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…

Deadly Sins in a Sussex Church

Wherever I travel, I take a copy of Simon Jenkins book ‘1000 Best Churches’ which is usually a good indication of churches worth going out of your way to see. Occasionally though, I come across a church not mentioned in his book and wonder why it has been omitted. One such church is St George’s at Trotton…

The Constable and the Chicken Leg

Luther Constable (1849-1936) was born and died in Barcombe.  He was a bricklayer and was my great-great-great Uncle.  In June 1893 Luther was a victim of crime when one of his chickens was stolen from the coop at the family home in Hamsey Road, Barcombe. At 2/6d the chicken was quite valuable and Luther suspected the…

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 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…

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…