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Rother valley
West Sussex, England

Short History

The village received its name from a church which was once a chapelry and was north of Petworth, and originally was two separate words, North and Chapel.
[see maps circa 1695 & 1610 showing North Chapel]
The roads in the area were once quite famous and there are many stories of famous people taking many hours to travel the last few miles through the village en route to Petworth. The roads were eventually made up using local ironstone and a brick toll house was erected at Northchapel. The normal list of tolls for pedestrians, horse drawn vehicles, horses, cattle and sheep, and a penny was charged for any truck, barrow or other carriage drawn by a dog! The Toll house closed in 1871.

This is now a peaceful part of Sussex and it is hard to believe it was once in the centre of the glass and iron industries. A charcoal factory was established near to the village during the 19th century and it had a daily consumption of fifteen hundredweight of wood. The poultry keeps of Northchapel were also famous for their fowls and the area was also famed for being known as apple growing country, even though Sussex is not normally recognised as a cider county, but some of the best cider that was obtainable was to be found in this part of the land. But it was not made to be sold, most of it was consumed at home and Hardiman Scott wrote in his Secret Sussex in 1949 of a renowned cider maker Jim Bicknell who also made a living making besom brooms and lived a mile west of Northchapel.

Noah Mann the Sussex cricketer was born here in 1756 and he became the landlord of the Half Moon Inn. It was said he rode twenty miles to Hambledon in Hampshire to practice with that famous club. An all round sportsman, one of his greatest feats was to pick up handkerchiefs from the ground while riding his horse at full gallop.

He applied for permission to name his son Horace after the cricketing baronet Sir Horace Mann. He died at the age of 33 after falling into his own pub fire when asleep after coming back from a hard day's shooting and is buried in the churchyard.

Another famous personage was Bruce Bairnsfather, the First World War artist, and who created that wonderful character Old Bill.

Northchapel also records one of the nastiest cures for ailments by Charlotte Latham in her Some West Sussex Superstitions lingering in 1868. Apparently a person who suffered from weak eyes was recommended to wear a live toad around his neck until the toad died. And surprisingly he followed the advice and is reputed to have said that he felt a lot better for it!

Go to the Northchapel index

1902 - Deepwell to the left


1902 - looking north - see below

1950 - looking north - same position as above
The above photos are from The Frith Collection
full size copies may be purchased from them

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