National Geographic : 1935 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph by W. J. Drewett STOUT OAK BEAMS FROM SHIPS' TIMBERS SUPPORT THE STONE ROOF OF THIS BARN It is on the grounds of the Blue Idol, the Quaker meeting house near Coolham. William Penn drove here four miles by oxcart on Sunday mornings from his home, Warminghurst, to speak to his congregation. Many of his followers, and a son, now lie in its orchard in unmarked graves. and the Navy, which loomed large in the history of England, depended much upon the ordnance cast in Sussex ironworks. Sussex was the Black Country of Eliza bethan days, and the county, one of the best wooded in England, was a main supply ground for the wooden walls of Old Eng land. It still abounds in magnificent oaks, of the kind from which the frigates, cruisers, and line-of-battle ships were hewn. The same forests provided the fuel for the iron works, of which there are still extensive traces. Penn came to the fine old estate of Warm inghurst, in Sussex, toward the end of 1676. The great house no longer exists. After Penn left Warminghurst, shortly before his second trip to America in 1699, the manor house underwent alterations, and the estate was turned into a deer park. Later it came into possession of the Duke of Norfolk, who had the house pulled down because of the story that it was haunted. The park, however, remains much as it was and has many beautiful walks known only to the traveler off the beaten track. An old-time link between England and America is the Friends' Meeting House at Coolham, near by. It is an ancient, tim bered building, standing in an orchard sur rounded by woods and pastures. There is a stretch of flower garden dotted with fruit trees between the house and the quiet lane; honeysuckle and rambler roses climb over the walls of the dwelling, and garden seats carved from wood taken from ships are there beneath the eaves and the trees. When Penn first came to Warminghurst the meetings were held at the house there. Quakers were not in favor with the authori ties, and the little band of devotees was forced to move to a quieter and more isolated spot. So in 1682 a farmhouse was chosen and adapted to Quaker needs. Very soon Penn's influence and presence made it a center of Quaker activity (see above,and 67). The meeting place is known as the Blue Idol. Some say it derived its name from a figurehead taken from Penn's ship; others say that there was a quaint blue ornament standing in the garden; still others declare that the color of the interior walls was blue, and that the house stood empty for some years, giving rise to the name.