Tag Archives: haywards heath

The hidden art of Hellingly Hospital

15 Dec

An interesting set of photos has turned up on the BBC website, showing the current state of Hellingly Hospital in East Sussex.

My interest in Hellingly Hospital, or the East Sussex County Asylum as it was originally known, comes from the fact that my 2x great-grandfather was a resident there for nearly twenty years (see My Lunatic Ancestor).

There is no shortage of photos (and video) of Hellingly Asylum on the internet, but it is nice to see some of them getting an airing on the BBC website.

The sadness of course is the state of decay that has developed and the fact that the site is soon to be redeveloped, although it sounds as if some of the original buildings may be retained.

It is hard to relate these current photos with what my 2x great-grandfather would have experienced. Which were original features and which were later additions? I can only hope that one day a detailed history of the asylum will be written.

More maps for my collection

30 Oct

These are my latest finds from my local Oxfam shop. Three Ordnance Survey maps of Sussex dating from around 1948-9. Not particularly old or in top condition, but they were real bargains, or at least I think so, at £1.99 each

Three maps

The scale of all three is the same,  1:25,000 (about 2½ inches to one mile), which is detailed enough to show the locations and outlines of larger buildings and farms. Most of the farms are named as are many of the country roads.

The one on the left is of the Haywards Heath area. Not so many places of ancestral interest here, apart from the asylum and the village of Cuckfield.

The middle one covers an area from Washington and Thakeham in the west to Bramber and Partridge Green. This includes part of Henfield, where the TROWER family were, Ashurst (home to the HAYBITTLES) and part of West Grinstead, showing some of the places where the FAIRS family lived.

The one on the right covers many ancestral villages: Cowfold, Twineham (showing the location of Ridden’s Farm, believed to be home to my WELLER ancestors), Bolney, Slaugham and Warninglid.

Whilst I don’t expect to actually discover much new information from these maps, there is always a chance of finding the location of a previously unidentified family home, that has since been demolished or changed its name.

The real interest comes from studying the maps and comparing with the present-day maps, seeing how things have changed. For example, one thing that immediately stood out was the number of trig points on these old maps, and how few of them survive today.

They had a few others in the shop, from the same series, if they are still there on Monday I may well get another couple, although these were the only ones of real family interest for me. Although I think I need to make a list of the ones I already have because I am starting to build up quite a collection.

Picture Postcard Parade: The Asylum, Haywards Heath

26 Oct

This postcard fits in well with the Madness Monday theme, as it shows the entrance to the Lunatic Asylum at Haywards Heath, Sussex.

The Asylum, Haywards Heath (front)

The card is not in the best of condition, it was published by Mezzotint Co. of Brighton, probably around 1903-04 and is unused. The writing up the left hand side reads “MEZZOTINT COMPANY YORK HILL LONDON ROAD BRIGHTON”.

It is a shame the postcard was not in colour, then you would see the striking red and yellow brickwork. Even so it does illustrate the thought and effort that went into building the asylum, which could just have easily been a drab and plain building.

If you look very closely, and it is not even clear on the original, there is what looks like a young boy standing in front of the right-hand gate post.

The family connection is through my 2x great grandfather George Thomas GASSON (see My Lunatic Ancestor), who was an inmate here from 1898 to 1903 when he was transferred to newly built asylum at Hellingly, Sussex.

Picture Postcard Parade: Ockley Manor, Keymer, Sussex

9 Oct

Hidden underneath all the ivy (or whatever it is climbing up the walls) is the house where my grandmother Dorothy Annie TROWER lived and worked before her marriage to my grandfather in December 1936 at Keymer parish church.

Ockley Manor, Keymer, Sussex

Ockley Manor, Keymer, Sussex

I know nothing about this place other than what is recorded on the marriage register entry, and in the newspaper report of the marriage (which I wrote about here).

The newspaper cutting records that she was employed by Mr Randall G. Davidson of Ockley Manor, Hassocks. On the marriage register her occupation is recorded as a domestic and her address as Ockley Manor, Keymer.

I don’t know whether my grandmother continued working at Ockley Manor after her marriage, I doubt it very much because she would very soon be raising a family and the newspaper cutting records that my grandparents were going to live at Rose Cottage, Ruckford Farm, Hurst[pierpoint] after their marriage.

The postcard itself was published by A.H. Homewood, a prolific postcard publisher from nearby Burgess Hill. This particular card was sent from Brighton to an address in Lewes on the 18th August 1904.

I first saw this card a few months ago on eBay, but I missed out then, I left it to the last minute to bid and then forgot. Since then I have not seen a copy until last Saturday at Haywards Heath, when I actually found three copies of this card.

Adding more postcards to my collection at Haywards Heath

5 Oct

Last Saturday was the first Saturday in the month, which can only mean one thing, a postcard fair at Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

I have been going to this fair on and off for many years, at least ten years I would think. It is usually held on the first Saturday of every month, but not always (yes, my brother and I have been caught out in the past).

It is held at Clair Hall in Haywards Heath, West Sussex between 10.30am and 4pm, but check with the fair organiser to make sure. The admission is just £1.00, and for that you get the opportunity to browse through (and buy) thousands of postcards, from somewhere in the region of twenty or so different dealers.

A large proportion of these dealers specialise in Sussex and the south-east of England, although most have a selection of subject cards and a smaller selection from a wider geographical area. Naturally it is the Sussex cards that I am mainly interested in, both for my main collection and to illustrate my family history.

Last Saturday I came away with seven cards, which is more than usual, but it probably reflects the fact that I spent longer there than normal. Five of those cards have a family connection, which you will probably be seeing in the next couple of weeks. The other two I got because they appealed to me (places I have been walking) and they are also both possible contenders for the upcoming Festival of Postcards.

If you live in the UK and want to find a postcard fair near you then check out the list on the Postcard Traders Association website.

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