John’s Seat, Fairlight, photographed in 2015
In answer to a frequently asked question “Who was the John after whom ‘John’s Seat’ was named?”, we quote the answer as given in 2004:-
Fairlight News 156 – September 2004
“I would like to thank John Burford for repairing John’s Seat situated on the cliff walk to Pett Level.
I am sure many of us are grateful to be able to sit in comfort once more and enjoy the wonderful panoramic view of Fairlight Cove. – Brenda Dwyer.
Nb. Editor’s note: I have been asked whether I know who John’s Seat is named after. If anybody knows, please let me know.”
Fairlight News 157 – December 2004
“John’s Seat, Fairlight
This bench was erected in 1994 as a final project and in fond memory of John Parratt, local artist and late headmaster, 1927 – 1993.
John, his wife Gill and their two daughters spent holidays and free time at their cottage in Mount Pleasant Farm, Guestling Green, which John had found during his time as Deputy Headmaster at St Paul’s Primary School, St Leonards.
John, in his final months of illness, devised projects for his various friends. Ours was to negotiate the erection of a seat or bench in his chosen area of the Fairlight Coastal Path, where he had spent many hours sketching and painting in watercolours, usually accompanied by his little spaniel, Jasper.
A dictat of the National Trust would only allow a rustic type of bench with the simplest of dedications, so John’s Seat was carved into the facing edge plus, of course, the oak leaf emblem.
Alas, where was the apostrophe, that would not do for a memorial to the late Headmaster of Wrotham Primary School. A cabinet maker friend of John quietly made the correction.
One sunny lunchtime in the summer of 1994 Gill, daughters Sarah and Julia together with family and good friends saw the bench well ‘christened’ and well seated.
We hope it will remain, so once more, well done John Burford.”
We hope the above answers the question. (Please note that the land is owned by the National Trust).
By Paul Draper