East Chiltington - home signs

East Chiltington? - never heard of it

Zsolt Kerekes - July 16, 2021

flashback - 15 years ago
it was summer
I was house hunting

Have you ever heard of a place called East Chiltington? - It was my brother in law - Mark - on the phone. He's also a character in my story - Jamie and the Tree Troll - set in Clayton, near Ditchling. Beware of writers - they'll steal any details from real life - so I've read.

Already a great fan of Phil and Kirstie on Location Location Location. My wife Janet and I had already sold our old farmhouse in Baughurst in North Hampshire - with a completion date which had seemed long enough at the time of signing contracts. Oodles of time to find a new house. But the generously allotted span of atomic seconds to our completion date was inexorably trickling out and we seemed to be getting nowhere.

I had already viewed over 100 houses online and visited over 20 in real life - in the self-imposed ideal travel arcs from my parents in Brighton and my late sister's family in Clayton. Close enough to family - who were otherwise a tiring weekly drive away - but not so close on the doorstep as to be a nuisance.

We had grown accustomed to living with views of fields and trees and VERY quiet lanes. So we were super fussy about location. On size:- we were more flexible - and were looking at anything from a Wendy house upwards - which woud also be compatible with our cats, goose and chickens.

Me - East Chiltington? No. Never heard of it. It hasn't come up in any of my searches.

Brother in law - I saw a "for sale" sign on my bat walk at the weekend. Chiltington Lane. Look it up.

I did. And - that's how I moved twice to East Chiltington.

Twice? - (it's not the local record BTW).

The first time we moved to East Chiltington - without ever having heard of it before. We fell in love with the quiet and natural messiness and mixed-uppedness of real country life. It wasn't the house. Which we described as the "plastic house". Clad in white boards. It's traditional in East Sussex - said the estate agent. We learned to appreciate its rain defending comforts later. No. it wasn't the house, It was the location and the setting. The garden had many large oak trees and a stream flowing through it. And looking around the lanes - our instincts said - the people around here really care.

The second time we moved to East Chiltington - we knew where it was. Having lived and worked here already 10 years. We right sized. To the next house up the lane.

And so now - I know a lot more about East Chiltington than I did at the beginning. But I'm still learning things and discovering new hidden paths and fields and neighbours.

Which brings us to the present day...

wrong thing wrong place  logo

the £ton versus East Chiltington chronicles

I've been reporting and typing a lot (in the past 6 months so far) about a recently arisen predicament in our locality - in a series which I tentatively called - the Eton versus East Chiltington chronicles. If you missed the start of the series and want to know how it began and how we learned who the main characters are - and the early plot lines - ...click here Although you are probably aware of it already - by virtue of the fact that you've arrived here.

When the No Eton New Town storyline started the most important audience - as far as I was concerned - was people living in the effected area and nearby parishes. So when I said that - the central location of the story is taking part in East Chiltington - my readers knew what I was talking about.

As the story expanded to the UK national press - there was still a realistic prospect that by talking about "East Sussex", "the South Downs", "Lewes" etc - and adding some links - most readers might have enough of a hazy idea of where we talking about to understand the key characteristics. And we were very lucky - as residents - that other media people invested in creating videos which showed what the area is like.

In June 2021 - I began talking about this planning story overtly on my linkedin pages - and occasionally responding to related posts by Don't Urbanise the Downs and Rosie Pearson - Co-Founder at the Community Planning Alliance.

Top of my mind in these linkedin planning comments was the local angle Eton vs East Chiltington .

But - where is East Chiltington? And what makes it special?

There's no easy way to fill that content gap. But I felt it was important and respectful to do so - because most of my linkedin contacts at that time had emerged from my past writing about the data storage and memoryfication markets in the US and China. So - in the absence of anything else I could reliably link to - I scribbled these words below in a comment on my phone on July 2, 2021.

East Chiltington?

a description for linkedin readers far away

For readers who don't know East Chiltington it's because there's nothing much here and just narrow single track roads which connect to other small villages which have proper roads.

The main form of traffic is cyclists (who cycle 10-20 miles from the nearest towns to enjoy the quiet and beauty here) and horses (there are 4 local livery stables and I heard a few years ago it was possible to ride on 30 miles of bridleway here without hitting a major road).

Otherwise the biggest local employer is a single pub, a wedding venue and the forge (here since the 16th century) which made Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I'm hearing horses go past my window and pheasants as I write this.

There is no unsatisfied reservoir of jobs or housing here. Our local plan said that not a single new house could be built here to protect the space and because there's no infrastructure.

The right to choose to live in a rural community if you can do it sustainably with your work should be a human right. This is one of the last unspoiled areas between Brighton and London. During the covid lockdowns it was a place where residents from nearby cities could legally come to exercise in the clean air.

The Eton scheme aims to subvert the local plan against residents' wishes to take advantage of flaws in the planning system which will earn $3 million / acre for changing the zoning from agricultural to housing for their 500 acre plot which they bought in the 1990s.

New legislation being discussed would make this carpet bagging harder.

So it's a greed driven project which is already creating harm and anxiety in a small community.

Intra-colonialization... if that's a word.

And that's all I was able to do at the time. Here are some more relativistic connections which I wrote earlier for wrongthingwrongplace.com

East Chiltington is half in and half out of the South Downs National Park. The 2 in and out halves bisected by the mapmakers' convenient straight line of the lightly trafficked railway which connects Plumpton to Lewes. However residents can easily cross the railway at several official (offroad) footpath level crossings (and also a footbridge which goes above the trains) to walk and visit their neighbours. We cross the railway the same way you cross town roads. We don't have such roads. We don't have pavements. We don't need them.

Chiltington is a place which sounds almost like a Saxon village in name - but true to its roots remains - astonishingly still extant- a sparsely populated (186 dwellings in 4 square miles) handful of single track lanes, homesteads and micro hamlets which have (with a few exceptions) been scattered around the landscape in the way you see them now since long before the Norman Conquest.

As a non nucleated village (with no buildings based centre) it retains the look and feel of scarped downland settlements which had begun to disappear elsewhere in the 14th century.

Where is it? On the northern side of the South Downs National Park and 5 miles west of the city of Lewes in East Sussex. It's a 5 miles walk (or 11 miles drive) over the Downs from the Falmer campus of Sussex University.

I'm sorry that's all there is. I'm conscious that there are huge gaps in this article which still need to be filled. In the meantime I'll hand you over to some previously created links and resources.

ChiltingtonLane.com and other web sites which talk about Chiltington Lane
Cattle at work - Hurst Barns Farm - East Chiltington July 2021

above - Cattle at work - Hurst Barns Farm, East Chiltington - July 20, 2021. It was hot and it was lovely to see this family chomping and resting in the shade in one of my neighbour's fields as I was walking back that way. Click here or on the image to get a higher quality picture.

the landscape assessment walks in East Chiltington

What do you like in this landscape?

What makes you happy being here?

Do you recognise the dogs?

Was it really that long ago?
. the landscape survey walks in East Chiltington remembered

Editor:- May 20, 2021 - Published today - a new article - the landscape assessment walks in East Chiltington - looks back at an event which has particular relevance today - when we're thinking about what it is we're trying to protect. ...read the article
views of the no Eton new town zone
in and around North Barnes Farm in East Chiltington
North Barnes Farm - click to see BBC video
site video - BBC news
... at the edge of North Barnes Farm - Bald Explorer  video
area video - the Bald Explorer
North Barnes Farm video - DUTD
site video - Caro Vickers
North Barnes Farm - Sarah Osborne video
site video - Cllr. Sarah Osborne
North Barnes Farm - entrance from Novington Lane East Chiltington
North Barnes Farm - entrance from Novington Lane
click for higher quality image
no Eton New Town in East Chiltington

May 10, 2021:- It's been 5 years since we last saw posters like these in the lane. These have been sprouting up like magic bean stalks all over the place at the weekend. ...read the story