Nancy Price lived a long and fruitful life and left a legacy still enjoyed by thousands of Worthing people.

Yet most people walking in The Sanctuary, a beautiful stretch of unspoilt downland at High Salvington, have probably never heard of her.

Miss Price was a distinguished actress and writer who, in later life, moved to a cottage called Arcana in High Salvington.

Born in 1880, she ran away from school at the age of 15 to act on the stage for 12 shillings a week.

From humble beginnings, she went on to forge a successful career and mix with the likes of composer Sir Edward Elgar and writer George Bernard Shaw.

Miss Price enjoyed a picnic lunch with Queen Victoria, ate an omelette cooked by King Alphonso XIII, entertained King George V and Queen Mary, disguised herself as a man during the Great War to serve on a North Sea minesweeper and met Abyssinian emperor Haile Selassie in a railway carriage.

During the Second World War, a German Dornier bomber crashed near her High Salvington home, killing all of the crew with the exception of the pilot, who escaped virtually unharmed.

Miss Price invited the dazed airman into her house and made him a cup of coffee before phoning the military.

After the war, she received a thank-you note from the pilot.

Miss Price loved the Downs and was horrified when plans were tabled to build bungalows on 60 acres of countryside off Honeysuckle Lane.

During a 14 month period in 1938 and 1939 she led a battle to save the land from development. Had construction gone ahead, Honeysuckle Lane would have become a 40ft-wide road.

Miss Price launched a £16,000 appeal to buy the site and preserve it for posterity.

Initially, she felt she was faced with apathy but gradually the campaign began to pick up pace.

Miss Price wrote passionately about The Sanctuary. In a letter to The Times she stated: "Yet another part of the South Downs is threatened by the builder.

"It has been scheduled for six houses to the acre and unless it is saved, a further part of this lovely downland will be affected because the scarring will be visible over a wide area.

"At present, the fresh, invigorating air is not saturated with petrol fumes and the quiet not yet broken by the hoot and blare and roar and rush of traffic.

"This open space is a continual joy, not only to those who live in the district but to those who seek there rest and relaxation from the jostle and jangle of the city.

"We could never replant the hundreds of may and hawthorn bushes that will go, or coax back the nightingales which sing in chorus in the hedges, or replace the green turf, full of fragrant growth, that will be dug up, or the flaming gorse, the sweet-scented honeysuckle, or the wild rose.

"There are many appeals but few can be more urgent than this saving of our beautiful England."

Miss Price managed to raise almost £7,000, which included donations from Mrs Rudyard Kipling and Mrs John Galsworthy.

This was supplemented by £6,000 from the council, which proved enough, after the landowner lowered his demand to £13,000.

In her 1953 autobiography, Into An Hour Glass, Miss Price admitted the campaign, which was also backed by Queen Mary and the Duke of Norfolk, had left her a wreck.

But today The Sanctuary is a wonderful haven for walkers and horseriders, providing a magnificent view of the Downs sloping away to the sea. In the distance, over rolling fields and shady copses, you can see the Isle of Wight.

There is a very faint hum of traffic from the A27 but the prevailing sound is one of bird song.

On September 19, 1950, Miss Price was delighted when a seat was unveiled at The Sanctuary to mark her 70th birthday.

The inscription read: Tribute to Nancy Price. CBE, actress, authoress, humanitarian.

Miss Price died in March 1970 at the age of 90.