CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sussex Life today CLICK HERE

Wish you were here - historic Henfield

PUBLISHED: 11:39 17 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 20 February 2013

The Cat House and Church Terrace circa 1912. The story behind the decorations of the Cat House of the cat holding a bird is told in this month’s Sussex Scrapbook.

The Cat House and Church Terrace circa 1912. The story behind the decorations of the Cat House of the cat holding a bird is told in this month’s Sussex Scrapbook.

Take a trip down memory lane to historic Henfield, as we delve into the archives of a postcard collector whose hobby chronicles a time of major change in the town's past.

Words by Michael Palmer
pictures courtesy of Alan Barwick and Henfield Museum


Weve all hastily scrawled a droll message onto the back of a postcard from some far-flung beach but, at a time when picking up the phone wasnt an option, they were once a vital means of communication.


With its wealth of resort towns and quaint villages, Sussex was the perfect subject for postcard photographers, and some towns, like Henfield, even had their own. One collector, Alan Barwick, has amassed a collection of at least 850 cards of Henfield, but estimates there are in excess of 1,500 out there.
A curator at Henfield Museum, youll struggle to find anyone more knowledgeable about the town born and bred in Henfield, Alan has been collecting postcards for more than 24 years.


You start off collecting your own village, he says, and then you start running out so you branch out a bit further I started to collect surrounding villages too.


The earliest known postcard of Henfield dates to May 1902, and is a view of the High Street. The towns most prolific postcard photographer was E.L. Merrett, who operated from c.1910 to 1914, and the vast majority of cards were produced between 1900 and 1818, when people used to collect them in albums.


Postcards would also go beyond the traditional scenery images funerals, fires, car crashes, floods, carnivals and weddings were also all common themes. Although unintended at the time, they also provide us with a visual history of how our county used to look, and with Alans kind permission, weve reproduced some of his collection here. Welcome to old Henfield.


Find out more


For a more in-depth look at the towns history, visit Henfield Museum, tel: 01273 492 507

0 comments

More from Out & About

Friday, October 19, 2018

10 of the most beautiful, inspiring and simply stunning photos of Sussex shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The skies of Sussex are sure to be lit up this November with some amazing fireworks and bonfire events taking place across the county

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Disappear into the ancient oak woodland at Arlington on this short circular stroll

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

A rich local history, thriving annual festivals and a bounty of amenities make this East Sussex town hard to top

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From pumpkins to spooky activities, we take a quick look at some events on offer across Sussex this Halloween

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Cuckfield’s Ockenden Manor offers a spectacular panorama while you eat

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

We explore Pulborough, a village with a long history and an unusual annual fundraiser

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Sussex this month

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Whether you live in Sussex or are here for a visit, the South Downs National Park really is a must-see part of this beautiful county. As these pictures prove...

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

We pick five scenic routes across Sussex that are suitable for wheelchairs, pushbikes and buggies

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

All along the A27 there are calls for bypasses to ease congestion. But plans to deal with Arundel’s bottleneck have met with anger

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

With the South Downs, quaint villages and coastal trails, Sussex is a great place for a walk. Here we round up some of the best

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2016 marked the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. We take a closer look at the castles built to protect Sussex from invasion

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Bearing links to some of the county’s famous smugglers, Alfriston is a small village with a lot of history – including an impressive ‘cathedral’

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory


Property Search