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Sussex Books

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IN AN OLD HOUSE: the 500-year history of a Sussex yeoman’s farmstead and its people
Authors: Peter & Sally Varlow
Price £30
ISBN:978-1-907242-65-6
Format: 266mm x 199mm full colour hardback; 320 pages; over 450 photographs, drawings and maps

In An Old House tells the story of the first 500 years of Coppard’s, a timber-framed hall house built in 1473, and its people. The authors have written this stylish, engaging, and thoroughly researched book for all who live in an old house and want to know what life was like for previous owners over the centuries.

Local historians Sally and Peter Varlow have made the book easy to dip into, with many illustrations and explanatory panels. But this extensive and scholarly work is also fully referenced, with an extensive bibliography and index, and will be equally valuable for all students of vernacular architecture, local history and the English yeoman farmer.

From pre-Roman times to the 20th century, In An Old House follows the landscape, social, religious and architectural changes of the house and the village of Chailey. It is the result of six years of meticulous research by Peter and Sally into the history of Coppard’s, the substantial home of a status-conscious yeoman, the first of the new middle classes to emerge from England’s feudal society.

Not only does the book tell the fascinating story of the early Coppard family, notable in Sussex, their house and the surrounding area, but it also represents meticulous timber measurements and estimations of how many oak trees went into the house. It will fascinate everyone who lives in one of the many thousands of traditional timber-framed houses in the South East.

 

 

In an old house

 

LEWES IN DETAIL: An artist’s view
Author: Marietta Van Dyck
Price £5
ISBN:978-1-907242-62-5
Format: A5 paperback; 42 pages of line drawings, with map

To mark the thirtieth anniversary of her moving to Lewes, and almost twenty years since the publication of her first highly popular book Hidden Lewes, Marietta Van Dyck introduces a second published collection of the vivid pen and ink drawings she has regularly contributed to the ‘Eye for Detail’ series in the bi-monthly Lewes News.

Here, once again, are the often tucked away features which even long-time residents of the county town are likely to miss – subtle decorations above head-height, curious designs, intricate stone carvings, plaques, bargeboards, wrought iron brackets, leaded lights and door knockers.

Aided by a map at the back of the book, a keen reader is promised hours of visual appreciation along the town's highways and twisting byways, each drawing accompanied by carefully researched historical vignettes.

 

 

FLOREAT LEWYS

 

FLOREAT LEWYS: 500 Years of Lewes Old Grammar School
Author: David Arscott
Price £25
ISBN:978-1-907242-33-5
Format: 210mm x 240mm full colour hardback; 180 pages;  lavishly illustrated

In 1512, during the reign of Henry VIII, the wealthy widow Agnes Morley left money in her will for a free school at Southover, close to the majestic pile of Lewes Priory. The priory was soon to be destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries, but the school went on to survive centuries of religious, political and economic upheaval.

David Arscott's tracing of its colourful story sets the ups and downs of what is now Lewes Old Grammar School in the context both of Lewes history and the development of education as a whole throughout the country. The book's second section features the 2012 celebrations of LOGS' proud quincentenary.

 

 

FLOREAT LEWYS

 

MYSTERIES OF HISTORY IN SUSSEX
Author: Philip Pavey
Price £5.99
ISBN:978-1-907242-31-1
Format: 234mm x 156mm paperback; 72 pages, illustrated with maps and photographs

Who created the Long Man of Wilmington, and why? Do ancient ley lines connect historic religious sites in the county? Did Canute order the waves to retreat at Bosham? When did Christianity first arrive in Sussex?

These and a host of other questions are explored by Philip Pavey in a meticulously researched exploration of our Sussex history which will stimulate readers to construct their own interpretations of the past.

 

 

 

THE TWITTENS: The Saxon and Norman Lanes of Sussex
Author: Kim Clark
Price £6.99
ISBN:978-1-907242-30-4
Format: A5 paperback; 62 pages; maps, photographs, line-drawings and paintings, many in colour

South of Lewes High Street runs a filigree of narrow twittens between ancient flint walls – many created in Saxon times, others developed after the Normans arrived. The great castle probably obliterated a similar pattern of footpaths north of the High Street, but many fascinating lanes remain here, too.

In this handsomely illustrated book published on behalf of the Friends of Lewes, Kim Clark investigates the history of the twittens, and makes a strong case for their conservation at a time when their character is threatened by careless development.

 

 

 

ST JAMES'S STREET, BRIGHTON, AND ITS ENVIRONS: A walk through its history from 1800–1900
Author: Edwin P. Miller
Price £12.50
ISBN 978-1-907242-23-6
Format: A4 300 pages paperback

This is the first ever exploration of the commercial and cultural life of this busy Brighton street. Richly illustrated with photographs, maps, old advertisements and extracts from newspapers, it plots a steady course from No. 1A ('Family mourners' back in 1846) to No. 130 (which has variously housed grocers, outfitters, an employment agency, a brace of banks and, today, a charity shop).

It's an essental guide not only for local residents and businesses, but for anyone fascinated by hitherto unsung areas of Brighton's history.

 

 

 

THE TRADITIONAL DIALECT OF SUSSEX
Author: Richard Coates
Price £14.50
ISBN 978-1-907242-09-0
Format: 350 pages paperback

Ever since the Rev W.D. Parish’s seminal A Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, first published in 1875, there have been attempts – some more convincing than others – to replicate, codify and explain the way our forefathers spoke, but never until now has a professional linguist explored the subject with such magisterial comprehensiveness as Richard Coates has achieved in this long-awaited study.

A research professor at the University of Sussex, and professor of linguistics at the University of the West of England, Coates presents no fewer than 40 examples of the dialect for detailed analysis, from the Anglo- Saxon period to the present day.

The book also includes a description of what was special about the dialect in its various local forms, an extensive bibliography of works  relevant to the Sussex dialect and a discography of recorded material with Sussex voices.

 

 

 

HAMMER AND FURNACE PONDS
(Revised edition)
Author: Helen Pearce
Price: £8.99
ISBN 978-1-907242-15-1
Format: 96 pages A5; 16 colour illustrations

They beautify the woodlands of the Sussex and Kent High Weald, but they were created to power what has been described as the country's first industrial revolution.

Helen Pearce's walker-friendly guide to the rich crop of surviving hammer and furnace ponds in the area traces the history of iron exploitation from pre-Roman times, but concentrates on the 16th and 17th centuries when the Weald throbbed to the sound of trip hammers.

Her attractively illustrated guide includes a complete gazetteer of surviving ponds, with map references and access details, and a list of museums with iron industry displays.

 

 
 

THE SUSSEX PUB QUIZ BOOK
Author: David Arscott
Price £7.50
ISBN 9781 907242 02 1
Format: 122 pages illustrated paperback

Here’s the ultimate test of your knowledge – ideal not only for pub quizzes, but for family gatherings and individual brain-teasing. Dip into no fewer than a hundred rounds, each of them covering the east and west of the county, historical curiosities and the Sussex of today.

The book also features more than a hundred ‘Fancy that!’ boxes, celebrating a wealth of weird and wonderful Sussex facts.

 

 

 

 

SUSSEX REMEMBERED
Author: Alexandra Ayton
Price: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 907242 11 3
Format: Paperback, 126 pages

Alexandra Ayton’s book, based on a popular magazine series, brings to life a wide range of larger-than-life Sussex characters and colourful stories from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Attractively illustrated, and written with an eye for fascinating and revealing detail, Sussex Remembered celebrates the men and women who have helped shape the county’s recent history.

Her vibrant cast includes writers as diverse as Rudyard Kipling, Patience Strong, Patrick Hamilton, Enid Bagnold and G.K. Chesterton; characters such as Mad Jack Fuller and the ‘Red Indian’ conservationist Grey Owl; the inventors Magnus Volk and John Logie Baird; and the pioneering educationalists Canon Woodhard and Dame Grace Kimmins.

You can also read about a Sussex missionary martyred in Africa, a renowned healer who foresaw the 9/11 atrocity and the man who created the amazing flying car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

 

 

 

THE SUSSEX YEAR: A country calendar
Author: David Lang
Price £15.00
ISBN 978 0 9559006 5 5
Format: Full-colour hardback, 220mmx260mm landscape. 128 pages.

Sussex is rich in wildlife, and few naturalists have as broad a knowledge of its birds, beasts and flowers as David Lang. The author of acclaimed books on wild orchids and hedgerow berries, and a popular lecturer on travel and natural history, he here leads us on a month-by-month  safari into the countryside he loves. 

His vivid photographs are complemented by captions which illuminate, with both wit and erudition, the adaptation of our diverse flora and fauna to the soil, the climate and the activities of that most powerful creature of all, homo sapiens.

Your eyes will be opened!

 

 


 

AMBLES ALONG THE PROMENADE
Author: Richard Sayer
Price £25.00
ISBN 978 0 9559006 7 9
Format: Full-colour hardback, 229mm x 246mm landscape. 192 pages.

Here’s a striking gallery of images which shows the Brighton & Hove seafront in all its moods.

Seasonal shifts, subtle changes of light, maritime flora and fauna, people at work and at play, half-hidden curiosities, piers, statues and beach huts –  Richard Sayer’s photographs, taken at all times of the day and at every time of the year, introduce us to a promenade by turns beautiful, quirky, human and elemental.

From the finely veined detail of a fig leaf to a little girl blissfully asleep in her carrier; from the drama of an electric storm to a swarm of starlings over the gaunt West Pier, these are compositions that will long stay in the memory.

Some of the sights will be familiar to us all, but many will surprise and delight even the most observant of Brightonians. This is a collection to treasure.

 

 

 

A SUSSEX KIPLING
Selected and annotated by David Arscott
Price: £8.50
ISBN 978 0 954 89751 2
Format: 164 pages paperback, illustrated

This is the first comprehensive anthology of Rudyard Kipling's prose and poetry for many years. It includes practically all his Sussex verse, several short stories, excerpts from his autobiography and a sprinkling of his amusing and idiosyncratic letters.

Kipling lived in Sussex for the greater part of his life, and this illustrated collection is saturated with a profound love of what he called “the most marvellous of all foreign countries that I have ever been in”.

We first meet him in Rottingdean, and we follow his escapades as one of the country’s pioneer motorists, but it is the Bateman’s period which dominates. Here he created the writer’s haven we can still visit today– immersing himself in the life of Sussex, telling its history through the children’s stories of Puck of Pook’s Hill and fashioning a potent literary myth from his study of the Sussex people and their colourful past.

 

 

 

 

CITY STREETS TO SUSSEX LANES
Author: David Johnston
Price: £8.50
ISBN 978 0 9559006 4 8
Format: 140 page paperback, illustrated

A wonderfully evocative memoir of rural life in Sussex during the 1950s.

When 8-year-old David Johnston, his mother and his older brother were made homeless in London in the early 1950s they first slept rough on a Sussex beach before being taken into the East Preston workhouse. His mother then fell in with “Old Harry”, a farm labourer who periodically moved about the county from one farm job to another. 

The author's vivid prose relates his tough, but happy, childhood with his new stepfather and his two sons. He recaptures the sounds and smells of the old farms and cottages where he lived; his adventures down country lanes and field paths; and his delight in the wildlife and the country characters he met on the way.

It was only 60 years ago, but these tales of living in tied farm cottages in remote parts of rural Sussex evoke a way of life now gone for ever.

 

 

 

DEAD & BURIED IN SUSSEX incorporating WHAT THE VICAR SAW
Author: David Arscott
Price £8.50
ISBN 978 0 954 897550
Format: 148 pages paperback, illustrated

Here we have two successful books brought together in one binding.

Dead & Buried in Sussex is the first ever book on the county’s abundant churchyard heritage. It traces the colourful history of our epitaphs and memorials, discovering a wealth of striking examples – many of which would never be allowed today. The chapter headings include Words to the Wise (dire warnings), Many a Slip (masons’ mistakes), A Pride in the Job (trades and professions) and Gripes and Grievances (memorials with a grudge).

The copious photographs include gruesome death scenes, a smattering of Sussex dialect, some poignant verses and memorials to animals.

What the Vicar Saw is a collection of remarkable marginal comments in the parish records of yesteryear. Vicars often treated the birth, death and marriage registers as if they were their own personal diaries, scrawling witty or contemptuous comments that would have astounded their unsuspecting flock. These secret scribblings reveal a vivid cast of characters gamely struggling against life’s adversities – cruel accidents, ghastly diseases and the lurid temptation of sex and drink.

 

 


 

THE STREET NAMES OF LEWES past and present
Authors: L.S. Davey and Kim Clark, for the Friends of Lewes Society
Price £5.50
ISBN 9781 907242 05 2
Format: 108 pages illustrated paperback

Where can you find a cluster of street names which remember the Battle of Lewes in which a king was overthrown? Where exactly were the long-lost thoroughfares called Lodders Lane (beggars’ lane) and Pilcher Street (where pilches, or fur cloaks, were made)? Who were  Spence and English and Lee – men honoured by having roads named after them? And was there something truly nasty in Rotten Row?

In this fascinating exploration of the Lewes street scene, Kim Clark expands and brings up to date the seminal work which L.S. Davey first published in 1961 and twice revised, in 1970 and 1981. Complete with a fold-out colour map of the town, it  brings history to life at every turn, leading us between the sites of medieval gateways along routes whose names recall foundry workers, soap-makers, market traders and becassocked friars

 

 


 

THE INNS OF LEWES past and present
Authors: L.S. Davey and Andrew Whitnall, for the Friends of Lewes Society
Price: £5.99
ISBN: 0 9542587 7 9
Format: A5 paperback; 52 pages; 46 photographs and two maps

Lewes once had at least seven breweries and seventy inns, and this book (a revised edition of Leslie Davey's original work of 1977) traces those long-gone, the many sturdy survivors and a sprinkling of recent additions.

A map of 1890 shows 66 pubs against just 21 today, the newest addition being the John Harvey Tavern in Cliffe. Attractively presented, this is a fine inspiration for all pub-crawlers of an historical bent.

 

 


 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JOHN HENTY?
Author: John Henty
Price: £7.50
ISBN: 0 9542587 7 0
Format: Paperback 234x156mm portrait; 150 pages; 24 b&w photographs

It’s a question many of his fans from the good old days of BBC local radio in Sussex have long been asking. And here, in a typically offbeat autobiography, is the answer.

Henty, a south London lad, took off for America as a young man, later worked for BEA’s public relations arm and – after many an excursion and detour – found himself in the 1960s behind a microphone at one of the first of Britain’s new local radio stations, Radio Brighton. Here he discovered the talents of an insurance salesman with a keen interest in sport – Desmond Lynam. (Lynam describes him as “One of the most agile minds I have ever met in the world of broadcasting . . . a wholly original talent”) Here, too, his inspired zaniness found him an early morning audience devoted to his special brand of good-humoured banter, and he broadcast from the studios at Marlborough Place for many years.

After leaving the radio station he went freelance, but an abiding interest in these post-BBC days was his growing collection of Mabel Lucie Attwell memorabilia. He’s now the world’s leading authority on the subject, has written a book about her and for some years, with his wife Sylvia, founded and ran a museum in Cornwall dedicated to her art and the products it inspired.

 

 

 

WHEN SKIES WERE ALWAYS BLUE
Author: W.F. Wells
Price: £6.99
ISBN: 0 9542587 9 7
Format: A5 paperback; 64 pages; 6 photographs, 4 in colour.

Illustrated with his drawings of the family home in West Street, Lewes, this memoir by the late W.F. (Bill) Wells brings to life a world between the two world wars that has gone for ever – a humble Sussex upbringing without television or telephone, radio or refrigerator, central heating or even electric light.

Blessed with vivid recall, the author takes us through the streets of the county town, savouring its fairs, markets and shops. He recalls his first sight of an aeroplane and taking train trips, third class, to the seaside. We follow him to school and church, and savour the thrill of the circus.

If life was harder then, it had no shortage of joys. As he writes in an epilogue, “What fun that boy had yesterday!”