Home of Tapsel Gate, Pyecombe Hook and an eccentric hundred-year-old village song celebrating its greatness.
Set in the South Downs National Park, history is omnipresent in the rural village of Pyecombe. His name probably comes from the Saxon peace cumb and can be translated as “the valley marked by a projecting hill”. Founded well over a thousand years ago by pilgrims along the ancient Roman trade route that once ran between the hills, a picturesque 12th-century church lies at the heart and still welcomes travelers with tea and cake.
The village witnessed many historical events in its time. The plague was its most notable foe and saw the main site abandoned in the 17th century due to its ruin, with townsfolk moving a quarter mile away to evade its deadly clutches. Although the disease eventually passed and most returned, the distance between the two settlements remains to this day.
The Church of Pyecombe, its predecessor as listed pingeden in the Domesday Book of 1086, consists of a 12th-century chancel and nave, a 13th-century tower and a 15th-century bell, now disused. A Tapsel Gate lies on its northern border. One of six surviving in the UK today, it was designed primarily to facilitate pallbearers’ passage around the church grounds for burial. The gate features a pyecombe hook – a shepherd’s crook developed to catch sheep more efficiently – which was first created in the Old Forge, a historic building itself which still stands opposite the church.
Pyecombe apparently even has its own village song reminiscent of the Hook:
Strong arm, he hammered it out
In forge fire and flame of fire;
It rolled red on the anvil’s bosom,
Bowed and bowed to the smith’s desire;
He laughed as he picked it up, laughed and sang
The song older than ink or pen:-
“Oh, I know
Who doesn’t know a book
Where are you going?
is never a crook,
Can upgrade Pyecombe Forge’s crooks,
The crooks of the Pyecombe men.’
There are two other verses recorded in a 1925 edition of the Worthing Herald attributed to a mysterious CS holder. How this song may once have been sung is now lost to the past, though its spirit endures.
From its historic buildings to its stunning countryside, Pyecombe is a small village with big character. If you ever pass this trail – and even if you don’t – it’s worth a visit!
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23120874.short-history-pyecombe-village—mia-bailey-bhasvic/?ref=rss A Brief History of the Village of Pyecombe – Mia Bailey, BHASVIC