What it's like to live in Storrington
PUBLISHED: 10:20 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:47 15 August 2017
Situated at the midpoint of the South Downs Way Storrington is a hidden gem of a village packed with history, as Duncan Hall discovers
The A283 runs through the centre of Storrington. The road connects with the main Worthing to London A24 which is only two miles to the east of the village. The nearest railway stations are at Amberley and Pulborough, both five miles away. Both stations have two direct trains per hour to London Victoria and Bognor Regis. The village is served by Stagecoach’s 1 bus which runs half-hourly routes from Worthing to Midhurst, and Compass Travel services to Chichester, Amberley, Horsham and Burgess Hill, most notably the hourly 100 service.
Billing itself as a gateway to the South Downs, Storrington is the closest village to the halfway point of the South Downs Way between Eastbourne and Winchester. It is listed in the Domesday Book as Estorchestone – or a place well-known for storks. The birds feature on the village sign. The village’s principal industries up until the 20th century were fulling and tanning. Rabbit-breeding was an important industry and three working windmills and watermills were running until the 1800s. A regular market and biannual fair began in 1399 and continued until the 19th century, leading to the creation of pubs and hotels including the Half Moon and White Horse. The impressive Grade I listed parish church was built on a sandstone mound and has been enlarged over the centuries to accommodate the growing community – most notably in the 1840s and 1870s. It is likely there was a Saxon church on the site, and a Norman church was mentioned in the Domesday Book. Since 1945 the village has expanded. Its parish council is joined with nearby Sullington and has been working with Washington Parish Council on a neighbourhood plan for the area to focus on what happens to the villages in the future. A draft version highlights the biggest problem in the village is traffic congestion from the main road, but hopes to create a new centre offering services for tourists and locals alike.
Annual festivals and events
Every May sees villagers race 2,000 rubber ducks along the river to raise money for Storrington First School. For more information visit www.storringtonduckrace.co.uk.
Storrington has its own amateur dramatic group, which this year performed Neil Simon’s Barefoot In The Park at the Sullington Parish Hall in Thakeham Road (storringtondramatics.co.uk).
Storrington Sports and Social Club in West Street has a wide programme of activities and events all year round. And the village has a range of clubs and societies, including a twinning association with Villerest in the Loire valley of France, bridge club, horticultural society, Scouts and Guides, art and camera clubs, badminton, bowling, cycling and gun clubs, and even pole-dancing sessions above The Moon pub with Law of Fitness (www.lawoffitness.co.uk).
The attractive centre is as well-stocked as a small town, with almost 100 independent and chain stores, a post office, pharmacy, several banks, pubs The Moon, The Anchor Inn and The White Horse Hotel and a Waitrose supermarket. Specialist shops include the South Downs Bikes showroom in West Street and art galleries Storrington Gallery and Nifty Art Gallery in High Street. Restaurants and cafés include the Cottage Tandoori Indian Restaurant in West Street and Joanna’s Boutique Tearoom in High Street.
Meet the neighbours
Towards the end of the 19th century the White Canons built a priory, which later became the home of poets Francis Thompson and Hilaire Belloc. Other artists with connections to the village include poets Wilfred Meynell and Arthur Bell, who is buried in the churchyard under a headstone which is said to have been carved by a young Eric Gill. Composer and Master of the King’s Music Sir Arnold Bax’s residence at The White Horse Hotel from 1941 until his death in 1953 is marked by a plaque on the wall.
Storrington and Sullington Parish Council is a civil parish within the Horsham District of West Sussex County Council. Storrington is represented in the House of Commons by Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs Nick Herbert.
Estate agent’s view
Simon James, joint owner of Cormyn and James Town and Country Homes in Pulborough, was brought up in Storrington and still regularly returns. “The main difference between Storrington and Pulborough is that Storrington still has a village centre, with shops and most crucially banks,” he says. “It is a thriving village. It has a Waitrose and two or three coffee shops. There is plenty of parking, the South Downs on the doorstep and a big leisure centre which is very popular. There is a lot of traffic which goes through Storrington in the mornings and evenings, but there is still enough in Storrington to pull people there. There are new family-orientated estates, such as the Hormare Estate, making a good mix of people young and old.”
The village’s position in the South Downs means it is unlikely there will be big expansions of housing as has happened in nearby Horsham. Proposals to link Storrington and West Chiltington had been rejected by villagers. It has kept the village small. “When I grew up there I enjoyed the fact you could walk almost anywhere,” says Simon. “There are lots of things going on – the Sullington Amateur Dramatic Society is very busy. At Christmas there is an evening shopping event where all the offices throw their doors open and people come around for drinks. A lot goes on at the church and village hall, there is a thriving primary school and Parham House is nearby.”