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Woodingdean Social History Project

Horse Ploughing, Downs Hotel, Woodingdean from a painting by Douglas Holland
Horse Ploughing, Downs Hotel, Woodingdean from a painting by Douglas Holland.

I have been meaning to write about Peter Mercer and John Homewood’s Woodingdean Social History Project for some time now. With the recent passing of my father, I realise more than ever just how precious our memories are. If only he had written – perhaps with my help – more of his ninety years of experiences of his life in the village.

Animated gif of The Beehive, Crescent Drive North, Woodingdean, opposite top of Downs Valley Rd, then & now. Images, from Cuthbertson, Holland, Mercer collection, and Google Maps.
Animated gif of The Beehive (birthplace of my dad, centre left, now Treetops Close), Crescent Drive North, Woodingdean, opposite top of Downs Valley Road.. Images, from Cuthbertson, Holland, Mercer collection, and Google Maps.

Who knows what changes will occur over the next ninety years in Woodingdean. Peter Mercer, who has written 3 books on Woodingdean’s history, documented many people’s memories from it’s early days. Now it’s your turn! If you have been fortunate (or unfortunate!) enough to have grown up, lived, or worked in Woodingdean, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to write and share your memories and experiences for posterity.

Entries can be as long or short as you want. They will become part of the Holland-Mercer Collection – several large albums of more than 500 photographs of Woodingdean and Balsdean. This will eventually be donated to the East Sussex Record Office at The Keep, in Moulescoomb, Brighton, for future generations to research and enjoy.

Please send your written entries and copies of any family photographs or pictures to either;

  • John Homewood at jhhomewood@gmail.com or telephone 01273 684139
  • Peter Mercer at PRM442@hotmail.co.uk or telephone 01323 492309
  • David Cuthbertson at scienceinthegreen@gmail.com, or hand your entry in at the Woodingdean Library.
The Downs Hotel, Warren Road, Woodingdean, City of Brighton and Hove, England. 22 October 2011. By Hassocks5489 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.
The Downs Hotel, Warren Road, Woodingdean, City of Brighton and Hove, England. 22 October 2011. By Hassocks5489 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

3 replies on “Woodingdean Social History Project”

Dear Researchers
I am currently updating a book, published in 1840, by THomas Willement FSA, who was a stained glass artist. In 1831 Willement designed and executed “a series of armorial compartments, shewing the descent and alliances of the families of Dacre and Lennard with their badges”. I note that the house: Woodingdean House was demolished in 1965. Do you have any records as to the whereabouts of the stained glass windows? Also do you have a photograph of Woodingdean House that I might be able to use in my updated book? I am willing to pay for this. Should there be any photos of the windows that would be icing on the cake – but possibly not.
With thanks and best wishes
Priscilla Frost

Dear Priscilla,

Unfortunately I am not able to help, but Woodingdean House certainly had some interesting owners between its construction and tragic demolition. Any one of them may have photographed and/or removed the window, saving it for future generations. I list here a number of links to articles about the house and its many residents I have been able to find via Google:
https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/category/places/placehouse/woodingdean-house
https://www.cowleyfamily.org.uk/cowley_farmers.html
https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/sites/default/files/migrated/article/inline/downloads/conservation/UrbanStdy_Ovingdean_final.pdf
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=8GeIAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT173
http://www.townsley.info/Strangeway/GedSite/g3/p2456.htm
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=-2Tb2v_rpDkC&pg=PA11
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=mfcAAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA126
https://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/opinion/vodka-soaked-nights-and-notable-exiles-brighton-1277900
https://www.brightonhistory.org.uk/streets/streets_o.html

One day I might write something about Woodingdean House myself. Meanwhile, I hope these links may be of interest.
David

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