From: Roger Mills
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
My name is Roger Mills, and I have recently discovered family links to the Mills family of Fernhurst. I was born in Henley-on-Thames, but grew up at Cowdray House and Easebourne, I also attended Midhurst Grammar School circa 1960. Around this date, we moved to Nappers Wood in Fernhurst. I knew that my grandfather, William Mills, had been born in Lyminster, near Littlehampton, but he never spoke of his ancestors, and I had no knowledge of any Fernhurst connections, until starting to research my family online and being contacted by an Ian Mills from Wells, whose ancestors, going back to the 1500s, were from Fernhurst or nearby - for example Richard Trybe of Godalming, 1560.
My grandfather also never mentioned his illegitimate half-sister, Lillie Burnett-Wilton, whose mother Emily Wilton, from West Dean, was impregnated at an early age when in service to a Midhurst grocer, Mr Burnett, and later 'adopted' by my great-grandfather John Mills, she (Lillie) married a Henry Hopkins, but sadly died young in 1910.
Living in Fernhurst as a 12-year-old, I often had strange feelings (sometimes quite strongly) that I somehow 'belonged' there, maybe now the mystery is solved!
I believe it was part of Nappers Wood where I lived. My memory tells me that you went along Vann Road until almost at the bridge over the Lod. There was a turning to the right, next to a small plastics factory that stood by the bridge. Walking up a slight rise there was a cul-de-sac with some houses. Then there was a large development of council flats in blocks of four. We lived in the first one on the left as you went along the upper ring-road. I think they were quite new, as nobody had much of an established garden, just loads of sticky clay.
I remember often walking to the end of the road, where there was a footpath. Turning right and walking through a small wooded area coming out on the main Haslemere road again, near to a pub, or hotel, that sold ice-cream. Well it did in those days, anyway!
[This would have been the Spread Eagle, now demolished - Ed]
I had two 'special' friends, one lived nearby, the other lived in a lone house halfway down the hill going towards Midhurst. This was before the river bridge. He had a sister I had a 'crush' on, who rode a horse around the area near Nappers Wood - Happy days!
Sadly, I have no photos from those days, although I might be able to source some from places where I would have been snapped, ie. Easebourne Primary School, Midhurst Grammar School, or Easebourne Parish Church. I was in the choir and once sang in Chichester cathedral.
I am keen to see if I have any connections with any living Mills family members in Fernhurst, who might not otherwise know of the connection with my ancestor who moved away to the Littlehampton area, details of whom I can extract from my comprehensive family tree.
I should like to re-visit Fernhurst in the not-too-distant future and should be coming to the area soon, as my fiancee wants to see Cowdray ruins, Knockhundred Row, etc, especially the Public Library in Midhurst where, as MGS pupils, we had our school dinners every lunchtime, the school itself having no canteen facilities for day pupils, but that's another story!
Midhurst Library - click to enlarge
@2016 This is no longer a library.