Netherfield Breakaway Club: The Club met on March 16th and our speaker, making a welcome return, was the excellent and very professional Geoff Hutchinson, who appeared in full costume as the local well known Jack Fuller, Squire of Brightling - also known as ‘Mad Jack’ due to his lifestyle and the number of follies he erected on his land and which are still attracting many visitors today. Squire Jack was a very rich man, descended from the Fullers of Heathfield who owned the Sussex Iron Industry and whose grandfather John was the first Fuller to settle at Rose Hill in Brightling. Jack’s father Francis was a vicar at Catsfield and Jack was the youngest of three children. When his Uncle Rose died the fortune came to Jack, plus Rose Hill, a sugar plantation in Jamaica and properties in Wimpole Street and Devonshire Place in London. Jack had an amazing life and aged 23 years started his career as a politician when William Pitt the Younger, also 23 was Chancellor of the Exchequer. When William aged 24 became Prime Minister, Jack became the First Sheriff of Sussex and duly met Napoleon Bonaparte and Lord Nelson. Sadly he remained a bachelor, turned down for marriage at 33 by Susannah Thrive of Tunbridge Wells and there are no apparent heirs! In 1801 Jack represented Sussex in Parliament but was attacked for his support of slavery on the estate in Jamaica. In 1807 Wilberforce started his campaign to abolish slavery and Jack’s career started to go downhill - in 1810 he insulted the Speaker in the House of Commons and duly resigned. He was a very generous benefactor and wanted to use his wealth to benefit others - he provided money for unemployment, paid for the first lifeboat at Eastbourne and the lighthouse on Beachy Head. He was responsible for the care of Brightling church and provided the barrel organ, had the 5 bells re-cast to honour his favourite soldier, Wellington. He bought Bodiam Castle from the Webster family (who also owned Battle Abbey). Famed for his Brightling follies - the Garden Temple, the Obelisk, Observatory, Sugar Loaf (built to win a bet that he could see the church spire from his home!), the Tower - used to send signals to his home and the Pyramid in Brightling churchyard where he is buried, all of which are unique and within a short distance of Rose Hill and can be enjoyed during a pleasant walk. The church is also of great historical interest and there is a bust of Jack on display sculpted by Francis Chowdery. Jack then reverted to Geoff and members were invited to ask questions which he ably answered genially and with enthusiasm. We thanked him for a brilliant afternoon’s talk and look forward to a return visit. Refreshments were enjoyed and the raffle was drawn. David Chaplin is our speaker in April, his subject being ‘Rwanda Aid’. New members and guests are always welcome. Juliette Vane.
St. John the Baptist Church Netherfield: This is the third posting. Our annual Spring Fair is being held on Saturday, 21st April in the church from 10-12am. There will be so many things to delight such as a “Lucky dip”, a Bric-a-brac stall, a chance to win a smashing prize on the tombola and of course a raffle. There will also be homemade produce, books, games, crafts, plants, refreshments and lots more! Come along and join the fun. And the weather looks good too. Thank you. Gillian.
Claverham Monday Badminton Club: Twelve, yes twelve kitted out and pumped up players – pumped up, I do make myself laugh sometimes. You know. Pumps as in footwear? Oh ok. So I am not a Miles Jupp. But it is still the news – ready and willing to pit themselves against their peers. As my regular reader will know that means we had three courts being utilised from eight until ten. The usual cries of winners stay on and the losers move, reverberated around the hall throughout the evening. Sandra, the only lady this week, unfortunately informed me that this was her last visit until September as the call of nature, sorry I mean stoolball, meant that she was now personna non grata until the summer was over. I mentioned to her that I had once played stoolball, but she fell asleep while I was talking so I guess she didn’t find my revelations very interesting.
There were many splendid games last night which, if I were to recount them all would fill the paper, so come along and join us and experience it first hand.
More next week.
Reflections on a garden: With the primroses in full flight, the garden resembles a sea of pale yellow and off-white. Interspersed within this wonder of nature, the purples, pinks and blues associated with pulmonaria, from the family of Boraginacae, can be seen fighting for supremacy among this yellow delight. My good lady seems to think that I have an obsession with these wild flowers, but that is so far from the truth, it is just a totally fixed idea that at this time of year it is “the” flower.
Our Graceland’s plot and its emboldened plant specimens is beginning to start the annual race to see which can grow the tallest. The clumps of iris, day lillies and black-eyed Susan are being thinned to promote healthy living and our own produced compost has been spread like a warm blanket across the plot to give the soil that extra boost of power for sustained growth. Mind you, digging up some of the wonders of nature is a feat in itself. The iris especially, seem to want to hold onto their patch of the garden at all costs and make it extremely difficult to fork or spade their position.
The second grass cut was effected this past weekend. The first sets the scene for the summer, but it doesn’t give that overall sense of satisfaction that the second one does, which comes about because the grass is getting ordered and trimmed at a consistent height. The first cut just irons out the lumps and bumps that have appeared throughout the winter and the grass itself has been allowed to become wayward and unfettered. It now knows, when the blade of the mower is less challenged than it was the first time around, that the spin is a few revolutions quicker per minute and the grass understands it is being controlled. You have to show it who is the boss. Well, that is my take on it anyway.
More next week.................................
Netherfield Mobile Library Service: This is my third post on this item as I think we are losing a wonderful service. East Sussex County Council are just one more stop away from finishing their visits at Netherfield for the Mobile Library Service. The final time is on 1 May 2018. So what will happen then? The people who rely on its service will have to find another outlet to exchange their current book for another. I think Battle will still be open but for how long? Do you think the Netherfield Village Hall could fill the gap? We get provided with a lot of books for our jumble sales so maybe we could start a library. What do you think? Your thoughts would be appreciated. As we don’t have much time, if you contact me below, I will see what I can do. Maybe the Council will let us have their stamps and things for the signing in and out of the books? Please please let us know.
Old Netherfield Photographs: Success is what I can report at last, in my quest to gather some old photographs of life in days gone bye. In any community there are always people of the more mature persuasion who grew up in a time when computers were a thing of the future and posterity was served with the aid of a Brownie Box, or if you were wealthy, a Leica. As time went on, from 1963 as it happens, the latest craze became a Kodak Instamatic. This made taking photographs a much easier experience, rather than trying to load a roll of film as was done in the past.
The upshot of all of this was that treasured snaps were kept in albums or in envelopes, ready for viewing at a moment’s notice. In either of these two formats (albums and envelopes), a large number of people could be serviced with views of your favourites as they were passed from one to the other. A continual stream no less. You can’t do that with a phone or a tablet, now can you? These albums and envelopes were then stored, going back to the late 1800s in some cases (we have pictures on our walls of great grand parents from 1886).
In this instance, a lady named Joy, who lives in Battle, through a reader of my column, got in touch to say she might have photographs which would fit the bill and boy was she right. There are cricket teams, ladies stoolball pictures, a house with children on Darwell Hill, pictures of the Netherfield School and the pupils from the beginning of the last century and snaps of the Women’s Institute. What is special is that they are all related to Netherfield. I didn’t even know we had a WI in Netherfield.
The task now is to copy and present in a way which dignifies their existence for posterity prior to returning to their owner. Thank you Joy.
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