A Little Historical Background

The villages of Yapton & Ford have been closely linked down through the ages. Transport has featured greatly in these links over the past 200 years with the Portsmouth & Arundel Canal, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and Ford Airfield all straddling the village boundaries.

For centuries the main source of income for the local inhabitants was from agriculture due to the very fertile soil of the Sussex Plain. This was possibly the reason why the population was fairly static as the land could only support a certain number of people, until the start of the 20th century that is, when the other trades emerged and the population soared from approx. 700 to over 3000 by the year 2000.

The Industrial Age made itself felt when John Sparks arrived in the 1860’s from Holkham in Norfolk and set up his Sparks Engineering Company renting out steam engines and operators to local farmers and councils. Many reminders of him still remain about Yapton such as Sparks Corner and Holkam Cottages. After his death a trust was set up to administer his assets after his heirs could not agree on how the inheritance should be shared. The resultant sale in 1924 was to settle legal fees.

Both villages are fortunate in having very old picturesque churches. St. Mary the Virgin in Yapton and St. Andrew-by-the-Ford in Ford. St. Andrew's is still lit by candlelight and has some excellent wall paintings recently preserved.

The villages have never been ruled by one single Manor, instead there have been many small Manors governing the district. One of these Manors, Yapton Place, home to the Edmonds family for many years, was demolished and the materials auctioned off in 1836.

No narrative about Yapton and Ford, however brief, can be complete without the mention of smuggling. It has been suggested that without the income from this moonlight trade, many of the villagers would not have survived. Walk into any house in the district and leave the door open and more often than not you would be greeted with the phrase "Do you come from Yapton?" a reference to the days of the smugglers when local people allegedly left their doors open at night to allow the smugglers safe passage from the "Kings Men".

AM 2010

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