The Sad Tale of a Deaf Footballer

The men and women who died in the service of our country are commemorated with Commonwealth War-Graves and every one has a story behind it. I have recently been researching the war-graves at Ocklynge Cemetery in Eastbourne as part of the Commonwealth War Grave Commissions ‘Living Memory’ project.  The war grave of John Tosswill is…

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…

Was an Eastbourne man bitten by a lion?

My grandmother Bessie Gordon was born in Eastbourne in 1901 and lived in Taddington Road. (one of the many Eastbourne roads named after a Derbyshire village by the Dukes of Devonshire whose family seat was Chatsworth in that county) In 1911 my grandma became friends with a four-year old girl who lived two doors away….

X-IT the Lewes Dwarf

Today we realise that we should not discriminate a person because of their physical appearance but this has not always been the case. It is clear that in the past, dwarves were used for entertainment particularly amongst the royal families of Europe. One of them possibly had a local connection.  His name was XIT and…

Kitchen Tongs of Eastbourne

My great great Auntie was Mercy Bennett and she was married to Oliver Ephraim Mitchell. Oliver was born in Eastbourne in 1880. His father was Ephraim Mitchell (born in West Dean in 1852)   When Oliver was born his father’s occupation is shown as a ‘Farm Bailiff’ however he was apparently also a poet and…

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)…

A Royal Flower Girl who packed a punch!

Elizabeth Quill, (known as Kitty) was born in Kingstown, Ireland in 1861.  At some stage she moved to London where she met a labourer David Quill. Although they lived in London Kitty spent the summer in Eastbourne where she lodged and did a brisk business as a flower seller. The Dukes of Devonshire regularly hosted…

Of Booze and Bridges

One of my talks that I give to History Societies, Women’s Institutes etc is about the gravestones of Sussex and, despite the gloomy subject it seems to be quite popular! During the talk I show people a couple of my favourite gravestones, including that of Thomas Tipper in the graveyard of at Newhaven. The gravestone…

A Sussex Architect with bottle!

In 2011 I was honoured to be asked to say a few words at a meeting of the Alfriston & Cuckmere Valley History Society which was called to pay tribute of their former president, the late Lady Edna Healey who had died the previous year. I was in esteemed company, as not only Lord Denis…

The tragic Saint who left her mark in Sussex

On 21st August 1878 a royal party arrived at Eastbourne from the Isle of Wight.  This group consisted of Louis IV, the Grand Duke of Hesse and his wife Princess Alice, the Grand Duchess of Hesse. Princess Alice was the second daughter of Queen Victoria and had been visiting her mother at Osborne House. The…

An Eastbourne Family Mystery

Family History is fascinating and all of us have a family with stories to tell. My own Great-Great Grandfather John Roberts had an unremarkable life but I have discovered some little nuggets of information about him. Although he spent most of his life in Hellingly and Eastbourne (where he had an unusual occupation) he died…