Saturday, 11 July 2015

Mini History Blogs English Chapels


In 1460, the tiny hamlet of Bedlam in the County of Sussex was the home of William Hibberden, member of parliament for Midhurst. By end of the eighteenth century, the land was purchased by one William Mitford of Pitshill, who in agreement with his tenants, created an enclosed woodland for use as a coppice.
In the late 1800's Bedlam was still held by the Mitford family. This family are descended from the Mitfords of Northumberland, whose origins date back to the Norman conquest, also from the same line are the famous twentieth century Mitford family, the sisters Nancy, Jessica, Diana and Unity.
The Bedlam Mitfords have been described as 'indefatigable travellers.' It was William Townley Mitford, whose journals of the long tours he made provide detailed descriptions of Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century, who built the tiny chapel you see below and dedicated it to Saint Michael and All Angels.
Mitford and the English church were interested in providing elementary education for children from the hamlet and surrounding area and the little chapel fitted the bill. The single room was divided by a curtain for infants and senior classes. At the end of the school week the chairs were turned to face the east and ink pots removed from the desks.
At its peak the school had sixty pupils and three teachers, but by the end of the First World War the building was falling into neglect and closed for the education of children in 1925. For a while the building still operated as a church, but in 1959 it was abandoned completely.

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