Tarring Neville Church

Regular readers will know that my family used to camp on the South Downs near Firle when I was a lad. Just over the downs, about a couple of miles away in a straight line, was the little settlement of Tarring Neville. However, the roads didn’t take that short route and on our regular cycle rides into Newhaven, we passed by Tarring Neville, having already cycled 5 miles. Sometimes we stopped for a break and took a look at the church.

Church visiting may seem an odd habit for as a family we were not church goers.  I would say my family had a non-conformist streak in all sorts of ways. I don’t use the term ‘non-conformist’ in a religious sense it was just the way my family are.

Being pragmatic, churches were buildings which were open. They offered shelter from the weather, a pew to sit on to rest tired, youthful legs, reading matter – in fact they were very much a retreat from the world outside.

But they were historic buildings, containing the works of the craftsmen and artists who built them. My dad (who knew everything, of course) always seemed to find things of interest to point out. No doubt he thought churches were good for our education.

Anyway, I was pleased, a few years back, to make up a shortfall in the photo collection by purchasing an old postcard of what gets called on it, Tarring Church, near Lewes. It sounds a much duller place without Neville added on, but it is indeed Tarring Neville church.



This is quite an elderly postcard for it requests a halfpenny stamp.


But now we’ll come to what makes this church, nestled under the downs and close by the tidal River Ouse so special in my memory. It had a barrel organ. My dad – I said he knew everything – knew how to work it. How wonderful to wind the handle of a real, genuine barrel organ. As I remember it, there were a range of playable hymn tunes. A lever moved the barrel a little bit and a different tune played. It was wonderful so maybe even aged five I had those slightly nerdy tendencies.

In my memory there was also a kind of harmonium which was, presumably, actually used for services.

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One Response to “Tarring Neville Church”

  1. Northleach | Locksands Life Says:

    […] a handle to play one. I was taken back to childhood when we found a hymn tune barrel organ in Tarring Neville Church near Newhaven. There were also small reed organs with music on card discs or paper […]

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