Tag Archives: goodwood

Wandering: West Dean – The Trundle – Singleton

15 Oct

My original plan for today was to visit the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester, West Sussex but once it became obvious earlier in the week that the weather for today was going to be relatively warm and bright I decided a change of plan was called for. As I had already promised my wife a trip to Chichester I decided to fulfil on of my long-held (well a few years held anyway) ambitions to visit The Trundle.

The Trundle is the name given to the iron-age hill-fort on top of St Roche’s Hill a few miles north of Chichester and just south of the ancestral village of Singleton, the hill-fort itself surrounds a much older neolithic causewayed enclosure and all manner of other ancient and not so ancient sites. As hill-forts go it is quite impressive, with the ditch and bank still being well defined.

There are many approaches to The Trundle, in fact about a quarter of a mile west of the summit of the hill is a spot called Seven Points, where the finger-post below indicates the possible directions (Binderton, Lavant, Goodwood, Trundle, Charlton, Singleton and West Dean). As you can see despite the slightly misty conditions the views were pretty spectacular, and I can’t believe I have never come across any reference to Seven Points before.

My approach to St Roche’s Hill and The Trundle was from West Dean, having got off the bus from Chichester at the Selsey Arms pub in West Dean, I headed south-east across the dried up River Lavant and began the climb up the hill, with the flint boundary wall of West Dean Park on my left as my guide. The path here is actually part of the Monarch’s Way and passes through a couple of stretches of woodland before heading in a more easterly direction to Seven Points. The views on this part of the route were pretty impressive themselves, looking across to the other side of the river valley.

From Seven Points the path heads up the hill to the east, with the radio mast on The Trundle dominating the skyline. I seem to be becoming more tolerant of these artificial intrusions in the landscape, especially when they act as beacons and navigational aids to the walker. There is plenty to see on The Trundle itself, many lumps and bumps, quite apart from the main ditch and bank, however the views from the hilltop were quite breathtaking.

A full 360° panorama and even with the mist it was still possible to see for miles, the spire of Chichester Cathedral was clearly visible and Chichester Harbour, further west I could just about make out Portsmouth and to the south-west the bulky outline of the Isle of Wight. I found myself wishing for a clearer day, but knew that I would be returning again one day, hopefully in better conditions to take in more of this spectacular landscape, which unfortunately my digital camera did not do justice to.

Much closer to the hill, in fact butting up against the hill to east is Goodwood Race Course, another man-made structure which didn’t seem to intrude quite as much as I had expected, although that may not be the case on an actual race day.

To the north the views were not quite as far ranging due to the presence of the South Downs, but still pretty spectacular, especially being able to look down (see below) on the ancestral village of Singleton from such a fantastic vantage point. Singleton was the end point of the walk today and it was pretty much all downhill from The Trundle, heading in a northerly direction, first along the road to Charlton and then branching off to the left on a footpath down the spur of Knight’s Hill. The path leading me down, quite steeply near the end, to the parish church at Singleton with so many family connections.

The walk didn’t take long, around two hours and was probably somewhere between 3½ and 4 miles in length and thus not particularly challenging, but I would have to say that it was probably my favourite walk of the year. I have walked in some of the most beautiful parts of Sussex this year whilst doing the South Downs Way but I don’t think anything came close to today. Perhaps it was the fact that it was new to me, perhaps the beautiful weather for this time of year, perhaps the ancestral connections or maybe just that I needed to get out and let my mind wander as well as my legs. I think I made the correct decision not to go to the record office after all.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Picture Postcard Parade: School Lane, West Dean

23 Nov

I did say last week that I didn’t have any more postcards of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex, well it was true at the time but I acquired three more at the weekend, so here goes with another one.

This is a wonderful view of School Lane, West Dean but I have to be honest and say I am not certain where exactly School Lane is. I think it is the road that runs down past the burial ground, which would be up the top of the road in the picture on the left-hand side. I think I have located the cottages on an old map, but it looks like they are no longer there now so I probably won’t be able to verify if I have the right place. Nevertheless I will check next time I pay a visit, just in case some element of the scene remains, perhaps the railings on the right-hand side of the road.

The card itself is a little battered around the edges, but then it is over 100 years old, being posted on the 1st August 1907 at Chichester. There are no clues as to the publisher or photographer of the card. As you can see below there is quite an intriguing message on the back.

I wonder what was in the parcel and why it was so urgent? Was the sender at the races at nearby Goodwood (there was racing that week at Goodwood) and then off to Cowes on the Isle of Wight for a spot of yachting? In the 1911 census we find Ernest Albert and Ada Harriet Smoker living at 34 Birkhall Road, Catford, London, so it looks like Ernest was writing home to his wife for something, but what? I guess we shall probably never know.

Clueless in Chichester, no just disorganised!

19 Sep

I was in two minds about going, I hadn’t done any preparation for a trip to the West Sussex Record Office (WSRO) and really wanted to stay in bed this morning. It wouldn’t have seemed so bad if it was a little bit later, but I was leaving the house at the same time as I would if I went to work.

Things started going wrong when the guy in the ticket office sold me the wrong ticket and I had to go back and get them changed. When my normally quiet and peaceful train pulled up it was all most completely full. This is unheard of at this time on a Saturday morning, I am almost guaranteed a carriage to myself as we speed through the sleeping Sussex countryside. Today I was sharing my carriage with people on the way to Goodwood Revival.

I knew there was plenty I could do when I got to the record office, but I had no plan. It started very hit and miss, with me wondering what to look at next, but then I remembered one of the thing I had wanted to do, find out some more about Thomas and Mary WELLER my 4x great grandparents from Twineham, Sussex. I think I have discovered who they are and where they came from and have the baptisms for all their children including Mary Ann my 3x great grandmother.

The WSRO closes at lunchtime on a Saturday and I got kicked out along with all the other researchers, but my research doesn’t stop just because the record office closes. First stop was Chichester Cathedral and memorial chapel of the Royal Sussex Regiment. Here I found the name of my 2x great uncle Ambrose DRIVER on the Roll of Honour for those killed from the First World War. The chapel is just off to the right of the entrance and the sun was shining through the stained glass window above and creating such a lovely pattern across the chapel. I really must spend some more time there and have a good look around the cathedral.

Royal Sussex Regiment memorial chapel, Chichester Cathedral

Royal Sussex Regiment memorial chapel, Chichester Cathedral

Next stop was Chichester library, for a quick look at some local papers on microfilm. Sadly I could find no mention of the death or funeral of my great grandmother Lilian Mary MITCHELL in the pages of the West Sussex Gazette for December 1939. Still it was worth having a look.

Then I just had time to grab a bite to eat, sitting in the sunshine in front of the Cathedral, before heading back into the record office for a couple more hours research. The afternoon was a bit more organised, some original documents and more microfilm, covering a wide range of people and places.

In the end it was quite a productive day, many of my searches were negative, but even those are helpfully in a way. I know I should have had a plan when I set out and it would probably have been even productive. It was the first time I used my netbook in the record office, and I was glad I had it with me, but I am wondering know what is the best way to create a research plan on it. My next record office trip will probably be to the East Sussex Record Office and I promise to be better prepared for that!

I may not have had a plan, but I did come away from Chichester with a map. I stopped at the second-hand bookshop on my way back to the railway station and picked up a 1953 one-inch map of the Cheltenham and Evesham area, this is where my BATEMAN ancestors originated from. I would have preferred something a bit older, but it was cheap and will be useful in getting used to the area I am researching.

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