Eastbourne’s Blind Busker

Busking is an ancient occupation and late Victorian Eastbourne with its crush of visitors would have been a draw to musicians trying to eek a living during the summer. James Collins was Irish but on 15th February 1861,when he was 20 years old, he was blinded by a shooting accident in Newry. He travelled around…

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 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…

The Martello Towers WEST of Seaford!

Seaford’s Martello Tower was not only the last to be built but also most westerly of the south coast towers.  But that was not always the plan. In 1798 Thomas Reynolds, a Major in the 30th Foot Regiment, made a report to the War Office on the defences of the South Coast.   The 30th Foot…

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…

A Brazilian War Grave in Sussex

Ocklynge Cemetery in Eastbourne has several war-graves including several for foreign men killed during the Great War. These include Belgian, South African and Australian War Graves but one that caught my eye was for a young Brazilian Pilot. First Lieutenant Eugenio Possolo was one of thirteen volunteers to travel to England in 1918 to join…

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…

A War-Memorial Mystery!

The War Memorial in the East Sussex village of Bishopstone gives the names of nine men from the village who were killed in the First World War and four from the Second World War.  The memorial includes the name of Eleanor Standish-Barry, an interesting woman who also used the stage name of Nell St John…

A Colourful Sussex Lawyer

St Helen’s Church in Hangleton, to the north-west of Brighton, has a remarkable grave. It is covered in brightly coloured stones set into the grave-slab in the form of a mosaic cross. The grave is that of an Irishman, Edward Kenealy. He was a lawyer who was as colourful as his grave. Edward Vaughan Hyde…

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…

A first for Sussex women

One unexpected outcome of the Great War was the improved rights for women which resulted in (some) women being able to vote in the General Election of 14th December 1918. At the beginning of the war, Suffragettes, who had been campaigning for decades, realised that continuing attacks on the establishment would not assist their cause….