Tag Archives: steyning

Wordless Wednesday: Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding, West Sussex

8 Feb

Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding, West Sussex (2nd July 2011)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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South Downs Way: Pyecombe to Washington

2 Jun

South Downs Way sign

I was up early today and on the bus at 7:30am heading for Pyecombe, East Sussex and the start of the next section of the South Downs Way. After quick stop at the service station to pick up some drinks, I was striding up the side of West Hill.

From West Hill the South Downs Way leads down to Saddlescombe, which is a small hamlet, more like a large farm, owned by the National Trust. There is a tea-shop which is unfortunately closed on a Wednesday. There is also another unusual feature, a donkey wheel (shown below), which is a treadmill that was used to draw water up from a well.

Saddlescombe Donkey Wheel

It didn’t really explore the farm, I wasn’t sure if it was really open or not, but I wanted to press on. From Saddlescombe the path leads up Summer Down along the southern side of Devil’s Dyke. Devil’s Dyke is a well known beauty spot, with a fascinating history, which has been attracting sightseers for years, mainly due to it’s proximity to nearby Brighton.

Devil's Dyke

Devil’s Dyke is a large dry valley (shown above), but the whole area has really adopted the name, as has the pub at the top of the northern side of the valley. A branch of the railway from Brighton used to bring visitors up the hill, where they could enjoy a variety of amusements, such as a cable car across the valley and a funicular railway that ran down the north slope of the hill.

From Devil’s Dyke the South Downs Way runs west across the top of a succession of hills, Fulking Hill, Perching Hill, Edburton Hill and finally to Truleigh Hill. Truleigh Hill has also had an interesting history, from World War Two Radar Station to Cold War Bunker. Today it is best known as home to four radio masts (shown below) which serve as a landmark for miles around, especially at night when the warning lights at the top of the masts are visible.

Truleigh Hill radio masts

From Truleigh Hill the path descends (mainly gently) down to the River Adur valley, near Upper Beeding. Across the other side of the river is the lovely little Saxon church at Botolphs (shown below), but I didn’t have time to visit the church (and I have visited it in the past).

St Botolphs Church

From near Botolphs the South Downs Way starts to head northwards, on the hills to the west of the town of Steyning, before turning westwards again heading towards the village Washington, with fantastic views across the weald to the north. Before reaching Washington the path passes Chanctonbury Ring (shown below), another famous Sussex landmark.

Chanctonbury Ring

Chanctonbury Ring has a long history, with traces of a Roman temple, an Iron Age hill fort and a ring of trees that were planted in 1760 by Charles Goring of nearby Wiston. I had been straining for my first sight of Chanctonbury Ring as I approached, not only because it would prove some much needed shelter for me to sit and have a break, but also because it is like an old friend to me, whether up close or for miles around.

It also helped that Chanctonbury Ring marked the final high point of the walk and from here it was literally all down hill, from the top of Chanctonbury Hill down into the valley, just south of the village of Washington and a bus home (by way of Horsham).

According to the official guide book, today’s walk was 13¾ miles, there were some quite challenging climbs in some quite hot weather (it wasn’t supposed to have been so warm), although there were a few small diversions, such as the start at Pyecombe which took the total up to nearer 15 miles.

Some of those diversions were for trig points (I couldn’t finish without a trig point), in all there were three trig points today, at Devil’s Dyke, Steyning Bowl and the one shown below on Chanctonbury Hill just west of Chanctonbury Ring.

Chanctonbury Hill trig point

Have I reached the end of the trail with Mercy TROWER?

13 Jan

The death certificate for Mercy STEADMAN (née TROWER) has arrived from the GRO and it has failed to provide the answer that I had hoped for. If anything it caused a bit of confusion, until I actually figured out what was going on.

The reason for ordering a copy of the certificate was to try and find the name of Mercy’s husband. Under the occupation heading it should have told me that she was a widow and given her ex-husband’s name.

Unfortunately the informant who registered the death didn’t know what her husband’s name was, so all I have is Widow of — Steadman Occupation unknown. Not very helpful to say the least.

It hadn’t occurred to me that because Mercy’s husband had died before 1891, there would be a good chance that whoever registered the death, possibly four decades later, probably never knew who Mercy’s husband was.

The confusion came from the place of death, 2 Upper Shoreham Road, Kingston-by-Sea. This wasn’t the same as her address that was also given on the death certificate (97 Wellington Road, Portslade-by-Sea).

The key to this puzzle is the Steyning Union Workhouse. It appears that the address of the workhouse was 2 Upper Shoreham Road, and the informant who registered the death was H[orace] W[alter] Cawcutt, the master of the Steyning Poor Law Institution.

I know that when Mercy died in 1929 her estate was valued at £404 12s 2d, so she wasn’t exactly a pauper, so my guess is that she was in the workhouse due to ill health (the workhouse would later become part of Southlands Hospital).

So I didn’t find out who Mercy’s husband was, but I haven’t quite given up hope of finding out his name. Records from the Steyning Union Workhouse are apparently held at the East Sussex Record Office, including admission and death registers, there may be a clue held within their pages.

Introducing the HAYBITTLE family

5 Nov

I have spent a couple of evenings this week filling in the gaps in the HAYBITTLE family. My 3x great-grandparents Jane HAYBITTLE and Henry TROWER married in Henfield, Sussex on the 3rd November 1847. Together they had thirteen children including my 2x great-grandfather Ebenezer TROWER.

Jane HAYBITTLE was from the neighbouring parish of Ashurst, Sussex and was the daughter of John and Harriet HAYBITTLE, she baptised in Ashurst on the 16th December 1827.

Jane appears to have been one of nine children, although the youngest died as an infant. John HAYBITTLE and Harriet WOOD were married on the 8th November 1823 in nearby Steyning, Sussex although both were born in Ashurst.

John appears to be the youngest child of Thomas HAYBITTLE and Mary DALE, who were married in Washington, Sussex on the 13th May 1776. It looks like they had seven children in total, the first six being baptised in Ashington, Sussex and the last one, John, was baptised in Ashurst, Sussex.

It appears that some time between 1795 and 1800 the family moved from Ashington parish to Ashurst parish, which is not a great distance, about four or five miles. As well as the children of John and Harriet being baptised in Ashurst, there are a couple of other HAYBITTLE families, Thomas and Barbara and William and Ann, who were probably also the children of Thomas and Mary HAYBITTLE.

For this work I used the following sources: Census returns on Ancestry.co.uk, Ashurst parish register transcriptions from the Parish Register Transcription Society and the Sussex Marriage Index CD from the SFHG. The parish register entries will need checking at a later date for accuracy.

I have gone back a little bit further than I needed to for my Christmas Tree Project, but I feel I have a good understanding now of where my HAYBITTLE family came from and good base from which to carry out further research at a later date.

A postcard puzzle to ponder

1 Aug

I picked up this postcard in Exeter whilst on holiday, I wouldn’t normally have bothered with it, but there were a couple of things about it that appealed to me, which meant I just had to have it.

Church Street, Steyning (front)

The subject of the card is not particularly rare, but I do have a personal connection with it. Church Street, Steyning is probably best known as the home of Steyning Grammar School where I went to school for several years.

This in itself wouldn’t normally be enough to make me buy it, as I said it is not particularly rare to find a postcard of Church Street and I don’t think this is a particularly good picture either. What really caught my attention was the addressee and message.

Church Street, Steyning (back)

Just in case you couldn’t read the message on the front, here it is again, but the right way round this time.

Church Street, Steyning (message)

This is what intrigued me. A card of Steyning, Sussex was being forwarded by George Coleman of Hove to a gentleman in Belgium, in 1903. Why?

What business was George Coleman in? Why did he have a stamp made with his details on? Does this mean he forwarded a lot of postcards? Was he involved in publishing postcards? Was this being sent as a sample of his work? And who was the gentleman in Belgium? What did he want with a postcard of Steyning?

Perhaps one day I will find some answers. Next time I am at the Brighton History Centre I will do some digging in some local directories and see if I can find an entry for George Coleman, that will at least give me somewhere to start.

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