Back in December 2017 Guild Care secured a £47k grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to run a community heritage research project in Lancing to look at social care during the twentieth century.

In particular it will focus on The Bell in Lancing, which was a purpose‐built care home in South Street that was originally opened in 1928, rebuilt after the Second World War and modified in the late 1990s.

This exciting research will appear in a Guild Care book, due to be published in late 2019 or early 2020. 

    

The Bell, 1963                                               Front page of the Annual Review 1950   

For decades The Bell was at the heart of the Lancing community. Its story is the story of changing attitudes towards health care and disability over a period of more than 100 years.

The Bell was part of a charitable endeavour that sought to provide care for the elderly, the young and those with chronic sickness, such as TB.

In the last year of operations, The Bell was owned and run by Guild Care, who reluctantly closed it due to many issues with the building which were no longer conducive to providing high quality residential care. It finally closed its doors in 2016.

Following the closure Guild Care applied for a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant and was delighted when it was granted £47,000 to run the project.

Suzanne Millard, Guild Care CEO, said: “The love and dedication of the staff at The Bell remained consistent right up until its closure and this project will research and celebrate the lives of those unsung heroes.

“Guild Care wishes to remember and celebrate the good people and the good work carried on at The Bell over so many years and hopes very much that this community heritage project will meet that intention.”

      

The staff of The Bell,late 1940s                 Sunbeam staff with children       Sunbeam staff with Akim 1950s

Lela Tredwell has undertaken archival research and transcription of the oral history interviews alongside a team of project volunteers, mainly based in Lancing, who are currently researching The Bell archive and conducting oral interviews. Special mention should be made of former Bell manager, Maureen Condick, who has arranged most of the oral history interviews, and also to Sue Buchanan. Maureen Isaacs, Robert Shute, and Phyllis Evans have undertaken extensive research of The Bell archive and local newspapers. 

If you remember The Bell in Lancing or any of the personalities mentioned here, please contact Chris Hare, Project Manager, at [email protected] or call him on 07794 600639.

The Bell Project Update

1.A comprehensive archive.

A comprehensive archive survives, documenting the history of The Bell, including minute books, annual reports, and photographs. Our heritage team have reviewed this material and concluded that it is of exceptional value, both in terms of the history of the care sector but also of the local community in Lancing.

The minute books are surprisingly detailed and give some real historical flavour of the period.

Activities and events described in the minute books can be cross‐referenced with Worthing Library's digital newspaper archive that is sure to provide further relevant information. Guild Care's own archive ‐ now in the keeping of West Sussex Record Office, could also prove helpful for this new project.

   

Remarkably, all the minute books for the home survive from the First World War until the early 2000s. Nearly all the annual reports also survive. These reports are given vibrancy and immediacy by the introduction that Sister Ivy Baldock wrote every year. Her compassion and commitment is evident in every sentence. She also comments on national and world events that gives an interesting context to the work taking place in Lancing.

2.Benefactors

There is much historical colour here, for example, the TB patients all had to wear blue overalls and were called 'Chorley's Bluebirds' after William Chorley, the founder of the home. Mothers would usher their children away whenever they saw a 'bluebird' approaching. This is fascinating stuff and is sure to be of interest to more than just a local audience.

The personalities are well worth researching too. Firstly there is Eliza Bell, whose bequest to The North East [London] Gospel Mission made the building of the home possible. When she died in 1914 she left over £400,000 in her will ‐ that is close to £40m million in modern money ‐ an immense fortune. Her family became wealthy selling grain to the government during the Crimean War. 

3.Timeline

1914-1939

  • William Chorley conceived the idea of the TB hospital at Lancing.
  • Chorley’s first mission home was in Bank Cottage, which was situated to the south of The Three Horseshoes (today the Sussex Hotel) and still stands today.
  • Chorley even took over the old premises of Lancing Grammar School at the southern end of South Street. This became known as Chestnuts.
  • Chorley was the founder of the North‐East London Methodist Mission, and a Christian ethos guided the work of the Southern Convalescent Homes, which he established. To this day the Chorley Mission is still attending to the spiritual needs of the people living in that part of London.
  • By 1922, there were five mission homes in Lancing. By this time Chorley was getting old and the mission’s great benefactor, Eliza Bell had passed away, so it was decided to incorporate the homes as ‘The Southern Convalescent Homes,’ run by a board of trustees.
  • In 1928 a brand new – purpose built home – was constructed in South Street – just to the north of the Three Horseshoes and appropriately enough it was named ‘The Bell Memorial Home.’ A new home for children – The Sunbeam Home – was opened next door shortly afterwards.

4.The Second World War and PostWar Reconstruction

  • During the Second World War the residents were evacuated, which is just as well, as The Sunbeam home received a direct hit from a bomb in 1942.
  • After the war both homes were rebuilt and reopened by the renowned actress and writer, Nancy Price, who lived close by at High Salvington.
  • Harry Leeks became home superintendent in 1947 and continued in this role until his sudden death in 1973.
  • Sister Ivy Baldock held many positions at The Bell, from the immediate post war years right up until her death in 1998.
  • In 1956 the Sunbeam children’s home closed, due to changing times.

      

Ivy Boldock pictured with colleagues

Full project report updates

 May 2019 please click HERE.