Bumping the Bounds

During May the spring festival of Rogation-tide was celebrated. This word comes from the Latin rogatio which means to ask for or to beg. In spring, seeds were sown and this was the time when God was asked or begged for them to grow. It was during Rogation-tide that the church would sometimes confirm the…

My St Georges’ Day Hero

My grandfather Alec Gordon, was a Royal Marine and was seriously injured in the fateful Zeebrugge Raid on St Georges Day, 23rdApril 1918.  Alexander Robert Gordon was born in London in 1896, the son of Frederick and Hannah Gordon.  In 1910 the Gordon family moved to 1, Romney Road, Eastbourne and his parents worked at…

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…

The King of Eastbourne

In 1912 hundreds of Eastbourne children were treated to a party by William Washington King. A telegram was sent to George V at Balmoral Castle which read “Six hundred happy little children in meeting assembled, send your Majesty loyal greetings!” the answer was received and read out “His Majesty thanks the children assembled at the…

Killed during the Opium Wars

The Rason family go back in Eastbourne for generations. They are closely connected with St Mary’s Church as over the centuries many of them have been churchwardens. There is an interesting monument in the north aisle of the church to William Rason.   It reads: Sacred to the memory of William Hector Rason Lieut. R.N., aged…

A Grave with a French Connection

Every morning I pass a gravestone in St Mary’s Churchyard, Eastbourne and have often wondered about it.  The grave is at the apex of the triangle of land as you walk from the northside of the church towards the Lamb Inn. It is in the form of a ‘grave rail’ – a horizontal slab between…

The Railway Police of Eastbourne

I joined the British Transport Police as a Cadet in 1973 a few days after my 16th birthday. Although I was from Eastbourne I was posted to Brighton but I would regularly visit the Eastbourne office which was manned by an old officer, PC Jack Carter.   Jack was a friendly chap who seemed to be…

A Sussex Camera Obscura

Paul Dixon’s wife knows that there is another love of his life –  a beautiful if rather elderly lady whose recent makeover has given her a new lease of life.  Paul is the Chief Engineer for Eastbourne Pier and it is clear that he loves the old lady very much indeed. I met Paul a…

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…

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…