Category Archives: General History

Inside a vinery at Fuller's nurseries, Lancing c.1910

The Worthing Glasshouse Industry

I have recently embarked on a major research project into the history of the Worthing Glasshouse Industry. Started by the pioneer growers such as George Beer in the 1870s, who built the first large commercial glasshouses, the industry flourished in the town and became the main glasshouse growing centre in the country. The industry was important to the local economy for over 70 years, until it gradually declined as the expanding town absorbed all the old nurseries in its relentless growth. By the 1960s, the vast majority had closed. I am very lucky that David Abbott, official historian of the West Sussex Growers Association, has joined me in the project and we recently held an exhibition of some of our ‘discoveries’ at Worthing Library (5- 19 March 2011). Continue reading

A Matter of Convenience?

From Eastry Union Workhouse, guardians minutes: At a meeting on 17.5.1853: "It was decided that one sheet of paper per week be supplied to each inmate to stop the use of rag etc. in the water closets.”

and later:

"The Clerk said as it had been decided that waste paper should be provided for the use of the workhouse inmates in the water closets, he had procured half a ream from Mr BAYLEY of Eastry at 4 shillings.

The Clerk suggested that the Goods Tickets issued by the Relieving Officers, of which there is a great quantity in his possession, may be used for the purpose required, first removing the pins, which he considers could be done by the girls, this would effect not only the saving in the purchase of paper but of pins also, which could be made use of again. This suggestion was adopted."

Dated 24.5.1853.

Out of an Evil may come Good

This daunting title appeared at the top of an article which featured in a growers’ journal (title unknown) in 1933. It was, in fact, an allusion to a rather unpleasant problem which still continues to plague the seaside town of Worthing to this day: the piles of rotting and evil smelling seaweed! But it offered the hope of a possible solution: "SEAWEED, always regarded in Worthing as an unmitigated nuisance, may yet to be found to be a blessing". The subject of the article (which also received coverage in the local ‘Worthing Herald’ of December 2nd) was the report of a talk by my grandfather, Arthur Linfield (1885-1974) to fellow members of the Worthing Rotary Club.

As a prominent local grower in the town – his father had started a nursery business in the early 1880s – Arthur had an ingenious solution to the "intolerable nuisance caused by the weed being left lying on the foreshore". In response to a discussion on the seaweed problem which was opened by the local Medical Officer of Health, Dr. R.H. Wilshaw, Arthur made a suggestion that the valuable "manurial properties" of the seaweed "could be utilised for the establishment of an important new branch of the market gardening industry of Worthing". There were two crops which particularly liked seaweed – asparagus and seakale – and since there was a greater demand for these delicacies than was presently being met, he urged a co-operative alliance of local growers, scientists and the town council to carry out a series of experiments. Seaweed also improved the flavour of these crops, and once these experiments had proved the value of seaweed – which he was sure they would – he envisaged that local growers would start to use it for certain crops.

Arthur also made some practical suggestions as to how the seaweed could be collected. A series of south-west gales might cast 30-40,000 tons of seaweed on Worthing’s five miles of foreshore – which gives an idea of the scale of the problem. He suggested that hay sweeps could be used to gather the seaweed. It would be stacked in large mounds along the foreshore, then pressed and baled to reduce its weight and bulk. Finally it could be taken to the roadside by conveyor belt or some other method and taken away by lorries. In days past, thousands of loads had been taken away by farmers but the sheer bulk of the material no longer made it an economical proposition. However, pressing and baling should overcome such a financial disincentive.

It is particularly interesting to reflect that nowadays "seaweed extract" is considered a particularly valuable fertiliser – especially among organic growers – because of the essential nutrients, trace elements and growth hormones it contains. Arthur’s remark that there was a greater need for more organic manure is fairly prophetic: chemical fertilisers had "definite limits of usefulness" since they did not supply any humus to the soil such as stable and farmyard manure. The tremendous upheaval of agriculture during the Second World War has dictated the pattern of farming for the last 50 years; successive governments have actively encouraged farmers to adopt destructive farming practices that have relied upon chemical fertilisers and pesticides to produce larger and larger quantities of cheap and inferior food. The costs have been enormous in terms of environmental damage and pollution, and not surprisingly the organic movement has gradually developed into a formidable alternative as consumers have started to question the prevailing systems of intensive food production.

Although Arthur’s ideas received a lot of favorable comments at the time, I don’t believe any serious attempt was made to put such a scheme into practice. The Borough Engineer Mr. PE Harvey, OBE – also a guest of the club at the luncheon – welcomed his proposals but saw problems in the fact that the seaweed was not deposited in regular quantities. In other words, would there actually be enough of this "unmitigated nuisance" to enable Mr. Linfield’s plan to succeed! He also thought it undesirable to have a baling, pressing and drying plant on the foreshore because of its environmental impact – although he did have in mind another spot where such a scheme might be more acceptable.

I have no idea whether there may have been any further local debate on this subject. Nothing actually happened, but there were a number of possible reasons for this – apart from the environmental objections. The 1930s saw a large exodus of Worthing growers to other parts of the county as the building value of their nurseries soared. The rapid expansion of the town to the east gradually absorbed dozens of nurseries that had sprung up from the 1880s when Worthing became the centre of the glasshouse industry. Certainly by the end of the decade, the Linfield nurseries had been completely re-located at Thakeham where a derelict farm had been purchased in 1913. Many other nurseries moved further west along the coastal plain where they retained the advantages of the more favourable climate and the fertile brick earth.

Not surprisingly, the idea of using seaweed to build up a new centre for growing asparagus and seakale was somewhat eclipsed by events – many growers were more preoccupied with setting up their new nurseries. Following the government’s imposition of a tariff on imported tomatoes, it was hardly surprising that a large number of growers decided to put all their resources into tomato production. In fact the 1930s were the heyday of the Worthing tomato. The outbreak of war in September 1939 probably extinguished the idea of a seaweed processing plant once and for all.

The Wonders of Seakale

As something of a diversion from the main topic of this article, I would like to say a few words about seakale. This particular vegetable is quite wonderful and I feel sure that anyone who has actually eaten it would agree with me. Although it was grown extensively in Victorian times – mainly in the gardens of the great houses – and continued to be produced by market gardeners until the Second World War, nowadays it is virtually unknown. The labour-intensive nature of its cultivation and the requirement to exclude light are good reasons for its neglect by modern growers. But it is not particularly difficult to grow, and well worth the trouble to raise a few plants in your garden.

According to my 1895 edition of Sutton’s Culture of Vegetables and Flowers, "Seakale is by many considered superior to asparagus, but it is so different in flavour and general character that we think there is no more room for a comparison than there is between a broccoli and a cabbage. Only one comparison, in our opinion, can be made with advantage, and it is that of the two sea kale is the more easy to cultivate, and the more decidedly profitable if regarded solely as an article of food". In its natural habitat, sea kale is a plant, which grows along the coasts of Northern Europe. It is a hardy perennial, which for centuries was harvested in the wild by people living on the south coast of England, much of it taken to market. From the early 18th century, it was cultivated in gardens to produce the delicious young spring shoots, which are so prized. These were traditionally blanched by covering them with earthenware pots. Nurserymen adapted these techniques to produce crops on a much larger scale – certainly at the Linfield nurseries before the last war, trenches were dug out in which the sea kale was planted along the bottom. To blanch the young shoots in early spring, the trenches were filled with spent mushroom compost, which successfully excluded the light without restricting plant growth.

Whatever method is used, it is best to completely cover the plants in January. Harvesting can commence in March or April – the pale yellow shoots are best cooked like asparagus, coated with melted butter (and I like to sprinkle them with plenty of grated Parmesan and black pepper!) Seakale is easy to grow: sow the seed in Spring, prick out into pots and then plant out into a deep sandy soil which is well drained. If your soil is heavy and drains badly, then it is best to plant them in a raised bed – and add plenty of organic matter and small stones or sand to aid drainage. It is best to wait until the second year before harvesting since this will help to establish strong plants, which should produce well for many years to come. During the Summer months, the plants should be fed with a regular application of liquid seaweed.

Two to three cuts can usually be taken from each plant. The plants are then allowed to grow in full light. They will last for about 5 years before replanting is necessary, and a good way to do this is to take root cuttings. Various methods can be used to blanch the shoots: apart from the traditional (and very expensive) forcing pots, a frame covered in black polythene can be used or the plants may be covered in a foot (30cm) of peat, leafmould or sand. I have also found that using large black plastic pots is quite adequate, as long as the holes are properly blocked up.

I have never come across seakale seeds in a garden centre, but they may be obtained from ‘Chase Organics’, whose full address is:

The Organic Gardening Catalogue,
Riverdene, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RG.

The current price, from their 2001 catalogue is £1.32 (code: SEAK), for a packet containing 10 seeds. Since seakale is a brassica and belongs to the plant family Cruciferae, it is susceptible to clubroot – so remember to lime the soil during bed preparation.

Storrington and District Museum

The idea of a museum for Storrington has been discussed at various times since 1946, but it has only been in the last year that something has actually materialised. Thanks to the supreme efforts of local historian Joan Ham and her husband Ron, and the enthusiastic support of David Garrett who conducted a feasibility study for the parish council – and until recently Chairman of the Museum Committee – premises have been found in less than a year from the date of the first public meeting.

The original intention of Storrington Parish Council was to purchase the freehold of 13 Church Street, which would have provided a location close to the village centre, but due to legal complications this was eventually rejected. Instead a room was offered at the Old School, which has certain advantages as far as car parking, toilets, kitchen facilities and disabled access are concerned. Although the premises are not ideal in terms of size and the lack of storage space, they are a very useful start until something more permanent can be found – hopefully at some time within the next five year. And so, on Easter Monday, the new Museum room at the Old School Building in School Lane, opened for its very first visitors.

Now it is up to all those involved with the project to make it a success because only by attracting the support and enthusiasm of the general public will the parish council respond favourably when the time comes to consider a new location. Certainly there is a very active ‘Friends’ organisation who have run a well-supported winter lecture programme; for the Summer months a series of local walks have been arranged to reveal some of the fascinating history of the parishes involved. Why am I telling you all this, you may ask? Firstly, as Secretary of the ‘Friends of Storrington and District Museum’ I do have a vested interest in the new project. But as a family historian, it is significant to our group that all of the parishes covered by the Museum have important Lin(d)field connections. Take Storrington, for instance: Edmund Linfield was making brass dial clocks in the village from the 1750s (see article " Edmund Linfield of Storrington, Clockmaker" in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 6 No. 1, December 1997), and there is a superb example of his craftsmanship now on display in Horsham Museum. He lived in the village from at least 1753 until his death in 1799, when he was sadly an inmate of the local workhouse. His kinsman, Peter Linfield was the local butcher, moving to the village from West Chiltington in 1779 when he set up his butchers’ business in Church Street (see article "Peter Linfield of Storrington 1734-1791"in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 2 No. 1, May 1993). He still retained ownership of his farm and farmhouse in West Chiltington – called ‘Palmers’ -which remained in the family for many years. Although Edmund and Peter both ran businesses in the village, their fortunes ran in opposite directions: whilst Peter thrived and his business grew from strength to strength, Edmund’s eventually failed, possibly because there was nobody to carry on when advancing age forced him to give up.

The other parishes involved in the project presently include Sullington, Parham, Thakeham, Warminghurst, Washington and West Chiltington. Thakeham, of course, is still home to the mushroom business known as ‘Chesswood Produce Ltd.’ In 1913 AG Linfield and Sons of Worthing first acquired the land at Town House Farm where they set up a number of farming activities, including mushrooms, which in those early days were a risky but worthwhile crop because of the high prices they could command (see article "A Family Business" by Peggy Champ in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 3 No.1, May 1994). They became a large market gardening business, but after the Second World War mushroom growing expanded dramatically as cultural improvements and extensive mechanisation heralded a new era of prosperity. By 1960 they had become the largest mushroom growers in Europe. The firm ceased to be a family business in 1980 when control initially passed to Ranks Hovis McDougall (RHM). I intend to set up a museum archive which should help to reveal more of the history of a business which has played a prominent part in the local area. It will hopefully pull in more material as people gradually become aware of its existence and make their own contributions.

The former parish of Warminghurst (now part of Thakeham) was for many years the home of the famous Quaker William Penn and his family (see article "William Penn and the Quaker Linfields of Sussex", in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 3 No. 2, December 1994). Penn bought Warminghurst Place in 1676 and we know of at least one Linfield Quaker marriage taking place at his house, when John Linfield, Blackskmith of Ifield married Mary Wolvin in 1693. At the ceremony, the parents of the groom, William and Mary Linfield of Horsham, and his brother and sister attended. Warminghurst Place was situated between the two churches of Thakeham and Warminghurst, and was sold to James Butler in 1707. Butler disliked Penn so intensely that he promptly demolished the old house, even going so far as to dig up the very foundations so as "not to leave a trace of the Old Quaker."

In previous articles, our former President Eric Linfield has related his family history connections with Sullington and Washington (see articles "The Storrington Linfields & their Poor Relations of Sullington and Washington", Part 1 in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 2 No.2, November 1993 and Part 2 in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 3 No. 2, December 1994). Eric relates how his great great great grandfather Edward (1774-1861), who was a younger son of Peter Linfield of Storrington, left the village in his youth and moved to the neighbouring parish of Sullington. Coming from a large family, it was understandable that younger children often had to move away from the parish of their birth and find work elsewhere. Initially, he carried on his father’s trade as butcher, but by 1841 he is running a 3 acre market garden at the crossroads junction where Water Lane crosses the Storrington to Thakeham road. His son Peter (1810-68) joined him at the market garden, whilst his other sons Harry and William worked locally as agricultural labourers. Harry (1807-78) was Eric’s great great grandfather and completed 50 years service working for the Carew-Gibsons on the Sandgate Estate. We are extremely fortunate to have a surviving photograph of Harry, wearing the traditional smock of the Sussex labourer (reproduced in ‘Longshot’ Vol. 3 No.1, May 1994).

At the last count, there were over 1600 catalogued items and photographs in the museum collections. Now it is open, many people are bringing things along and it is an exciting time as the collection expands. I think it is important to establish a Lin(d)field archive at the museum because we are a family with particularly strong and long standing connections with the parishes involved. If anyone would like to join the ‘Friends of Storrington and District Museum’, then please get in touch with me and I can send you a membership form – the cost is £5 per annum for individual members or £7 for family membership (two adults and any dependent children living at the same address).

It is probably worth finishing this article with the words of Joan Ham, taken from the January newsletter: "Storrington and District Museum will not be a dull collection of things in glass cases. We intend to make it a living part of local life. Displays will be changed regularly. Neighbouring villages which make up the "and District", will be invited to contribute. The proximity of public rooms means that we can welcome school and other parties with an introductory talk, or stage temporary exhibitions . . . The new year and the new millennium will see the beginning of an exciting new project that has been discussed and wanted for the past half-century. Now we can make it happen."

What’s in a Date?

In the light of all the celebrations and expenditure surrounding the start of the year we call 2000, it is easy to forget just how arbitrary our system of numbering is, and how artificial the so-called millennium really was.

Because we count in tens, years that end in a zero tend to acquire a significance in our lives. If they end in two or even three zeros they appear even more significant. On my 50th birthday last year, we had a party. No such party marked the 49th and I doubt that one will mark the 51st. Yet whilst such years provide a good excuse for a party, their significance is a direct result of our having evolved with ten fingers. It is interesting to consider which birthdays we would have celebrated had we evolved with four digits on each hand. Assuming that we had adopted a counting system using a base of 8, perhaps the big party would be on reaching 100, which would equal 64 in our system of counting.

Not only are these events an arbitrary effect of our counting system, they also lead us to celebrate a year too early. As most of the pedants in the world have pointed out at some time in past few months, the century, and the millennium, end on 31st December 2000, when 2000 years will have passed since the point which marks the start of the Christian calendar. However, such protestations of mathematical accuracy have been drowned out by the sound of the celebrations!

This point in time, which supposedly marked the birth of Christ, is itself the subject of considerable inaccuracy. It was calculated originally in about 535 A.D, when a scholar called Dionysius Exiguus (500-560) calculated that Christ had been born 535 years previously. At this time, dates were expressed in terms of the time since the founding of Rome, which they placed in the year we call 753 B.C. They called that year 1 A.U.C., which stands for Anno Urbis Conditae, meaning “the year of the founding of the city”. This system was used in Europe generally, and had it remained in use, would have led us to celebrate the year 2000 in what we call 1247 A.D.

About two and a half centuries after Dionysius made his calculations, Charlemagne, who ruled much of western Europe, decided that it would be much more pious to count the years from the birth of Christ, rather than the founding of the heathen city of Rome. This system spread through Europe, and from there was imposed on most of the rest of the world as European countries discovered and colonised other continents. Although other calendars are retained as part of various religious ceremonies, the Christian calendar remains the standard to this day for all international trade and navigation.

When Dionysius Exiguus made his calculations, however, he used the only material available to him, in the form of the biblical texts. The Bible does not give a clear indication of the chronology anywhere in the accepted books which it includes, and Dionysius can therefore be excused for the error which he made. The Bible does state that Jesus was born while Herod I ruled over Judea, and it is now known that he ruled from about 20 B.C to 4 B.C (749 A.U.C.) when he is known to have died. The millennium celebrations, on that basis, should therefore have taken place between 1980 and 1996!

The Ballard Family Register

It was many years ago, in 1970 to be exact, that as a schoolboy of 14 I saw and touched my first old document. I can still remember the excitement of reading the handwriting of a person born in the 1690s, and, what is more, a direct ancestor, which seemed to make his words come to life in an extraordinarily immediate way. It was a strange feeling to have such a personal link with someone who had lived so long ago; I was hooked from that moment onwards and continue to pursue my unfailing interest in family and local history through the original source material left by our forebears.

My interest in the family history of the Ballards really originates from the time of my great Aunt’s death in 1969 at the age of 98. Aunt May was my grandmother’s eldest sister; she never married, and I can only just remember her. But she was a dear old lady who was fascinated by the past and her hero of all time was William the Conqueror. She loved nothing better than to visit old churches and she would go on long walks with her sisters in the countryside to seek out places of interest. Soon after she died, all her personal effects were sent round to an Aunt’s and I was lucky enough to help sort through them. Among her possessions was a box full of family papers and correspondence which I avidly devoured and photocopied whilst I had the opportunity. There were also some scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings, and a small album of photographs – all served to stimulate my interest in my grandmother’s family, especially as she had died many years before I was born.

But what I discovered at the bottom of the box was really quite remarkable. It was, in effect, a family register of births, marriages and deaths, begun by Isaac Ballard of Cranbrook, who was born in 1692. Whereas many families recorded these events on the fly leaves of the Family Bible, the Ballards of Cranbrook kept a separate book in which was entered up, from generation to generation, a register of the family. Isaac entitled it: “Isaac Ballard His Register Book of Births and Deaths in his own Family.” This title page was added to twice by later Ballards who have continued to make entries. His son, Joseph wrote beneath his father’s writing: “& likewise his Son Joseph’s Regester of his Children.” Isaac’s grandson added his own title page (which is the present one): “Isaac Ballard His Regester Book of Births and Deaths in His Own Family & Likwis of His Father Joseph Ballard and His Grandfather Isaac Ballard.”

I was rather puzzled at first as to why Isaac started to make entries in a separate book when the family did, in fact, possess a Family Bible. Unfortunately, the bible and its owner completely disappeared during the 1880s, but not before my grandmother’s eldest brother, as a young boy, had copied out the many entries it contained. Nevertheless, the entries were quite sporadic. Although mention is made of an Isaac (or Richard) Ballard, Gent. who was born October 23rd 1567, it then jumps to the 1680s. The births recorded are those of Isaac’s brothers and sisters, although, strangely, Isaac’s birth in 1692 was not included; this may, of course, have been the fault of the transcriber who already had the information from the Register.

Isaac married Frances Godfrey in October 1714, and their first child, Sarah, was born in August 1715. This was the date when he probably started his record, judging by the similarity of detail attached to every entry that follows. Isaac’s father was Richard Ballard, husbandman, born in 1640, who married Elizabeth Boughton of Cranbrook in 1680. It is probably safe to assume that the Family Bible was originally acquired by Isaac’s father who recorded the births of his children from the early 1680s, and, for good measure, that of his earliest known ancestor. Why, then, did Isaac not continue to use it? A plausible answer is that he couldn’t, for the simple reason that the Family Bible didn’t belong to him till much later. Since his father died in October 1717, it probably passed to his eldest son, Joseph, who died ten years after. As Joseph had no sons, and his second brother Richard was also dead, the Bible eventually passed to Isaac. Not surprisingly, therefore, he continued to make entries in the book he had already started rather than revert to the Family Bible which would have entailed a lot of copying out. But he obviously valued this book, or he would not have taken the trouble to entrust its future care to his grandson. He apparently wrote the inscription: “I give and bequeath this Family Bible to my grandson Isaac Ballard. Witness my hand this 2nd day of July 1771. Isaac Ballard.”

Isaac’s Register records events as they actually happened, and in many cases the names of godparents at baptisms and the officiating clergyman. An early instance of the use of two Christian names in the family occurs in 1766, when Joseph Ballard’s eldest daughter was christened Elizabeth, with the addition of Balcombe, her mother’s maiden name. The high incidence of infant mortality is very apparent, but Isaac records these events with obvious detachment. This is surely a reflection of the times when all families expected to lose one or two children before they reached aduthood.

Luckily, other happenings of importance to the family are noted at various times. In October and November 1723, “my 4 children Sarah Francis Rich:& Isaac had the Measels.” Then, on September 5th 1736, “My Wife fell from her Horse and broak her Coller Bone. Sett by Dr. Backett 15s.” In the same year, “My Son Isaac with Mr. Simonds carlesly set Fire to upward of 2 pounds of Gunpowder in Mr. Jenning’s Shop which blew out the Shop Windows and did great damage to the house and Goods and Vastly Scorched their faces & hands & were several days Blind, both cured by Docr. Walter, Feb. 19th paid him his Bill, for applications to Isaacs hands and Face and Board with Francis (his elder sister) 20 days 4-4-0.”

In 1742 Isaac tells us: “I by a whip with a Twig a brushing hurt my left Eye and lost gradualy the Sight thearof.” On June 20th 1745, he records that “the Small Pox came out on Isaac, He living with Mr Davis at W. Farly was extream bad, came home the 23rd of August very weak, went again to Mr Davis Nov: 5.” Next year, on July 25th, Isaac “had an Ishue cut above my left Knee by Dr. Backet. Dryed up Jan: 1st 1765.” Issues, or running sores, were fairly common among our ancestors; his wife had a similar complaint in 1755.

Evidence of Isaac’s meticulous attention to detail can still be seen on his tombstone in the churchyard at Cranbrook:

This stone was erected by ISAAC BALLARD of this Parish In memory of FRANCES his Beloved and Virtuous Wife with Whom he lived lovingly 44 Years Had by her 3 sons Richd Isaac & Joseph & 4 Daughters Sarah Frances Eliz & Rebekah. She died Sept 6th 1759 aged 69 years. Also the aforesaid ISAAC which died…

Unfortunately, erosion has worn away the rest of the inscription; but it obviously refers to Isaac’s burial in 1782, some 23 years after his wife.

Joseph Ballard, who was born on November 26th 1728, was the seventh child of Isaac and Frances. He married Ann Balcombe in Cranbrook Church on October 4th 1757. In 1783 he was staying at Deal where, on August 15th he suddenly died, as the register records, “after comeing out of the Sea, where he had been bathing for the Comfit of his health. He was in the 56 yr of his age. Was buried in Deal Chappel Field. Josh. & James was there.” His tombstone, in what is now known as St. George’s Churchyard, records that “he was a Kind Husband and a Sincere Friend.” It would appear from the different handwriting in the Register that Isaac made his last entry in 1771, so he probably passed the Register on to Joseph at about the same time he bequeathed the old Family Bible to his grandson, Isaac. Perhaps increasing infirmity, especially poor eyesight, had something to do with his decision.

His grandson, Isaac married Mary Pearce at Cranbrook Church on December 5th 1786, and so begun yet another generation of children to be recorded in the family register. In 1799 or 1800, Isaac and his young family moved to Sittingbourne where he took over the inn known as the “Rose”. To do this he had to show a certificate from the churchwardens and overseers proving that the family had lived in Cranbrook 200 years and had never received parish relief. Of their many children, William Ballard, who was born at Sittingbourne in 1801, was their eldest surviving son. He became innkeeper on his father’s death in 1822, but in 1832, soon after his marriage to Maria Osborn at Chatham, he moved to Chichester to take over the Dolphin Hotel. The Register came with him to Sussex, and he became the fourth generation Ballard to record the births of his children in it.

William Ballard was a man of substance, with many commercial interests, and he remained landlord of the Dolphin until his death in 1868. In 1843, he was appointed Posting Master at Chichester; in 1857, he received a warrant signed by Arthur Wellesley, 2nd Duke of Wellington, appointing him Posting Master to the Establishment of Her Majesty’s Stables. Both these original warrants are still on display at the Dolphin and Anchor Hotel. In Kelly’s Directory for 1855, William is described as of the Dolphin Hotel, a commercial inn and posting house, wine, spirit and coal merchant, inland revenue office, and agent to the London and Brighton Railway Company. Both William and Maria were staunch Wesleyan Methodists and did much to further the cause of Methodism in the city. Maria’s brother was Dr George Osborn (1808-1891), twice President of the Wesleyan Conference and an outstanding figure in the movement. He was well known for his inspiring oratory and an able preacher.

William faithfully recorded the births of his eleven children between 1831 and 1845 in the Family Register, and I am lucky to possess a photograph album containing pictures of virtually all of them, including their parents. Among them, born on January 31 1838, was my grandmother’s father, Adolphus Ballard (1838-1918). Adolphus married Frances Stafford in 1865, and on the death of their father, he took over the family business with his elder brother, George. Adolphus and Frances also had 11 children, but none are entered in the Register begun by his great great grandfather some 150 years previously. Unfortunately, not having seen the original document for 25 years, I cannot remember whether it was full or not, but I suspect it was. As far as I know, it is now in Australia with another Ballard descendant who is very keen on family history – so at least it should be in safe hands. I refrained from photocopying it at the time because I only had access to a machine which copied internally, and I dared not risk it. What if it should get stuck? But at least I had the sense to make a full transcript, thereby preserving the contents of this unique family record for future generations. I shall shortly be providing copies to the West Sussex Record Office and the Kent County Archives Office.

Returning briefly to the Chichester Ballards, some six years after his brother George suddenly died in 1882, Adolphus sold the Dolphin to Henry Waite. Until his retirement in 1904, he ran an ironmongery business in East Street. Like his father, he was very active in local affairs, both in the Wesleyan Methodist Church in which he held all the various posts, and in the town council to which he was first elected in 1885. He was elected Mayor on two occasions, in 1896 and 1897, and in that capacity presided over Chichester’s local celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

But what about the young boy who copied out the entries in the Ballard Family Bible before it disappeared? Named after his father, Adolphus junior was their eldest child; he was born in 1867. After studying law at London University, he completed his articles and started in practise as a solicitor in Woodstock. In 1894 he was appointed Town Clerk of Woodstock. Despite his very busy professional life, he also found time to indulge his passion for historical research, his favourite subject being the social and economic history of the Middle Ages. Apart from his many contributions to the Sussex Archaeological Collections, he also wrote a History of Chichester, published in 1898, but his major work was undoubtedly The Domesday Inquest (1906). In this book, he comprehensively describes conditions in the 11th century through a detailed analysis of the Domesday Book. Tragically, Adolphus died at the early age of 48, his death possibly hastened by a strenuous workload. Sadly, his only son, Godfrey, who was on military service on the Western Front, was killed in action a few months later. He was 20. I still have the letter which his former Platoon Sergeant sent me in 1975. He said: “(Godfrey)… was a very clever and well educated young man and we got quite friendly. He was well liked by all his comrades… I am enclosing a photograph he gave me before he left us, which you may like to have.”

This concludes the story of the Ballard Family Register. Some time after I first saw it, I discovered that my great Aunt had written a short article about it during the 1930s, which was published in Archaeologia Cantiana. Though concise and to the point, it unfortunately says very little about the family. I hope I have rectified the omission by saying something of the people who continued to use Isaac’s book, thereby keeping alive the history of this family for future generations.

BIBLIOGRAPHY ‘The Ballard Family Register’, by Miss Frances M. Ballard and WPD Stebbing FSA in Archaeologia Cantiana, Vol. XLVI. The Dolphin & Anchor Hotel Chichester, by Francis W. Steer MA, FSA. Chichester Papers, No 23 (1961) Methodism in a Cathedral City, by John and Hilary Vickers. Published by the Southgate Centenary Committee (1977)

Note: I have also extracted information for this article from a number of newspaper cuttings; all are contained in two scrapbooks, which belonged to my great Aunt. Unfortunately, they were not referenced and dated. Nevertheless, included among them are the Chichester Observer, Methodist Recorder and Oxford Chronicle.

The Worthing Typhoid Epidemic of 1893

Some of my grandfather’s earliest memories were of the typhoid epidemic which hit Worthing in 1893. Known ever after as ‘fever year’, the terrible events which affected this seaside town on the south coast were never forgotten by the people who experienced them. Nowadays, though we still have good reason to complain about the deficiencies of the water companies, at least we are not dying from typhus or other related illnesses caused by pollution of the local water supplies. But this is exactly what happened at Worthing just over a century ago. Of the 1,500 cases reported, some 186 people died as a direct result of the infected water they had consumed. My grandfather’s family had lived in Worthing from the early 1850s, when his grandparents, WILLIAM AND ANN LINFIELD, came to the town soon after their marriage in Brighton. William was a tailor by trade and established his business in South Place, near the old Town Hall. Undoubtedly they experienced at first hand the earlier occasion in 1865 when polluted water supplies affected the town. But in its severity and scope – as many as one in ten of the local population succumbed to the disease – the outbreak in 1893 was immeasurably worse. Continue reading