Designing for the Future

The Medieval Shop from Horsham, conserved by the Weald & Downland Museum in 1967 when Middle Street was redeveloped, and The Market Hall from Titchfield

The 2019 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards launch at the Weald & Downland Living Museum marked the official call for entries for the 2019 awards.

For more than 20 years the Sussex Heritage Trust has been recognising and celebrating the best conservation, restoration and new build projects across Sussex through its annual awards. Its reputation continues to grow under the leadership of its trustees, its Chair, Dr John Godfrey., DL and Vice-Chair, Simon Knight., DL. John Godfrey has spent more than 40 years in public service in many charitable and professional roles including local government, and as the former Chief Executive of the Sussex Police Authority. Simon Knight, a Director of Savills based at Petworth, brings a lifetime’s experience as a Chartered Surveyor specialising in rural estate management and working with the built environment. He enthusiastically describes his professional life as vocational.

From left to right Simon Knight, Rupert Toovey and John Godfrey at the launch of the 2019 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards

I catch up with John and Simon as the 2019 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards are launched in the Weald and Downland’s beautiful, award winning Gateway Project buildings.

John Godfrey explains how the main focus of the Trust’s work remains the annual Sussex Heritage Trust Awards, encouraging the public’s appreciation of the architectural and natural heritage of our beautiful county.

The Trust’s work in providing a strategic voice to preserve and develop the built environment and landscape of Sussex has become increasingly important. It works with government agencies, local authorities, community and heritage groups.

Sussex Heritage Trust, in conjunction with the Weald & Downland Museum, also provides educational opportunities for young people based in West Sussex through bursaries funded by the Historic Houses Association.

John Godfrey welcomed sponsors, judges, past award winners and friends of the Sussex Heritage Trust including the Vice-Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Harry Goring and the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Caroline Nicholls.

The Trust has brought together a remarkable community of businesses and individuals in support of its work. John Godfrey particularly thanked headline sponsors of the awards, Gatwick Airport, as well as Thesis Asset Management and Toovey’s who sponsored this year’s launch.

I am always excited by the way that the Trust seeks to promote the conservation and re-imagining of our existing vernacular architecture and its uses, as well as aspirational design and sensitivity for new buildings and materials. They celebrate the past whilst embracing the future.

2018 saw a record number of entrants. The deadline for entries for the 2019 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards is the 28th March 2019.

To find out more about the Trust’s work, how to support it and how to enter for the awards go to

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Vintage and Steam Fair

The Medieval shop from Horsham
The Medieval shop from Horsham

“You can really imagine that you’ve stepped back in time at the Vintage and Steam Fair”

Stepping back into an earlier age at The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum
Stepping back into an earlier age at The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

This weekend I shall be heading to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum’s annual Vintage and Steam fair. The museum’s collection of traditional buildings, set in the rural landscape of the South Downs National Park, will be brought to life by traction engines, vintage vehicles, a fairground and stalls. You can really imagine that you’ve stepped back in time with sights reminiscent of the 1930s and even earlier!

I love the scene depicted here with the gallopers roundabout powered by a Fowler Showman’s steam engine in the centre of a small traditional vintage fairground. It is a combination which always delights the senses; the sound and smell of steam and pistons, the colour and movement of the horses.

All the Fun of the Fair
All the Fun of the Fair
“Steer a steam engine” in the Events Field Arena
“Steer a steam engine” in the Events Field Arena

At the heart of the museum’s work are some fifty buildings of national and international importance. They have been saved from demolition and neglect from across the South of England and reconstructed in this beautiful landscape at the heart of the South Downs National Park. Amongst my favourites is the medieval shop saved from Middle Street in Horsham which is thought to date from the 15th century. It was dismantled in 1967 to make way for redevelopment and the timbers given to the museum. After much research it was reconstructed in its current form copying a surviving shop front of similar date at Lingfield. Shops became increasingly common from the 14th century onwards. Goods were sold across the open counters like market stalls. Most of the buildings are open for visitors to go in and discover what it was like to live and work in them.

As you walk through the square and around the museum’s rural landscape you will discover traction engines working, local crafts, vintage music, a narrow gauge steam engine to ride on and very importantly a themed tea tent – something for all the family to enjoy!

In the Events Field Arena there will be displays to enjoy including the St Giles horse drawn steam fire engine and the popular “steer a steam engine” shown here.

On Sunday the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club from Portsmouth will add their regional annual meeting to the show, displaying marvellous cars from this fine British marque alongside other vintage cars, commercial and military vehicles.

It occurs to me that we are all at least seventy years older than our years because the memories that an older generation shares with us seem real to us. Having lived in Sussex all my life I have listened to tales of traction engines at work in the fields, with teams of people and horses at harvest time, and of steam driven fairs. The stories have been told to me in the warm Sussex accent of an older generation which is sadly now fading. Their memories seem real to me in my imagination. It is as though they are my own. The wonderful work of the Weald & Downland Museum allows us all to inhabit and experience bygone ages. You cannot fail to be excited and learn about our social history, the common story which unites us, here in Sussex.

Visitors to the Vintage & Steam show will enjoy all the bustle and excitement of this traditional Steam Festival. It is being held at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, Singleton, near Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0E, on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th August, between 10.30am and 5.00pm. For more information go to or telephone 01243 811348. Tickets are available on the gate – I hope to see you there!

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 12th August 2015 in the West Sussex Gazette.