Review of Meetings 2014

January - February

There appeared to be literary overtones in the title of the Yapton & Ford Local History Group’s monthly meeting in January. Celebrated local historian and author Alan Green gave an illustrated talk on "A Tale of Two Cities". But in this case it wasn’t London and Paris but Chichester and Bath.

Alan compared the two cities going back to the Roman Conquest of 43AD when both areas were under the control of tribes which were friendly towards Rome. Chichester (Noviomagus) has its 100 room Roman Palace at Fishbourne while Bath (Aquaesoulis) has its Roman Baths. The major developments and their architects of both cities down the centuries were outlined by Alan, illustrated by slides showing some of the most important buildings. Both have a cathedral with Chichester’s being the only one in the country that can be seen from the sea.

The members and guests of the group learnt about another link between the two cities and that was of the Civil War. The wife of General William Waller, who laid siege to Chichester, is buried in Bath Cathedral.

One historic event that wasn’t experienced by both, fortunately for Chichester, was being heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe during World War 2. Bath suffered a great deal of damage during two air raids. They did share the same fate though during the sixties when both succumbed to developers before laws were passed to prevent our heritage disappearing underneath bulldozers.  

February’s illustrated talk transported the room full of members and guests away from all the wind and rain to the sun, sand and sea of holidaying in Bognor during the 1950’s. Our guide was the long-time friend of the Group, Sylvia Endacott, well known local historian of Bognor.

At a time when rationing was still a very real consideration at the beginning of the decade, people flocked to Bognor in an attempt to forget the horrors of WW2. They came by rail with many special excursion trains from across the country, by bus care of the Southdown Motor Company, and coach with the coach park, now Butlins Holiday Camp, full to capacity on some days.

They were accommodated in one of the 100 or so Hotels, Boarding houses or B & B’s offering anything from morning tea, breakfast, lunch, dinner and a coffee and biscuit at bedtime, to the basic bed & breakfast. There were even different sized meals for men and women. Apart from this array of holiday accommodation there was also in the region of 5000 caravans to rent.

Entertainment during the holiday was not a problem either. Apart from the sandy beach and sea, holidaymakers could amuse themselves with boat trips, donkey rides along the beach or visit the Esplanade Theatre to see the variety show 'Dazzle' featuring such stars as Petula Clark and Dick Emery. For those looking for cheaper entertainment there was always the Bandstand on the promenade with bands giving regular performances. Hotham Park also boasted a Bandstand as well as Pets Corner; a boating lake and a little Tea Shop situated in Hotham Park House. Visitors could also explore the town from the comfort of a horse drawn carriage of which there was many to choose from.

Mostly though, people came to enjoy the beach. Today visitors can be seen on the beach attired in the latest beachwear but in the 50s it was not uncommon to see holidaymakers dressed in suits, collar & ties and dresses. Deck chairs were much in evidence to protect their clothes from being soiled.

Alas those days are long gone with the weather, foreign holidays and Health & Safety taking their toll.

Allen Misselbrook
March 2014


March - April

Andrew Foster confronted his fellow members of the Yapton & Ford Local History Group and their guests at the Group’s March meeting with the question 'What happened to Yapton’s missing Clergy?'

There appears to be at least 3 missing ministers around the year 1575 from the plaque in St. Mary’s Church. Andrew explained that research for that period concentrated on the Gentry because it was easier due to the amount of information recorded about the upper classes. The Clergy, although they were at the centre of the community, didn’t receive the same amount of attention. This seems strange as they were landowners in their own right, owning on average 5 acres of 'Glebe' land which they could rent out to supplement their income along with tithes. Yapton’s incumbent did very well out of this as he had 22 acres at his disposal while Ford only had ½ an acre.

ln 1999 the 'Clergy Church of England Database' was set up with the aim of recording all clergy from 1540 to 1835. Andrew said, according to the records, Yapton had 18 for the period from 1500 to 1700 while Ford had 21 from 1429. There was a considerable turn round of clergy during the period 1558 - 1560 to the tune of about two-thirds. This was caused by the number of deaths from the Flu pandemic which swept through Europe at this time.

This doesn’t explain the missing clergy though which occurred around the late 1500s. Their names were: John jordan 1573, John Curtis 1575, Thompson 1577, and possibly Hugh Roberts 1596. Why the short spells in office? Could it be to falling out with the bishop as there were many changes in religious dogma at that time, or another period of widespread illness? Possibly a subject for further research.

Sources for this research include Bishop’s Registers, Bishop’s Transcripts of the Parish Registers, Parish Registers and Exchequer Tax Records.

The History Group welcomed Janet Pennington to their April meeting. The subject of her illustrated talk was the Reverend Nathaniel Woodard and Lancing College which he founded in 1848. Nathaniel Woodard was born on 2lst March 1811 in Basildon Hall, Essex, the son of a country gentleman. His family were not well off by the standards of the times and he was brought up and educated by his pious mother. Janet outlined his later education by telling the meeting that he went to Oxford University in 1834 only for his studies to be interrupted by marriage. He eventually went on to achieve a pass degree in 1840. Soon after, in 1841, he was ordained.

After spending time as a curate at two London churches he was given the curacy of St Mary’s Church in New Shoreham in 1846. It was while living there in the Vicarage, so the meeting was informed, that Nathaniel set up a school for the impoverished children of agricultural workers and sailors. Soon after he opened a second school, St Nicholas’, in 1848 which also catered for boarders. The two schools were eventually merged in 1849.

Nathaniel Woodward

We heard that he was a very effective fundraiser persuading the rich and powerful to donate generously to his cause allowing him to purchase a 500 acre farm on the Downs, and proceeded to have built an institution which was eventually to become Lancing College. ln 1850 he resigned his curacy and moved his school to the new premises in 1854. The foundations for the impressive chapel were started to be laid in 1868 but it was not until 1911 that it was dedicated. The famous Rose window, containing 30,000 pieces of glass was only finished in 1978. During WW2 the College was commandeered by the Navy and became HMS King Alfred.

Nathaniel Woodard went on to open 11 schools in his lifetime and died on the 25th April 1891. His tomb can be found in Lancing Chapel.

Allen Misselbrook
May 2014


May - June

There was no meeting of the Yapton & Ford Local History Group in May so a tour of Ford Church was organised with Joanna Williams being our guide. The Group heard about the strong links between the Garways of Ford Place and the church and were shown the dismounting step where church goers arriving by horse could dismount safely. There is a similar one situated outside Ford Place. The faded fresco of the 'doom' which reminded parishioners what might happen to them if they strayed, could be seen either side of the altar. There is a generator which enables the choir stalls to be lit but the rest of the church is lit by candles during services. Children are christened in a small portable font which is situated in a corner of the church while outside, the graveyard is still open in which villagers can be laid to rest.

Carol Ball, long time guide at Arundel Castle, was the guest speaker at Yapton & Ford History Group’s June meeting. With the aid of slides she helped the members and their guests to unravel the family tree of the Dukes of Norfolk as well as taking her listeners on a guided tour of the castle. The current Duke, the 18th, and Duchess have lived in the castle with their children for 30 years. They made changes to the historic building and grounds to accommodate family life. The public entrance was changed from the main to the side entrance and the car park was turned into a garden.

The first castle, which was made of wood, was completed on Christmas Day in 1057 by Roger de Montgomery who was given a third of Sussex by William the Conqueror. Roger became the first Earl of Arundel. The castle was replaced by one built of Caen stone 80 years later. This one was almost totally destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s army during the Civil War. lt was rebuilt after the war and then again by the 15th Duke during Victoria’s reign.

The Dukes of Norfolk have been closely linked with the Royal Households all through history. Catherine Howard even became one of Henry VIII‘s wives although, unfortunately for her, she lost her head.

Catherine Howard

One of the duties of the Duke of Norfolk is to arrange all State occasions. The 16th Duke, for instance, organised the coronations of George VI and Elizabeth II as well as Winston Churchill’s funeral.

Today’s Duke (18th) is not a direct descendant as the 17th Duke only had daughters so the title passed to a second cousin who, because the castle was made into a Trust, pays rent to live there. The castle is also home to the jewellery of Mary Queen of Scots which were left to the Norfolks following her execution in the reign of Elizabeth I.

The royal links still remain today with Prince Charles opening the garden previously mentioned which was designed by Highgrove’s gardener.

Allen Misselbrook
July 2014