Mark Tristan Cooper 073


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NLHG Newsletter Archive




























March 2015


Sussex Characters- Wacky, Weird & Wonderful: was an amusing and very entertaining talk from Chris McCooey. We heard about the lives of 3 characters including Horace Riddler (The Great Omi) who was completely covered in tattoos. He was also know as Zebra Man and after a life in sideshows, theatre and circus he ended his days in the village of Ripe. Chris also told us about Archibald Belanie who emigrated from Hastings to Canada to live a frontier life and became the famous character Grey Owl. He was instrumental in helping the public understand the wider concerns of conservation and respect for wildlife and he played an important part in the development of the National Parks. He made films, wrote several books and made lecture tours. Finally, we heard about Cynthia Payne, “party hostess” with a heart of gold. She allowed elderly clients to pay her in luncheon vouchers! Chris had met her quite recently and reported she was still full of fun at the age of 83. Made famous by court cases in the 1970s and 80s, Cynthia is still working as an after dinner speaker….now there is an idea!

Forthcoming meetings: 7.30pm in the Methodist Hall unless stated otherwise:

March 19th 2015Historical Winchelsea by Malcolm Pratt

April 16th 2015AGM with a talk by Kevin Gordon on “The Lost Village of Tidemills”

May 21st 2015Witches, Warlocks & Wellingtons by Dr Janet Pennington

June 18th 2015Henry VIII a talk by Tony Harris

July 16thTBC


September 17thTBC

October 15thSussex & the Napoleonic Wars by Helen Poole

November 19thA Sussex Farm During the 1950s with Ian Everest


Other Local Events


3 Lectures organised by Bexhill Museum during March, all at St Augustine’s Church Hall off Cooden Drive:  

Firstly on Wed, 4 March, 14:30 – 16:30 'Discovering the Moche' by Ken Brooks. In South America the abandoned cities of the Moche and Chimu have remained hidden for centuries, but excavations are now revealing fascinating details of their daily lives and mythology. This talk will be well illustrated with slides, maps and artefacts.

Then on Wed, 18 March, 14:30 – 16:30 'Benjamin Leigh Smith, Explorer' by Charlotte Moore. Benjamin Leigh Smith was a Victorian gentleman explorer who made five expeditions to the Polar regions, the last ending in a dramatic shipwreck. Leigh Smith grew up in Hastings and later lived at Robertsbridge. Using original letters and photographs Charlotte, his great-great-great niece, tells his extraordinary and heroic story.

Finally, on Wed, 1 April, 14:30 – 16:30 'WW1- The Air War' by Norman Franks. This talk will cover the development of both the aeroplane as a war machine, guns and armament in the air, the airmen and how they fought in this new third dimension. Though a recent invention, the flimsy aircraft very quickly became essential to our success in the war on the ground.


Other News: a brief archaeological dig has been carried out at the Ingrams Farm site by a team affiliated to UCL following on from the geophysical survey. Several long trenches were dug and some interesting findings have emerged. Both Iron Age and Medieval traces were found and a more in depth dig has been recommended. More news in the coming months!



A Photo from the Archive:




A picture taken from The Ninfield Hundred book by Barry Symes, photo 35.

Stocks were part of the medieval justice system.  An Act of Parliament, in 1405, stipulated that every parish must erect stocks to detain and humiliate petty criminals.  Offenders could be held in the stocks for several days; day and night.  As a consequence some died of heat exhaustion or hypothermia.

Whipping Posts were introduced during the reign of Elizabeth I.  The offenders were shackled by the wrists so they could be whipped.

Most stocks were made of wood, so very few survive.  Ninfield’s stocks are made of iron, which is very unusual; it is thought they were made at the foundry at Ashburnham.

Prior to 1880 Ninfield’s stocks were on the opposite side of the main road, near the junction to Catsfield.  The fir trees surrounding the stocks were planted by The Reverend Robert Aitkin Bennett, who was the first of Ninfield’s Rectors to live in The Rectory (now Sunnyside).

Although stocks are no longer used they have never been formally abolished.  However, the whipping of women did become unlawful in 1791.  

Liz Darbyshire




Group Contacts:


Rod Ffoulkes (Chair)  Tel: 893635, Janice Wood (Secretary) & Martin Wood (Treasurer) Tel: 892895,   Corinne Gibbons (Membership) Tel: 892612, Jan Cooper (Archivist)  Tel: 893381, Liz Darbyshire Tel: 893575, Janet Savage Tel: 892749, John Cheshire (Newsletter)  Tel: 892248.