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NLHG Newsletter Editor

John Cheshire

NLHG Newsletter




0642 Roger at Church farm 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

Please note that from April 2017

the NLHG Newsletter will be published

                                         Bi Monthly



2018 2019 2020

Happy New Year! I hope you managed to enjoy Christmas despite the restrictions and strangeness. There seems to be no sign of things improving in the near future except that the vaccination programme is rolling out across the country so hopefully that will begin to bite and enable normal life to return at some stage.

We remain unable to host our monthly meetings so the talk by Mat Homewood is again postponed. I hope to reschedule Mat for the near future. It is unlikely that February will be any better but you never know, I will be ready to present my talk entitled “Ninfield- The News of the World” just in case!


Calendar sales went well but there are a few left if you want one.



Forthcoming Meetings:         7.30 in the Methodist Hall unless stated otherwise

January 14th     The Sporting History of Sussex by Mat Homewood cancelled for now

February 11th    Ninfield – The News of the World by John Cheshire – probably cancelled but watch this space!

March 11th       tbc

April 8th            tbc


Monday Morning Pavilion sessions are still suspended at the moment.

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From the Archive: I thought it would be good to feature Sir James Ashby who was a key player in Ninfield in days gone by. This info is from the East Sussex Records Office “This archive consists of the papers of Sir James William Murray Ashby (1823-1911, his son Col James William Frederick Walter Ashby (1873-1946), and grandson Commander James Ian Murray Ashby (1901-1990).


James William Murray Ashby was born 25 August 1822, the son of Captain William R Ashby, RN and his wife Eleanor. In 1841 William and Eleanor were living at Kewhurst, Bexhill, with their children Francis (20), Julia (8) and Emma (2).

James William Murray Ashby was educated at the Royal Naval School in Camberwell, and entered the navy in 1839, and was based on the North American and Pacific Stations until 1848. He served in the Crimean War on HMS Sphinx and was involved in the taking of Kerch, the fall of Sebastopol and the bombardment and capture of Kinburn. From 1859 he served in China in the second Anglo-Chinese (Opium) war of 1856-1860, and saw the attack of the Peiho Forts, and the subsequent surrender of Tientsin. On returning from China in 1863, he then sailed to the West Indies. In 1873 he married Catherine Blanche M Maxwell at St George's Church, Hanover Square (March quarter, vol 1a p509), and their son James William Frederick Walter Ashby was born later that year. In 1876 he purchased Little Park in Ninfield from RH Burgess, and retired from the navy in 1878, by which time he was serving as Paymaster-in-Chief in the Royal Navy. In 1902 he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. In 1891 he and his wife Catherine were living at Little Park. Catherine died in 1897, and in 1911 James was living at Little Park with his sister Julie Ellen Ashby (single, aged 77), who had been born at Bexhill. He died 21 October 1911.

Little Park was sold between 1916 and 1922 (ACC 2300/56/2), and sold again in 1927 by the then owner RG Kincaid (ACC 2300/56/3/4)”.


Sir James was a true philanthropist of a type that is quite rare these days. He was very involved in the improvements that took place at St Mary’s Church in 1885 and provided the carved wooden pews which he found in a derelict church in Leicestershire. He also procured the King James coat of arms and the carved Reredos.

Sir James is mentioned in Ninfield in the Nineties by Alfred Ridel who describes him as follows: ”He was retired Paymaster in Chief to the Navy and lived at Little Park, where he had an observatory built in the roof, from which he could view the shipping in the Channel by means of a powerful telescope.  He was a picture, to our minds, of what an Admiral of the fleet should, be - lean, spare, clean shaven, with a high-bridged nose, square chin, as hard as nails - in fact with no visible signs of weakness in appearance or character.

He brought with him to the village his ingrained naval training with regard to orderliness, discipline and punctuality, and in those respects was a martinet, albeit a warm-hearted one”. The Ashby family did a great deal for the school children in particular and organized Christmas or New Year Parties for them most years, inviting each child formally with a gilt-edged card requesting their presence for tea and entertainment. These events took place in the school room which he had lavishly decorated for the occasion.  He paid for school trips to London and sponsored a Sports Day in his grounds at Little park (the Pavilion there was a disused railway carriage). In the late 1886s he was instrumental in providing the Reading & Relaxation Room in Church Lane of which The Sussex Agricultural Express in 1889 said “The building is well fitted, on one side a room devoted to games of different kinds and on the other is a reading room which has an attractive comfortable look. Daily and weekly papers are supplied and the bookshelves are well stocked with books both amusing and instructive. The young men now have a place to which they can resort of a winters evening and enjoy themselves in a rational manner. The rules are not irksome in any degree, all political topics are excluded, gambling is forbidden and the same with bad language. It speaks well for the members that over the 3 years there have been no complaints and everything is working smoothly and pleasantly”.























Group Contacts:

John Cheshire (Chair/Newsletter) Tel: 892248, Anthony Gibbons (Treasurer) Tel: 892612 , Jackie Cheshire (Secretary) Tel: 01323 833897, Corinne Gibbons (Membership)  Tel: 892612, Jan Cooper (Archivist) Tel: 893381, Janet Savage Tel: 892749, Jane Domme

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01233  james ashby

January 2021