Boxgrove Priory & Tangmere Airfield

It’s important to remember the beautiful things to see and places to visit that are on your very doorstep. We’re so lucky where we live with the Downs in walking distance as well as the beach, as well as having so many country houses and museums we can get to easily. It does help that we’d happily drive 2-3 hours for a day trip, but hey, life’s for living, right?

Dave has decided in the past few months that he’d like to try and get to as many English Heritage sites as possible – since we went to Pevensey Castle in the summer last year and he got a map with all the locations pinpointed. He loves his maps bless him, so he started excitedly ticking off the ones round the country we’ve been to already, and scouting out the ones we can easily get to from here. He very nearly missed Boxgrove Priory it’s that close! Just off the A27 on our way to Chichester, it’s a stone’s throw away from another point of interest that is very close to our hearts; Tangmere Airfield. But more on that in a moment…

We made our way up the road to the Priory, expecting to see the usual English Heritage symbol on a brown sign pointing us in the right direction, but in the end had to use our powers of deduction to work our way towards the church which still stands next to the Priory ruins. There was no signage up of any sort, except directing us from the car park on to the right path the the Priory, which was a shame, so we don’t really know much about it’s history. It was a very beautiful ruin though, and the grey and misty day added to the atmosphere (even if the cement mixer running in the background didn’t!)

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As there wasn’t really much else to see, we ticked Boxgrove Priory off our map, and hopped over to Tangmere on the authorised of the A27. Tangmere was a really important military base in World War 2, and is where a lot of PoWs returned back to England, including Dave’s Grandad, so this is a really special place for him. It’s also where a lot of air speed records were coordinated and attempted, so it’s a real shame more people don’t know about it. There is a small (but perfectly formed!) museum on the airfield, with some really awesome planes – they’ve even got a Lightning! There’s also some displays about the war itself, and a lovely little cafe, but we visited out of season today, so none of that was open.

Instead we went for a wander around the old airfield itself – some of the perimeter road is still there going around the farmland which has taken over the airfield itself. It’s a real shame – where the old runway used to be it looks like they’re building more housing, and though they’re not encroaching on the airfield itself yet, I feel like its only a matter of time before the need for land becomes too high and the airfield is just a distant memory. Luckily the museum is still there, and I do understand the need for more housing – but call me a cynic, more luxury housing isn’t what this country needs right now, and the affordable housing is far from affordable.

Anyway, rant over – we walked further round the airfield, past the housing development, and came to the old abandoned control tower. There is something hauntingly beautiful about abandoned buildings, but I just think given the importance of the airfield and it’s history, it’s a crying shame this building hasn’t been preserved.

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