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We are delighted to include this article from the West Sussex Gazette, November 1983

With special thanks to John Batten and the West Sussex Gazette. Reproduced with permission.


West Sussex has two villages called Nutbourne, and this is about the tiny, quieter, much more rural of them, a couple of miles north-east of Pulborough, as different from its namesake on the A27 trunk road east of Emsworth as any place could be, writes John Batten.

The Nutbourne on the other side of the South Downs is really not much more than one narrow main street, a place with a pub but no other amenity except a garage, and in its main street are some of the county's prettiest and best kept old houses.

Half-mile south is its Common, formerly the home ground of Pulborough Rugby Club (now they have new pitches close to Pulborough Primary School), and to the east is West Chiltington.

It is a Conservation Area, and, that rare thing in this part of the world, an unspoilt village. Its pub, the Rising Sun, is a modest affair with a Victorian front, and, I'm told, a timber-framed rear, and its big Village Bar is simple with no gimmicks.


Run for the last two years by Mr. Paul Barron and his wife, Jackie, and Mr. Regan Howard and his wife, Janice, the pub has a conventional sign, in red and gold. It is a free house, and they do bistro-style meals in the casual atmosphere of the restaurant, and have a big range of beers.

They are young people full of enthusiasm, and I wondered if they knew that the rising sun sign is said to be favourable one for a man starting in business. The last time I was there it was to witness the visit of one of Mr. Clive Allen's black steers for its daily pint of bitter, which it much enjoyed standing in that same bar. Mr. Allen, who has Atmyres Farm just up the road, where his mother lives, for he also farms at Stopham, deserved the first prize his steer won that year at Pulborough Christmas Fat Stock show, plump as it was on best bitter.

The fine British Friesians of Mr. G.A. Lawson and his son were grazing on the west side of Nutbourne road as I arrived - it starts as a road becomes a street and, at its junction with the lane to the lake is Nutbourne lane.

Over the road from the Lawsons' land is Marsh House, in Queen Anne style, on the site of the house where the village's thatcher, Mr. Perc Netley, used to live. There's still a bit of thatch to be seen here, always a nice rural touch in any village.

One pair of the six local authority houses has been built near the entrance to the farm, and the architect designed them to blend nicely with the surroundings. These are known as the Poplars, and the other four, in L-formation a little farther on the same side of the road, built just after the last war, are The Mercers. The Nutbourne sign has broken off its supports, and is propped against a wall by the telephone kiosk.

Near here, on the same side, going towards the pub, a dear little cottage, single-storeyed and with a pale green door, once the village school, has been sold of late.

The later village school, a handsome Victorian affair with lancet windows, closed more than 30 years ago, and has become a very pretty house, with the addition of two dormers and its bellcote still on its west gable end. Mr. Tony Gocher, Chairman of Pulborough Parish Council and member of Horsham District Council, who was born in the village, remembers the little bell ringing for morning school, and liked his lessons from the headmistress, Miss Baker.

His grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Gocher, came here to take over the village stores, two houses north of Mr. Gocher's house, in 1898, and the Old Shop, as it was known, carried on until after the last war, with its post office, though it changed hands a few times after Mr. Gocher's mother, Mrs. Mabel Gocher, gave it up.

She showed me a photograph of the shop, on the fascia of which was painted Grocer and draper, corn and meal. It was a gathering place for villagers, a real place for socializing, and perhaps it was the closing of the shop that helped in the disbanding of Nutbourne Women's Institute, formed in 1953, and lively enough, with a regular 20 members of more for 15 years. It's the only W.I. I've heard of that held its meetings in a pub, for it met, at first, in the Rising Sun's clubroom.

Mrs. Goacher Snr. was a founder member of the institute and used to play her part in the annual fete at Nutbourne Manor in aid of charity. The first president, and also a founder member, was Mrs. A. N. Rhys-Jones, who with her late husband, Air Commodore Rhys-Jones, lived in Nutbourne Manor, a part-Tudor, handsome house just behond the old school. Mrs. Rhys-Jones now lives in a modern, white house, Manor Farm, which could quite easily pass for a much older building, at the top of the slightly rising main street, and she is one of the most unusual farmers you could find.

She farms 15 acres of blackcurrant bushes, and the crop this year, machine-picked over a period of about two weeks in mid-July, weighed 80 tons. Each year the crop is sent straight to the Ribena people at Coleford, in Gloucestershire, to make that rich red drink full of vitamin C. She and her husband planted the original bushes 20 years ago, but there have been replacements since of the Baldwin variety, which are tended by Mrs. Rhys-Jones's fruit-man, Mr. Paddy Funnell, a local man who has been with her for 25 years.

The Manor House now belongs to Mr. Jeffrey Sanger, who before many years are past will doubtless have put the village on the wine map of Europe with the white wine from his 4 1/2 acres of four varieties of grapes, to be expanded to a total of 11 acres next year.


Mr. Sanger told me he planted the vineyard in 1981, and, in its third summer this year, picked its first, small crop. He, his wife and family and friends, about 20 in all, did the picking, and the grapes were sent to a co-operative vineyard at Biddenden, Kent, to be made into wine.

About next February he hopes to be sampling the first bottle of Nutbourne Manor wine, as it is to be called.

He will distribute the 1983 vintage among his friends, but from 1984 onwards looks forward to producing between 30,000 and 50,000 bottles a year.

From the Manor, Mrs. Rhys-Jones's garden, and from Nutbourne Lake a quarter-of-a-mile down a narrow, winding lane, there are lovely views of the Downs, for it is fairly elevated here, around 300 feet above sea level I'd guess.


You reach the lake (they also refer to it as a pond, but that doesn't seem right for a village with such a pretty name, and the elegant wildfowl on the lake seem to merit something more dignified than pond) past some pretty, old houses, going quite steeply downhill.

There's Short's Farm, raised up among pretty gardens, on the corner of a lane running north, and some parts of which are very old, and farther on a timber-framed, thatched house with its name, Ebbsworth, painted in Gothic lettering on a board on its venerable wall.

The lake is on your left, but there is more of it you cannot seen at this point, from where you also have a view of Nutbourne Mill, at least, the base of its brick tower, a few hundred yards away among poplars.

The mill seems to have had a very short life, because, built in 1854, four storeys tall, it worked for only 40 years, until 1894.

There were also two water mills, I believe, and you can see part of the building of one by the lake, for which I heard someone sought permission to turn it into a lakeside residence. The lake is fed by a stream starting a mile or so uphill at Redfold.

I expect that when Mr. Tony Gocher's grandfather's brother, Mr. Maurice Gocher, was acting as village postman, his motor-cycle would have bumped its way down the lane past the lake to deliver letters to the Terrys at the bakery, a rambling, brick and tile house full of character over the lane from the lake.


The Terrys delivered their lovely crusty loaves, baked in the little hip-roofed building close to the house, still standing, by horse and cart, doubtless keeping a sharp eye open for a traction engine rumbling down the lane to take on water from the lake for its boilers.

It was Mr. Maurice Gocher who started the village garage.

Mr. Gocher's grandmother drove a pony and trap to take villagers to Pulborough station, or church, or shops, and after this came the Model T Ford operating as a taxi from Gocher's Garage next to the shop. In those days most of the village houses were cottages for simple folk; today some are very grand, and handsome still, like the White House, timber-framed, tiled and in a charming garden. Mole End, its flint walls painted white, is also pretty, and, when I looked up to its tiled ridge, it was enhanced by a resting collared-dove. Next to it is another timber-framed, thatched house, its chimney stack dead centre, named Drovers.

There's no church here, though the parish is Pulborough-with-Nutbourne, and its Rector, the Rev. Basil Maltin, told me they had recently started a Pulborough and Nutbourne branch of the Church of England Children's Society which is organizing a poetry and painting competition for local children to help its funds.

Nutbourne is fortunate to have Mr. Tony Gocher, a zealous conservationist and preserver of village life, in its midst, keeping a careful watch on proposed developments.

An electrical contractor, he did his National Service in the Royal Air Force, and, in spite of his council work and his job, is a member of the Trust of the Chalk Pits Museum, and very keen on stationary engines, of which he has restored several made by Lister. He is also a member of Worthing and Southern Counties Historic Vehicles Trust, and is at work on a 30-year-old ex-Army Land-Rover which will one day be seen at rallies.

© West Sussex Gazette 1983, reproduced with their permission and our appreciation.

© Copyright Nutbourne Residents Association and friends, 2016.