Petworth pub to be sold after legendary landlord dies

A PUB landlord who became a legend in his lifetime has died at the age of 82.

Ted Whitcomb ran the Welldiggers Arms on the outskirts of Petworth for 56 years.

He suffered a stroke at the end of March and spent the last three weeks of his life at Petworth Cottage Nursing Home. He died on July 3.

The pub, which already has planning permission for the addition of a small motel, is now expected to be sold.

Mr Whitcomb was born at Grove Street, Petworth, and was a pupil at Petworth Boys School and Midhurst Grammar School.

He was keen on sport and played cricket, football and tennis. At 14, he was hit by an army truck near Tillington as he was walking home from school, suffering severe back and leg injuries.

A carpentry apprentice with Boxall Builders at Tillington, in 1947 he moved with his parents to the Welldiggers Arms, where his father ‘Timer’ Whitcomb was landlord for nine years.

In 1956 he married Pat Phillips, a secretary in Petworth, and the same year they took over the Welldiggers, establishing a reputation for its food, wines and unique atmosphere.

The couple were great supporters of the local hunting, shooting and fishing fraternity and the Welldiggers was well connected with the horse-racing world.

After Pat died in 2002, Mr Whitcomb continued at his beloved pub, supported by his sons Richard and Michael and his staff.

The funeral is on July 23 at St Mary’s Church, Petworth, 2pm, followed by burial at Hampers Green.