Flansham


Almost certainly most people will know little about the tiny hamlet of Flansham, unless they actually live there, or have read the books written by Gerard Young in the 1940s. Mr Young wrote his first book, The Chronicle of a Country Cottage, in 1942, and I suspect that it was intended to be a ‘one off’ about his own weekend cottage and garden; which just happened to be in the hamlet of Flansham, which sits within the south western borders of the administrative parish of Yapton, albeit now with a Bognor Regis postcode.

Flansham is of course quite small, without even a church, pub or shop, but few places can have had such a conscientious historian and observer. Gerard Young worked all the week in a job connected with the theatre, often travelling all over the country, but at weekends he returned whenever he could to his cottage in the hamlet where he found most happiness and peace.

ln Come into the Country which was published in 1945, Young describes Flansham in this fashion:

"Like most villages, no one has ever heard of it and no one can ever find it. Even if I tell you the name of it, which is Flansham, it will convey nothing to you. It is a dead-end village; two lanes which lead to nowhere, a village which successfully frustrates the summer evening motorists who rattle up the lane with a condescending smile for the men still working in the meadows, and few minutes later rattle back again without a condescending smile, having landed up in a ploughed field."

Not much to write about in such a place, one would think, but it is perhaps a sign of the times that the current residents have sought vigorously, with the support of the Parish Council, for Flansham to be ‘put on the map’ whilst remaining a part of the rural parish of Yapton for district council electoral purposes. Although we await a decision from the Boundary Commission on the latter, the County Council has finally accepted that the hamlet exists and installed a road sign which clearly identifies for visitors where Gerard Young’s much loved Flansham actually is!

 

Gerard Young in his books wrote with a light but affectionate touch, letting us into the innermost secrets of the village and particularly of the people who lived in the handful of farmhouses and cottages. We hear about the Adames family who farmed with tremendous enthusiasm, the Page family, Mr Jacks, and Jack Langmead, another farmer. They all come alive in the pages of these books and we slowly realise what an exciting place little Flansham is.

One of Gerard Young’s delights was to talk about Cuthbert, the family ghost at Flansham Manor. He made it plain that there was nothing sinister about this ghost, in fact it always gave every evidence of being extremely friendly. Cuthbert was a little shy, and always vanished rather apologetically whenever anyone came upon him in one of the passages of the Manor. Many people saw him however and most were in agreement that he wore grey flannel trousers. Guests were sometimes a little wary of Cuthbert and it took a time for them to accept him quite as easily as did the regulars. Cuthbert was apparently Flansham’s only ghost and there seemed to be no explanation for his appearances or indeed for his predeliction for grey flannel trousers!

David Tansley
December 2007

(The information above is taken from The West Sussex Village Book written by Tony Wales and published by Countryside Books.)

(Originally published in Yapton News, March 2013)


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