Perching Manor

Apart from St. Andrew’s Church, Perching Manor [Farmhouse] is the only Grade II* listed building in Fulking and Edburton. It is the eighteenth century farmhouse for Perching [Manor] Farm, and it retained its traditional role of providing a home for the farmer until 1984. Modern official records typically refer to the house as ‘Perching Manor Farmhouse’, presumably to distinguish it from the original medieval manor house whose remains lie beneath a nearby field, but the house has been known to locals as ‘Perching Manor’ for well over a hundred years (the 1861 census lists it as ‘Perching House’ whilst the subsequent nineteenth century censuses have it as ‘Manor House Perching’).

Perching Manor in the 1900s

Perching Manor in the 1900s

In a draft of the listing details written in 1947, or shortly thereafter, Anthony Dale FSA described the architecture as follows:

An L-shaped eighteenth century farmhouse, with Gothicized windows; two storeys and attic; five rooms wide; three dormers. Faced with square knapped flints with red brick window dressings, quoins, stringcourses, modillion eaves course and panels between the ground and first floor windows. Tiled roof. Windows with segmental heads and pointed Gothic glazing. The dormers contain casement windows and have artificial depressed heads which have Gothic panes in the sash windows below. Doorway with pilasters, projecting cornice, fanlight glazed with same pattern as the windows and door of six moulded panels.
[Howe 1958, pages 32-33]

The front (east) elevation is of a different design to the back (west), which suggests that the front of the house was extended in the late eighteenth century. A beam, believed to be a chimney beam salvaged from the medieval manor house, is now located over the fireplace in the kitchen. The interior of the house has been modernised but, as can be seen from the illustrations above and below, the exterior has barely changed over the years for which we have a photographic record. In the 1990s, a separate building, which houses a swimming pool, was built in the north east corner of the property where once a rhubarb bed flourished.

In 1835, Nathaniel Blaker took over the tenancy of the farm from Richard Marchant, whose family had lived in the parish for more than a century, and moved from Selmeston to Perching Manor with his wife Elizabeth and their infant son. The son, Nathaniel Paine Blaker [NPB] was to become a distinguished surgeon and, late in life, the author of a memoir that has much to say about life in Fulking in the middle of the nineteenth century. The 1841 census reveals that the Blakers had five servants at that time, more than any other family in the parish. Among them was Charlotte Paine, aged 13, who was NPB’s nanny. The household is much the same ten years later although Elizabeth’s widowed mother has joined them. The five servants then include a cook and a groom but the nanny is gone — NPB is sixteen. He tells the following anecdote about his father:

Among other things, my father had learned to “hold plough”, a not very easy accomplishment, as anyone not accustomed to it is likely to find by receiving a blow in the face from the plough handles. One day he had occasion to find fault with the carter for not ploughing the ground properly. The man replied: “Then you’d better do it yourself”. My father answered: “Stand aside and I will”. He ploughed one or two furrows, and handed back the plough to the man, who remained with him, an excellent servant, for fourteen years, and died in the Sussex County Hospital, when I was House Surgeon. [Blaker 1919, pages 1-2]

Perching Farm 1842

A map of the Perching Farm buildings in 1842, during Nathaniel Blaker’s tenancy. Perching Manor is marked in red. The physical layout is much the same today except that the farm buildings have been converted for residential use. The current farm and farmhouse is slightly further north.

One of the jobs that came with being lord of the manor was that of ‘way warden’ — responsibility for the maintenance of the local roads. And with this job came controversy. In 1843, Nathaniel Blaker was summoned to court following a complaint from a Woodmancote resident that he was failing to maintain Holmbush Lane (now known as Bramlands Lane). He immediately called a ratepayer’s meeting at the Shepherd & Dog. The meeting decided that “the attempt to make the Hamlet of Fulking repair any part of the Holmbush Lane should be resisted”. It was resisted and, in due course, the matter was resolved in Fulking’s favour [Howe 1958, page 29].

The grave of Selina and Eli Page

The grave of Selina and Eli Page in the churchyard of St. Andrew’s, Edburton.

The Blakers left Perching Manor in 1856 or 1857 and Eli and Selina Page became the tenants of house and the farm. Eli Page is recorded as way warden in 1857. The Pages were in their late 30s at that time. The 1861 census records the family as consisting of four daughters, a son Richard, and Selina’s 80 year old widowed mother. No servants are listed. By 1871, Selina is listed as ‘farmer’ and head of family. The household then consists of three daughters, the youngest son Naphtali (Nap), who had been born at the farm in 1862, a granddaughter, a governess, a male domestic servant, and a visiting drapers assistant. Richard has married and is farming elsewhere in the parish. By 1881, the draper’s assistant, now listed as ‘draper’, has married Mary, one of the Page daughters, and is living at the manor with his wife and child. Selina is still the head of the household which comprises Nap (then 18), two other adult daughters, two other granddaughters, and a further child. There are no servants. Selina died in 1886, and by 1891, her family has left and Perching Manor is in the hands of Jemima Page, 62, living with a single female servant. Nap has married and is farming elsewhere in the parish. Jemima was not one of Selina’s daughters — she derived her surname through marriage to a Page. She does not appear in any of the earlier Edburton census records. She was, perhaps, a sister-in-law to Eli. Eli himself died in 1896. As pastor of the Mayfield Baptist chapel, he may have been living near there.

In 1901, Nap Page took over running the estate.
Nap Page

Nap was named after one of the twelve tribes of Israel [Naphtali], his father being a baptist minister. As a young man he was inclined to wildness, and was said to have ridden on horseback down Devil’s Dyke for a wager. He also rode regularly to his cousin John Page at Lodge Farm, Ringmer, for all-night card sessions. Rather than stick to the roads, he would go across the fields, jumping the hedges. Several photos survive of Nap. One shows him with a hen on his knee — this was Chuckles who was supposed to have laid an egg for Nap in his bedroom each morning. Another photo shows him in a long coat and bowler hat supervising the annual sheep shearing, sometime before 1912. A further photo shows Nap’s funeral procession leaving for Edburton church, with his favourite horse following behind the bier.
[Wales 1999, page 109]

William Beard, who had known Nap when he was a young man, recollected that:

It was sometimes said by older men that Nap Page was not as good a farmer as his father, Eli, but all who knew him agreed that there was no more jovial or generous host than the Squire of Perching Manor. His rather early death was greatly deplored! His passing marked the end of a period — the Horse Age. [Beard 1954]

As this quotation suggests, Nap adopted the role of country squire, becoming a keen huntsman and entertaining in a lavish style. Unfortunately, his interest in farming was minimal and by the time he died in 1920, the farm had become badly neglected.

Perching Manor 1911

The South Down Foxhounds assembled outside Perching Manor in 1911 during the Nap Page tenancy.

In 1920, Henry Harris, an experienced and well-respected farmer, took over the tenancy of Perching Manor and the farm and gradually returned the land to good heart. Thus, for example, his sons recalled having to remove couch grass from the upper parts of the Downs for many years. Henry became Chairman of the Parish Council, was instrumental in having the telephone service extended from Poynings to Fulking, and arranged for the Southdown bus service to be routed through the village. During the war he was the Home Guard sergeant for Fulking and later became officer in charge. In the early years, his 800 acre farm employed a workforce of 16 men and a dozen horses to tend 1000 Border Leicester sheep, 60 milking cows, a small herd of pigs and some 30 acres of arable land growing a mixed crop of wheat, flax, oats (for the horses) and barley (for the pigs). The remaining acreage was grazing pasture for cows and sheep, along with a market garden growing potatoes and onions.

Perching Manor in the 1950s

Perching Manor in the 1950s. Note the TV aerial.

During the war, a team of land girls came in for the harvests and the male workforce included two German and three Italian PoWs, the latter being billeted in the cellar at Perching Manor. The PoWs were repatriated in 1947 and 1948 and replaced by two displaced persons from Latvia. From around 1938 on, the farm acquired tractors and these rapidly displaced the horses and halved the workforce. After the war, three combine harvesters were purchased. During the 1950s, the farm holdings expanded to more than 2000 acres including 1000 acres for grain, 1000 sheep, and 250 cows bred for beef. When Henry Harris died in 1961, aged 72, his sons initially continued to run the farm as tenants of the Crown before Brian Harris took sole charge. In 1984, the Crown broke up the estate. The farm was sold to the National Freight Corporation and Perching Manor itself, which had always been the main farmhouse and the home of the farmer, was sold as a separate lot to the Dubrey family. The house remains in private ownership.

Perching Manor in 2007

Perching Manor in 2007

Tony Brooks


  • William Beard (1954) Glimpses of past personalities. St. Andrews Quarterly 24.
  • Nathaniel Paine Blaker (1919) Sussex in Bygone Days. Hove: Combridges.
  • F.A. Howe (1958) A Chronicle of Edburton and Fulking in the County of Sussex. Crawley: Hubners Ltd.
  • Tony Wales (1999) The West Sussex Village Book. Newbury: Countryside Books.

[Copyright © 2013, Anthony R. Brooks. Adapted from Anthony R. Brooks (2008) The Changing Times of Fulking & Edburton. Chichester: RPM Print & Design, pages 191-193.]

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2012 10 11 PC Minutes

Minutes of Ordinary Parish Council Meeting at 7.30pm on 11 October 2012 held at the Village Hall

Present: Chairman Ms K. Watson, Vice Chairman Mr M Trist Councillors Ms L. Dyos, Mrs P. Rowland and Clerk to the Council Mrs Andrea Dickson. Chairman of Mid Sussex Council Mandy Thomas-Atkins, MSDC Councillor Colin Trumble, West Sussex District Councillor Peter Griffiths and 12 members of the public

1. Chairman welcomed the members of the public and introduced Chairman of Mid Sussex Council — Councillor Mandy Thomas-Atkins

2. Apologies: None

3. Declaration of Interest: None

4. The minutes of the previous meeting held 12 July 2012 having been previously circulated, were taken as read and approved and signed by the Chairman.

5. Matters Arising.
Planning: Old Pump House — In July 2012 enforcement order that was lodged in October 2011 was upheld by the planning inspector. A period of 9 months has been given to cease residential use and one extra month to remove the caravan and tidy up the land.

Market Garden — The PC met with Nick Rogers (Development Manager) and Steven King (Team Leader) planning investigation and enforcement, both Mid Sussex planning, at the end of August. Market Garden and other general planning queries were discussed. Progress with Mid Sussex planning will be monitored. The PC will be writing to MP Nick Herbert to ask for his help in addressing various issues relating to travellers. The PC was disappointed to hear that some residents did not feel that it had pulled its weight over the Market Garden issue. The councillors felt it needed to go on record that a large amount of work goes on behind the scenes and that they felt very frustrated over the issue. The public could comment on this matter at the end of the evening when comments are invited from the floor.

Preston Nomads — Only 4 (possibly 2) of the initial 6 people are still interested in the parking spaces. Residents who wish to take up the parking spaces need to collect padlock keys, those who do not intend taking up the spaces need to return the post keys. If anybody knows of anybody else that may be interested in a space please contact the Clerk. The car park area will be planted this month with indigenous plants. The possibility of filling in the potholes in the bridleway immediately outside the entrance is being looked into by Preston Nomads. The PC wish to thank Paul Hird for his work on this matter. (Clerk) A reminder that planning applications which fall within the SDNP are now posted on the South Downs website rather than Mid Sussex.

Highways: A meeting was held with highways on the 25 September to discuss ongoing problems.

Shepherd & Dog — A temporary cure is in place; however with autumn approaching it is felt that more work needs to be carried out. WSCC have investigated and will submit a request for further works, after which the PC will look at turfing the banks to complete the works. Stones have been washed down from the bridleway onto the highway by The Shepherd & Dog. Highways are going to discuss this with the bridleway owner and public rights of way.

Lady Brook Spring — A works order has been raised by WSCC to fence the spring. As a temporary solution the bollards will be replaced with a fibreglass plate over the entrance. A notice will be placed in Pigeon Post to gauge interest in making a feature of the spring. (Clerk)

Four Acres Corner — The drain & pipe have been flushed through. The size of the sump should have been increased at the same time — this was not done. Tim Boxall WSCC will chase this up. Once this work has completed the PC will monitor the situation.

Clappers Lane banking — The condition of the banking is the responsibility of the adjoining landowners. Highways have written to them but received no response. Highways suggested that the PC write to the Landowner & the person responsible for the damage Grange Farm and Badgerswood respectively. (Clerk).

Clappers Lane road surface — Highways will write to the landowner opposite The Sands to request that the ditches be cleared/kept clear. Highways were on site earlier today with Drainage Strategy team to look at the north end of the road. Contrary to what the PC had previously been told, it appears that no works order had been placed for the road surface to be repaired prior to that meeting. Highways suggested that all landowners be reminded to cut back hedges as winter approaches- this should be a request in Pigeon Post. A suggestion was made at the Village Plan meeting that signs could be placed at the north end of Clappers Lane saying something like “do not follow SatNav – unsuitable for large vehicles” Highways and PC will look for suitable signage for each end of the village.

Footpath 4f — This is still with the legal department; the order is expected to be made in the near future. The PC will be advised and then there will be a 28 day statutory objection period.

Stiles & Gates — The repair and maintenance of stiles and gate on public rights of way are the responsibility of the landowner over which the route crosses. This is also the case for trees, hedges, side vegetation and fences. The only exception are bridges which are the responsibility of Highways.

Ram Pump House — The National Trust have completed the work on the door and lock. Kate Watson and the National Trust are the key holders.

North Town Field — This will be addressed as a separate agenda item.

Councillor Vacancy — There is still a vacancy so please ask around.

PC Official documentation — The Standing orders, Financial Regulations, Code of Conduct and Declaration of Interest are all available via the Website, or as a hard copy from the Clerk.

Training Courses — The Clerk is half way through the first module of the Working with your Council Course. The clerk is also attending a networking day in November.

Joint Parish Meeting — This was held at Albourne in September. Councillors were present from Albourne, Poynings, Twineham and Woodmancote. Disappointingly nobody from MSDC planning attended the meeting, even though they were invited as a large part of the meeting revolved around planning. Councillor Sue Seward has asked to be copied in on any planning issues, and she will try and arrange a meeting with the planning dept to discuss concerns. All councils will review in six months and decide the way forward. Faster Broadband was discussed at the meeting; Fulking had a good response with 66 households expressing an interest in faster broadband. Please encourage anybody who has not already signed up to the scheme to do so. Suppliers are being invited to tender by the summer of 2013 with the faster broadband being in place by 2015.

Website — The new website is up and running and very easy to use. The new website address is

WSCC Councillor Peter Griffiths gave a brief report. He apologised for his absence from recent meeting; this is due to a clash of duties. In the future the two main costs to West Sussex will be care of the elderly and the cost of waste disposal. Providing these services will mean that other services will need to be reduced. It was suggested that an article be placed in the Pigeon Post with regards to the mobile library service. (Clerk)

6. Councillor Colin Trumble MSDC gave a brief report: Council Tax changes to benefits consultation will be completed by December. Auditing of single occupancy claims will be carried out to ensure it is fair. E-bills will be available to those who wish to pay that way, it is envisaged that this will save a lot of money. Grants to community groups that do not need matched funding. Money may still be available, but would have to be spent within the current financial year. Colin to provide more information on this. Budget Work has started on this for 2013/2014. Travellers were mentioned briefly and Councillor Linda Dyos said that he would be hearing from the PC shortly on the matter. Councillor Colin Trumble left the meeting 7.45pm for other commitments.

7. Financial Matters. The following payments were agreed and cheques signed: 100582 SALC Clerk’s networking day 60.00; 100583 Clerk’s salary & expenses 934.77; 100584 Councillor expenses 11.20. Cheque stubs were cross checked with the cheque list and both signed. The quarterly bank reconciliation was checked and signed. It was agreed that the Financial Regulations would be changed to state Internal audits would be carried out Annually rather than regularly as previously stated. (Clerk) It was agreed that the PC would look into setting up E banking (Chair)

8. Winter Management: The winter management plan is well underway. A meeting will be held in the next few weeks with WSCC to discuss the plan. Once it has been finalised a copy will be posted on the website and on the parish notice board. (Clerk) Farmer David Ellin still has an agreement with WSCC for the loan and use of the snow plough .(Michael Trist will contact the farmer when it is necessary to use the snow plough ). The clerk attended the Mid Sussex Emergency Planning liaison Group meeting in September and had nothing to report back from the meeting. It was felt that as Fulking is a small parish, the meeting would not have much relevance and therefore apologies would be sent for future meetings.

9. Risk Assessments: The Financial risk assessment and risk assessment having previously circulated were agreed and adopted. They will be placed on the website or hard copies available via the clerk. (Clerk)

10. Playground inspection review: The annual Rospa inspection was carried out in June; this highlighted a low risk of entrapment in the gate. The PC asked if anybody had any ideas how this risk could be eliminated? Mark Stepney will carry out the remedial work on the trip hazard and the moss which were also highlighted in the annual inspection. The weekly inspection rota needs to be updated. (Clerk). New inners for the bins in the playground need to be purchased (Clerk)

11. Community Bus: Has provided a service to Fulking for 20 years two days per week. It is free to bus pass holders, otherwise journeys will cost between 1-2 depending on the length of the journey. The PC agreed to give a contribution of 100 for this financial year. This will be reviewed annually. An article will be put in Pigeon Post to give details of the service provided. (Clerk) A thank you letter is to be sent to the providers (Clerk).

12. Fountain: The PC will arrange for the bollard in front of the fountain opposite Laurel House, to be fixed. Paula Hazard has the bollard. (Pam Rowland to contact Mark Stepney).

13. Crime Update: Crime in Fulking was low over the summer. Please stay vigilant. A notice about cheap shed alarms from MSDC will be placed in the noticeboard, website & Pigeon Post. (Clerk)

14. Comments from the floor: Card making day on 13 October. The Police Authority Elections were mentioned. Where is the Polling Station? This is to be looked into & published on website and noticeboard.The Polling Station is Playing Field Pavilion, Poynings BN45 7BH (Clerk)

15. Dates of the next meeting: The next Parish Council meeting will be held on 10 January 2013

Meeting closed at 9.05pm

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