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…

The Battle of The Buckle 1545

On 18thJuly 1545, a French fleet led by the High Admiral Claude d’Annabant attacked the south coast of England. He was rather miffed that the English had just captured the port of Boulogne and was after revenge. At Portsmouth, Henry VIIIs ship “Mary Rose” had promptly sunk as it tried to engage them. Further down…

Pinch-Bum Day

Watch out for your bottom if you go out this morning because in Sussex today (29th May) is known as ‘Pinch-bum Day’  although in the rest of the country it is ‘Oak Apple Day’.  During the English Civil War, in 1651 the future King Charles II was pursued by the Roundheads south across England following…

Bumping the Bounds

During May the spring festival of Rogation-tide was celebrated. This word comes from the Latin rogatio which means to ask for or to beg. In spring, seeds were sown and this was the time when God was asked or begged for them to grow. It was during Rogation-tide that the church would sometimes confirm the…

A Sussex May Day

May Day was celebrated by the Romans and the Pagans who knew it as Beltain.  It falls midway between the winter and summer solstices and was a time of change and celebration before the hardships of the agricultural year.  People would feel at one with nature and would be praying for a bountiful harvest ahead. …

Easter in Sussex

Writing in the 8th century, the Venerable Bede tells us that Eostre was the pagan goddess of dawn (hence the word ’east’). Her annual festival of Spring was held in April and known as Easter but by the time of Bede, Christians had replaced this with their own festival, ‘passover’ which celebrates the resurrection of…

Shrovetide in Sussex

Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) is the day before Lent commences. ‘Lent is a corruption of the Old English word ‘Lencten’ meaning ‘Spring’ Our ancestors would have shrove (confessed) themselves of sins in the morning. At noon the Shrovetide bell would ring from Sussex churches which would indicate that it was time to stop confessing and start…

Railway Jack

Railway Jack was a dog.  To be honest Railway Jack was several dogs but this item will be about the original one who was based in Sussex.  The Victorians loved their pets and they loved their railways so they were particularly sentimental about railway dogs. Railway Jack was a fox-terrier who entertained and amused passengers…

A King’s escape through Sussex

Louis-Philippe of France had a troublesome life; his father had initially supported the Revolution but when Louis-Phillipe escaped to exile he called for his execution.  There can’t be many people whose own father wanted them dead! After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 the monarchy was restored to France and on 9th August…

The First Sussex Railway Police

On 25th January 1837 a public meeting was held in Brighton to discuss building a railway between London and the South Coast.  Several schemes were discussed but the consensus was to use the scheme proposed by Mr John Urpeth Rastrick (1780-1856) for a railway line from Elephant and Castle, London to Church Street, Brighton (much…

The Martello Towers WEST of Seaford!

Seaford’s Martello Tower was not only the last to be built but also most westerly of the south coast towers.  But that was not always the plan. In 1798 Thomas Reynolds, a Major in the 30th Foot Regiment, made a report to the War Office on the defences of the South Coast.   The 30th Foot…

A Colourful Sussex Lawyer

St Helen’s Church in Hangleton, to the north-west of Brighton, has a remarkable grave. It is covered in brightly coloured stones set into the grave-slab in the form of a mosaic cross. The grave is that of an Irishman, Edward Kenealy. He was a lawyer who was as colourful as his grave. Edward Vaughan Hyde…