This article takes us on an imaginary stroll through the centre of Walberton in 1894. Many of the buildings are still with us. Those pictured are named in italics and listed buildings are underlined.
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. This field, and others north of The Street, belonged by 1894 to Colonel (then Major) Charles Henty of Avisford Park, but his strategic breakthrough in making his impact on Walberton was not to occur until 1898: the building of his South Drive with its fine trees and its neat little South Lodge at its gate onto The Street.
But meanwhile, on the south side of the road, more important building works were developing. In 1865 a smart 'gentry' house had been built in Georgian style, The Laurels (now Lansdowne House), in which the owner of the village brewery lived. A barn's width to its east the Baptists had in 1886 built their new Chapel, a landmark in the history of Walberton non-conformity.
From this important feature on the south side of The Street we could begin to see ahead of us the remarkable achievement of the Booker family and their buildings between 1882 and 1894. The first of these distinctive semi-detached dwellings on our route would only have been at the foundations stage (it was completed in 1895).
The next adjoined Booker's Yard (now the William Booker Yard) and was named Lion House after the emblem on its facade. The third, opposite the School, was in part a skilful restoration job of 1884 embodying two old cottages. It incorporates into its facade a stone dating from 1681 and bearing the initials of John Nash, who was a former Squire. This stone was possibly once affixed to the school which he founded on this site.
The centrepiece of the Booker development was, then as now, the Jubilee Building (since 1947 including the Post Office) whose commemorative plaque reveals among other things that Egypt was regarded as part of the British Empire in 1887. Beyond this we see the two long eastern terraces of 1882 and 1885 which had been built on orchard land and are most interesting as very early examples of cavity wall structure. There is much variety of stylistic detailing in the whole series, including highly individualistic Romanesque features. These houses fulfilled a real need to make up for the decay of older cottages and accommodate growing population pressure (from 574 to 628 in ten years). (Including Binsted, there were 1,926 recorded in the 1991 Census. ) The conversion of the south side of The Street from rural orchards to an integrated village atmosphere was entirely justified, even if the concept of two terraces must have seemed alien at the time. It is not surprising that WEB featured his initials so proudly on each building.
On the opposite side of The Street we return to the School building in which the headmaster lived. It replaced an earlier school and had been built in 1873 in the accepted National School style. Part of it survives today as a private house. Next to the school eastwards came the fine brickwork of Rosslyn, with a small extension to its east for the first Post Office; next Holly Tree Cottage with its cobbled facings and then the Holly Tree public house, which was first licensed in 1867.
This was followed by the thatched Old Hall Cottage with the second Post Office (which was by then a Telegraph Station) in its forecourt, and then Fernleigh with its stuccoed front and, like several other Georgian houses, with a brick modillion cornice to carry the eaves forward before the days of guttering. Next, as now, a shop: H. Hartley's Baker Shop and Fruiterer- in those days, set quite safely forward onto the traffic-free road!
Opposite this shop, what now appears to be a private garage was in fact the first breakaway Chapel of 1847. The impressively large Norman-style brick window at the south end remains as a memorial to the dramatic protest against the High Church vicar, the Revd Thomas Vogan, from whose congregation the founders withdrew. It stands in what was the garden of Jessamine Cottage on the south side of The Street.
In 1894 The Street then swung unexpectedly to the south, passing the other Grocer and Draper shop at the top of its steps, and Magnolia Cottage next to it.
At Myrtle Cottage it swung left again and straightened out along the line of Walberton House Stables and the back gate of the House itself. (The Street still follows this route today. The building of Maple Road in 1957 made a straighter road by cutting off the corner but still confuses the uninitiated, as Maple Road looks like part of The Street and the old part of The Street has no street sign giving its name.)
The front drive and entrance to the large Walberton House was at the time in Yapton Lane. The house was in the hands of tenants following the death of Arthur Prime in 1883 and the subsequent scandal caused by his passing on of the property to the eldest son of his 'alternative' (i.e illegitimate) family, the five children of which were all minors Mrs Mary Prime, Arthur's widow, finally returned to Walberton to live in Park House, just to the west of the former Prime home and off Church Lane. At the time of our tour it would have looked less imposing than it does now. She died in 1901 and it became known, posthumously, as the Dower House.
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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:- Mar 2003