If you have ancestors from Itchingfield, please get in touch as I have access to many village records and a collection of photographs which I am happy to share.
Itchingfield is a parish in the north of the county of West Sussex. There is now only a small hamlet called Itchingfield, the main centre of population is now Barns Green a village 2 miles to the south.
When Itchingfield Church was built in 1125, there must have been some form of settlement around the church, but no trace of it has yet been found. The parish is almost wholly agricultural, even today. In the middle ages there were a dozen or so farms each with their own farmhouse scattered across the parish. Itchingfield never had its own manor house, its lands were owned as outliers of other manors, so there was never a resident Lord to rule the population. Everyone who lived in the parish either had a small holding of their own or was a tenant of one of the landowners. This distance from direct manorial control created a resourceful and self reliant community whose insularity persists even today. We still have our own Parish Council despite pressure to bring the Parish under the control of nearby Horsham town.
Barns Green village grew in importance in the 19th century when the Chitty family made Muntham House their principal home. They farmed the land and employed a large number of labourers, building cottages for them to live in. The railway line was built in the 1850’s bringing a band of labourers and leaving a number of railway employees in its wake (signalmen, gate keepers and maintenance workers). Later in the 19th century a Post Office was established in Barns Green and at about the same time, a family of local builders settled in Barns Green. Allen Parker had a large family, and as they grew up he built them houses in Barns Green (about 10 in all).
The Muntham Estate was purchased by Percy Godman in 1878 and he completely rebuilt the house and lived the life of a Victorian Country gentleman. His servants and employees all needed to live somewhere and so more cottages were built around Barns Green.
During WW2 Barns Green saw many changes. Canadian infantry were posted at both of the “big” houses in the village and evacuation camps for London children were built on Bashurst Hill. Wedges Camp and Coopers Camp housed whole schools evacuated from London and after the War they were used by West Sussex and London County Councils as outdoor activity centres where children were sent for between 2 and 4 weeks. If you were an evacuee in Itchingfield or attended the Camp School post war, do get in touch, I have photographs and recollections from many people of happy times spent in the country at the Camp schools.
In the 1950’s, Barns Green was chosen as a good site for housing for the many dispossessed by the War. A large (relatively) number of houses was built and the population almost doubled in a stroke. The 1970’s saw more housing development and today Itchingfield Parish has a population of about 1,800, most of them living in Barns Green.
During the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries a number of families provided a core population. These included the families Dendy, Burdfield, Pesket, Parker, Killick, Joyes, Francis, Greenfield, Holland, Knight, Matthew(s), Rapley, Woolgar amongst others.
Below left: Muntham House Below right: Barns Green Post Office & Stores both early 1900s