Alex over at the Winging It blog (and Queen of one-place studies) issued a challenge to bloggers to write about an ancestral place for the Geneabloggers Those Places Thursday weekly blogging prompt. As usual I procrastinated and couldn’t make up my mind about which place to write about and which place I could do justice to in one blog post. In the end I settled on Hatterells as it has been at the forefront of my mind this week.
My previous posts about Hatterells concerned a specific house (or farm) where my grandmother lived but the name Hatterells also refers to a small area in the parish of West Grinstead, Sussex. To say that the area was sparsely populated would be an understatement, the house I mentioned (or rather pair of houses), seems to have been the only home in the area.
Perhaps because of there doesn’t seem to be a great deal known about the place and this post is possibly more about geography than history, so having said that lets start with a map.
The area I am referring doesn’t have any clearly defined boundaries, the key feature here is the River Adur running roughly north-south through the middle of the map, which divides the area in two. There are four other interesting features that make up the area.
- The bridge crossing the river (marked Hatterell Bridge on the map)
- The site of the various buildings (marked Hatterell on the map)
- The wood to the north-east of the river (not named on the map but known as Hatterells Wood)
- The causeway from the river to the wood (not marked on this map but visible on older maps at larger scales)
The bridge is at the centre of the area I would call Hatterells and if I had to put a boundary on the area then I would probably draw a circle centred on the bridge with a radius of about a third of a mile.
1. The bridge – the current bridge is not particularly attractive, the water beneath it is divided into three separate channels, and at various times the water level downstream is controlled with boards placed across the channels. Interestingly you can find out the water level at Hatterells on the Environment Agency website. This bridge replaces an earlier bridge, which was a lift bridge (described on Ordnance Survey maps as a draw bridge), presumably built when the river was made into a navigation (the Baybridge Canal) in the 1820s. However I am assuming that there was an earlier bridge here.
2. The buildings – although nothing remains now, except a pond and a few bits of debris, there were several buildings here to the west of the river, although I have no real idea of the age or purpose of the buildings. It seems likely that together they made up a farm settlement, probably as part of Clothalls Farm rather than as an independent concern.
3. The wood – the woodland to the east of the river is actually two distinct woods, the northern part is Hatterells Wood, whilst the southern part is Whitenwick Rough. Both woods are on a slope, leading down to the fields along the river. They are divided by a deeply worn track leading straight down through the woods, which is probably six feet below the level of the surrounding ground in places and suggests a well used path of great age.
4. The causeway – between the wood and the bridge is a raised path, barely noticeable at the river end, but nearer the wood it is more clearly defined. The fields here can become quite wet and flood, this path suggests an attempt to provide a drier surface for people passing between the river and the wood. The path is much more noticeable on older maps at larger scales than it is on modern maps.
The more I look at this area the more interesting it seems and certainly worthy of further study, and combining several areas of study, including family history (owners and residents of the buildings), house history (the buildings themselves), landscape history (the woods and paths), industrial history (the river bridge) and even military history because Canadian soldiers trained here during the Second World War.
Whether I have the time to actually investigate this area further is another matter, but it is quite a nice size project (small enough) to work on and of course it has a personal connection to my own family which makes it more worthwhile.