As part of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Health Walk programme I am leading a 4.5 mile history tour of the Balsdean and Kingston Downs. It starts at 10am on Monday 15th July, from the Falmer Road car park, immediately north of the village of Woodingdean, near Brighton, Sussex. Hopefully we will finish before 1pm.
I will be showing old photographs of the Balsdean, Norton and Newmarket Farms, and tell something of the history of the area, including;
- The Georgian Balsdean Manor House
- The Norman chapel
- The ‘lunatic asylum’ of Norton Farm
- The WW2 military training activities which destroyed all standing buildings in the area, including the sites of:
- A figure of eight railway anti-tank target
- A mustard gas training exercise
- Then, after passing through the iconic Castle Hill National Nature Reserve, we visit the murder site of David Baldy, to hear the ‘death’ bed confession of his 22 year murderer, Martin Brown
- The dew pond on Kingston’s Newmarket Hill, essential in the past for watering its huge flock of Southdown sheep
- The outfarm, a farm labourer’s cottage, farmyard, stable, cattle hovel and barn, built in about 1830, and birthplace of my mother in 1942
- Prehistoric activities on the downs, responsible for its deforestation
- Newmarket Hill’s place-name origin – new mearc geat hill – new boundary gap / gate hill – and of the Kingston, Balsdean/Rottingdean, Falmer boundaries which meet there
As a bonus (I don’t have time to tell the story on the walk) I have included a leaflet I plan hand out on the walk, which I have just written. It is called of Of Sheep, Fish and Coal. Please feel free to download and share.