Slideshow -the ridiculous rumours and pub regulars of Plumpton

EVEN a confirmed teetotaller could find himself seeing double at The Half Moon at Plumpton.

Many of the pub’s regulars of yesteryear are recorded in a giant painting which takes pride of place in the bar, raising their glasses in a cheery salute to the beholder.

Plumpton Village

Plumpton Village

Former landlord Terry White commissioned the unusual work of art as a tribute to his customers and it was completed over a nine-month period in 1979 by Sussex portrait painter Dick Leech. More than 100 local folk are depicted at their favourite haunt in what Mr White described as “an historical document”.

Ancient Plumpton, with it’s 12th century church, was joined not much more than 150 years ago by the much larger settlement of Plumpton Green, two miles to the north, which was spawned by the arrival of the railway.

It swiftly acquired all the virtues of mid- Victorian country life: spacious villas, a church (unusual in that it has an octagonal tower) and a school built in 1878 to replace the miniature schoolroom which Plumpton had built in 1837.

At one time it also boasted one of the wonders of Sussex, if the locals are to be believed. It took the form of Chinese Gardens which were situated in a wood next to Shergolds Farm.

During the Forties and Fifties a Mr Ellis travelled from Eastbourne every day to create and tend the gardens, though whether he owned the site or not is unclear. Open days were held at the gardens, which featured many exotic plants and pagoda-style buildings.

But one day Mr Ellis failed to arrive. Rumour had it that he had died. The gardens fell into decline and eventually became choked by the woodland undergrowth.

The National Hunt racecourse makes the village a hive of activity on race days and at the end of the Second World War residents were agog at the prospect of an even greater claim to fame: as the site of London’s new airport.

How this rather ridiculous rumour came to be established is unknown, but it gradually faded away as did the wartime airfield to the north of the village for which such grandiose plans were said to be in the pipeline. The hasty building of the airfield had necessitated the demolition of a pub. Happily, The Plough was resurrected on a new site.