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.
JULY MEETING REPORT
Murder on a hot summer’s day - 25th July 2018.
I expect each organisation has a plague of butterflies when it is a boiling hot afternoon. That’s even when the speaker is a favourite and never fails us. However, much to Ian Everest's delight and ours, a great many came and seemed to enjoy this tale of drunken murder and passion. There were overtones of poverty, booze and the companionship of travellers.
It was a true story of an older woman and younger man who were 'travellers' or 'tramps' in the late C19th. Life didn't hold much for such folk and the Rev A. A. Evans in our own parish showed great compassion to such unfortunates, as did the villagers of Denton. Reports of the time described how this down-trodden couple passed through Denton. The woman was a ‘little the worse for wear’, as was her companion, and were having a good old barney with some fisticuffs. But it seems they made their way to a barn for the night, known to shelter travellers. The next day the farmer who owned the barn, found the body of a woman on the Downs nearby and walked on to Newhaven to report to the police.
This story reflects the social and economic and administrative ways of the time. The man was found guilty of manslaughter sentenced to 14 years hard labour and the woman was buried in a pauper’s grave in Newhaven cemetery.
Ian captured the local scenery and ambience of South Heighton, Poverty Bottom, Bishopstone and, of course, Denton - not forgetting The Flying Fish Pub (with a recommendation for a visit).
For our next meeting we return to the village hall on September 26th to hear about "The Medical Officer's Diary... RAF Luneburg 1946”. Peter Harrison tells his father's remarkable story in words and pictures.
TOBOGGANING AT EASTBOURNE
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.
Ever wondered about the unlikely story of the tunnel running from the Lamb Inn in Eastbourne to the old Parsonage? Sometimes referred to as a smugglers or monks tunnel, it now seems certain that it was a cesspit. Not as romantic a tale but archeologist Jo Seaman finds the truth more exciting and unusual. Watch his investigation report from the cellars of the Lamb here.
This photograph, from the 1950s, appears to show Donald Swann (of Flanders and Swann fame) seated at a harmonium on the village green. We would really like to know more about it so, if you remember the occasion or can identify anyone in it, please contact us.
Here is a post card showing the forge at East Dean with blacksmith Luther Hills, and another unidentified man, standing outside. It was sent in 1949 to Mrs Gardner of St George's Square in London SW1. Mr Richardson wrote on it:
"The weather has been rather sunny & foggy in turns & the temperatures enervating."
This dramatic post card was published by A E Marchant, a wholesale newsagent based in Seaford. It shows rough seas pounding Seaford beach before it was raised and re-inforced in 1987 to prevent flooding in the town. The salt spray is drifting over some parked cars of early 1960s vintage and a loan crane on the beach (left) struggles, Canute-like, to turn back the tide!
In the photo Martello Tower no. 74 still has the additions put on top to make it into a cafe, and described by Dirk Bogarde as "a very curious and dampish place" where they took tea after swimming. These alterations have now been removed and the tower has taken on the more dignified role as the town's museum.
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.