West Sussex Unwrapped III: Summer – Chichester Festival Theatre, 1959-1962

Chichester Festival Theatre, 1959-1962 Sixty years ago, in 1962, Chichester's brand new Festival Theatre opened. Looking rather like a mid-century spaceship, the theatre had come into existence so quickly it may have indeed appeared out of thin air. It was the brainchild of optician Leslie Evershed-Martin, who, in just two years, had planned, funded, built,…

The Boy in the Painting: Marcus Thomas, b.1768-d.1816

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant Please note that some of the language used in the original records includes offensive and insensitive terminology. The inclusion of these terms is not an endorsement of such language, but are there to authentically represent the original document. In August 2021, I began trawling through the transcripts of baptisms, marriages…

Stories from the Parish Registers: Maria Sophia Rose, from Bengal to Ifield

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant Following on from the blog on Charles Douglass and Ann Glanville, published in October 2021, this blog explores the story behind another entry in the parish registers. This time, we are looking into the life of Maria Sophia Rose; a Bengali woman who, at a young age, was brought to…

Stories from the Parish Registers: Black residents of West Sussex

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant As part of West Sussex Record Office's Transatlantic Ties project, and ongoing work surrounding intersectionality in the archive, a survey of the county's parish registers for individuals of African, Asian, and Caribbean heritage is underway. London Metropolitan Archives undertook a similar project which began in 2000, the results of which…

West Sussex Unwrapped II: Month 5 – South Downs National Park

Oh! the Downs high to the cool sky;And the feel of the sun-warmed moss;And each Cardoon, like a full moon,Fairy-spun of the thistle floss;And the beech grove, and a wood-dove,And the trail where the shepherds pass;And the lark’s song, and the wind-song,And the scent of the parching grass! By John Galsworthy Linseed mowing at Strood,…

West Sussex Unwrapped II: Month 3 – 185 years of Eastergate school

As of 2021, Eastergate school has been almost ceaselessly teaching for more than 185 years. It has served the parish, and also the surrounding localities, by educating numerous generations of West Sussex families. As you will have seen in the film footage below, the school underwent a huge transformation in 1970; turning from a traditional…

The (futile) war on smuggling: Accounts from the archives

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant. In the archive, there is a report from 1806 (Add Mss 2610) which its author endorsed as "a most stupid, bombast report drawn by me for Captn. Lepper touching Smuggling." It's author, Job Gipps, was the Commander of the "Hawk" Revenue Cutter moored at Littlehampton. Gipps spent his days patrolling…

West Sussex Unwrapped Week 4: Lifeboats

Map of Sussex, and it's extensive coastline, by James Wyld, c1860, PM 124 The coast of West Sussex is beautiful, but also deadly. The sea, with its unpredictable swells and lack of shelter from squally storms, has claimed many lives and countless vessels. Although the United Kingdom is an island with a deep connection with…

West Sussex Unwrapped Week 2: Nursing

Arguably, the profession of nursing offered the same essential experience for every nurse. Yet, it was the experiences born from a specific place and time which gave each nurse their own unique story, and West Sussex has been home to a number of historically significant institutions. From the medieval hospitality of St Mary's Hospital in…