The Crouches
Kitty Lashly
Rita King
World War II
Tom Edwards
Ernie Treagus
Mel Baker
Madeline Ambrose
John Sexton


Julia Moore

Walter Hart

Dulcie Hart

Sidney Morgan

Charles Routledge

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A village history in West Sussex


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By Rita King (neé Johnson)

I was born at No 1 Sydenham Terrace, later we moved to 17  Commonside. There we had a wireless, and once a week it was my job to take the old accumulator and collect a newly charged one from Mr Lee, who lived up Monks Hill. Great care had to be taken not to spill the acid, as it would have burnt you. I became friendly with Kitty and Lily Lashly and we had great fun together. There was very little traffic about so we were able to play games in the street, such as 'whips and tops', skipping and marbles. In those days our parents gave us a lot of freedom and would let us go off on our own, and we felt very safe. We would play on the Common (in those days a 'wild' bit, not a football pitch), then up the hill and across the three-cornered patch to the gravel pit on the other side of the road. There we would make dens and climb trees. In the spring we would go to 'The Grove' in Stansted Wood and pick bunches of primroses and bluebells for our mothers. Eventually, my parents bought me a cycle from Mr Collins' shop in East Street. Then I was able to join the others, and we would sometimes cycle to Stansted, then on to Racton, past Sindles Farm, and picnic in Racton monument. Autumn time my mother and friends would walk us children to Walderton, there we would go up on the Downs to pick blackberries. When our baskets were full we would eat a packed lunch and play, before the long walk home, scratched and tired, but happy! We would also go 'nutting' with my father, there were chestnuts, beech and hazel nuts to be gathered.

My father, A. Johnson (known to everyone as 'Johno'), kept the general store in North Street. When I was nine we moved there to live 'over the shop'. I used to help by serving behind the counter, and 'weighing up', as everything came in loose. We sold everything from cask vinegar to pills and potions, butter to paraffin! The counter was always hill of sweets, mainly for children to buy on their way to school. When customers had their weekly orders of groceries, my father always gave them a bag of sweets! He made the most delicious ice cream, using full cream Channel Island TT milk, delivered mainly by Edgell's horse and cart. It took him 20 minutes without stopping to turn the handle on the churn in the ice - if he was called away, I had to take over.

Miss Kemp and Miss Watson ran the Guides. I became one, and worked my way up to be, first, a 'seconder', then a 'patrol leader'. It was enjoyable to work for badges. Once, Daisy Whiting and I swam across Emsworth Mill Pond to get our 50 yards swimmers' badges. In the summer the Guides went to camp on various farms in West Sussex. Everything was basic. We had to take a pillow case, and a sewn-up sheet, which we filled with straw to sleep on. Every drop of water and wood had to be collected from the farm yard. There was only cold water to wash in, and the latrines were fixed precariously over a deep pit! If it rained we daren't touch the sides of the tent or the water would come in. All the cooking was done on the camp fire or in a hay box. At night we would sit in a big circle around the fire, and sing campfire songs.