The father of Eastbourne Bellringing

Before lockdown I visited the bell chamber at St Mary’s Church, Eastbourne and was interested to see an unusual marble memorial for Harry Packham Bennett in the form of a large bell.  Harry was clearly one of the bell-ringers and, as a former railway policeman, I was interested to see that he had lost his…

A Good Soldier and Always a Gentleman

John William DANIELS was born in Loughton Essex in 1885, the son of landscape gardener Edwin Daniels from Ruabon, north Wales and Lydia from Shropshire.  The family moved to Eastbourne and John was educated at Holy Trinity School.  The 1911 Census shows that John with living with his parents and younger sister Annie at 2,…

Deadly Sins in a Sussex Church

Wherever I travel, I take a copy of Simon Jenkins book ‘1000 Best Churches’ which is usually a good indication of churches worth going out of your way to see. Occasionally though, I come across a church not mentioned in his book and wonder why it has been omitted. One such church is St George’s at Trotton…

The Constable and the Chicken Leg

Luther Constable (1849-1936) was born and died in Barcombe.  He was a bricklayer and was my great-great-great Uncle.  In June 1893 Luther was a victim of crime when one of his chickens was stolen from the coop at the family home in Hamsey Road, Barcombe. At 2/6d the chicken was quite valuable and Luther suspected the…

The Sussex Stile Council

If, like me, you love to wander across the South Downs and the Sussex countryside you will often use gates and stiles. Gates were traditionally wide enough to allow a farmer to manoeuvre a horse drawn hay-cart through and were made of wood.  Today however farm gates are wider and usually made of cylindrical metal….

The Prime Minister who helped a Sussex Coastguardsman.

Not many small towns like Seaford can claim to have had three of its MPs serve as Prime Minister. George Canning was the only one of the three who was MP for Seaford and Prime Minister at the same time.  George Canning was born in Marylebone in 1770 and had a difficult start to life….

An Eastbourne House Through Time

I have enjoyed the BBC Series ‘A House Through Time’ where David Olusoga researches the history of a particular house. Inspired by this I thought I would try to do the same with a house close to where I live in Old Town, Eastbourne. St Mary’s House is adjacent to the Lamb Inn at the…

The Downland Shepherd-Archaeologist

Stephen Blackmore was born on 1st February 1832 in Falmer, the son of an agricultural labourer. As a young boy he worked at Stanmer House near Falmer in the service the Duke of Newcastle. But it seems he was keen to be outside on the land and soon was working as a labourer on nearby…

Quicksilver and Lemons

The ‘Nympha Americana’ was a Spanish owned American ship of 400 tons however, despite being armed with 23 large guns and 6 swivel guns, she was captured by an English privateer ‘The Royal Family‘ off Cadiz in March 1747.  A privateer was basically a legal pirate ship which was licensed by the British Government to attack enemy…