Church Lane

Church Lane 1913

Church Lane, Barnham

A rural gem, many people passing through Barnham are often oblivious to this charming lane. Previously called The Street, Church Lane has retained the feel of a country lane unspoilt by urban development. Beginning at the northern end next to the Murrell Arms, this section will take in many of the older houses and end at the Church of St Mary the Virgin.

Greenbank to Ravenhurst and Harry Dart

According to Harry Dart*, in 1904 Mr Ateo (William J. Atteyo in the Inland Revenue ledger and Atyeo on Abstracts of Title) an Australian property developer, bought a plot of land at the northern end of The Street.  Ateo appointed a Chichester builder to build two houses in the modern Edwardian style and these were named Corsica (now Brockworth) and Ellesmere (changed to Tempe in 1963). The next two houses to be built were Moreton and Bankside, a pair of semi-detached houses erected by West and Dart (that is, Harry West and William Henry Dart, Harry’s father, who worked in partnership until Harry West emigrated to Australia around 1910). Mr Ateo also had a house built for himself and this was Ravenhurst, where he lived until he returned to Australia – some say because his wife was homesick and that she hated the British climate.  Harry Dart says that many of the materials for Ravenhurst came from the Barnham Railway Hotel which was demolished to make way for the new hotel which opened in 1907.

The Dart family moved into Bankside in September 1906 when their son Harry was 7 years old.  Harry Dart says that from 1906 to 1911, the sisters Mary and Isabella Bradshaw rented Moreton.  They were employed at the new Barnham village school which opened in 1906 in Yapton Road.  Mary was the Headmistress and Isabella was the infant teacher.  Harry Dart’s grandfather had bought both Moreton and Bankside and, as there was no schoolhouse, the sisters needed to rent somewhere close by.  In 1911 grandfather Dart retired to live in Moreton with his wife.  According to Harry Dart, the Bradshaw sisters decided to buy one of the two remaining plots and to have a house built.  This they called Ingleton.  Sadly both of Harry Dart’s grandparents died in 1916 as did Mary Bradshaw. Moreton was once again vacant and in 1916 was rented for the next five years to the new Headmistress of the school, Miss L. Currie. Later, upon his retirement, the stationmaster Mr Hewitt and his wife lived at Ingleton.  This couple were the founders of the Methodist church in Barnham and instrumental in the building of the Chapel in 1931. Today the house has been demolished and replaced with a newer house still retaining the name Ingleton. 

The remaining plot had been purchased by Reverend R. Barrett’s two spinster sisters in 1910.  They lived in their house, Kingsley (now Langley House and referred to as Betty’s Oak in 1934) until 1930.  Many years later, Eric Wall lived at Langley House.  In 1977 he bought 2 ½ acres of land in Lake Lane with Hugh Stevenson to grow tomatoes under glass.  This business at Pollards has expanded to become a major tomato producer supplying key supermarkets and extends to approximately 28 acres.  The firm is still called Eric Wall Ltd although Mr Wall has retired and his son Chris is Managing Director.

*The above history of this small part of Church Lane is gleaned from Harry Dart’s memoir which he wrote in 1978 and added to in 1983 just before his death. Harry Dart's Memoir [pdf] 5MB  . However, it is pertinent to compare an extract from the Inland Revenue ‘Domesday Book’ of 1910  Inland Revenue 'Domesday Book' 1910 [pdf] 262KB which is snapshot of the owners and occupiers on a certain day and differs slightly from Dart’s recollections of the main householders. 

There have been many changes since Edwardian times with some well-known families living in these fashionable houses for a time.  Members of the Forse family (of Barnham Court Farm), the Walls (of Pollard’s tomato growers), and the Becks (of Highfield House and later of Sunnyside) lived here.  Harry Dart moved from his parents’ home Bankside next door to Moreton where he lived with his wife, Gladys, from their marriage in 1925 until he died in 1983.  

Sandon, The Cottage, Garage Cottage and Rose Cottages 

The Tithe map and Apportionment of 1849 lists James Caiger, a farmer, as the owner of various fields in Church Lane. The 1851 census shows James Caiger living in Barnham aged 69 with his wife Mary aged 66 and an 18 year-old servant, Mary Horn from Yapton. It is likely that James Caiger lived in the house that later became Rose Cottages (now demolished and replaced with Primrose Cottage) comprising a house, premises, stable and yard (plots 72, 77-80). He owned and let out a cottage and garden (plot 73) to a Mr Pellett – now Sandon, also a house, garden and premises plus two pasture fields let to James Jinmann (plots 75,76 and 96) which probably comprised the original dwelling at The Cottage.

Sandon has been extended but remains a single storey dwelling. The Cottage was purchased in 1881 by EJ Marshall (see the section on Barnham Nurseries) and was considerably extended. Garage Cottage was built next door to house his carriage, driver and gardener. Rose Cottage became two cottages housing Barnham Court Farm workers, notably the large Harris family (see that section for further information).

The Vicarage, Church Lane

Not as old as other houses in Barnham, this grand house built in 1901 for Reverend Robert Barrett MA is important because Barrett was the first resident vicar in living memory and is indicative of the general optimism and status of the church at that time. Writing in the Parish Magazine in 1904, Reverend Barrett tells of his family ‘…Robert Tyler Barrett passed as a cadet into the Royal Naval College at Osborne College and attached to His Majesty’s Ship “Racer”. His energetic service of the King has been checked by scarlet fever, from which, however, we hope he is now becoming convalescent. Eirene hurt her arm by a fall, so that the X Rays were needful to diagnose the damage.’ 

Following Reverend Barrett’s death in 1927, a succession of clergymen resided at the Vicarage until the retirement of Reverend Tuffel in July 1978 when the Diocesan Authority decided that the parishes of St Mary, Barnham, and St George, Eastergate, would be linked with Reverend T Packer, living at the rectory in Barnham Road, having the care of both parishes. The Vicarage in Church Lane was duly sold to private owners, reflecting the situation in many villages in the 1970s.

Curacao, Church Lane, Grade II pre 1800

A pretty detached cottage, Curacao is said to have been an ale house or hostelry. Next to the cottage was a large thatched barn used for horses and carts. In 1849 Charles Tipper lived there and it was described as ‘cottage, shop and garden’.

Street Cottage, Church Lane, Grade II pre 1800

Originally this was three dwellings, thatched and known as Red Brick Cottages. The cottages were owned by Barnham Court and used to house their farmworkers. In 1920 Tom and Lily Harris who later moved with their large family to Rose Cottages, Church Lane, lived there. The three cottages were converted to one abode in 1976.   

Field Cottages, Church Lane, 19th century

This is a terrace of four flint and brick cottages bearing the date ‘1890’ and the initials ‘C. F. F.’. The cottages were built by Charles F. Field of Felpham to house his farm labourers. The Duke of Richmond owned around 168 acres of land in the vicinity called Barnham Farm that he leased to CF Field. This arrangement began in the 1860s and must have lasted long enough to warrant the provision of accommodation for the farm labourers in Barnham.   

Manor Cottage, Church Lane, Grade II pre 1800

The front of this house was added in 1784 according to the date stone but the house is certainly older. It was the residence of William Murrell (1718-1791) son of Henry Murrell, both substantial land owners at that time. William married Elizabeth Duke in 1747 when he was 29 and she was 17. They had ten children. Her sister Ann married William Cosens the wealthy owner of Barnham Court just across the lane. These two family homes next to the church were at the heart of the village when Barnham was still a sleepy agricultural backwater. The initials ‘W.E.M.’ inscribed on the front of the house are for William and Elizabeth Murrell. During his lifetime, William built a grander farmhouse which is today the Murrell Arms in Yapton Road.  William and Elizabeth are buried inside the church as befitting their status. Manor Cottage continued as a working farmhouse with a barn, dairy and bakehouse which are incorporated into the house today.

Highground Lane

The land, along with much of Barnham Parish, was owned by the Duke of Richmond. When the estate was sold off it formed part of Barnham Court and Court Farm near the church and in the Tithes of 1849 the executors of Richard Cosens of Barnham Court were the landowners. George and Arthur Woodbridge were the next owners with the estate being split in 1881 with George Woodbridge taking the land around Barnham Court Farm and Arthur owning the land to the west around what is now Highground Lane. 

The Barnham village sign on the triangle at the northern end of Church Lane includes apple, pear and cherry trees representing the many small orchards to be found in the area and especially the large commercial orchard owned by Barnham Nurseries for the first half of the 20th century. states that Barnham Nurseries owned the 23 acre fruit farm on land “beyond the Barnham Brook” with the orchards “expanded further west across the railway line by 1950.” 

An article in the Bognor Observer dated January 29, 1987 profiles Lt-Colonel Jack Palmer who “retired to Barnham in 1955, after a full military life, most of which was spent in India.” The article continues: On retirement he decided to take up fruit growing, and for his initial training he went to his father-in-law in Herefordshire. He then ran his own Highgrounds Orchards, in Barnham, where he grew mainly apples – Cox, Bramley and a number of early varieties such as Cave, Discovery, Worcester, and Fortune – and varieties of plums such as Victoria, Czar and Giant Prune. Mrs Palmer ran the shop and ‘pick-your-own’. Lt-Col Palmer was chairman, and then president, of both the Arundel Constituency Conservative Association and the West Sussex European Constituency Conservative Association. He was an Arun District Councillor and chairman of Barnham Parish Council. The Palmers lived at Highground House and according to John Clark who worked for them they also kept pigs and grew crops. As Colonel Palmer aged and found it increasingly difficult to manage he sold much of the land keeping the house, barn and a small plot helped by his daughter Brenda. 

The house was inherited by son John Palmer who sold the old barn and part of the remaining land to Terry and Elaine Bedford. The Bedfords set about renovating the barn which appears on 18th century maps and is the oldest building in Highground Lane. The barn was originally used for agricultural purposes and became an apple store. It has been sympathetically renovated and is today a comfortable home. According to John Clark local chimney sweeps would bring soot for spreading on the fields and this would be stored in the shed in the garden. It was later a tractor store and then an office. Today the fruit trees have all but disappeared and horses graze the paddocks. 

For holiday cottages at Highground Orchards visit for the following holiday homes built between 2009 and 2012: Bramley, Pippin, Russett and Crabapple Cottages.  

The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

It is likely that a church stood here in Saxon times and the south wall of the nave is early Norman.  The porch was built in the 13thcentury but has been extensively restored. Many alterations have been carried out over the centuries but the feeling of antiquity remains. 

According to the church guide, the bell, one of the oldest in Sussex, was cast in 1328 by John Rufford, and weighs over three hundredweight. It is inscribed: AFE+MA+RIA+DRA+SIA+PLE+NA (Ave Maria Gratia Plena).  Intriguingly the As are upside down and the L and Es are back to front. 

Towards the altar can be found some 15th century “graffiti” (protected behind glass) roughly scratched in Latin which reads (in English): “Pray for the soul of my father who died at Agincourt” (1415).  The fact that few could read or write at this time makes this a rarity. The more usual Pilgrim or Crusader crosses can also be seen below the graffiti, and on the font and in the porch.

The organ was donated in 1923 but little is known of its age or origin. In 1949 the windows above the altar were replaced with stained glass designed by Jean (or Joan) Fulleylove, made by Messrs Lowndes and Drury, and donated by her friends after her death. Although modern, the style is 14th century and therefore in keeping with the atmosphere of the church. The lichgate was erected in 1934 in memory of Joseph Harrison, a Churchwarden who had lived at Barnham Court and farmed Court Farm. 

Further information can be found in the guide available in the church and on the website

To view images associated with Church Lane please go to Flickr 

Barnham Court and Court Farm


See separate information.


Sandra Lowton

July 2017