Picture Postcard Parade: Seaford from East Cliff

17 Sep

If I were to create a top-ten of  my favourite postcards (now there’s an idea) this one would almost certainly be in it. This is an excellent quality photographic card which features, in incredible detail (click on the image if you don’t believe me), the coastal town of Seaford, East Sussex and the countryside beyond. The card was posted in Seaford on September 1910, although I can’t quite make out the exact day.

Seaford from East Cliff

My copy of the eleventh edition of Black’s Guide to Sussex and its Watering-Places (published in 1898 by Adam and Charles Black of London) describes Seaford thus:

In a break of the cliffs, where the Ouse enters the sea, Seaford displays a growing assembly of red and gray houses, the new ones running rather to the bungalow style, nearly all offering accommodation to the visitors who throng this place in the holiday season. Its nucleus as a health resort may be considered the Convalescent Hospital, a well-known London charity, to which has lately been added the Surrey Convalescent Home, taking advantage of the “tonic” properties claimed for the air, and of the frequent sunshine with which Seaford is blessed, not to speak of some little shelter from the east wind. The drainage and the water supply have been seen to ; then it has an esplanade, a shingly beach, bathing machines, rowing boats, sailing yachts, and cricket field. The great factor in its recent prosperity is the Golf Links stretching over the Downs to the east. The scenery around has admirers. For our part, we are disposed to pronounce it somewhat monotonous in its expanse of bare green tableland ; but there are hidden hereabouts some pretty nooks ; and two or three of the quaintest villages in Sussex nestle along the course of the Cuckmere, which falls into the sea 3 miles eastward.

I have several reasons for valuing this card so highly, aside from the quality and level of detail. Of course I have ancestors that came from Seaford (or at least passed through), and it also provides an excellent cross-section of Sussex landscapes, with a beach and chalk cliffs side by side, and a backdrop of the rolling hills of the South Downs.

Perhaps the strongest reason for my love of this card is the personal memories it conjures, and hopefully will continue to do so for years to come. One of my most enjoyable days this Summer started out with a climb up the hill from Seaford to roughly the same spot, where I paused and took in the view across Seaford to Newhaven and the hills beyond.

It was not long after that day that I returned to full-time work and my Summer of exploring was brought to an end, but I still have happy memories of that short walk from Seaford up over Seaford Head and down to the mouth of the Cuckmere River. Lots of memories and lots of photographs, like the one below, which was taken almost 100 years after the postcard above was sent. Happy days.

Seaford, East Sussex 21 Jun 2010

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