On the market

Perching Holt

Perching Holt
Nick (Hughes) claims ‘I gave Sally (née Gunnell) and Jon (Biggs) a massively discounted price to lure these lovely folk, and their three sons and two dogs, back to Fulking; they left it in tears twenty years ago!!’ Nick added that he had thoroughly enjoyed his life in the village but time moves on, and requirements change. He and his kids and the dog will be very sad to leave.

On the market

Perching Sands Farmhouse

Perching Sands Farmhouse

This building originated as a triple tenement cottage housing farm labourers and was used as such until Terry Willis purchased it in 1986. He reduced the cottages to ground level, modified the footings and rebuilt them as one house using as many of the original bricks and other materials as could be salvaged. As construction progressed old beams, doors, door frames and floorboards, all largely made of oak, were incorporated into the new building. He even placed a stone bearing the date 1856 that had previously been part of the original cottages on the front wall, giving the house an air of authenticity. A large, well established pond on the south side of the building was reduced to about half its size by filling around its circumference with hard-core. This was done in such a way that it still retained the appearance of the original pond.

A public footpath extending from the north end of Perching Drove runs through the large, picturesque front garden and from the back garden there are the most wonderful views west, across the Sussex Weald, to the ridge of the South Downs and Chanctonbury Ring. Watching the sunset from there is a truly magnificent sight.

Passage adapted from Anthony R. Brooks (2008) The Changing Times of Fulking & Edburton. Chichester: RPM Print & Design, pages 189-190.

An inspector calls

Fulking Footpath 4f: the official route
The DEFRA inspector charged with deciding whether Footpath 4f should be rerouted has ruled that it should not be. He concluded “that the adverse effect on the public’s enjoyment of the path if it were diverted in the manner proposed would be significant” and “the adverse effect on public enjoyment clearly outweighs the benefit .. to the landowners”. The proposed diversions (crossed out in red, above) will thus not come into force. Instead, the historic route (marked in green, above) retains its status as a lawful right of way. Here are some extracts from his report:

Footpath 4f runs .. almost immediately adjacent to the rear of Perching Sands House for around 40 metres. The public right of way runs past Perching Sands House in the way described, but that right of way has been unlawfully obstructed, and an unofficial path has been provided which passes some 10 metres to the west of the house.

The public right of way has been obstructed in the vicinity of Perching Sands House. For the purposes of assessing comparative convenience (and enjoyment) I take into account the lawful right of way, treating it as if it was open and available for use, and not the unofficial and unapproved diversion which has been created by the landowner.

From the northern end of the curtilage of Perching Sands House to point A the right of way (although not the path provided by the landowner which lies immediately to its west) runs along a track with a good hard surface which seems unlikely to be muddy in wet weather (the site visit was carried out during a prolonged dry spell). The Definitive Statement for the path does not list any stiles or gates as lawful limitations on the public’s use.

It is reasonably clear where the path runs (or should run), and the correct route could be emphasised by signage so that there was no danger of people inadvertently wandering off the public right of way.

The full report is here [PDF].

The Hurstpierpoint & District Ploughing Match

Ploughing Match at Perching Manor Farm 5th October 2013

‘Here’ is Perching Manor Farm, starting at 9:00am.

The Hurstpierpoint & District Ploughing Match is being held this year from 9am on Saturday 5th October at Perching Manor Farm, Fulking. It is a great family day out with lots to keep all ages entertained. Come and watch the tractor and horse ploughing, hedge laying and tug of war, or have a look around the vintage tractor and stationary engine display. Why not bring along your four-legged friend and enter the dog show or terrier racing. Browse round the marquee to see the fantastic domestic and children’s entries on display.

The ladies committee will be providing refreshments throughout the day, be sure not to miss out on the bacon rolls, before a hot dog or burger for lunch, with hot & cold drinks, homemade cakes and sandwiches also available. If you fancy an afternoon tipple there will be a fully licenced bar.

You’ve still got time to enter both the ploughing and domestic classes. So, if you are fancy having a go at cookery, handicraft or flowers then why not enter (there is even a men only class)! For the Domestic & Children’s Schedule and contact details for all entries see ploughingmatch.com.

Perching Barn

Perching Farm as it was in 1842

Perching Farm as it was in 1842 — Perching Manor is the building shown in red, the duck pond is shown in blue and the farmyard is to the right. The large T-shaped building is Perching Barn with stables immediately due north and the grain store/cattle shed to the north east.

Until relatively recently, Perching Manor was a farmhouse and the area to its immediate east was the farmyard. There had been a farmyard in that location for hundreds of years. Farm buildings come and go, of course, but the largest building dates back to the eighteenth century. Houses have human residents who leave a history. We know quite a bit about the history of Perching Manor itself and even of the fortified building that preceded it and of the manor more generally. But farm buildings give rise to few records. The owls, rodents and feral cats who take up residence pass through anonymously, untroubled by police, lawyers, census takers and registrars of birth, death and marriage. Thus most of what is known about the history of this now former farmyard is of recent vintage — the last eighty years or so.

The largest, and most distinguished, component of the farmyard is Perching Barn. This is a Grade II listed eighteenth century building with weather-boarding on a flint base. The roof is slate, hipped at the north and half-hipped at the south. A large building today, the map shown above suggests that it was quite a bit larger still in the mid-nineteenth century.

Perching Barn was a fine example of a Sussex threshing barn. It had a wide entrance in the centre of the (long) side that faced west and was high enough to allow a threshing machine to be positioned and operated in the centre of the building. Sheaves of corn were loaded from both sides of the machine and the grain was then stored on either side of the building. Once threshed, the straw was ejected from the back of the thresher to the outside of the building. When not in use during harvest it was available for other uses — such as village barn dances and parties.

Perching Barn as it was in 1934

Perching Barn as it was in 1934 — the duck pond was much larger then than it had been in the mid-nineteenth century (or is today). In cold winters, it froze and was used for skating and ice hockey. The last time it froze hard enough to permit skating was in 1983. Part of the stable can be seen on the left behind the barn.

To the immediate north of the barn stood a stable for the farm horses. In later years, as tractors replaced horses, it was used as a storage shed and workshop. To the north east, there was a two-storey building, with cattle pens at ground level and a grain and cattle feed store above. Feed was delivered to the cattle as required, via a chute. Calf pens and a storage shed were situated at the south end of the building.

Some time during the 1930s or 1940s, a man known only as Martin lived in the lower half of a two-storey barn situated behind this building, on ground that fell away sharply towards the stream to the north east. It seems that he was ex-army and well educated, but chose to live there on an earthen floor, using old sacks as bedding. From time to time he became very ill and was moved to the workhouse at Chailey, but as soon as he recovered he would walk back to his simple home in Fulking. It is thought that his income was mainly from an army pension, but he supplemented this by chopping wood and doing odd jobs at Perching Manor for which Henry Harris is thought to have paid him 10 shillings a week.

George Greenfield was the local tramp. He may have been the George Greenfield who was born in Steyning around 1884. He lived rent-free in the ‘duck hut’, an open fronted, lean-to shed located at the southern edge of the farmyard. The shed had an open front and faced Perching Drove and the pond. George walked with a stick and had a dog. He was well known around the village and on most evenings could be found sitting in the same place at the Shepherd and Dog. He was known as the ‘threshing machine feeder man’ as this was his job when the contractor arrived in the district for the autumn/winter threshing period. In summer he did no work at all. Like Martin, his bedding was sacking and he hung sacks across the front of his hut to keep out the wind and rain. He cooked on a brazier and in winter he moved this inside the hut to provide heat. However, this meant that the hut filled with smoke, as there was only a small gap just below the roof for it to escape through. When he became ill, George was also taken to the workhouse at Chailey, but once recovered, he too always walked back to his shed, where he eventually died.

As farming became more mechanised, the barn was divided up. Half was used as a grain store, whilst the other half became a milking parlour and dairy. Later, Brian Harris, who was the farmer at the time, switched to arable production only. This decision was brought about partly because it was becoming impossible to find a cowman prepared to work the unsocial hours associated with livestock production and partly because of changes entailed by European Union farming policies. As a consequence, the barn became largely redundant.

Perching Barn in 1987 after the great storm

Perching Barn in 1987 after the great storm — the ducks may not have noticed, but the storm did serious damage to the barn.

In 1984 the Crown sold Perching Manor Farm to the National Freight Corporation. The latter sold it to Brian Harris in 1986. In the same year, Terry Willis, a developer trading as Sussex District Estates, came to Fulking and started buying redundant farm buildings for conversion to private dwellings. This was not straightforward as most had agricultural restrictions attached to them, but once these were lifted and planning permission had been obtained, the development programme began. In 1987, Brian Harris sold his redundant and derelict farm buildings to Willis. The sale included the barn, the stable and the grain store/cattle shed. Terry Willis, with the aid of an imaginative architect and some competent builders, converted these dilapidated buildings into attractive private residences during the 1990s (see the appendix below).

Perching Barn in 2007

Perching Barn in 2007 — to the left, Stable Cottage; to the right, The Granary.

Tony Brooks

[Copyright © 2013, Anthony R. Brooks. Adapted from Anthony R. Brooks (2008) The Changing Times of Fulking & Edburton. Chichester: RPM Print & Design, pages 182-185.]


The 1990s Willis development process in pictures:

Perching Barn -- the skeleton

Perching Barn — the skeleton

The Granary

The building that was to become The Granary

Stable Cottage

The building that was to become Stable Cottage

Perching Barn

Perching Barn — the skeleton restored

The modern ground plan

The modern ground plan

Currently popular local history posts:

2009 05 07 PC Minutes

Minutes of the Annual Meeting of Fulking Parish Council held at the Village Hall, Fulking on Thursday 7 May 2009 at 8.00 pm

Present: Chairman: Mrs Jennifer Vaughan, Vice-Chairman: Mr Tony Brooks, Councillors: Mrs Jennifer Parmar, Mrs Pamela Rowland and Clerk to the Council Mrs Paula Hazard.

The clerk asked for nominations for Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Planning Committee.

Mrs Jennifer Vaughan was nominated as Chairman by Mrs Pamela Rowland and seconded by Mr Tony Brooks. The vote was unanimous and Mrs Vaughan was duly elected Chairman.

Mr Tony Brooks was nominated as Vice-Chairman by Mrs Jennifer Vaughan and seconded by Mrs Jennifer Parmar. The vote was unanimous and Mr Brooks was duly elected Vice-Chairman.

Mrs Pamela Rowland was nominated as Chairman of the Planning Committee by Mr Tony Brooks and seconded by Mrs Jenny Vaughan. The vote was unanimous and Mrs Rowland was duly elected Chairman of the planning Committee

Apologies for Absence: Richard Corner

The minutes of the meeting held on 1 May 2008 were read, approved and signed by the Chairman. The PC proposed that in future the current arrangement for the publication of the minutes would continue unless there were any strong opinions against doing so. This arrangement involved not reading out the minutes at the meeting but posting draft minutes on the notice board and the website before the meeting where the minutes were approved.

Matters Arising: None

AOB: None

Chairman’s Report

Planning: During the period May 2008 to April 2009, 15 applications were received. Of these 9 were granted, 2 were refused and 1 withdrawn. 3 were under consideration.

Market Garden Site: The case came to court and Mrs Hearn pleaded guilty and was fined for failing to comply with the Breach of Condition notice. The PC chased up Development Control to ensure specific requirements for outstanding conditions were complied with. MSDC advised towards the end of last year that they regarded all conditions as having been complied with and discharged. It seemed that external light pollution was still an issue for residents in Clappers Lane. The PC had suggested if photographic evidence could be provided to the PC then this should make a more powerful case so that the PC could pursue the issue again.

Finance: The Parish precept for 2009/10 has been set at 5,776. The accounts for 2008/09 were currently being prepared. The PC thanked Nick Hughes for doing the internal audit last year.

Highways and rights of way: DDMO Perching Drove. The matter of the Permissive Path Agreement had now been concluded. Communications with the landowner had shown that the situation could not be taken any further formally but he had agreed that continued use of the path would be permitted for villagers.

‘Unsuitable for HGV’ signs had been placed at northern end of Clappers Lane.

The PC had requested a non-slip surface at exit of Clappers Lane onto A281. This was still under consideration by WSCC.

New fittings had been fitted to the street lights at the bottom of Stammers Hill and Fulking Cottage.

Culvert work was carried out outside Hillbrook in September 2008.

Several issues of flooding and blocked gullies had been reported to WSCC. The work to rectify these problems was scheduled to be carried out.

North Town Field: The grass cutting contractor, Danny Flynn, had continued to cut the grass in the North Town Field (NTF). Foster Playscapes were again hired to do the monthly safety checks, and ROSPA to do the annual check.

A new entrance to the field had been proposed and the works for this had been completed. A grant was received from West Sussex County Council for half the cost and the remainder was funded from NTF Trust, Social Committee and the precept.

There was a possibility of a grant being available for new playground equipment but this issue needed further meetings to define what was needed and to liaise with the NTF Trustees.

The barkpit in the play area had been topped up

Following a survey, major tree work had been carried out on trees particularly around the play area for safety reasons.

Working Parties from the PC, NTF and the residents had been carried out, clearing areas of undergrowth which were encroaching on the field.

Preston Nomads: No further news, developments or meetings had occurred but there was now a new Chairman and the PC were hoping for better communications.

National Park: The decision had been made to create a South Downs National Park which would include Fulking. There was no detailed information as yet but our County Councillor would press for full democratically elected decision-makers particularly in respect of planning.

Village website: James Lightfoot had now taken over the website. He had updated it and it was running smoothly. The PC minutes were now published within a month of PC meetings. The Annual Return was also posted.

Pigeon Post: Thanks were given to Aidan Walker for taking over and running this. The PC also gave thanks to Tony Brooks for organising the printing of hard copies, the people who distributed it and Bob Rowland for funding the printing for this year.

Action in Rural Sussex: A survey had been placed in Pigeon Post for the top three priorities for the village. The themes chosen were Allotments, Community Shop and Community Transport. Allotment garden sharing was suggested as no land was available for allotments. Community Transport – The possibility of no 17 bus being re-routed via Fulking connecting Horsham to Brighton had been raised by Chris Gildersleeve. It was a very good idea but needed village support for it to be implemented. Community shop at present no progress.

Fly Tipping at Bostal: This was being monitored and the possibility of installing a gate was being looked into.

Freedom of Information Act: The Freedom of Information Publication Scheme had been adopted.

Village Plan: This was under discussion.

Local Reports and Guest Speaker

The Chairman read out a report from the Tree Warden Barry Leppard.

The Police Community Support Officer for Fulking, Eve Todhunter, gave a short talk about her role supporting Fulking and several other surrounding villages.

The Chairman read out the Neighbourhood Watch report from Richard Corner.

David Fletcher, Leader of the Henfield Area Response Team (HART), gave a presentation about the work of the HART team and how they supported the Ambulance service by responding early to serious medical conditions particularly those that benefitted from treatment by a defibrillator. He explained what would be involved if Fulking wanted to keep its own defibrillator and provide a similar service.

National Trust warden Charlie Cain gave a talk about the work of the Trust in the Devil’s Dyke Estate area and talked about particular issues concerning management of the land.

The Chairman read out a report from County Councillor Mr Peter Griffiths. District Councillor Mrs Gina Field talked about the origins and functions of Mid Sussex District Council and the role of a District Councillor.

The meeting was opened up to the floor and a reminder was given that if issues were raised at the APM then they could not be discussed until the following APM. Therefore the best forum to deal with issues was at the ordinary Parish Council meetings. The issue of parking in Clappers Lane was raised and it was requested that this was dealt with as part of the regular Parish Council process.

Date of the next meeting to be arranged. The meeting closed at 9.25 pm and refreshments were served afterwards.

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2009 04 09 PC Minutes

Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of Fulking Parish Council held in the Village Hall, Fulking on Thursday 9 April 2009 at 8.00pm

Present: Chairman Mrs Jenny Vaughan, Vice Chairman Mr Tony Brooks, Councillors Mr Richard Corner, Mrs Jennifer Parmar and Clerk to the Council, Mrs Paula Hazard.

Apologies for Absence: Mrs Pamela Rowland

Declarations of Interest by Members (if any) are shown against the relevant items in the minutes.

The Chairman reminded the meeting about the current arrangement regarding publication of the minutes. The trial arrangement of not reading out the minutes but posting draft minutes on the notice board and the website would continue until the next Annual Parish Meeting, at which point public opinion would be re-canvassed.

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 January 2009, as previously circulated, were approved, accepted and signed by the Chairman.

Rights of Way: DMMO 07/01 Perching Drove. A response had been received from the landowner to the PC s request to review whether a Permissive Path agreement could be put in place. The landowner cited the judge’s ruling from the Hearing which stated that the Drove had always been a private road and once the matter had been referred to the Secretary of State, the PC were not in a position to make any separate contracts or agreements. He reassured the PC that he had no intention of revoking his verbal agreement which allowed villagers continued use of the path during daylight hours and he would endeavour to ensure this informal agreement would continue if he were ever to sell his property. The PC therefore intended to let the matter rest.

Highways: The PC had reported a number of issues to WSCC Highways. These were:-

Flooding at Brook House and Hillbrook Nursery — WSCC Highways had responded that a contractor will dig a drainage grip in the west verge leading to the existing pipe running into the new culvert. This should help to clear any standing water from the causeway.

Blocked stream pipe near The Sands — WSCC Highways had responded that a contractor will clean out the sand from the ditch to allow the covered pipe to be cleaned out, which they thought should prevent surface water from flowing across the causeway.

Blocked gullies at Old Wood/Holmbush Lane junction — WSCC Highways had responded that a contractor will dig out the existing grip into the culvert at the junction to improve drainage. The damaged barrier adjacent to the culvert will also be repaired.

The PC had also written to WSCC Highways to chase up its request for a non- skid surface at the northern junction of Clappers Lane. Highways had now responded that the Accident Investigation & Prevention Section at County Hall will investigate the accident pattern at this junction with regard to any remedial measures that may be considered. The problem with the surface of the road at Clappers Lane breaking up in parts had also been reported.

The ‘Unsuitable for HGVs’ sign was in place at the northern end of Clappers Lane. The sign at the village end had not been accepted by nearby residents. These residents no longer lived in the village.

The new fittings for the streetlight at Stammers Hill had now been sourced and fitted. The streetlight outside Fulking Cottage also now had new fittings.

The streetlight in Clappers Lane had been badly damaged by a recycling truck. This had been fixed by EDF and the PC had claimed back the money for the repair from MSDC’s re cycling contractor SERCO.

A problem with tree branches breaking off at the village end of Clappers Lane had been reported. Councillor Brooks had spoken to the main landowner, however not all the land was owned by him. Councillor Brooks said he would speak to the Tree Warden to assess the condition of the trees.

Market Garden: There had been no further developments.

Preston Nomads: Councillor Brooks reported that the Club had a new Chairman. He would follow this up in the future with a view to arranging a meeting together with District Councillor Gina Field.

North Town Field: The issue of ongoing maintenance of the play area was discussed. Councillor Brooks had potentially found someone to carry this out at a reasonable cost. However, he said that it was necessary to define the tasks that needed to be carried out in order to properly assess this.

The work on the entrance to the NTF had now been completed. A grant for half the cost of the work had been received from WSCC. The outstanding amount had been covered by contributions from the Social Committee, the NTF Trust and the precept. The PC thanked the Social Committee and the NTF Trust for their generous contribution.

The PC was looking into the possibility of a permanent soft surface to replace the barkpit surface. This would save money in the long run due to the high cost of replacing the barkpit on an ongoing basis. WSCC were inviting applications for their Playbuilder fund and the PC were going to investigate whether they would qualify for any money which could cover the cost of a permanent play surface. It was thought that the grant may only be available for completely new projects. County Councillor Peter Griffiths suggested that the PC should also consider applying for funding for this from the Community Initiative Fund.

The idea of new play equipment was also discussed. A suggestion had been received from Hollie Trist about the need for new play equipment and using fund-raising (e.g. sponsored walk) for this. The PC was asked whether they would match whatever money was raised by fund-raising. Other issues would be how to choose the equipment and the problem of how it would be maintained given the current problems of on-going maintenance with the existing equipment. It was agreed that a separate meeting should be arranged with interested parties to explore these issues further.

Foster Playscapes were due to inspect the play area in April. It was a concern that they thought that the barkpit levels needed to be topped up again given that it was done recently at a cost 360. This would have been more costly had Councillor Brooks not sourced a cheaper supplier and helped out with the work. It was agreed that a meeting would be arranged to discuss the barkpit levels. Foster Playscapes confirmed that they would continue to do the monthly inspections at the same cost as the previous year.

The mowing of the North Town Field would continue to be carried out by Danny Flynn. He had confirmed that this would be at the same cost as the previous year.

Both the PC and the NTF Trust had agreed on the proposal for a legal agreement in order to avoid the cost of taking out two Public Liability Insurance policies. However, the savings could be outweighed by any legal costs. The NTF Trust had asked the PC if they knew of anyone that could help draft up a legal agreement. A possible suggestion was made and this person would be contacted.

Affordable Housing: No further information directly affecting Fulking had been received. It was noted that Fulking would fall within the South Downs National Park and that there would be stringent criteria for new development.

Community Transport: An informal poll on whether there would be enough support to reroute no 17 bus through Fulking to Brighton/Horsham had been conducted by Chris Gildersleeve. This had been done via Pigeon Post and the Website. The PC was interested in the outcome of this. Clerk to contact Chris to find out response and to offer survey to be posted on the noticeboard.

Beachdown Festival: The PC was asked to support the idea of having independent noise level monitoring of the festival. Clive Goodridge had proposed to do this and had asked for the formal and financial support of the Parish Council. The details of how this could be achieved were discussed in terms of the purpose, the location and the cost. The main purpose of the monitoring was to define a more representative Background Noise Level than the one currently being used. The Clerk would contact Susanna Kemp to find out more details about Background Noise Level . The PC agreed that the whole issue needed further investigation and discussion before deciding whether it should spend funds from the precept on this.

Councillor Corner updated the meeting about the 2009 Licensing Hearing, highlighting the commitment from the festival organisers to re-measure the Background Noise Level.

Fly-Tipping at the Bostal: Councillor Brooks advised that one of the issues surrounding installing a gate as a solution to fly-tipping had been establishing which land at the entrance area to the Bostal was public and which was private. He was currently discussing this with the landowner of the surrounding private land.

Village Plan: The PC was looking into defining a village plan. Once drafted this would be published in Pigeon Post and posted to the website for feedback from villagers.

APM: The date of the Annual Parish Meeting was 7 May. Two speakers had been arranged, one speaker from Henfield Area Response Team to talk about the defibrillator and one speaker from the National Trust.

District County Councillor Mr Peter Griffiths addressed the meeting about Education and Council Schools, Community Transport and the forthcoming County Local Committee Update meeting. He also advised that if a bridle gate were to be installed at the Bostal it must meet the legal condition of being kept unlocked.

Financial Matters: The Chairman signed off the interim audit, cheque list and cheque stubs.

AOB: The meeting was opened up for local residents to raise any issues.

The problem of overhanging tree branches particularly near the Market Garden site was raised. Councillor Brooks said he would speak to the Tree Warden to look at this area. Also the problem was raised of big tree trunks on the bank of the east side of Clappers Lane near the village end. The landowner explained that constant traffic driving up the bank was eroding the bank and exposing more of the tree trunks.

The problem of the external lighting at the Market Garden site being on all night was raised. The PC reiterated the point made at the previous meeting that if photographic evidence could be provided to the PC then this should make a more powerful case so the PC could pursue the issue again.

Two issues concerning the support of the police were raised. One was that an illegal rave had been held at Saddlescombe the previous weekend and it was queried about how the police could deal with these situations more effectively. The other issue was that a car had been broken into and the owner had not received an effective response from the police. It was suggested that these matters could be directly addressed to the Community Police Officer who would be attending the Annual Parish Meeting.

It was requested whether a more detailed financial breakdown than the Annual Return could be published. The Clerk confirmed that a more detailed financial summary that was produced as part of the Audit Commission process was available. Clerk to ask for this to be posted to the village website.

The planning decision concerning a house that had recently been extended was queried in terms of how such an extension could be passed particularly in a AONB. The planning application had been made a couple of years back and the PC advised that that they did not consider that there had been any planning criteria that could constitute grounds for objection, which was borne out by the Local Planning Authority’s decision to grant planning consent. There was also discussion about cases where final building works changed from the original plans granted consent.

Date of Next Meeting: 9 July, 8 October 2009.

The meeting closed at 9.10

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