Mark Tristan Cooper 073


Facebook-icon2 twitter-icon2 skype-icon2 Logo2 HLFNL_BLK




NLHG Newsletter Archive


June 2015






















Local Characters: The theme of our exhibition in September is “Famous People and Characters of Note from Ninfield and the Surrounding Area”. We need your help to identify individuals who have contributed to our village and its history. Can you come up with some pictures and notes about anyone you think should be included? Clearly we can’t fill the Memorial Hall with just Ninfielders of note so we are broadening the scope to include famous people from Hastings, Bexhill, Battle and Eastbourne. If you have any ideas for suitable candidates please contact John or Rod.


Forthcoming meetings: 7.30pm in the Methodist Hall unless stated otherwise


June 6th 2015     Group Outing to Winchelsea see next section


June 18th 2015   Henry VIII a talk by Tony Harris


July 16th 2015    Oh We Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside! with Ian Gledhill




September 12th  Exhibition at the Memorial Hall details to follow


September 17th Twittens & Cat Creeps in Hastings Old Town Clive Richardson


October 15th      Sussex & the Napoleonic Wars by Helen Poole


November 19th A Sussex Farm During the 1950s with Ian Everest


December 17th Christmas Social details to be confirmed



Other Events:

Outing to Winchelsea Gardens:


On Saturday 6 June (1 - 5.30pm). The combined admission to see these open gardens in this historic village is £6.00, children are free. This is part of the National Gardens Scheme and proceeds go to charity. We plan to run a car share to get to Winchelsea for this visit. Please contact Jan Wood if you can offer car space or would like a lift. Alternatively, we will see you there! Tea& cake is available.


Bexhill Museum Guided Walks:

'Stepping out to the Hanoverians in Bexhill'. At the beginning of the 19th Century, 2,500 troops of the King's German Legion were stationed in Bexhill. This walk, which ends at the museum to look at a new exhibition, will visit sites associated with the German visitors and show how the event affected the development of the Town.


Meet at Manor Gardens car park, De La Warr Road, Bexhill (map ref. TQ 747 080), distance 2 miles, 2.5 hours. £3 per adult, £1.50 for accompanied children.


Also on Sun, 28 June, 14:00 – 17:00

'Stepping out to Fuller's Follies'. Discover the fantastic architectural follies of the eccentric Jack Fuller, once owner of Brightling Park and Sussex MP. This walk explores peaceful paths and bridleways through the Park. Meet at the Forestry Commission car park on west side of Brightling Park ( at Stacey's Corner, 1 mile north of Woods Corner on B2096) map ref: TQ 669 202. 4 miles, 3 hours, leader Neil Bates. £3 per adult, £1.50 for accompanied children. Sorry no dogs on either walk (how mean is that!).




The Coppicing of Sweet Chestnut


Although the sweet chestnut is not a native tree to Britain it grows in most of the woods in and around Ninfield. It was introduced to Britain by the Romans, but has only really been successful in the warmer southern counties. The chestnut was a very important source of nutrition to the Romans, who milled it to make flour. Chestnut flour is still used today in some Italian recipes.


The sweet chestnut tree was also a good source of timber especially for the production of long straight poles. Most of the chestnut trees in our woods were coppiced, i.e. cut right across so that several poles would grow up from one stump. These were cut periodically to obtain poles of different widths.


Coppicing was also very important for the Wealden iron industry from the Medieval era through to the industrial revolution. This was a truly local industry because all the raw materials for the process were to hand, the iron ore found in the Wealden Cretaceous clay and the heavily wooden landscape provided the Sweet Chestnut used to make the charcoal for the smelting furnaces. Later the use of coal made charcoal uneconomic and the industry moved to areas where coal was mined.


During the 19th Century there was an increase in demand for chestnut for both hop poles and fencing. This resulted in comprehensive clearing of native trees and the planting of many more chestnut trees. To grow successfully hop plants needed 3,000 poles per acre. In 1841 there were 50 acres of hops growing in Ninfield. It wasn’t necessary to produce 150,000 hop poles every year as hop poles could be re-used. Bark was removed from the poles to reduce the risk of them rotting. Shaving hop poles was considered to be a job for women and children. Ninfield’s school log books contain many entries where children were absent from school because they were hop pole shaving.


Hop picking was a very labour intensive process requiring more people than were locally available. By 1870 the railways ran Hop Picker Specials to bring Londoners to towns and villages in the south-east at the start of the hop picking season. Children were also taken out of school to pick hops. In an agricultural community, like Ninfield, farming took priority over education. In the 1890s the main hop gardens in Ninfield were at; Church Farm in Manchester Road, Moorhall, Standard Hill Farm and Messens Farm in Potmans Lane.


Group Contacts:


Rod Ffoulkes (Chair) Tel: 893635, Janice Wood (Secretary) & Martin Wood (Treasurer) Tel: 892895, Corinne Gibbons (Membership) Tel: 892612, Jan Cooper (Archivist) Tel: 893381, Liz Darbyshire Tel: 893575, Janet Savage Tel: