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…

The Trouble with Seaford…

My last post about the preparations for the Dieppe and D-Landings were from an account by Seaford postman George Martin (1908-1976).  He was interviewed by members of Seaford Museum in June 1974.  The follow account is what he remembered about the town and its people…  There were four trains an hour in the 1930s.  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…

A unique Sussex Church

St Mary-in-the Castle in Hastings is one of the finest English churches I have visited and although it is now a thriving performance venue it is full of ecclesiastical interest. Strangely the best place to get a good view of the exterior of the church is on Google Maps as it is set back into…

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…

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…

A Sussex – Canadian hero

I was recently lucky to meet and interview a 93 year old Seafordian with a Canadian accent.  As today is the anniversary of the D-Day Landings I thought you may like to hear his story….. My full name is Anthony Edwin Stride Elliot and I was born on 14th November 1925 at 9, Pelham Place,…

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…

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…