Alone with the Doodlebugs

My grandmother Bessie Gordon was in her early 40s during the Second World War. Her husband Alex, had been seriously wounded in the Great War and it is likely that he suffered from ‘shell-shock’. Alex and their 9 year old son Roger, had been evacuated to Dursley in Gloucestershire along with his sister Dorothy (Dolly)….

The father of Eastbourne Bellringing

Before lockdown I visited the bell chamber at St Mary’s Church, Eastbourne and was interested to see an unusual marble memorial for Harry Packham Bennett in the form of a large bell.  Harry was clearly one of the bell-ringers and, as a former railway policeman, I was interested to see that he had lost his…

A Good Soldier and Always a Gentleman

John William DANIELS was born in Loughton Essex in 1885, the son of landscape gardener Edwin Daniels from Ruabon, north Wales and Lydia from Shropshire.  The family moved to Eastbourne and John was educated at Holy Trinity School.  The 1911 Census shows that John with living with his parents and younger sister Annie at 2,…

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…