Buried alive in Alfriston?

On 23rd January 1816 a strange and macabre incident occurred at Alfriston Church in East Sussex. At this time when the ‘gothic novel’ was popular, taphophobia was rife. Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. This fear was so great that people could purchase ‘safety coffins’ in which a recently awaked corpse could not…

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…

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…

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…

An admirable and practical contrivance!

In 1880 a Mr William Stickney Lamson of Boston, Massachusetts owned a long and narrow shop. In order to get money from the counter at the front of the shop to the cashier’s desk at the rear of the shop he instructed his staff to wrap notes, coins and a receipt in a handkerchief and…

Remember Remember

Last month I had the honour of introducing the visiting Bonfire Societies to Seaford for the annual Guy Fawkes celebrations.  I love bonfire and probably recite the Bonfire Prayers – “Remember Remember the Fifth of November” more than most people. As a tour guide in the Palace of Westminster – the Houses of Parliament I recite…

A Respected Sussex Policeman

A few weeks ago, Dr June Goodfield, the President of the Alfriston & Cuckmere Valley Historical Society had an unexpected visitor with an interesting item.  John Enever called in with his great-grandfathers watch.  His ancestor was a policeman who was so respected by the good people of Alfriston that they presented him with the watch…