West Itchenor Village
West Itchenor is a pleasant little village on the shores of Chichester Harbour. The name Itchenor is derived from Icca, a Saxon chief who occupied the area the Anglo-Saxon word “ora” meaning a bank on the shore which gave Icca-nor or Icca’s hard. The hard is still very much in use. East Itchenor was destroyed by fire following an outbreak of plague and the land was annexed to Birdham in 1441. West Itchenor survived but for conversational purposes it is usually referred to Itchenor.
The civil parish of Itchenor covers an area of just over 500 acres and lies between the parishes of Birdham and West Wittering about six miles south of Chichester. Apart from farming, shipbuilding has always played a prominent part in the history of the village. The boatyards of Itchenor were responsible for some historic vessels built during the Napoleonic Wars and in the 1939-45 conflict, landing craft were constructed and sailed from Itchenor on D-Day 1944. The boat yard is now actively concerned in the construction and fitting-out of yachts and pleasure cruisers and there are in addition two boat repair yards. There are no shops in the village. There is one public house. There is also a very active and well known Sailing Club
The original small village began to be extended during the early part of the 20th Century as sailing for amateurs gained in popularity and there are now houses lining the road in an almost unbroken chain from the main Birdham -
West Wittering road down to the Hard. The properties vary from mansions to bungalows and cottages. The residents take pride in their homes and gardens and a feature of the village is the well-kept wide grass verges along the road.
There is no school in the village, and primary school children got to Birdham or West Wittering, and secondary school children to Chichester or Selsey.
This is the text of the pamphlet produced for the 800th Anniversary of the Church
Origin of Name Itchenor
At the end of the third century A.D. when Roman power in Britain was collapsing, raiders from the sea began to plunder the South Coast. Later the South Saxons under their King Aella and his sons invaded Sussex at Cymenes-ora near Selsey.
The Saxon word ‘ora’ means a bank on the shore. Icca, a Saxon chief, occupied Itchenor (Icca-ri-ora or Icca’s hard).
First Christians in the Itchenor Area
In the Roman ships sailing to and from Fishbourne, there were probably some Christians and they would have seen the gravel bank later called Itchenor, but had no occasion to land there. The Saxons who did land were pagans. In the latter part of the seventh century an Irish monk, Dicul, with a few disciples, came to Bosham and built a chapel there, but the Saxons rejected his teaching. From time to time he may have sailed over to Itchenor to fish for his Friday dinner.
In 680 A.D. a more forceful missionary landed at Selsey (Seal Island: now under the sea off the modern town). He was Bishop (later Saint) Wilfrid. According to the Venerable Bede, Wilfrid converted the people of Selsey by showing them how to fish with nets at a time of famine. Before long he had persuaded the Saxon King to grant lands for the endowment of a cathedral at Selsey and churches in the region, notably at Westringes (West Wittering).
The following terse entries in Domesday Book (1086) are evocative of the great changes which occurred after the Norman Conquest (1066).
“King William (the Conqueror) holds in demesne Boseham. Earl Godwin held it.”
“Bishop Osbern (of Exeter) holds of the King (William) the church of Boseham. In the time of King Edward (the Confessor) there used to belong to this manor one hide in Icenore. Now Warm, Earl Roger’s man, holds it.” “In Westinges Hundred, Warm holds of the Earl (Roger), Icenore. Lewin held it of Earl Godwin. Then as now it was assessed for one hide. There is land of one plough. On the demesne is one plough and there are three villeins and three bordars with one plough. There is one acre of meadow. In the time of King Edward it was worth 20 shillings; and afterwards 15 shillings; now 22 shillings.”
One hide was enough land to support a farming family with their retainers. Under the Norman system, demesne was the property under the direct control of the lord of the manor. Freeholders in the manor could be summoned to his court and required to pay fees or Lines. Villeins were husbandmen, bordars were labourers, and under them were serfs.
From the point of view of sea power, Itchenor, where boats can be launched at any state of the tide, was a useful outpost for Royal Bosham, as the tale of Bosham Bell illustrates. One misty dawn, Danish raiders, in their ‘long ship’ crept in and ravaged and burnt Bosham, stealing the church bell. The Saxons of Itchenor saw the flames, launched their boats and intercepted the raider at Bell Hole where the Bosham channel meets the Chichester channel. They sank her and killed the Danes, but the bell fell to the bottom and could not be salvaged.
Earl Godwin and Harold
Before 1066, Godwin, Earl of Wessex, held Bosham with Itchenor. His son Harold grasped the Crown from the dying Edward the Confessor and held it for nine months until he was killed at the Battle of Hastings, when William the Conqueror won it. Itchenor’ s part in these great events would have been small. During the Battle of Hastings Lewis may have ‘sweated it out’ in Itchenor guarding some of Harold’s ships kept ready for instant action. Armed fugitives from the battle may have escaped with Lewin in these ships to the open ports of Flanders, which were a haven for exiles and pirates.
Roger of Montgomery took his name from St. Germain de Montgomery near Lisieux in Normandy. He was one of the magnates close to William who invaded England with the Conqueror. The latter appointed him to govern the western part of Sussex as Earl of Arundel and Chichester. Itchenor was detached from Bosham and was held by Roger’s man, Warm, a man of substance, for he also held Rumboldswyke and other estates.
The Montgomerys were disgraced by Henry I for rebellion, and Itchenor then “became parcel of the Earldom of Arundel and Chichester, held of the Earl by knight’ s service, by Roger Esthrmi.t’ (This name is also spelt: Esturmy, Sturmi and Sturmy).
Hugh Esturmy founded Itchenor Church
Hugh Esturmy lived in troubled times. While Henry II was introducing administrative reforms, he had become involved in a quarrel with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Becket, which culminated in the notorious murder in 1170. The King’ s sons and his barons were rebellious.
In about 1175 when John de Greneford was Bishop of Chichester, Hugh Esturmy, the lord of the manor of West Itchenor, obtained leave from him and from the prebendary of Westringes (Wittering) to build a chapel at Itchenor, the priest of which should be presented to the Bishop and should pay five shillings on New Year’ s Eve to the prebendary.
Between 1180 and 1197 Bishop Seffrid II allowed the chapel to be converted into a parish church with its own graveyard. Hugh and his heirs were to present (nominate) the rector who should pay 6s.8d yearly to Seffrid the Treasurer and his successors in the prebend of Wittering, to whom the Rector should do fealty. In 1243 the advowson (right to present), with five acres of glebe, was conveyed to Tortington Priory near Arundel, with which it remained until the Dissolution (1545). Afterwards it was retained by the Crown, and it is still in the gift of the Lord Chancellor.
Lords of the Manor of West Itchenor
Hugh Esturmy made provision for his life in the world to come by giving land in West Itchenor to Boxgrove Priory for the performance of his anniversary service. His son John arranged to be buried in this Priory giving “with his body, five acres and a gore (triangle) of land in the field called Haluewerde.” John had two daughters: Sara and Alice. Sara confirmed these gifts. She married Godfrey de Godswewd in 1243, the year when both sisters conveyed the advowson of Itchenor Church to Tortington Priory. Later Alice married Thomas de Cheney with whom she confirmed the gifts to Boxgrove Priory. This, being an alien house belonging to the Benedictine Abbey of Lessay in France, could be trusted to pray regularly for the souls of departed members of the Norman gentry. On the other hand the Augustinian Canons of Tortington, to whom the advowson was granted, would be able to appoint a suitable vicar for the English folk of Itchenor.
At that time the monasteries were introducing into England new skills in the arts, building, carpentry, agriculture etc. Presumably the Tortington monks built the 13th century foundations and walls of St. Nicholas Church, as it stands today, appropriately dedicated to the patron saint of sailors.
Among later holders of the manor of West Itchenor were the Rymans of Appledram. The manorial rights lapsed towards the middle of the 17th century during Cromwell’ s revolution.
Apart from the lord, there were other freeholders in the manor of West Itchenor. An early sale, in 1607, was by Wm.Jephson, Knight of Froyle, Hants, to Francis Neville, Esquire, of Keynor, Sidlesham, for £13 00, of a tenement, barn, storehouse and ten acres called ‘Two little Closes’ and a marsh adjoining. Francis’ son in Caerleon, Mon., passed the property on to Morgans.
Another Itchenor property was five closes called Slipe, Sea Coppice, Furze Field, Five Acres, and White North (10 acres) near the River called Haven of Chichester.
This haven must have been the inlet that came up to the church. The use of the term ‘River’ is interesting as the Duke of Richmond treated the Chichester channel as a river and claimed property rights to the middle of it.
In 1773 John Martin (mariner) bought from John Woods for five shillings the seat in Itchenor church belonging to Black House land.
The fields had jolly rural names: Horsekins, Gunshotts, Old Toms, Tipps, etc. Some 17th and 18th century owners were: Napper, Gibbs, Palmer, Peachey, Darley, Aylward, Aylmer, Thomas (shipwright), John Clayton (mariner) Matthew Clayton (victualler), John Woodland (mariner),Rishman, Stowell.
Counting backwards, three generations of Haines and more than four generations of Rogers, ancestors of the Haines, have owned the ferry rights from Itchenor to Bosham Hoe.
Apart from the church, the oldest building in Itchenor is the Old Rectory. It is of 15th century origin. It was a small timber-framed and thatched house with a hall-place facing west and wings to north and south. A chimney stack and wide fire place were inserted in the 16th century. The front of the north wing has a jettied upper storey. This house has been modernised, but the old features can still be seen.
Emmets and the Sailing Club are of the 17th century.
Charles the Second’ s Royal Yacht ‘Fubs’ (Captain Darley) was stationed at Itchenor. Now ‘Fubs’, meaning chubby, was the pet name given by Charles to his mistress Louise, Duchess of Portsmouth (and Duchess of Aubigny in France) who was the mother of Charles Lennox, first Duke of Richmond. She was the daughter of the Count of Keroualle (or Queroualle) in Brittany.
In 1683, the King cruised in R.Y. ‘Fubs’ from Southampton to Southsea with Prince George of Denmark and the Duke of York. The Duchess of Portsmouth received them on shore to inspect her castle. On another occasion the King used the R.Y. ‘Fubs’ to ship the Grand Prior of France (Knight of St.John) to Dieppe, post haste, when the latter had given offence. It is likely that Louise used the yacht for her visits to France (a Breton girl would be a good sailor) and when using the yacht she may have set her dainty foot in Itchenor.
The first Duke of Richmond went to France with his mother, Louise, after Charles’ death but soon returned to England. He completed the purchase of the Goodwood estate in 1697 when he was 25. His grandson the third Duke succeeded in 1750.
In 1776 Charles Lennox, third Duke of Richmond in Yorkshire, Earl of March, Baron of Settrington in England; Duke of Lennox, Earl of Darnley, Baron Methuen of Torbolton in Scotland; Duke of Aubigny in France; Knight of the Garter, began to buy land in Itchenor. First he bought from Dr. Bayly of Chichester lands called Horsekins, Gunshotts, Tipps, Brown Star and Redlands (West Wittering), 32 acres for £800; then in 1781 from Wm. Guy (surgeon) of Chichester a farmhouse with outbuildings and 200 acres arable for £2,400 - the name of the previous occupant was Napper. In 1801 he bought from the Rector, Rev. William Williams, 4 acres of glebe for £161 to redeem the land-tax. He also bought land from Thomas Gibbs, John Leggatt and John Chitty.
In Itchenor Park the Duke built a house in 1783 which bears a close resemblance to Admiralty House in Portsmouth, indicating that Samuel Wyatt who designed the latter also designed the former. Joining it an older building, Flint Cottage, survives. An indoor riding school (now the milking shed) was also built. The Duke must have liked Itchenor; a contemporary historian reported that he “greatly frequented” his Itchenor house.
In 1765 the Duke was appointed Ambassador-extraordinary to the Court of France. In 1766 he was Secretary-of-State and in 1782 Master-General of the Ordnance. His Duchess died in 1796. He died in 1806, aged 72, without issue, and his nephew then succeeded to the honours. His wide interests are revealed by the headings in the steward’s accounts viz: His Grace’s clothes, London and Goodwood buildings, gardens and plantations rent and taxes, annuities and gifts, the Hunt, game, pheasantry, Mr. Lennox, Miss Leclerc, interest, electrions, boats, militia and Itchenor buildings. The latter included a hot sea-bath on the shore, now called Jetty House. His will revealed that Henriette Anne Leclerc was his natural daughter. She was provided for amply and given the life tenancy of Itchenor House where she had already been installed.
A footnote in the ‘Complete Peerage’ quoting from a contemporary letter states: “Miss Leclerc lives at the Dukes’ and the Duchess is very fond of her. She has been introduced at Court.” Being discreet, she carefully observed the wishes of the Duke as expressed in his will, in destroying or dispersing his letters and papers. Her mother’s identity is not known. Henriette Leclerc married General John Dorrien at St. James’ Piccadilly in 1808 and lived on happily in Itchenor Park.
ANNALS OF ITCHENOR
In the guide to St. Nicholas Church, Mr. Francis Steer has included from the old parish records from 1561 to the late 17th century. Much of what follows has been gleaned from a manuscript book begun early in the 19th century, “Annals of Itchenor”. This was written more or less sporadically till 1962 when, under the Rector, Canon R. A. Wright, M.A., O.B.E., more comprehensive annual reports began, which may prove of great interest to future researchers. In contrast with some of the intervening entries most of these recent records are in beautiful script, which matches the fine copperplate of the illuminated introduction.
After setting out the names of previous incumbents, our record book gives these statistics:
Population in 1801, Males 66, Females 95, Total 161 Houses 33
Population in 1811, Males 100, Females 99, and Total 199 Houses 43
The low count of males in 1801 might perhaps have resulted from service in Nelson’s navy.
Pasted at the front of the “Annals” is an illustrated article on Itchenor from the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1803, from which is this quotation : -
“The land is in general a strong loam, which is much improved by chalking, and produces large crops of wheat. The village consists of two public houses and a few cottages near the sea. The Duke of Richmond has a neat house and pleasure grounds adjoining the street, with a hot-bath on the shore. A few years past, the Belvidere and the ill-fated Halfwell Indiamen were built here; and about three years ago a vessel on a new construction, carrying five sails was built here; but nothing has been attempted since. The church stands South of the village on a small rising ground, about a quarter of a mile distant from the sea, which appears to have formerly come almost up to the churchyard. It is a small low building (of flints with stone quoins), containing a nave and chancel, with a low modern turret at the West end. The doorways are circular-headed arches ornamented with a plain moulding springing from leopards’ heads. In the North wall of the chancel is a square recess; and in the chancel is a curious ancient oak chest. The living is a Rectory, valued in the King’s Books at £6. l4s. 2d. The Duke of Richmond is lord of the manor.”
Notes a) A public house, “The Schooner”, was sited on “Ferryside”, now offices.
b)The ancient oak chest has, alas, disappeared, as the church guide states, and the “Annals” have nothing to say as to when and how.
Also at the front of the “Annals” is the following cutting (undated) :-
“WEST ITCHENOR is a small parish, 7 miles south-west from Chichester, in Manhood Hundred, rape of Chichester, West Hampnett Union, and a population of 232 in 1841.
The principal landed proprietors are Lord George Lennox and W. M. Bridger, Esq. The living is a Rectory, value £170 per annum, in the archdeaconry of Chichester, and deanery of Boxgrove, and since the dissolution of that monastery, the patronage has remained in the Crown; the incumbent is the Rev. Stenning Johnson. The parish is bounded by Chichester harbour, West Wittering, and Birdham; assessed to the Income Tax at £1061.”
Notes a) “Union” is, of course, the workhouse, in which, sad to relate, several residents of Itchenor ended their days.
b) Population much increased since 1811.
During the incumbency of the Rev. Stenning Johnson, grandfather of the late Mrs. Duckworth, what may be termed the “modern” Annals commence with a note of a Confirmation on June 8th 1847. The list of 14 candidates includes the names, Francis, Gibbs, Mant, Robinson, Rogers and Wilsher, which frequently recur in later notes.
The Village School
Mr. Johnson also wrote -
“In June 1849 (by permission of the Tithe Commissioners) a building was erected in lieu of a dilapidated Glebe barn, the Rector receiving presents from sundry owners and occupiers of land and persons friendly to the undertaking, it being his intention (during his incumbency) to devote the building to the purposes of a Dame School, subsidiary to the Manhood National School.”
“ October 1853. Population 195. Communicants 54
. Boys Girls
Dame School 12 25
Manhood School 4 3
Sunday School 23 28
a) Mrs. Ethelwyn Duckworth, who died in 1971, had childhood memories of the time when her aunt used to take Sunday school in this small building with the look of a church sited a short distance along the lane below the present Delph Cottage.
b) No evidence of the date of the closure of this school is to hand.
There follows, recorded as they occur, an irregular series of items dealing with repairs to the fabric, innovations in the services, special collections and the like, some well worth further study, up to 1962.
At this date a serious attempt was made to rectify some of the omissions of past years by reporting the death of the Rev. V. Dunphy in 1952, his replacement by the Rev.G. M. Elliott, who resigned two years later, to be succeeded by Canon Wright, who is still well known to many in the village.
The Care and Maintenance of the Church
Also detailed are church improvements since 1931, including the altar rails in memory of the Rev. S. Johnson in 1933, the church and steeple re-roofed and electric heating installed in 1947, the erection of the lychgate given by Mrs. Larkins as a memorial to her father, Mr. Wilkinson, in 1951, and the restoration of 1960, when extensive alterations were made to the interior and the vestry built on to the North side.
One could wish that some notes on earlier building works were more informative, especially with regard to the old gallery, mentioned in 1853 as “capable of containing about 50 children”, which would seem to have been removed in 1870, when considerable work was done on the roof and belfry, though the gallery is not mentioned.
To close this subject, what emerges from various entries, not always very clear, is that by 1960, with the exception of the new gallery erected in 1964, the interior looked very much as it does today, the exterior remaining unaltered since the addition of the vestry.
An Old Memorial Stone
An entry on the flyleaf of the Burial Register reads: -
I Alfred Fuller Rector of West Itchenor certify that during the restoration of the Church this year a large flat stone bearing the following inscription “Anna, wife of Murdoch Mackenzie Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, died October 31st 1786 aged 39 years” was left in its original position in the South-East corner of the Chancel and there covered over it being requisite for the purposes of Restoration to raise the level of the Altar steps. At the same time a large slab to a member of the Napper family (inscription well nigh obliterated) was in like manner covered over in the centre of the nave paving.”
The account in the “Annals” of the work carried out in the autumn of 1960 tells us that the first of these stones was recovered from the South wall of the Sanctuary and removed to the aisle, where it can still be seen. Regrettably, nothing is known of this Anna, or of her husband. He may possibly have been connected with H.M.S. CHICHESTER built at Itchenor in 1785.
b) No further mention is made of the second stone slab, which was presumably covered over again in 1960.
An item of repairs in the “Annals” for 1928 introduces a meteorological report :-
“During the early part of this year the roof of the church was inspected and repairs considered necessary were carried out. There occurred on November 16th a severe gale which blew down several trees on the road between the church and the village and at the same time stripped a good part of the Church roof of tiles. This damage was repaired on the 19th and 20th and on the Friday following - the 23rd - there was a recurrence of the gale which undid most of the repair work already mentioned”.
Another weather note, fascinating though unrelated to building work, may be seen on the flyleaf of the Burial Register : -
Saturday October 21st full moon 4 afternoon.
Sunday 22nd no Divine Service in the Church the road leading thereto being impassable owing to an extraordinary high tide which caused a breach in the sea wall. The Ferryman was seen rowing his boat over hedges across the road at bridge pond through bog marsh to black house eight acres.
Wind S.S.W. The tide not quite so high the following days.”
Note This would seem to mean that the road was under water somewhere near the entrance to Itchenor Park as well as at the foot of the hill beyond the church.
There remain a few items from the years prior to 1962 which may be worthy of mention.
A note by the Rev. F.E. Haines on “Changes in Ownership of Land” reads :-
East of the Rectory including Rectory Cottage to Mr. Saxe Wyndham who afterwards divided it into practically two equal portions with Mr. Wilkinson. In 1914 Mr. H. C. Darley stated that he had sold a small portion of his land …. to Mr. Harker.
Notes a) “Rectory Cottage” was presumably the house now known as “The Old Rectory”, “Delph Cottage” being built by Mr. Saxe Wyndham.
b) Mr. Harker built “The Haven” in 1906 on land bought from Mr. Darley.
A newspaper cutting reports the dedication in 1922 by the Dean of Chichester of the War Memorial, which was unveiled by the Duke of Richmond. A collection was taken for the fund to purchase a small pipe organ, which was installed later in the year. With the report is a picture of the unveiling ceremony, showing the approach to the church as it was before the erection of the lychgate in 1950.
Another cutting describes the wedding in 1926 of the Rector’s daughter, Miss “Babs” Tansey, and Mr. Ivan Everden, one of the Rolls Royce designers attached to the staff of Mr. Royce at West Wittering. This was something of an historic event, as it was reputedly the first time for at least 300 years that a daughter of a Rector of Itchenor had been married during her father’s incumbency. The church was crowded for the service conducted by the Rector who was blind and used Braille books, assisted by the Rector of St. Pancras, Chichester. Two sisters were bridesmaids, while the third played the organ. Mr. Duckworth, longtime churchwarden, gave the bride away, and the best man was Mr. Eddie Mizen, to whom we are indebted for the new seating installed in 1931.
In 1933 there is a report of the presentation to the Rev, and Mrs. Albert Tansey on his retirement, tribute being paid to their devoted work during 17 years. A gathering of parishioners met by invitation of Mrs. Russell at “The Brownies’ Hut, Itchenor House”, no Memorial Hall then existing.
It is interesting, though perhaps not surprising, to find that, during Mr. Tansey’s incumbency, the lists of Confirmation candidates include many names still well known in Itchenor, such as Bailey, Cox, Darley, Ferry, Haines, Norris, Robinson and Stearn.
Following this, a significant change is recorded :-
“On January 7th 1935, on the death of the Rev. G. W. Hunt of Birdham, West Itchenor and Birdham were United by Order in Council. The Rector of West Itchenor, the Rev. V. Dunphy, M.A., became the first Rector of the United Benefice. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners withdrew their stipend grant of £126, and £75 from income of West Itchenor was diverted to West Wittering - as result of the Union.
“In March 1935 the Rectory was sold for £640 to the Mayor of Chichester, C. G. Allen, who resold it to Mrs. Small. The income from the investment of the sum realised upon the sale namely …….amounts to …… and is for augmentation of the Income of the United Benefice”.
(The omission of the relevant figures is unfortunate.)
As a result of these changes the Rev. V. Dunphy took up residence in the former Birdham Rectory, and, until he was provided with a car, used to walk, sometimes through the fields, to services in Itchenor.
Late in 1967 Canon Wright retired after having held the living for 13 years. Coming to Itchenor at a difficult time, he had to bear the inconvenience of the building works in the church and the wait for the completion of the new Rectory at Birdham. This he did with the customary cheerfulness which endeared him to so many. His successor, the Rev. Roy Goodchild held the living until the end of 1973. During his time with us a number of activities were started outside the church, among them the regular meetings of various groups and social occasions such as Harvest Supper. He is a writer of inspirational drama; his pageant for hundreds of children was produced in the Bishop’ s Palace Garden, and two religious plays in our own and neighbouring churches.
In November 1970 Mr. Michael Chater was licensed as a Diocesan Lay Reader, since which date he has assisted on numerous occasions when help was needed, notably when we were without a Rector.
It is appropriate in this year of celebration to recall Itchenor’ s first Flower Festival held five years ago. Over 60 ladies helped to produce some exquisite floral arrangements on the theme of the East window - the Benedicite. In spite of unfavourable weather, it was estimated that over 500 people attended and a sum of £180 was raised for the Sussex Churches Campaign.
Perhaps the most significant feature of all the more recent notes in the “Annals” is the record of the growing participation of church members in a variety of new developments. It seems fitting at this time to remember some of those who shared in this work who are no longer with us.
Firstly, Francis and Ethelwyn Duckworth. He, after a distinguished career in Education, retired to Itchenor, where he was Rector’s Warden for fifteen years. She had been associated with the village all her life and was a most faithful servant of the Church she loved so much. In addition to the part they played in the affairs of the parish, they were greatly concerned with the conduct of Dover College and Mrs. Duckworth attended the meetings of Governors till the end of her life. The loss of these two good Christians was deeply felt.
Another faithful servant of St. Nicholas Church was Captain Norman Currey who was Rector’s Warden for seven years and whose jovial manner and long service in many capacities are well remembered. Among the many good deeds of Captain and Mrs. Currey was the institution of the gatherings at Church Hill Cottage after Evensong during the summer for coffee and biscuits. These well appreciated occasions were repeated for several years until Mrs. Currey felt obliged to make an end.
A further heavy loss was suffered in the death of Mrs. Margot Linton-Bogle, our organist for 21 years, during which she had done so much for the improvement of the church music, not only by training the choir and playing for services, but also by giving recitals of recorded music and readings. Her generosity in other ways was well known.
Among other names of those who played their part in the life of church and village are Sir Eric Seal, Chairman of the Additional Curates Society, John Nicholas, artist and writer, who with his wife, Anita, had a long association with Itchenor, Albert Steam, who had long been responsible for the building work on the church, carried out with skill and generosity, and Sydney Graham, who contributed greatly to various schemes of development.
It would be invidious to choose other names to mention here, as the Annals contain many references to the faithful service to Church and Village of a great number of good people who happily survive today. Suffice it to say that there is no lack of willing men and women to carry on the work of those who have gone, not least John Stevenette, our Rector since early last year. It is to him that we owe the happy idea of these celebrations and the inspiration for the efforts made to that end.
The entry for 1975 in the “Annals of Itchenor” has still to be written; it will doubtless describe the various events planned to celebrate our Church’s birth 800 years ago. Those were troubled years, as we read in the first section of this Celebration Pamphlet. Today, too, we live in times of trouble.
Nevertheless, Itchenor is still a healthful, friendly, pleasant place -rather somnolent during some months with its preponderance of “senior citizens”; wearing a more lively and youthful aspect in summer and at holiday times, with the arrival of children, grandchildren and sailing enthusiasts.
Despite increasingly frequent changes of many kinds over the years, not all to be deplored but some bringing problems, how blessed we still are in the more unchanging aspects of our surroundings! We can still walk along the foreshore to find the beechwoods ablaze with bluebells; or take a stroll along the towpath to watch the antics of baby shell-duck. And if, from beyond this sheltered village, all too quickly nowadays come echoes of a violent and unstable world, we can profitably ponder on the generations of stalwart men and women who have lived here.
“St. Nicholas Church on your low grassy hill, heart-lifting symbol of hope and continuity, have you a message for us?”
“ALL KINDS OF MUSIC”
The “Annals of Itchenor” tell us nothing of music in the church prior to an entry in 1862 by the Rev. Stenning Johnson, which suggests the possibility that any singing before that date may have been accompanied by one or more string or wind instruments, or perhaps not at all.
From the 1862 entry and from other later notes it has been possible to sketch what may well be a typical account of the birth and development of village church music. Mr. Johnson wrote
“The Church Psalmody was furthered by a Harmonium. Commenced Easter Day.”
Soon after the Rev. Alfred Fuller succeeded in 1865, we read that Hymns Ancient and Modern were first used. Choir seats were arranged in the Chancel and the Harmonium brought down from the gallery. In 1874, due largely to the generosity of the Rector, assisted by the “proceeds of Penny Readings in the Schoolroom”, a new Harmonium was purchased for cash on advantageous terms.
During the incumbency of the Rev. Francis Haines further progress was made. In 1903 surplices were provided for the choristers, and lamps were bought in order to continue Evensong, which replaced the afternoon Service, through the Winter. Psalms were sung, instead of read, at Morning Services, and this practice was extended to Evensong the following year. A Hymn Board was given in 1906 and oak candle-sticks for use at the Harmonium acquired in 1909. Christmas concerts were held in the Rectory in 1908 and 1912 (at least), Mrs. Haines playing a piano solo.
The next step forward was the acquisition, at the cost of £70 raised in the village, of a small-pipe organ which was dedicated in 1922. The trusty old Harmonium “in use since 1870” was sold for £6!
There is no further word of musical matters until 1950, when an electric organ-blower was installed at a cost of £81. When the Vestry was being built in 1956, it was decided to remove from the Altar step the pipe organ, which was in any case in a very bad state of repair. In this crisis Mrs. Linton-Bogle very generously presented her own organ, the first of three given to the Church during her 21 years as Organist and Choir mistress. This reed organ was installed, not very satisfactorily from the musical point of view, at the West end. “Margot’ s” second gift, a Jennings electronic instrument, took the place of the reed organ in 1961 until it was moved to the new gallery in 1964. By 1970 it was becoming obsolete and difficult to maintain, so yet again our beloved Organist rose to the occasion by presenting the Compton Two-Manual instrument which is in use today.
In 1969 Mrs. Johnson of Uckfield gave a piano, which has proved useful for children’s services and when the organ has been out of commission.
Mrs. Linton-Bogle did much to foster the enjoyment of music by organising recitals of organ and recorded music interspersed with appropriate readings. With these in mind she once more showed her generosity by donating to the church her record-player and collection of recordings of cathedral music. She also introduced some ultra-modern hymn tunes with appeal to the young in choir and congregation. At times their unusual rhythms and tempi evoked a startled response from the elderly parishioners.
Following her death in 1973 there was a sad falling-off in the number of children available for the choir. However, assisted by ladies as choristers, our present organist is admirably filling the gap and the congregation sings as lustily as ever.
A SCHOOLBOY IN ITCHENOR 1897 — 1901
Mr. Bennie Herrington started his “Memories of Itchenor” with these words: -
“There’s a touch of fantasy in the series of pictures that flit by the windows of my mind. Some of them are “talkies” and most are in technicolour, vivid, and others are hazy - in slow motion.”
Written about 1945, these Memories go back to the years 1897 to 1901, when Mr. Herrington’ s father acted as Customs Officer at Itchenor, and they give a most illuminating picture of the daily life of this young boy, who was, as his opening words suggest, clearly well fitted to appreciate Itchenor to the full. At the same time they provide an interesting comparison with the delightful talk to the Women’s Institute given in 1967 by Mrs. Duckworth, whose view of the village is that of one in a different walk of life.
Mr. Herrington is perhaps somewhat too enthusiastic at times and it has been thought advisable to remove some of his excesses, thereby avoiding the risk of giving offence, but retaining as much as possible of the boy’s eager spirit.
The writer tells of the coming of his family - father, mother and six children - from Littlehampton via Bosham Station and “open carriage from the Swan Inn; unheard of luxury”, and goes on: -
Arthur had already been and had returned to Littlehampton with a carpet-bag full of lovely apples, given to him by Mrs. Cornish of “The Ship”. This took its place in the second boy’s mind with the spies who returned from Canaan with fruits of the land, and if Itchenor was not in a land flowing with milk and honey, it was a land of fruit, plenteous eggs, wide fields, and glorious beyond words. A harbour with real boats - a house at the harbour brink! At last down the long ferry lane - the water sparkles in the distance, it is seen, it is shut in again by the hedges, till at last, hedges behind, there lay Itchenor in full view, just across the harbour. The little mother is frightened beyond words. She and her brood of young rips have to make the passage in a small boat. Oh! and this is Mr. Haines of whom much had been heard. In a dim way it was understood that Itchenor was Mr. Haines, and Mr. Haines was Itchenor. He had a quiet voice - a sly twinkle in his eye, a nautical cap, blue jersey, white neckerchief, and hands that appeared to be very brown. Father’s irritation at Mother’s fears was not so pacifying as Mr. Haines’ quiet smiles. He rowed a Short Stroke, by no means the long East Anglican fisherman’s sweep, but a somewhat jerky staccato series of short strokes. We’re across - none drowned - and away up the short “hard” to the brick bungalow, bearing its bold sign “Custom House”. The very tall fir trees in the small garden by the main entrance, and most wonderful of all -a tall flagstaff in a proper tabernacle. These children were all over that house -out in the garden - out in the ‘park’ - rolling in the grass - gathering King Cups and Buttercups - sheer joy.
By the side of the “Custom House”, slightly in the rear - was a whitewashed cottage, and in its dim doorway sat a very ancient lady. She sat there for years. Aunt Hart! Through the years I see her gazing out of the doorway, slightly bent over a very large walking stick on which she would rest her chin. She shrieked at times - you did, Aunt Hart - you know - and you were rude to Clayton at times, and we were all naughty towards you at times, and now I wonder why! I’ll tell you of Clayton presently.
Let’s work up the village street. There’s Miss Hoare - a single lady of impressive size, prominent teeth, threatening manner - but heart of gold, as good as gold say, and much softer. She became Mrs. Napper, but she’ s always Miss Hoare to me. Now two quiet mouse-like souls, Miss Ella and Miss Emma. Refined, good living, simple souls. Miss Emma was the village dressmaker. Father always swore at her bills - modest as they certainly were, because she would add “etceteras” and father knew of no such commodity. Their brother was the postman - and what a postman. He was much more. He was an institution - the school children’s’ timepiece.
Solemn of mien, walking somewhat crippled. Through the years I see him most frequently perched on the driving seat of a light mail van - Post Office red. We met him almost every day at the same spot - just round the bend up the hill past Itchenor Church - by the barn - or else we knew we were late for school - and what a group of children! I’ll tell you about them, after we’ve walked up the village.
Mrs. Haines’ was the last of the first terrace, and Mrs. Haines stands clear in mind as a lady with a kind voice and a black woollen shawl. She had headaches - and her boys were noisy. The years bring them back - Jack, Bob, George and Dick and the daughters Alice (Ally always), Mabel and Annie. My mother insisted that the boy Haines should join our little mob - and I see them in the second bedroom sleeping athwartships and not fore and aft - there was insufficient room for that. Mother insisted on them saying their prayers before coming to bed - and horror! she would kiss them all. John blushed - he blushed readily - but he stood it like a Briton. Mabel - well - she was rather ‘superior’. She had just left school and couldn’t take too much notice of us youngsters. I notice that she, Jessie Darley, and Flo Darley had a call’ or ‘signature tune’ in the words “Toodle-oo” - and this callsign synchronised with the appearance of the ketch “Excel” (38 tons Captain Martin). T’was young Martin who interested these three damsels - and it’s of no use for them to deny it.
Next house - next terrace? The Burtenshaws, the Carriers - or rather Mrs. Burtenshaw was the carrier - and sometimes Alfie - the son - would assist. Funny old gentleman Mr. Burtenshaw. He had a lawsuit with old Mr. Darley over an alleged attack by a dog. Darley won. Then there was poor Mr. Vokes, a consumptive invalid. A charming gentleman - but very frail. The Wilkinsons, the Lowes, and the Wyndhams had houses here. The Darley’s. Abreast the cottage was Darley’s meadow. The few cows and calves - and one lonely horse - grazed here and never can I think of Darleys without George Bowers. He was cowman, factotum for Darleys - coalman every so often - when the little sailing vessel would bring her cargo of coal and lay on the hard to be unladen at low water. All hands joined in, and after the vessel had gone, down we’d go with buckets to salve the lumps lost overboard. But Darleys! up a narrow passage - for there one bought the daily milk. I see that passage with its oars and spars propped up against the wall at the end. The door opened to the left and there would be Miss Flo serving from a large crock - a very dark living room was this, and we were all rather scared of Mr. Darley, the old gentleman. He affected a straw hat, whatever the season, and when he took his walks abroad he would invariably be accompanied by a liver and white spaniel. A dignified person was old Mr. Darley. A personage. Clayton - well - he was just Clayton. He was young enough to enter into the life of the boys - but old enough to be regarded as grown up. He had a distinctive walk and a distinctive whistle as he walked. There was a quizzical smile in Clayton’s eyes. One wondered if he ever was serious - but he owned the “Daisy”. I must tell you about those boats. There they lay, strung out, just beyond low watermark, spring tides. “Daisy” of Darleys, “Little Florence” of Conrad Coombs of West Wittering, “Vanguard” of Haines, “Lily” of Wilkinson, “Ceres” of Kellers, “Frou Frou” of Johnsons - the Misses Johnson, a parson’ s daughters -and could they sail the “Frou Frou’? We mustn’t forget “Brer Rabbit” of Lowe -the Bank Clerk. My boyhood’s ambition was to own a Brer Rabbit - a water witch indeed. The small boats were Haines’ - the narrow blue “Fly”, the varnished “Annie”, the old “Customs Boat” which had been succeeded by one built by Felphams of Portsmouth to father’s dimensions - which were not what was wanted for Chichester harbour. She had too much freeboard - too much beam. Her centre board jammed. Her balanced lug was not large enough. She couldn’t keep up with Brer Rabbit. Away up harbour was the Boughtons’ boat, made or built, so they said, by the Boughton boys - a farmer’s sons. On the opposite side of the road to Darleys terrace was Coombs Cottage. Very funny family of very short people. They were workers though - their small ketch was the “Hebron”, shingle cargoes, or what have you? At the top of the village “The Ship”, Ted Cornish lived there - we never thought of the parents - but later “Little Robinson” the carrier took over the “Ship”. A bright keen-faced man was Robinson. His daughters had lovely skin. Lizzie the eldest helped in the Carrier’ s business.
Away down Darleys meadow - in solitary state - was Captain Beale’s house. Beale was a Captain - owner of a schooner “Dependence”. We were rather awed by Captain Beale on his very occasional visits to his house and village. When the evening drew in he would come round to the Custom House and there Lather, Mr. Haines, Clayton Darley, occasionally also old Mr. Darley and Mr. Vokes would settle the affairs of the world. Capt. Beale’s pet discussion was “Japan and the coming world struggle of the yellow races against the world”.
Beyond the village proper was the Vicarage, the Rev. Heath’s home. He was a bachelor, a bewhiskered country gentleman, whom one couldn’t t imagine as ever choosing to be a parson. Miss Hoare ‘did’ for him with the help of Alfie Burtenshaw. Opposite was a numerous family of young children - the Wood’ s. We were not encouraged to be friendly with the Wood’s. They swore - young Tim especially.
Now Itchenor Green was further on - on the Birdham Road, past Wakeford’s cottage on the right and round the bend to the left. There were two or three snug homesteads - notably Shipton Cottage the home of the Carpenters. Very distinctive family, Edward the eldest boy, who was the hero of Johnny Carpenter the youngest - and Alfie the middle lad - a blacksmith, short, squat, powerful, who finally threw up the forge and took to frying fish and chips in Lake Road, Portsmouth.
Away beyond Shipton Cottage was George Bowers’ house concealed almost from the road by hedges and climbers. Ahead lay the main Birdham Road with “Nappers” “The Blacksmiths Arms” at the corner. Past and away to the left we have a long stretch - for in the distance is the “School”. Haskins’ cottage first though - and it was by these cottages one was timed to be at first bell - the second followed after five minutes interval.
Manhood School (originally Main-Wood) stood at the junction of the Birdham, Earnley, Wittering, Chichester roads, a triangular garden and the small school buildings. The Headmaster’s house was continuous with the school. Come inside the main gate. To the right was the small separate ‘Infants’ School - presided over by the Head’s wife - Mrs. Nixon. This was in 1898. Now to the main school. To the left- let’s peep into the little cloakroom. Two rows of tiny clothes hooks and at the end handbowls for washing - but really used for mixing the school ink. A dark earthy-smelling little cloakroom with the lingering odours of clothes. The school proper was almost all one room - except for the partly partitioned room at the East end. The Head was a character. I judged him to be a Midlander who had settled in Sussex. He was lantern jawed - the bridge of his nose provided a convenient ledge for his spectacle span. His hair parted down the middle and the proud possessor of a fountain pen - the first I had seen. Mr. Nixon took the 4th, 5th and 6th standards. It was a Church of England School - a new kind of school to us Nonconformist children. Divinity was the first lesson each morning and right early we learned of the wonderful Septuagesima, Quinquagesima, Epiphany and so on through the Christian Calendar. The school was mixed - boys and girls intermingled - a circumstance which at first was very disturbing. The boys were all new to me - not only strangers as persons but strangers in type and outlook. Their speech first brought home the fact that correct English is the kind of English one speaks oneself. The very first day, for instance, I was taken up by a boy who alone was in the 7th standard - a lordly solitude and eminence - whilst I was the new boy in the 4th. This good boy was Johnny Carpenter of Shipton Cottage. He was the school star artist. Johnny was a genius. Well, we walked home Itchenor bound while he commented on this and that feature of the countryside, which conveyed nothing to me as a town boy except that I was quite ignorant - or rather that there was much more than one kind of knowledge, and he spoke enthusiastically of his orchard. Fancy! This boy lived in a house with an orchard - unbelievable affluence to me. Shyness made me hesitate to accept his invitation to visit the orchard and well remembered are his final words - “Wal -be you comin’ into our orchard or bain’ t ye? If ye bain’t, I ‘low ye’d better bide where ye be”. This was very new to me and I went home to recite this new language to my parents.
1900 was a great year. The Boer war stirred the countryside, Mr. Weeks, the Insurance Agent, was pelted as a pro-Boer Then came the Daily Mail -Robinson brought it in - and the latest news from ‘Shippams’. Father, Mr. Haines, Clayton and Vokes trapped Cronje, killed Kruger, liberated French, Baden Powell, Sir George White, smashed De Wet, bottled up Smuts, banished Steyn - in, fact won the war once or twice a week.
But 1900 was marked for the Great Simultaneous Mission - a ‘Big Push’ on the Ecclesiastical Front. Special Missioners were sent on tour and a wave of emotion swept the country. Our Missioner was a Mr. Buck, a lay preacher, a railway employee. This was the first man I had heard who fired my imagination. Buck was in earnest. His face, his very body seemed to magnetise the congregation.
As the services went on, more and more people came along, until it was impossible to accommodate one more worshipper. They sat on the pulpit steps - in the choir bay, and very soon the condensed breath would make rivulets to run down the plaster walls of the West Wittering Bible Christian Chapel. Various adherents would be invited to lead in prayer, and sure enough old Mr. Cates - Fudgy Cates to the villagers - would pour out his soul. That he repeated hackneyed clichés - that he rambled on and on -were true enough but nobody who heard him could doubt that this simple old countryman yearned for God. We naughty boys waited for him to thank God that “the sweat is again runnin’ down these ‘ere walls” and to hear his final words “And I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than dwell in the tents of wickedness”. Loving Greetings to you, Mr. Cates! Edie Terry was a sensation. She sang “Sweet Peace, the gift of God’s Love” and to this boy, as those sweet treble notes flowed through his mind there came an indescribable sense of “other worldliness” - of a state of being wherein there was nothing of the sordid workaday world. The Willshires - the chapel caretakers - and West Wittering blacksmith - were very kind - thank you, my dears. My little Mother with her large green pram - the two babes, Jack and Will (nicknamed Kruger and Cronje) attended that chapel regularly and I think of her making the six miles journey on foot each Sunday. Of course I had to return to Itchenor after Sunday School - for collection of eggs - and then away back to Evening Service - 12 miles in all - ending up with pushing the pram back home. I could have made some reduction by “going the field way” but Nappers had a large fierce gander named Johnnie, and his hissing and neck stretching were most intimidating.
Mr. Cox came to relieve father during his official leave and then began a brave new chapter for Bennie - and for Itchenor also I think - don’ t you?
In his History of the County of Sussex, published in 1835,
T.W. Horsfield wrote:” About half-a-century ago, some gentlemen, of the name of Taylor, from London, attempted to establish a dock-yard for the building of ships at Itchenor, and one of large dimensions was accordingly built; but, an accident happening at the launch, the scheme was unfortunately frustrated”.
Horsfield, who apparently did not think highly of Itchenor in other respects, failed to give due credit to its shipbuilding enterprise, for the Victoria County History, Vol.11 (1907), in a list of men-of-war built in Sussex, with their services to the end of the Napoleonic War, includes:- “CHICHESTER (5th rate) 902 tons, 44 guns, built at Itchenor 1785”. The V.C.H. also has the following:- “The CHICHESTER was constructed by a London firm, the Taylors, who intended to establish a yard at Itchenor, but the difficulty attending the launch deterred them from continuing the scheme”. Moreover, her record shows that CHICHESTER in fact served in various capacities, including the capture, with INTREPID 964), of La Sirene in the West Indies in 1794, and, later, 5 or 6 years as a boys’ training-ship until broken up in1815.
The list of men-of-war citing CHICHESTER also includes:- “RICHMOND (gun brig) 183 tons, 12 guns, built at Itchenor 1806”. She fought at Copenhagen (1807) and was perhaps built by Greenwoods of Itchenor, also mentioned by V.C.H. Itchenor, therefore, had reason to be proud of her own men-of-war of those days, but this is far from the whole story.
An article in the Gentleman’s Magazine of September 1803 has the following: -
“A few years past, the Belvidere and the ill-fated Half-well Indiamen were built here; and about three years ago a vessel on a new construction, carrying five masts, was built here; but nothing has been attempted since”.
This may perhaps refer to the Transit, an early step in the change from “square rig” to ‘fore and aft’, a picture of which may be seen in Itchenor Sailing Clubhouse. Also, W. R. Read, in his Birdham - Second Series of Notes (1931) wrote: -
“Years ago, ship-building was an important industry carried on at Itchenor, where a reminder of the fact stands in a garden near the Ship Inn. It is what I may term the shell of one of the old furnaces then used for working the iron necessary in constructing vessels. It has been converted into a neat-looking summer-house, and the brick walls of the forge fire have been left jutting out from the main inner wall”.
There is evidence too of the former existence of saw-pits in the same area. There has certainly been considerable shipbuilding activity, but there remain doubts as to where it took place. A marked variation in the depth of the bottom at points off the Sailing Club quite close to each other suggests the possibility of the presence of a slipway, which might have been the site of Messrs. Taylors’ ill-starred undertaking. In that case it would seem likely that other ships, including the Indiamen already mentioned, were built at what is now “Haines’ Yard”, which may perhaps have been “Greenwoods” before coming into possession of the Rogers family.
Turning to ships themselves, their presence in Itchenor waters is well known. There were the big ships carrying coal from Newcastle to Dell Quay, the barges which plied from them to the shore (at one time as far as the church), the ships bringing gravel from the harbour-mouth and fetching coal for sale in the village, and the small boats of the locals. It is not clear to what extent these last were used otherwise than for business, but we know that early this century the Misses Johnson owned “Frou-Frou”, the Wilkinsons had “Lily” and Mr. Lowe, the bank clerk, could quickly outdistance the new Customs Boat in his Brer Rabbit”, possibly with good reason.
About the same time began the arrival in the village of people from London and elsewhere in search of a change of scene, some of whom settled into houses built for them in or near Itchenor, and in due course they acquired the liking for sailing in their own boats. Thence it was only a short step to competitive sailing and so to organised racing, regattas and Itchenor Sailing Club.
On 11th August 1921 the first regatta held at Itchenor since 1907 turned out a most successful revival. The village street was flag-bedecked and the “beach” crowded, with a bright sun and a stiff breeze making it a capital sailing day. In addition to a full programme of 16 aquatic events, there were sports ashore with a band and tents for side-shows and refreshments on the site of the present house aptly named “Fairfield”. There is a prophetic note in one report which reads: - “Motor-cars - Itchenor’ s summer visitors are mostly of the motoring classes - lined the roadway for a quarter of a mile back, and the estuary was alive with craft of all kinds. The charm of Itchenor and the harbourside villages is their romantic seclusion, but if they aren’t careful some peripatetic London newspaper-photographer will start booming them!”
The Souvenir Programme (on the back cover of which is an interesting contemporary view of St. Nicholas Church complete with five-barred gate!) is of considerable interest and provides .a good insight to the kind of occasion it was. The Regatta was still the same village affair as before the first World War, with a wide range of events, some of which read strangely today, such as “Race for bona fide Fishing Boats. Fixed Keels” - (Only two entries in one owner’s name) and “Race for bona fide Fishing Boats. Drop Keels” - (Again only two entries in same name!) and “Open Handicap for Pleasure Boats (without Waterways)” - (15 entries for this one!). There were also rowing events and races for Cabin Cruisers and other types of Motor Boats. The Land Sports (for children and older competitors) were by no means entirely serious and included “Tug of War, 6 a side (Women)” and “Catching the Greasy Pig - Prize, A Live Pig”!
B. S. Mends was Chairman of the General Committee, which included the names of many who later played their part in the formation of the Itchenor Sailing Club, the idea of which may be said to date from 1920, when the Mends Cup was presented and contested for the first time. The Club was constituted as a Company Limited by Guarantee in 1927, which is also the earliest date in the membership records, the early Minute Books having been lost in the Second World War It was then a family Sailing Club and has so remained over the years till today. In the early days races were started by the Officer of the Day firing a “Fowling-piece” from the (Haines) Jetty, while the Secretary recorded the results sitting on an upturned boat on the Hard. Those who are accustomed to take part in races as organised today may be interested to know that the duties of the first paid Secretary, appointed in 1933, included “Starting all races from the Flag Staff in the middle of the wail, often single-handed for both starting and finishing”.
For by that date the Club had acquired premises for a Clubhouse. From the beginning there had been much discussion of ways and means, with the result that four cottages were bought and converted by stages to their present use. There is still evidence of this to be seen, notably the doorway of a workshop (or perhaps boathouse), possibly used by Captain Beale, who at one time occupied one of the cottages. There have naturally been later additions and alterations to the structure as well as to the landing and other amenities too numerous to specify. After the second World War, during which the Club’s premises were requisitioned by first the Army and later the Navy with a view to preparations for D-Day, much of the work entailed by these improvements was carried out in the off-season by volunteer members.
The acquisition of premises resulted in increased membership and the racing fleet grew sufficient to necessitate division into classes and provision, year by year, of more weekly races. In this connection it is interesting to note that in the 1921 Regatta Programme the only “classes” specified were the Itchenor l6ft. Restricted.
The advent of the International 14 ft Class changed the nature of the Club dramatically, introducing a degree of technical sophistication which was not previously very general and an enhanced competitive spirit. It also brought a large influx of members with consequent divergence of opinion at times as to the conduct of the Club’s affairs. The first event for which entries were sought on a national level was the Itchenor Gallon for 14 ft. International Dinghies. This race is perhaps the most important in the calendar and also the best known if only because of the notoriously evil weather in which it takes place by tradition!
The intention in these notes has been to present a sketch, however, inadequate, of the birth and growth of the Club rather than to provide a history with names and dates. In any case, space would not allow for the mention of all those who have contributed to its development and conduct. For the same reasons it would be invidious to single out any of the holders of the Mends Cup, which has since 1948 been awarded “for the most notable yachting performance of the year by a member of the club”. Suffice it to say that the last includes many who have gained high distinction in International and Olympic sailing.
If you stand today by Itchenor Hard, you will see no more the notice: -“Moor fore and aft. Vehicles keep straight on”; the Merry Monarch’s R.Y. FUBS no longer swings with the tide, waiting perhaps for Her Ladyship on her way from the “old causeway”; nor will the shingle-barge sail home from the Winner Bank, her sprit-sail advertising a certain well-known brand of pill. But on the good days, and indeed the not so good, there is much to gladden the heart, not least of the landlubber.
The Goodwood Papers were made available by courtesy of the Directors of the Goodwood Estate Company Limited and through the facilities granted by the West Sussex County Archivist.
The Victoria History of the County of Sussex, Vols.I, II, and IV.
Rev. J. Dallaway: A History of the Western Division of the County of Sussex.
T.W Horsfield : A History of the Antiquities and Topography of Sussex.
Arthur Bryant: King Charles II
Allen Chandler : Chichester Harbour, Reflections on Mud and CM.
W.R.Read : Birdham - Second Series of Notes
The Gentleman’s Magazine
A Guide to the Church of St. Nicholas, West Itchenor.
Published by Itchenor 800 Committee.