Fasten down that Ball


This long marquee has many extra straps and wooden pegs/stakes to hold it up. No wonder, it was windy.


“Well I woke up this mornin’,
So glad our tent hadn’t blown down.”

We were in territories new and unfamiliar, East Sussex in the South of England, near the sea and the South West wind.  The land where trugs are made and called trugs, not bodges, as in Kent. In Herstmonceux pronounced Herstmonzoo.  Blimey, these names down South very long and complicated, not like Strid, or other Northern simplicities, OK well, there are exceptions like Mytholmroyd and Micklethwaite.

Now here’s Mike Church, working away like a good ‘un on trugs for an American order  (I suppose a “Speed trug-making” video would have been good here – Ed)


Here’s their details:


Sussex trugs have been going for a long time, in fact they are “Royal” because Thomas Smith, their inventor sold some to Queen Victoria on the first day of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London in 1851.


Here’s the oblong I bought my wife:


Before we arrived at Herstmonzoo we stopped off to have a look at Great Dixter gardens (& hall/house).  Well worth a detour (as they say in Michelin guides).

GD entrance

Great Dixter Entrance, yes the porch does lean cocked towards the left.


A quite large Great Dixter garden  bench.


A small sample of the planting style at GD.

I took no photos of the house interior, as this wasn’t allowed, but it was a fine mixed collection of 17th/18th/20th century furniture in a stunning timber-framed early 16th century hall.

I was rather saddened to find that the old central heating radiators had mostly been disguised by covering them with a butchered antique chest, must have been when they were out of fashion, the alterations responsible were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer LutyensOMKCIEPRAFRIBA and Nathaniel Lloyd in 1910.  Some of them had rather fine carving in the 17th century style.  Here’s a picture of one from Country Life 1995.

The Bodgers’ Ball was held at Herstmonseux in a strong gale.  In a field provided by Richard Bingham.

English: Sir Richard Bingham (1528-1599)

English: Sir Richard Bingham (1528-1599) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mainly in a massive marquee which billowed and creaked over the whole weekend, occasionally bursting the odd wall pole.

These gatherings are a great way of meeting up with people … you met at earlier Balls and also new people you’ve not met before, but all of whom have a common interest and to some degree a common attitude to parts of life.

What I got from The Ball this year


Breakfast at Mark Allery’s bar. Looks like the wind blew away some of Alan’s hair. (right)


Whoops wrong photo …



In the auction I successfully bid for a French side axe, more of this in a later post.

I discovered that the bodgering world is not yet ready to propel itself back into 17th century green joinery.


But I’m working on it.  Watch out Worshipful Company of Turners, my cricket stool is coming!

A massive G cramp for £10 – it must open about 14″, haven’t measured it yet.



And that the Sussex coast is about 7 hours away from Strid Wood, where herb paris is blooming (again)


The Brummigum Bodgery

I’m just back from the National Exhibition Centre where I was exhibit A in Chris Myers’ show garden which was inspired by my workshop in Strid Wood.  I must say he made a fine job of putting his garden together and just about all the thousands of passing public loved it too – the judges agreed and awarded him a gold medal and best in show to boot.  The garden was full of details that were a feast for the eyes:

Even a rabbit hole.

The workshop area was smaller than my extensive ranch in Strid Wood, but workable, and provided that little extra interest for passersby, who often stopped to chat.

A lady said she’d bought a bodge at Damson Day earlier this year, “Oh yes?”  I asked. “Yes a basket.”  She replied.  “Hum .” I thought, “maybe there’s another meaning to bodging.”

The Kentish Bodge

Later that day another gentle lady chatted to me about her father who had owned 150 acres of chestnut woodland in Kent, now owned by the Woodland Trust.  He used to make chestnut paling fencing, and she was delighted to learn that there were still people making it, using those great old engines that run on wheels and twist the wire between the pales.  She thought she might still have one of these engines in her garage.  We chatted away and got onto bodges, which I discovered in Kent is what they call a trug, furthermore that chaps who used to make ’em were called bodgers – well I never!  She also told me her father used to makes fore-lighting pimps (see here).  He’d take some by train to Buckingham Palace and when they had been stacked he’d get breakfast on the House!

I just love these conversations, often sparked off just by people seeing me and my tools.

I had another interesting conversation with a chap whose grandfather was a shipwright.  I said I bet he used an adze, “Oh yes, we still have it.  He used to work on wooden masts, making them round with the adze.  Two of them would start at opposite ends and hope it worked out when they met in the middle.”

Well it’s a poor day when you don’t learn something!