A relic miles from home.

Eastbourne has a poor, lost and overlooked refugee.  Hidden behind a noticeboard in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Eastbourne is an unusual but brilliantly decorated ‘Cornish Cross’.   The cross was kidnapped from its home and brought to Sussex exactly 200 years ago. The culprit was Davies Giddy who lived at Tredrea, St Erth near…

A Wartime Romance

An unusual wedding occurred in Seaford 100 years ago.  Neither were local, but the bride was very well known; she was Gertrude Vanderbilt, the adopted daughter of an American millionaire. Gertrude was born in Bath, England on 13th April 1892. Her father was Benjamin Harry Langley but when her mother died shortly after her birth…

Sussex Survivors of the Fateful Charge

Last week I was taking a group of WI members on an historic tour of Lewes which includes the graveyard of St John-sub-Castro church near to where I used to live. Although I have walked through the churchyard many times before I spotted a grave that I had not previously seen which mentions the Charge…

The butcher who tried to kill a Lamb

The Mayor of Rye in 1743 was James Lamb.   As the Mayor of the ancient Cinque Port he was also responsible for law and order in the town and acted as the Chief Magistrate.    A particular problem for him was a local butcher, John Breads, who could regularly be found drinking at the Flushing Inn.  On one…

A Sussex War Grave and its Literary Connection.

The name Horatio Hornblower will be known as a gallant but fictional Royal Navy Officer during the Napoleonic Wars. He has been played on film by Gregory Peck and more recently Ioan Gruffudd.  But where did this unusual name come from? Edward Sibun Hornblower was born in Southwark, London on 13th November 1873.  His father…

The Sad Tale of a Deaf Footballer

The men and women who died in the service of our country are commemorated with Commonwealth War-Graves and every one has a story behind it. I have recently been researching the war-graves at Ocklynge Cemetery in Eastbourne as part of the Commonwealth War Grave Commissions ‘Living Memory’ project.  The war grave of John Tosswill is…

The Oldest man in Sussex

Isaac Ingall was a grumpy old man but I suppose , given his age he had reason to be; he worked as a servant for no less than 90 years! Isaac was born in Yorkshire in the 1670s. He worked for the Post Office in York in the early 1700s but in 1719 he become…

The only female Sussex Saint

Last week I visited the Church of St Candida in the isolated Dorset village of Whitchurch Canonicorum.   It is the only parish church in England to contain the relic of a saint.  Saint Wite.  The Latin name for Wite is Candida, hence the name of the church. The shrine of the saint contains three…

How Exceat was discovered

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the death of Maurice Lawrance of West Dean. The summer of 1913 was dry and hot and Maurice Theodore Lawrance, the 15 year old son of the rector of West Dean Church, was in the fields above the Cuckmere River when he spotted some indentations in the field which…

Why is Charlie-Joe upside down?

The web-site of the La Trobe University in Australia reports that “Charles La Trobe is much better known in England than he is in Australia”  This I doubt, even though he is buried in the delightful riverside churchyard at Litlington, East Sussex. Charles Joseph La Trobe was born in London on 20th March 1801 and…

Accidentally Shot

Last week I gave a talk to a Church Group in Crawley and bought a copy of the parish magazine.  I was interested to read about a grave at Worth Church for an unfortunate woman who was shot. Yesterday I travelled back up to Crawley to visit Worth Church which, in my opinion is one…

The Alfriston Beaver?

The Church of St Andrew in Alfriston dates from the 14th Century and it is likely that the Easter Sepulchre to the north of the altar is of a similar date. The Easter Sepulchre was a feature often placed in medieval churches. It represented the tomb of Christ and was used for an elaborate ceremony…