Project Title?!

Newmarket Farm by Bob (Desmond) Phipps

Those who read my previous post will know I have been struggling to find a good title for my revised history project. I had a self printed business card which used the above picture as a background image. Its original title was:

Newmarket Farm History Project

But the new project title:

Of Sheep & Fish: A History of the South Downs between Lewes and Brighton

is far to long, but:

Of Sheep & Fish History Project

though shorter, is more confusing… Which means I should think of yet another title.

Public Interest

1875 sketch of the deconsecrated Balsdean Chapel. From W. T. Quartermain: The Parish Churches of Sussex
Drawings from the East Sussex volume, 1865, held at the Sussex Archaeological Society, with added images 1875 sketch of the deconsecrated Balsdean Chapel.

Based on my walks and talks just about no-one has heard of the Newmarket Farm. But most have heard of Balsdean and many locally know of the Castle Hill Nature Reserve. So, whilst an account of Balsdean’s medieval history is outside of the scope of a history of Newmarket Farm (built in 1830 as part of the Kingston near Lewes estate), it would be of great interest to the readers of my book. The same would apply to a history (both natural and prehistorical) of the nature reserve.

The shortest descriptive subtitle I can think of is:

… A South Downs History Project

which is good but needs something to go in front.

Of Sheep & Fish: A South Downs History Project

The sheep of Lewes and the fish of Brighton were crucial influences on my downland project area. However, the project is largely about the downland in between.

Two important factors led to the study area becoming a national nature reserve; sheep and cattle:

  • Sheep helped create the short chalk grassland necessary for the success of the early spider orchids which are one of the key species at its eastern end.
  • Cattle were ideally suited to graze the much more fertile Newmarket Bottom, and may have helped create the habitat best suited for its other key species – the wart biter cricket – in the western end of the reserve. At the 1868 trial of the murderer of Newmarket Farm tenant David Baldy, it was revealed that Baldy had been tending bullocks in Newmarket Bottom on the day of his death.
1907 postcard of oxen on the South Downs pulling a hay cart accompanied by two agricultural workers. Credit: Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.

Of Sheep & Bullocks: A South Downs History Project

I like this project title. Bullocks were another name for oxen. Before the advent of farm machinery oxen did most of the heavy work pulling carts, waggons and ploughs. They had a greater endurance and pulling power than horses when working in teams, but they were slower and less intelligent than horses. The advent of farm machinery during the 19th century caused the demise of the working ox.

A Decision!

As you may have gathered, I struggle when it comes to making decisions. I have two possible titles each with two different emphases:

  • Of Sheep & Fish emphasizes its wider geography – both physical and political. My latest researches have been increasingly involved with both.
  • Of Sheep & Bullocks emphasizes its agricultural and natural historical aspects. These were at the heart of my original research interests.

And the winner is…

Of Sheep & Bullocks: A South Downs History Project

2 replies on “Project Title?!”

Dear David

A fascinating post, thank you.

I’ve never seen that 1865 sketch of Balsdean Chapel before. Do you mind me asking where you found it?

Best wishes


Kevan Gibbons

My mother found it posted the Balsdean Chapel picture on Facebook. Since it was drawn in 1875 I hoped that the image is copyright free. Thanks to your comment I was reminded I should trace its origin, which I have now done. Courtesy of the Sussex Archaeology Society’s Barbican Library, it was scanned and posted on a publicly accessible Google Drive folder. The original book was allegedly published in 1865, though the Balsdean sketch was clearly dated 1875. The following details are from the Sussex Record Society;

The Parish churches of Sussex: to which are added several district Churches, Tombs, Effigys, Brasses, Fonts, et, by William Thomas Quartermain, published 1865 (2 volumes in Sussex Archaeological Society Library)

Review in Sussex Notes and Queries, May 1953.:
In each volume there has been inserted, after binding and in front of the title page, a copy of the portrait of the author, and below are the words “Etched on copper, by W.T.Q., 1885.”
The contents of the two volumes are thus summarised in a manuscript note inserted in each volume, and presumably added by the artist: Churches 578, Doorways 18, Porches 9, Windows 17, Fonts 59, Tombs 9, Effigys 9, Brasses 28, Old oak chests 8, Stone carvings 40, Mural paintings 10, Bellfounders’ marks on ancient Sussex bells, old glazed tiles, etc.
Interleaved are original letters from amongst others, Mark Anthony Lower, William Figg, and Herbert Haines (well known for his work on monumental brasses). Each volume has two bookplates, namely those of Robert M. Burrell (presumably Robert Merrik Burrell, the third son of Sir Walter Wyndham Burrell, Baronet, of Ockenden, Cuckfield, who died unmarried in 1905) and of the donor, John Roland Abbey, of Storrington. Many of the drawings are dated. They were nearly all apparently made between 1855 and 1865; a few are copies of earlier drawings originally made by another hand. In many cases drastic restoration of the church has been carried out since the drawing was made; and they therefore form a most valuable historical record. They are also very pleasing in themselves: and especially in the case of drawings of the smaller features, such as fonts and carved stones, bring out every detail. By way of example reference may be made to the drawings of the well known font at St. Nicholas, Brighton, both before and after restoration, and to the drawings of various details at Amberley and Arundel. There is also an excellent drawing of the interior of Amberley Church, showing box pews which have long since disappeared.

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