Arcadia in the early 1900s

A postcard view of Arcadia from the early 1900s

Arcadia is a nineteenth century cottage on the Poynings Road. Thomas Hills purchased it, along with various other cottages, for £215 at auction in 1922, probably to house workers for his adjacent market garden.

For a long time Victor (Vic) Burse, a well-known village character, lived in Arcadia with his three, successive wives. The first was Mary, the second was Kathleen (Kath) and some years later, in 1983, Vic, who by now was 74, married an 18-year-old, a local girl called Debbie Jarvis. They continued to live together in Arcadia until Vic died in 1998. Debbie later moved away from the village. Vic was known in the village as a storyteller and used to enjoy sitting with the locals at night, in the Shepherd and Dog, keeping the younger villagers entertained with tales of the war and things that he had done in his younger days.

The cottage was extensively refurbished in 2006, which included updating the interior, carrying out extensive repairs to the roof and redecorating inside and out. However, externally it remains unaltered. It remained the property of the Hills family, who let it out, until 2010. The new owners improved the property further with ambitious landscaping that included a drive that made off-road parking possible for the first time.

Tony Brooks

[Copyright © 2018, Anthony R. Brooks. Adapted from Anthony R. Brooks (2008) The Changing Times of Fulking & Edburton. Chichester: RPM Print & Design, pages 145 and 147.]

The Adventure of the Twenty Oxen

King Henry VII in the Star Chamber, July 1504

King Henry VII in the Star Chamber, July 1504

Over the centuries, residents of the parish of Edburton have been involved in all kinds of litigation. But the available records only document a single occasion on which one of these affairs ascended to the legal stratosphere that the Star Chamber used to represent. The case involved twenty oxen that may, or may not, have been stolen from Perching Manor.

Dated 15 Feb., 4 and 5 Philip and Mary (1557-8).
No bill or other pleading.

Interrogatories to be ministered to John Cooke of [Edburton], co. Sussex, yeoman of the Queen’s Guard, and Thomas Cooke, his brother, concerning the unlawful taking and detaining of twenty oxen which were late of the goods of Edward Lawes, late of Pearching, “ffealon of hymselff”.

The interrogatories inquire (1) how many, and the names of those who took the cattle out of the pasture at Pearching, after the death of Edward Lawes; whither the oxen were driven, and in whose keeping they are; (2) Whether Edward Lawes did in his life-time sell the said oxen to John Cooke and William Davys, and for what sum of money, and upon what conditions.

John Cooke of Edburton deposes that the oxen were taken by his brother, Thomas Cooke, at his commandment, in the high way at Edburton, and driven to Waltham in Essex, and that eighteen were sold to Mistress Stacye, and two to a servant of Mr. Wrothe.

Thomas Cooke of St. Martin le Grand, in the City of London, haberdasher, deposes the taking of the oxen to Waltham.

The outcome of the case is unknown — the relevant documents disappeared in 1719.
[Excerpt from Percy D. Mundy, ed. 1913 Abstracts of Star Chamber Proceedings relating to the County of Sussex, Henry VII to Philip and Mary, Lewes: Sussex Record Society, page 102.]

The Devil’s Doggerel

The Devil's Doggerel
Following the spontaneous outburst of village enthusiasm that greeted our recent posting of contemporary topographic verse (Shepherd & Doggerel), a weightier piece by William Hamper dating back to the early nineteenth century has been added to the local history section. Nothing that includes words such as adown, cruciform, lightsome, luminary, wyght, and yclept, and a gratuitous line of Latin, employed for the rhyme, can be all bad. But it isn’t Coleridge. Rather, it is the kind of piece that a Victorian gentleman could commit to memory and then reproduce at Sussex wedding parties and other social occasions, with ribaldry and acclaim from a bibulous audience already well familiar with the plot (compare Rocky Horror sing-a-longs for a contemporary analogue). Read in that spirit, one can detect its merits.