An imagined stroll through the centre of Walberton in 1894

John Eyre

Part 1 of 3

Editors Note:- This was originally published to celebrate the Centenary of the Walberton Parish Council in 1994 as one article without illustrations in a booklet "The Parish of Walberton". As it provides a very interesting survey of The Street, The Walberton History Group have taken photographs of the buildings as they are today (late 2002) and made the article suitable for inclusion in the Walberton Web Site. Our thanks to John Eyre for permission to use his article.

The year 1894 was a revolutionary one in Walberton for two reasons. First, in common with all the other parishes in Britain, it gained its first step towards democracy, thanks to the Local Government Act. Not only was the hierarchical pattern of administration swept away at a stroke (with even women householders now able to vote in parish elections), but the landowners ceased to be local Governors, and the Squire became just a squire.

Secondly, in Walberton, a new building pattern was all but completed as the Booker buildings transformed the south side of The Street. Not until the Council building programme after the Second World War was such a 'New Look' to appear again. The realignment of the east end of the Street by the Maple Road cut-through gave us a comparable mutation but the essence of the village, a remarkable survival of the linear type, was not impaired.

This article takes us on an imaginary stroll through the centre of the village in 1894. Many of the buildings are still with us.  Those pictured are named in italics and listed buildings are underlined.


I. The west end of The Street

Ayling Cottage

Starting our walk from the Green, at the west end of The Street, one could see to the north the home of Charles Ayling, schoolmaster, journalist, poet and photographer.  He died in the year 1894 and the house (pictured left) still bears his name.  To its immediate east would have been the long plain Georgian house which still stands, though now deserted, and a house of similar design which was one of the two village smithies and has long since disappeared. Beech Cottage garden occupies its site.

Ivy Cottage Then, on the corner, was Ivy Cottage , pictured right, which still stands, and at the north end of Mill Lane the sweeps of the great tower corn mill would have been confidently rotating. To the south of the Green, obliquely to the road, stood one of the larger buildings, the old Poor House, then still accommodating some aged widows, though its main role had long been superseded by the Union at Westhampnett. The present Roseland appears to occupy part of the site. FRiars Oak

Near to this we would have seen the cottages of Burch Row, dominated by th esplendid timber-framed and thatched structure lived in by George Burch, his wife and four children.
This is now intriguingly called Friars Oak and Friars Oak Cottage (left).

2. Setting off along The Street

Humphrey's StoresAs we set off, avoiding horse and cattle dung, and walk eastward along the Street, surfaced with soil and stone just like Mill Lane today, the first two buildings to our left would be familiar to us -Yew Tree and Fir Tree cottages; and then would follow the refreshing openness of two large fields and part of a meadow. Immediately after this we would reach a brand new house, Elm Cottage, built in 1892 by John Humphrey to put an end to living over the shop. Adjacent to this cottage there was the old Kennels Cottage and then the rest of the group, dominated by Humphrey's hugely expanded business under its triple-eaved roofs, at once Grocer, Draper and Butcher, in a position which might seem to us surprisingly un-central. These are now Bay Tree Cottages.

Barrack RowMeanwhile on our right hand we would have seen only one building since leaving the Green - Barrack Row. This had been called so only once, in the 1871 Census, and was divided into six dwellings for agricultural labourers and their families. It was thatched at that time, and the name in fact probably has no military significance. It was quite often used in the countryside to describe a terrace of workers' houses.

The PoundTo the east of these cottages was one large field followed by the Pound where stray cattle, sheep, pigs and goats were impounded.  Immediately adjacent to this was the only surviving in-village farm, owned at that time by Thomas Ewens. Most other similar farms had by then been moved out into their consolidated field holdings. Although this farm has now totally disappeared, it is still commemorated by the house name Barn Ends.

Pear Tree CottagesAcross the Street (to the north and next to the shop) was then, as now, Pear Tree Cottage, which was three dwellings; but the shape, and the pretty well in front of it, would have been familiar to us. The well serves to remind us of crucial things. For instance, there was no piped water in the village until 1910. This installation would probably have been followed by the metalling of the Street, though the modern amenity of piped gas was due to arrive shortly after our imaginary stroll (in 1901).

We have now reached Tye Lane (its name means road to the Common) and from here another field bordered the road eastward as far as the Village School.

Continue the stroll

Go to the History Group page

Go to the Site Home Page

Sources for this article include: 1891 Census - Walberton; Ordnance Survey Map, Walberton, 1876, 25" to a mile; 'Unknown to history and fame,' by Brenda Dixon; Kelly's Directory 1887, 1895, 1902, sundry deeds and wills.

Text by John Eyre, with minor amendments
Photography by Roger Putnam
Page prepared by Mike Roddham
Edited by Martin Bond

Last updated:- 26th May 2003