Strange Tales of Old Sussex: Famous Folk. Part 1

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a great quiz player. But I equally know that some of you love them! With that in mind, and in the first of our Famous Folk of Old Sussex series, this is for all those quiz boffins amongst you. I’ve even seeded a few clues in amongst the questions … although I’m not sure if they’ll help much! So how well do you know your Sussex history and do you know who these 12 famous folk of Sussex were:

1. He came with three sons and spent 20 years subjugating Sussex from Chichester to Pevensey, starting with the Kingdom of the South Saxons.

2.  He was an engineer who drove the first major road through The Weald, giving his name to a town on the way and a famous gate and market at one end.

3. He was closely associated with one of our earliest ports where his daughter was buried and he is reputed to have attempted an early essay into climate change.


4. A shepherd by calling, who after various wanderings finally settled at Steyning where he built the first church, and became a saint.

Saint Cuthman of Steyning

5. Sussex is quite strong on saints, and another worked as a blacksmith and is reputed to have tweaked the devil’s nose with his hot tongs.

6. Perhaps our earliest saint, he not only taught people to fish but founded our first cathedral, later replaced by Chichester.

7. Two brothers who combined the callings of county squires and churchwardens by day and highwaymen by night, for which both of them finished up being hanged!

8. The scion of a local family of gentry, as a young man felt the nearest headland of The Downs needed embellishment, so he planted it with trees which he watered and nurtured to create probably one of our most famous Sussex landmarks.

Chanctonbury Ring

9. An ebullient squire who derived his fortune from iron and possibly slavery, served as Member of Parliament for the county, with varying distinction, saved one of our notable monuments and left us with an enduring crop of follies.

Mad Jack Fuller Folly

10. A notable archaeologist and antiquarian, he was the son of a village schoolmaster (who wrote about Sussex), he wrote a history of the county and was one of the founding fathers of the Sussex Archaeological Society to whose publications he contributed hugely.

11. She was the daughter of a celebrated military gentleman, whose title she inherited. She wrote several books, particularly on old Sussex houses, and contributed to numerous articles to the old Sussex County Magazine (1926 – 1956), and founded a School for Lady Gardeners at Glynde, where she lived as well as at Scaynes Hill and finally Ardingly.

12. He must be our widest known celebrity, through neither born here or deriving his early fame from within our shores, he came first to Rottingdean where he was driven out by the early manifestations of the paparazzi and moved to an old ironmasters house (preserved to this day much as he left it) where he wrote memorable works with a strong Sussex flavour.


And the answers? Well … I will upload the answers next week, or if you think you’ve got them all right, you can always leave us a message on Facebook, Instagram, or by email.

Post Script 

And the answers are:

  1. Aella
  2. Belinus
  3. Canute 
  4. Saint Cuthman of Steyning
  5. Saint Dunstan of Mayfield
  6. Saint Wilfred of Selsey
  7. George and Joseph Weston of Winchelsea (believed to be assumed names)
  8. Charles Goring of Wiston
  9. Mad’ or ‘Honest’ Jack Fuller, Squire of Brightling
  10. Mark Anthony Lower (son of Dickie Lower of Chiddingly)
  11. Frances, Viscountess Wolseley
  12. Rudyard Kipling

Contributed by Peter Benner 

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