Tag Archives: west sussex

The Sussex and South London Family History Fair

11 Mar

Today I made my annual visit to the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley, West Sussex. Forsaking the swimming pool, climbing wall and squash courts I made my way to the family history fair hidden away in the corner of one of the halls.

When I say hidden I mean it, there was no signage that I could see until I was almost at the door to the hall. Fortunately from previous visits I knew where I was going, otherwise who knows what energetic past-time it might have got tangled up in.

As family history events go this couldn’t more different to Who Do You Think You Are? Live a couple of weeks ago. It was small (about twenty stalls), relatively quiet (apart from the thundering of basketballs next door), no talks or lectures and definitely no celebrities.

There was quite a mix of stalls, some I had seen at Olympia and some not, but most if not all were familiar faces, from previous family history fairs. There seemed to be more of an emphasis on books, maps and postcards than at Olympia, but from my point of view that wasn’t a bad thing.

In fact that was a good thing, if it hadn’t been for the pair of postcard dealers I probably would have been in and out within half an hour, but even then I was on my way back to the railway station in about an hour and a half.

To be honest I didn’t really have very high expectations from this fair and in this respect I wasn’t disappointed. I only came away with one purchase, a book entitled The Future of the South Downs edited by Gerald Smart and Peter Brandon. It looks like it should be an interesting read, split between the history of the South Downs and the challenges facing them now and in the future.

I very much fear for the future of small family history fairs like this. In a genealogy world becoming increasingly dominated by the internet and the likes of WDYTYA Live I am not sure that they will survive. I would have to suggest that the organisers haven’t really helped themselves, their website is very sparse on details. That being said I might try to get to their Kent fair in May.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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A taste of the South Downs on the BBC

4 Mar

I don’t watch a lot of television these days, but occasionally a programme comes along that justifies taking time out to watch on BBC iPlayer. Such was the case with The Great British Countryside which saw Julia Bradbury and Hugh Dennis exploring the South Downs.

The hour long programme gives a wonderful taste of the South Downs, never lingering long in one place and covering the length of hills from the Seven Sisters on the East Sussex coast, through to the watercress beds of Hampshire.

There is some wonderful scenery, as one would expect, but also some explanation of how the Downs were formed and some of the properties of chalk and flint. Hugh Dennis climbs the chalk cliffs (presumably one of the Seven Sisters) and sees just how soft and crumbly the chalk is. We also learn how the chalk impacts on things like horse racing and growing grapes.

Subjects are varied, taking in the history, agriculture, industry and leisure aspects of the South Downs, in short a real cross-section of how man has interacted with the Downs over the centuries.

This programme is a great introduction to the South Downs and even those like me who have grown up in it’s shadow may learn a thing or two about this wonderful landscape.

This episode of The Great British Countryside is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until Thursday 15th March 2012.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Henfield, Sussex – parish register transcriptions released

19 Feb

Every once in a while it feels like a particular genealogical resource has been created just for my benefit, such is the case with one of the latest releases from The Parish Register Transcription Society.

I have been eagerly awaiting the latest parish register transcription CD since it was announced last year, because it covers the parish of Henfield, Sussex which has been home to my Trower ancestors for a couple of hundred years.

The transcriptions cover the following registers for the following years:

Baptisms 1596 – 1897
Banns 1653 – 1656, 1687 – 1698, 1756 – 1812 & 1823 – 1901
Marriages 1595 – 1894
Burials 1595 – 1900

Naturally I have consulted the Henfield parish registers dozens of time, usually on microfilm or microfiche at the West Sussex Record Office, but to have this transcript available at home is going to be a great boost to my research.

Although I have probably extracted every Trower in the registers, this transcription will become particularly handy when it comes to tracing descendants of my ancestors as a result of the marriages of the women of the family. Each new family surname requires another visit to the parish registers.

This collection of transcriptions is available to buy on CD through their website and others (I ordered my copy from the Sussex Family History Group) or it can be searched online through their pay-per-view Frontis website.

For those with Sussex ancestors the PRTS are currently working on the following parishes: Cuckfield, Pagham, Slinfold and Coldwaltham.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Two weeks and counting …

10 Feb

Two weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 at Olympia, London, billed as “the biggest family history event in the world”.

Everything is in place for my three days family history extravaganza, all that I need now is for the snow to clear off and I am all set.

Looking through the list of exhibitors I noticed a rather surprising, but welcome, addition to the usual list of names. The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum from Singleton, West Sussex will have a stand in the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show.

The description from the list of exhibitors gives a good idea of what the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum is all about, “Over 45 rescued buildings rebuilt in a beautiful setting in the South Downs National Park, bringing to life homes, farms and workplaces of the South-east over the past 500 years.

Although there isn’t really a direct connection with family history (except there is in my case), it is a perfect fit for those wishing to learn more about the rural lives of their ancestors. Most rural crafts and occupations are represented at the Weald and Downland in one way or another, especially when you factor in the special events that are held throughout the year.

On top of that you can also take courses at the museum, from working with heavy horses to hedgelaying. As is to be expected from the once heavily wooded counties of Southern England there is a particular emphasis on the use of timber, from charcoal burning to construction techniques.

The museum is a superb place to explore, as I have done on several occasions, and not just because it is set in the Singleton in the South Downs, home to many of my ancestors. If you are at WDYTYA Live then make sure you stop by and find out what they have to offer.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding, West Sussex

8 Feb

Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding, West Sussex (2nd July 2011)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: Saddlescombe and Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex

1 Feb

Saddlescombe and Devil's Dyke, West Sussex (2nd June 2010)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: Wolstonbury Hill trig point

25 Jan

Wolstonbury Hill trig point looking west (7th January 2012)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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