Our next meeting is on Wednesday, 28 March. Click for details.
WE HOPE that members will feel inspired to contribute some local history items that they have discovered. To get them published here, please contact us.
The grand pyramidal tomb of John (Mad Jack) Fuller in Brightling churchyard.
From left to right: Glebe Cottage (where the Dennetts lived), Dennetts Stores, stable for ponies (for delivering Dennett’s goods), Delphine’s cafe and Arthur Raylor butcher’s shop.
The house in the background is ‘Little Hill’ and on the right is Darby’s cottage.
From a photograph taken in the 1950s or 60s. The scene is much the same today, with a delicatessen and a Thai restaurant replacing the shops. A sign of changing times and tastes.
THE LAST TEAM OF OXEN Ploughing in Sussex.
Oxen were once widely used across Sussex for ploughing on the Downs. Because of their great strength, they could pull the heavy wooden Sussex plough on the sloping ground; working better and longer than horses. On the right in this photograph, ‘Curly’ Pope holds the goad and the farmer (probably Mr Gorringe of Exceat Farm) stands in the background on the left. Oxen fell out of favour when the reaper-binder was introduced because they could not pull it quickly enough, and horses were used instead. After a short reprise in 1926, when this team was bought by Major Harding of Birling Manor Farm, oxen were never again to be seen working on the Sussex Downs.
Removing the old steps at Birling Gap - now some distance from the cliff edge. October 2017
Installing the new steps nearer the cliff. December 2017. Photographs by Lee Roberts.
Seaford Bay and Newhaven in the 1960s.
Unknown schoolgirl and Lady Shackleton, Commissioner of Guides. Photographed at Endcliffe School, Eastbourne in 1921.

Despite the very cold weather, we had a good turn out to hear Kevin Gordon entertain us with tales of "Quirky Sussex - odd places and odd people".  These are just a few of his interesting and well-researched anecdotes.  The Willingdon village pump is housed in a little shelter decorated not with Sussex flints but with sheep knuckle bones.  It stands opposite the Red Lion pub, made famous in George Orwell's "Animal Farm".  At Compton Place a young visitor, bored with having to be indoors because of the weather, scratched her name on a pane of glass with her diamond ring: "Alex 1892".  In 1918, as Tsarina Alexandra, the wife of Tsar Nicolas, she was put to death in  the Bolshevik Revolution.  The Jireh chapel in Lewes has a memorial to J Jenkins W.A. - he was the self-styled Welsh Ambassador to the area!  "Mad Jack" Fuller had a pyramid built in which he wanted to be buried - he lived another 24 years after its completion.  Blue plaques in the area: Alan Turing was at school in St Leonards; Sherlock Holmes retired to somewhere near East Dean; Banoffee pie was invented at a restaurant in Jevington - so we have a real character, a fictitious character and a dessert!  Grey Owl, who became famous in North America, was not an American Indian - he was an Englishman from Hastings who re-invented himself.  Lancing College chapel contains a memorial window to Trevor Huddleston (Archbishop of the Indian Ocean) which was unveiled by Desmond Tutu.  The Sussex Coaster pub in Newhaven has a teapot stuck on the roof - put there by disgruntled roof workers who never got offered a cup of tea while they were working there.  All in all it was a most enjoyable afternoon and well worth braving the weather.

Christine Reid

From the Black and White Budget weekly magazine, published Feb 23, 1901. Photo by J Coster.
SENSATIONALISED FRONT COVER from the TRUE DECTECTIVE, March 1984. (The scantily clad woman with a gun has nothing to do with it.) Inside, the magazine tells the story of Dr John Bodkin Adams; a doctor with surgeries in Eastbourne and East Dean. Accused of "easing the passing" of his patients, he stood trial at the Old Bailey for murder. You can read the real, but none the less sensational story in booklet 48, written by Dr John Surtees. Decide for yourself whether he was a murder or man of mercy - it is not a clear-cut decision.