The history of Storrington
Storks and Artists
In 1086 the Domesday Book records Storrington as ‘Estorchestone’ a place well-known for storks. The history of Storrington has little to do with storks, and more to do with being a flourishing market place, with a fulling and tanning industry. In the early part of the 20th century it was also a centre of an artistic community.
Storrington was given permission to hold a regular market from 1399, as well as a twice-yearly fair. These continued until the end of the nineteenth century. Rabbit breeding was also once an important local industry, and is still indicated by various place names ending in ‘warren’, a place where rabbits were kept. At the end of the 19th century the White Canons built a priory. This became the home for a number of artists including the poet Francis Thompson (1859-1907) who spent two years trying to beat opium addiction, and Hilaire Belloc who stayed there in 1906. The noted composer Sir Arnold Bax also lived in Storrington.
The area attracted Wilfred Meynell, the poet and writer, as well as Arthur Bell (1875-1918) the disabled poet. Bell lies buried in the churchyard, his headstone was carved by the then up and coming sculptor Eric Gill¹. At nearby Sullington lived the writer A J Cronin.
Joan Ham, local historian.
¹Please note that sources vary in their attribution of the headstone mentioned here: some hold that the neighbouring headstone of Father George Tyrell, which is decorated with a chalice, is the one designed by the artist and sculptor Eric Gill.
More History coming soon!