PRETTY Rustington is one of West Sussex’s hidden treasures.

Often described as a sleepy village, it boasts some of the county’s finest flint cottages, some of them thatched.

Bigger than you might think, the village, near Littlehampton, is a beautiful blending of old and new. Its classic ‘olde worlde’ character in the conservation area, which extends from North Lane to The Street, lends its charm to the newer sections of the village.

There’s plenty going on in Rustington, whether it’s centred around its museum and cafe, housed in a converted thatched house, its residents who enter the village into the annual South-east in Bloom competition, the summer carnival and fete, or the Christmas carol concert. The shingle beach, which stretches for several miles, is popular with kitesurfers too.

Its high street, where you can’t help but notice the Ice Age erratic boulder on display, features many pretty shops and businesses. And there’s the shopping centre which as well as shops has restaurants and offices.

The village has a number of notable connections to well-known people. The author JM Barrie (1860-1937) was a regular visitor to the Llewellyn Davies family at Cudlow House in Rustington and it was this family that became the inspiration for the Darling family in Peter Pan.

The composer Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918) had the house Knights Croft built in Rustington and he lived there from 1880 until his death. He wrote the hymns Amberley, Angmering and Rustington in his later years.

Rustington was also at the centre of the Suffragist movement, as sisters Millicent Fawcett, Elizabeth Garrett and Agnes Garrett and their cousin Rhoda Garrett rented a house called The Firs in The Street from 1878-1899. They each played pivotal roles in the Suffrage movement, with Millicent becoming President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in 1897. Elizabeth would become the first woman in the UK to qualify as a doctor, and in 1875 their sister Agnes Garrett and cousin Rhoda Garrett became the first women in Britain to open and run an interior design company.

The film director Lindsay Anderson, who was educated at St Ronan’s School in Worthing, wrote If... when he lived at his mother’s house on the Sea Estate in the village. The 1968 film starring Malcolm McDowell, satirised English public school life and won the Palme d’Or at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.

And in 1956, comedy duo Flanders and Swann launched their show At the Drop of a Hat, which contained the Gnu Song with the lines:

‘I had taken furnished lodgings down at Rustington-on-Sea

Whence I travelled on to...(Ashton-under-Lyne it was actually)...’

It brought instant fame to the village.

Today, Rustington is described as a “community with character”, a busy place with plenty going on all year round.

• Some of the information about the people who lived in Rustington comes from the book Winds of Change in a Sleepy Sussex Village (Rustington) by Graeme Taylor and Mary Taylor, published by Writersworld, priced £20 paperback, £25 hardback and £9.99 on Kindle. It is available from Rustington Museum and Luke’s Newsagency, both in The Street, Rustington, online on Amazon or ordered from any bookshop.