Do You Come From Yapton?

"Do you come from Yapton?" is a question familiar to many local people, heard when someone leaves a door open. 

Many believe this phrase springs from the 18th century when smuggling was rife along the Sussex coast.  The smugglers, or "free traders" as they preferred to call themselves, wanted to avoid the Customs taxes and heavy Excise duties. Tea, gin, French brandy, tobacco, spices and lace from France and Belgium were their preferred booty.

Yapton being only a mile inland and with a border on the River Arun was one of many staging posts for merciless gangs of smugglers.  However the phrase does not allude to a practice of leaving the door ajar so the smugglers can evade the chasing Excisemen but rather to allow passage of the ghost of a vicious black dog.

The smuggling was controlled by two gangs: the Hawkhurst gang under their leader Thomas Kingsmill, and the Goodhursts.  Conflict arose between the two groups following a dispute over the spoils from a cargo ship. The Goodhurst gang wanted to take revenge on Kingsmill but his vicious black dog would always warn him of danger. To get to Kingsmill they trapped the dog in a net and beat him to death. Now, the dog is said to wander Yapton looking for his master.

Until recently, one of the pubs in Yapton was even called The Black Dog so this story must be true!


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