Review of Meetings 2019 (contd.)


History of Littlehampton Museum

The members and guests welcomed the new Curator of the Littlehampton Museum, Charlotte Burford. Her talk included the development of the Museum from its early days, and what its aims are for the future.

The museum was founded in 1928 by the Littlehampton Natural Science and Archaeology Society and its first Curator was Mr. E.J Hearne. The museum’s first home was in the back of the town library, where it stayed until 1965 after which it moved to 12a, River Road. Its present location, The Manor House, became its new home in 1991. E.J Hearne remained as the Curator until 1946 when he was succeeded by George Shorter who was still in charge and oversaw the move to River Road.

Charlotte went on to say that the items the Museum holds in its collections number well over 30,000 and obviously cannot all be shown at any one time. There is a constant rotation of these displays in an attempt to allow the public to see as many of these items as possible. These collections include photographs, oil paintings, maritime and archaeology. The museum is endeavouring to catalogue all the items in their archives and in doing so hope to discover hidden many hidden gems.

Allen Misselbrook
August 2019



Shepherds of the South Downs - their lives and times

The September meeting was an illustrated talk by Ian Everest entitled The Shepherds of the South Downs – their lives and times. Ian was brought up on a 1,000-acre farm on the South Downs close to the village of Bishopstone. His father being a farm-worker kindled his interest in farming on the South Downs. For the last 35 years this has been focused on the Shepherds of the South Downs. Ian explained that the South Downs is a ridge of 'Chalk Uplands' inland from sea, running from Eastbourne in the East through Sussex to Winchester in Hampshire to the West.

Part of Ian’s talk concerned the origins of shepherding on the downs. One of first shepherds recorded was St Cuthman who, after his father died, had to look after his crippled mother. They fell on hard times, and Cuthman was forced to beg from door to door. Putting his mother in a one-wheeled cart or wheelbarrow which he made. A rope from the handles over his shoulders took part of the weight. Along with their few belongings he set out from his home, perhaps at Chidham near Bosham. Going eastwards he pushed it day after day, the rope broke a number of times, on one occasion some haymakers who were watching laughed at him, but a heavy rainstorm ruined their hay and taught them a lesson.

He improvised a new rope from withies. Cuthman decided that when the makeshift rope of withies gave way, he would take it as a sign from God that he should stop at that place and build a church. It happened at the place we call Steyning.

For over 200 years South Downs Sheep have been one of the most popular breeds in the country. The area of downland from Shoreham to Eastbourne at one time supported 400,000 sheep, the highest population per acre in the world. Ian recalled the life of a renowned South Downs Shepherd, David Breach the son of farm worker who at the age of seven (children left school at 8 at that time) while playing with friend on the farm he put his arm into the blade of Linseed Cake Cutter with devastating results. However, despite only having one arm he went on to become one of best Shepherds on the South Downs.

Sheep Farming on the South Downs

The following interesting facts were included in this most informative talk:
-  Shepherds had bread and cheese put in their coffins when they were buried as it was thought being their staple mid-day food it would help them through the after life;
-  Orphaned and sick lambs were often put in steaming "Dung" heaps up to their heads in frosty weather this was to keep them warm;
-  Lewes sheep Fair attracted 40,000 sheep, it was also the venue where the best Shepherds would be approached by neighbouring farmers to come and work them, and this usually resulted in a pay rise.

Findon is now one of few sheep fairs left but with sheep number only being in the low hundreds if that. This is just a very brief account of an excellent talk.

Jon Carver
October 2019



History of shops, trades, and pubs in Yapton & Ford

Following the 27th Annual General Meeting, local historian and History Group member, David Ruffle gave a very enlightening talk with the aid of photographs, focusing on a section of Church Road. Using an array of photographs from his own extensive collection he proceeded to describe what it would have been like to live and work in Yapton over the past 100 years or so. His 'virtual' tour started from the entrance to Church Road from the Main Road, relating the histories of the buildings and the village businesses that were once carried on in them. Businesses which have ceased trading a long time ago.

Jonathan Cottage was where John Dart ran his cycle business in the early 1900s, later becoming Fred Hotston's Greengrocers, Fruiterer and General Stores c.1935. Further along the road lies Forge Cottage and as the name infers, it housed the village forge in the hands of the village blacksmith and farrier Charles Whittington in the late 19th and early 20th century. It was bought by Mr. A. Wooldrige in 1929 who continued with the business until 1950 when the premises were sold and converted into a house.

Another business premises that was converted into a house around 1950 was that of the Wheelwrights and Harness Maker now known as Cobblers Cottage. Its history was outlined by David as were several others in the vicinity including his own birthplace, The Willows.

Forge: Mr Wooldridge & Mo Pratt (c. 1930)

By embellishing his talk with his personal memories of the people that lived and worked in these buildings, David brought the past alive. In the time available he was only able to describe a very small part of what was a close-knit farming community and promised to continue the story at a later date.

Allen Misselbrook
November 2019



The History of Women in Yapton (cont.)

For the Yapton & Ford Local History Group’s November meeting, Group member, Andrew Foster returned to a subject that he has raised before in a previous meeting. He again posed the question who and when did women start to take control for their own actions in Yapton, and he challenged the Group to undertake research to discover the earliest instances where women played a major part in determining the direction of village life as well as their own lives. The audience contributed to the discussion by offering ideas of their own and suggesting possible ways of discovering the roles that local women played in the development of Yapton & Ford.

Some of the supplementary questions that Andrew included when were women first allowed to have their own bank account, when could a woman borrow money or take out a Hire Purchase agreement without the necessity of their father, husband or other being a guarantor. When was it possible for a woman to go to university to study and be awarded a degree? Women in public life was also discussed including becoming a Member of Parliament, Magistrate or a successful author in their own right.

Andrew gave some examples of resources in which to look. These included Probate Inventories which were produced following the death of someone. There are several available of women dating from the 17th century in the Group’s library. They contain all the possessions of the deceased person listed on a room by room basis and gave an insight to the life and wealth of the owner. There are trade directories such as Kelly’s and Pigot’s which list the Principal Traders in the village and also of inhabitants who lived by 'independent means' including women.

One notable woman in Yapton’s history is Sarah Sparks who took over the running of Sparks Engineering on the death of her husband in 1880. She successfully ran the company until her death in 1919. Another woman who helped to make history was Lettice Curtis who became one of the top Air Transport Auxiliary pilots in World War II, ferrying aircraft around the country for the RAF. She gained her pilot’s license at Ford. There are references in the Group’s library recording women who were landladies of local pubs and school teachers as well as other positions of influence.

The History Group would like to hear from anyone who may have knowledge about women in our village’s past that would increase our understanding of their roles in our history. If anyone would like to help in our research, even if it is only for one or two hours, we would love to hear from you.

Allen Misselbrook
December 2019



The History of Brighton Boozers!!


Allen Misselbrook
January 2020