Posts Tagged ‘Sussex’


September 22, 2016

From my childhood home in Ifield in Sussex to a village called Crosshill in Ayrshire, Scotland is  a road journey of 435 miles which the Automobile Association estimate would take seven and a quarter hours of continuous driving. Yet my childhood home was called Crosshill and was named after this village. My home was one of a pair of semi-detached homes. The other was called Straiton and that is named after the neighbouring village to Crosshill.

When returning home from a recent holiday in Scotland there was an opportunity to visit Crosshill in Ayrshire and see just what my old home had been named after.

Like many a Scottish village it is quite an attractive place.


Here we have some of the main street and just opposite here there is a Post Office and store where I was allowed to copy an old photo they had hanging up.image004This photo, to judge by the car, dates from my childhood era.

We also had it pointed out to us where we could see more photos from the past.


The square had a war memorial and of course, it still does.


This is King Street in 1913 – a dozen or so years after my home was built.image010A similar view now.


And this was my childhood home – the right half of the pair. The left half is Straiton.


Nellie and Reuben at camp

July 9, 2016

Nellie was my Gran’s cousin. She was the daughter of Susannah Allen whereas my gran descended from Susannah’s sister, Sarah Ann. I still don’t know why Sarah Ann, Susannah and their elder sister Ellen all left the Butley area in Suffolk to come and live in the Isfield area of Sussex.

By the time of my childhood that older generation were long gone, but my dad knew of people and when we were at camp we could cycle to Isfield and see Nellie and Reuben, her husband. But this picture shows the two of them visiting us at camp, on Furlongs Farm. I guess it was after 1959 when Dad got a car. He’d have driven up to Isfield to collect them.


Standing at the back is a boy I can’t 100% identify. It doesn’t quite look like my brother but I guess it is. And the smaller boy is me.

Sitting we have my mum, Nellie, Reuben and my dad. As you can see, we sat quite comfortably at camp. There was space for our family to sit around a table in the tent if that was what the weather demanded.

Ellen was born in 1894. She married John Newnham in 1917 but he died in 1930. She married Reuben in 1934. He died in 1964. Nellie followed him in 1978. Both are buried at Isfield.

A ginger beer bottle

June 30, 2016

Let’s start with my usual, ‘I do not collect bottles’. However bottles sometimes find me and this is one of them It’s a stoneware bottle for ginger beer.


This is quite small, standing about 7 inches tall with its stopper, The company manufacturing the drink were R Fry and Co who were Brighton based  manufacturers of mineral waters – lemonade and the like..

I know little of the company history but I do recall that R Fry lemonade (in glass bottles) was available during my 1950s childhood in Sussex.

I particularly like the fact that this bottle has an R Fry stopper.image004I’m guessing that this could date from about the 1920s but I am no expert and would be pleased to be corrected.

I’ll also add that, unseen in my photos, a large lump of the outer glaze is missing on the back of the bottle which probably renders it valueless to collectors.

 Like this bottle – but don’t need any more!


June 24, 2016

Isfield – not to be confused with my childhood home of Ifield – is an important place to me. I can trace direct ancestors, baptised at the church, back into the 17th century. Isfield is in East Sussex. It’s about 5 and a bit miles north east of Lewes and is, in many ways, an ordinary enough place but to me it is special. Right through into the 1960s I visited relatives in Isfield but if I have any now, I don’t know them.

Unsurprisingly, when I was really into my own family history, ten or more years ago, I acquired postcards of relevant places including Isfield to supplement the family ones I had. This is one I acquired.


This attractively tinted photo shows the forge at Isfield. I have a detailed 1899 map of the area and we can see ‘smithy’ marked on it.


Now I guess my great grandfather’s brother, Harry, learned his trade here. The 1871 census lists him as a blacksmith, living with his parents in Isfield. Later he worked in neighbouring Ringmer but he returned to Isfield after his wife died.

Isfield was the place three sisters from Butley in Suffolk happened to come to. I really don’t know why, but Sarah Ann Crosby – mentioned in yesterday’s blog post – came, met and married my great grandfather and they lived the rest of their lives in or quite near to Isfield.



Dad’s notes on relatives from Butley

June 23, 2016

Butley is in south Suffolk, not far from Woodbridge.

I came across a note dad had made back in 1968. He visited Butley with his mum. Butley had been the childhood home of her mum – my great grandmother. Her maiden name was Sarah Ann Crosby.

Back in 1968 he knew very little. I’d have been a teenager and probably not much interested.

Here’s the first part of his note.


Dad’s writing never was that easy to read so I’ll transcribe.

Butley – 11-7-68

A woman named Crosby is remembered by the village shopkeeper. She married Charlie Mann the village cobbler. They had a daughter, Mary Ann whom my mother remembers visiting them at Isfield. Mary Ann went to Canada or America. There was also a son, Harry, killed in World War 1.

None of the children at the village school knew the name Crosby.

We now know a bit more than this. Eliza Crosby did marry Charlie Mann, We know of five children. Charles was born in 1888, Mary Ann in 1890, William (sometimes George) in 1892, Harry in 1894, and Edward in 1896.

There is a second part to dad’s notes.


Aunt Ellen married a Snowdon in Sussex and later he died and she married Huntley. It was this aunt who took charge of Sarah Ann. Sarah Ann worked at Gibraltar Farm.

There was an Uncle Ted and Uncle Jack.

In fact my gran had nine uncles and aunts called Crosby as well as her mother, Sarah Ann. Gibraltar Farm appears to be in Firle. I know my dad always thought that Sarah Ann moved to Sussex when she was a girl. I think from census records she was over 20 so being looked after by her big sister Ellen may not have been day to day care, but maybe helping her find a place to work.

It was interesting to find Dad’s note – largely correct but written on spoken testimony from his mum only.

Sussex County Magazine

June 6, 2016

My dad started taking the Sussex County Magazine in 1948 and continued until that version ceased publication in 1956. If he got a whole year, he had them bound into one book with one index. I have these and also the ones that never were bound – a few from 1948 and 1955 onwards. These have their front covers on which I think make them more attractive.

And this one would really have excited us when it was delivered through our front door for it depicts our village. It dates from January 1955.


That’s the Plough Inn in Ifield. Ifield Street which runs off to the left leads to the church. On the right, under the spreading tree was an old blacksmith’s smithy. Just outside was the iron disc on which tyres were fitted to wooden wheels. It’s still there and so is The Plough.


Actually, it is remarkably the same considering 60 years and the growth of Crawley in that time.

But back to the magazine and its headline for what was inside – Old barrel organs at Sussex churches. Amongst those depicted is the one at Piddinghoe.

image006My dad must have remembered this article for when opportunity arose we went to see this barrel organ. I recall winding the handle and seeing how it worked – changing the hymn by a small movement of the barrel. Yet I can’t have heard anything for this was a pipe organ and the pipes were missing. Memory plays tricks for I’d have sworn we made music on that organ.

I still get much enjoyment looking at these magazines about my birth and childhood county.

Worthing Beach

June 1, 2016

I grew up little more than 25 miles from Worthing. We never went there. My dad had no taste, really, for seaside towns with no other function other than holiday places and retirement homes. I tend to follow him in that view.

I used to go to Worthing as a train spotter – not because Worthing attracted but because this enabled a train to pass the Lancing Carriage Works which were home to a couple of my favourite ‘Terrier’ locos and also because the local runabout ticket allowed one to go to Worthing.

I have a memory of once going to the seafront and not being much impressed.

Last month we made a trip to Worthing. Sorry Worthing. I still wasn’t impressed all that much. The sea front seemed to be a way of taking money off motorists (to park) without offering them very much. However, we were there for a purpose and parked up in a multi storey park near Howarth – the oboe maker who we needed to visit and not that far from the front. We took a picnic and as it was a tad breezy we quite fancied sitting in one of the shelters with a sea view. But the seats on the sea facing side were no longer there so we sat on a seat facing the sea but with the main road just behind. It just didn’t feel welcoming.

The interesting things I found to look at included the pillars, way out to sea.


These seem to be the as yet incomplete wind turbines of a massive off shore windfarm being constructed along 20 miles or so of the Sussex coast. They are way, way out to sea and don’t really represent an intrusion on the sea view.

There was also a winch on the beach to take a look at.


Clearly this had been used to haul fishing boats ashore as happens at Dungeness and also at Hastings. I enjoyed seeing it.

Now I must redress the balance. My late sister wrote about a trip to Worthing in 2007. Like me, she didn’t know the place. Unlike me she decided it was a vibrant place. She visited in an August.

I was quite pleased to get away.

A statement of the obvious

May 10, 2016

Yes, it looks to be a statement of the obvious, but at other times of the day it may not be.


This is a 1999 photo on my first digital camera so it doesn’t blow up much. But quite clearly, the road has flooded. This is Bosham in West Sussex where they are all too accustomed to people returning to a parked car to find it well immersed in the briny.


The houses lining Bosham Harbour are built to cope.


It’s visitors, and there are many, who get into difficulty.

Bosham is a pretty village not that far from Chichester. It has the marine air to it – literally, of course, for it is beside the sea but also in the style of building.


And here’s Bosham from across the harbour.


Worth a visit – but take care as to where you park your car!

Granny and Grandad get a garden

May 1, 2016

Life is so very different now from when my grandparents were young. Back when my dad was born, in 1919, the family household was a flat. It remained that flat until the Second World War disrupted life. The family home was Bexhill on Sea on the Sussex Coast. It was evacuated and the grandparents moved from one temporary place to another until a more permanent home – another flat – was occupied in Tunbridge wells. When Grandad retired – about 1955 – they moved back to Bexhill, to rooms in a house and then in 1957 they were able to rent a brand new home. This was a bungalow built especially for older folk. The home was great but it was a long way to shops and facilities.

For the first time Granny and Grandad had a garden to call their own and they made good use of it.


This photo of the couple dates from 1957 and shows them admiring their plot and planning what to do with it.

Granny would have been 65 and Grandad about 67 or 68. Grandad had suffered a bad leg for years.

This was a happy and cheerful home. I always enjoyed going there. My Granny and Grandad were such caring people. It was probably sometime around this time that Grandad achieved his ambition of getting £5 per week. He never achieved that as a worker. They were never well off but always seemed able to share what they had and in retirement they always had time for others. All the neighbours at this house were elderly and Grandad would call on several each day and make sure they were OK. I’d like to think I picked up much from them, both directly and via my dad.

Happy memories!

Eric Ravilious – April

April 16, 2016

The Sussex Trug

Art calendars are a good idea. Each new month reveals something new to explore and enjoy. The Ravilious calendar for this year is based on his woodcuts. Maybe that’s not a fashionable art form just now, but what fantastic work can be turned out – and being a wood cut, it can be repeatedly printed. Here we have the April photo I have been enjoying for a fortnight or so.


One could say this is an odd choice for April for we appear to be in the season of mellow fruitfulness and indeed this was Eric’s representation of autumn for a literary journal called the Cornhill Magazine. Our artist created this one in 1935.

I rather like the trugs that appear here. Yes they are universal, but some of us think of them as very much Sussex trugs. So here we see our Sussex trug with just a length of raffia in it.

image004This one was made by Thomas Smith of Herstmonceux.

image006 And yes, Herstmonceux, despite the foreign sounding name is in Sussex and is less than ten miles from Eastbourne where Ravilious had been a student. Trugs would surely have been familiar items in the Ravilious world.