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Upper Nash: a hamlet within a hamlet

In the 1600's in connection with the Manor of Nutbourne, there is reference to Eastnash and Westnash. The 1883 Ordnance Survey map shows West Nash Farm, East Nash Farm and Lower Nash Farm

The whole area of Upper Nash formed part of the Marquess of Abergavenny's estate that was sold by auction in 1925. The auction was held in the Corn Exchange in Pulborough.

The auction catalogue refers to one lot comprising Upper and Lower Nash Farms and totalling some 92.5 acres. The description of this lot states that there was a farm house, two sets of farm buildings and three cottages. The Farm House, being the East Nash Farm referred to in 1883, was on the site of what is now known as Upper Nash House. Although having an upstairs bathroom an outside privy provided the toilet facilities. The farm buildings at Upper Nash comprised, on the east of the road, a five-stall stable, a fodder stall, a walled stock yard with open hovel and an open cart lodge. On the west side of the road there were a walled stock yard with open hovel, a fatting stall to tie 9, a fodder stall, a granary with cement floor and a lean-to garage. There was also a "picturesque cottage" built of brick and stone with thatched roof. This "cottage" is the property referred to as West Nash Farm in 1883. The cottage contained an entrance passage, a large living room with range and oven, a scullery with sink, a copper and large open fireplace and brick oven, a pantry with two cupboards, an apple loft, two bedrooms and an outside privy. There was also an implement shed on the west side of the road. At Lower Nash there were a "pair of excellent cottages" each with an outside privy and their own well, and assorted farm buildings.

By 2003 development had resulted in the properties at Upper Nash comprising the following;

  • Lodore or Upper Nash Farm, east of the lane and the farthest south - a property not built in 1925
  • The Stables, to the north of the present Upper Nash Farm - a development of the stable etc. described as buildings on the east side of the road
  • Upper Nash House to the north again - on the site of the 1925 Farm House
  • Timber Cottage, the farthest north on this side of the lane - another property not built in 1925
  • The Granary on the west side of the lane - a development from the farm buildings on the west side of the road and described above
  • Shepherd's Thatch on the west side of the lane and to the north of The Granary - the "picturesque " cottage referred to above

A picture of Upper Nash before 1978


The picture on the left shows the house before 1978. In it you can make out (clockwise from the bottom left) The Granary, Shepherd's Thatch, Timber Cottage, Upper Nash House and The Stables

Ordinance Survey and other maps indicate the presence of wells in the locality of Upper Nash. However, by the time of the auction the water supply to the properties was from a hydraulic ram pump situated at a pond to the south of Redfold Farm. The water was pumped up to a tank in the roof of Upper Nash Farm House with an overflow to a slate tank in the scullery. Water was then distributed by gravity from the roof tank to the properties on the west side of the road and from the overflow tank to those on the east side. The overflow tank also supplied the farm buildings at Lower Nash.

As an aside it is noted that Lower Nash was also included in the 1925 auction and that the Abergavenny crest is still clearly visible on the wall of the house, a crest apparently incorporated in all buildings erected by estate.

In 1978 the property now called the Granary was the farmhouse where Christine and William Ford lived. Previously the sister of William (Bill) Harmer had occupied this house and before that again Bill Harmer himself. The area between this house and the thatched cottage next door had been a stockyard as noted in the 1925 auction catalogue.

Across the road, from South to North, there was the bungalow now called Upper Nash Farm where Bill Harmer and his wife lived after retiring from full time farming and before they moved to Redfold Farm. Later this was bought by Alison and Paul Anderson and benefited from several extensions and modifications both internally and externally. Access to this property was then via a right of way to the north of the stable block now converted into a dwelling called The Stables. The present entrance was cut when the stable block was developed into a house. It appears that this right of way and the current garden to The Stables was in the area previously occupied by the stockyard on this side of the road.

Behind The Stables were numerous chicken houses built from old Nissan Hut materials, the remains of which can still be seen in 2003. Bill Harmer had a thriving egg business and there were still a few chickens in the 1980's. Ernie Jane, of whom more later, kept his car in one of these huts.

The Stables was just that in 1978, housing Mr. and Mrs. Ford's horses and ponies. Subsequently sold and developed into the dwelling seen today, it has had some three owners before the current occupiers.

In 1978 Upper Nash House was a derelict shell closer to the road than the present building with signs warning of the danger of falling masonry. It had been the subject of a disastrous fire some time before. The grounds were equally unkempt with signs warning of the danger of falling masonry. At that time nightingales were heard in the trees during the summer. The site was developed by the building of a new house which has been added to and enlarged by subsequent owners. It was interesting to see that as rubble was tipped in to fill a well under the area now occupied by the southern entrance ramp so water was displaced from the gully at the eastern end of The Granary. Clearly there was some underground link.

The northernmost property on this side of the lane is Timber Cottage. Originally it was a timber built cottage on one floor and in 1978 was occupied by Ernie Jane and his wife Margaret. There was no drive, just a wicket personnel gate onto the road. Ernie was a retired farmhand/herdsman previously employed by Bill Harmer and living in this cottage which was still owned by Mr. Harmer. Ernie performed various odd jobs for the now retired Bill Harmer, presumably in return for the privilege of occupying the cottage. He was a typical old countryman, hailing originally from Devon. No children himself, he adopted the children living in the neighbourhood. Renowned for the permanent drip on the end of his nose and the fact that once started he would talk for hours, he brewed the most fearsome wines in a tumble-down greenhouse, reputedly watered his rhubarb with the contents of his cesspit and certainly knew how to produce magnificent fruit and vegetables. He continued to live there with her Pekinese and poodle dogs after Margaret died in 1980 and he maintained a menagerie of feral cats that he fed lovingly. With not much more than a penny to his name he managed to run an old car which we think was really kept on the road by the charity of the local garage. After Ernie died (he was found in his garage one day having suffered a heart attack after driving home with his groceries) the cottage was sold and the property now standing on the site was built with proper drive entrance, etc. What happened to the cats? They seemed to disappear when he died. The old wicket gate entrance still exists in the hedge although has more recently become overgrown.

Returning to the east side of the lane, the final property in this hamlet is that now known as Shepherd's Thatch. Since 1964 it has been called The Thatched Cottage at Upper Nash, Sparrow Hall, Sparrow Thatch, Shepherd's Cottage and now, Shepherd's Thatch. Doubtless the references to sparrows relate to the delight of that species in nesting in a thatched roof. Although there are few sparrows around now in 2003, the starlings would make a determined take-over bid were they not currently prevented by the meanness of wiring over the whole roof. This timber framed and thatched house dating from the early 1400's. Evidence in the roof space indicates that it was originally an open hall house with the two end bays built in two stories. Subsequently a smoke bay was installed in the middle enabling most of the first floor to be constructed. Later again, the massive internal chimney was constructed. Presumably this house was the most substantial in the locality when it was first built and it was later, when stone and brick properties were erected, that its status fell until it eventually became a relatively lowly tied cottage.

At this time it was probably divided into two dwellings and, being attached to the farm, was presumably occupied by agricultural workers. Ernie Jane lived there until Bill Harmer and he retired at which stage it was sold and refurbished into a desirable residence. Ernie recounted how the east end was devoid of a ceiling with the underside of the roof thatch visible from the ground floor while there were numerous leaks through the thatch. His wife, Margaret, is reputed to have had to sweep up the death watch beetles each morning! At that time there were stairs at both ends of the cottage and the front door was situated in the east wall. On the north side there were no windows other than at the west end, the porch, front door and other windows on this side all being later additions during the refurbishment. Stone cladding was added to the south wall at some stage in the past due to excessive weathering of the timber frame on that exposed face. Evidence of the frame on this side can still be seen inside the house. In the garden the brick floor and remains of timber walls to an outside privy have been found. Ordinance survey maps indicate a well in the vicinity of the current drive although no physical evidence has been found to support this. There is also a wall from a stye or similar structure at the west end where a timber extension now exists. Old photographs show a garage shed beside the lane at the Southeast corner.

© Copyright Nutbourne Residents Association and Friends, 2016.