Category Archives: Memories – Members only

Family History Resources

1) GENUKI – Fairlight page – not much on there but is a parish map and a transcription of the Kelly 1867 directory entry that may be useful.

2) Sussex Online Parish Clerks – Fairlight page

3) Census Records

1841 – HO107/1106 – browse a transcription here or search it at FreeCEN

1851 – HO107/1635 – search using FreeCEN

1861 – RG09/0559 – search using FreeCEN

1871 – RG10/1027 – search using FreeCEN

1881 – RG11/1201 – search using FamilySearch

1891 – RG12/0758 – search using FreeCEN

4) Parish Records

It appears that the only copy of the parish registers is held at The Keep in Brighton. It is understood that there are no microfiche or film copies of the registers available! Here’s the list of Fairlight Parish documents held at the East Sussex Record Office as recorded by Access to Archives.

Another resource for local and family history is Hastings Museum and Art Gallery in Bohemia Road, Hastings. The local studies room opens every Wednesday and they are very helpful.

5) Hastings & District Family History Society – is not a free to access service but may be worth joining to get access to their records.

6) Memorial Inscriptions

 If you know that your ancestor is buried in the churchyard at St Andrews, Fairlight and you would like a photograph of the gravestone then contact the webmaster who may be prepared to go and take a photo for you.

Recollections from James Barden Aged 92

Summary of James Barden recollections aged 92years born in about 1890 with a little help from Mac (a friend).

The Lucas-Shadwell’s of Fairlight Hall and Estate used to let out the Hall and the Shooting rights out to different people. James remembers a Mr Kirkley a wealthy miner from the north. He was a wonderful man and came down for 3 years with 6 gamekeepers 3 on left and 3 on right of Pett road, including Pannel Lane and Fairlight Wood.

Usually farm workers were paid half a crown a day but when Kirkley employed farm workers for shoots they got 3 shillings a day. When told he was overpaying them he told his critics he would spend his money whatever way he wished.

Stop boys got 1 shilling a day. Their role was to stop birds coming over at various places and to get them on the wing.

Kirkley apparently couldn’t shoot for his life and didn’t know one end of gun from the other.

One of the Ashburnham boys fell in love and married Kirkley’s daughter.

The Down House previously called Fairlight Cottage built in 1906. Built by Colgate as the Barden bid was unsuccessful. Les Cox wife was a Colgate (relative of Jesse Colegate) and the family may still have the old building records.

Colegate’s lived in Oakhurst while building Down House.

Architect was Mark Lansdell (1855-1935)

The Shadwells became Roman Catholic as they wanted Beatrice to marry a Roman Catholic suitor. She never did marry.

Roman Catholic chapel attached to house. Services were held in the house.

The outside bell which summoned the congregation has long gone.

Chapel then moved up the drive on site of old stable which had one horse and coach house. Shadwells built the chapel. When William Shadwell died his procession, with his coffin on a farm wagon pulled by two horses went up through Pett to Fairlight Church rather than down Chick Hill.

Beatrice Shadwell used to teach at Sunday school but when she fell in love she converted to Roman Catholic.When Beatrice died she left the Down House, coach house and 2 cottages opposite Royal Oak to her great friend Mrs Bevan. She didn’t live at the Down House long before selling to Mr Nowers (?)who incorporated the chapel back into the house.

Staircase is English oak from the Fairlight Estate.

Royal Oak was bought by Beatrice Shadwell’s aunt and made it a temperance inn.

She did however always pay the licensee so it was able to latterly reopen as a public house.

Buses only went to top of chick hill. Chick Hill was just loose beach.

1906 few cars mainly horse and cart.

Barden used a wheel cart and only hired horse and cart when needed, so only worked locally. Barden would hire from Colegate (uncle) at the Two Sawyers. (Jesse Colegate son Albert John 1879m Mary Elizabeth Barden)

Two Sawyers was a pub then was a farm house with blacksmiths on site.

Colgate (relative of builders Colgate) bought Two Sawyers when Fairlight Estate was sold in 1918 (s.b.1917). Colgate would hire out horse and carts etc. from the Two Sawyers.

Gatehurst Farm used to own all the land from bottom of Chick Hill to top of Pett Road.

Pett Church has stained glass window to Lord of the Manor which was Earl of Liverpool.

Nephew inherited Shadwell Estate and title.

Sargent Major Judge lived opposite the Gunshed. He was part of 2nd Sussex Volunteer Artillery Corps. James remembers then moving the gun up Battery Hill to Fairlight, so they could fire out to sea. In order to be a gunner you had to be 19 years old and 5 feet 8 inches tall.

In one competition held in Shoeburyness the corps came first and won £100.

James Barden shows Mac his card where he was medically unfit military service in WW1 on 22/9/15 he was aged 25 height and 5’4inches tall. He kept this card in his wallet all his life and in pristine condition. He helped in farming during WW1 and served in auxiliary fire service in WW2.Fire equipment consisted of an old pump on a trailer which was stored at Barden yard.

Pill boxes and gun placements at Pett level were smothered in barbed wire during WW2.

Zeppelin during 1st world war dropped bombs on Carters Farm by the Royal Oak. A crater was formed as a result.

Carters Farm probably Elizabethan and used by smugglers.

James remembers Marsh flooding one Easter.

Carters Farm was formally called Sinkhole farm as when tide was high marsh would flood and smugglers would deliver contraband to farmhouse.

Road along Pett Level prior to sea wall being built was frequently flooded and covered in debris.

Sea wall was built after WW2, essentially a clay wall using mud from the marshes which now are shallow lakes on the level. Dutch engineers were involved in its construction.

House building was slow in Pett as the Shadwells were reluctant to sell building plots.

Woodbine was first house in Pett to have a bathroom. James’s grandmother who was a widower started to see a widowed miller in New Romney. When he asked if she would move in as his housekeeper, she refused and insisted she would only come as his wife.

They were married. When he died James mother returned to Pett and had Woodbine built by her son, James’s father. Woodbine was built before 1906? Exact date.

When building houses, wells were dug by hand down 30/40 feet or failing that they would have underground storage tanks which would catch rainwater. They would have an overflow pie when they were full. Water would be pumped from these through primitive charcoal filters into the house and used as drinking water. Tank capacity 2000 gallons same as in the DownHouse..

Prior to cavity wall construction walls were solid with inner being made of batons and lathe and plaster.

Down House site would have been levelled by hand as were the footings.

Toot Rock named? Due to fortifications. Toot Rock made of sandstone and in the past there was gun on Toot Rock.

Building inspectors came out from Hastings. James remembers a so called surveyor Mr Friar.


























Fairlight Recollections written down at the FHG Exhibition on 12th August 2017

Fairlight recollections recorded at the FHG Exhibition on 12th August 2017

As dictated to Elaine Luke


Heather Wolfe (nee Davis) – husband John

Born in Fairlight in 1938.

Parents lived at Stonelink Farm. They farmed.

1938 Red Lake. Her Grandad looked after cows.

She went to Fairlight School from age 5 – 11.

She has been to see the lady who lives in the school now.

She remembers shrapnel when a plane came down on a bungalow at the top of Fyrsway. It sounded like a train. They went to look at the plane coming down on the garage.

German POWs worked in potato fields by Warren Road. The children used to talk to them on the way home from school. Robert and Alfred were two of the Germans.

Lives in Gorsethorn Way. Worked in Hastings. Husband came from Sevenoaks.

She lodged in Crowborough and that’s where she met her husband.

Mum and Dad lived in a bungalow in Gorsethorn Way and Heather and husband went to this bungalow. Mother lived in the extension.

Meadow Way was a field with a big hollow where a bomb had fallen.

Janet Dyer was a year or two older.


 Lois Wincott (nee Pocock) – husband Reg.

In 1941 evacuated from Shoreham to Fairlight.

In 1947 her father Charles Pocock became a Bursar and brother John Pocock became Head Gardener at Fairlight Hall. It was then owned by Queen’s School.

The family lived in the garden cottage (now knocked down) for about two years. Her father stayed on until about 1950.

Then he bought Fairlight Lodge which was then a guest house.

The family lived in Carriage House. Father retired in 1960 and sold both Fairlight Lodge and Carriage House. The latter was sold to Lois and her husband Reg, who retired to it 20 years ago.

Lois remembers the Radar Station and the Military.

She saw the workings of the Radar Station.

There is a picture of Lois aged three on the steps of Fairlight Hall.


Marcia Russell – husband Ian

Have been residents for 26 years.

In 1991 when they first came to look at Fairlight they didn’t know anything about the village. Her husband was working in Hastings and they were living between Portsmouth and Chichester. Came to Fairlight on the off chance.

Bought one of the three bungalows in the {Fairlight]Cove. Built by Dougie Holland who lives in Halcyon, Waites Lane.

A quiet place. When you stood outside the bungalow, there was only wind, trees and birds.

The Circle Shop and the Garage were used.

Felt a lot was going on. Literary Society. Attended St.Andrew’s Church.

Marcia’s mother went to Shepherd’s Court.

Have been very happy here.

More families here now. Used to be mainly retired people.


 Jenny Stephens

Has lived in Fairlight Gardens for three years but has known Pett Level since she was four.

A Shenley resident as a child.

Came to Pett Level and put a caravan on the beach.

Remembers steps to the beach from the footpath.

Remembers the railway line at Pett Level.


 Cliff Poole (his photo is featured in one of the WI albums)

Cliff was a postman in the 1960s and 70s. He lived in St.Leonard’s but was based in Hastings and drove a van to Fairlight. He had three rounds – the Firehills, the Cove and Warren Road/Hill Road. Pett Level postmen delivered from Waites Lane, Rosemary Lane to Pett Level.

He was working while the village was being built.

He used to call in for a cup of tea with Mrs.Elcombe and Mrs.Winwood plus Jean Relfe who lived at Will o’ the Wisp in Farley Way.

There was a Hastings photographer called Ivan Bennett whose parents lived at the top of Shepherds Way. He used to take photos for Hastleons?

Michael Tenbosch lived at Mirador, Channel Way.

He was connected with the Stables Theatre, Hastings. Was a Wagner enthusiast and gave talks on Wagner.

Two ladies who ran the Woolpack walked their dog and it would go behind the letter box and take the letters in its mouth.

One year Colin didn’t change the clocks and it was dark at 9 a.m. so he had to deliver by torchlight. Other times he used to watch the sun come up beyond Channel Way.

Crossways Tea Rooms had a German Shepherd dog. Was always wary of it. One time it was very docile because it had been bitten by an adder!

Waites Old Farmhouse – When it was renovated, they found a priest hole and a Bible.

Tom Hatfield, Springers Two, was connected with The Stables.

A Lower Waites Lane resident kept a monkey in the [front room].


 John Clarke

Went to Fairlight School 1947-51. Later went to Clive Vale School.

Lives in Rosemary Lane at ‘Bohemia’ later ‘Three Acres’.

Two rooms, two classes, 2 teachers. Miss.Roberts (Head) and Mrs.Coats, a

Welsh lady.

Snow in 1947.

When it snowed the bus company told the teachers that the bus wouldn’t run but the teachers went home by bus. It cost 1 1/2d on the bus. The children walked to school. The children saved the money and spent it on a Lyons individual fruit pie.

Fairlight Stores ran out of food.

He went to get dog biscuits but they’d run out of dog food.

Sold him Army (square) biscuits.

Two boys at the school were German refugees – Dieter and Gunther. They were lederhosen. They lived in Knowle Road with their auntie. They never came out to play. Because of prejudice?

Mary Breeds from Coastguard Cottages, came to school late one day. She said a fishing boat had been wrecked below the cliffs. All the class and teachers went to the edge of the cliff to watch the salvage operators.

Brought oil drums from Hastings and lowered them down on ropes to the beach to the boat ‘Pioneer’. At low tide oil drums were tied round the boat to lift it on high tide. No-one would go on the boat so later they buried it.

Also looked at the sugar boat. There was a danger of explosion from the mix of sugar and water.

The White Heather Café was at the far end left hand side of Waites Lane.

He knew Richard (and Penny Pollard) who wrote about Fairlight and its school.