Posted 17 March 2014 by Andrew Gardner
Recently I read an article which claimed that Robertsbridge in East Sussex was the first place to form a Cub Scout pack. Whether this is accurate is hard to tell, since most Scouting sources acknowledge that in the early days packs were being formed all over the country without any real coordination. But it seems likely, since the Baden-Powells moved to the area in 1913 and once the Scouts had got going there was a demand from their younger brothers; the local pack is certainly more than 100 years old. So that, along with nearby Bodiam Castle, could be a major claim to fame for this historic Sussex village.
It's a pretty place, though, and worth a visit. Formed around a medieval Cistercian abbey, it was named after the landowner Robert de St Martin. When the abbey was dissolved in 1538 it was taken on by Sir William Sidney of Penshurst but the town continued to grow and you can still see several buildings dating from that period, especially in the High Street. When some of the abbey records were discovered centuries later at nearby Penshurst Place, they included the Robertsbridge Codex - believed to be one of the earliest examples of sheet music, dating from about 1360. That's now in the British Library and bizarrely a more recent discovery, a bronze seal matrix from the abbey, was made in Norfolk - how did it get there? - and is in the Norwich Castle Museum, which outbid the local archaeological society for it.
That's one of the many things I love about Sussex - there are so many snippets of history to whet your appetite for discovering more or for creating a heritage tour of your own. If you're spending your holiday near Robertsbridge there are plenty of great locations to consider, from the High Weald to Hastings - which is an easy drive or train journey away. And if you're a steam enthusiast or just looking for a fun day out, do check out the Rother Valley Railway while you're in that neck of the woods. Click here to view our selection of holiday properties in East Sussex.