RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Summersdale, Chichester

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This 3.6-mile (6km) walk on the north side of Chichester city is twinned to last week’s in the countryside on the west side of the main A286 and is an example of benign urban development with history. Parking could be at the Earl of March car park or Sheepwash lane.

View towards Trundle Iron Age fort is said to have inspired William Blake to write verses for Jerusalem. From March car park take footpath across field to village green where local shepherds washed their flocks by bridge.

Cross road by village hall and on past converted barns of Raughmere Farm. Note narrow Tudor bricks salvaged from Elizabethan mansion on which site now stands the Georgian farmhouse built by 3rd Duke of Richmond.

Footpath leads on to Hackett’s Rew. Rew is a Sussex name for sunken track. This one runs along the entrenchments of an Iron Age defensive system. The name Hackett comes either from a local farmer who was tenant of Sumersdale Farm in the mid-19th century, or as legend has it, from a royalist general named Hackett who commanded a troop of horse in the Civil War and was defeated here. As Raughmere was the home of the May family, MPs for Chichester, perhaps there is some truth in the myth.

Continue into The Drive. Houses here were built in gravel pits. During the second world war the pits were training grounds for Canadian troops preparing for the Dieppe raid and D-Day landing.

The gravel pit on the right had been developed as a golf course by Charles Stride and laid out be the famous architect James Braid, who also designed the Goodwood course.

The Summersdale Estate had been purchased by Charles Stride in the 1890s and developed as a ‘garden suburb’.

The Avenue was for military and professional families, while Highland Road and The Broadway were for artisans and tradesmen.

At the crossroads between The Drive and The Avenue are the converted buildings of Summersdale Farm. Some houses here are distinctly Edwardian. Coming into Summersdale Road, note St Michael’s Meeting on left opposite Highland Road. This was built by the Misses Peacock in 1931.

The larger sister had to be pushed round about by the smaller Peacock in a bath chair.

At The Broadway, turn right. The houses were named after Boer War generals and battles in 1903 when they were built.

The flint wall on left surrounded the military barracks of the Royal Sussex Regiment and recently The Royal Military Police.

It was established in Queen Victoria’s reign and is now being transformed into a housing estate. Cross the A286 by the One-Stop shop into Brandyhole Lane, so called because a barrel of smuggler’s brandy was unearthed here.

After 300 yards take path left into the nature reserve, a wonderful wildlife sanctuary transformed by local volunteers which can be explored by many pathways and with rest seats.

There was to have been a station here for commuters into the city but nothing came of it.

Eventually the way back to Lavant is along the route of the old Chichester to Midhurst railway line now called Centurion Way.

There are metal sculptures along the route reflecting moments in local history.

At Huntersrace bridge rejoin the road pavement and back to Lavant.

I am indebted to Richard Pailthorpe, director of the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for information for the history of this walk.