Tag Archives: west dean

Picture Postcard Parade: West Dean Church, Sussex

27 Jan

This is one of the postcards I bought last weekend at Shoreham and is one of the best views of West Dean Church that I have seen.

In fact I don’t think I have seen a postcard from this angle before, roughly speaking the photo was taken from the garden of the vicarage looking south towards St. Andrew’s Church, above the roof of the church can be seen the roof and chimneys of West Dean House. Beyond that I think the hill on the left is probably Singletonhill Plantation, but I am not sure.

I love the fact that the photographer has captured the detail in the garden as well, with lots of fruit trees and what looks like a rose arch pointing towards the church tower. The gateway to the church is hidden behind the tall plant(s) in the centre, but the path can clearly be seen leading down the side of the garden and along the back wall.

I still don’t know who the publisher/photographer was, despite now having several from the same publisher/photographer. This particular card was not sent through the post, but it does have a message written on the back in pencil “The Church at West Dean we attended on Sunday [Cheerie] Chums August Camp 10th – 17th 1929″. The word Cheerie is not very clear but it is the only thing can I think it says, I wonder who they were and where they came from?

Something Sussex: Mae West’s lips – the Sussex connection

25 Nov

It was something of a surprise to discover that the tiny rural village of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex has a connection with such a famous and iconic piece of furniture.

The sofa is inspired by the lips of actress and sex symbol Mae West, and was the result of a collaboration between surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and Edward James (of West Dean Estate). I don’t know what exactly that collaboration involved or whether it took place in West Dean itself or elsewhere.

apparently there were five sofas made originally, although I suspect there have been many more copies made since the late 1930s when it was designed. The one pictured above is one of those five and is to be found on display behind glass in the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

I have long been an admirer of Dalí’s work, and have visited exhibitions of his work in both London and Paris and it seems almost inconceivable that there could be a connection with the tiny ancestral village nestling at the foot of the South Downs. I really am going to have to find out more about his connection with West Dean. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors bumped into Dalí whilst working in the gardens or West Dean House itself?

Picture Postcard Parade: School Lane, West Dean

23 Nov

I did say last week that I didn’t have any more postcards of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex, well it was true at the time but I acquired three more at the weekend, so here goes with another one.

This is a wonderful view of School Lane, West Dean but I have to be honest and say I am not certain where exactly School Lane is. I think it is the road that runs down past the burial ground, which would be up the top of the road in the picture on the left-hand side. I think I have located the cottages on an old map, but it looks like they are no longer there now so I probably won’t be able to verify if I have the right place. Nevertheless I will check next time I pay a visit, just in case some element of the scene remains, perhaps the railings on the right-hand side of the road.

The card itself is a little battered around the edges, but then it is over 100 years old, being posted on the 1st August 1907 at Chichester. There are no clues as to the publisher or photographer of the card. As you can see below there is quite an intriguing message on the back.

I wonder what was in the parcel and why it was so urgent? Was the sender at the races at nearby Goodwood (there was racing that week at Goodwood) and then off to Cowes on the Isle of Wight for a spot of yachting? In the 1911 census we find Ernest Albert and Ada Harriet Smoker living at 34 Birkhall Road, Catford, London, so it looks like Ernest was writing home to his wife for something, but what? I guess we shall probably never know.

Picture Postcard Parade: West Dean Church

16 Nov

This is probably going to be last of my West Dean postcards for the time being, I think I have exhausted my West Dean collection, but don’t worry I still have plenty of other cards to write about.

As the caption says this is West Dean Church (near Chichester, Sussex) seen from the west looking through the church gate to the ivy clad tower. There are no clues on the back of the card to suggest the date or publisher/photographer. I am guessing that it is probably before the fire in 1934.

According to the church guide book the tower “was built by the Woods family of Chilgrove (not Chilgrove Manor) in 1726, this date being on the sundial on the south side. It holds three bells, one of 1601, one of 1651 and one of uncertain date, all recast 1936. The Woods family would appear to have been very proud of this tower. The last Mr. John Woods, aided by some of his workmen, would be let over the top in a bosun’s chair in order that he might cut the ivy and point the stonework, a task that he always made his own.”

I don’t know who is responsible for the maintainance of the church tower now, but as you can see from the photo below (taken by me on the 16th June 2010) it looks in splendid ivy free condition.


Remembrance 2010: Walter BOXALL (1897-1917)

14 Nov

This year I am remembering the six members of the BOXALL family recorded on the war memorial in the parish church at West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex.

I have previously written about Walter BOXALL (actually Walter Henry BOXALL), most recently when I was looking at the story that James and Caroline BOXALL had 27 children. I am happy that he wasn’t one of their children, but he appears to have been treated as if he was one.

I have a copy of his birth certificate which shows that his mother was Alice Ruth BOXALL although his father’s identity is not known. He was born on the 27th May 1897 at 10 Arthur Street, Caerleon, Monmouthshire, Wales. I have no idea why his mother was in Wales at the time of his birth.

He was back in West Dean in the for the 1901 census, when he was living with his grandparents, but in 1911 he his still living with his grandparents but is described as their son. He attended school at West Dean between the 14th October 1901 and the 26th May 1911 and left school to work on a farm.

With regard to his military service I know very little, really only what is included in Soldiers Died in the Great War and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Walter apparantly enlisted at Chichester, Sussex (which is not surprising) and served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (regimental number: G/11744).

Interestingly this was the same battalion as Sidney Charles BOXALL (his 1st cousin once removed), but this is probably just a coincidence. He was killed in action on the 10th July 1917, but that is about the limit of my knowledge.

As well as the West Dean war memorial, Walter Henry BOXALL is remembered on the Nieuport Memorial, Belgium.

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