‘The Four Men’ by Hilaire Belloc

Stage Adaptation by Ann Feloy

Celebrating Hilaire Belloc and ‘The Four Men’ as part of

the Friends of the South Downs Centenary

‘The Four Men’ performances take place at 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday, October 28th and 29th at the Sullington Tithe Barn, Storrington, RH20 4AE.

For those who wish, there is a walk beforehand up onto the downs at Sullington, to see some of the sights in ‘The Four Men’, starting at 10.30 am on both days. There are steep gradients and places are limited.

Sullington Tithe Barn

To buy tickets for Saturday, October 28th go to:

To buy tickets for Sunday, October 29th go to

The centenary of the Friends of the South Downs coincides with 70 years since the death of Hilaire Belloc, one of Sussex’s greatest writers. So, staging two performances of Belloc’s beloved book ‘The Four Men’, now out of copyright, seems a perfect marriage of these two milestones.

Belloc’s farrago is set in 1902 at the time of Halloween and is steeped in the beauty and mysticism of the landscape. To keep to the spirit of the book, the performances are taking place this October at the medieval Sullington Tithe Barn at the foot of the downs.

Belloc, as the character ‘Myself’, takes a journey on foot across the breadth of the county, from east to west, marvelling at the splendour of the South Downs and Sussex countryside. He encounters three companions along the way – the whimsical Poet, the rumbustious Sailor and wise, old Grizzlebeard. Together they meet some remarkable rural characters on their four day, 92-mile long folk odyssey. They drink copious amounts of ale at the inns they stop at; they laugh, quarrel, tell tall tales and sing Sussex folk songs. They recount the legends of the Downs, describe their first loves and draw ever closer in friendship.

Playwright Ann Feloy’s stage adaptation of Belloc’s book was nominated as one of the top ten plays at the Brighton Fringe Festival when it was first performed in 2010 and received a four star review in ‘The Stage’ when it was performed by the Conn Artists.


The dramatic reading this October of her stage play is being sponsored by the Friends of the South Downs. There will be special emphasis on the traditional folk songs and music of Belloc, alongside famous pieces of classical music by Sussex-inspired composers such as Vaughan Williams and Edward Elgar.

Beforehand, historian Chris Hare will lead a five mile guided walk up on to the steep slopes near Sullington, over to Washington and then back in time for the performance, in order to see some of the sights mentioned in the book. He has recently published ‘Hilaire Belloc – The Politics of Living’ which will be on sale.

There will also be a photographic exhibition of some of the places in the book by photographer Dean Sephton.

Bernard Smith in his book, ‘Writers of Sussex’, ‘Belloc loved Sussex as few other writers have loved her; he lived there for most of his 82 years, he tramped the length and breadth of the county, slept under her hedgerows, drank in her inns, sailed her coast and her rivers and wrote several incomparable books about her.’

Belloc lived for most of his 82 years in Sussex, growing up as a child in Slindon, and then settling at Shipley, near Horsham. He said of ‘The Four Men’ – “I put my whole heart into that book but no one cares about it”.

Ann hopes the dramatic readings of her stage play will take the audience on a captivating journey that touches the soul, as Belloc no doubt intended.


Chris Hare

I am the project manager for Belloc, Broadwood and Beyond