The Reverend George Walker

Vicar of Chidham, 1858-98

(Adapted from Chidham, Hambrook and Nutbourne: A Social History by Philip MacDougall)

Born 1830 in Lexden, Essex, Walker had been educated at Winchester and Wadham Colleges before graduating from Oxford in 1851. Catherine, his wife, was one year younger and they appear to have married sometime around 1855. Apart from Mary, the eldest, all the other children were born in Chidham: Edith (1858), George (1859), Francis (1860), Robert (1863), Alice (1865), Anna (1866), Katherine (1868), Alfred (1870) and Amy (1872). Possibly, the trials and tribulations of giving birth to such a large family impacted upon Catherine's health, Walker being widowed sometime in the 1880s.

Having arrived in the parish, Walker set about the task of re-vitalising the community. His first task was that of re-establishing the school, using much of his own money to acquire land at the south end of Chidham Lane for construction of a single storey brick building – the present day Belfry Cottage.

In turning his attention to the church, Walker ensured the nave was completely restored while having a belfry built above the west window, both tasks undertaken in 1864. With similar vigour he turned to the vicarage, this having recently been declared ‘unfit for habitation'. He not only had the building refurbished but added further rooms to meet the needs of his growing family. In all, Walker was to remain in Chidham for a total of forty years, forced to retire to Worthing in 1898 through increasing infirmity and failing eyesight.

Belfry Cottage
The Old Vicarage

The Eagle Lectern

The Quire
St Mary's Church, Chidham