Tag Archives: hurstpierpoint

Sussex Day 2009: Part 9 – Hurstpierpoint Cemetery to Wolstonbury Hill

25 Jun

When I left Hurstpierpoint Cemetery I didn’t really where I was heading. I knew that I was ultimately going to end up at Hassocks railway station, so I could get home, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there.

The shortest and quickest route would have been to head east out of Hurstpierpoint on the main road, but I wanted to be out in the countryside, so I decided to follow a path just north of the cemetery. Besides it was still early afternoon, far too early to be heading home!

When the path got clear of the houses to the south the views opened up to the South Downs and there looming up in front of me was Wolstonbury Hill, just begging to be climbed.

The walk so far had been pretty flat, Hurstpierpoint Cemetery was really the last genealogical connection, so now it was time to put the family history to one side and to personally challenge myself with a climb up the hill.

It was a nice gentle route to the foot of the Downs, past the magnificent Danny House (currently a retirement home). All the time Wolstonbury Hill getting closer and seeming more and more unclimbable. I reached New Way Lane and approached the foot of the hill, there was no turning back now.

No turning back maybe, but no way forward either! The footpath was blocked, closed to allow repair work, for six months, how could the West Sussex County Council do this to me? Here I was ready to ascend Wolstonbury Hill and they had closed the path!

Of course there was more than one route up to the top, only the northern and western sides were closed, I continued east along the lane and found another path heading south, before long it started to climb and I knew I was on the right path. The path was well shaded, but not particularly smooth, not far up the hill I came to a junction of paths and I wasn’t entirely sure where I was, eastward seemed to take me out into the open and back downhill again, that was no good, so after consulting the map I pressed on south again up further.

A short distance further I came to a gateway that opened out onto the side of the hill, and I could see the path leading right to the top. This was it, after another application of suncream (and a mouthful of drink) I headed out into the blazing sun and launched myself up the hill.

That last section was one of the most exhilarating climbs of my life, the sun was hot, there was little breeze, my leg muscles were complaining, but I was all alone, not another soul in sight, enjoying the beautiful Sussex landscape that emerged once I had cleared the trees.

It felt fantastic to be pushing myself to climb this hill, I had never witnessed the views from the top before, but I am sure many of my ancestors had before me. It had been a struggle but the reward was well worth it. It was a clear day, a little bit hazy in the distance but that didn’t matter, and I could see for miles in all directions. I wandered around the earthworks at the top of the hill, visited the trig point and just savoured the moment. There was a slight breeze here, but little shelter apart from a few gorse bushes. I found some shade and sat down, quenching my thirst with more drink and applying more suncream.

I sat and admired the view, it was breathtaking. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what half of the places were, what mattered was that it was Sussex, my Sussex, my ancestors Sussex. I could think of no better place to be on Sussex Day. The sense of achievement was tremendous, I felt physically and emotionally that I was on top of the world.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 8 – Hazeldene Terrace to Hurstpierpoint Cemetery (hang on in there, I’ve almost reached the end!)

24 Jun

This stage of my Sussex Day walk was another quite short section with the destination being more interesting than the actual walk.

From Hazeldene Terrace it was a case of retracing my steps up Western Road, taking a short-cut through Manor Road onto Cuckfield Road and following that to the High Street. The cemetery is a short way along the High Street at the end of South Avenue.

A couple of relations are buried here or have their ashes interred here, although I only knew the exact location of one, my great grandfather Henry John TROWER. His grave is marked by a small headstone and a holly tree.

It occurs to me as I write this that my great grandfather has unintentionally become a constant theme running through this walk. He was baptised at Henfield Church, married (twice) at Sayers Common Church, lived at Vicarage Cottage, worked at Cobbs Mill, lived in Hazeldene Terrace, his funeral was held at Hurstpierpoint Church and he was buried in Hurstpierpoint Cemetery.

I wandered around the cemetery in the hope of discovering another relation, it wasn’t a methodical search, just a random wandering checking out the names. To my surprise I did find someone. A simple plaque marked the location of the ashes of William BURT, my great grandfather’s second wife’s second husband (we knew him as Uncle Bill, which was a lot easier).

I like Hurstpierpoint Cemetery, it is well looked after (the north-west corner has been kept uncut to allow wild flowers to grow) and still in use, it is quite small and compact, with a nice brick chapel and all enclosed by a solid brick wall, to the south the view is across to the South Downs and Wolstonbury Hill.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 6 – Hurst Wickham to Hurstpierpoint Church

22 Jun

Hurst Wickham is practically on the edge of Hurstpierpoint village, so it didn’t take long to get to the High Street, especially as I took a short cut, along a twitten which took me to St George’s Church.

I had no idea that there was a St George’s Church in Hurstpierpoint up to this point. It was a nice looking little church, but sadly it has now been closed and getting a little enclosed by the trees and undergrowth. A path leading around the back of the church took me through the St George’s Millennium Garden (quiet and some shade, with nice views to the north) and out into a residential area, and from there I found my way out onto the High Street.

I had several places to visit in Hurstpierpoint, and I began by making my way to Holy Trinity Church, stopping at a bakery along the way to buy a sandwich and some more drink. The church itself is next to a crossroads, and hemmed in by buildings and roads, so I didn’t attempt to get any photos. The church was open and it was nice to get inside and out of the sun for a while (sadly most of my photos inside didn’t come out very well, I should have had a tripod!).

The church is quite modern in terms of Sussex churches, built in 1843-45 to replace an earlier one. This is the church where my father was baptised (and his brother and sister). Several family marriages and one or two funerals have also taken place here, although I don’t believe there are any relations buried here.

For me the highlight was stepping round the back of the church and witnessing the wonderful view across to the South Downs. If there was an award for the graveyard with the best view, then Hurstpierpoint would be in the top ten. I found a bench in the churchyard and sat down and ate my sandwich. There was no shade and it was too hot to sit still for long in the midday sun so I soon moved on. After all there were still a couple of other places to visit before I could leave Hurstpierpoint.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 5 – Ruckford Mill to Hurst Wickham

21 Jun

By this time I was starting to get hungry, although it was still an hour or two before lunchtime, so I decided it was time to start heading south to the village of Hurstpierpoint.

I decided to take the most direct route to Hurstpierpoint, which was more or less due south along Malthouse Lane and College Lane, however the real reason for taking this route is that it would take me through Hurst Wickham.

I am not sure if I had been through Hurst Wickham before, if I had it was a long time ago, and certainly well before I had known that my 2x great grandparents Henry and Dorothy Isabella BATEMAN had lived there.

They had moved there sometime around 1896-97 from Preston, near Brighton. I am not sure how long they actually lived there, Henry was still living in Hurstpierpoint when he died in 1921. After Henry’s death Dorothy left for Australia to join her son who had settled out there. She left from Hurstpierpoint, but the passenger list gives a different address.

My problem was that I couldn’t find any modern day reference to their address, 2 Shenley Villas, it had either been demolished or renamed. I wanted to actually have a look on the ground and see if could find any clues to it’s whereabouts.

Hurst Wickham is virtually one long road with houses down either side, so I check house name carefully as I walked up the road. Most seemed quite modern, and it appears the were all numbered as College Lane, if the road had been renumbered that would explain why I couldn’t find any reference to Shenley Villas.

Getting nearer to Hurstpierpoint I found what I think is the likely location for Shenley Villas. There is a row of five semi-detached houses on the eastern side of the road, where some of the original house names were visible, and the readable ones all included the word “Villas”.

So one of these was probably their home, I now need to follow that up next time I am down at the West Sussex Record Office by having a look at some maps, and perhaps see if I can find out when they changed name. At least now I have a pretty good idea of where to look when I get there.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 4 – Cobbs Mill to Ruckford Mill

20 Jun

Although I was familiar with both ends of the next stage of my Sussex Day walk, I had never actually walked between the two before. A footpath leads past the front of Cobbs Mill, and across the mill stream, and out into the countryside.

The mill itself has been recently restored, but it is sadly not open to the public (except on very rare occasions) because it is also a private house now, part of which is up for sale.

This was probably the most enjoyable and relaxed stretch of the whole walk, unfortunately it was quite short, probably about a mile and a half in length. What made the first section of this part of the walk so memorable was the fact that I was walking along the side of the mill stream which had once powered the watermill.

I followed the stream for about half a mile before the path left the side of the stream. The water was almost still, and the plants on the banks were beginning to take over. The stream buzzed with insects and the occasional bird. The highlight however was the sighting of a grass snake making it’s way across a small bridge, sadly it kept itself well hidden but I did manage to get one photo of it.

The path continued to an area north of Hurstpierpoint (near Hurstpierpoint College) known to me as Ruckford. This was home to my more recent GASSON roots, in fact very close to home, my grandparents lived here for a few years and my father was born here. Although there is another watermill here, there was no family connection with it and one would be hard pressed to recognise now.

It had been many years since I had been over here, we used to visit almost weekly when my great aunt lived here, my brother and I coming over to mow the grass. That seems so many years ago now.

The 1911 census is complete, so I can have a look at the enumerator’s summary books at last

18 Jun

I wrote a post over three months ago about the up coming release of the Enumerator’s Summary Books for the 1911 census and how I wanted to view the page for my 2x great grandmother Mary Ann GASSON to try and pin-point exactly where Gorewood Green was in Hurstpierpoint, Sussex.

Well, finally the summary books have arrived at the 1911 census website, along with all the other remaining records, and the 1911 census blog claims that the 1911 census is now complete and who am I to argue. I must admit that I started to lose interest after the Sussex data had been uploaded and explored, because by 1911 pretty much all of my ancestors had arrived in Sussex!

Now I need to go back and see what else can be learnt from these summary books and I have already made a start with the one relating to Mary Ann GASSON. From the neighbouring properties (the Sportsman Inn, Huntsmoor, Shalfords, Gate House and the Isolation Hospital) I now have a pretty good idea of where to look for Gorewood Green, and it looks more and more like Gorewood Green is actually a varient of Goddards’ Green, the current name for the area. I think I will have to have a close look at some maps when I next visit the West Sussex Record Office.

What a way to spend Sussex Day!

16 Jun

Phew! Even by my standards that was quite a walk. Sitting on the bus on the way home my pedometer had registered 38,731 steps, that’s just short of 19 miles. Just to round things up I got off the bus a stop early and made it up to 20 miles with an extra little walk.

Sitting on the bus my legs were beginning to ache, not a lot of leg room. I just hoped they would still move when it was time to get off! Still nothing that a nice long soak in the bath won’t sort out.

My digital camera must have very nearly reached it’s capacity, although I did have a spare memory card with me, and spare batteries which I needed. So expect to see plenty of photos on this blog in the next few days and weeks. They are mostly of the Sussex scenery, but there are several churches and several ancestral connections.

I will try and plot my route on a Google Map, but for those interested the key places were: Henfield (starting point), Blackstone, Sayers Common, Hurst Wickham, Hurstpierpoint, Wolstonbury Hill, Clayton and Hassocks (finishing point). I will give a full description when I have recovered (an early night tonight I think) pointing out the genealogical highlights along the way!

I am really pleased I went walking, it was a beautiful day, perhaps a little warm at times (and a bit of a rush to get back home). I visited several areas I had never been to before and reacquainted myself with some I haven’t visited for a long time. Most of all however I enjoyed being out in Sussex, in what I would consider typical Sussex countryside, on Sussex Day.

Here is one photo to be going on with, Sussex stretched out beneath me, as I surveyed the countyside from the vantage point of Wolstonbury Hill.

Sussex as far as the eye can see (although there may be some Surrey tucked away right at the back)

Sussex as far as the eye can see (although there may be some Surrey tucked away right at the back)

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