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The buildings at House on the Brooks have been purpose built labour with as many reclaimed materials as possible. For example, the clay tiles came from the roof of a local cinema and the large timbers from local railway bridges. Antique doors and fittings throughout. Local timber and the bricks from local brickyards helps blend the buildings naturally into the landscape. We have a programme of photovoltaic electricty and greywater where possible. We work with Natural England and RSPB to promote flora and fauna on the estate. We work hard to improve the immediate environment, build ponds, plant trees, you will find we care for and encourage teasels, which are an important flowering plant for gold finches.
Waltham Brooks Nature Reserve run by Sussex Wildlife Trust, Pulbrough Brooks, and Ambereley Wildbrooks are just a short walk from our estate.
We love and protect all creatures great and small, from the birds and bees to dragonflies and butterflies. Consequently, there is an excellent bio-diversity of flora and fauna. We also have a Natural England designated breeding area for the rare lapwing.With wild Sussex on the doorstep, our houses are the window into natural beauty.
The houses are a two minute walk to the site of the Roman fort. It is now thought the Romans could have first landed at Chichester and not in Kent. Stane Street the Roman road on it's way to London was in this case an important military and social thoroughfare. With Hardham the first posting station from the sea being of great importance. Julius Caesar is known to have stayed here with other notable visitors being King Ethelred who in this case was ready and on his way North to successfully see off the Viking hordes who had wintered for the first time in Canterbury, headed North in the spring to sack and loot London before heading South down Stane Street to be met by Ethelred's victorious army.
Constantine the Great also passed through and likely to have overnighted as the stations were set twelve miles apart, considered by the Romans and ever since to be a days march. (A quick march is 24 miles.) Constantine is of interest as he was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. There are clear links to the spirituality of the neighbourhood by the placing of the nearby Hardham Priory, which may well have been on an ancient site. Evidence of an earlier Iron Age settlement has also been discovered.
In the flood season (usually from December) the views from The Mill House and The House on the Brooks are completely altered from natural ancient meadows, to one of a giant silvery lake. The Rother did not suffer the banks built downstream so the valley here retains it's historic bio-diversity and authenticity. During flood times hundreds of geese, wigeon, pintail, teal, mallard, and thousands of lapwing which feed on the damp edges alongside snipe and other waders. Likely sightings of cormorants, buzzards, kites, kestrels, peregrine falcons and owls. This all part of the winter landscape view and part of your experience. An amazing variety of plants is found here – over half of all the British aquatic species. Wander along the river bank and you mauy see the electric blue flash of the mighty Kingfisher.
We are very pleased to have been part of the Barn Owl Box scheme and are delighted that in the past owlets born on the farm have been found to be seen successfully breeding high up on the downs. We currently (2020) have one adult in residence.
We have also been part of a scheme to reintroduce the rare Black Poplar trees into West Sussex. Where possible and appropriate we plant this native tree, almost extinct in West Sussex thirty years ago.
The Roman site has also revealed an extensive pottery manufacture was carried out in Hardham. Two different colours of clay being found within a few hundred yards, and evidence of numerous kilns. An ancient British canoe was found in the river nearby (now in Worthing Museum). Clearly Hardham must have been a happy resource for travellers on the ancient road, fishing in the river and with an artistic community of potters living in dramatic and beautiful natural landscape.
An evening river bank stroll to the pub will compound the idyll. The river Rother was canalised and a canal tunnel, now recently deemed a historic monument, was built to cut off the Pulborough loop. The northern brick entrance can just be glimpsed. We leave the river verges to seed naturally.