The Bedham Mission Church

The UK is filled with strange oddities. Take for example the red-brick remains of a roofless church in West Sussex tucked away in a small hamlet called Bedham. Once home to woodcutters and charcoal burners the woodland is now a nature reserve open to the public. The tiny community that lived here for generations after generations eked an existence from the land in the shadow of trees and the nearby market town, Petworth.

Religion of one faith or another has always brought people together. Long before the days of modern thinking, transportation and social media, a place of worship was the hub of the community. In the late nineteenth century the Anglican Church came to Bedham providing ministry to the rural inhabitants and education to their children.

Now, isolated and standing decaying in not much more than tumbled down bricks are the remains of the school and church. The shell of a building looks out of place. The Bald Explorer goes to investigate.

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Crumbling Churches Preview 4

Richard Vobes is out and about exploring the British parish churches for the next programme of the Bald Explorer coming soon to the Community Channel.

In this preview, Richard is looking at pews and seating as well as discovering an abandoned church in the woods at Bedham in West Sussex, near Petworth.

Episode Five: A Rural Town

Richard Vobes is the Bald Explorer, dashing about Britain discovering the history of its towns and villages. In this episode he is off to Petworth in the heart of West Sussex, close to Chichester and not too far from London. It is a very rural town renown for the beautiful mansion-house, upon land that once belonged to the Roger de Montgomery and later the de Percy family.

It was the third Earl of Egremont who had a vested interested in the town of Petworth. He supplied the money to build the boys school, which was later destroyed by a stray German bomber during the second World War. It was the Earl who brought water from the near by Rover Rother into the town centre and whose land it was the grim House of Correction was built on for convicted offenders from all over Sussex.

One of the prettiest streets in Sussex can be found in Petworth, complete with old shop fronts and cobbles on the ground and the Bald Explorer reveals that he once lived there.

Back in the 19th century, many of the poor were assisted out of poverty and given the chance of a new life in Canada thanks to the local rector. Also, many do not realise that a special kind of stone, Petworth Marble was mined from this area and made into all sorts of wonderful objects.

Of course, most visitors , if not travelling to see Petworth House, go to hunt around the abundance of antique shops that flank the roads or take refreshment inside the independent tea rooms. And lets not forget the beautifully restored old railway station that is now a fabulous bed and breakfast establishment with genuine Pullman Carriages to stay the night in.

Screenshots Gallery

Here are a few screen shots from the new episodes to be shown on the Community Channel this year. I hope it whets your appetite to check out the final programmes.

The Petworth Emigrants

Leigh Lawson author and historian talks to Richard Vobes, the Bald Explorer about the Petworth Emigrants who left Sussex in the early 19th century and headed oi upper Canada. Leigh explains the reason for their going and the hardships along the way.

This is a supplementary video as part of the Petworth project ‘The Bald Explorer goes to Petworth’. Check out the video on the Episodes page where you can also find out about the House of Correction, the old railway station and the boys school that was bombed during the Second World War.

Leigh Lawson together with Shelia Haines wrote a book on the life and works of Thomas Sockett who was a principle player in the Petworth Emigration story. The book is entitled ‘Poor Cottages and Proud Palaces’ and is available from all good book shops.

For more information about the Petworth Emigrants do check out the website: www.pertworthemigrations.com

Leigh’s also worked on these other books which she was a researcher:  Assisting Emigration To Upper Canada by Wendy Cameron and Mary McDougall Maude and English Immigrant Voices edited by Wendy Cameron, Sheila Haines and Mary McDougall Maud.