Tag Archives: something sussex

Something Sussex: James Bond on the South Downs (Part One)

16 Dec

Regular readers will know of my love of the South Downs, but I doubt many will be aware of the connections between the South Downs and the famous secret agent James Bond. There are at least two occasions when filming for the popular series of films took place on the South Downs. One I have known about for some time, but I only learnt about the second earlier this year.

Probably the most famous connection was the use of Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre (then called the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum) for three weeks in the summer of 1984 for filming of scenes from the film A View to a Kill starring Roger Moore as James Bond. In the film Bond with the help of May Day (Grace Jones) prevents Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) from destroying Silicon Valley.

Amberley Chalk Pits Museum provided the location for the Main Strike Mine which was going to be blown up, triggering an earthquake which was going to cause a flood or something like that, I can’t remember the exact details of villain’s evil plan. The photo below shows the entrance to the mine which still bears the sign used during the filming.

Whilst Bond and May Day were busy saving the world (or at least San Francisco), Zorin attempted to make his escape in an airship. Bond caught hold of one the mooring ropes as the airship rose skywards, leaving May Day to get blown up just outside of the entrance to the mine.

The airship with Bond dangling from the rope rose up above the chalk pit in Sussex into the skies above San Francisco, finally getting tangled up on the Golden Gate Bridge, where Zorin finally met his end.

Many of the wagons used in the filming can be found around the museum, still bearing the livery of the fictional Zorin Industries. The one below has been stored inside and is part of a small display which celebrates the museum’s role in the film.

Something Sussex: Mae West’s lips – the Sussex connection

25 Nov

It was something of a surprise to discover that the tiny rural village of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex has a connection with such a famous and iconic piece of furniture.

The sofa is inspired by the lips of actress and sex symbol Mae West, and was the result of a collaboration between surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and Edward James (of West Dean Estate). I don’t know what exactly that collaboration involved or whether it took place in West Dean itself or elsewhere.

apparently there were five sofas made originally, although I suspect there have been many more copies made since the late 1930s when it was designed. The one pictured above is one of those five and is to be found on display behind glass in the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

I have long been an admirer of Dalí’s work, and have visited exhibitions of his work in both London and Paris and it seems almost inconceivable that there could be a connection with the tiny ancestral village nestling at the foot of the South Downs. I really am going to have to find out more about his connection with West Dean. I can’t help but wonder if any of my ancestors bumped into Dalí whilst working in the gardens or West Dean House itself?

Something Sussex: A Guide to the Shorehams [and it's vandals]

18 Nov

Whenever I visit a church I usually buy a copy of the church guide if there is one, they usually give a bit of background to the history of the church, its architecture and sometimes its people.

I wouldn’t normally bother with a little guide-book like this, which I discovered in a collectables shop in Eastbourne, East Sussex, on the basis that it is somewhat out of date and rather battered. However because I have ancestors from Shoreham I gave it a second glance, I noticed that the previous owner had actually written his name on it Arthur Harding Norwood and dated it Nov 1898.

What also stood out was that Arthur Harding Norwood had actually scribbled some comments in the guide-book, and that these comments were less than complimentary.

His comments begin on the front cover with the addition of the word VANDAL to name of the author and vicar of Old Shoreham Church the Rev. H. C. Adams, M.A.

We learn the reason for this on page 19, where the guide describes the church at New Shoreham:

Other improvements have been effected of late years. The heavy and unsightly pews have given way to open sittings and chairs, and the whole appearance of the church greatly improved.

At the foot of the page Arthur Harding Norwood has scribbled a note, Are chairs (especially ugly ones) in a church suitable or picturesque?

The guide-book itself begins by describing the situation of the two Shorehams:

The two Shorehams, Old and New, situated on the Sussex coast, half-way between Brighton and Worthing, are places of considerable interest, though no longer of the commercial and naval importance which attached to them some centuries ago. Their decay must be a matter of regret to all connected with them, and the more so because the local advantages, which in the first instance gave them pre-eminence, still exist unimpaired; nor is anything needed but a due employment of capital and enterprise to restore them to their ancient position.

The opening paragraph doesn’t escape Arthur Harding Norwood’s comment, “Capital & enterprise” would never restore Shoreham to it’s “ancient position,” if Shoreham were to be restored it would be converted into a hideous little Liverpool, with factories smoke & filth, the “restoration” began a few years ago with the hideous chemical works. The latest “improvement” being the hateful “Dolphin” Soap Works at Kingston.

The comment above is actually signed and dated (November 1898) but there is another comment, which is dated the 3rd October 1924, “Capital & enterprise” have built a hideous new bridge, in place of the Norfolk. “Enterprise” by the local Council of Vandals, in filling in the grand strips of water above the bridge – with reffuse from Shoreham dustbins, the stench from which is vile.

I would love to know why Arthur Harding Norwood made these comments, and whether they ever went any further than his own copy of the guide-book. I can just imagine him writing letters to The Times or a local newspaper.

I couldn’t help trying to find out who Arthur Harding Norwood was. It turns out that he was a painter, there are references to several of his paintings being sold at auction, but they give no idea of the value they attained (unless I subscribe). I have also found a reference to fact that some of his work was exhibited in London by the Society of British Artists.

My blogging schedule

6 Nov

In an attempt to simply matters for myself I decided to introduce a more rigid blogging schedule a couple of weeks ago. The idea being that I would spend less time deciding what to write about if I had a fixed theme each day.

So far I think it is working, but it is still early days, it does seem to have made things a little more efficient and freed up a bit more time for family history research, rather than just writing about it. The next stage is to try to get a few more posts planned ahead of time.

The seven themes I am using at the moment are:

Ancestral Profile - This a post focusing on one of my ancestors, some of these will be quite long and detailed whilst some will be quite short, depending on how much I know about the person in question. Once I have got a few more of these under my belt I will put up a page listing all the ancestors covered so far.

Picture Postcard Parade – This is a long running theme of mine, showcasing some of my postcard collection on this blog. Some of them are places connected with my family history, some are places that I have visited or mean something special to me and others are just postcards that appeal to me.

A-Z of English Genealogy – Each week I will use this post to write about one aspect of English genealogy, in an attempt to educate or at least provide something of use to my readers, aside from my usual scribblings about my relations.

Something Sussex – This post is an excuse to write about something to do with the county of Sussex, something that is not necessarily related to my family history but probably of historical interest in some way.

Free Friday – This theme allows me to write about anything I want to do about my family history. It will probably be related to the current project that I am working on but not always.

The Wandering Genealogist Unplugged – This will usually focus on something I have been doing away from the computer, hence the “unplugged”. This will usually mean either a visit to an archive, a visit to an ancestral location or graveyard, or just going for a walk. This means it will nearly always be on a Saturday, which is the only chance I have to get out.

Personal Genealogy Update – This is another long running theme, in which I write about what I have been up to during the previous week and what I hope to do in the coming week. Invariably the resulting post is mainly about what I have failed to achieve during the previous week.

I don’t know how long these themes will last. On a couple of occasions I have found myself with things to write about but they don’t fit in with any of the themes, perhaps in time I will do away with some of the rigidness of this regime, but for now it seems to be working.

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.

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