Letter: History of the Hills Place site

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I was interested to read Christine Costin’s story of the White Lady of Hills Place November 13). However, the building shown in your picture is the original Elizabethan mansion which was demolished in 1819 when the large estate was sold off in separate parcels.

Later in the 19th century a substantial Victorian house (also named Hills Place) was built on the site and it is likely that this was the residence occupied by Christine’s great grandparents.

It could be that this was the building damaged by fire as, when I knew it in the 1960s, it seemed like half a house. It had an imposing hall, dining room and sitting room with a very small added-on kitchen.

The family who occupied it then did talk about the White Lady and claimed various sightings of an apparition. One story was that she had jumped into the well which was in the plot on which the Hills Place apartments have been built. Like Christine, I was sceptical.

The only remnant of the original Hills Place could be the house now occupied by the Bishop of Horsham. The history of this remains a mystery – it might have been offices or outbuildings of the original estate or possibly a chapel.

Another suggestion was that it had been built with material from the demolished mansion. Around the beginning of the 20th century the middle part of this large stone building was used as a farmhouse with a dairy on one side and housing for cattle and horses on the other.

I was given this information by a family who had lived there as children when it was part of a farm. The building was converted into one residence in 1924 and named Hills Barn and, as far as I know, does not have a ghost.

On other matters, in your article about the Great War and the book published by the WS Library Service, there is an error in the description of the photograph. The picture shows soldiers marching in South Street, Chichester claiming these to be ‘Territorials, probably the 4th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment en route for France, 5th August 1914’.

The 4th Battalion (which was a Territorial Btn) was formed in Horsham on 4th August and did not go to France until 1918.

Gary Cooper’s great book on the Horsham casualties has a picture showing the 4th Btn marching in Park Street, Horsham on 15th August 1914 on their way to guard the port at Newhaven.

After a spell of these local duties, the battalion was posted to Cambridge and Bedford for further training before being despatched to Gallipoli in July 1915. In December 1915 they moved on to Egypt and Palestine and were posted to France in the spring of 1918.

SUSAN OVERTON

School Hill, Warnham