Tag Archives: sussex day

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.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 3 – Sayers Common to Cobbs Mill

19 Jun

There was little of genealogical interest in the centre of Sayers Common, my interests were further north-east. So apart from paying a visit to the the parish church and checking on condition of the three TROWER gravestones there I quickly moved on. From the church my Sussex Day walk saw me heading north along the main road before turning east onto Mill Lane.

One end of Mill Lane is now tangled up with the entrance and exit roads from the current London to Brighton road (the A23). A bridge takes Mill Lane across the A23 and just around the corner the character of the road changes completely as the noise of the traffic begins to fade and I was back in the countryside again.

A short distance down Mill Lane (about a quarter of a mile) is the junction with Langton Lane (coming north from Hurstpierpoint) and it is this spot that I like to think of as the epicentre of my TROWER roots in Sayers Common.

Standing at the end of Langton Lane I really felt like I was standing in the shadows of my ancestors. A few yards in front of me to my left was Vicarage Cottage, where my 2x great grandparents Ebenezer and Annie TROWER and their family (until they grew up and found places of their own) lived for around half a century.

To my right, hidden behind a tall hedgerow was Cobbs Mill, the watermill from which Mill Lane got it’s name, and which provided employment for my great grandfather Henry John TROWER and his brother Percy Ebenezer TROWER.

I had been here several times before, but had never had time to stop for long and consider the importance of this place in my family history. The ancestors that passed this way on a daily basis, perhaps on foot like me, or perhaps on a push bike, maybe even a horse and cart.

If I wound back the clock far enough I would see the children heading off towards the school in the village, their mother perhaps hanging the washing out to dry in the bright sunshine and father off to work in the vicarage garden. Fast-forward a few years and I would see the two youngest boys leave to fight in the First World War, and would share in the sadness when news reached home that one of them would not be returning.

There was so much family history here, so much happened so close to this spot, some of it happy, some of it sad, but all of it needs to be remembered and shared equally.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 2 – Blackstone to Sayers Common

18 Jun

The next stage of my Sussex Day walk saw me head north-east, more or less turning my back on the South Downs. I was heading towards Sayers Common, and for this part of the route the quickest and easiest way (admittedly probably not the safest way) to get there was by following the road.

For the most part these were country roads, firstly Blackstone Lane, which did have more cars than I was expecting for a country road, but it had wide verges and the road was straight, so I could be seen (and avoided) quite easily.

The next section was a bit more hazardous, but thankfully quite short. Blackstone Lane joined the main road (the B2116) and for about a quarter of a mile I was walking alongside this quite busy road with all manor of vehicle rushing past. Fortunately there was quite a good verge and I was able to step off the road when traffic came hurtling towards me.

The section of main road lead me east to a place called High Cross. Which in my mind is really only a road junction with a few houses clustered round. Several roads met here, including Reed’s Lane the road I was to take. I was glad to get away from the main road and back out onto the relatively quiet country road.

Reed’s Lane heads north-east, more or less in a straight line to Sayers Common about a mile and a half away. Although the road is not even a B-road some drivers seemed to be treating it like a motorway. I was again glad to reach Sayers Common, where there were pavements along the side of the road and speed limits.

I guess Sayers Common’s main claim to fame is that it used to be on the main London to Brighton road until the modern A23 by-passed it to the east. It’s genealogical claim to fame is that this is where my 2x great grandparents Ebenezer and Annie TROWER moved to with their two children around 1892 (they went on to have another four children).

The family had been living in Henfield before they moved to Sayers Common, and although I don’t know how they actually made the move or which route they took, my walk today was in a small way a commemoration of that trip.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 1 – Henfield to Blackstone

17 Jun

I decided to start my Sussex Day walk from Henfield, Sussex and more specifically from St Peter’s Church, Henfield. Henfield was the home to my TROWER ancestors (and the many others families that they married) for something like 300 years, and of course the church was an important part of this, with numerous baptisms, marriages and burials taking place here over the centuries.

From the church my route took me back down to the High Street and then continued on a path that ran almost in a striaght line due east for almost two miles. At the end of this path was a little hamlet called Blackstone. The path was a perfect transition from the built up (it would be hard to actually call it urban) village of Henfield and out into the Sussex countryside.

From Henfield High Street the path began as a normal residential street (Furners Lane), this gradually changed to a country lane, then to a sunken lane and further still a green lane and finally little more than a normal footpath (if I didn’t have a hundred and one other things to do I would love to find out the history of that path).

Along the path, gaps in the hedgerows afforded two contrasting views. To the north was the flat Sussex countryside and to the south was the hills of the South Downs in the distance.

This was only the second time I had been through Blackstone, and I didn’t even know it was there until last year. As far as I know there are no ancestral connections here and no parish church (it is part of Woodmancote parish I believe).

There is very little in Blackstone other than houses, as well as no church, there was no pub or shops either as far as I could see. When I saw on the map there was a public telephone here I expected to find an iconic red telephone box. I should have known better, instead there was an ugly modern kiosk on the side of a row of houses, so disappointing.

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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