> Nutley
by Beryl Easton

The village is situated midway between Forest Row and Uckfield, on Ashdown Forest.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY | ASHDOWN EVERGREENS | NUTLEY BOWLING CLUB | SHORT MAT BOWLS CLUB | NUTLEY FRONT GARDEN COMPETITION | WOMEN'S INSTITUTE | HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY | PARISH COUNCIL | MEMORIAL HALL | ST. JAMES THE LESS | POST OFFICE AND STORES | SCHOOL | THE AIRMAN'S GRAVE

The Historical Society

founded 7 years ago by Nutley's Peter Kirby this is an immensely popular group and its events are high quality and well attended.

Indoor meetings are in the Church Hall, Nutley on the last Thursday of the month (where possible) and in the summer there is an outing, walk, or visit every month on a selected date.

Programmes available from Chairman Mrs. Muriel Parker - 01825-712640. The Society is, at present, in the process of compiling an ambitious Millennium Book of the Village.

Peter Kirby, Founder and Life President, is the author of the successful book published in 1998 illustrating the history of the village and its adjacent villages around the old pale of Ashdown Forest from 1850 until 1914. Entitled 'Forest Camera' the book is available at all good local bookshops. For all information on the Society contact Muriel Parker, 01825 712640.


The Ashdown Evergreens 

is an organisation for Nutley residents. Originally intended for the 'Over 60's' the age limit has now been dropped to 55 to take into consideration the fact that people retire earlier these days.

There is a jolly membership of around 50 people, both ladies and gentlemen, and they meet every month on the first Friday at Nutley War Memorial Hall at 2.30p.m. Excellent speakers come to entertain and inform and super teas are consumed!

In the Summer outings are arranged to a wide variety of venues. For information contact Cath Tozeland - 01825 - 712189. Subscription is very modest.

 

Nutley Bowling Club

 

Formed in 1915 with grounds just off the main A22 behind the building known originally as the Nutley Inn, then as The Shelley Arms, and that is now a large private house with a small adjacent development of dwellings in what were once the gardens of the property.

in 1947 the club moved its premises to the ground behind Littlemead at the other end of the village, premises that at the time were owned by Mr. Fred Tyler.

In the mid 1980's the ground was purchased by the Nutley War Memorial Hall Trust, and the Club is now a tenant of the Trust.

Nutley Bowling Club is a private one, not funded by the local authority, and it is responsible for its own finances.

With four rinks in a most attractive setting of trees, hedges, flowering shrubs and beds and patio pots, the Club offers one of the most pleasant of such premises in the area. There is a fine pavilion built and cared for by the members that offers an ideal venue for teas for which the Club is justly famous, and for the Club's own meetings. A spacious paved patio outside the Clubhouse is an excellent area for visitors and non-players to sit and watch the matches.

The Club is open from April to September each year, the greens and gardens lovingly tended by members, this care continuing throughout the non-playing months to ensure that everything is kept in tip-top condition.

Club members play in the Mid Sussex League (24 Clubs) and travel all over Sussex and into parts of Kent for regular games of all kinds. There is a full summer programme of rinks and triples.

Affiliated to the Sussex County Bowling Association, the Nutley Club is fortunate in having a resident E.B.C.S. Coach in Barry Nicholls, Barry is affiliated to the Sussex County Bowling Scheme as Coach, and is also an Instructor under the East Sussex Video Coach Scheme that takes him all over Sussex. He is, in addition, a Coach/Instructor in the English Bowls Coaching Scheme, his registration number being 2115.

New members are always welcome.

For further information please view www.nutleybowling.org

The Ashdown Evergreens Short Mat Bowls Club

was originally an off-shoot to the Evergreens. It was started by Warden of the Memorial Hall Peter Easton in conjunction with Wealden District Council's campaign to bring sporting activities to the more mature person.

W D C were extremely helpful in providing equipment and coaching in the primary days of the Club.

Short Mat Bowls is a coming sport now and the Evergreens play other Clubs locally and further afield. Home meetings for practice and home games are held at the Memorial Hall.

For information on this telephone Peggy Bardsley on 01825- 713625 (Secretary and Treasurer) or Match Captain Ron Hudson on 01825 - 712813.

Nutley Front Garden Competition 2000

Secretly, on an unknown date at the very end of July or beginning of August, Di Miles of the Nutley Horticultural Society and John Hacker of Wych Cross Garden Centre inspected the front gardens of the village starting before 5 am one fine morning.

They were judging winners, runners up and the Highly Commended in The Nutley Front Gardens Competition run jointly by the Society and they were judging winners, runners up and the Highly Commended in The Nutley Front Gardens Competition run jointly by the Society and Wych Cross Garden Centre.

Most of the residents of the village were still abed, but some were up and doing, and challenged the two heads seen peering round corners, looking over gates, and generally behaving in a suspicious manner. Some challenged them, saying in a typical British fashion: May I help you? Explanations were soon given and received, but the incidence of a police vehicle floating around at the time seemed more than a mere coincidence.

Let all be aware. The good people of Nutley are properly community minded and will report strange activities!

It was very difficult indeed for the two judges to decide on the winners for they were impressed by the hard work, imagination and artistic effort shown by everyone. So smitten were Di and John that they created new categories on the spot!  They apologise for not having been able to see all of the front gardens in the village, or all the pots and hanging baskets, but most of the centre of the village was covered, with forays into the lanes.It was very difficult indeed for the two judges to decide on the winners for they were impressed by the hard work, imagination and artistic effort shown by everyone. So smitten were Di and John that they created new categories on the spot!  They apologise for not having been able to see all of the front gardens in the village, or all the pots and hanging baskets, but most of the centre of the village was covered, with forays into the lanes.It was very difficult indeed for the two judges to decide on the winners for they were impressed by the hard work, imagination and artistic effort shown by everyone. So smitten were Di and John that they created new categories on the spot!  They apologise for not having been able to see all of the front gardens in the village, or all the pots and hanging baskets, but most of the centre of the village was covered, with forays into the lanes. Next year the two judges plan a different method and we shall hear of this later in the year

On Friday evening a barbecue was held at Wych Cross Garden Centre hosted by the genial and ever helpful John Hacker, and a group of people very much enjoyed not only the excellent food but the delightfully friendly ambience. The names of the winners, runners up, and the highly commended were read out and certificates and vouchers for spending at the Garden Centre were given to those who were present. The others will be delivered

Congratulations to all those who took part. It was a fine effort all round. Click Here to view The Results

The Women's Institute

  belongs to the great nationwide women's organisation the National Federation of Women's Institutes. Nutley is affiliated to the East Sussex Federation of Women's Institutes.

Founded in the village in 1924 by Lady Castle Stewart, Miss Marjorie Riley, Mrs. Wickham and others, the Institute has, over the last 76 years, provided strong support for its members and the village as a whole.

The W.I. keeps a watching brief over the village community and becomes involved in all matters concerning it. Nutley sends delegates to all the County and National events, and will be represented in June this year at the great Triennial General Meeting at Wembley, London.

Members enjoy a range of first class speakers at their monthly meetings in the Nutley War Memorial Hall on the first Thursday of each month except for August, when an outing is arranged. In company with other W.I's Nutley caters for teas for visiting groups of people of all kinds who come to this beautiful Forest area on organised outings.

At the Year 2000 Annual Meeting of Nutley W.I. in November certain Officer's positions changed.
 
Mrs. Joyce Eldred resigned from the Presidency to become the Institute's Secretary.
Miss Pamela Henry accepted the nomination for President and was duly elected.
Any enquiries about the Nutley W.I. in general, and for the bookings for the famous 'teas for visitors' throughout the Spring, Summer and Autumn, should, therefore, be addressed to Mrs. Joyce Eldred on 01825 - 712639.

 

Mrs. Eldred, who has successfully steered the W.I. through several years, including that of the busy and successful year 2000, was given the heartfelt thanks of all members for her work for the Institute. Her position of President was just one of her many jobs in working for the community of Nutley Village.

 
Mrs. Peggy Bardsley, the retiring Secretary, and Mrs. Florence Hill, the previous Minutes Secretary, were also thanked and congratulated most sincerely for all their work during their terms that also included the active Millennium Year.
 
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The Horticultural Society

 is another thriving village institution originally founded over 100 years ago. Monthly meetings with quality speakers, outings, and two Shows - one in Spring and another in Autumn keep members busy.

Great benefits are gained by members from both visitors and the general exchange of information between members. A number of local horticultural supply outlets in the district offer discount rates to members of the Society.

For information on the Society telephone Miss Di Miles on 01825-712071 or Mrs. Terry Ashby on 01825 - 712923.

Maresfield Parish Council

  covers the three villages of Fairwarp, Nutley and Maresfield. It is an active Council that, for the Millennium Year, has ,on hand or completed, several Millennium Projects.

A beautiful, decorated Parish Map was prepared over many months by a number of artists from each of the three villages and a copy hangs in each of the three village halls.

The original will hang in St. Bartholomew's Church, Maresfield, the mother church of the Parish.

A Millennium Walk of 11.4 miles was designed by a Councillor and books of walks in the area have been printed.

Bone china mugs illustrated with charming pictures of local wildlife designed by Barbara Isitt of Maresfield were produced and each child of school age in the Parish was presented with one as a gift.

Others were on sale and were so popular that other runs had to be produced by the manufacturer. Chairman of the Council is Mrs. Marjory Pegg and Clerk is Mrs. Lynda Longbottom.

The Memorial Hall

is the fine large modern building at the north end of the village opposite the school.

Built three decades ago it has just been redecorated and refurbished with the help of a Lotteries Charities Grant and offers first class facilities including those for the disabled.

The big Hall is excellent for meetings, wedding parties and so on, and there are smaller ancillary rooms for hire in addition. The kitchen is newly designed and offers every modern convenience. There is a large, private car park for hall users.

For details of hire telephone the Caretaker, Mrs. Cathy Ireland, on 01825- 712465.

The New Village Sign

 was erected adjacent to Fords Green on Sunday June 24, 2000 at a ceremony around midday. The Fete Committee have very generously provided a wrought iron village sign atop an oak post, the sign showing traditional Forest and village designs.

The post was donated to the village by the Conservators of Ashdown Forest.

The sign will be near to the seat given by the Ashdown Evergreens both as their Millennium Project and in loving memory of Mrs. Joan Wheeler, Chairman of the Evergreens for 10 years until her death this year.
Joan was largely instrumental in raising the considerable cost of the seat at her well-known and enjoyed coffee mornings.

Church of St. James the Less

 stands in the centre of the village bordering the main A22 in a sizeable and attractive Churchyard. Built in the 1840's on what is thought to be the site of a much older building, the Church is an attractive one with many fine features.

These include some beautiful modern stained glass windows created in the last few years by the artist son of a previous Vicar of Nutley, the Rev. Geoffrey Berry.

An altar backing of Victorian tiles is, perhaps, not to some modern taste, but is beautifully hung and will no doubt be appreciated as fashions change. At present the tiles are partly covered by golden silk curtaining.

The Church has the great benefit of an excellent Church Hall that joins the building and is connected to it by a door. The Hall was built in the 1980's by village subscription, and offers the very best of facilities for meetings of all kinds.

It is built in local stone to tone with the Church itself.

The Rev. Michael and Mrs. Joan Bulman, who presented the Church with a silver flagon for for Communion Services plus a set of finely bound Bibles retired in the year 2000 at Easter.
The village then welcomed the Revd. Martin Greig, his wife and family to care for the Parish of Nutley and Maresfield. His time with Nutley was a happy one until he contracted Leukaemia and was forced to retire in 2006.
The Church presents an excellent Parish Magazine.



The School

The village is fortunate indeed to have a thriving C of E Primary School in the centre of the village.

Built in the early 1800's it is not greatly changed from the outside view even today, but inside the building is bright and colourful with a wonderful atmosphere.

The house that was a caretaker's house has now been included in the school buildings themselves, giving much needed extra space. The playground is small, but there is a grass sports field on the other side of the A22 where outdoor activities take place.

The school has an excellent reputation and its pupils go on to do well in further education. The present Head teacher is Mrs. Amanda Gander-Miller who took up her post in September 1999.

Mrs. Gander-Miller is Nutley born, her family an old and prominent village one, and she is welcomed back to her birth-place by everyone concerned.

Simon Wright, teacher, historian and member of Nutley Historical Society wrote the definitive book of the History of Nutley School. Publication was celebrated with a Grand Reception held at the School with most of the village attending. Sadly, Simon Wright, a loved and respected man, died a few years later'.

Post Office and Stores

Nutley is also fortunate in having an excellent full time Post Office facility with a very good shop attached. All manner of business may be conducted at the P.O., and the shop provides most items required in a household, and these include some fresh village produce and newly baked bread.

The Airman's Grave
Only a matter of yards from the end of the village lanes (that lead off the main road running through the centre of the village to mingle with the Forest) is a spot of surpassing peace and beauty.

In a hollow below the tracks that lead down from the Crowborough Road, the C3, and the Duddleswell and Fairwarp Road, the B2026, a memorial stands to the six crew members of a Wellington Bomber of 142 Squadron.

On the night of the thirty-first of July 1941 the aircraft was returning from a raid on Cologne. The weather was bad and the 'plane was flying on only one of its Rolls Royce Merlin engines, the left-hand one had stopped, and it was imperative for the pilot to reach an airfield as close to the English Coast as possible.

The weather conditions were such that the aircraft mistakenly came too far, and picked up the beacon lights at Kingstanding that were intended for the guidance of returning night fighters.

Sadly, the aircraft could keep going no longer in order to reach the safety of a suitable landing place and crashed, nose down, on the southern slopes of the Forest.
All six crew members were killed on this their 13th. Wellington Mission.
Their names are as follows:

All of them were young, in their early to mid twenties. 

Capt. and 1st. Pilot

Harry Vidler

Sergeant and 2nd. Pilot

Vic Sutton

Air Gunner

Stan Hathaway

Rear Gunner

Len Saunders

Sergeant and Observer

Wilf Brooks

Wireless Operator

Arthur Cave

That a tragedy of major proportions, in addition to that of the loss of the lives of these six young men, was avoided is evident. Such a crash a few hundred yards away from that place could have wiped out a whole swathe of Nutley Village itself with heavy loss of civilian life.

Did the pilot realise how near he was to a village? Did he manage, deliberately, to pull his aircraft away from the habitation? We shall never know, but such action has been taken before and since that night in many places over Britain by men who put other lives before their own.

A while after the crash the 2nd. Pilots' mother, Mrs. Sutton, came to live in Nutley Village for a few years and it was she who put the original wooden cross at the place where her son died.

In 1954 a stone cross was erected and a fence put round the area to keep the sheep out. In 1971 a beautiful wall constructed of the local Forest stone was built in place of the fence, and this was done by the Forest Rangers. On the right-hand side of the entry one can see their initials, A.J. and P.J. and the date, 1971.

Gradually, under the care of the Rangers, trees and flowers were planted that make the site one of great beauty. There seems always to be an atmosphere of peace and calm within the encircling stone wall whatever the weather may be.

Frank Wilson caused a plaque to be erected on the wall in 1992.
Frank lived in Duddleswell until quite recently. He had been an RAF Navigator going on to become a Commercial Airline Pilot, and this background gave him a special interest in the events of 1941 and the subsequent activities at the crash site.

He has, over the years, researched deeply into the manner of the crash, the men who died and their families, corresponding with and meeting the parents and siblings of the six man crew of the Wellington. Frank has a wonderful set of photographs of the men, a record he cherishes, and he has been unstinting in his kindness towards the families.

The sister of the Observer Wilf Brooks was a particular and quite frequent visitor to the spot where her brother died. Trixie Brooks had two brothers. One, Wilf, died on Ashdown Forest, the other was killed at Kohima during the Burma campaign. She married, had two daughters and moved to Canada in 1964.

In 1992 Trixie, now Trixie Booth-Brooks, came from Canada for Remembrance Sunday of that year together with, from their various homes in this country, the surviving relatives of the other crew members.

In the year 2000, now an elderly lady, Trixie travelled once again from her home in Windsor, Ontario to stay with Frank Wilson and his wife at their new home in Windermere.

Frank brought her down to the Forest for what might be her last opportunity, and organised a position for her part way down the track where she could see 'The Airman's Grave'.

Probably the riders started it all, for in later years the site has become one that sees huge gatherings every year on Remembrance Sunday. The Service from the Cenotaph in London is relayed over the radio, the Silence is kept and the Remembrance ends with the emotive notes of a bugle.

They gather in their hundreds, the people who come to remember on the Forest. Riders with horses, walkers with and without dogs, children, all stream quietly down the Forest tracks. The Conservators of Ashdown Forest are represented now by the Forest Superintendent Brigadier Mike Constantine and others of his Board. The British Legion Representative from the Nutley, Maresfield and Fairwarp Branch plants named poppies for each of the six men during the preceding week, and then a wreath on the Sunday. The British Legion from Crowborough is always represented, the upright stance of men in the fullness of their years belying their age. But look at the medals they wear with pride. Every area of conflict in the 1939-45 war is represented, every act of selfless courage gleams translated into a medal on a brightly coloured ribbon.

That so many people, four hundred last year, with accompanying animals and children can gather so quietly, so respectfully, is a minor miracle. The dogs do not bark, the horses give but a rare whinny. The children catch the strange and wonderful atmosphere and watch and listen. It is a touching sight indeed to see the children put their own poppies over the protecting wall.

When Frank Wilson lived in Duddleswell he would go to great lengths to collect his private aircraft from Kent, load it with sacks of paper poppy petals and head for Ashdown Forest. At the appropriate time he would fly over the spot where the crowds would look up in anticipation of his arrival. Passing across, Frank would send thousands of the poppy petals fluttering down in a red cloud, gently landing like a benediction on the grave, the surrounding Forest, and on the heads and shoulders of the people gathered there.

Still quiet, the crowds disperse, making their separate ways home. No one who has attended a Remembrance at The Airman's Grave can go unmoved by the occasion as, in rain or shine, so many gather to remember with eternal sadness and gratitude the six young men who died at that spot, and the many thousands of others who also gave their lives so that we can now stand free in that lovely place. We honour them all.

Frank Wilson is the acknowledged expert on the history of the crash and the events that have grown out of it, and there has been talk of a book. He tells me that he still has 30,000 poppy petals left, but the distance from Windermere to Nutley is such that the sight of those petals falling may not, sadly, be seen again.

The Remembrance is held every Remembrance Sunday in November under the vaulting Forest sky, a most wonderful and remarkable occasion.

I have to thank Frank Wilson for the information and assistance he has a given in the writing of this account. Any errors in it are mine and mine only, not his. I am also grateful, along with so many others, for Frank's super efforts in keeping the memory of the crew of one Wellington Bomber of 142 Squadron alive.

The most sincere thanks go to the succession of Forest Rangers, all of whom have spent time caring for the Grave. Without them the place would not have the grace it always shows. Their care continues and is appreciated.