As I am still struggling to come back down to earth after the weekend at Who Do You Think You Are? Live I thought it might be a good idea to remind myself of where my roots are and to provide a complete contrast to the city streets of London.
This card was published by Frederick Douglas Miller, you might just be able to make out his name embossed in the bottom-right corner, along with the words “The Sussex Series”. He produced some spectacular photographic views of Sussex, which usually command a high price. This particular card was sent from nearby Worthing, Sussex on the 28th May 1918, to an address in Streatham, London.
As the caption says, this is Chanctonbury Ring. I have mentioned Chanctonbury Ring before, I passed it whilst walking the South Downs Way (and sat in the shade of the trees and had something to eat). It is a superb vantage point as it is one of the highest points in Sussex, on a clear day the views are spectacular. When I was last here (in July 2010) the conditions weren’t perfect, but you get the idea.
According to Wikipedia Bertrand Russell once remarked that “any view that includes Chanctonbury Ring is a good view” and I would have to whole-heartedly agree with him. Chanctonbury Ring and that particular stretch of the South Downs has provided a back-drop to my life and I am sure to the lives of many of my ancestors.
It is such a prominent landmark, that it is visible for miles (on a clear day). In fact there is an old saying around these parts that if you can clearly see Chanctonbury Ring then it is a sign that rain is on the way, and if you can’t see it then it is already raining. We country folk like to keep our weather forecasting simple!
Regular readers of my blog might recognize this view, I have featured similar views a couple of times before (here and here) and last week we were just up the road. It is of course the entrance to the ancestral village of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex, with the school on the left and the Selsey Arms pub on the right.
The difference with this card is its age, this card is postmarked 16th August 1950, probably making it at least two or three decades later than the others, and it was published the well-known publisher Raphael Tuck and Sons, Ltd.
There are a couple of clues in the picture which hint at a more “modern” card. At the bottom of the card is the end of a white line in the middle of the road, according to Wikipedia the first white lines in the UK appeared in 1921. The other noticeable difference is the line of telegraph poles on the left hand side of the road, look at all those insulators on the nearest one.
The nearest pole also has a small sign attached to it, in fact it is probably two signs, one facing each way along the road. I believe that they have the word telephone on them (this printed postcard is not detailed enough to be able to tell for certain), indicating to passing motorists the presence of a telephone kiosk nearby. Last time I was wandering around West Dean there was a telephone box down the road on the right-hand side of the road, just before the pub.
I wish the card was more detailed because I think I can see a bus stop on the left-hand side of the road (for buses towards Midhurst, Sussex) beyond the pub. Today the bus stop is a bit closer, almost opposite the pub, and has a bus shelter for when it rains.
The postcard below is currently one of my favourite postcards (and one of my most recent purchases). It shows part of the village of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex including the distinctive school building, which is the closest of the buildings on the left-hand side of the road.
I believe the wall in the bottom right-hand corner is part of the bridge where the road from Chichester to Midhurst crosses over the now disused railway which also ran from Chichester to Midhurst. I think that the bank in the bottom left-hand corner is part of the railway cutting. Google Street View clearly shows the bridge from the other side, but the view has been substantially altered by the presence of more trees.
This postcard was sent on the 8th August 1924, from West Dean to an address in Alton, Hampshire. It was produced by same person who was responsible for the postcard of West Dean Church I showed you last week. The style of the caption on that postcard is identical to this and at least one other in my collection. Unfortunately I don’t yet know who that person was.
This is one of the postcards I bought last weekend at Shoreham and is one of the best views of West Dean Church that I have seen.
In fact I don’t think I have seen a postcard from this angle before, roughly speaking the photo was taken from the garden of the vicarage looking south towards St. Andrew’s Church, above the roof of the church can be seen the roof and chimneys of West Dean House. Beyond that I think the hill on the left is probably Singletonhill Plantation, but I am not sure.
I love the fact that the photographer has captured the detail in the garden as well, with lots of fruit trees and what looks like a rose arch pointing towards the church tower. The gateway to the church is hidden behind the tall plant(s) in the centre, but the path can clearly be seen leading down the side of the garden and along the back wall.
I still don’t know who the publisher/photographer was, despite now having several from the same publisher/photographer. This particular card was not sent through the post, but it does have a message written on the back in pencil “The Church at West Dean we attended on Sunday [Cheerie] Chums August Camp 10th – 17th 1929″. The word Cheerie is not very clear but it is the only thing can I think it says, I wonder who they were and where they came from?
I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that this is the only historic postcard I have of Alton, Hampshire. I shall probably remedy this in the future, but for now you will have to make do with just this one.
This is the church in Alton, Hampshire where Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT and his wife Sarah had most of their children baptised and where both Henry and Sarah were buried. The postcard has not been used, but probably dates from between 1905 and 1910. The blank space in the top right-hand corner being used to write your message in if your were going to send the card abroad, when all of the back was needed for the address.
The back of the card also bears the name of the publisher/photographer, W.P. Varney of West End Studio, Alton. A bit of time spent in the trade directories for Hampshire would probably enable me to find out when W.P. Varney was trading.
I hope to get back to Alton this year and spend a bit more time exploring the area. I did pay the town a very brief visit last year when I took the photo below of St. Lawrence Parish Church as it looks now.
The postcard below is provided as a contrast to the one from last week, this one probably dates from the late 1960s or early 1970s and show a slightly different view (looking east) of The Aquarium at Brighton, Sussex. Madeira Drive is the road to the right of the Aquarium. The postcard was published by Photo Precision Limited, about whom I have been unable to find out any more information.
This is much more the way I remember it from my childhood. I have tried to remember when it was that I went on a school trip to the aquarium or dolphinarium as it also known. It must have been in the late 1970s. I don’t remember much about the visit, I have recollections of large red plastic covered seats with tables where we had our lunch, and I seem to recall the smell of egg sandwiches, but I could be wrong.
I remember there was a display by the dolphins (long since moved on) in a giant pool, with the dolphins splashing those sitting near the edge of the pool. Also I think they “sang” happy birthday to someone in our school group. I can’t remember anything else about the aquarium, but I do remember we went out onto the beach afterwards, where one of my classmates found a dead fish.
The building now houses the Brighton Sea Life Centre which is much more focused on conservation and education than when I was there, although I have not been there since that visit thirty or so years ago. This is how the entrance looks today (or a couple of years ago) on Google Street View.
Mention yesterday of the aquarium at Brighton, Sussex gives me the perfect excuse to show you this delightful card from my collection.
There is so much going on in this scene, obviously the key features are the Palace Pier (now known simply as Brighton Pier) and the aquarium (now known as the Sea Life Centre), although this only shows the entrance to the aquarium, with it’s clock tower (now gone) and steps leading underground into the aquarium itself.
The pier itself is devoid (thankfully) of most of the “attractions” that clutter the pier these days. These were the days of promenading and when the pier was used as a landing stage, as evidenced by the two larger vessels on either side of the end of the pier. There are plenty of other boats out to sea on the right-hand side, but I don’t know if this is Brighton’s fishing fleet or just pleasure boats.
Back on dry land there are plenty of examples of horse-drawn transport, and I wonder what the man at the bottom has in his hand cart? Surprisingly though there are not that many people wandering about, perhaps it was early morning, judging by the shadows I would have said it was before midday at least. Sadly there are no trees or plants that would give us a clue as to what time of year it was.
The postcard itself is unused and printed on the back are the words “Valentine’s Series”, indicating that it was published by Valentine & Sons Ltd of Dundee, Scotland, a well-known international firm of postcard publishers. I would imagine this dates from the early 1900s and certainly pre-First World War.