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(Village at the top of the Hill)
Netherfield straggles for more than a mile along a
ridge, with no real centre, or early church.
It earliest mention was in the Domesday book.
Netherfield stands on a high point, off the B2096
between Battle and Brightling , overlooking beautiful
Forestry Commission land.
The parish church was dedicated in 1860, and was a gift
to the village by Lady Webster in memory of her husband,
Sir Godfrey Webster of Battle Abbey. Prior to this
services were held in the barn of a local farm.
The church was designed by Samuel Sanders Teulon , a
controversial Victorian architect, he also designed
the Holy Trinity Church in Hastings. The church is
dedicated to St John the Baptist. This fact is
somewhat grotesquely commemorated by a painting on the
north wall by the 17th century artist Giovanni Barbieni,
of the unfortunate St John's head on a platter, carried
by Salome. The artist used himself as the model for
The old schoolhouse adjoining the churchyard was also
given by Lady Webster, in 1859. The school closed in
The village is served by two public houses 'The White Hart'
and 'The Netherfield Arms'.
(We are grateful to Alf Rogers for his memories of the 1950's)
Arthur Blackman is probably remembered for two major enterprises, as a coal
merchant and as a director of the group that produced Gyprock and later
Marley Tiles. He was well beyond the years when most retire when I met him.
He came back to his old school every other Christmastide and spoke to the
children. Each child received the gift of a coin (in 1959 it was a shiny new
half-crown). This was but one small aspect of the life of a man who thought
it an imperative in life to share at least some of his good fortune with his
fellows, and in particular with those in less happy circumstance or who
would soon be starting out on life's journey for themselves.
In 1959, he recalled the time when he left school and set out to start his
own business. He had decided that one thing his neighbours always wanted was
a supply of 'pimps' (an old word referring to bundles of chopped kindling
wood for the fire). He went to see the Squire (at Netherfield Place) and
asked him for a loan to buy a hand cart so that he might carry out his
business more effectively. He had seen one that would suit for £10 and, if
he could get a loan he knew he could repay it within a year. The squire
admired has enterprise and made the loan which was duly paid off well within
the time set.
Of course, by then Arthur had other plans. His service was appreciated and
he had visions of expanding it to the delivery of coal from the staithes in
the Battle railway goods yard. For this he would need a horse and cart.
You've guessed it! He was financed again, and again through hard and honest
labour expanded his business. Do you really think it would be possible for
such a man to neglect the product from the Mountfield mines?
I hope that for the children that were at Netherfield School on that day two
impressions remain: first, that one needs to strike out on one's own to
realise a dream and, second, that one must never lose the common touch or
forget one's origins.
Hastings Municipal Council must have many records of his philanthropy. I
well remember taking children swimming in an indoor pool that bore his name.
The local hospitals also were not forgotten.
(We are grateful to Alan Gilbert for his memories of the 1940's)
I lived in Netherfield with my grandfather , Charles Gilbert in the 1940s
and well remember Bert Blackman the farmer and milkman who used to deliver
milk with a churn and ladle suspended by a yoke from his shoulders.
Was he any relation to Arthur Blackman featured in your article?
Bert Blackman once saw me from his house on top of his haystack, but I saw
him coming so he didn't catch me, but he knew who I was and complained to
my grandfather who fortunately for me, laughed it off. I know now that it
appealed to his sense of fun. I used to spend almost every day then, roaming
around Barn Field and beyond, with a neighbour's dog (Cocker Spaniel called Peter).
I also remember Mr. and Mrs.Field who were my grandfather's neighbour and he
was the gamekeeper on Lord Ashburnham's estate. (Mr. Field the gamekeeper what
a suitable name!)
My grandfather's rent to Lord Ashburnham was 4 shillings a month(20p in current
value) if I remember correctly. That is what my father told me at the time. I
also well remember Mrs. Carter and her little general store who specialised
in ginger pop and sweets as far as I was concerned. I bought the pop which
was only a penny or two and had almost finished it before getting to Barn Field,
100 yards away.
These people are all in Netherfield's graveyard now of course. Mrs. Field was known
as Len, which I thought strange being a boy's name. I found out in later years
that her name was really Leanora. I have just remembered Charlie Buss who lived
opposite to my grandfather and he was related to the Buss who apparently played
cricket for Sussex. In 1940 I was 7 years old, I now live in Rayleigh near to
Southend in Essex.
I will just tell you a little more about my grandfather's cottage. In the 1940s
while I was staying there it had no gas or electricity and no running water.
The water came from a well house in the back garden. The outside toilet was
away down the end of the garden and was emptied occasionally into a cess pit.
The house was lit by one oil lamp, which was taken from room to room. We lived
in the kitchen when in the winter the very large fire in the grate helped to
light the room. All the cooking was done on the grate of course and come to
think of it, I do not think that it was ever out. I do remember being frightened
of the corners of the room, which seemed to me to be pitch black.
I used to go up stairs to bed with a candle and feel my way by the banister made
from a small tree branch which had a notch where a smaller branch had been cut
off and not flush. When I got to my bedroom there was the feather bed very cold
when you got in but very warm in the morning, and there on a dressing table sat
a stuffed white owl in a glass dome staring at me. Needless to say I looked away
and buried my head in the pillows.
There are stories after stories about this house but I will end
now. Next door attached, was Mrs. Field who had gas, my grandfather would not
have any of these modern things. In later years I stayed with Mrs Field as my
grandgather could not look after me.
I have an interest in history and this experience has giving me perhaps, a feeling
of living in an 18th. century house.
| Netherfield because of its proximity to Battle has
limited village services.
An infrequent bus service from Battle to Heathfield
passes through the village.
Battle about 2 miles South East provides small market
town services, together with main bus and train
Hastings about 6 miles South provides the remainder of
services not provided by Battle .
| Netherfield church and old school house are very pretty,
the lane to the side of the church leading to Mountfield ,
is tree lined and very pretty.
If you like fairground rides, then take your
vehicle on the Heathfield to Battle road to the West
of the village, and head towards Battle for a ride which
has all the characteristics of the early rollercoasters.
Page Last Updated: 2016-10-04 19:37:14
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