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…

The Great Storm of 14th November 1875.

On the morning of Sunday 14th November 1875 the good people of Seaford braved stormy weather to attend church. The town was already on alert as high tide was expected at midday and, although seawalls had been built, the area of land between the sea and the town, (the Beamlands), regularly flooded during the winter…

Caring for the troops

During the Great War, Seaford became a garrison town and thousands of men trained there before experiencing the horrors of the Front.  A tented camp in 1914, soon expanded into two huge hutted camps filled with soldiers from across the country and indeed the world.  At 25,000, the population of the camps was many times larger…

The Story of a Pock-marked Grave

The grave of Mary Ann and Edmund Sinden in Ocklynge Cemetery, Eastbourne is badly damaged.  The couple married at Folkington Church on 11th May 1856. Edmund was then living in Brighton and Mary Ann was from Wannock. She was the daughter of Henry Thomas who was a farmer there. Edmund’s father was also a farmer, John Sinden…

The New Police Investigate a Sussex Crime

On Saturday 14th November 1829 William Mockford, the ‘Keeper of the King’s and Parochial Taxes‘ at Eastbourne ran off with a sum of money, leaving his wife and four children behind. 29-year-old William was the Vestry Clerk for St Mary’s Church, Eastbourne and it was reported that £300 of public money (about £22,000 today) had…

The Flying Martello Tower

In 1860 a Mr Anderson published a paper suggesting that guns could be mounted on railway carriages to give them better mobility. Guns on trains may seem to be a good idea, but there is a big problem with recoil which means the size of gun needs to be restricted, especially if it is fired…

On Top of the World !

I recently saw a small report in a 1903 newspaper that related to ‘Mademoiselle Florence the Globe Walker’.   Considering the attitudes of the time, It would have been amazing for a woman to have walked around the world in 1903 so I tried to find out more.  Actually Florence, an 18-year-old from New Jersey in the…

A Bee in his Bonnet!

Percy Ernest Hurst came from a respected Eastbourne family.  He was born in Eastbourne on 21st July 1865. His father Edward operated the windmill at Ocklynge which was known as Hurst Mill.  The family owned and lived in Ocklynge Manor in the High Street, one of the oldest buildings in the town.   Percy was a vegetarian…

A Sussex Prisoner-of-War

Thomas Reginald Charles TOMPKINS was born in West London on 11th August 1898. He was the son of James and Mary Tompkins. His father was a decorator.  The family lived at 4, Bayham Road, Ealing and he was baptised at St John’s Church , Northfields on 25thSeptember 1898. During the Great War, Thomas joined the Royal…