Our Graceland, and the location itself is in a quiet village, off a quiet lane, past an historic farm. Nowadays, you would be hard pressed to find any visual evidence of the hellish mining that took place there 70 years ago.
The Settling Pit is part of an area that consists of around 16 acres of land. Two fields and two lakes with a public footpath through the middle.
The parish was first recorded in detail in 1086 in the Domesday Book, being almost a holy writ to be measured on Judgment Day. Details of its 25 villani (men of the manor), cattle, pigs, ploughs, a church, a mill, and its servants, are an important part of Nutfield’s history.
The historic Parish of Nutfield has long been a farming community, with its Lords of the Manor from, Ulwi in 1066 to F J Nightingale in 1932. Even Kings Edward IV and Richard III had an active interest in the parish.
The local village is still beautiful, and in the distant past Nutfield has many other hidden treasures (An earthen vessel containing about 900 Roman coins was found in 1755.) for beneath its rich landscape of ancient hedgerows and mystical woods lays a story of carnage and destruction, both in a historical and a literal sense.
Back in the day, Fullers Earth Clay was a prized material and despite various claimed health factors, has the capability to decolorize oil or other liquids without the use of harsh chemical treatment.
Fuller’s earth typically consists of palygorskite or bentonite.
Backed and promoted by a badly governed industry, the source found at Nutfield were the results of a cataclysmic volcanic ash settling on semi aquatic lagoons and lakes hundreds of thousands of years ago.
Over time, due to the south downs being pushed up into the sky and various other natural factors left the local landscape rich in a range of sought-after materials, better still the unique properties of the land enabled it to be mined and got at easily.
Although the land had been worked for its earthy property’s way back in the past, in fact the name Nutfield does not necessarily mean the area was a farmed, it is more likely that the name derives from North Field and was probably named because it had some sort of workings on it.
The re-discovery, or commercialization of Fuller’s earth clay materials in the landscape in the 1800’s would forever more change the future of the village and surrounding area, and ultimately, though I wasn’t even a twinkle or scratch at that point was to be my destiny, or at least part of it.
Building stone and hearth stone were also largely quarried. The fullers’ earth beds, and the sandstone beds contain, among other fossils, a large species of ammonite and a nautilus.
An ancient stream named the “Breer” was also rerouted and large areas of the once green fields opened, the area where the precious clays and sand existed replaced by landfill and who knows what else.