Alan Alexander Milne (1882 – 1956), often referred to as A.A. Milne, was an English author best known for his books about the adventures of his son Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals, most notably, the lovable teddy bear, Winnie the Pooh. The stories and poems in Milne’s books take place in the fictional Hundred Acre Wood, inspired by the Five Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England, where the Milne family lived. I have always had a warm spot in my heart for Winnie the Pooh. I don’t remember when I first fell in love with Pooh, probably when I was six… and my all-time favorite poem was on the last page of Milne’s book Now We Are Six, (the poem has the same title) a collection of thirty-five poems published in 1927. I only have a few items in my Pooh collection, but I am always looking for that exceptional item to add to it. So, when Howard told me that the famous Poohsticks Bridge was just sold, I was more than a little disappointed that it would not end up in our backyard; after all, if London Bridge can be moved to Arizona, why couldn’t Poohsticks Bridge be in New York? However, I seriously doubt our backyard would be large enough for a bridge, even if it’s only 30 feet long and 15 feet wide.
Poohsticks, a game created and played by A.A. Milne with his son, Christopher Robin, was first mentioned in the 1928 book, The House at Pooh Corner. Milne and Christopher Robin began playing Poohsticks in Ashdown Forest (The Hundred Acre Wood) on a bridge built in 1907 called the Posingford Bridge. The game was simple; drop a stick or acorn on the upstream side of the bridge, and the person (or character) whose stick appears first on the downstream side wins. The bridge became such a popular destination in the Hundred Acre Wood that a campaign started in the late 1970s to rebuild it; it was so worn down from the overwhelming number of visitors. They were able to do a partial rebuild in 1979, and Christopher Robin Milne officiated the bridge’s reopening and renamed it Poohsticks Bridge.
In 1999, the East Sussex city council appealed to local businesses and the Disney Corporation, who agreed to make a substantial donation to assist in the complete recreation of the bridge. The original bridge was put into storage and a short time ago was reconstructed with any original parts that could be used and some similar-aged timber; the council then decided to auction it. It was estimated to make £40-60K ($55-80K), and in the beginning of October, potential buyers submitted sealed bids. The bridge undoubtedly surprised everyone when it sold for £101K (£131K/$179K w/p).
The wonderful thing about the sale is that the buyer was William Sackville, Lord De La Warr. His family has owned two thousand acres of land known as Buckhurst Estate for about 900 years; a portion of his land is the famous Hundred Acre Wood. Lord De La Warr recalls his father’s stories about playing Poohsticks with Christopher Robin and his renowned bear, so the bridge is very dear to him. He has promised that he will take great care of the bridge and hopes that adults and children will continue to admire and visit it.
You can still play Poohsticks on the newly built bridge in Ashdown Forest, although you must bring your own sticks, so you don’t damage the trees in the forest. The game became so popular that there has been a World Poohsticks Championship held at Day’s Lock on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England, since 1984.