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   Camberwick Green

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In Search of the Real Trumptonshire

Trumptonshire is such an idyllic county, with a peaceful rural setting, pleasant people, and no real problems. But where exactly is Trumptonshire?

Could this road sign be a clue ?

Sadly not. This sign, which stood outside Horsted Keynes station on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex, was manufactured purely as an example of the traditional style of road sign, by a company called Countryways. If you are interested in traditional road signs then check out the Countryways website.

In the interview with Gordon Murray, he does not say exactly where we could find Trumptonshire. A quick look through an atlas of the UK reveals several place names which sound plausible candidates: Camberwell Green, and Chigwell in London and Trumpington in Cambridge.

The real Camberwick Green ?

Some would say it was all inspired by the area around Plumpton Green in East Sussex. Plumpton Green is a village just north of the South Downs, between Lewes and Burgess Hill. It is a pleasant village in the heart of the English countryside, just like Camberwick Green. The Knowhere Guide gives a brief outline of the village with a few Trumptonshire references.

Most of the houses in Plumpton Green are neat and tidy looking and line the main road through the village. Sadly there is no fishmonger no bakery and no post office, but there is a garage. Other local amenities are a couple of pubs, the railway station and the Plumpton race course. Nearby there is the Plumpton Agricultural College.

Three miles north-east of Plumpton Green are the Villages of Chailey, South Chailey and North Chailey - or should that be Chigley? A further two miles north of Chailey is the  Bluebell line , a preserved steam railway which is mentioned on the back of the "Come to Chigley"  record, where Gordon Murray compares it to Lord Belborough's line.

Six miles south-west of Plumpton Green are the Clayton Windmills "Jack and Jill" and a few miles north is the Chailey Windmill - all obvious inspiration for Windy Miller and Colley's Mill. If you know anything about windmills, you will realise that Colley's Mill is a 'tower' mill, i.e. a fixed tower with a rotating cap. Both Jill mill and Chailey Mill are 'post' mills - i.e. the main structure of the mill rotates to face the wind. Jack Mill is one of the few tower mills in the area.

The Plumpton Green village noticeboard carries minutes of the parish council meetings. On a visit there I noticed a couple of interesting announcements:

  • "A minor fire started on Chailey Common, was dealt with by the fire brigade"
  • "PC Brown [no number given] was making sure that no one was speeding at the level crossing - fortunately most people were obeying the speed limit."
  • The real Trumpton and Chigley ?

    While much of the inspiration for Camberwick Green may indeed have come from Plumpton and the surrounding area, the two later series: Trumpton and Chigley have few relevant connections, apart from the actual names. Chigley features a canal in every episode, but there are no real canals in Sussex. However, Mr AW from South Chailey writes:

    "the Sussex Ouse was used for many years to transport items by barge from Newhaven to points to the North of the Bluebell Line. What I find particularly relevant, is that, at the Sheffield Park railway station (the southernmost point of the Bluebell Line) a few years ago, it was (and maybe still is) possible to see the remaining brickwork from wharves that allowed the river's traffic to connect to the railway."

    Others would say that Trumptonshire seems to have been inspired simply by England, and so draws on features from all over the country. Mr J.B. writes:

    "As far as I was concerned, Trumpton, Chigley and Camberwick Green were as real as the part of Derbyshire I grew up in. We had factories nearby that looked like the biscuit factory. We would also go for walks near stately homes, near the canal and the railway at Cromford - it even has a beam engine. Pippin fort reminded me of Riber Castle near Matlock. The park in Matlock had a miniature steam engine that I used to love riding on, and a bandstand that looked exactly like the one in Trumpton."

    In the September 14th 1999 issue of the Daily Mail, a reader posed the question: "How far is it from Trumpton to Camberwick Green ?" Three replies were published. Two were opinions from other readers (one referring to the Trumptonshire Web), while the other was from Gordon Murray himself, who wrote:

    "Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley are representative of real locations which are one-and-a-half miles from each other in an equidistant triangle. But their exact position must remain a mystery as disclosure could lead the actual places being inundated with tourists, something I couldn't bear to see happen".

    No definite confirmation there then, but I reckon the Plumpton area must be a reasonable candidate.