A Little Later History
The Parish of Tillington, consisting of the village and two hamlets, Upperton and River, lies to the north and south of the A272 one mile west of Petworth in West Sussex and within the South Downs National Park.  Currently the population is around 500 people living in 227 households, but in 1911 the population was 852 living in less than 200 dwellings.  The land area is approximately 1,500 hectares (3790 acres), much of which is agricultural land lying within the historic estates of Leconfield (Petworth) and Pitshill.

The parish rises gently from the banks of the River Rother in the south through open fields where once corn and potatoes grew and cattle grazed the rich green grass.  The land then begins to flatten our a little where today the busy A272 carries traffic through the lower part of the village.  In 1912 this major road was a mere country lane and children from the local dwellings would play happily beneath the large trees that once bordered it. From the A272 the land rises quickly to the north with cottages nestling amongst numerous fine houses as the small road from Tillington to Upperton ploughs a straight, uphill furrow.  At the junction with the A272 stands the Rectory (now the Old Rectory), a fine Georgian house that has seen some eminent Rectors including Rev'd James Stanier Clarke (1789 - 1816), Rev'd Robert Ridsdale (1816 - 1834) and Rev'd William M Goggs (1911 - 1930).
River Rother in winter A272 c1911 The impressive Rectory
River Rother in winter A272 c1911 The impressive Rectory
                                            Click image to enlarge
The beautiful 900 year-old All Hallows' Church with its impressive Scots Crown overlooks the Rectory from the north. To the west stands the historic Horse Guards Inn, a site which has been occupied since at least 1610. On the same side further along the road once stood the village school, opened in 1838, from where most village children received a rudimentary education until the age of fourteen.   Past the school is a line of listed cottages called Park Terrace, the first of which was, for many years the home of the schoolmaster. Half way up the rising Upperton Road is the fine Victorian Tillington Hill House and the older Podmore's Farm. On the east side the walls of Petworth Park, with its fine trees and deer herd, bound the road.  Thereafter a wonderful uninterrupted view over rich farmland to the South Downs unfolds.
All Hallows' Church
All Hallows' Church
The Horse Guards Inn
The Horse Guards Inn
The old school  c1900
The old school c1900
After passing the recreation ground  the road bends to the left and passes through a deep sunken lane with houses overlooking both sides before the hamlet of Upperton is reached. Many of the dwellings in the hamlets, and some in Tillington, were owned by the Leconfield (Petworth) or Pitshill Estates and rented to their workers employed on the estate farms or in their woodlands. A statistical survey of data from 1881 showed that just over  50 percent of working men in the parish were employed by around ten tenant farmers.

Kelly's Directory for 1908 states that the chief crops grown within the parish were wheat, barley, oats and turnips. The cultivation of oats and turnips suggests that a good deal of the land was put down to pasture. Just to the north west of Upperton lies Upperton Common, traditionally used by local farmers to graze sheep and cattle but by the early 20th Century, it was largely used for recreation purposes. March 19th 1914 - Grass seed was purchased for Upperton Common cricket ground at a cost of 6s. 1d.  By mid-June the turf was established and at a cost of 11s.  3d. the wicket and outlying field were rolled with a horse-drawn roller. (Petworth House Archives).

Kelly's Directory also lists Lt Col Brackley Barrington-Kennett living at Tillington House. This is the earliest record of this distinguished 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 (a Bristol Boxkite) from Aldershot and, after circling Petworth Church several times, he 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 areoplane and many signed their names on the wings.
                                            Click image to enlarge
Upperton hill
Upperton hill
Rear of Tillington House  c1930
Rear of Tillington House c1930
The first aeroplane to land in Tillington
The first aeroplane to land in Tillington
                                            Click image to enlarge
The versatile and popular author of nearly one hundred books, Edward Verrell Lucas came to Tillington in late 1913 or early 1914.  With his wife Elizabeth and daughter Audrey they set up home in Tillington (on what is now the A272).
The house, very trim and pretty with a grand view of the Downs, was called officially Tillington Cottage, but because of a sign just beyond the front gate announcing DANGEROUS CORNER, E.V. insisted on taking the warning as the name of the house and even had it printed on his notepaper.

All the local conversation centred, rather in the Trollope manner, around Petworth House and the Leconfields.  For the first year or so at least we did not know them, and the only active notice taken by E.V. of the 'great house' was in reference to chicken livers..  The poulterer supplied us with birds, admirable birds in every respect save one - they had no livers .  When at last, utterly exasperated , E.V. called on the man in person to inquire the reason for this deformity, he was told that all the livers of all the chickens on sale in Petworth were reserved for Petworth House
. [E.V. Lucas, A Portrait by Audrey Lucas].

Life in Tillington for Edward Lucas was very social and the family entertained many houseguests and a stream of callers including J M Barrie, A E W Mason, the author of The Four Feathers and several other books, who was also living in Tillington at the time, and Rev'd William Goggs, the local Rector, and [probably] A A Milne and E H Shepard.  George Llewelyn Davies, the inspiration for J M Barrie's Peter Pan was also a regular visitor to this literary retreat.
The National Society built Tillington School in 1838 and originally it was one large room divided into two parts, boys and girls each having a separate porch and entrance. The garden was taken from the next door cottage and made into a playground. In the Women's Institute history of the village there seems to be some dispute about the school's origin. 'The school was not built by the Nat Soc; but was entirely financed and built by the Misses Mitford on the guarantee that should it ever cease to be a Church School the land and buildings revert to the Pitshill Estate'. The school records provide an interesting glimpse into school life during the early years of the 20th Century. School subjects included arithmetic, English composition, scripture, drawing, gardening, nature walks and drill instruction.  There was also cookery for the girls but this required travel to Petworth School.

During 1912 the school had a roll of 111 pupils and the average attendance was around 70 per cent.  The main cause of non-attendance was illness or infection of various kinds, but in autumn it was noted that several children were absence because they were helping with the local pheasant shoot, harvesting or potato picking.
The School Log Book records that on 29 January 1912 the school reopened after a closure of six weeks following an outbreak of scarlet fever. Unfortunately the school only remained clear of infection until June when by order of Dr Cameron, Medical Officer of Health for Chichester Council, it was again closed due to an epidemic of whooping cough. On 22 February 1913 there followed a further five week closure at the start of a measles epidemic.

By 1966 pupil numbers had dropped to 22 and for reasons of economy the school was closed down in the summer of the same year.  Regrettably this imposing Victorian building was demolished shortly after closure.
Early image of Tillington School pupils Winter playground c 1958 Demolition work in progress
Early image of Tillington School pupils Winter playground c 1958 Demolition work in progress
The village church of All Hallows has always been at the heart of the parish and has witnessed countless births, marriages and deaths over nine hundred years.  In 1286 the church was under the patronage of the Pope but since the late 18th Century our Patron has been the Earl of Egremont.

The Rev William M Goggs came to Tillington in early 1911 and the Bishop of Chichester conducted his induction service on 11 January.  In the Church Service Record the Rev'd Goggs had a wonderful habit of making observations in the margins of each page; very rough weather  Dec 10th 1911 - Dec 24th.  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 Rector regularly prayed for rain as his Sunday services.  It seems that his prayers were not answered until June 2nd when his margin notes record very wet, but it was not until the following Sunday that his plea for rain was taken seriously. He records no service too wet.  Happily a month later he was able to record very hot weather.

A photograph of the 1912/13 Church Choir shows the Rev'd Goggs seated centre with his churchwardens Colonel Mitford and Colonel Barrington-Kennett to his left and right.  The thirty strong, all male choir surround them, several of whom eagerly enlisted at the outbreak of the Great War. Sadly some did not return.
EV Lucas - Tillington A E Mason - Tillington E H Shepard - Lodsworth
EV Lucas - Tillington A E Mason - Tillington E H Shepard - Lodsworth
                                            Click image to enlarge
                                            Click image to enlarge
All Hallows' Church Choir 1912/13

Back Row

C Bryder   N Dummer   D Dummer   B Pullen  
W Bryder   P Pullen  T Daniels

Third Row

J Wadey   G Knight 
P Boxall   B Barrington-Kennett   J Daniels   ? Street   J Boxall   H Staker   J Pullen

Second Row

Unknown   W Boxall   ? Stringer   Col Mitford   Rev'd Goggs   H Barrington-Kennett  
A Barrington-Kennett  F Whitcombe   W Bryder

Front Row

A Howard   T Bryder   ? Howard   ? Howard   B Goggs   B Moddy   F Randell  I Yeatman

                                                                                                                                                                            Fell in the Great War   
                                            Click image to enlarge