Adventures of a Pilot who left a Sussex Widow.

This is the amazing story of a WW1 flying ace who died 100 years ago and who had Sussex connections. Unusually he has a war-grave in the U.S.A. Joseph (Joe) Joel Hammond was born in New Zealand in 1886 but after leaving school emigrated to Australia to work on a sheep station.  Hearing that gold…

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…

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…

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…

Where is the Lewes Lass?

Thanks to a generous benefactor, a couple of years ago Seaford Museum commissioned an old ship’s figurehead to be restored.  Richard Hunter of Yorkshire, a renowned authority on figureheads, expertly restored and repainted an old figurehead (nicknamed Phoebe) to its former glory.  Whilst in Seaford, Richard asked me to help trace another local figurehead, that of…

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…

Seaford’s Saddest Day

TODAY 100 years ago 3rd September 1916 was one of the darkest days in Seaford’s history with five local men being killed within 24 hours. They were all members of the Royal Sussex Regiment. Four of the men were members of the 11th (South Downs) Battalion.  Known as Lowther’s Lambs as they had been recruited…

When my Grandma met a Prime Minister

When I visit Parliament I regularly pass the statue of the former Prime-Minister David Lloyd-George. The sculpture shows the great Liberal politician in an animated pose. Lloyd George is remembered for his many reforms including those responsible for welfare and women’s suffrage. As a young lady my Grandmother, Bessie Gordon, was a keen photographer. In…

Look out for a man with Spatterdashes

I am always interested in early reports of crime and disorder especially in the early 19th century when the Police were still in their infancy.  Sussex had no uniformed force to deter and arrest criminals.  There were parish constables of course, but they were used by the parish vestry (a form of early local government)…

Beacons for the Queen (and the French!)

Next week beacons will be lit all over Sussex, and indeed the whole country, to commemorate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen. Beacons have been used for many years for celebration and also as a means of communication. This was particularly the case to warn us good Sussex folk from invasion against the…

A Chubby but Cheerful Soldier

This afternoon I did one of my Guided Tours of Lewes and took people through the lovely churchyard of St John Sub-Castro.  I pointed out some interesting graves but noticed something today that I had no seen before. It was a Memorial Plaque – known as a Death Penny or Widow’s Penny, which had been inserted…

The Squinting Speaker from Sussex

On 21st June 2009 I was working in the Houses of Parliament when I heard a rumour that the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin was about to resign.  He found his position untenable due to the his role in the expenses scandal.  A Speaker had not been ‘sacked’ since the 17th Century…