Beachy Head. What’s not to love! It’s one of our county’s most iconic spots, with the start of the undulating South Downs, the cliffs, and the nearby lighthouse. And even if you’ve been there before (a hundred times), it’s always worth another visit. There is also a visitor centre called the Beachy Head Story (it’s on Beachy Head Road) which is not only a great starting point for a walk but also documents the area’s unique role in Sussex history, from “ancient beginnings then on to Roman explorers and Shipwrecks, Shepherds and Souvenirs … you uncover the mysterious myths and folklore of the Downland.” It’s not really a hidden gem, but it is a gem!
And if you’re up for a bit of nostalgia, they are now hosting a new and free exhibition entitled “Holidaying at Beachy Head – A Place to Remember” which takes visitors on a journey through holidaymakers’ memories from years gone by. It opens on Saturday 7 May and runs until Friday 15 July.
Lewis Carroll and family holidays
Among the exhibits is author Lewis Carroll’s bed desk made for his regular holidays in Eastbourne, hand-drawn sketches of the Garland family visiting in the 1870s and Mary Thomas’s travel diary written in the 1830s. Mary Thomas lived in Ratton and travelled around England in the 1830s with her family. Her travels tell us not only about her life but the people she met.
The Garland family diary was written by Nathaniel and Mary Garland and their family whilst holidaying in Eastbourne in 1873. Nathaniel was a London vicar and while their rectory was being refurbished, the family spent time on the south coast. Each member of the family was expected to write and illustrate their entries to record a family treasure of memories and thoughts that we can still appreciate today.
Lewis Carroll’s bed desk is definitely a highlight and was made to his specifications for his holidays in Eastbourne when he stayed in Lushington Road, where a Blue Plaque is located. The exhibition also showcases the name plate of the former Beachy Head train, which hasn’t been on display for at least 20 years.
Councillor Margaret Bannister, Eastbourne Borough Council’s Lead Member for Tourism and Culture, said, “We know how wonderful Beachy Head and the surrounding area is and this exhibition shows that our ancestors also appreciated its outstanding beauty too. There are some fabulous artifacts on display along with stories from visitors through the ages.”
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