Prepared by Michael Harrison
Gavin Stamp, architectural historian.
This cottage, in which I spent my early childhood, was demolished long ago. A modern house, 2 Chatsmore Crescent, now stands in its place. When I learned of the demise of the cottage I was upset, but it was not until I was in my 70s that I decided to learn about its past. I have tried here to pull together my few memories and, in doing so, have aimed to preserve memory of the cottage. Now not only has the cottage gone, but this quiet countryside village called Goring, which once housed a tiny dairy farm, has been wiped away to be replaced by a bland and uniform suburbia. Indeed, apart from the large mansions still standing, almost every house and cottage built before the Great War has been destroyed, a shameful local government record.
I have copied photographs from my mother's album, found early maps and, with the enormous help of Richard Howell, examined documents from record offices and libraries to build a modest picture of the life of Walnut Tree Cottage. I hope these pages will secure a bit of the heritage of Goring, and serve to interest future generations of my family.
Goring is an ancient village; the first known vicar of the church of St Mary was appointed in 1321, while the parish register dates back to 1560. Walnut Tree Cottage, which could have been built during the 14th century, stood about 100 yards south of Goring railway station and on the east side of Goring Street. It was demolished in 1958. In addition to Richard Howell's research, architectural historian David Clark kindly gave an opinion of the architectural history of the property. He said that from a study of the photograph the end-stack looks like part of the gable wall, and as the front part of the building has been rendered it may be timber framed. (The rear has no rendering and is of flint construction). The disposition of doors and windows and the position of the ridge stack are odd. Overall this suggests that the building may have medieval origins particularly as the south door is off-centre. The tight placing of the upper windows under the wall-plate suggests that this was the only reasonable position when a floor was inserted into a previously open hall.
That there were two staircases suggests either that there were floored wings at either end of the hall (hence the need for two) or that one derived from the usual division into cottages in the 19th century. If this is right, there may be a lost bay to the left, and one entered via a passage with a large hall to the right and a high-end parlour with chamber above at the far end. When the hall was floored, a stack was placed at the high end of the hall, also heating the parlour. In conclusion David Clark adds that his observations, limited by what the photograph revealed, are speculative but I do remember internal timbers.
Walnut Tree Cottage has been closely associated with the adjacent dairy farm, which was known as Walnut Tree Farm. Unsurprisingly it provided accommodation for whoever was running the farm. Now for a bit of history: the first evidence for the cottage we have is clearly shown within the Yeakell & Gardener map of 1778 (right). Then, as now, the road ran southwards to the sea, although the route might be slightly different as the result of modern development.
The tithe map of 1839 (below) reveals that the farm then consisted of some nine acres, both to the north and south of the cottage and adjacent to the east side of Goring Street. The map includes evidence of out-buildings just south of the cottage and adjacent to Goring Street. The farm stood on plot numbers 249, 256 (orchard), 250 (front field arable) and 243 (front field grass). The cottage itself stood on plot 249 and was described as house, outbuilding and yard. There is also a later map, the OS large-scale map of 1875. This also shows plot numbers, but they bear no relation to those of the earlier tithe map. The cottage sits on plot 139 and the boundaries are the same as those during the 1940s. By then the railway had arrived.
Richard Howell has identified eight occupants of the cottage between 1839 and 1959. Except for the Harrisons it is safe to assume they were all farmers. In 1839, the earliest record available, Thomas Manfield Halliday was identified as the owner, the cottage being occupied by Thomas Belchamber. It might be reasonable to assume that Halliday owned the farm as a whole. He came from Petworth, and also owned land in Thakeham and Washington. Two years later, the 1841 census revealed that Thomas Belchamber was in occupation. He was aged 55 and was born in Littlehamon. He was living with his children Maryann, Charles, and Sarah (aged 20, 15 and 15 respectively). NB census-takers then rounded ages to the nearest five years. By 1851 the census revealed that Belchamber, then recorded as age 62, was farming 25 acres and employing seven labourers. He lived in the cottage with his wife Catherine, aged 51, and daughter Sarah, aged 24. Richard Howell says that seven labourers seems a lot just for 25 acres. Perhaps he had some other occupation, as did many small farmers. In confirmation, the Post Office Directories of 1851 and 1855 list Thomas Bellchamber, farmer and beer retailer and William Carpenter, bricklayer, who was to have a long association at this address.
By 1861 the Belchamber family had gone and the cottage was occupied by William Carpenter builder (sic), with his wife Ellen 49, son Frederick 21, builder, and James Kruger 25, lodger, described as independent: just a few years later in 1867 Kellys Directory listed Charles Carpenter, bricklayer, and William Carpenter, bricklayer. Carpenter was still there in 1871 but by then he had lost his wife, for he is described as a widower. Also in the cottage is a housekeeper by the name of Fanny Saunders, aged 50, and his builder son, Frederick, aged 31. Carpenter is still in occupation during 1881 although he has a new housekeeper named Lavina Arnold, aged 36. His son is not listed. By 1891 Carpenter is still based in the cottage and he is now aged 78. He is described as a farmer. His housekeeper Lavina Arnold remains and he has a new general servant by the name of Mary Kennard, aged 15. It is interesting, says Richard Howell, that Carpenter starts describing himself as a builder but ends describing himself as a farmer. He adds that perhaps Carpenter's son took over the running of the building business and his father looked after the farm in his retirement at 7 1/2 acres it does not seem to have been a very big farm but perhaps he ke a few cattle and sold any surplus milk around the neighbourhood. Of course, Worthing was expanding rapidly at that time so there would have been a ready demand.
By 1901 William Carpenter was probably dead. The census of that year names the farm as Walnut Tree Farm and gives the occupants as Cornelius Mahoney 61, farmer from Co Cork, Ellen Mahoney 58 and son Joseph 26, worker on the farm. Mahoney's name finds a place in the 1905 Kellys Directory where he is listed as a farmer, but there is no mention of his wife and Mahoney is still there in 1914, according to the Worthing & District Local Directory. Indeed there is a still Mahoney occupying "Walnut Tree House & Farm"¯ in 1926, but it is Mrs C Mahoney, her husband being presumably dead by then. This is revealed in a schedule within the legal papers relating to the sale of the Goring Hall Estate. A map details the fields leased by the farm, totaling 22 acres in all.
We move on to 1931. The occupant then was Walter Burton, bailiff to George Harrison (not my relative) of Chatsmore House. The farm was then run by Roderick Hartcup, dairy farmer, so the book Goring Past & Present by J. Vaughan tells us. Hartcupp's yearly rent was £110, the lease having been assigned from William and Ernest Lintott.
Between 1933/34 there was a most significant event, which was the transfer of ownership of the whole Goring Hall Estate to Hesketh Estates. Between the wars land was very cheap and developers were able to take great advantage of low land prices. The deal laid the foundations for the destruction of the cottage.
Returning now to the occupants, there followed more frequent changes, for by 1938 the ever-helpful Kellys Directory lists Archibald William Palmer living in the cottage, described as a dairy farmer of Walnut Tree Farm. Come 1942, as a 10-year old, I moved into the cottage together with my parents Ronald and Frances Harrison (below right, with her sister in the cottage garden) and my brother Geoffrey. Our family had no connection with the farm, and by 1947 we had moved to 215 Goring Way and a Frederick and Nellie Fowler moved into the cottage in 1949. He remained there until 1956. Kellys Directory has told us that the last occupant of Walnut Tree Cottage was Frank Brook. He was there for two years until 1958. In 1959, when passing by, he might well have observed the demolition of the cottage. The following year marked the end of the hamlet of Goring with the emergence of Chatsmore Crescent, which was built upon the track that led to the entrance to the farm and is now lined with new houses.
In 1966 a deed dated April transferred ownership of the land to Campbell Development Ltd and subsequently to Campbell Court, Worthing Ltd, paving the way for the construction of flats in what was the cottage garden.
I have a few memories from the 1940s. Downstairs comprised, on the south side, a large living room adjacent to the street and a kitchen. A short lobby ran to the east, opening out to the farmyard. On the north side there was a dining room and a large room containing wide shelves and ceiling hooks possibly for hanging meat. Upstairs a central landing ran east-west. There was a bathroom on the east side plus at least three bedrooms. One staircase led up from the kitchen, while the other led up from the back door, which would seem to have been regarded as the main door of the house. Walnut Tree Cottage stood adjacent to Goring railway station, separated by a small field just grass and weeds. The house stood at right-angles to the road. On its east side was an embankment built in preparation for a bridge over the railway, with work suspended during the war. The embankment now carries the A259, but back then the only thing there was a Bofors anti-aircraft gun: I, then a boy of 10 years, was ordered by the soldiers to keep well away.
The signal box by the crossing has gone, as have the cottages on the west side of the road. Now the whole country character of that part of Goring has completely disappeared. One thing remains, the lower part of Walnut Tree Cottage's flint garden walls which now front the flats of Campbell Court. They were originally some 10 feet high. We had many chickens which roamed the garden, and a good potato crop. The cottage was adjacent to a small dairy farm (to the right of the picture) which had a field for the cows alongside Goring Street, reaching south to the main road. Often for breakfast I enjoyed creamy milk directly from the dairy.
Walnut Tree cottage was quite large with fine flagstone floors. We had no heating beyond a small stove, and no electricity. An Aladdin paraffin heater kept away the cold, and light came from paraffin mantle lamps and candles. A chemical lavatory in a small wooden hut stood in the garden near the cottage. On the other side of the road was a thatched cottage in which a Mr & Mrs Norris lived. Mrs Norris possibly prevented the house from destruction for when lighting the Primus in the kitchen I had spilled methylated spirit onto the supporting tray. A mass of blue flames appeared surrounding the stove's paraffin tank. My mother being out, I ran across to get Mrs Norris. She used a large damp cloth to extinguish the flames; very near to disaster.
One day, while my mother again was out, I opened a bureau drawer and discovered a revolver together with a small box of ammunition. Evidently my father (then with the army in India & Burma) had left it there to enable my mother to defend herself in the event of an invasion. I picked up the revolver and played around with it and then returned it to the drawer. I never told my mother what I had done.
During March 1943 while returning from school in Worthing my train was bombed and machine-gunned near Durrington railway station. The nearby gas holder went up in flames and a child on the train was killed. I actually saw the bomb fall from the German aeroplane. I walked home along the railway track. Another war-time memory is the sight of German prisoners of war being marched down Goring Street. Other aspects of war provided young schoolboys, including me, with plenty of fun which included extracting cordite from 0.303 bullets and setting light to it, and burning a grey powder which created a large amount of smoke. I can still recall the smell.
My brother Geoffrey has many happy memories of the cottage: the best part of his childhood, he says. He was not sure the farm was so small especially by the standards of the time. They were not very mechanised, still using horses, and a steam engine came round for threshing. They had land on both sides of the road across the railway and fields and buildings to the west on our side. He too remembers the German prisoners when going to see them having their lunch in a barn on the other side of the railway. They borrowed his knife to open a tin and asked where his father was. He also vividly recalls spending part of a night in the indoor Morrison shelter, when bombs were dropped on the radar station on Highdown. The nearby Bofors gun fired, shaking the house.
The key player in the recent history of the cottage is the property company Hesketh Estates, which in 1934 purchased the whole of the Goring Hall Estate on which the cottage stood, although we do not yet know when the freehold of the cottage itself was conveyed. There was a conveyance dated 19 July 1935 between Hesketh Estates Ltd (vendors) and Chatsmore Estates Ltd (purchasers), and in October 1950 Chatsmore Estates Ltd., 10, Carlos Place, Grosvenor Square, London W.1 (application No. 442/50) applied for outline planning permission for residential and commercial development of some 10 acres of land south of Goring Station, including alterations to roads and road junctions. This was approved on the 21st November 1950. In 1957 Chatsmore Estates submitted another planning application for the construction of 44 flats and 12 garages - i.e. the present Chatsmore Crescent. In the accompanying plan it is merely referred to as 'the site', although an outline of Walnut Tree Cottage can be seen. This application was approved in January 1958. There is no mention at all that it would involve the demolition of Walnut Tree Cottage;, it would have been taken as read says Richard Howell.
On the application form alongside the box which reads "Purpose for which the land and/or buildings are now used" the answer given is "Farmland and farm buildings". On 23 January 1958 the West Sussex County Council Planning Officer wrote to the Worthing planners: "I now return one copy of this application which was, of course, approved by your committee on Tuesday last, subject to conditions covering the alignments of the bridge embankment, the reservation of land for road widening, the planting of trees and provision of a screen wall round the garages, together with the submission and approval of full details of the materials to be used in the construction of the buildings¯.
It would appear that having obtained all the necessary permissions, Chatsmore Estates sold the property to Hesketh Estates the following April, which then developed the site either later that year or the following year. It would seem that the Campbell Court flats were not built until c.1966. There was a conveyance dated 24 April 1958 between Chatsmore Estates Ltd (vendors), Hesketh Estates Ltd (company) and Goreham Contractors Ltd (purchasers), and ther was a conveyance dated 8 July 1959 between Goreham Contractors Ltd (vendors), Chatsmore Court Ltd (managers) and James Aitken Mitchelson and Jessie Edyth Mitchelson (purchasers.) The Critical event was when Chatsmore Estates sold the land & property to Hesketh Estates. Either company could have knocked the cottage down.
The current registered holder of the property which now stands on the land once occupied by the cottage is Vanda Rita Ashman. The postal address is 2 Chatsmore Crescent, Goring by Sea, Worthing BN12 5AA.
The survey revealed only a number of factual details and no comments were made about the nature of the business. The work was conducted on 20th February and the area covered by the land, buildings and house was measured as seven acres, two roods and seven perches; the occupier was Cornelius Mahoney while the owner was stated as L Turner for WH Lyon. The rent was £101 14s per year.
The cottage was described as having five bedrooms, two living rooms, a washhouse and dairy plus various farm buildings. The property also included two enclosures of meadow with a good road frontage. The valuation was set at £1325. This comprised land at £1015, buildings at £300 and fruit trees and hedges at £10.
Included was a plan of the farm and cottage, together with measurements and materials used in the construction of the buildings. Here it should be noted that the south side of the cottage was described as being built of brick. Professional advice is that this was a mistake, the cement rendering not having been properly investigated. The north side, not being rendered, is clearly constructed of flint. The condition of the cottage was described as "fair".
When the war began, Britain was faced with an urgent requirement to in- crease food production and the area of land under cultivation to be hugely enlarged. Thus the Government decided to direct what was grown and ensure the efficiency of the farming industry. To assist this work a farm survey was initiated and, of course, this included Walnut Tree Farm. However, by this time the farm was no longer operating individually. By 1941 Hesketh Estates, which purchased the Goring Hall Estate in 1934, had also acquired the Ham Manor Estate at Angmering, so the survey treated the two properties as one; therefore we do not know how much the separate estates were producing. The survey was carried out on 14 th August 1941 by W D Passmore of Applesham Farm near Shoreham, and A G Hecks, who farmed near Storring- ton. Richard Howell comments: "both these gentlemen were experienced farmers and did not seem at all impressed with what they found at Goring Hall Estate and Ham Manor"¯. The overall owners were given as Hesketh Estates and the address as 22, Ardingly Drive which they must have been using as an estate office. The report stated The building estates all over England. Addresses unknown"
The surveyors noted an infestation of weeds including docks, thistles, and milk thistles. In addition they noted a prevalence of the potato disease haywire. The two estates were classified C, the worst classification, and under the heading Personal Failings they noted "lack of experience." The report stated: "This is really first class land and should be carrying good crops. Goring Hall Estate arable (sic) should yield more prolific crops if well done."
The lack of experience they noted may have been because George Edward Harrison who had been the principal farmer and living at Chatsmore House (in Goring Street) when the Goring Hall Estate was owned by the Lyons family, died aged 75 on 20th March 1941, just a few months before the survey. As a property development company, with a shortage of man power due to the war, Hesketh Estates probably found it difficult to locate anyone with the necessary experience to manage the farm. Finally, the report listed in detail the livestock and arable land. Of the two farms. Key items included 336 ewes, 106 pigs and 7 horses. Arable land included 77 acres devoted to wheat, 144 acres for oats and 38 acres as grass for grazing, the total recorded arable land comprised 459 1/2 acres. On top of this 49 acres was devoted to rough grazing.
Machinery consisted of four tractors and manpower was provided by 17 workers. There were four horses.
A 1778 map clearly shows a cluster of buildings roughly corresponding to those in the 40s and 50s, so the farm was at least 170 years old at the time of its dissolution. The 1941 survey suggests the farm was then in poor condition and was making little contribution to the nation's agricultural efficiency. However it struggled on until it fell in the path of redevelopment..
I have been amazed at the quantity of information about the cottage and the farm that, with considerable help, I have been able to retrieve. It is a project that has brought great satisfaction to me. Until now nobody has placed on record that this was an historic cottage, where probably generation upon generation of farmers lived back to medieval times, when the internal construction was entirely different.
I initiated this project partly for sheer sentimental reasons; having been disgusted by the cavalier way in which local government swept away an entire village in the cause of "development". I do believe a compromise could have been reached by preserving at least some small historic properties. I have no doubt that in later times the cottage would have been Listed Grade II. My other aim has been to preserve something of Goring's heritage in the hope that my records will take a place in local official records.
I extend my thanks to Richard Howell for his diligent research work, to David Clark for his expert historical architectural knowledge, to staff at Worthing Public Library for their helpful cooperation, to Worthing Borough Council's Planning Section and to the staff at West Sussex Record Office who greatly facilitated the research. I should also thank Rob Blann for expertly publicising memories of my time at the cottage, together with those of my brother. With good luck I might hear from those of about my age who remember Walnut Tree Cottage.
A conversation with Mrs Patricia Pearcy, who lives in Ferring, has revealed the name of the child who was killed in the attack by a Focke-Wolf 109 on the train. She was Edna D Mann, aged four, who lived at 127 Ardingly Drive. She died on 10th March 1943, the day after the attack. Mrs Pearcy used to live in the same street, and knew the family well.
Mrss Pearcy, only aged seven at the time, said Edna was aged only three or four and her mother was bringing her and her baby sister home. She said the first she knew of it was when the shot-up train was directed into the sidings at Goring. Apparently a man sitting opposite Edna had snatched her and had flung her to the floor as soon as heard the gunfire, but it was too late, for Edna has already been hit. Mrs Pearcy added that that hundreds turned out for a very emotional funeral. She said that Edna was buried in the churchyard of St Mary's, Goring, with just a little wooden cross to mark the spot. Rob Blann interviewed Patricia Pearcy during March 2011.
After the Harrisons moved out of Walnut Tree Cottage"¯, Pat recalled, "my god-parents Fred and Nelly Fowler, moved in, with their daughter Audrey."
Pat's younger brother Norman, born 1939, remembered: "When I was eight or nine I would often go to our god-parents home there and auntie, as I called her, would say "Do you want a job?"
"One of the jobs would be to cut out weeds growing in the front room, in the joints between the York flagstones, with an old knife worn to a point. As kids we were always being encouraged to do things. Auntie would always call me twerp.
"Another of our jobs was to black-lead the range. Clean it by rubbing on black lead with a cloth and then polishing it off with a brush.
"Also, she would give me 6d to go and collect the accumulator from Mr Parrott's hardware shop in Aldsworth Avenue which had such a distinctive smell of paraffin, oil and firelighters."
Similar odours characterised Walnut Tree Cottage itself too: "You were aware of paraffin fumes from the oil lamp, and a smelly oil cloth was used as a table cloth. Heat from the range could always be felt as it was permanently on with a kettle on top. You had to keep it going continually."
"Uncle Fred was a shepherd working on Chatsworth Farm, allied to Walnut Tree Cottage. Goring Street went through the middle of the farm, which extended north of the railway and south to the sea.
"Fred and Nellie moved away out of the area, and after several other posts they came back and lived in Walnut Tree Cottage after the war, around 1949 when I would have been 10. They lived there for a further seven years, during which time the farm got rid of all its livestock of sheep and cows¯".
Late information provided by examination of the Electoral Register by Richard Howell has revealed that, following the Harrison's exit from the cottage in 1947, the cottage was used for its original purpose, that is to say for a family in each wing.
The south wing (recorded as WTC1 in the Register) was occupied by Frederick and Nellie Fowler from 1948 through to 1955.. From 1956 to 1957 the wing was occupied by Frank and Dorothy Brook plus a John C Rose. During 1959-59 the Register shows only one name, that of Frank Brook.
During the years 1947 to 1948 the north wing (WTC2) was occupied by Edith Waller, while during the period 1952 to 1955 we find Frank Brook in occupation, having moved from the south wing. Did he make that move to gain the much larger garden, I wonder. Although the cottage was not demolished until 1959, there is no record of an occupier of the north wing from 1955 onwards. Perhaps the cottage was left empty and decaying for the last four years of its life.
A print version of the tale of Walnut Tree Cottage which contains far more detail is available at the West Sussex Record Office. If you wish to speak to the writer, Michael Harrison, I live in Abingdon and I am in the phone book.