The Sussex Stile Council

If, like me, you love to wander across the South Downs and the Sussex countryside you will often use gates and stiles. Gates were traditionally wide enough to allow a farmer to manoeuvre a horse drawn hay-cart through and were made of wood.  Today however farm gates are wider and usually made of cylindrical metal….

The Prime Minister who helped a Sussex Coastguardsman.

Not many small towns like Seaford can claim to have had three of its MPs serve as Prime Minister. George Canning was the only one of the three who was MP for Seaford and Prime Minister at the same time.  George Canning was born in Marylebone in 1770 and had a difficult start to life….

An Eastbourne House Through Time

I have enjoyed the BBC Series ‘A House Through Time’ where David Olusoga researches the history of a particular house. Inspired by this I thought I would try to do the same with a house close to where I live in Old Town, Eastbourne. St Mary’s House is adjacent to the Lamb Inn at the…

The Downland Shepherd-Archaeologist

Stephen Blackmore was born on 1st February 1832 in Falmer, the son of an agricultural labourer. As a young boy he worked at Stanmer House near Falmer in the service the Duke of Newcastle. But it seems he was keen to be outside on the land and soon was working as a labourer on nearby…

The Story of a Pock-marked Grave

The grave of Mary Ann and Edmund Sinden in Ocklynge Cemetery, Eastbourne is badly damaged.  The couple married at Folkington Church on 11th May 1856. Edmund was then living in Brighton and Mary Ann was from Wannock. She was the daughter of Henry Thomas who was a farmer there. Edmund’s father was also a farmer, John Sinden…

The New Police Investigate a Sussex Crime

On Saturday 14th November 1829 William Mockford, the ‘Keeper of the King’s and Parochial Taxes‘ at Eastbourne ran off with a sum of money, leaving his wife and four children behind. 29-year-old William was the Vestry Clerk for St Mary’s Church, Eastbourne and it was reported that £300 of public money (about £22,000 today) had…

A Bee in his Bonnet!

Percy Ernest Hurst came from a respected Eastbourne family.  He was born in Eastbourne on 21st July 1865. His father Edward operated the windmill at Ocklynge which was known as Hurst Mill.  The family owned and lived in Ocklynge Manor in the High Street, one of the oldest buildings in the town.   Percy was a vegetarian…

A Sussex Prisoner-of-War

Thomas Reginald Charles TOMPKINS was born in West London on 11th August 1898. He was the son of James and Mary Tompkins. His father was a decorator.  The family lived at 4, Bayham Road, Ealing and he was baptised at St John’s Church , Northfields on 25thSeptember 1898. During the Great War, Thomas joined the Royal…

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…