Sussex is full of historic buildings. From churches and castles to stately homes, ancient cottages and earthworks, they all have stories to tell. Some are in private ownership and hidden away, some can be seen from footpaths in the countryside while many others are open to the public. But will they be here forever? Can we take them for granted?
Sadly the answer is no, on both counts. A skim through the Historic England 'At Risk' register shows a number of Sussex buildings on the list - though we also found several that have been rescued and look fantastic, with their future assured. One success story is the Grade II listed Argos Hill Windmill, near Mayfield, which has been restored thanks to fundraising by a local volunteer group. Another for which the future looks hopeful is the eyecatching ruin of Winchelsea Priory, which you can pass closely on the local footpaths.
Having written about the brilliant pop-up skating rink in Brighton's Royal Pavilion Gardens, I notice even these are suffering - with the sheer numbers of visitors taking their toll. Seems a tad ironic for such a popular and heavily-promoted visitor attraction.
Many at-risk buildings are parish churches, so if you attend a service while you're on holiday or enjoy visiting village churches, please don't ignore the donations box. Another major 'at risk' category is the coastal defences you can see dotted along the Sussex shoreline in areas like Eastbourne, Rye, Littlehampton and Camber. Old artillery forts and Martello towers are falling into ruin, and while they're not always the prettiest buildings they have a wonderful atmosphere, and so much history. Some you can visit, others you can only walk around the outside, but it's well worth it.
Sussex is the perfect setting to explore historic buildings and monuments - and at this time of year, when many stately homes are closed, the ones you pass on a country walk can be the most rewarding. There's nothing quite like breathing in the vibes on an ancient barrow or hill fort.