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…

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…