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Ewhurst Green

(Great Fire of London contributions)


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General Details topsmall

Sussex Oasts
This pretty village lies 9 miles north of Hastings off the A229. Built along a ridge south of the River Rother, it has spectacular views across the valley towards Bodiam Castle.

The church of St James the Great forms an attractive group with the cluster of old houses around it. The church is a sturdy building, the 12th century Norman west tower is built mostly of local ironstone. It has a curious wood-shingled spire, which looks askew when viewd from afar. Inside the church, the rounded nave arcades are also Norman. The only major additions to the church are 13th century. On the west wall is a grotesque medieval carving, depicting a man blowing out his cheeks. This is the sole piece of decorative carving on the church.

The recreation ground was left to the parish, by Lieutenant A. Herdman who was killed in the First World War.

Ewhurst residents were either very prosperous or very generous, 3 centuries ago, as apparently, after the Great Fire of London in 1666, they contributed seven shillings and eight pence for the relief of the poor of St Bartholomews Exchange and St Bene't Fink of London, for their losses sustained by the fire.

A generous gesture for a remote community whose inhabitants had probably never been to London!

We are very grateful to Stephen Wood for the following:-

A boy's recollections of Ewhurst in the 30'? Stephen Wood A dispassionate view of the Ewhurst some 60 vears on is impossible: too much of me is still wrapped in that small village. I hope that I might conjure up an honest, if slightly sentimental, impression of life at that time.

We were comparatively isolated: we were a community of , perhaps 50 . There were recognised roles at all levels from parson and farmer-squire through teacher and publican to dairyman, carter, postman and roadman. Commonly we moved by bicycle or on foot: horses and carts transported goods of all kinds. Bus and train services were infrequent and, in any case, remote from the village. Cars, vans and lorries were infrequent: the post van and the newspaper van daily, the butcher and baker twice or three times a week. The bobby arrived on his bike about once a fortnight unless egg-stealing or cycles without lights needed more urgent attention!
The street was our playground: we played cricket, football, hopscotch, tag and hide-and-seek along its length. We knew and were known to all. Strangers were reported and inspected with suspicion. We rambled the fields, woods and marshes building dens, dams and houses, swinging on gates, whittling sticks, catching rabbits and looking for dabchicks eggs: only the gamekeeper- and the shepherd and the occasional farm-cart carrving hay, straw or feed interrupted our wanderings.
A 'shoeing' of a carthorse at the forge was a major event for the urchins. We knew every spring and footpath and the name of every barn and field. We returned home from our adventures happy, tired, hungry and usually wet. School functioned as part of the village with activities, news, successes and failures.
The central feature of the village was Court Lodge Farm, a classic building of dairy, fattening yards and stables with an attendant row of wretched cottages known as 'The Barracks'. 'This useful piece of farming history was replaced by the Green) The shop, school, church, chapel and pub were nearby.

Hop-growing featured stronglv as well as arable and animal husbandry. This brought seasonal employment to both men, women and children as well as an annual influx in late August of some 2000 hop-pickers from the East End and the coastal towns. For many it was their annual holiday. This brought much social and business activity the camps were busy centres and the pub and the shop prospered. Some 'hoppers' settled permanently but their origins were (uncharitably) always remembered.
The farm, the pub then called the Castle Inn with its attached blacksmith's forge', the school, the shop and Post Office, the church and occasionally the Parish Room were the centres of activity, Christmas, Easter and Harvest celebrations were supplemented by fetes, whist drives, sports, stoolball matches and occasionally, plays. At one time the village boasted the 'Chief Scouts Own' troop when Baden-Powell lived at Ewhurst Place. My particular memories are of Maypole dancing on a small green outside the Castle Inn, of the annual exhibition of immaculate gardens at the school and the sports day on the Recreation Ground. At Christmas the schoolchildren used to visit the shop to choose their gift from the Herdman Trust, For us, the children of the shop, this was a magic time: the store was packed with Christmas goods and toys which glittered under the oil lamps of dim winter evenings.
This time of year underlined the strength of family and friendship ties. Not only were there the usual parties including friends but Christmas and August Bank Holiday were the time when people who had left the village returned to call on old friends, neighbours and relatives.

However it must be said that for working people life was hard. Both unemployment, and ill-health posed a constant threat. Houses were frequently damp, ill-maintained and often dirty. The Relieving Officer and the District Nurse were all too familiar visitors. The local GP came from Northiam (a far country - 3 miles away!) and although he was both devoted and generous medical bills were to be dreaded. Both TB and cancer were mentioned in hushed voices.

Hop-growing was then labour-intensive and seasonal and brought some supplementary income to hard-pressed households. However, regular jobs were precious and at the whim of employers. Large families found themselves constantly in debt and were often tided over by my father (the local shop-keeper) when a new baby arrived or winter clothes were needed. One looks back nostalgically at this oddly assorted group of people with the network of relationships and friendships which shaped our youth. In a strange way we were dependent upon one another. No such network now exists: the village is a commuter suburb where few seem to know one another. The farm, the chapel, the smithy, the shop and Post Office and the school are gone. The oast, and the Parish Room are tarted up and taken over as residences. The Church struggles to maintain the building and the spit-and-sawdust Castle Inn is now the bijou White Dog. The footpaths are lost and does anybody now know the field-names? The village name is now Ewhurst Green: how dare they ! That used to be a place in Surrey which has usurped our proper title!

There is much more to tell but old men bathe in the memories. Time to end

A very personal note.
I remember 'Tiddlem' Kemp - blacksmith, publican, sexton and roadman. Abrupt, rude and kindly by turns. His name remains on the entry to the old church path as 'A Kemp, Fecit' with a date I forget. Farewell, old friend along with all the other village characters too numerous to mention! They flit like ghosts through my memory.
Who remembers Dan Tucker, Joe Tapp, Ronald West, Mrs Gertrude Townsend. 'Fat Harry' Willard, Ned Willard, Ernie, Jack, Freda and Eva Willard, Bert Goodsell, Bill Craddock, Billie Chantler, Bill Colvin, Bill Winchester, Harry Batehup, Mr Revell, Jo Willard, Grace & Lew Osbourne, Charlie Wilson, Joyce Muggridge, Bob and Bert Jones, Arthur Danahar, Mr Fawcett, Miss Beadle, Lester Baker, Arthur Denyer, Jack Wheadon, Percy & Edith Kemp, Charlie & Nellie Grisbrook, Leonard Goodsell, Mrs Pilbeam, Mr Mills, Nesta Stuart, Charlie Waters, Lilian Catt, Ole Man Thompson - to name but a few!

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Services TopSmall

The main road facing West
Ewhurst Green is a very small village, with only the church, and a restaurant providing any services.

The nearest small town is Battle about 7 miles to the South West, with Hastings about 10 miles South providing a major shopping centre.

No public transport goes through the village, so a car is essential. The nearest infrequent bus route is found on the Bodiam to Staplecross road. For trains, the nearest stations are Battle or Robertsbridge about 5 miles West.

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Views TopSmall

The village has a very quiet tree lined vista, which is in all its glory in autumn when the trees turn yellow and golden brown.

If you live in the north facing houses, you can see the castle at Bodiam.
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Name Derivation TopSmall
Ewhurst Green's name comes from the Anglo Saxon Iw hyrst (Yew Wood). In the Domesday book it is known as Werste then later as Ywehurst.


Nearby Villages (within 6 miles)
 
Bodiam (The finest ruined castle in the Country) 0.8 miles
Staplecross (Mothers grudge hangs son) 1.4 miles
Cripps Corner (Home Guard surprises the Army) 2.2 miles
Northiam (Prime Ministers D Day inspection) 2.2 miles
Salehurst (Richard the Lion Hearts Gift) 2.6 miles
Sandhurst (Escape from the Great Plague) 2.8 miles
Newenden (Alfred the Great's Fort) 3.3 miles
Broad Oak (Smallpox at the Academy) 3.5 miles
Broad Oak Brede (On the Crossroads) 3.5 miles
Robertsbridge (The Home of Modern Cricket) 3.5 miles
Sedlescombe (Best gunpowder in Europe) 3.6 miles
Beckley (Alfred the Great and Guns !) 3.9 miles
Hurst Green (The Youngest Highwayman on record) 4.0 miles
Brede (Edward I inspects the Channel Fleet) 4.1 miles
Whatlington (King Harold's Manor) 4.1 miles
Mountfield (17th Century Coal !!) 4.4 miles
Hawkhurst (A Notorious Gang of Smugglers) 4.5 miles
Etchingham (The oldest Brass Weather Vane in the country) 5.0 miles
Rolvenden (Witches stealing Holy Water) 5.4 miles
Udimore (Angels move the Church) 5.6 miles
Westfield (Bonfire Boys under suspicion) 5.6 miles
Battle (William the Conqueror prevails) 5.7 miles
Benenden (One of Englands Top Girls Schools) 5.7 miles
Peasmarsh (Black Death moves village) 5.7 miles

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