last several posts I have been writing about Virginia Woolf and her country retreat, Monks House, situated in Rodmell. I am fascinated with small English villages and the people that live in them. Rodmell proved to be one of the smallest, population 250. The Lewes to Newhaven Road twists and turns and upon reaching the Abergavenny Arms Pub, you turn onto a smaller paved road and follow it until it dead ends at Mill Lane, where the parking spaces are for Monk’s House. It was an easy walk through the one lane village of about twenty homes to reach the pub after our visit to the gardens and cottage. However, I was in for a bigger surprise.
This is what I learned………….
The small village of Rodmell, which can be translated from Old English meaning, place with red soil, has been here before the time of the Norman Conquest, when it was held by Harold II. Located along the River Ouse, the village was an important crossing point between the South Downs way and the Roman road to the port of Newhaven, having a cross channel route to Dieppe in France. The springs in Rodmell made it the perfect place for people to live because there was water here. The original village well is located inside the Abergavenny Arms Pub. So the pub truly was the original “watering hole!”
In 1085, the Doomsday Book noted there was a church in Rodmell, which was granted to Lewes Priory by William de Warenne, Second Earl of Surrey. This early Norman church is dedicated to St Peter. The font is believed to be Saxon predating the church itself. People have been inhabiting this area for a long time. But the most extraordinary find for me, was the name William de Warenne. That name rang a bell. So upon searching my ancestry files, another passion I follow and update regularly, I located William de Warenne. He is my 27th great grandfather! So strolling this small village which has remained unchanged for several centuries was particularly interesting to me!
Let’s admire the village on the way to the pub!
In 1439 Rodmell Manor was owned by the Bergavennys, hence the name Abergavenny Arms Pub. For more information about the Pub look here.
In the 1600’s Monk’s House was built as a row of a small cottages.
In 1810, a milling family (The Glazebrooks) moved into Monk’s House and the three or four other small cottages on the property were used for agricultural laborers. The Glazebrooks lived at Monk’s House for the next sixty years. The Mill was on the hillside just on the other side of the pub, and was sold in 1876. There was also a blacksmith at this junction. So we’ll whet our whistle at the pub since we’ve had another fine day in the UK! We’ll start afresh with the Charleston House, home of Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf’s sister), and learn about the Bloomsbury Group! See you then!