The southern approach at the Swan Inn
Fittleworth shown within West Sussex
|Area||11.64 km2 (4.49 sq mi) |
|Population||931  2001 Census|
|– density||80/km2 (210/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|– London||42 miles (68 km) NNE|
|Shire county||West Sussex|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Fittleworth is a village and civil parish in the District of Chichester in West Sussex, England located seven kilometres (3 miles) west from Pulborough on the A283 road and three miles (5 km) south east from Petworth. The village has an Anglican church, a primary school and one pub, the Swan. It is within the ancient divisions of the Bury Hundred and the Rape (county subdivision) of Arundel. The village is bounded south by the Rother Navigation .
In the 2001 census the parish covered 1,164 hectares (2,875 acres) and had 405 households with a total population of 931 people, of whom 434 were economically active.
Fittleworth is noted in 1167-8 as Fitelwurda, by 1279 Fyteleworth, 1438 Fetilworth and 1488 Fitelworthe. The Olde English FitelanweorJ translates as " the enclosure of Fitela." A Fitela happens to be mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf as nephew of mythological hero Sigmund.
From 1536 The Swan Inn was the coaching inn, and permitted a change of horses for the royal couriers of the King's Post en route from London to the coast, before the long climb up the South Downs at Bury Hill.
There are two bridges at Fittleworth, both of stone; one of two arches, the Clappers Bridge, belongs only to the mill stream; the other, of three, spans the River Rother and is sixteenth century, though the piers may be older. The middle span was enlarged in the 1780s to take barge traffic through to Midhurst. When the road was widened in 1967 the Clappers Bridge was rebuilt in entirety. Fittleworth Bridge was partially rebuilt to take a 25' road about twice the previous width.
The Swan Inn on the north side of the Rother Navigation is a coaching inn with a history possible as far back as the late 14th century. The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers (Motto: "Lubrication in Moderation") was founded here in 1924. The guild was created "to foster the noble Art and gentle and healthy Pastime of froth blowing amongst Gentlemen of-leisure and ex-Soldiers. It attracted an extraordinary half a million members in the 1920s and 1930s. Lager beer was ineligible, The Swan Inn rule book stating: "it is unseemly and should be avoided always excepting by Naval Officers visiting German Colonies.". Many Victorian Artists have left paintings on the panelling of the lounge, including George Cole, Rex Vicat Cole (who sub-let his nearby cottage Brinkwells to Edward Elgar in 1917), A.W. Weedon and Philip Stretton. One of the Visitors' Books contains music and words to 'A Song to the River' by composer Sir Hubert Parry visiting for a boating trip. E.V. Lucas, Lamb's biographer, thought it the most ingeniously-placed inn in the world. "It seems to be at the end of all things. The miles of road that one has travelled apparently have been leading nowhere but the Swan."
Coates Castle in the village of Coates, West Sussex is a Grade-II mansion about one and half miles south east from the southern boundary of Fittleworth. An area around Coates Castle has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest which contains the entire known remaining British population of the Field Cricket Gryllus campestris.
Explorer and broadcaster Duncan Carse lived in the village for over 40 years until his death in 2004.
The composer Edward Elgar lived in a house called "Brinkwells" near Fittleworth from 1917 to 1921. It was here that he composed his last four major works: the Violin Sonata in E minor, the String Quartet in E minor, the Piano Quintet in A minor and the Cello Concerto in E minor.
A. B. Simpson rediscovered the tuning of bells, publishing two papers in the Pall Mall Magazine in 1895 and 1896. These two articles revolutionized bell tuning, and allowed for the great growth of carillons and other tower bell instruments that began in the early part of the twentieth century. The first set of bells founded under Simpson's principles, cast by the Taylor foundry in Loughborough, England, now form the basis of the carillon at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Reginald Rex Vicat Cole (1870–1940) was an English landscape painter, and founded a School of Painting together with Byam Shaw. The Byam Shaw and Vicat Cole School of Art was based in Kensington.
Bryan Ferry, the iconic English singer owns the substantial house and grounds called Little Bognor House.
George ‘Boko’ Fittleworth - Bertie Wooster's friend - was a fictional character of P.G. Wodehouse. Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was born near Guildford; knowledge of this area may be a clue to his inventiveness.
Author Hugo Donnelly spent a year in Fittleworth in the 1960s as a young waiter at the Swan Inn and his writings are included in the anthology Sussex Seams. References to a resting Explorer - perhaps Carse - and revisting the sites of Elgar's newfound creative inspiration in Fittleworth Woods are accompanied by notes on other famous visitors to stay at the Swan Inn, including Elgar and Rudyard Kipling, who motored from Rottingdean - 3 hours and noted this in the visitor's book in 1901. Writer Algernon Blackwood visited Elgar at Brinkwells, and Elgar's wife Alice noted that the slow movement of Elgar's new Violin Sonata composed at "Brinkwells" seemed to be influenced by the 'wood magic' or genii loci of Fittleworth woods.
Donnelly also refers to the Explorer lending him the book Some West Sussex Superstitions Lingering in 1868 collected by Charlotte Latham from the cottage-people of Fittleworth while she lived at the Old Rectory of St. Mary's Church. The village has a rich tradition of snake lore. As late as 1860 there are sincere accounts of an 'audaciously large' dragon which would rush out of its lair in Fittleworth woods 'with a terrible hissing', to terrorise passing cottage-people.
Paintings of Fittleworth Mill
A c.1826 painting by J.M.W. Turner is in the collection of the Tate. An 1834 painting by John Constable is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, painted whilst visiting Lord Egremont at Petworth where he encountered sculptor Francis Leggatt Chantrey and painter Thomas Phillips, Turner having been unable to come. Constable took home richly-coloured sand and soil from Fittleworth Common and subsequently asked his Arundel-based brewer friend and amateur painter George Constable to send him samples of the paint from some slimy posts near the Mill.
- "2001 Census: West Sussex – Population by Parish" (PDF). West Sussex County Council. Retrieved 12 April 2009.
- The Place Names of Sussex R.G. Roberts (1914) Cambridge University Press https://archive.org/stream/placenamesofsuss00robeiala/placenamesofsuss00robeiala_djvu.txt
- Kelly's Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867.
- A History of the Castles, Mansions, and Manors of Western Sussex, Dudley George Cary Elwes, Charles John Robinson, Published by Longmans & Co., London, 1876
- Arthur Levett was living at Fittleworth in the early seventeenth century, where he was regranted family arms by the College of Arms.
- research by Hugo Donnelly
- Smith, Keith and Mitchell, Vic (1981). Branch Lines to Midhurst. Middleton. ISBN 0-906520-01-0
- Bridges of the Western Rother by Rev A A Evans From Volume 10 of the Sussex County Magazine 1936
- Fittleworth Bridge, G D Johnston Sussex Notes and Queries Vol XV11 May 1968 No.1
- The pubs that made history, Ian Herbert and Danielle Dwyer, The Independent, London, February 10, 2006
- Fittleworth - A Time of Change 1895-1916 (2009) Ed. A. Brookfield ISBN 978-0-9564125-0-8
- http://hugodonnelly.co.uk/waiting.html Full text of the short story about Fittleworth
- "SSSI Citation — Coates Castle" (PDF). Natural England. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
- Simon Reynolds, "Sims, Charles Henry (1873–1928)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 27 June 2007
- Spirit in Mass - Journey into Sculpture (2007) UK Film (PG)
- List of works by Clough Williams-Ellis
- Ford Madox Ford: The Essence of His Art By Richard Wald Lid; University of California Press, 1964
- Sussex Seams (1996) Paperback, Sutton Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7509-1191-7
- Portrait of Elgar by Michael Kennedy (Oxford: OUP, 1986), p. 245.
- John Constable: A Kingdom of his Own (2006) Bailey, A. (Chatto & Windus)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fittleworth.|
- Parish council website
- Fittleworth Railway Station pictures
- Fittleworth - A Time of Change 1895-1916 (2009) Ed. A. Brookfield ISBN 978-0-9564125-0-8 Reuniting the Photographic Albums and Notes of John Smith 1852-1925