What it’s like to live in West Chiltington
- Credit: Archant
From world-renowned vineyards to charming cottages, West Chiltington is a great place to settle down away from the city bustle
Known for its vineyards and picturesque streets, West Chiltington is situated in the Horsham district of West Sussex on the edge of the South Downs. Located between Pulborough and Storrington, the village is about 50 miles south of London, which can be reached by car along the A24 in about two hours, and roughly 25 minutes from its largest nearby town of Horsham along the same route.
The nearest railway station is Pulborough, which has trains running to London Victoria in one hour and 16 minutes, as well as services to Bognor Regis and Horsham. In addition, two bus services run through the village, the 74 to Horsham and the 71 service to Chichester.
The nearest airport is Gatwick Airport, which is a 40-minute drive or 43 minutes by train from Pulborough station.
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First mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book, West Chiltington has a long history going back to medieval times. One of the best indicators of its history is the 12th century St Mary's Church, which still exists in the village. It is known for its medieval wall paintings that show everything from a depiction of angels and Apostles to the life of Christ. The paintings from the 12th to 14th century were discovered in 1882 and give historians an idea of how religion was perceived by the former residents of the village.
Another key part of the village's more recent history is the West Chiltington Silver Band, which was formed back in 1908. Originally starting out with just three members and a £20 donation to buy some instruments, the band has built up over the years, entering numerous competitions along the way. Celebrating over a 100 years now, it's still a key part of the community.
Today, one of the things that village is well known for is the vineyards within parish boundaries: Nutbourne and the internationally known Nyetimber. The latter is based at an old manor that has history tracing as far back as the village itself, mentioned in Domesday Book under its Anglo-Saxon name of Nitimbreha, meaning new wood. In the 1500s the estate belonged to the Priory of Lewes before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it became the property of Henry VIII. The king gifted the estate to Thomas Cromwell, before passing it to Anne of Cleeves as part of their marriage annulment. To this day, the estate produces much-loved wine that is shipped across the world.
Annual Festivals and Events
The annual West Chiltington Show will be celebrating its centenary on 13 July in 2019 with a parade. A key part of the village's history, it was founded in 1919 as part of the peace celebrations at the end of World War I. This year's free commemorative event features stalls, a vintage car display and the popular dog show, as well as performances by the silver band.
As part of 2019's Horsham District of Culture, there will also be a West Chiltington Drama Festival this summer. Taking place from 23-27 July 2019, the festival is run by the West Chiltington Dramatic Society and will feature a number of plays from across the Horsham district culminating in a prize-giving ceremony in the village hall.
Another highlight of the year is the annual drinks festival held by local family-run business Greyhound Brewery in the village in springtime.
A number of monthly and one-off events are also held in the village hall, including thriving meetings of the jazz club, arts society and local gardening groups as well as frequent drama performances.
The village is reasonably small, with around 3,400 people recorded in the 2011 census living across its 4,279 acres. But this is not to say that the village does not have all potential residents might need.
History buffs can visit the Grade I Listed St. Mary's Church on East Street, which holds weekly services.
There are sports facilities aplenty in the village with active football, croquet and table tennis teams at the West Chiltington Sports Pavilion, which is also home to the West Chiltington & Thakeham Cricket Club. There is also a children's play area and outdoor gym available in the local recreation ground to help all ages keep fit.
There are a number of local businesses in the village including a cake shop, a local garden centre and two pubs. There is also a Nisa Local for groceries and a post office in the village but larger supermarkets and more shops can be found in nearby Pulborough and Storrington. West Chiltington is very near to bigger towns like Horsham, which are perfect for bigger shopping days with a host of high street names.
There's also a great deal of nature to enjoy as the village is very close to the South Downs as well as the wonderful Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve, which is a rich habitat for wading birds, ducks and geese.
Meet the Neighbours
Former residents of West Chiltington have had success in all fields, from sport to music. Locally-born Alex Adair has made waves as a successful DJ and producer whose remix Make Me Feel Better reached number 13 in the UK Singles Chart. Well-known author Herman Cyril McNeile whose work spanned war stories and thrillers, including Bulldog Drummond, also lived in the village late in his life. Another of the village's crowning former residents is West Chiltington-born Maddie Hinch who was part of the Olympic gold medal-winning hockey team in the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.
The town even has a bit of Hollywood history, having been home to English actor Norman Wisdom, who appeared in comedies, plays and films across the world from the 1940s onwards.
West Chiltington has its own Parish Council with 13 elected councillors dealing with issues of local planning, open spaces and finance. In addition, the area of West Chiltington, Thakeham and Ashington is represented by three councillors on the Horsham District Council. The area's MP is Conservative politician Nick Herbert, who represents the Arundel and South Downs constituency.
Having been involved in such a key part of West Chiltington's identity, owner of the Nyetimber vineyard Eric Heerema is passionate about the town's virtues.
"With its quaint charm and tranquil atmosphere, West Chiltington provides a retreat from the pressures of modern living," he says. "This is reflected in the friendly, welcoming community atmosphere where residents enjoy the winding lanes, locally-run shops and cosy pubs."
The particularly close-knit village also really benefits from its location near to Pulborough, as well as within easy reach of Amberley, Arundel and the beautiful market town of Petworth, according to Eric. And the fact that it lies on the edge of the South Downs National Park means that it is truly full of natural beauty.
But one of the best things about the village, as you might expect, is how the quality of wine output that the area produces is so high for one of Sussex's smaller parishes. "The unusual but charming thing about West Chiltington is that it has three established vineyards within its parish boundaries, meaning that it is at the heart of the burgeoning Sussex, and indeed English, wine industry," he says. He has owned the Nyetimber Manor since 2006 when he purchased it to build up the vineyard's output of wonderful sparkling wine. "The vineyards are ideal for sparkling wine," he enthuses. "It shares many characteristics with some of the best sparkling wine vineyards in the world." While the vineyard and manor is primarily a private home and estate, it will be opening up its gates for a weekend on 11-12 May to allow visitors the chance to explore the estate and vineyards, as well as taste their award-winning range of English sparkling wines. So watch out Champagne, it certainly seems like this part of West Sussex is on the rise…
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