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1933: Hilaire Belloc's Cuckfield joke

Hilaire Belloc 1870-1953 photographed in 1915

Another charming compliment was paid to Dame Sussex at GK Chesterton's jubilee luncheon celebration in 1933, at the Old Adelphi Hotel at the back of the Savage Club (Oh Club and Tavern of mad and blessed memories!).

Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc were drinking old brandy out of a massive gold loving-cup which had been presented to the former to commemorate the occasion - Belloc beckoned me over to him:

‘Come’, he called, ‘we must pledge our county out of the same flowing bowl!’ I drank, and then asked him how, being French, he belonged to Sussex. ‘Ah ‘, he replied. ‘France is my mother, but Sussex is my wife, and I belong to my wife!’ He too has made a song, most understanding, of Sussex.

I will gather and carefully make my friend

Of the men of the Sussex Weald.

They watch the stars from silent folds,

They stiffly plough the field.

By them and the God of the South Country

My poor soul shall be healed.

What matter if that her children be born with more brawn than brain, believe it or not, but west of Cuckfield and Ditchling Beacon the men-children grow hair on their chests with the cutting of their milk-teeth!


Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc was a Franco-English writer and historian of the early twentieth century. Belloc was also an orator, poet, sailor, satirist, writer of letters, soldier, and political activist. His Catholic faith had a strong effect on his works. Belloc grew up in England; his boyhood was spent in Slindon (near Arundel), West Sussex. He wrote about his home in poems such as 'West Sussex Drinking Song', 'The South Country', and 'Ha'nacker Mill'.


A short extract from The Rolling Stone’s Moss from The West Australian (Perth, WA) 16 Feb 1935

Page 7

Photograph: Hilaire Belloc portrait by Emil Otto Hoppé, vintage bromide print, 1915. Wikimedia public domain image.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.



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