The Music of Bells is Sweet

Thomas Lewis was born on 28th December 1845 in Church Street, Old Town, Eastbourne, the son of Thomas Lewis (1805-1883) and Elizabeth Miller (1804-1871) originally from Ringmer.  Living so close to the Parish Church it is no wonder that the Lewis family were all bell-ringers. Tom had six brothers who all became bell-ringers at St Mary’s and…

The Sailor-girl with a Rocky History

The ship Coonatto started its life in Rotherhithe on the south bank of the Thames in 1863. She was built by Thomas Bilbe & Son to a new design which used both timber and iron – known as “composite hull construction”  Although this made the hull stronger, it was of course heavier. She was a square-rigged clipper and…

The Painter, The Policeman and the Pug

I am in contact with a gentleman whose great-grandfather was an artist William Edwin Pimm (1864-1953) who lived for a few years at the Manor House in Alfriston. He came from a distinguished family, his father James Norris Pimm (1837-1903) was a Deputy and Common Councillor of the City of London and was present at…

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…