Long Man of Wilmington
ON THE ART OF PAINTING NATIONAL FIGURES
On 19th of June 1999, armed with brushes, Sandtex and a poly-pin of Harvey’s bitter, The Long Man Morris Men painted their namesake, The Long Man of Wilmington.
Jim Edmonds, one of our side, has maintained a long interest in the figure, and was the prime mover behind the scheme.
Standing some two hundred and forty feet high on the face of Windover Hill at Wilmington, East Sussex, the figure was originally cut into the chalk, at an unknown date. In time, the turf grew back over the outline, and he was not ‘discovered’ again until the 17th century. During the 19th Century the chalk outline was overlaid with yellow-coloured stones; in the late 1960’s these were overlaid with some 770 concrete blocks, each about two feet high and nine inches wide.
After consultation with the Sussex Archaeological Society and East Sussex County Council, we set about tarting him up. It took one of our ex-members three hours to strim around the figure, and about four hours in all to brush the blocks down and give them a coat of white paint, kindly donated by C Brewer & Sons.
We all know how difficult it is to stir the interest of the media when it comes to Morris Dancing – what a difference in this case! The hill was practically crawling with radio Reporters, local paper photographers, and a lone cameraman from Southern News Extra, who was rendered speechless after lugging his heavy equipment to the lower slopes of the figure. I think we featured on every radio station with the exception of Classic FM! (Oh, and a page on Teletext and Ceefax)
On the day, the weather was beautiful and the completed figure really stood out against the green of the South Downs, fresh and visible for miles.
We were too knackered to dance in celebration afterwards, but as well as doing something that will give pleasure to others, we gained a lot of good, positive publicity for Morris Dancing in general.
Bagman, Long Man Morris Men