Of Sheep and Fish

*Newmarket Farm, painted by Bob (Desmond) Phipps
**Newmarket Farm, painted by Bob (Desmond) Phipps.

It has been a while since I wrote a progress report; I have been busy with other stuff (lots of new commitments), but I have also been busy pulling together a new formal historical archaeology project proposal for this project as a whole. This has been happening on and off for the past two or three years now, and has resulted in a number of changes of emphasis.

Of Sheep and Fish: A Historical Archaeology Project Proposal. Click this link to download or view the pdf.

The need to write up my 2013 Newmarket Farm Dig hasn’t changed, but the recommendation that it becomes part of a bigger historical archaeology project is an exciting opportunity to enable all my hard work to be more easily viewed by both academic archaeologists and historians, and not just with the general public. It has also been an excellent opportunity to review the amazing historical discoveries I have made, exactly where I am at present, and what I hope to achieve in the future. It entails a lot more work, but I strongly believe that it is worth it.

New Project Name Considerations

Several names were considered before making a final choice:

  • Newmarket Farm Dig Project only covers the dig as such, and most people would associate Newmarket with the racecourse in Cambridgeshire.
  • There is a Green Hill, from the hymn;
There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall
Where our dear Lord was crucified;
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, We cannot tell,
What pains he had to bear,
But we believe it was for us;
He hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heaven;
Save by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough,
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate,
Of heaven and let us in.

Oh dearly dearly has he loved,
And we must love him too;
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his work to do.

This fits very well with the murder of Newmarket Farm tenant David Baldy, in 1868, and the sentiments expressed by both the newspapers at the time and the confession of his murderer, Martin Brown. However, the title has been used by others before me and it sets a tone that only partially expresses my intentions for the project. I felt it set too much of a melancholy air, which comes naturally to me. I believe that it would communicate to a reader that the murder of David Baldy should symbolise the death of an ideal past. The trouble is, I believe that such an idealised past was just that, an idealised one sided view of the past which in reality never entirely existed. I almost fell into this trap after my researches for two talks which I gave earlier this year, largely centred on the Georgian period, and which featured Rottingdean’s most (in)famous vicar, the Rev. Dr. Hooker. Amongst his many achievements, he ran a prep school in Rottingdean for boys destined for Eton College. Some of his old boys later became involved – directly or indirectly – with the Condition of England and Young England movements. They believed, following the ideas promoted in the novels of Thomas Carlyle and Benjamin Disraeli, that we should return to the golden age of High Medieval feudalism; “an absolute monarch and a strong Established Church, with the philanthropy of noblesse oblige as the basis for its paternalistic form of social organisation”.

Their ideas fitted my romantic idealistic version of the history Newmarket Farm as ‘tragedy caused by the evils of progress’ so well. I had an Arcadian vision of happy shepherds caring for the village flock which fed on beautiful thyme scented springy downland turf, as according to ancient custom, maintained by a benevolent Lord of the Manor. Kingston was owned by Lewes Priory. Its monks would have been responsible for the moral and physical welfare of its tenants. The Lord of the Manor, under the watchful eyes of both King and Church, would have had a duty to do the same. In Kingston this system must have worked well, for the evils of enclosure (for it disproportionately benefited the biggest land owners) only took place at the very end of the Georgian period. There is a large volume of anti-enclosure literature which I could draw on in support of this story. It brought a loss of grazing and other rights previously enjoyed by the lower orders in the village. It enabled that holy of holies – the ancient chalk downland turf – to be broken. Put to the plough. I consider the action of an iron plough to be comparable to that of a sword of steel, committing the act responsible for the death of much of these beautiful downs. This evil deed was later accompanied by another, known in the USA as devil’s rope, or barbed wire. The sheep were no longer free to roam. The romantic shepherd boy was forced off of the land to find employment in Britain’s dark satanic mills. Such a story draws very much on William Blake’s deeply moving Songs of Innocence and Experience.

'Cain and Abel offering up sacrifices', 1873. 'The story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation'.
‘Cain and Abel offering up sacrifices’, 1873. ‘The story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation’. From Wikimedia Commons.

I believe this is also that of the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Cain the ‘dirt farmer’ murdered Abel the shepherd after God preferred Abel’s sacrifice of a lamb to that of Cain’s grain. This is a story of tradition killed by progress. The name Abel may derive from a word meaning “herdsman” and Cain from a word meaning “metal smith”. Similar myths and legends are also found in other early agricultural societies.

As a result of progress in the form of the Industrial Revolution, the building of remote outfarms, far out on the dry and open downs, became financially viable. Welsh slate, one of the first materials to be quarried in industrial quantities, was a miracle material. It was a lightweight and weatherproof roofing material, unsurpassed even today. It was easily shaped and so ideal to combine with cast iron gutters for the collection of rainwater, saving on the cost of digging a well. Traditional thatch is heavy, far from weatherproof and is not suited to the collection of rainwater. The light weight Welsh slate saved on the costs of transporting heavy duty building materials, otherwise necessary to support a heavy roof. It would have been seen as an excellent example of progress. However, such a remote labourers’ dwelling would have resulted in social and economic isolation. The resultant suffering may have been desired by Medieval hermits, but such was their calling. But a farm labourer, along with his wife and children would have had no choice. And there is evidence that the farm labourer tenant families in Newmarket Farm did suffer. The worst record of deaths caused by diseases associated with poverty in the whole of Kingston, over a one hundred year period, was in Newmarket Farm. The only recorded murder in Kingston over the same time period was also of a Newmarket Farm tenant. And the downs suffered too. At about the same time as the Newmarket Farm was constructed its surrounding downland was put to the plough. Immediately after WW1 this iconic downland, famous for its relatively unspoiled and open character, was enclosed in barbed wire. In 1938 a Newmarket Farm tenant lost his job and his family ended up the workhouse. His story was featured in the Daily Express; he could earn more on the dole than as a farm labourer; evidence that he had not been paid extra by way of compensation. By the end of WW2 all historic farm buildings in the area had been destroyed by allied military training exercises. In the 1970s I became aware that part of this iconic downland had received legal protection from further destruction. It become a National Nature Reserve and was duly surrounded by yet more barbed wire!

This makes for a very beautiful story of tragedy and loss. But at best it is only partly true. Stories of murder, death and tragedy sell newspapers. Happiness and contentment are less often recorded. They are much harder to find. But as recorded in an interview with the Phipps family, life in Newmarket Farm consisted of both ups and downs:

  • Skylarks and Barbed Wire: The History of a Southdown Outfarm was a better project title that captured something of the ups and downs of life on these, er, Downs. Skylarks communicated the idyllic, and barbed wire, the harsh realities. However…
  • Of Sheep & Fish: A History of the South Downs between Lewes and Brighton has now been chosen as a title. The history associated with this remote farm labourers’ cottage and barns was largely determined by its geography. Its story has strong connections with both the ups and downs of the southdown sheep of the Lewes district as well as the ups and downs of the fishing town of Brighton; their importance were confirmed by my Georgian researches. This story has been summarised in my leaflet Of Sheep, Fish and Coal. This project title also alludes to John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men, which concerned itself with poverty stricken farm labourers. It also pays homage to Dave Bangs excellent book, Whitehawk Hill: Where the Turf Meets the Surf, about the nearby Whitehawk Downs immediately east of Brighton.

Project Scope

South view over South Downs towards Brighton with the Falmer Stadium in the middle. From a hill north of Brighton. Near Ditchling, East Sussex.
View south from Ditchling Beacon of Newmarket Hill and its associated ridge between Lewes and Brighton, above the Falmer Stadium (centre). Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The outfarm was a remote labourers’ cottage, farmyard and barns. It was built in 1830, or shortly after, near the far western end of the parish of Kingston near Lewes as a result of the enclosure of the Kingston estate. In 1922 it was sold to Balsdean Farm, immediately to its south. The project scope involves the agricultural and social histories of both Kingston and Balsdean, as well as their wider influences; a series of contexts including Lewes, Brighton, Sussex, Britain and its global connections (where appropriate). Also of importance is the area’s physical geography; geology, climate, and land forms. And last, but certainly not least, are the personalities of Newmarket Farm’s numerous ‘stakeholders’; farm workers, managers and owners, travellers passing through, as well as military and recreational visitors. And I certainly haven’t forgotten Newmarket Farm’s last tenant, my mother, who may have been born there (or perhaps the less romantic Brighton Maternity Hospital) in 1942, immediately before the army requisitioned it and its surrounding downland for military training purposes.

Aims and Objectives

Based on the historical research my mother and I have done over the past ten years or so, potential gaps in our knowledge and theories I have formed which further research may be able to test, I have developed a series of aims and objectives to help guide the project towards a series of (hopefully) successful outcomes. Either collectively or on their own, I hope the project outcomes will enable others to make their own connections with this historic South Downs landscape between Lewes and Brighton.

  1. Aim: To research the geographical and historical contexts of the study area, previous to Kingston’s enclosure; Prehistoric–1825.
Peggy admires the view to the SE; 28th April 2013.
View to the SE of Newmarket Farm

Objective: A consideration of the geology, geomorphology and related physical factors which helped create the iconic grassland landscape between Eastbourne and the River Adur, the area from where the place-name ‘South Downs’ originated.

Unimproved Southdown sheep.
Unimproved Southdown sheep.

Objective: The influence of the region’s prehistoric and historic past on this landscape’s creation, with particular reference to southdown sheep and the sheep-corn system.

  • Why were the South Downs were originally just from the Adur to Eastbourne?

Objective: The socio-economic consequences of the resultant deforestation will be investigated, with particular reference to the importation of coal.

Coal Briggs on Brighton Beach, by Constable.
Coal Briggs on Brighton Beach, by Constable.
  • Thesis: Sheep eat trees, so no firewood, so cooking with coal.
  • Review potential data sources, including fireplace evidence from standing buildings, the 2013 Newmarket Farm dig, including evidence of pre-Victorian coal, firegrates in excavations in South Down areas east vs west of the Adur.
Early view of Lewes with the Juggs Road climbing up out of Southover heading towards Kingston Mill (left of centre), then climbing diagonally up Kingston Ridge (far left) out of Kingston's open fields, on its way to Brighton.Early view of Lewes with the Juggs Road climbing up out of Southover heading towards Kingston Mill (left of centre), then climbing diagonally up Kingston Ridge (far left) out of Kingston's open fields, on its way to Brighton. Painting by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, 1785.
Early view of Lewes with the Juggs Road climbing up out of Southover heading towards Kingston Mill (left of centre), then climbing diagonally up Kingston Ridge (far left) out of Kingston’s open fields, on its way to Brighton. Painting by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, 1785. Image Wikimedia.

Objective: Original research on local place-names providing evidence for the study area’s history; i.e., Kingston, Newmarket Hill, Juggs Road and Beggars Bush.

  • Saxon Kingston;
  • Newmarket from mearc geat = new boundary gap (13th c. hundred boundary changes?);
  • Juggs Rd (OED 15th c. nickname for low woman, mid 17th c. Brighton is one of biggest south coast fishing towns, late 17th c. collapse of Brighton’s North Sea fisheries, early 18th c. serious poverty may have forced fishwives to sell wares in Lewes);
  • Beggars Bush furlong name in Kingston near Lewes on route of Juggs Road (named sometime between 16th – late 18th c. The furlong’s location is the best place for the first tree along the Juggs Road from Brighton to Lewes. Was it named after just such a shady tree along the road over the sheep deforested Downs, used by poor Brighton fishwives carrying heavy loads of fish for sale in Lewes?).

Objective: Were Medieval era peasants better off than in Georgian / Victorian times?

Sheep shearers, Flanders, from the Grimani Breviary c. 1510
Sheep shearers, Flanders, from the Grimani Breviary c. 1510. Image Wikimedia.
  • Some evidence suggests that Victorian agricultural labourers were worse off than their Tudor ancestors, but can it be proved?

Objective: Can Georgian / Victorian architecture be used to indicate the politics of the owner and the treatment of their labourers?

Hyde Manor, The Street
Hyde Manor, The Street, Kingston  near Lewes. Has an 18th century exterior. Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved], by Simon Carey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
  • Condition of England writers were for the most part Tories, and were against the ideals of Whig industrialists. They looked to the Medieval past for inspiration. They wrote about the present-day mistreatment of the poor. They liked Neo-Gothic architecture. Progressive Whigs liked Neo-Classical buildings for this was the architecture which replaced Medieval Gothic at the time of the Renaissance. Gothic was a derogatory name for such architecture (allegedly) coined by anti-Catholic Renaissance Protestants as propaganda. Land owning Tories looked back to an (alleged) golden age of Medieval feudalism. But is the thesis of Tory = Gothic and Whig = Classical too simplistic?
  • Did Tory landowners treat their labourers better than Whigs? Carlyle and Disraeli claimed that they did. Rural tories vs industrial whigs, supportive vs exploitative, tradition vs progress. Is this too simplistic? Simplistic party lines certainly changed in relation to the Reform Act.
  • A balanced critique of such views needs to be found. Also a study of some of the notable families of Sussex should be made; to include their politics, the treatment of their labourers and their taste in architecture. Was Thomas Rogers V a Whig or a Tory? And James Hodson and John King, the Trustees of his estate? A list of their associates would also be of use.

Objective: Research and understand the consequences of the American Revolution and Anglo-French War (1778–1783) on the project area.

Yeakell and Gardner Map 1776-1783.
  • My research on the American Revolutionary War and the resultant Anglo-French war, suggested a possible unrecorded signal-fire on Newmarket Hill, based on studies of the Duke of Richmond, a strange symbol on Yeakell and Gardner 1778-1783 map of Sussex and a 1787 print of Brighton Races.
  • These wars may also have influenced the date of the Prince of Wales’ arrival in Brighton.
  • A strange symbol on Newmarket Hill shown on Yeakell and Gardner map, which was commissioned by the Duke of Richmond at time of war. He was head of the Sussex Militia and Master-General of Ordnance. A 1787 Brighton Races print showed a possible fire beacon (used as raised viewing platform) and a large frame capable of supporting a fire cage, of similar shape to the strange symbol on Newmarket Hill. A fire cage was shown east of Brighton on an Elizabethan map, and a later Napoleonic signal station was recorded for Whitehawk Hill, but no such structures were recorded on Yeakell and Gardner’s map for either Whitehawk Hill, or for any other known beacon sites. More research is required.

Objective: Research and understand the life and times of Rottingdean’s vicar, 1792–1838, Rev. Dr. Hooker.

Rev. Dr. Hooker. Photo from St Margaret of Antioch, Rottingdean.
  • Connected with: Jane Austen, the Church of England, cricket, the aristocracy, the Grand Tour, Eton College, the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ireland, hunting, schooling, music and painting, smuggling, the Napoleonic Wars, the shepherd scholar John Dudeney and more!! His rich and varied life sheds much light on the lives of almost all stratas of society, in the last decades of the Georgian period.

Objective: Potential influences of smuggling in the area and its connections with national politics.

Book about the Hawkhurst smuggling gang. Image Wikimedia.
  • In Kingston an ancestor of the Tuppens (a family of shepherds) was believed to be involved in smuggling. In 1802 and 1804 the shepherd, Henry Tuppen, ‘mysteriously’ acquired the money to buy two cottages in Kingston. Also to be studied is Rev. Hooker’s involvement in Rottingdean. To be emphasized is that smuggling was not merely a romantic game. It was organised crime, similar to the Mafia, or that of the South American drug cartels today. To be included are their political connections. The contraband recovered on more than one occasion from the remote downland hamlet of Balsdean weas just a tiny part of this huge criminal enterprise.

Objective: The influences of the Napoleonic Wars on the study area.

“A Newmarket Hill Character drawn upon the spot” by James Gillray, 1804.. Prints, Drawings and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.
  • The Prince of Wales required military protection. He regularly organised huge sham battles on and in the vicinity of Newmarket Hill. They had a positive influence on the public’s opinion of the British Army (Jane Austen’s ‘scarlet fever’).
  • Include Gillray’s 1802 cartoon of Lt. Col. George Leigh, in charge of The Prince of Wales’ own 10th Light Dragoons, A Newmarket Hill Character (he was married to Lord Byron’s sister and Beau Brumel was in his regiment). Also research the influence of Gillray’s political cartoons which, according to Napoleon, “did more than all the armies in Europe to bring me down.”
  • Rev. Hooker’s role (as Capt. Mainwaring) in charge of the defence of Rottingdean, as part of the voluntary defence force for Sussex, organised by the Duke of Richmond, who was also responsible for the Sussex Militia.

Objective: Influences of Georgian tourism on the area, in particular hunting.

'Our friend Mr Noddy has a day with the Brookside harriers - with his usual prudence he gets a horse accustomed to the hills'; a rider hurtling down a hillside to right with terror, his hat thrown from his head and crop flying behind him; other riders, tents and a windmill on plain below at right.
‘Our friend Mr Noddy has a day with the Brookside harriers – with his usual prudence he gets a horse accustomed to the hills…’ John Leech, 1865. Image from British Museum.
  • The nationally famous Brookside Harriers which hunted over Kingston and Balsdean Downs; both the Rogers family in Kingston and the Rev. Hooker in Rottingdean had been Masters of the hunt, and this connected them with many other significant figures, both locally and nationally, including the Prince of Wales.

Objective: Was the South Downs in art and literature seen as an arcadian ideal?

The Shepherd, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, William Blake, 1789. Image, Wikimedia.
The Shepherd, Songs of Innocence and of Experience, William Blake, 1789. Image, Wikimedia.

Objective: Was the isolation of Balsdean’s downland location a reason for the medical activities there?

Edward Jenner vaccinating patients against smallpox. Cartoon by Gillray.
Edward Jenner vaccinating patients against smallpox. Cartoon by Gillray. Credit: CC BY, Wellcome Collection.
  • Mr Sutton’s variolation clinics (1786) and the (lunatic) asylum (1825–29) of Drs. King and Attree — the latter were both important figures in Brighton’s history.
  • The Attrees were a well connected Sussex family and the Rogers family married their daughters on two occasions.

Aim: To understand the enclosure of Kingston near Lewes and the building of Newmarket Farm; 1825–1833.

Objective: To understand the pre- and post-enclosure agricultural workings of Kingston’s three manorial estates.

Kingston Farm valuation, 1852. From the Hodson family archive.
Kingston Farm valuation, 1852. From the Hodson family archive.
  • To what degree was the enormous expense incurred by enclosure offset by future profitability? Include assessment of available resources; on and off-farm; mineral, timber, labour, etc.
  • Of use is the large and detailed Wiston Archive, created for Kingston Estate sale in 1834. This has been analysed in some detail by Cooper’s 2006 history of Kingston. Also of use is the 1853 Kingston Farm evaluation. (I was kindly allowed to make a copy of this and other documents privately held by the Hodson family.)

Objective: The socio-economic implications of the enclosure for all in the parish.

'Captain Swing' 1830 agricultural labourers' riots, with references to the consequences of their rick burning and the writings of its supporters, Richard Carlile and William Cobbett.
‘Captain Swing’ 1830 agricultural labourers’ riots, with references to the consequences of their rick burning and the writings of its supporters, Richard Carlile and William Cobbett. Image from the British Museum.
  • Last two chapters of Cooper (2006) detail consequences of ‘agricultural revolution’, mid-18th c. – mid 19th c., including Kingston residents effected by consequences. Cross-reference with info from and other family history sources, as well as books on rural life and enclosure. To be included are studies on John Clare, etc. Also research agricultural labour revolts, such as the Swing Riots.

Aim: Life and Death in Kingston and Newmarket Farm, 1831–1921.

James Nye 'A Small Account of my Travels Through the Wilderness'. Queens Park Books.
James Nye ‘A Small Account of my Travels Through the Wilderness’. Queens Park Books.

Objective: A study of post-enclosure Kingston, using census returns, birth and death records, including causes of death and other records.

  • To enable an understanding of what life was like for the village as a whole and how it may have changed with time. Collate available information on the population of Kingston. Statistically analyse this data to examine; life expectancy through time, causes of death, occupations, migration within and outside the village, etc. Consider possible causes, based on wider sources of information, i.e. the autobiography of James Nye 1981.

Objective: To enable a deeper understanding of these findings; to read other Sussex diaries, memoirs, etc., compared and contrasted with general rural studies and their wider historical context.

Objective: A detailed consideration of the life of an agricultural labouring family in an isolated outfarm.

Some women and children of Telscombe village taken in 1904 by Ambrose Gorham. From ESRO, AMS6595.
Some women and children of Telscombe village taken in 1904 by Ambrose Gorham. From ESRO, AMS6595.
  • Worst case of disease, malnutrition and poverty in Kingston given by Cooper was the Rich family of Newmarket Farm. They were detailed in 1861 census record. Also include info on other outfarms, such as Cambridgeshire Farm, Falmer.

Objective: To research and interpret the details of the murder story of David Baldy by Martin Brown in 1868, with particular attention to the significance of how the story was told and the public’s reaction to it.

  • To include a study of Victorian attitudes to crime and punishment.
  • Verbal permission has been obtained by the Copper family to use a melodramatic version of the tale, as told to a young Bob Copper by his father.

Objective: To compare and contrast slum dwellers of Brighton and agricultural labourers of Kingston.

Ragged School for girls.  Illustrated London News, 1846.
Ragged School for girls. Illustrated London News, 1846.
  • Requires a study of slum life in Brighton, including education of children. For example, the murderer was caught because he could read and write. 1851 census for the slum street where he grew up recorded the majority of children as scholars, but none were so recorded in Kingston at that time.

Objective: To research ‘Baldy’s memorial stone’ (now lost).

  • Was Baldy’s stone erected ~30 years after Baldy’s murder by John Hodson, as symbolic gesture to honour the Hodson /Rogers dynasty’s debt of gratitude to their labourers in general? There is photographic and documentary evidence for the stone’s inscription and location, as well as for the actual murder location from police reports at Brown’s trial. It claimed to mark the spot of his murder, but was in fact placed a mile away on the Shepherds’ Path on the Kingston Down, directly overlooking The Street (Kingston’s High Street). John Hodson was supposed to have created the path on his return to Kingston in the 1890s.

Objective: To consider what the material finds from my 2013 excavation of the cottage have to say about the life and times of those living there.

Early 20th c. (?) decorative egg cup from the 2013 Newmarket Farm dig.
Early 20th c. (?) decorative egg cup from the 2013 Newmarket Farm dig.
  • The ceramic plates bearing mid-late Victorian fashionable aesthetic movement designs and other mid-19th–early 20th c. highly decorative household ceramics, glassware, jewellery and dolls, all strongly indicate that even the poorest of households spent a significant part of their money on goods purely for their aesthetic qualities. I will base my studies (in part) on Casella and Croucher (2010), which was the first English Heritage funded excavation to explicitly focus on domestic and residential consequences of the Industrial Revolution. ‘It reflected a new interest in the collection and conservation of 19th–20th c. archaeological assemblages, of men, women and children of rural working-class households who struggled to maintain and improve their conditions of everyday life’.

Aim: ‘Tourist’ activities on the Kingston / Balsdean Downs; 1830–1942.

  • Those at Newmarket Farm would have seen many such activities which took place on the downs where they lived. Rumour had it (in 1930s) that the farm had previously been something like a coaching inn, i.e. somewhere where people who arrived in posh-carriages and were provided with food and refreshments. This was in all likelihood at least partly true. Newmarket Hill was a well known meeting place for hunting and other activities during this time and Newmarket Farm was the only building in its vicinity. It was probably only the farmyard, stables and barn which were utilized, for an 1860s map showing the meeting places for the Brookside Harriers labelled it as Rogers Barn.

Objective: Victorian Sham battles and reviews on or near the Kingston and Balsdean Downs.

Wyld’s Plan of the Volunteer Review at Brighton, 1871. CC BY-SA, Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.
  • Military displays (Easter Reviews) continued after the Napoleonic Wars into the Victorian period, getting progressively larger. The Illustrated London News featured them in great detail, though potentially expensive copyright permissions may be needed for me to use these.

Objective: Hunting activities on the downs, especially the nationally famous Brookside Harriers.

'Our friend Mr Noddy has a day with the Brookside harriers - with his usual prudence he gets a horse accustomed to the hills'; a rider hurtling down a hillside to right with terror, his hat thrown from his head and crop flying behind him; other riders, tents and a windmill on plain below at right.
‘Our friend Mr Noddy has a day with the Brookside harriers – with his usual prudence he gets a horse accustomed to the hills…’ John Leech, 1865. Image from British Museum.
  • To research the later history and demise of Brookside (hare) Harriers and the rise of the Southdown (fox) hunt. To include the involvement of Rottingdean’s Beard family and, from the 1920s, A.W.J. Dalgety, who was Master of the Southdown Hunt. He formed a partnership with Guy Woodman to farm Balsdean on or shortly after 1925. An interesting character, perhaps to be researched here, for he devoted his life to hunting, though perhaps the detail of his life should be placed later. A slim volume of his poetry reflected his views on horses and WW1.

Objective: 1931, Southdown Soarers and Southern Gliders clubs.

The little Scud at the International Glider Meeting at Balsdean. Flight, October 30, 1931.
  • In 1931, Southern Gliders’ Social Club were allowed to fly on the Balsdean and Kingston Downs, storing their gliders in Newmarket Farm’s barn. Woodman had recently become their vice-president. He was in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1. Southern Soarers Club organised the 2nd British Gliding Competition, 1931, which took place in Balsdean in October and involved international competitors. My father remembered (aged 5) ‘helping’ launch one of the gliders. Woodman was in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1.

Objective: Writers and artists in Kingston and the surrounding area.

A Bloomsbury picnic on the Downs. © Tate.
  • Literary and artistic descriptions of the South Downs, in particular in the vicinity of Kingston and Balsdean, to provide an insight into the lives and landscape of the area. Also of note are any recorded reactions of the locals to these visitors.

Objective: Ramblers and nature lovers.

Kinder Scout mass tresspass, 1932. CC BY-NC-SA, ROAR Magazine.
  • Visitors to the downs included foreign students from Brighton. The Phipps family (1934–1938) sold them cups of tea from 1934–38! These tourists took photographs which it would be wonderful to find…
  • Ramblers’ encounters with the army and police were recorded in local newspapers during WW2, when such individuals were arrested after illegally entering the military training area.

Aim: Historical developments; WW1 – WW2.

Objective: Research and understand the costs and benefits of the British Empire, technological change, a growing population particularly of Brighton and their effects on the downland landscape.

An American cartoonist in 1888 depicted John Bull (England) as the octopus of imperialism, grabbing land on every continent. CC0, Wikimedia.
  • Our Empire provided an increasing majority of our food and other agricultural goods. By the Edwardian period our industrial towns had become the government’s main source of wealth and our agricultural countryside was increasingly seen as merely a playground for the idle rich. In particular, Edwardian Brighton had one of the highest population densities in Britain.

Objective: Research Kingston estate’s sale in 1911 and Newmarket Farm in 1921.

  • The Gorings of Wiston sold the Kingston Estate to Howell. Howell then sold a large part of its arable land for housing and smallholdings, including fruit and mushroom farms. The far eastern portion of the estate, including Newmarket Farm, was later sold to Selbach who was also interested in property development.
  • Include ruined chimney from an (alleged) attempted to extract silver from flint.

Objective: To study and record something of the two plotland developments, 1913 and 1919, which later became the village of Woodingdean.

  • Woodingdean was (and still is) home to several generations of both sides of my family since the 1920’s. I wish to record its social, economic and material legacy to the end of WW2. This includes the Phipps and Latham family reminiscences, for whom Woodingdean played an important role. The local histories by Peter Mercer will be of particular use here. My family (both sides) accumulated a large number of Woodingdean photographs; these require digitising, tagging and possibly adding to a GIS (Geographical Information System) database. Also of interest is the Warren Farm Dairy Farm’s dairy, which became an independent business. Its (broken) milk bottles were found in NMF13. Its unpasteurised nature was featured. Also of interest was the lack of mains services in Woodingdean; my father’s family’s water was collected from the roof in an underground concrete lined tank (like Newmarket Farm). Lighting and cooking by paraffin.

Objective: WW1 costs and benefits, as motivation for Oscar Selbach’s farming activities and development plans, including Newmarket Farm in 1921.

Oscar Selbach's Brighton Heights Estate; 'The Healthiest Place in Britain'.
Oscar Selbach’s Brighton Heights Estate; ‘The Healthiest Place in Britain’. CC BY-NC-SA, Holland, Mercer, Cuthbertson Collection.
  • To research and record the material remains of early 20th c. fencing, new farm roads, water pumps, etc. Selbach’s motivation was entrepreneurial. Post-WW1 guaranteed farm prices, (cheap? ex-WW1?) barbed wire and nitrate fertiliser, cheap German POW labour and a demand for new housing. Balsdean and Kingston Downs had been popular because of a lack of fences. Barbed wire and ploughing became an issue, as witnessed by (an alleged) High Court case against Selbach for ploughing Lord Carson’s racing gallops. Fences first appear in significant numbers on O.S. maps after WW1.

Objective: Research Brighton Corporation’s compulsory purchase of downland for amenity purposes; rambling and interwar tourism.

  • To read and review publications on the protection of the South Downs. To be reviewed in relation to Brighton Corporation’s development plans. To be included is a poem on the possibility of motor cars racing up Newmarket Hill (in Sussex County Magazine, early 1930s).

Objective: To consider the administrative challenges for those living on both the socio-economic and geographical margins of society.

Phipps family children; Bob (Desmond), Lucy, Sylvia
Phipps family children; Bob (Desmond), Lucy, Sylvia. CC BY-NC-SA, Phipps family collection.
  • Newmarket Farm tenants from 1921 worked for Balsdean Farm. They belonged politically to Kingston, yet they worked, shopped, obtained medical help and went to school in Rottingdean, Woodingdean, Falmer and Brighton, which were in different administrative areas. Agricultural labourers were the poorest of the working poor. In 1938 they earned less than on the dole. They would therefore have already been marginalised by society… How did they cope?

Objective: To research the consequences of Brighton Corporation’s compulsory purchase of downland in the 1920s to protect Brighton’s largest water catchment area and the building of Balsdean pumping station in the 1930s.

Balsdean Pumping Station.
Balsdean Pumping Station. CC BY-SA 2.0, David Spicer.
  • Was the historic Balsdean Farm, (including its subsidiary Norton and Newmarket Farms) offered to the military for training during WW2, with permission given for their demolition, in order to rebuild the Balsdean Farm after the war in its present location, just outside of the Balsdean water catchment area, thus protecting its water catchment area?

Objective: Research WW2, its effects on local agriculture, military activities in the area and, in particular, the compulsory purchase for training purposes of the Block 3 South Downs Training Area.

Tanks move into Balsdean, shortly after May 1942? Photo: Holland Mercer Collection.
Tanks move into Balsdean, shortly after May 1942? Photo: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0, Holland, Mercer, Cuthbertson Collection.
  • Fieldwork might include a metal detector survey for anti-tank ordnance in the bank behind the site of a figure of 8 railway target, of which nothing visible remains today. A slit trench has been identified overlooking the target. Both are in an SSSI so permissions from Natural England would be required. A barbed wire enclosed artillery firing position identified from aerial photographs could also be investigated, but is on private land. Evidence for a possible long range Livens Projector used in a mustard gas test firing exercise is particularly interesting.

Aim: Of sheep and bullocks; to provide a natural historical postscript.

Wart-biter cricket.
Wart-biter cricket. CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia.

Objective: To interpret Castle Hill National Nature Reserve’s wildlife in relation to former management practices, as well as its unique geography.

  • The reserve as a beautiful time-capsule of the past — enclosed in barbed wire. Detail wildlife and how it reflects former downland management practices. e.g.; Nottingham catchfly, early spider orchid, wart-biter cricket.
  • Castle Hill NNR is noted for its early spider orchids and wart biter crickets; the former require sheep grazing but the latter, found in Newmarket Bottom, require longer grass such as from grazing cattle. Baldy on the day of his murder had been tending bullocks (oxen?) in Newmarket Bottom.
  • Newmarket Hill’s top is over 500 feet high, the highest ground immediately north-east of the coastal plain west of Brighton. Therefore it should receive relatively high rainfall. Much of its run-off should find its way into Newmarket Bottom. It has more fertility than the head of Falmer Bottom, the next valley to the east. However, the south facing slopes within the reserve are particularly steep, with only a very shallow covering of soil. Thus the lusher pastures of Newmarket Bottom and the shorter turf of the steep slopes should, and do, provide two differing grazing regimes, for cattle and sheep respectively. Further research may substantiate my observations.

Aim: To disseminate the project findings to a wide range of audiences.

Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project - Family Archaeology Day - Brighton Museum, 31st January 2015.
Whitehawk Camp Community Archaeology Project – Family Archaeology Day – Brighton Museum, 31st January 2015.

Objective: To date I have shared my findings via the Internet, talks, local newsletters, guided walks and stalls at local public events. Each of the project objectives’ outcomes (singularly or combined) are to be similarly disseminated, as detailed in my report.

Objective: To present my findings to an academic audience.

  • This requires a higher standard of rigour than is normal for an amateur local history, but my academic training should certainly help. Publications may include Sussex Archaeological Collections and Post-Medieval Archaeology. Other, more informal journals and newsletters are certainly possible.

Objective: To present the project as a whole to as wide an audience as possible.

  • On completion of the above objectives a book is to be written. It would be useful to confirm the nature of the book’s publication as early as possible. A non-commercial print-to-order book (such as may be eligible for the use of discounted or royalty free (Creative Commons or related) images. A commercial publication would be expensive. Such books rarely make money, therefore a non-commercial (cost-price) publication, with a suitable Creative Commons license, may be my ideal choice. However, if a commercial publisher wishes to pay image royalty costs, a compromise might be a commercial book with limited images complemented by a non-commercial website with images which were unable to be published in the book.

The above aims and objectives should be considered as being for guidance purposes only. They are not prescriptive. More details are available in my project proposal document. They are for the guidance of my thinking and are not necessarily structured in terms of either the order in which they will be conducted, or the order in which their outcomes will be published. Each objective should generate one or more research products. Of note is that some of these products, such as digitized historical maps, will be of use for more than one of the objectives. Also of note is that I have already conducted quite a lot of research, though as yet most of it has not yet been formally recorded.

Next Actions

The main purpose of this exercise was the registration of this historical archaeology project with the OASIS archaeological projects database. I suspect they have an online form requiring information about the project; its name, scope, aims and objectives (might want to summarise these) and other such questions of interest to those who may be interested in finding out more, or even offering help and advice.

Next on my list is the recording, writing, archiving and publishing of my 2013 Newmarket Farm dig. This is planned to be started this winter. I still have a lot of post-excavation work to do, and with no previous experience, it is likely to take me sometime. Fortunately I should be able to help Luke Barber with some of his post-excavation finds processing of the Bishopstone Tidemills dig this winter. Since he is the Sussex Archaeology Society’s research officer, he should know exactly what he is doing. An excellent learning opportunity for me.

Of Sheep and Fish: A Historical Archaeology Project Proposal. Click this link to download or view the pdf.

View SE over site from half-way up aerial; 23rd August 2013.
View SE over site from half-way up aerial; 23rd August 2013. Click to enlarge.
Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014
Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014
Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014
Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014
Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014
Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014
Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014
Exmoor ponies visiting dig site; 27th January 2014
Newmarket Farm Cottage Excavation - Right click for enlarged image; January 2014.
Newmarket Farm Cottage Excavation – Right click for enlarged image; January 2014.
Looking SE at Newmarket Farm dig site at sunset; 8th December 2013.
Looking SE at Newmarket Farm dig site at sunset; 8th December 2013.

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