Hospital and Church Parades

by RW Standing

Anecdotes and photos of Angmering carnivals would be most welcome. Please send to Editor of Angmering Village Life.

In the last sixty years the National Health Service, hospitals, and doctors on demand, are taken as a matter of course.  It was not always so, and a hundred years ago, before the Great War, medical doctors were few and far between.  Angmering was fortunate in being a largish place that had long afforded a medical person, paid for by the Poor Rate, to attend villagers needs.  Often enough the practitioner would have been based in Arundel or Littlehampton, but as in the 1840s he was resident in Angmering. 

In the Poor Law Inquiry of 1844 it was stated: "I think there is hardly any part of England better supplied with medical attendance than in the neighbourhood of the East Preston Union". [Local PL Commissioner].

In the 1940s recollections were recorded of life seventy years before, in East Preston but just as relevant to Angmering:

“The doctor came out from Littlehampton by pony and trap. Dr Bryan, and then Dr Going, Alexander, and Richardson. Dr Chaplin was the first to live near."  An Angmering resident recalls, "There was no chemist in the early days as Doctor Chaplin did all the prescribing of medicines.  The Chemist Shop didn't come into the village until after the Health Act of 1948". 

The origin of state hospitals was the 1866 Act, following an outbreak of cholera, that required Infirmaries to be set up in workhouses.   These became open to all-comers in 1883.   The reform of the Poor Law, with the Local Government Board taking over in 1871, was immediately followed by the creation of sanitary districts and proposals for infectious diseases hospitals.   In East Preston the new workhouse of 1873 had infectious wards, and in 1877 it was proposed that the house Seaview be taken over for a Cottage Hospital, but was unsuitable due to the distance of travel from Littlehampton and Worthing.   The Infirmary built with the workhouse was extended, and indeed another infirmary built thirty years later in 1906.  

Meanwhile, a Dispensary had existed in Worthing, but in 1881 it was decided this was inadequate and an infirmary was built in Lyndhurst Road, which developed into the present hospital.

The first Littlehampton Cottage Hospital was founded in 1904 at a Georgian house in Surrey Street, but was soon found to be too small. A new hospital was therefore built, with its foundation stone laid by the Duchess of Norfolk on 22 May 1911, and formally opened later that year by Lady Aubrey-Fletcher of Ham Manor.  Plans were prepared by Horsham architects Frederick Wheeler FRIBA & CRB Godman, and construction cost £2,600.  Various extensions were built in the 1920s and later.  This building was demolished recently and is due to be replaced in a few years time if plans go ahead.

During the later 19th century benefit and friendly societies proliferated in local villages, in that self-help era.  The Ancient Order of Foresters appears to have been the principal friendly society in the area, with Court Ham at Rustington founded in 1862, its clubhouse at the Lamb Inn.  At Angmering, Court Perseverance may have been of similar antiquity but as yet its founding date has not been discovered.

There was a penchant for parades for any reason that could be devised, with Angmering Silver Band in the vanguard.  A marriage or other rite of passage, of a local notable, was always a good reason for celebration.  But with the founding of local hospitals, in the days before Beveridge and National Health, parades provided a purpose of benefit to everyone.  An enjoyable carnival parade could be held, with collection boxes rattling to attract the hard earned pennies of villagers. Parades for this purpose would not have taken place until at least the 1880s, and were at their most spectacular after 1904. 

At Rustington the Foresters paraded locally, but in 1906 took in East Preston where many members lived. Horse drawn tableaux and individuals in fancy dress, or on bicycles, processing as far as the Coastguard Station on their tour of the two villages. Meanwhile Angmering had an even more strenuous route, incorporating not only that village, but also Patching and Clapham.  According to one estimate around eight miles, although that is difficult to calculate on a map.

With newspapers centred at Littlehampton and Worthing, Angmering was in a kind of no-mans land between. It is good fortune that any reports were made, and the earliest parades may perhaps not have been covered.  August was the month for these events, in all local  parishes, and brass and silver bands from Rustington and Angmering were not averse to taking part in each other's procession. In 1904, it was reported, some 150 members of three societies took part, with the two bands included, the regular meeting place being by the Fox Inn.  From there, Patching and Clapham were visited, before the long trek down Water Lane to the village green. However, there is evidence that the return was via Hammerpot, so as to take in the upper part of Angmering, and maybe a pub or two.  In 1904 a grand total of £9 5s was donated, which after expenses was  £7 10s, to swell the coffers of Worthing Hospital !

At present there is some difficulty in separating the Foresters parade from a Church parade of similar purpose.  In 1907 the Society effort, early in August, was followed by a Church Parade towards the end of the month in aid of Littlehampton Hospital.  This latter appears to have been confined to the village, starting on the Green and ending with a service at church with Revd. Orme.  In this, besides a collection en-route, a box at the Red Lion Museum attracted pennies from callers.  Admittedly a total little over £2 does not seem much even by standards a hundred years ago.  A similar carnival in 1909 was considered to be the 'most effective ever carried out in the village' with £9 collected.

Then in 1910 there was a marked change in procedure, with Angmering combining with Rustington and East Preston in a Hospital Demonstration in aid of both hospitals.  Instead of a Sunday, this took place on Saturday evening, there being no church service.  A banner had the optimistic slogan, 'Show Gratitude for Your Health'.  It may well be that this event was additional to the purely Angmering parade earlier in the month.

Albeit, a similar combined programme was staged in 1911, with a report by Worthing Gazette describing the typically imaginative tableaux in these events.

"The Annual Church Parade by the combined villages of East Preston, Angmering, and Rustington, on behalf of the funds of the Worthing and Littlehampton Hospitals, took place on Saturday evening, and was again attended by a gratifying measure of success, both from the spectacular and financial point of view. There were various features of attraction, including a car entitled "The Fortune Teller," another tableau, "The Birth of the Red Cross," a car of Morris dancers, "The Four Seasons," and "The Village Stocks," and there were many masqueraders in fancy costumes including the hobble skirt. Among those who took part in the proceedings from the neighbourhood were the Worthing Troop of Boy Scouts, under Scoutmaster V Stewart, and representatives of the Worthing Alliance Slate Club with banner. After parading the village of East Preston as far as the Coastguard Station, the procession returned to the Lamb Inn at Rustington, where the proceedings were wound up with an enjoyable dance. Prizes were offered for the best and most effective costumes in the procession."

A good report in 1912 described the Angmering and Clapham parade: 

"Church Parade – Sunday afternoon fortunately proved fine,  and it was found possible to carry out the Annual Parade of Friendly Societies, the proceeds  being divided between the Worthing and the Littlehampton Hospitals.  The processionists assembled in the neighbourhood of the Fox Inn at the early hour of half past one in the afternoon, and the necessity for this was apparent, for the several villages of Angmering, Clapham, and Patching came within the scope of the parade.  The Hand-in-Hand Benefit Club, Court Perseverance of the Ancient Order of Foresters and the local Equitable Friendly Society were represented and they were joined by members of Worthing Societies, the Borough banner and the Kings Alliance banner being borne in the procession. Music was supplied by the Angmering Silver band and the Rustington Band, and the procession was disbanded on the Green at {...] o-clock the members subsequently reassembling and proceeding to the Parish Church where the service was conducted by the Rev JP Orme the Rector.'"

Little would it have been realised in 1913 that this would be the last year for such pleasant parading of bands and men in fancy dress.  A year later and a duller uniform was donned.  The committee carrying out this programme was named as Messrs J. Graysmark (Chairman) J Parsons, A Langley, A West, ED Parsons, S Pocock, W Woolgar, and S Parsons, with Mr J Card as Honorary Secretary.  Mr C Hills acted as Marshall of the procession.  The "appointed meeting place was on high ground in the neighbourhood of the Fox Inn," with the three villages visited, followed by playing of the National Anthem on the Green, and a sermon at church.

All of the parishes had their Peace Pageants in 1919, and a variety of later anniversaries included carnival processions. For Rustington and East Preston a revival did take place after the Great War, for a few brief years.  Now instead of horse drawn carts, a number of cars were used as well.  But whether Angmering had Hospital Parades again is not yet known.

Whereas for East Preston there is a wealth of photographic record of its procession and floats, very little has survived for Angmering, or is known about. Two postcards only can be directly attributed to Angmering.  A group with a banner, "Angmering Agency Equitable Friendly Society." (see left). This was undoubtedly a combined parade including East Preston with Angmering.  Another photo (see earlier in this article), of about 1910, is plainly the Angmering procession.  It is one of few that can be located quite easily, and has the band processing south from  the Green or Square.

RW Standing
March 2008

(Page first uploaded: 14 March 2008)