Tag Archives: seaford

Wandering: Over Seaford Head

3 Mar

I have been looking forward to this walk for a couple of weeks, no I tell a lie, I have been looked forward to repeating this walk since June 2010 when I last did it (although it was the other way round last time).

The weather conditions were much better back then, a little under two years ago it was a little hazy to start, but soon the sun came out and the conditions were glorious. Today we began with fog and rain and only much later did the weather begin to improve, but by then it was too late and we were on our way home.

Today’s walk was quite a short walk really, less than five miles, but conditions underfoot were less than ideal (yes, I did end up sitting in the mud on more than one occasion) which surprised me because we have been short of rain recently.

The walk started at Exceat Bridge in East Sussex (between Seaford and Eastbourne) and my wife and I followed the course of the Cuckmere River to the sea (this was the muddiest part of the walk) and we then headed west towards the town of Seaford. Because the tide was out the first part of this was along the foot of the cliffs, before ascending the steps at Hope Gap and continuing across the top of the cliffs and over Seaford Head, before descending into the town of Seaford.

The Seven Sisters, near Eastbourne, East Sussex (3rd March 2012)

The coastline in this part of the world is a truly incredible place to explore, even in the less than perfect conditions like today. We slowly picked our way along the foot of the cliffs (although not too close) and marvelled not just at the immense chalk cliffs, but also the variety of shells and stone scattered across the shore. From huge boulders of chalk with layers of flint running through them to the tiny little shells that litter the shore, it is a scene that must change every day as the tides work their magic.

Seagulls over the cliffs (3rd March 2012)

The cliffs are impressive in their scale, but once the sun comes out they take on an extra magic when their greyness is replaced by a dazzling whiteness, as seen below when we were descending into Seaford.

Seaford, East Sussex (3rd March 2012)

We spent a while in Seaford, perhaps an hour or so, certainly longer than I have spent before. I have ancestors from Seaford and of course Patrick Vaughan and his Canadian comrades were at Seaford during the First World War, so it is a place that I ought to explore further. However that wasn’t to be today, as the museum (in the wonderful Martello Tower) wasn’t open and the library is currently in temporary accommodation whilst a new one is being built.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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What happened next to Kate Allison?

30 Jan

With the widowed Kate Allison (who I could confidently call my 2x great-aunt) and presumably her five children back in Uckfield Registration District, it seemed only natural that she should turn to her family for help.

Maybe the Allison family were even living with my great-grandparents (Minnie and Henry Herbert Hemsley) in High Hurstwood, Sussex, but whether they were or not it makes perfect sense for my great-grandparents to help out and even “adopt” one of her daughters.

But maybe the picture I had built in my mind of the poor, helpless Kate, unable to look after her family wasn’t being fair, perhaps I shouldn’t be making that assumption. Sure it seemed like she had given up at least one of her children to be looked after by her sister and brother-in-law, but I still wasn’t sure whether that was the end of the story.

One other possibility was that after she had moved back to Sussex Kate herself had died and the children had been left orphans. I shouldn’t automatically assume that Kate simply couldn’t cope.

There was no sign in the GRO Indexes that Kate had died, not under the name of Kate Allison anyway, but what I did find was a marriage for Kate Allison in Q4 1917 in Uckfield Registration District. I knew I needed to get a copy of the marriage certificate to clear away any remaining doubts that I might have had about her identity.

The certificate that arrived showed that Kate Allison married Patrick Vaughan at High Hurstwood on the 25th December, the certificate said the year was 1918, but the marriage had been indexed in the last quarter of 1917. Hopefully that will turn out to be a clerical error, with the certificate having the wrong year, but filed in the correct year and quarter, but I still have to check that out.

The details for Kate were what I had expected, she was a 40-year-old widow living in High Hurstwood and her father was Thomas Driver, this time still alive and kicking despite what had been recorded at her first marriage.

Interestingly Patrick Vaughan was a widower, his age was given as 43 years old, he was living in what looked like Seaford (not many miles away on the Sussex coast) but the handwriting was a bit dodgy so I couldn’t be certain. His occupation was given as Soldier Sapper and his father was Thomas Vaughan a labourer. I wasn’t totally surprised to find Patrick was a soldier, after all the majority of the male population were fighting in the Great War, so that wasn’t unusual.

Then my brain started filling with the questions:

  • Was Patrick the father of the unfortunate Georgina Allison who was born and died in 1916?
  • Was Seaford his real home or was he merely stationed there?
  • Did Patrick survive the First World War? And did his service record survive the Second World War?
  • What happened to the children of Kate’s first marriage, is this why Minnie was “adopted”?
  • Did Patrick have any children from his previous marriage(s)?
  • Who were the two strangers who were witnesses to their marriage?

With access to many First World War service records on Ancestry.co.uk I knew that I should at least be able to answer a few of these questions. I hoped for Kate’s sake that this marriage would see her enter a new settled phase of her life, after several years of dramatic changes, but only further research would tell.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Postcard Album: The Seven Sisters

26 Aug

It has been a while since I last walked across the landscape below and I am thinking that the approaching bank holiday might give me the perfect opportunity to do so once again.

There are lots of other things I probably ought to be doing, but the weather forecast is looking quite good and I feel I need to get out on my own and just walk. Unfortunately there are lots of other places I would like to explore so I may not make it back again this weekend.

The caption says this view is of The Seven Sisters (the line of chalk cliffs stretching across the card) but it also shows Seaford Head in the foreground, which is probably not quite as famous, although the Coastguard Cottages which are just off to the left of the picture have appeared in many photos and paintings (not sure if I have them on a postcard though).

The picture itself doesn’t provide any clues to the age of this postcard and it has not been used, so the only clue as to its age is the name of the publisher, F. A. Bourne of Langley Road, Eastbourne, which is printed on the back. If I had to put a date on it then I would have said early 1920s, but I could easily be a decade out either way.

Something Sussex: The Seven Sisters from Seaford Head

4 Nov

This view was taken by me on the 21st June 2010, the row of cliffs in the distance are the Seven Sisters and the path leads down from Seaford Head to Hope Gap, where a set of steps allow access to the shoreline.

This photo has been my desktop wallpaper since the day it was taken, but I think it is probably time I changed it now. Summer has well and truly passed and it is probably time to find something more seasonal (and I don’t mean dancing snowmen and bouncing Christmas puddings) to act as my wallpaper.

This picture embodies so many happy memories for me. Although this wasn’t part of my South Downs Way walk, it is part of the South Downs and the South Downs Way does run across the top of the Seven Sisters. My enduring memories of 2010 will be of my time spent walking the South Downs, making the most of my unemployment.

The walk on 21st June was quite a short walk, probably only four or five miles in distance and only a few hours in the afternoon. The weather started out quite dull, but the sun came out as I started to climb up hill away from the town of Seaford, East Sussex and it was absolutely stunning to see the white chalk cliffs shining brilliantly in the sunshine.

I spent probably an hour or so at the foot of the cliffs, picking my way among the rock pools, searching for unusual stones and looking up in awe at the towering cliffs. It was really interesting to see the cliffs up close (although not getting too close), it was like seeing a cross-section through the hills that I had spent so much time walking upon.

Picture Postcard Parade (widescreen edition): Seaford Esplanade, looking West

1 Oct

I couldn’t resist this card when it came up on eBay, partly because I have ancestors from Seaford, Sussex but mainly for the novelty value of the size of the thing. The actual size is 292mm x 82mm, which is about the same height of a normal postcard but over twice the width.

Seaford Esplanade, looking West

If you click on the image you can have a look in detail, but the print quality is a little disappointing to be honest. I don’t know whether that is because of the size or just a poor quality printing process. It is clear enough to make out some of the buildings in the town on the right-hand side, but not much detail of the people strolling along the seafront on the left-hand side.

I have had a look on Google Street View, but I haven’t been able to find exactly the same viewpoint. It looks like a lot of the buildings along the Esplanade have either been demolished and rebuilt or heavily altered.

I know virtually nothing about the publisher of the card, or when it was published. It has not been used and the back of the card names it as a PANORAMICARD. Down the left-hand side of the back is the name of J.B. Armstrong, 52 High St., Seaford. As I have seen other Panoramicards from different parts of the country I assume that J.B. Armstrong was the person who commissioned this particular Panoramicard, rather than the actual publisher.

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

Litlington White Horse

11 May

I warned you last week that there were more hill figures to come, so as promised (or threatened) here is a photo of the Litlington White Horse, taken under cloudy skies last Wednesday.

Litlington White Horse

This hill figure was cut into the chalk on the side of Hindover Hill (or High and Over Hill) in 1924. It is situated about a mile and a half south-west of the village of Alfriston in East Sussex, just of the road to Seaford. It looks down into the valley of the Cuckmere river below.

White Horse close-up

The current horse apparently replaced an earlier horse on Hindover Hill which had been lost (overgrown). According to The Hillfigure Homepage, horses represent the largest category of hill figures existing in this country.

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