West Barnham

West Barnham

19th century – A walk through Barnham at the time of the tithe map of 1845:

Leaving the village of Eastergate and walking along the road towards Barnham, the traveller would have passed fields to right and left. A local may have known these as Lamb Field, Swing Gate, Little Rough Rakes, and Goffs Pond Field, but to a traveller these were arable fields like many others.  To the left would have been a rough track, then a little further on a small thatched cottage would have been seen – Thimble Cottage, where Francis Diggins lived.  Across to the right, a steam train may have journeyed but would not have stopped as the nearest stations were at Woodgate and Yapton.  A welcome sight to the left would have been the Barnham Bridge Inn with its gardens and stables, where William Caiger was the tenant.  This then was the extent of what later became known as West Barnham although it lay within the Parish of Eastergate.

Main Road – West Barnham

Thimble Cottage

Seen on the left of the above picture, the thatched cottage is Grade II listed, 18th century.  The door to the street is no longer there and the cottage was left derelict several times during the 20th century. According to local man Arthur Timlick, it was at one time the residence of the Murray Stapleford family and an estate agency. Today it has been renovated and retains its distinctive thatch. It provides an interesting welcome to the commercial village centre.

West Barnham Estates

Around the turn of the century Sidney Skelton Marshall, the founder of Barnham Nurseries, turned his attention to property development. His vision was to build large detached houses to attract wealthy professionals. He formed West Barnham Estates and, with a loan from his father, he set about buying and leasing land from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners along the Barnham to Eastergate road, and at Elm Grove and Downview Road which were no more than dirt tracks leading to nowhere.

Success breeds success and Barnham was booming. By 1908 land prices had increased and plots from half an acre upwards were regularly offered for sale by the West Barnham Estates in the Chichester Observer.

Some of the prominent people who occupied these larger houses in Barnham Road were the directors of Barnham Nurseries: the Pertwees at The Oriel in 1910 and The Cedars in 1930; and the Chapples at The Laurels. At The Oaks (now Oakhurst, No.146) lived the artist Walter Stuart Lloyd.  His career as a watercolour painter flourished between 1875 and 1929 and he was the youngest member to be elected to the Royal Society of British Artists. Lloyd produced slightly romanticised paintings of landscapes and seascapes, many of Sussex.  A typical example of his work is ‘Back of the Farm’ which is a painting of Parsonage Farmhouse painted in 1902 when he lived in Barnham.  He also supplied the etching of St Mary’s Church for the 1904 edition of the parish magazine.

The Pines (now Abbey Dean, a home for the elderly)

This large detached house was occupied from 1904 by Dr John Boniface Collins, the local village doctor. Born in Yapton in 1869, he was named after his father who was also a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians. Both were part of the larger families of Collins and Boniface in the area which included William Collins of Elm Tree Stores, Eastergate, and Richard Collins of Parsonage Farmhouse. It is interesting that, once qualified, Dr Collins junior chose to return to the local area. Dr Collins married Mabel Elizabeth Collins and they had at least two daughters, Irene, who it seems never married and Enid who married Herbert Wentworth. His doctor’s surgery was a small extension that can still be seen to the left of the large Edwardian building and, although he died in the 1950s, he is remembered by some local residents, including Arthur Timlick, son of Frank Timlick the boot mender, and by Polly Edwards (nee Harris) who recalls the doctor’s whiskers as he bent close to examine her ears and throat.  It is said that he visited his patients by pony and trap before he bought his motorcar and there were stables to the rear of the substantial property.

The Pines (now Abbey Dean, a home for the elderly)

After the death of Dr Collins, Arthur Dean, a local builder, bought The Pines and split it into two properties – No.104, on the left, and No.102, then called Candida, on the right.  He sold the tennis courts and the rear garden to his three sons, Arthur, Geoff (father of David, who was the proprietor of the nursing home for many years) and Bill, who had taken over the running of the family building firm.  Treetops (No.100) was built there with the original driveway to The Pines becoming its driveway (the wall and posts can still be seen).  No.104 retained the name The Pines and was sold to Mrs Howard Jones who lived there until her death in 2009.  No.102 was let to Mr and Mrs Ron Wadey.  Abbey Dean was opened at No.102 in February 1991 initially with nine bedrooms, extending to fourteen bedrooms.  With the purchase of No.104 from the Estate of Mrs Howard Jones, the building is one unit once again – now operating with eighteen bedrooms. David Dean F.R.I.C.S. and his wife Laramie Dean BSc. (Hons) SRN have since sold Abbey Dean, home for the elderly.

(With thanks for the above to David Dean and to Gill Kelly of Treetops)

Elm Grove South

Listed in the Inland Revenue accounts of 1910 was a brickyard in Elm Grove South in the ownership of West Barnham Estates. A sketch map from the papers of the late Colin Harding shows two entrances, one off Elm Grove South and one through 101 Barnham Road. The brickyard, along with another at Yapton Road where Dunora Cottages are today, provided bricks for the housing boom in the area at that time. An invoice at WSRO ref: AM 348/11 to a Mr Gadd of Westergate is for the supply of 400 bricks on 4th April 1902 for 10/6. At its close in 1950, the brickyard was run by G and CH Stevens.

Elm Grove South - Harry Knight's House
Elm Grove South – Harry Knight’s House

Harry Knight, see below, bought land at the end of Elm Grove South nearest to Barnham Road and built several larger houses there when the road led only to the brickfield.

In a nearby field was a World War II aircraft dump. In 1959 the St Philip Howard Catholic High School was built on land that had formed part of Eastergate Manor Farm owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and by 1965 an estate of houses had been built.

Elm Grove, Harry Knight and WH Dart

In 1901 Harry Knight was a coal merchant and licensee of the Railway Hotel (before it was rebuilt).  He was 43 years old and lived with his wife Sarah, and three sons, Percy 11, Charlie 9, and Frank aged 2. Harry Dart, in Harry Dart’s Memoir, tells us that between 1902 and 1905 his father, William Henry Dart, a local builder, worked for Harry Knight building two blocks of four cottages, on land that Knight had bought in Elm Grove. They were called Fishbourne and Tisted Cottages (Harry Knight had lived in Fishbourne and perhaps he had family connections with Tisted, the Hampshire village). These were very different from the detached houses favoured by Sidney Marshall and his company, West Barnham Estates, being workers’ cottages for rent and not for sale. In 1910 the Inland Revenue also lists Harry Knight as the owner of Elm Lodge and Broad Oak in Barnham Road which he was letting and he was living at Bentworth (now modern flats). It would appear that Harry Knight the publican saw an opportunity towards the end of the 19th century in up and coming Barnham to branch out into property development and make, if not his fortune, then certainly a comfortable living. He was elected to Westhampnett Rural Council, served on the Highways Committee, and was the representative for Eastergate on the Board of Guardians which dealt with payments to and accommodation for the poor. More information about the Knight family will be found in the section on St George’s Church, Eastergate.

The young Harry Dart aged only 3 or 4 moved with his parents into No.1 Fishbourne Cottages. His father had a carpenter’s workshop in the garden which later became a shoemaker’s shop that was owned by Bert Boniface. WH Dart left Harry Knight’s employment in 1905 and formed a partnership with local bricklayer, Harry West. The pair built many houses in the village and also the village hall at Eastergate. They were employed to build houses at the northern end of Church Lane and on completion the Dart family moved into Bankside where William and his wife lived out their days. On his marriage, Harry moved into Moreton next door to his parents.

Woodcot now March House, Elm Grove

The new Barnham Primary School was constructed on the orchard of a house called Woodcot that was built by West Barnham Estates in the grand Edwardian style favoured by that company. It was the first house to be built in the extended lane called Elm Grove that was no more than a track and which formed a junction with another track, Downview RoadThe first resident was Edward Hartley who produced mushrooms in a huge shed in the field behind the house.

Woodcot now March House, Elm Grove

By 1920 Woodcot was owned and extended by the Wentworth family: Herbert Wentworth, his wife Katherine, son Herbert and daughter Dorothy. Mr and Mrs Wentworth died in 1942 and 1941 respectively and are both buried in St George’s Church, Eastergate. Herbert junior married Enid Collins, daughter of the local doctor John Boniface Collins who lived at The Pines, Barnham Road (now Abbey Dean). The couple lived for many years at 99 Barnham Road. Dorothy remained a spinster and continued to live at Woodcot although much of the land was sold. Wentworth Close, part of the nearby housing estate, is named after the family and the road to the front of the school is named Orchard Way.

Telephone Poles and Unmade Roads

According to Harry Dart: The telephone came into use in Barnham in 1906 our first local Exchange being the thatched house east of Eastergate Square and operated by Mrs Walling – Barnham Nurseries being Eastergate 1 and my father’s No. Eastergate 9.

Many postcard views circa 1910 show the telephone poles that were erected throughout the district and that were a cause for concern for many people. The Wanderer, a correspondent for the Chichester Observer and West Sussex Recorder in his/her column ‘Eastergate Jottings’ writes: I hear that the Parish Meeting think of advertising for a few thousand hop plants to run up some unsightly poles lately erected in Eastergate and district by the Telephone people. (From The Parish Hall Adventure compiled by Susie Peters, 2007, WSRO ref:MP5648)

It was the policy of those ‘Telephone people’ to top the poles in select neighbourhoods with a pointed finial. These can be seen in the postcard views of Elm Grove and today several remain in Barnham Road   – for example, one near the village hall at Eastergate and another in the alley next to Rose Cottages (see picture below).

Telephone Pole with a Pointed Finial (located in the alley next to Rose Cottages, Barnham)

It is clear from the postcard scenes of Barnham Road that early in the 20th century the road was ‘unmade’. Harry Dart explains that the roads were ‘…narrow, bordered by ditches…with flint surfaces pressed in by huge steam rollers, very dusty in summer and muddy in winter.’ Traffic in Barnham Road on Market Day consisted of droves of local livestock leaving in their wake mud, dust and waste. As motor traffic increased, the road became hazardous for pedestrians and a letter from William Collins, chairman of Eastergate Parish Council to Westhampnett RDC asked for the ditches to be filled in. This was rejected for reasons of drainage.

The Highways Committee of Westhamptnett RDC attended by local councillors Reverend William Yoward and Sydney Marshall discussed the poor state of the road in August 1908 and Mr Marshall put forward the new notion of applying calcium chloride to the surface ‘as a preventative of the dust nuisance’. He offered to treat 200 to 300 yards of Barnham Road at his own expense. It was reported the following month that the first coat showed promising results. (A quick search of the internet shows that this is still an effective method of ‘dust laying’)

Tarmac had been patented in 1901 and eventually it was applied to most roads. Ditches were filled in and drainage pipes installed. Pedestrians, however, generally waited a lot longer before footways became standard.

Follow the link to Flickr for more images.