Discover the history of the Slindon Estate
For such a little place, Slindon boasts a history worthy of a large town. Evidence has been found as far back as Paleolithic times and it has been inhabited from the Bronze age right up to the present day. Below are some of the numerous historical features that you can still find and explore on a visit. Even just a little research will reveal that Slindon has a deep and rich history. A short visit will tickle your historical taste buds, but a day could transport you from the Bronze age, into the steps of Romans, around medieval hunting grounds, and glimpsing the drama of the World Wars. Every step taken in the village or on the wider Estate lands you in a footprint of the past.
In the first part of the 19th century, Anthony James Radcliffe, fifth Earl of Newburgh and his wife Anne Countess of Newburgh brought a time of stability and opulence to Slindon. They built structures to demonstrate their wealth and standing in society such as South Lodge the grand flint gateway to Slindon park, visible from the A27, and the Folly that still adorns Nore hill. They made many other additions including a stable block, complete with clock tower and accommodation for servants, a Ha Ha and a carriage drive that swept around the parkland to give their visitors the best views of the house and grounds on their arrival.
At the top of Mill Lane, in the village, stands an intriguing flint and red brick square enclosure. This was once used as a livestock Pound in the days when livestock were driven across the downs to market. Strays were impounded here and released for a fee.
Regency Slindon status symbols
The old lock-up
Built in 1805, before a full-time Constabulary was formed in 1857, the lock-up was used by the Parish Constable to imprison local troublemakers until he could march them to the magistrate at Arundel or Chichester.
This flint archway known as The Folly was built in 1814 at the request of Anne, Countess of Newburgh. The design was taken from an old Italian print, and originally had a thatched tea house on the south side. The Countess would drive here in a four horse wagonette to take tea and enjoy the view. It's still a lovely place to picnic, with tremendous views down to the coast.
The School House
This once Church of England school was built in 1871 using flints gathered from the local fields free of charge by the village farm labourers. A tankard can be seen from the road set amongst the flints at the apex of the gable, to commemorate the amount of beer drunk in the sweltering summer of 1884 when the infants classroom was added.
Frederick Wootton Isaacson came to live at Slindon house in 1908, with his sister Violet, Lady Beaumont. He largely rebuilt the house between 1914-1917. After the war the house experienced a resurgence of life with much entertaining of leading political and social figures of the day.
Frederick was very much a part of village life as the squire. Without an heir and wanting Slindon “… to be maintained as far as possible as a Sussex Estate”, upon his death in 1948 he bequeathed his Estate, of 3,500 acres, Slindon House and many other properties, to the National Trust.
First World War
Slindon played an important and unusual part in the First World War. The house became a Convalescent Hospital for recuperating officers from 1917. An airship station was cut into the southern edge of Northwood to serve the airships that patrolled the English Channel. On the wider estate Canadian Forestry Corp arrived to fell valuable Slindon timber for the war effort and a prisoner of war camp was built. More detail can be found on the ‘Rise of Northwood’ project pages.
First World War incinerator
On the northern side of Nore Hill there are the remains of an incinerator, part of a much larger prisoner of war camp that once occupied an area known as 'The Plain'. PoWs were managed by the Canadian Forestry Corp to fell timber for pit props and trench supports for the war effort.
Second World War
The Second World War saw Slindon playing its part once more. First the house took in evacuees but was eventually requisitioned as a Canadian military base. The area of the woodland cleared by the Canadian foresters in WW1 now came under the plough to meet Britain’s desperate need for food.
Gumber decoy airfield
At Gumber Farm, a decoy airfield was constructed to try and deflect bombing from the important airfield at Tangmere. The men stationed at Gumber would wheel out wooden aeroplanes during the day and light flares to imitate landing lights at night to fool reconnaissance missions. Discovery didn’t take long though, and the site was only active between 1940 and 1941. Some of the concrete structures can still be seen today as you walk through the farm including the builder that housed generator to power the lights.
Worthing Archaeological Society
Worthing Arch Soc has an active volunteer field unit, tackling excavations, surveying and research projects. WAS has carried out a lot of work at Slindon both in the village and the wider estate.
Historical Guide to Slindon: a portrait of Slindon
This is an updated edition of Josephine Duggan Rees's much-loved book about Slindon's historical past. Written in the 1960s it is available direct from the publisher or it is on sale in the Forge.
‘Slindon at War’ research and photographs
A local historian, Rodney Gunner, is researching the impacts of the First and Second World War's on Slindon. His webpages show his research to date and a fascinating photographic archive.