Parish History
Lying partly within two major estates and close to a third, the Parish of Tillington is fortunate to have a very rich history.

Although the written history of Tillington begins at the time of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), we first learn of the village name from the Domesday Book (1086), At that time the settlement of “Tolystone” comprised six hundred acres divided into arable land, meadows and woodland.

All Hallows Church is first mentioned around 1100; a simple nave and chancel, with the addition of a square, squat tower in the following century.  In the 13th and 14th centuries several substantial farmhouses were built - Gretenham, now Grittenham, Sokenholes, The Old Manor House and Little River Farm. 

During the Napoleonic Wars there was a partial blockade of the British coastline which reduced the import of wheat and forced up the price of bread.  The poor could not afford to pay the high price and often had to eat potatoes, barley bread or turnips.  The Corn Laws of 1830 gave some protection to farmers, but did little for the poor.  An emigration scheme, devised in an attempt to solve the problem of overcrowding and poverty, was begun for the Petworth area. Some of the Tillington poor who took up the offer of emigration to Canada came from Little Common.  Lord Egremont was the principal backer of the scheme and he paid for the passage and clothes for each emigrant.

Sometime around 1830 Edward Barnham moved from Suffolk to Little Common Farm, Tillington. He brought with him an early Smythe Seed Drill that soon attracted the attention of other local farmers when he demonstrated the drill at the weekly markets in Petworth.  This led him to bring six additional drills from Suffolk to his farm, from where they were hired out to his neighbours.  The Barnham family continued to farm and hire agricultural machinery from Little Common Farm into the early part of the 20th century.
The Rev’d William M Goggs came to Tillington in early 1911. He had a wonderful habit of making observations in the margins of each page of the church service record; very rough weather Dec 10th 1911 - Dec 24th 1911. Late May 1912 School closed on account of whooping cough. In April 1912 Tillington was suffering a severe drought that continued into May. During this period the vicar regularly prayed for rain at his Sunday services.  It seems that his prayers were not answered until 2 June when his margin notes record very wet, but it was not until the following Sunday that his plea for rain was really taken seriously.  He records no service too wet.  Happily a month later he was able to record very hot weather.

The Great War began in August 1914 and the Parish of Tillington soon gave up its young men to the Western Front and beyond, so the pre-war life of this close-knit community began to ebb away. The large houses lost many of their servants and farmers lost not only their farm hands but also most of their horses. Girls lost their amorous companions and for some, walks in Petworth Park would never be the same again while soldiers’ families would dread the steps of the telegram boy. Then the whole community would share their grief and rally round because, even today, that is what a community does best.
In addition to farming, the 1908 Kelly's Directory provides a picture of other activities in the village. Amongst the notable residents, the Directory shows Lt Col Brackley Barrington-Kennett living at Tillington House. This is the earliest record of the family being resident in the village. Their eldest son Basil joined the Grenadier Guards in 1906 and later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. In 1911 on one memorable Sunday afternoon 'Mr Basil' flew his aircraft from Aldershot and, after circling around Petworth Church several times landed safely in the ten-acre field below Tillington House. News spread quickly through the village and it is said that people rushed from church to see their first ever aeroplane and many signed their names on the wings.
To read more  of the History of the Parish of Tillington click on one of the boxes below
In 1782 the Earl of Egremont invested in the growing canalization schemes which included extensive work on the River Rother to make it suitable for barge traffic from Hardham to Midhurst, allowing the transport of goods such as coal, charcoal, timber, corn and Petworth marble.  By 1800 the road system south of Petworth was being improved which left Hungers Lane with little traffic and it soon went out of use.

The early nineteenth century was for many a time of poverty and distress.  The parish was responsible for its poor and workhouses were built to house and employ many of them. The workhouse to which Tillington paupers under the age of 14 and over 60 were sent was at Easebourne. Husbandry, gardening, spinning and weaving were the main forms of employment. The 159 inmates (1792) were sustained by a meagre daily diet of bread and cheese or gruel, with perhaps meat trimmings for supper.

Tillington acquired some importance because of its proximity to Hungers Lane which is believed to be one of the oldest drove roads in England. Around 1200 a fine cattle bridge (over the River  Rother) was built at Rotherbridge and this soon became an important meeting place for travellers and local people.

During the Civil War (1642-1651) the parish made no secret of its Royalist leanings with the Stuart Coat of Arms proudly displayed in All Hallows’ Church.  This was destroyed during the civil unrest but after the restoration of Charles II, the board was repainted and hung above the chancel arch, where it remains to this day.

Capability Brown established the line of the present day A272 in 1762 and the Tillington to Upperton road was built in 1779. By this time Upperton was a thriving community inhabited by copyholders cultivating plots of land, largely owned by the Earl of Egremont, William Mitford of Pitshill or the Somerset Hospital in Petworth.
Around 1965 the then thriving Tillington Women’s Institute began to compile their own ‘History of the Parish of Tillington’. On completion it was submitted in two volumes as part of a Kent/Sussex village history competition to celebrate the Golden Jubilee year (1915 - 1965) of the Women’s Institute.  Tillington WI was awarded fourth prize.  Although there is no list of contents and the order of presentation seems a little random in places, the work is presented here in its original format - an outstanding piece of work.
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