Picturesque Sussex

Lewes Castle
Lewes Castle

Visiting Lewes Castle last year we discovered that the Sussex Archaeological Society have a very good secondhand bookshop there. I selected a couple of Sussex-related books, including one called ‘Picturesque Sussex’ by Clare Jerrold. The author (despite a name which might indicate otherwise) appears to be male, and a quick google search reveals that he was also the author of a number of books about Queen Victoria.
This particular book was given to ‘Edmund’ as a birthday present by ‘S.B’ in August 1912 and I would think was published not long before that. It gives a fascinating whistle-stop tour of Sussex before the outbreak of WW1, and includes a good number of black and white photos. One other interesting fact I discovered on the title page was that it was published by S Combridge of Hove. Now Combridge is a family name on my husband’s side, and is rarely seen, originating I believe in Kent. A search on the 1911 census reveals that Cornelius Combridge (staying in a hotel in London on the night of the census) is likely to have been the publisher, but why ‘S Combridge’ I am not sure.
The preface refers to the “new King’s Sanatorium, near Midhurst” which it was hoped would prove “the curative value of Sussex air”. I presume that this institution then became the King Edward VII hospital, which has now sadly closed and been redeveloped as housing.
We regularly visit Brighton, where one of my daughters is currently living. I was therefore particularly amused to read this description of the town: “People walk gracefully here; here are no hurrying, crowded omnibuses, no streams of workers marching with unceasing tramp to this or that point, no jostling or pushing in the eager desire to be first”. Mmm. Some places have changed beyond recognition! I am told that the Brighton buses are so crowded with students attending one university or the other, that they are frequently completely full. There is a lovely photo of the pier and entrance to the aquarium, which both look remarkably unchanged, but of course now there is the addition of the Brighton Wheel and the absence of the many horses and carriages seen in the photo. Another photo of the (now burnt) West Pier shows Edwardian ladies in long dresses with parasols.

Palace Pier and Aquarium Brighton


Photos from ‘Picturesque Sussex’ by Clare Jerrold, published by S. Combridge, Hove, in The Shire Series, around 1911.


Brighton from the West Pier



On a recent trip to Brighton we thought we’d go up to the Devil’s Dyke. The fog was so thick that you could barely see a few paces ahead, which was a shame as the views are amazing. In the book’s descriptions of the Devil’s Dyke we learn that there used to be a railway to take sightseers to the top where various attractions awaited them. The author seems to have taken rather a dim view of this entertainment, where visitors could “amuse themselves on the swings and roundabouts, exclaim over the ‘camera obscura’, drink tea and ale, be carried down into the Weald and up again on the steep-grade railway and then go home satisfied”.
Most of my Sussex ancestors lived in West Sussex, but five generations back one Lucy Mitchell married Edward Buckwell in Brighton in 1828. They would have seen Brighton Pavilion, completed in 1817, but would not have experienced the aforementioned attractions of Devil’s Dyke. Perhaps instead they were able to appreciate the “loneliness and the upspoilable beauty” of the place if they ever ventured up there. As for us, we’ll make another attempt to appreciate the views on a less foggy day!

Brighton pier today

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