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…

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…

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…

A Hidden Sussex Church

My visit to St John’s Church was short and rather muddy but it is a delightful little building hidden away on the edge of Ashdown Forest between Withyham and Crowborough.  It is not a church that you would stumble across by chance and sadly is usually locked due to the theft of some of the…

A unique Sussex Church

St Mary-in-the Castle in Hastings is one of the finest English churches I have visited and although it is now a thriving performance venue it is full of ecclesiastical interest. Strangely the best place to get a good view of the exterior of the church is on Google Maps as it is set back into…

Killed during the Opium Wars

The Rason family go back in Eastbourne for generations. They are closely connected with St Mary’s Church as over the centuries many of them have been churchwardens. There is an interesting monument in the north aisle of the church to William Rason.   It reads: Sacred to the memory of William Hector Rason Lieut. R.N., aged…

A Grave with a French Connection

Every morning I pass a gravestone in St Mary’s Churchyard, Eastbourne and have often wondered about it.  The grave is at the apex of the triangle of land as you walk from the northside of the church towards the Lamb Inn. It is in the form of a ‘grave rail’ – a horizontal slab between…

The Hidden Frescoes of Alfriston

John Mason Neale (1818 – 1866) was the Warden of Sackville College, a large group of Almshouses in East Grinstead.  He was an avid writer of hymns and carols, his most famous work being the evergreen Christmas Carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’. John loved visiting churches and certainly visited St Andrews Church in Alfriston.  In 1843…

Good from Evil

Is it possible that good can come from evil? – well yes it is and there is proof in Alfriston! During the War the Nazis used naval mines to attack allied shipping in the channel.  The naval mine was probably a German invention as during the Schleswig Holsten War of 1848, Kiel harbour was protected…

The Duke who loved Skittles

Spencer Cavendish, the 8th Duke of Devonshire (1833-1908) was rather revered in Eastbourne for his financial support to improve the town. Outside of Sussex he was generally known as the ‘Marquess of Hartington’. Although a Liberal politician he opposed his party’s opposition to Home Rule for Ireland and afterwards became quite conservative. During a long…

Burial at a Cross-roads

I have just been reading about some of the Eastbourne Parish Registers and noted that several people who had committed suicide were buried at St Mary’s Parish Church.  An entry in 1624 records the burial in the churchyard of John Crunden ‘who drowned himself’ and another in 1650 relates to 21-year-old John Herriot who ‘hanged…