Taking a look at what it's like to live in Storrington, Pulborough and surrounding villages
PUBLISHED: 12:31 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 20 August 2018
Head to these South Downs villages for a chance to experience modern amenities and stunning, picturesque views
Storrington and Pulborough are nestled in the heart of the stunning South Downs, just five miles apart via the A283. Pulborough railway station provides regular mainline services to London Victoria every 30 minutes, along with additional services to Bognor Regis in the south. Stagecoach operates an hourly bus service between Worthing and North End, serving Storrington, Pulborough, Petworth and Midhurst along the way.
Despite being recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Estorchestone’ – a place for storks – Storrington’s past has little to do with storks and more to do with rabbits. Breeding was once an important local industry, and this can still be seen today, with common places still bearing the ‘warren’ namesake.
The River Arun has been a fundamental part of Pulborough’s development nearby, and was used by the Romans as a fording place. Earthwork remains of a motte and bailey castle, known as Park Mound, can still be found in a wooded area to the west.
Close by both villages is Parham House and Gardens, an Elizabethan manor which dates back to the 1500s. Among its many features, it boasts an impressive walled garden and was carefully restored by the Pearson family in the early 20th century. Hon Clive Pearson – the second son of the 1st Viscount Cowdray – and his wife Alicia amounted a precious collection of paintings, furniture, needlework and antiquities over their 60-year residence.
When war broke out in 1939, the house became home to 30 evacuees from Peckham, many of whom had never visited the countryside before. To persuade them to eat more fresh food, Clive Pearson divided a section of the walled garden into vegetable plots and gave the children tools and seeds to grow and tend their crops.
Part-way through the war, the children were re-housed in Storrington and Parham, in the middle of the South Downs Training Area, became partly requisitioned for Canadian forces. Soldiers of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions were stationed in Nissen huts throughout the park, while the Pearson family continued to live in the other half.
They welcomed in former governesses, relations and friends who were left stranded by the war.
In 1948, family friend Rupert Gunnis suggested that the Pearson’s open their house to the public. The first visitor entered the house on July 17, 1948 and has been receiving visitors ever since.
Annual festivals and events
Each May, villagers race 2,000 ducks along the river to raise money for Storrington Primary School – a tradition that has gone on for 20 years. The Sussex Game and Country Fair is hosted at Parham House and Gardens each June, along with the Harvest Fair in September.
Storrington boasts almost 100 shops and restaurants, both chain and independent, along with a post office and pharmacy. As well as two art galleries, there is also the Storrington and District Museum, located opposite St Mary’s Church in School Lane. Run entirely by volunteers, it houses details of not only Storrington, but surrounding villages including Amberley, Cootham, Parham and Wiggonholt.
Thanks to its excellent rail links, Pulborough is a large commuter village and offers a comprehensive range of places to eat, shop and drink.
Close by, there is also RSPB Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve, a lowland wet grassland providing beautiful views across the South Downs.
Meet the neighbours
At the end of the 19th century, White Canons build a priory which later became the home to a number of artists. Francis Thompson and Hilaire Belloc were among two of the poets who lived there, and the poet Arthur Bell is buried in the village churchyard, under a headstone believed to have been carved by sculptor Eric Gill.
The composer, and Master of the King’s Music, Sir Arnold Bax took up residence at The White Horse Hotel from 1941 until his death in 1953. A plaque on the wall outside still commemorates his life.
Storrington and Pulborough are both overseen by separate parish councils, and are included in the Horsham District of West Sussex County Council. They are both part of the Arundel and South Downs ward, and are represented in the House of Commons by Conservative MP Nick Herbert who has held his seat since 2005.
Tom Brown crossed the Sussex border around eight years ago, and as the head gardener at Parham House and Gardens, he hasn’t regretted it at all. “There is such a sense of community and appreciation for the beautiful countryside,” he says. With shops, cafes and lots of amenities, Storrington is a thriving village. “It’s been great to raise a family in this area, surrounded by the National Park, great museums, gardens and activities for the little ones to enjoy. Particular highlights are the Rackham Flower Show and Storrington Duck Race – who knew you could have so much fun with a rubber duck!”
As well as a quirky and much-loved family home, Parham and its surrounding estate is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with its veteran trees providing wonderful habitats for thriving wildlife. For Tom, it is just one of the things which makes the area truly unique: “Not many places in the world can you enjoy such beautiful countryside, a thriving sense of community and still only be a stone’s throw from the coast.”
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