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…

The Duke who loved Skittles

Spencer Cavendish, the 8th Duke of Devonshire (1833-1908) was rather revered in Eastbourne for his financial support to improve the town. Outside of Sussex he was generally known as the ‘Marquess of Hartington’. Although a Liberal politician he opposed his party’s opposition to Home Rule for Ireland and afterwards became quite conservative. During a long…

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 International Sussex Woman

To commemorate International Women’s Day I thought I would tell you about an international shark-catching Sussex heroine! Ethelwyn Wilkinson was born in Seaford in 1887, the daughter of William and Ada Wilkinson. Her father was a builder and they lived in the High Street.  Ethelwyn married a New Zealand adventurer at St Leonard’s Church, Seaford on…

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…