A village history in West Sussex


Westbourne History Group

Bygone Series

No1. Trades People 1845-1938

No2. Village Schools 1819-1984

No4. Westbourne Then & Now

No5. Westbourne Union Life

No6. Westbourne Church Guide

No7. Cleaning up Westbourne        

No8. Westbourne Worthies

No9. The Bastards of  Westbourne

No10. Westbourne’s War 1939-1945

No11. A Millenium in Tandem

No12. Sindles Farm

No13. Westbourne Memorials

No14. Cottage Economy

No15. The Village Schools 1810-2011

No16. Westbourne and the Great War

No17. Tradespeople of Westbourne

Bourne in the Past

Other Publications

Sindles Farm

The River Ems

The Westbourne Story

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Numbers 1 to 5 inclusive out of print, further information on details and costs visit:


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Germany was not the best place for an Englishman to be when the first world war broke out. But that was where Westbourne’s curate, the Rev. Jonathan Hall, and his wife Alice found themselves on 4 August 1914, and they were destined to stay there for almost four months.

The couple had been in the quiet spa town of Nauheim in the Taunus mountains when borders closed as armies mobilised throughout Europe. The first the Westbourne and Woodmancote congregation knew of it was via a letter brought out by an American lady, in which Mr Hall Yarr and his wife said they were safe and complained of no ill treatment.

It could have been far worse. On the morning after the war started, the 35-year-old curate had decided to take a trip to Frankfurt to pass the time. He found himself on a crowded troop train, with standing room only, and took more than two hours to travel 20 miles amid what he described as ‘wild scenes of enthusiasm’ all along the route.

When he got back to Nauheim that evening, he discovered he had unwittingly broken a new military order forbidding Englishmen from going within 100 yards of a railway line on risk of being shot.

 While the Foreign Office pursued efforts to get some sort of exchange scheme under way between Germans in Britain and Britons in Germany, the American Consul was asked to look after the Hall Yarrs, who were among a group of foreigners visiting Nauheim on health grounds. Wives were told that they would be allowed home, but all refused to leave without their husbands.

Letters from the curate in the following months emphasised that they were being well treated, except that they had to be indoors by 9pm. By the end of November, Mr Hall Yarr was home and telling a crowded meeting in Westbourne’s Parish Room all about his experiences. With his audience paying sixpence or threepence for admission, the evening raised £2 8s 5d for the National Relief Fund set up by the Prince of Wales.

Published 2014   ISBN: 0 9536550 5 2