We did no digging either Friday 28th June due to rain, though we did give a guided tour for a new volunteer. Digging was also cancelled the following Sunday. Both Saturday and Sunday were spent ‘networking’ at two local village summer celebrations – the Woodingdean Carnival and the Falmer Flower Festival – and both were a great success!
On Saturday Peggy (my mother) & I joined Woodingdean’s Peter Mercer, author of 3 books on the history of the village, who had a local history stall displaying several huge albums of historical photos of the local area, including the medieval deserted village of Balsdean – both of which had historical connections with Newmarket Farm. We brought handouts about the dig with a request for further volunteers. Between us we answered many questions about the history of the village and the surrounding area. Our supply of handouts about the Newmarket Farm Dig was quickly exhausted! Just in case I haven’t mentioned it before, the Downs Church in Woodingdean is to be the location of our first talk about Newmarket Farm and our dig, on Friday Jan 10th. More details nearer the time!
Of particular interest was an eye witness account of the tragic WW2 Dakota plane crash, the 2nd we have heard so far. We are now able to state with some certainty that it occurred just a few yards to the north of the 200m top of Kingston/Castle Hill, just above Cold Coombes, overlooking Newmarket Plantation on the ridge opposite. Our other eye witness account was that of the mother of one of our dig volunteers.
Sunday, in Falmer, we got to meet many interested and knowledgeable people from the village. We now have a list of several of the older residents or families of Falmer which we hope to visit sometime soon. The Churchwarden was especially helpful, allowing us to browse through his large collection of old Falmer & Stanmer postcards. He also gave us a copy of the historical recollections of Falmer by Thomas Henry William Pelham, son of the 3rd Earl of Chichester, dated 1913. These went back as far as the 1860’s. He recalled walking with the Pastor past Newmarket Farm (which he called the Kingston Cottage – it was the nearest cottage in the Parish of Kingston to Falmer) on the afternoon of the murder of David Baldy, just a few hours before he was killed, back in 1868. We also met the editor of the Falmer Parish Magazine, who may include an article about the Newmarket Farm Dig in the next edition. She will also propose our giving a talk to the Falmer Ladies Group (to which men would also be welcome!) for sometime in the New Year.