Tag Archives: singleton

Two weeks and counting …

10 Feb

Two weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 at Olympia, London, billed as “the biggest family history event in the world”.

Everything is in place for my three days family history extravaganza, all that I need now is for the snow to clear off and I am all set.

Looking through the list of exhibitors I noticed a rather surprising, but welcome, addition to the usual list of names. The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum from Singleton, West Sussex will have a stand in the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show.

The description from the list of exhibitors gives a good idea of what the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum is all about, “Over 45 rescued buildings rebuilt in a beautiful setting in the South Downs National Park, bringing to life homes, farms and workplaces of the South-east over the past 500 years.

Although there isn’t really a direct connection with family history (except there is in my case), it is a perfect fit for those wishing to learn more about the rural lives of their ancestors. Most rural crafts and occupations are represented at the Weald and Downland in one way or another, especially when you factor in the special events that are held throughout the year.

On top of that you can also take courses at the museum, from working with heavy horses to hedgelaying. As is to be expected from the once heavily wooded counties of Southern England there is a particular emphasis on the use of timber, from charcoal burning to construction techniques.

The museum is a superb place to explore, as I have done on several occasions, and not just because it is set in the Singleton in the South Downs, home to many of my ancestors. If you are at WDYTYA Live then make sure you stop by and find out what they have to offer.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: Singleton Church, West Sussex

19 Oct

The Parish Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Singleton, West Sussex

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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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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Wordless Wednesday: Carpenter’s shop

7 Sep

Carpenter’s shop at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Singleton, West Sussex.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Four font photos

23 Jul

After showing you the beautifully carved marble font at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to show you a few of the other fonts I have photographed this year.

They are all from rural churches in the counties of Sussex and Hampshire and all have a family connection. As you can see they are not quite as ornate as the one at St James’s and most of them are not as old.

From left to right they are:

Chilcomb, Hampshire – the VCH of Hampshire says that “all the internal fittings are modern, the font, with a small bowl on an octagonal shaft, standing on a marble coffin-lid”.

Exton, Hampshire – this font is not as old as it seems, according to the VCH of Hampshire, “near the south door is the modern octagonal font of thirteenth-century style.”

Singleton, Sussex – described in the VCH of Sussex as being “octagonal, perhaps 15th-century”, not very descriptive really.

West Dean, Sussex – much of this church was destroyed by a fire in 1934 and this is obviously a modern font, which doesn’t even get a mention in the VCH of Sussex.

Picture Postcard Parade: The Church, Singleton

13 Jul

This is another before and after post of sorts. The first image is a postcard of the church at Singleton, Sussex. The postcard was unused, but probably dates from 1910-20.

The Church, Singleton

The image below is not from the same position, but it does illustrate what happened to many of the headstones that were pictured on the postcard.

Singleton Headstones

When I visited the church earlier this year I discovered that most of the older headstones had been re-located and were now lined up along one side of the churchyard. I don’t know when this clearance took place, and there are now more modern burials (and headstones) in their place.

New Headstones

Picture Postcard Parade: Interior of Singleton Church

9 Jul

This is actually a bit of a before and after post. The first picture is an undated (circa 1910) postcard of the interior of the church in Singleton, West Sussex.

Interior of Singleton Church

Below is the ‘after’ photo, a similar view taken by me on the 16th June 2010 (Sussex Day).

Singleton Interior 2010

There are two obvious differences between the two, and although I am not an expert on church architecture (in fact it is something I have been meaning to read up on), I think they are the rood beam (that solid chunk of wood stretching from side to side) and the chancel (or rood) screen behind it (the more ornate divider separating the chancel and the nave).

Those two holes in the wall on the left-hand side are the entrances to a set of steps, which suggests to me that there was at one time a more substantial rood loft rather than just a beam, but I could be wrong. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can point me in the direction of a guide on the subject.

I like the fact that very little else seems to have changed, the lectern and pulpit appear to be the same, and even the pews appear to have been retained. The only other significant difference seems to be the lights, presumably now replaced by electric lighting.

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