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Sussex’s rare copy of American Declaration of Independence displayed for POTUS at Downing Street

The Sussex Declaration – a rare copy of the American Declaration of Independence – has been displayed in No 10 Downing Street during the Presidential State Visit to the UK.

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The Declaration is one of only two contemporary handwritten ceremonial parchment manuscript copies, the other being the signed copy housed in the National Archives in Washington D.C.

Wendy Walker and Louise Goldsmith examining the Sussex Declaration.

West Sussex County Archivist Wendy Walker will be delivering a short presentation to Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump about the document and its historical significance.

Wendy said:
“It is a huge privilege to speak to the President about this important piece of West Sussex history. It further demonstrates the close ties between the UK and the US spanning more than three centuries.”

Great efforts were taken to transport the document from the Record Office in Chichester to Downing Street this week. A conservation expert from the National Conservation Service was involved and a specially-designed exhibition case, previously used for the Magna Carta, was loaned by Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust to display the historic document.

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: 

“West Sussex County Council is the guardian of the county’s history and we are all so proud of the considerable work the Record Office does to protect, conserve and preserve the heritage of West Sussex. The significance of the Sussex Declaration cannot be underestimated and we are thrilled it has helped in demonstrating the country’s transatlantic ties. It’s a historical treasure that we are very honoured to house in West Sussex.”

In the event of celebrations to mark 250 years since the declaration of independence, the Record Office is keen to explore options for this important historical document to form part of the commemorations in 2026. We look forward to being part of future work with both the UK and US governments and academic institutions, to celebrate transatlantic ties and the richness of our shared heritage.

Coronavirus

Come visit our parks, just not Tilgate says Crawley Council as questions continue over car parks closure

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Crawley Borough Council is asking residents who want to go to the towns parks to try other ones besides Tilgate Park over worries that social distancing is not able to be maintained due to its popularity.

In a statement released the council says that by encouraging people to visit other parks then it will ‘reduce the burden on Tilgate Park and the residential streets nearby, while the car parks remain closed’.

But residents have questioned why the car parks are still not open despite advice from the government allowing it to happen.

One resident who questioned the decision to keep the car parks closed with Crawley Council Leader Peter Lamb said of his response:

“His view is that despite the Government relaxing restrictions ( and these are to be relaxed even more next week ) he doesn’t agree with Boris Johnson and so has decided to maintain a total lockdown on all the parking that feeds into the largest open space in our town Tilgate Forest and Lake.”

How is it that our Council leader seems to know more about this crisis than our National Government and that despite all other resources being relaxed for example , National Parks throughput the UK are now open and the NT has opened all its beach and countryside locations – he still refuses to allow unencumbered  access for those needing to drive a short distance to use these spaces ( I live in Southgate but my dog has bad arthritis and so can’t manage the 3/4 mile road walk to get to Tilgate Forest by foot).

He has repeatedly told me that Tilgate is his biggest source of revenue and everyday it stays closed he is losing income – so why is he so resolutely opposed to giving back a massive area of natural beauty and Council income to the people of Crawley.”

So if Tilgate Park is off the books then where else is there?

Luckily Crawley has a wealth of parks with Broadfield Park, Goffs Park, Memorial Gardens, the Mill Pond and Bewbush Water Gardens, Southgate Park, West Green Park and Worth Park. And several of these have free parking with car parks acctually open.

The council has also provided information on smaller parks and playing fields across the whole town. For more details on Crawley’s gardens and parks visit crawley.gov.uk/culture/parks-and-open-spaces/gardens-and-parks

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council, said:

“Preventing a second outbreak of Covid-19 means practicing social distancing at all times when away from home. Current visitor numbers at Tilgate Park make enforcing social distancing impossible, which is why we are actively asking residents not to visit the park at this time.”

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