1 Insurance Firemarks
Firemarks are lead plaques that insurance companies affixed to the front of buildings to show that they were insured against fire. They show the emblem of the insurance company and were a guide to insurance companies’ fire brigade to indicate which buildings were insured. They were in use from 1680 for 250 years.
There are two examples in Cowfold village, one affixed to Margaret Cottages, Station Road and the other to the former Olde Sweet Shoppe in The Street.
2 Lych Gate
Traditionally, a lych gate is a roofed gate to a churchyard, and is part of the church, under which the clergy met the corpse and the bier rested for part of a burial service. A bier is a stand on which a corpse, coffin or casket containing a corpse, is placed to be carried to the grave. St Peter’s lych gate was built by Fowler Bros (Cowfold) in 1930. The lych gate also gives access to Church Path, where it is unusual for the houses to face into the churchyard. An illustrated description of the Church Marks is displayed here on the lych gate.
3 Church Marks (also known as Church Pannells)
A wooden fence surrounds St Peter’s Churchyard and each post is engraved with the name of a farm or house belonging to the owner at the time the fence was erected, as they paid a tithe to support the upkeep of the church. It has been renewed two or three times, so the names have varied over the centuries. The first pannells we have a record of were erected in 1632.
4 Brass of Prior Thomas Nelond in St Peter’s Church
This 10ft 2in long brass is the most elaborate example of its kind in Sussex and was found on the tomb slab of Thomas Nelond, 26th Prior of St Pancras at Southover, Lewes who died on the 6th April 1439. It is believed that, in 1537, at the Dissolution of the Priory ordered by Henry VIII under the supervision of Thomas Cromwell, the brass was removed to Cowfold Church in an attempt to keep it safe and it has remained there ever since. It is a mystery who may have moved such a heavy slab over 21 miles in the depths of winter.
5 Godman Book
This illustrated book belongs to St Peter’s Church and was compiled by Colonel Charles Bulkeley Godman and presented to the vicar and churchwardens in 1930. It is a fascinating insight into Cowfold’s past having been written in the early part of the 20th century with references back for 100’s of years.
6 War Memorials in the Churchyard and inside St Peter’s Church
The memorials include the names of service men from around the area. Some are buried in the churchyard and some elsewhere. On every Remembrance Sunday, closest to 11 November, the names are read aloud, as people pay their respects to those who fought and died for their country.
7 Village Sign outside the Village Hall
The image depicts the crossed keys of St Peter, a cow and a fence to represent an enclosure. The Village Hall was designed by Wheeler & Godman of Horsham in 1896. Parish councils were formed in England under the Local Government Act 1894 to take over local oversight of civic duties in rural towns and villages. Before this date a variety of groups based around ecclesiastical parishes had responsibility for these matters, in a system of local government that originated in the feudal system of the 8th century. Their areas of responsibility were known as civil parishes and they were grouped together to form rural districts.
8 Millennium Map in the Reading Room, Village Hall
The handstitched map hangs in the Reading Room in the Village Hall and reflects the village around the year 2000. The project was masterminded by members of the Women’s Institute, led by Jenny Poole-Connor, and illustrates the type of activities enjoyed by village groups.
9 Averys Barn: 16th Century barn originally from Averys, Bolney Road
This timber-framed barn, most likely built around 1536, was mainly used for storage of wheat, oats, rye or barley. It is probable that the barn was given a major overhaul in 1891, as this date has been scratched into two separate places on the building. The reason this late-medieval building has survived, when so many others didn’t is probably because, at this time, barns were built by expert carpenters (due to the critical value of the goods stored in them). Other buildings were constructed by less skilled workmen such as the farmers themselves. So, when better technology and building skills were discovered, the less sturdy buildings were replaced with newer ones whilst the barns remained.
10. Monastery Bell at St Hugh’s Charterhouse, Parkminster
The ‘Sancta Maria’ bell is rung several times each day and night to call the monks to prayer. It is heard in the village and gives great comfort, especially to those awake at night. The Monastery is not just a building but a community of men belonging to the’ silent’ Carthusian order, whose mother house is in Chartreuse in France. The monks, dressed in their cream habits, can sometimes be seen walking in the village.