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beham1Bedham is a remote wooded hamlet to the north of Fittleworth civil parish. It is partly in Fittleworth Parish and partly in Wisborough Green Parish, with a mixture of high Wealden ridge and deep valleys.

Bedham Lane is an ancient roadway that leads from Hallelujah Corner in Fittleworth village, north through woodland, eventually passing the entrance to the small lane on the right, to Brinkwells. This is the cottage rented between 1917 and 1921, by Sir Edward Elgar that was sublet to him by artist Rex Vicat Cole (see Fittleworth and the Arts). Near Brinkwells is Spring Farm once home of Thomas Aylwin with his pony and trap, who used to collect Elgar from either Pulborough or (as it was then) Fittleworth Station. The studio used by both Elgar and Vicat Cole, originally in the garden at Brinkwells, is now in Wakestone Lane, Bedham; now a B&B much renovated and extended.

A small forked lane from Wakestone Lane, near Bedham Farm, leads downhill to a number of timber-framed, 17th and 18th century cottages that once housed charcoal burners. One cottage (now ‘Cotford’) was home to writer Ford Madox Ford. The population was large enough in the 19th century for a church, St Michael and all Angels, combined with use as a school room, to be built. The Mitford family were the local landowners and contributed to building St Michael’s (pictured). There had been various negotiations in the 1700s with William Mitford, over the use of the woodlands and the rights of local workers. The school finally closed in 1925 and use as a church ceased in 1959. Elgar’s wife Alice recalled hearing the Bedham church bells ringing out, with the signing of the peace treaty in 1919. It was finally abandoned after the great storm of 1987 and is now derelict.

There are a number of references to archaeological finds and the Mitford associations on the Fittleworth DVD and Resource Archive. The parish includes part of Flexham Woods and part of The Mens ancient woodland, with its lisings that includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest ref:-

A view from Bedham towards Wisborough Green