Mother Goring’s Cap


Chanctonbury Ring at Dusk, 12th June

The garden views the west, the direction of approach for most weather hereabouts. Most clouds roll in and pass over, some grow lightly on the hanger slopes of the escarpment, captured in the beech and ash branches like fleece.

But on some summer days Chanctonbury Ring grows its own weather system, which dominates the skyline from the valley. When the air is humid and still, the beech trees within the Iron Age ramparts are enveloped by, or give rise to, a mushroom-like pillow of cloud.  On days like today the nebulous growth has been barely visible for all the rain, but it did just appear finally at dusk.

The ring of trees, planted by Charles Goring in 1760, has its only bit of weather lore attached to it. It goes something like…

“When Mother Goring wears her cap, the chances are we’ll have a drap”

I always think of the mushroom of cloud which hangs over the ring on these wet summer days as Mother Goring Cap, without knowing if that’s what the ditty really refers to. Whatever the truth the lore held, there was a fair amount of summer drap on the Downs today.


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