Monday, 27 September 2010

"A very creepy Gothic-style mansion"

This is the intriguing description of a house in Steyning during the 1960s, taken from a recently published book ‘Car Trouble’ by Wensley Clarkson.  A correspondent who has read this ‘highly entertaining’ account of Wensley’s childhood memories, has written to us wondering where this house might be. The book describes the owner of the house as ‘Captain Conrad’, also known as Conrad Phillips, who apparently fought in the Spanish Civil War and later settled in Steyning, in this spooky house, where “he had a horrible fold-out wooden bed in the hall ... he was completely potty”.

We have done a search to find out who this man might be.  So far, we have come up with an ‘obscure’ crime fiction writer who published a number of novels in the 1940s and 50s and was also an eccentric freelance journalist.

It seems unlikely, but possible, that he was the actor Conrad Phillips who played William Tell; he would have been too young to fight in the Spanish Civil War himself, but his older brother did fight in the Spanish Civil War, so this may have been the link.
I did find a death registered for Conrad Arnaud Phillips in Worthing (our current registration district) in 1975. This Conrad Phillips was born in October 1898. If this is our man, he lived a long life and remained in this area until his death.

Do you know who the eccentric Steyning resident, Conrad Phillips, was?

As to the house itself, we have no idea which house it could be, or whether it is still standing but would love to know.  Can you help us with either of these mysteries?

Jacquie Buttriss

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