Shepherds tending their flocks by Pycombe Hook or by crook

Pyecombe’s history and shepherding go hand in glove.

Friday, 16th October 2015, 5:20 pm

Little wonder given its location in the heart of the Sussex South Downs countryside.

One of the most well-known of the community’s shepherds was the aptly named Walter Wooler, who died in 1936; then there was Bob Upton, who tended the flocks in the 1950s.

Pyecombe Parish Council recorded the most famous aspect of Pyecombe’s shepherding history was the distinctive shepherd’s crook, known as the Pyecombe Hook, which was crafted in the old Pyecombe Forge.


The hook was very popular among shepherds across the depth and breadth of the Sussex Downs and one is integrated into the Tapsel gate at the entrance to the Churchyard.

The Forge closed in 1978 and was converted to a residential property.

These pictures were published in the Mid Sussex Times in July 1988 along with a potted history of the idyllic little village.

The name Pycombe is believed to stem from the Saxon ‘peac cumb’, which means ‘the peak valley’.


The parish is made up of two settlements – Pyecombe and Pyecombe Street, which are about a quarter of a mile apart.

The separation of the two settlements is generally thought to be a consequence of plague in the 17th century which necessitated the temporary abandonment of the main settlement and its 13th century Saxo-Norman church.

As well as the shepherds, the pictures show the building of Tate’s Garage. Above the garage were two seven-room flats which were originally occupied by the Milner family.

Then we have children from Pycombe School in 1928.


The children were: Ivy Marchant, Doris Boyce, Alice Booker, Alf Berry, Donald Webb, Vic Boyce, John Cheney, Robert Shariman, Ernie Booker, Reg Boyce, Johnny Marchant, Gwen Blake, Dennis Webb, Kathy Blake, Arthur Booker and Mary Marchant. The teachers were: Mrs Miles and headteacher Miss Simpson.

The school closed in 1965.

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