Whenever I visit a church I usually buy a copy of the church guide if there is one, they usually give a bit of background to the history of the church, its architecture and sometimes its people.
I wouldn’t normally bother with a little guide-book like this, which I discovered in a collectables shop in Eastbourne, East Sussex, on the basis that it is somewhat out of date and rather battered. However because I have ancestors from Shoreham I gave it a second glance, I noticed that the previous owner had actually written his name on it Arthur Harding Norwood and dated it Nov 1898.
What also stood out was that Arthur Harding Norwood had actually scribbled some comments in the guide-book, and that these comments were less than complimentary.
His comments begin on the front cover with the addition of the word VANDAL to name of the author and vicar of Old Shoreham Church the Rev. H. C. Adams, M.A.
We learn the reason for this on page 19, where the guide describes the church at New Shoreham:
Other improvements have been effected of late years. The heavy and unsightly pews have given way to open sittings and chairs, and the whole appearance of the church greatly improved.
At the foot of the page Arthur Harding Norwood has scribbled a note, Are chairs (especially ugly ones) in a church suitable or picturesque?
The guide-book itself begins by describing the situation of the two Shorehams:
The two Shorehams, Old and New, situated on the Sussex coast, half-way between Brighton and Worthing, are places of considerable interest, though no longer of the commercial and naval importance which attached to them some centuries ago. Their decay must be a matter of regret to all connected with them, and the more so because the local advantages, which in the first instance gave them pre-eminence, still exist unimpaired; nor is anything needed but a due employment of capital and enterprise to restore them to their ancient position.
The opening paragraph doesn’t escape Arthur Harding Norwood’s comment, “Capital & enterprise” would never restore Shoreham to it’s “ancient position,” if Shoreham were to be restored it would be converted into a hideous little Liverpool, with factories smoke & filth, the “restoration” began a few years ago with the hideous chemical works. The latest “improvement” being the hateful “Dolphin” Soap Works at Kingston.
The comment above is actually signed and dated (November 1898) but there is another comment, which is dated the 3rd October 1924, “Capital & enterprise” have built a hideous new bridge, in place of the Norfolk. “Enterprise” by the local Council of Vandals, in filling in the grand strips of water above the bridge – with reffuse from Shoreham dustbins, the stench from which is vile.
I would love to know why Arthur Harding Norwood made these comments, and whether they ever went any further than his own copy of the guide-book. I can just imagine him writing letters to The Times or a local newspaper.
I couldn’t help trying to find out who Arthur Harding Norwood was. It turns out that he was a painter, there are references to several of his paintings being sold at auction, but they give no idea of the value they attained (unless I subscribe). I have also found a reference to fact that some of his work was exhibited in London by the Society of British Artists.