Tag Archives: sussex day 2010

What to call Singleton Church?

18 Jun

After walking part of the South Downs Way on Wednesday I took the bus to Singleton, West Sussex, just to have a quick look around the village and especially the parish church, which is really the only place that I knew for certain had a connection with my BOXALL ancestors.

Singleton parish church

A notice on the door proclaimed the church to be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it wasn’t until I was on the way home that I thought something was quite right with that.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered seeing a postcard which had referred to it as being dedicated to the St John the Evangelist, now I was confused. It is not unheard of for postcard publishers to get their captions wrong on postcards, but I am sure it wasn’t just on one postcard that I had seen that name, had I imagined it?

I went online in search of an answer, to the catalogues of the West Sussex Record Office on Access to Archives, and soon found the answer among the catalogue of records for the parish of Singleton:

Administrative history:

Surviving medieval sources indicate, but do not prove absolutely, that Singleton church was originally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The dedication appears to have been lost after the Reformation, and the church was simply referred to as the parish church. A misreading by C. Gibbon in ‘Dedications of Churches and Chapels in West Sussex’ (SAC vol. 12, 1860) of money bequeathed to Sir John of Singleton as money bequeathed to St. John of Singleton, led to the belief for the next century that the church was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. When the error was discovered, the church was rededicated in March 1979, and is now the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Singleton. (See SAC vol. 118, p.385-387)

So it seems that I hadn’t imagined the wrong name, it had once been dedicated to St John the Evangelist, mistakenly as it turned out, and then in 1979 it reverted back to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The postcard would almost certainly have been published in the early 1900s when it was known as St John the Evangelist. It also seems that for a period it didn’t have a dedication at all.

This raises questions for my research and I certainly need to be careful how I refer to the church in my research. Would my ancestors have known it as St John the Evangelist? or just the parish church? What do the actual parish registers record as the dedication? I sure know how to make things more complicated for myself.

Interior of Singleton parish church

South Downs Way: Amberley to Cocking

17 Jun

South Downs Way sign

Yesterday saw another early start, not only I am starting to get further away from home, but also I wanted some time at the ancestral villages of Singleton and West Dean once I had reached the other end of the days walk. This is the last section of the walk that is wholly in the county of West Sussex, next time I will be crossing the border into Hampshire.

I had walked the first few miles of the route before, but that must have been 15 to 20 years ago and the only thing I remember is the first hill, Bury Hill (pictured below), which rises up from the River Arun at Amberley, West Sussex.

Bury Hill, Amberley, West Sussex

I remember vividly how last time the climb nearly killed me, but all this walking I have been doing must be paying off because it was nowhere near as bad as I had imagined it would be, and now I look at the photo it doesn’t look that daunting at all.

On the whole this section of the South Downs Way wasn’t quite as flat as some of the previous sections, and several times the path dropped down into a valley before climbing back up onto the hills on the opposite side. It is quite re-assuring to be able to look across the valley and see the path continuing onwards, such as the photo below which shows Bignor Hill as seen from Westburton Hill.

Bignor Hill from Westburton Hill

I have frequently seen or heard that the South Downs Ways follows ancient pathways, and just past Bignor Hill there is an excellent example of this, where part of South Downs Way passes along Stane Street, the Roman road running from Chichester to London. This is commemorated by the fingerpost (shown below) pointing the way to Noviomagus (Chichester) and Londinium (London), although I think the other small sign should have said "NO CHARIOTS" rather than "NO CARS".

Bignor fingerpost

Nearby Stane Street is Glatting Beacon (pictured below), which dominates the sky line with it’s two radio masts bristling with aerials and dishes. Also amongst the trees is a trig point, but I deliberately skipped this one (and an earlier one on Bury Hill) to save time. The views southwards from just below Glatting Beacon are quite fantastic, down to the City of Chichester and the coast, as usual the view was a bit hazy.

Glatting Beacon and sheep

As I walked further west the hills started to become more wooded, although there were still gaps where some spectacular views opened up, mostly to the north, such as in the photo below from the fingerpost near Crown Tegleaze.

View from Tegleaze Post

Further west still, on Graffham Down, the nature of the path changes completely as it enters into a woodland corridor, completely blocking the views to the north and south for about a mile and a half, and providing some welcome shade from the midday sun.

Soon though the shade vanished and I was out on Heyshott Down, and on the look out for the trig point (pictured below). I had thought it would be nice to stop and sit by the trig point and have my lunch, as it was almost guaranteed to have some fine views. Unfortunately the field was occupied by cattle, and I didn’t fancy sharing my lunch with them. A footpath leads across the field, straight past the trig point, so I went and got some photos, whilst watching where I was treading!

Trig point and cattle

From Heyshott Down the path descended for the final time that day to Hillbarn Farm and the nearby car park on the main road. As seems to be the norm I ended the walk next to a busy road, and as is my usual luck I was about a minute from the bus stop when I saw the bus rush past the end of the farm track.

At least it gave me time to find a shady spot in the car park and sit down and eat my lunch and take the weight off my feet. The buses here, just south of the village of Cocking, are pretty frequent (every half hour) and fortunately the route back to Chichester (and the train home), would take me through Singleton and West Dean, where I could do some ancestral wandering.

Happy Sussex Day 2010!

16 Jun

The 16th June is Sussex Day, a day to celebrate the county of Sussex, England (technically that should be East Sussex and West Sussex, but lets not argue). Like last year I decided to celebrate the day by walking around Sussex, and so I could kill two birds with one stone I decided to walk the next section of the South Downs Way (from Amberley to Cocking).

After finishing on the South Downs Way I had chance to spend a couple of hours in nearby Singleton and West Dean, both ancestral villages which I felt I really ought to get to know better. I didn’t really have long in either place, but it was a start.

Over the next couple of days I will be posting some details and some photos, from both the South Downs Way and the two villages.

Like last year the weather was absolutely beautiful, it began quite cloudy and with a strong wind, but that soon cleared and the sun did it’s best to help Sussex celebrate in style. The only slight disappointment was my pedometer deciding to pack up (battery trouble I think) so I am not sure what the total mileage was. The South Downs Way was supposed to be 12 miles and I probably added another 3 miles at Singleton and West Dean.

Now I will leave you with a photo of the trig point on Heyshott Down, with a fantastic view to the north (although a little hazy), whilst I try and work out the revised rules for the free access to findmypast.co.uk on the next England match day!

Heyshott Down trig point

Sussex Day 2010 is nearly here

4 Jun

The 16th June is Sussex Day, an excuse to celebrate everything and anything to do with the county of Sussex.

There are a few events organised to mark the occasion, but never being one to follow the crowd I shall probably do my own thing, probably involving walking and family history.

Last year I ended up walking 20 miles through the Sussex countryside visiting several ancestral villages, houses and churches along the way, before ending up on top of Wolstonbury Hill, overlooking the landscape where my ancestors lived.

Until now I haven’t really given much thought to what I will do to mark Sussex Day this year, but weather permitting I shall probably do something similar, but maybe not quite so far this time around.

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