5.1.1 Hopkins Crank

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In 1913 Gill moved from Sopers (in Ditchling) to Hopkins Crank, an old farmhouse on the edge of Fragbarrow Farm. He also acquired some two acres of the adjoining farmland with a view to becoming self-sufficient. Gill developed the property considerably, creating a quadrangle using the existing farm buildings – this form of layout was something that Gill sought to replicate wherever he went.

The living quarters however were spartan. Brocard Sewell stayed there in the 1930s, when the conditions had been improved, but his description was far from positive “…in winter the bedrooms were icy; to warm ones bed one took with one (wrapped in a newspaper), a brick heated by the fore in the sitting room. All water was pumped by hand. In the middle of the lofty raftered room was a large dining table. In the winter, the household, with any visitors who might be present, sat round this table at meals wearing a full complement of hats, scarves and greatcoats.”

When Gill left the Guild in 1924 he sold the property to Pepler who lived there until he died from a heart attack while gardening in 1951. The property was then divided into three (Hopkins Crank, Little Crank and Crank Barn) and sold on.

1. This photograph was taken around 1913, when the Gills had just moved from Ditchling village. The farm buildings which formed the basis of the courtyard are to the left, notice the arched doorway which can be seen in certain photos below
2. A famous photograph of the Gill family in the grounds of Hopkins Crank taken in 1914, soon after Gill took over the property. Then, there was the main house with an extension to the back, a long dairy (the end of which is visible above) and a barn which he used as a workshop (right).
3. Gill with his family and Desmond Chute in front of the barn (clearly visible in photo 2 above – note a building has been added to the left) with the sculpture ‘The Mulier‘, originally commissioned as a garden piece for Roger Fry in 1914.
4. Inside the courtyard. The building facing us with the arched opening in which a girl is standing is the dairy. At the extreme right of the photo the edge of Hopkins Crank House is just visible.

Hopkins Crank today – now three properties:

Building enclosed by red line is Hopkins Crank, blue line is Crank’s Barn and green line is Little Crank