It has been a while since I showed you a postcard from West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex. The postcard below is of West Dean House, the centre of the West Dean Estate (maybe not physically, but metaphorically).
The postcard shows the front (the southern side) of West Dean House bathed in sunshine, you can tell because most of the windows are shaded by striped blinds. Unfortunately the sunshine also obscures much of the detail, so that you can’t see that the front of the building is faced with thousands of flints.
To the left of the entrance and above the top of the building you can see the top of the tower of St. Andrew’s Church peeking out above the roof, with its four distinctive mini-spires (I’m sure they have a proper name).
The card itself is unused, but the name in the bottom right-hand corner seems to give away the name of the photographer. However “Russell Chichester” suggests that George Henry Allen of Chichester, Sussex was the publisher and rather confusingly the photographer may have been either Thomas Russell or George Henry Allen. Without any further dating evidence it is going to hard for me to say which.
I can’t wait for some bright and warm days when I can head back to West Dean myself and walk some of the footpaths and explore the parish further.
I bought this postcard over a month ago now and I am so pleased with it that I don’t know why I have shown you it until now. It still makes me smile every time I look at it.
This postcard was printed and published by The Mezzotint Co. of Brighton, Sussex. It was posted on the 5th October 1906 from Framfield itself, destined for a Mrs. Brooker in Battle, Sussex. Technically speaking because the card is printed the detail is not quite so sharp as on a photographic card, but it is still an excellent card in my opinion.
Several generations of my ancestors probably passed through that school, although I have yet to find the school admission registers to prove it. I wonder why the children are standing outside and why so few? Were they late for class or perhaps early? Who are the two older figures? I love the bicycle leaning against the hedge, almost taller than the girl standing next to it.
What was most surprising to me is that the building is still in use as a school. Despite a few changes to the buildings they are still recognisable, but fortunately there were no children standing in the road when the Google Street View car went past.
As I am still struggling to come back down to earth after the weekend at Who Do You Think You Are? Live I thought it might be a good idea to remind myself of where my roots are and to provide a complete contrast to the city streets of London.
This card was published by Frederick Douglas Miller, you might just be able to make out his name embossed in the bottom-right corner, along with the words “The Sussex Series”. He produced some spectacular photographic views of Sussex, which usually command a high price. This particular card was sent from nearby Worthing, Sussex on the 28th May 1918, to an address in Streatham, London.
As the caption says, this is Chanctonbury Ring. I have mentioned Chanctonbury Ring before, I passed it whilst walking the South Downs Way (and sat in the shade of the trees and had something to eat). It is a superb vantage point as it is one of the highest points in Sussex, on a clear day the views are spectacular. When I was last here (in July 2010) the conditions weren’t perfect, but you get the idea.
According to Wikipedia Bertrand Russell once remarked that “any view that includes Chanctonbury Ring is a good view” and I would have to whole-heartedly agree with him. Chanctonbury Ring and that particular stretch of the South Downs has provided a back-drop to my life and I am sure to the lives of many of my ancestors.
It is such a prominent landmark, that it is visible for miles (on a clear day). In fact there is an old saying around these parts that if you can clearly see Chanctonbury Ring then it is a sign that rain is on the way, and if you can’t see it then it is already raining. We country folk like to keep our weather forecasting simple!
Regular readers of my blog might recognize this view, I have featured similar views a couple of times before (here and here) and last week we were just up the road. It is of course the entrance to the ancestral village of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex, with the school on the left and the Selsey Arms pub on the right.
The difference with this card is its age, this card is postmarked 16th August 1950, probably making it at least two or three decades later than the others, and it was published the well-known publisher Raphael Tuck and Sons, Ltd.
There are a couple of clues in the picture which hint at a more “modern” card. At the bottom of the card is the end of a white line in the middle of the road, according to Wikipedia the first white lines in the UK appeared in 1921. The other noticeable difference is the line of telegraph poles on the left hand side of the road, look at all those insulators on the nearest one.
The nearest pole also has a small sign attached to it, in fact it is probably two signs, one facing each way along the road. I believe that they have the word telephone on them (this printed postcard is not detailed enough to be able to tell for certain), indicating to passing motorists the presence of a telephone kiosk nearby. Last time I was wandering around West Dean there was a telephone box down the road on the right-hand side of the road, just before the pub.
I wish the card was more detailed because I think I can see a bus stop on the left-hand side of the road (for buses towards Midhurst, Sussex) beyond the pub. Today the bus stop is a bit closer, almost opposite the pub, and has a bus shelter for when it rains.
The postcard below is currently one of my favourite postcards (and one of my most recent purchases). It shows part of the village of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex including the distinctive school building, which is the closest of the buildings on the left-hand side of the road.
I believe the wall in the bottom right-hand corner is part of the bridge where the road from Chichester to Midhurst crosses over the now disused railway which also ran from Chichester to Midhurst. I think that the bank in the bottom left-hand corner is part of the railway cutting. Google Street View clearly shows the bridge from the other side, but the view has been substantially altered by the presence of more trees.
This postcard was sent on the 8th August 1924, from West Dean to an address in Alton, Hampshire. It was produced by same person who was responsible for the postcard of West Dean Church I showed you last week. The style of the caption on that postcard is identical to this and at least one other in my collection. Unfortunately I don’t yet know who that person was.