EAST DEAN & FRISTON LOCAL HISTORY GROUP
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.
This is our stall and exhibition at the Village Fete in June. The weather was kinder this year, with no repeat of last year's downpour.
There were lots of visitors. Booklet sales and comments about the exhibition were encouraging, and a good number of new members were signed up.
Thanks to everyone who helped set up those pesky tents, and a special 'thank you' to those who visited our stall. Now it's time to pack it all away until next year.
There was a very successful and interesting visit to the Eastbourne Town Hall on the 13 August.
It was a guided tour of Eastbourne’s magnificent Victorian Town Hall. Designed by the Birmingham architect W Tadman-Faulkes in 1880, the building was opened on October 20th 1886. The mayor and chauffeur were our guides with a behind the scenes look at the workings of local government.
Our apologies to those who could not get a place on this visit but numbers had to be limited for practical reasons.
Photos by Linda Keller
This is how the bar of the Birling Gap Hotel looked in the 1960s with its unusual indoor thatch. The woman behind the bar is Sandra Collins, who ran the hotel along with her husband Graham and father-in-law Jack. Additions to hotel were given planning permission in July 1988 and again in September 1989, so it is likely that the bar stayed the same until then. Thanks to Esther and Sid Worsfold for supplying this information.
KEEPING OUR WORD ON A "SCRAP OF PAPER"
This Roll of Honour contains the names of old boys of Eastdean and Friston School, who served their King and Country in defence of our homes and lives, in the Great War 1914-1918. When right fought might, keeping our word on a 'scrap of paper'.
Perhaps you have read this on the newly restored Roll of Honour, now hanging in the Village Hall, and wondered what it meant.
The 'scrap of paper' referred to is the Treaty of London, signed on the 19th April 1839 by Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia and Russia, guaranteeing the sovereignty of the newly recognised country of Belgium. Despite this Treaty, Belgium was invaded by Germany on 4 August 1914 and, as a result, Britain declared war on them. The German Chancellor (von Bethmann-Hollweg) was reported to have been angered by the move and said that "just for a scrap of paper Great Britain was going to make war on a kindred nation who desired nothing better than to be friends with her."
In our archives is an old map showing the land purchased by Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) to form Eastbourne Downlands, which was set up to protect this spectacularly beautiful part of the South Downs. There were very few planning restrictions in the 1920s and large areas of the Downs were being lost to speculative house building. Concerned voices were raised at the prospect of Eastbourne losing its surrounding Downland. In 1924 Councillor J W Woolnough spoke to the local Chamber of Commerce about the rampant loss of the open Downs to ill-conceived housing schemes. Many in the town realised that Eastbourne depended upon tourism for its prosperity and that the Downs were one of the main attractions.
EBC, persuaded by Mr Woolnough’s Downs Preservation Committee, concluded that the only practical way to prevent development was to buy the Downland adjacent to Eastbourne. Although the council’s plan to fund the land purchase by increasing local taxes was approved unanimously at a statuary meeting of rate payers, the council had to get Parliament's approval to buy the land. Below is a list of the 1,659 hectares or 4,100 acres, purchased for a total of £91,291. 1s. 7d.
JANUARY MEETING REPORT
My family in East Dean and Eastbourne... fascinating tales of Kevin Gordon's family." That was the title of last month's talk. It was precisely that, although we never did get to hear of how aunt Flo came to fall in Friston Pond.
There were stunning old photographs of East Dean and Eastbourne and a little beyond, showing where Kevin had wandered as a child or where his mother had lived. After early life in Eastbourne, his mother had gone to live with an aunt at The Old Bakehouse, East Dean, and there was an amazing old photograph from our archives, given to us by a resident, showing the house in almost splendid isolation with the sweeps of Friston Mill just showing in the distance. As well, there were photographs of children from East Dean and Friston School (still there although now a private house) dressed in nursery rhyme attire with his mother and friends and teachers clearly named. And, if you didn't think Father Christmas and his carriage (horse and cart) came to these parts, you could see a small lad (Kevin) gazing in wonderment.
The tales and photographs of his grandparents and parents in Eastbourne were also fascinating. Kevin had gone to great lengths over the years to check out the tales of family heroics. And they were true. It wasn't everyone who had a camera at the end of the 19th century but Kevin's grandmother did, and she took splendid photos of streets, buildings, family and the inside of their home.
This is a photo of how the Birling Gap Hotel looked during the 1950s. Is that well real or just a way of prising loose change from unsuspecting visitors?
No, it turns out it is just a gate!