Brighton & Hove, Sussex, UK

2 Men A Farrago: Walking Sussex Pubs With Hilaire Belloc & Bob Copper

Crossing Sussex With Bob Copper And Hilaire Belloc

Two brothers and sons of Sussex, retrace the footsteps of Bob Copper, Hilaire Belloc and The Four Men: A Farrago. Combining a local food and drink tour, with exploring some forgotten parts of Sussex; beyond their home town of Brighton & Hove and the surrounding countryside.

The Four Men: A Farrago by Hilaire Belloc

This documented drinking tour crossing Sussex, was originally penned by Hilaire Belloc in 1911; at the house of one Mrs Wright-Biddulph, in the local town of Burton. It takes in the well lubricated travels of four local Sussex Gentlemen: Myself, Grizzlebeard, The Sailor and The Poet.

Published by Thomas Nelson & Son in 1912 and confusingly dated; the story is set in 1902, yet tells the tale of the trip happening nine years before that in 1893. Beginning with Belloc questioning his current path in life, being dedicated to solely earning; lacking ambition and adventure.

Who Were Belloc’s Four Men?

These four travellers meet at various points along Belloc’s journey, sharing their opinions while crossing Sussex. Swiftly becoming travelling and drinking companions, until they reach the county boundary at Harting. The characters are said to be the internal personalities of the author; an Anglo-French orator, poet, sailor, satirist, writer of letters, soldier and political activist.

The Four Men: A Farrago by Hilaire Belloc

The Southern Hills and the South Sea
They blow such gladness into me,
That when I get to Burton Sands
And smell the smell of the Home Lands,
My heart is all renewed and fills
With the Southern Sea and the South Hills.

– Hilaire Belloc 1870-1953


Hilaire Belloc: Writer & More

Widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man (even though having a number of long running feuds); Belloc became a naturalised British subject in 1902, while retaining his French citizenship. His writings covered the county of Sussex, religious poetry and comic verse for children; best known was his widely sold Cautionary Tales for Children.

Belloc’s Early Years

Bernard Shaw - Hilaire Belloc - G.K. Chesterton together

During his younger years, Belloc was a noted figure within Oxford University, becoming President of the Oxford Union. He went into politics and was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Salford South. Winning the election by declaring his strong religious beliefs, in defense against his opposition’s heckling. His only period of steady employment was from 1914 to 1920; as editor of Land and Water, a journal devoted to the progress of the war.

Belloc’s Latter Years

During his later years, he would sail and became a well known yachtsman. Hilaire Belloc sailed for many years around the coasts of England, with the help of a young man called Dermod MacCarthy. This shipmate of Belloc’s wrote a book about his time on the water, called Sailing with Mr Belloc.

Bob Copper: Following Footsteps

Respected local folk singers Bob Copper and the Copper Family, have their heritage in Sussex dating back to 1784 (George Copper). In 1994 Bob decided to take a walk through Sussex, following the route and songs of ‘The Four Men: A Farrago’ by Hilaire Belloc. This journey was published in the book Across Sussex with Belloc: In the Footsteps of “The Four Men”.

The Four Men A Farrago Route Map

Taken from Hilaire Belloc’s hand drawn Sussex map in the original Four Men book; this map of Sussex below has had the text cleaned up and the route of our 2 Men Sussex Tour added. As close as we can establish to the original route walked by the characters of The Four Men A Farrago by Hilaire Belloc.

Hilaire Belloc Sussex Map

The Four Men A Farrago: Hilaire Belloc Sussex Map

Crossing Sussex With Copper & Belloc

With family links to The Copper Family, an innate love for our home county and of course the local food and drink in Sussex; we thought that this well-draughted pub crawl (of traditional alehouses and 13th-19th century Coaching Inns across Sussex), would make for an excellent way to spend some quality time together on a joint digital detox.

Two Men A Farrago: Sussex Tour Route

Although not a traditional ingress to the Belloc Four Men Route, we begin our tour across Sussex in Battle. With strong family links to the town, we felt that a mini pilgrimage to the resting place of our Grandfather was a fitting start. Leaving Battle Abbey, a short train ride takes us to Robertsbridge, the starting point of our ‘Cross-Sussex Copper Belloc Tour’.

The following is documenting the itinerary for each day, the historic Inns and Alehouses along the route (many of which were visited by The Four Men). We have tried to stick as closely as possible to the Four Men A Farrago route. Also highlighted are several of the local producers, landmarks and places of interest that can be found en route.

NB: Journey times are approximate.

Day 1 Route & Itinerary

  1. Robertsbridge – Brightling = Walk (1.5 Hrs)
  2. Brightling – Heathfield = Bus 225 (30 mins)
  3. Heathfield – Blackboys = Bus 231 (20 mins)
  4. Blackboys – Uckfield = Bus 231 (20 mins)
  5. Uckfield – Fletching = Walk (1.5 Hrs)
  6. Fletching – Sheffield Park = Walk (1 Hr)
  7. Sheffield Park – Horstead Keynes = Bluebell Railway (20 mins)
  8. Horstead Keynes – Ardingly = Bus 231 (20 mins)

Total Walking: 4 Hrs approx.

Day 2 Route & Itinerary

  1. Ardingly – Tilgate = Bus 272 + 2 (1 Hr)
  2. Tilgate – Pease Pottage = Bus 2 + 271 (30 mins)
  3. Pease Pottage – Hammer Pond = Walk (1.5 Hrs)
  4. Hammer Pond – Lower Beeding = Walk (30 mins)
  5. Lower Beeding – Crabtree = Walk (25 mins)
  6. Crabtree – Cowfold = Walk (35 mins)
  7. Cowfold – Henfield = Bus 17 (20 mins)

Total Walking: 3 Hrs approx.

Day 3 Route & Itinerary

  1. Henfield – Bramber = Bus (15 mins)
  2. Bramber – Steyning = Walk (30 mins)
  3. Steyning – Washington = Walk (2 Hrs)
  4. Washington – Storrington = Bus 100 (10 mins)
  5. Storrington – Amberley = Walk (1.75 Hrs)
  6. Amberley – Houghton = Walk (5 mins)
  7. Houghton – Bignor = Walk (1.25 Hrs)

Total Walking: 5.5 Hrs approx.

Day 4 Route & Itinerary

  1. Bignor – Duncton = Walk (1.25 Hrs)
  2. Duncton – Graffam = Walk (1.25 Hrs)
  3. Graffam – Cocking = Walk (1.5 Hrs)
  4. Cocking – Elsted (Treyford) = Bus 60 + 91 (1 Hr)
  5. Elsted (Treyford) – South Harting = Walk (45 mins)
  6. South Harting – Chichester = Bus 54 (45 mins)

Total Walking: 4.75 Hrs approx.

Four Men A Farrago: Pubs & Ale Houses

The below Sussex Pubs and Inns are listed in the order that they appear in ‘The Four Men: A Farrago’ book. Pubs that have been marked as “poss” are possibilities established through personal research; as it is unclear exactly which Inn they visit from the written text. All but the Fuller’s Arms in Brightling are still trading to this day.

  1. The George – Robertsbridge, East Sussex – 18th Century – p.03
  2. Fuller’s Arms – Brightling, East Sussex (closed) – p.17
  3. Blackboys Inn – Blackboys, East Sussex -14th Century – p.44
  4. Peacock Inn – Uckfield, East Sussex – 16th Century – p.45 (poss)
  5. The Black Swan – Pease Pottage, West Sussex – 19th century – p.79
  6. The Crabtree Inn – Crabtree, West Sussex – p.90
  7. George Hotel (Inn) – Henfield, West Sussex – 16th Century – According to the Belloc Society
  8. Fountain Inn – Ashurst, West Sussex – 16th Century – p.126
  9. Chequer Inn – Steyning, West Sussex – 15th Century – p.145 (poss)
  10. Frankland Arms (Washington Inn) – Washington, West Sussex – p.161
  11. The White Horse – Storrington, West Sussex – 16th Century – p.189
  12. Bridge Inn – Amberley, West Sussex – p.213
  13. George & Dragon – Houghton, West Sussex – 13th Century – p.233
  14. The Cricketers – Duncton, West Sussex – 16th Century – p.240
  15. Forester’s Arms – Graffham, West Sussex – According to the Belloc Society
  16. The Bluebell Inn – Cocking, West Sussex – p.256 / p.280 (poss)
  17. The Greyhound – Cocking, West Sussex – p.284 – According to the Belloc Society
  18. Three Horseshoes – Elsted, West Sussex – p.300 – According to the Belloc Society

More Hilaire Belloc Pubs & Inns

In addition to those pubs listed above, which are visited during the original book and this tour, the following Inns get a special mention by Hilaire Belloc or one of his Four Men.

  • Inn at Land’s End – “where you can lie awake in a rest that is better than slumber” – Hilaire Belloc
  • Nameless Inn – Llanidloes – “famous for its burgundy” – Hilaire Belloc
  • The Unicorn – Machynlleth
  • The Feathers – Ludlow & Ledbury
  • New Inn – Gloucester
  • The Grapes – Corbridge
  • The Red Lion – Arundel
  • Castle Inn – Bramber (poss)
  • Star Hotel – Great Yarmouth
  • The Dolphin – Southampton – “a very noble inn with bay windows” – Hilaire Belloc
  • The White Hart – Storrington and Steyning
  • Spread Eagle Hotel – Midhurst – “oldest and most revered of all the prime inns” – Hilaire Belloc
  • Swan Inn – Petworth

Sussex Landmarks En-Route

Here are some of the local landmarks and places of interested that can now be visited; along Hilaire Belloc’s – Four Men A Farrago Sussex Route.

  • Rother Valley Railway
  • Scalands Gate
  • “Mad” Jack Fuller’s Mausoleum
  • Brightling Needle
  • Heathfield Park
  • Bluebell Railway
  • Sheffield Park
  • Horstead Keynes Station
  • Tilgate Park
  • Leonardslee Gardens & Lakes
  • South Lodge
  • Saint Hugh’s Carthusian Monastery

  • Henfield Museum
  • Bramber Castle
  • Steyning Museum
  • Chanctonbury Ring
  • Amberley Mount
  • Amberley Museum
  • Storrington & District Museum
  • Bignor Roman Villa

Sussex Food & Drink En-Route

Following the original tone of the book, this is a food and drink tour of Sussex; because of this several noteworthy local producers are found along the way. Here are a few of those local food and drink businesses, that are promoting, growing and making local products in Sussex.

  • Cuculo (Heathfield)
  • Blackboys Vineyard
  • Sussex Biltong
  • Mannings Heath Vineyard
  • Kissingate Brewery
  • Bestens Brewery
  • Horsham Coffee Roasters
  • Sussex Produce Company

Hilaire Belloc & Sussex Drinking Songs

Local folk songs of the time feature heavily in the book The For Men A Farrago. Some of these remain popular to this day and are often sung at folk music events and gatherings, in local pubs throughout the county.

Hilaire Belloc: Pelagius Drinking Song

By far one of the most entertaining scenes in The Four Men A Farrago, is during a rare outburst of un-gentlemanly behaviour by the esteemed quartet. Singing in public outside The Crabtree Inn!

“Song of the Pelagian Heresy for the Strengthening of Men’s Backs; and the very Robust Out-thrusting of Doubtful Doctrine and the Uncertain Intellectual.”

Pelagius Drinking Song

Pelagius lived at Kardanoel,
And taught a doctrine there,
How whether you went to Heaven or Hell,
It was your own affair.
How, whether you found eternal joy
Or sank forever to burn,
It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy,
But was your own concern.

Oh, he didn’t believe
In Adam and Eve,
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began
With the fall of man,
And he laughed at original sin!
With my row-ti-tow

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
He laughed at original sin!

Whereat the Bishop of old Auxerre
(Germanus was his name),
He tore great handfuls out of his hair,
And he called Pelagius shame;
And then with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly thwacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall,
They rather had been hanged.

Oh he thwacked them hard, and he banged them long,
Upon each and all occasions,
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong,
Their orthodox persuasions!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow.
Their orthodox persuasions!

Now the Faith is old and the Devil is bold,
Exceedingly bold indeed;
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in a sturdy youth,
And still can drink strong ale,
Oh-Let us put it away to infallible truth,
Which always shall prevail!

And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword,
And howling heretics too;
And whatever good things
Our Christendom brings,
But especially barley brew!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
Especially barley brew!

Hilaire Belloc: Sussex Drinking Song

In his book ‘Across Sussex with Belloc’ (in the footsteps of the Four Men) by Bob Copper; you will not only find the words and music to this song but many others of equal worth. Some have musical arrangements by Dorothy Swainson (originally a pianist who became a celebrated and influential harpsichordist and clavichordist), to tunes which Belloc himself dictated.

The following lyrics and score have been taken directly from text in The Four Men A Farrago. In the book you will also find Belloc’s own musical notation score for the melody.

Sussex Drinking Song


On Sussex hills, where I was bred,
When lanes in autumn rains are red,
When Arun tumbles in his bed,
And busy great gusts go by;
When branch is bare on Burton Glen
And Bury Hill is a whitening, then,
I drink strong ale with gentlemen;
Which nobody can deny, deny,
Deny, deny, deny, deny,
Which nobody can deny, deny!


In half-November off I go,
To push my face against the snow,
And watch the winds wherever they blow,
Because my heart is high:
Till I settle me down in Steyning to sing
Of the women I met in my wandering,
And of all that I mean to do in the spring.
Which nobody can deny, deny,
Deny, deny, deny, deny,
Which nobody can deny, deny!


Then times be rude and weather be rough,
And ways be foul and fortune tough,
We are of the stout South Country stuff,
That never can have good ale enough,
And do this chorus cry!
From Crowboro’ Top to Ditchling Down,
From Hurstpierpoint to Arundel town,
The girls are plump and the ale is brown;
Which nobody can deny, deny,
Deny, deny, deny, deny,
If he does he tells a lie!

Hilaire Belloc: West Sussex Drinking Song

Published in the book ‘Verses’ written by Hilaire Belloc, this song was later set to music by Ivor Gurney.

THEY sell good Beer at Haslemere
And under Guildford Hill.
At Little Cowfold as I’ve been told
A beggar may drink his fill:
There is a good brew in Amberley too,
And by the bridge also;
But the swipes they take in at Washington Inn
Is the very best Beer I know.

With my here it goes, there it goes,
All the fun’s before us:
The Tipple’s Aboard and the night is young,
The door’s ajar and the Barrel is sprung,
I am singing the best song ever was sung,
And it has a rousing chorus.

If I were what I never can be,
The master or the squire;
If you gave me the hundred from here to the sea,
Which is more than I desire:
Then all my crops should be barley and hops,
And did my harvest fail
I’d sell every rood of mine acres I would,
For a belly-full of good Ale.

With my here it goes, there it goes,
All the fun’s before us:
The Tipple’s Aboard and the night is young,
The door’s ajar and the Barrel is sprung,
I am singing the best song ever was sung,
And it has a rousing chorus.

Walking Across Sussex

This routes makes for a fantastic way of crossing Sussex in this modern era. With most of the same pubs and inns still open and trading to this day. Why not take a Digital Detox, get out in the countryside and enjoy some of Sussex’s local produce.

Download Four Men A Farrago eBook

Want to read The Four Men by Hilaire Belloc? Follow this link to find the original book as a digitised online archive.

Reference Appendix

Verses – Hilaire Belloc
The Four Men A Farrago – Hilaire Belloc
The Mudcat Café – Various
Author List of Pubs & Inns with a literary connection – Hilaire Belloc Society


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