Review of Meetings 2017 (contd.)

July - August

Land Settlement Association

To complete their 25th year programme of talks, members and guests of the Yapton & Ford Local History Group welcomed guest speaker Bill martin who gave an illustrated talk on the Land Settlement programme at nearby Siddlesham.

In the great depression of the mid 1930’s the Government of the day came up with an initiative to help some of the unemployed coalminers and shipbuilders of the north. This entailed giving families a plot of land as a smallholding and train them to start a new life on the land. As Bill explained, they first had to be interviewed by a selection panel and then receive a home visit before being selected as one of the lucky families to start on a new life as market gardeners.

One such location chosen by the government was Siddlesham where 120 small holdings were created. Each tenant was given a house, a chicken house a piggery and a greenhouse along with 4 acres of land. The men came first, living in a large hostel on site where they learnt their new trade. There was a central farm which bought seeds and equipment in bulk. The tools to work the land were then given to trainee smallholders and each smallholding was given an investment of £1000. Once the produce was harvested it was carted to the central farm where it was weighed and recorded before it was taken by lorry to Chichester Railway Station and taken by rail to Covent Garden to be sold.

The Land Settlement Association closed in 1983. Following the closure a group of tenants got together and formed their own company and continued trading until the late 1990’s. Many of the properties are now privately owned but there are one or two still producing their produce and selling by the roadside.

To conclude Bill told of his involvement with the Siddlesham Heritage Trail Project which includes the LSA in Siddlesham. He has undertaken a great deal of research into the initiative and has compiled a list of names of those first smallholders and their descendants complete with documents and photographs.

25th Anniversary Exhibition

To celebrate their 25th anniversary, the Yapton & Ford Local History held an exhibition in the Yapton & Ford Village Hall and coincided with the Cottage gardeners Village Show. The exhibition was entitled Yapton & Ford Past and Present and had on display over 300 photographs, maps and documents illustrating the changes to the villages over the past 125 years or so. Each major road had its own display where old photographs were paired with, where possible, the equivalent shot taken today. Other topics covered were, Farming, Commerce, Transport, Sport, School and Community. Several maps were also on show tracing the expansion of the area over the past 300 years. These maps included the Tithe Maps of Yapton and Ford.

Over the course of the afternoon between 200 and 300 people passed through the Exhibition. They consisted of villagers who were thrilled to pick out their parents and grandparents as well as their younger selves in the photographs. There were also many people who were new to the area who have bought houses in the ever expanding village and were interested in the history of their new home. The History Group had an unexpected bonus when many visitors brought along photographs and documents and donated them to the Groups library, which were gratefully received. These items plus the memories of others whose family roots stretch back into the past history of the two villages made the exhibition one of the most successful staged by the Yapton & Ford Local History Group in its 25 year history.

Allen Misselbrook
August 2017


September - October

The Dukes of Norfolk who Lived in Sussex

September's talk was titled "The Dukes of Norfolk who Lived in Sussex" and was given by Brenda Thompson, the head guide at Arundel Castle.

See this page for detail.


26th Annual General Meeting

The History Group’s October meeting commenced with the 26th AGM. The Chairman began by giving an appraisal of the past year’s activities which was the Groups 25th and the extremely successful photographic exhibition entitled ‘Yapton & Ford Past and Present’. He followed this by thanking the committee and other members who ensured the success and smooth running of the History Group, the results of which could be gauged by the numbers of members and guests who turn up at the monthly meetings. This was followed by the Treasurer’s report which showed a small loss for the year. All members of the committee expressed their willingness to stand for another year and were all returned unopposed. In the light of the small financial shown in the accounts and rising costs it was proposed that the annual subscriptions were increased from £12 to £14 for individual membership and £18 to £20 for family membership and for guests a rise from £2.50 to £3.00 per meeting. This proposal was carried unanimously.


The Churchwardens’ Lot: not a happy one!

The talk which followed the AGM was given by historian Andrew Foster who is a member of the History Group. As the title suggests Andrew gave an insight into the election and duties of the parish Churchwardens over the centuries. The following is just a flavour of what is a fascinating subject.

Two Churchwardens were elected annually, around Easter time, one by the parish and one by the minister. Their responsibilities were to the upkeep of the Church and the church buildings as well as ‘policing’ the parish inhabitants. It appears from surviving records that they were generally from the same group of families. For Yapton the family names of Billinghurst, Clapshoe, Murrell and Boniface were much in evidence in the past. Although Churchwardens came into being during the 14th century the earliest records for Yapton were dated 1742.

Accounts were kept and audited for presentation at the AGM held every Easter. Monies were raised through sources such as land rent, services and legacies which were used to pay for such diverse items as the Church fabric, mole catchers and the washing of clothing used by church officials in the carrying out their duties.

Example of Churchwarden's Accounts

Another duty which fell upon the Churchwardens was to uphold the laws of the church. These included ensuring parishioners attended Church on the Sabbath and didn’t partake in any activity that was forbidden by the Church. Failing to observe these laws would result in being ‘tried’ and punished and possibly being excommunicated by the Church which meant they could not be buried in the churchyard or leave property in their wills. One example of someone being taken to task was that of William Wilcher, a fiddler from Boxgrove, who appeared before the Churchwardens for playing his fiddle and dancing on a Sunday instead of being in church.

Sometimes Churchwardens used to use the system to settle old scores against their neighbours but this would have had a downside because should the accused end up as a Churchwarden at some point the roles would be reversed.

Allen Misselbrook
October 2017


November - December


Allen Misselbrook
January 2018