The Father of Sussex History

In 1835 a young man published a book, the title of which left no question as to its contents. It was called “Sussex: Being an Historical, Topographical and General Description of every Rape, Hundred, River, Town, Borough, Parish, Village, Hamlet, Castle, Monastery and Gentleman’s Seat in that County, alphabetically arranged with the population of each…

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 Sussex MP I would like to meet!

Seaford on the Sussex coast was a Cinque Port and as such was able to return two Members of Parliament.  Many men represented the town but usually they lived far away and paid little heed to to local constituents.   William Hay who represented Seaford between 1734 and his death in 1755 however was different…

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…

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…