Rottingdean is a Sussex village that developed as a small community around a pond in the Saxon age. The name means 'the village of Rota's people'. The Domesday book records the land was given to William de Warrenne the Lord of Lewes as a reward for his support of the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. The village remained isolated for centuries, being a home just for small farming settlements. This changed after the Coast Road from Brighton improved and access became easier.
At the end of the 19th century, many artists appreciated the remoteness and inspiring scenery to be found there. This influences residents and visitors to this day.
Here are some of the historically interesting places people can visit today:
The Elms and Kipling Gardens
Rudyard Kipling lived in this 18th century house between 1897 and 1902. Here he wrote some of his most famous stories, 'Kim', 'Stalky and Co' and the 'Just So' stories as well as the poems 'Recessional' and 'The Absent Minded Beggar'. The gardens were later restored by the Preservation Society, creating the present Kipling Gardens. They opened in 1986 and are considered to be a perfect example of excellent gardening. Furthermore, they have been frequent holders of the Green Flag, a prestigious award for the best green spaces and parks in Wales and England.
North End House
The Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones originally joined Prospect House and Aubrey Cottage, renaming them North End House, Subsequently, Sir Roderick Jones, Chairman of Reuters, and his wife Enid Bagnold, added Gothic House to the property.
Rottingdean's isolation and easy access to the sea made it an ideal place for landing. Contraband goods, such as wine, spirits, tea and lace, were hidden in tunnels, barns and even churches, before they were taken to London.
During the time Kipling lived in Rottingdean, he romanticised this era in "A Smuggler's Song". The local butcher Captain Dunk lived in Whipping Post House and was a notorious smuggler. It is said that The Black Horse was a meeting place for smugglers and you can pop in there for a drink when you visit.
Crops were grown in the valley, whilst vast flocks of sheep grazed on the Downs. Challoners was the 15th century manor house of the original farm. Other farms such as Down House, Court House and Hillside were established later. Many of the original farm buildings and cottages have been converted for use-to-day. Flint, which occur naturally in the local chalk, provided an ideal material for buildings and boundary walls. They were like cobbles from the beach, used in their natural state, knapped or squared. Keep your eye out for flint usage while you're walking around.
The Rottingdean Cricket Club
With records of a match in 1758, the Rottingdean Cricket Club is now one of the oldest clubs in the country.
The Dene is on the opposite to the Kiplings Gardens in the centre of Rottingdean. It was originally used as a racing stable by Lord St. Vincent and later became home of the Ridsdale family. Their eldest daughter Lucy married Stanley Baldwinin in 1892, who was not only Kipling's cousin but also became later Prime Minister.
The Green and Pond
The Pond and Green have always provided an attractive focus for village life. In earlier times, the pond was a watering place for livestock, with the pump on 'Pump Green' providing water for the villagers.
St. Margaret's Church
The church consists of flint and stone and is a combination of Saxon, Norman, early English and Victorian design and construction as it was rebuilt and restored in different times. The brightly coloured stained glass windows are remarkable. Within the church building and grounds memorials to famous residents and long-standing Rottingdean families can be found. The lych gate was added in 1897.
This Georgian house provides a museum and art gallery, and during the summer months a Tea Garden is open, too. The museum offers next to a wide range of exhibitions also displays of interests for all ages.
The Mill stands on the west of the village on Beacon Hill and is a landmark for ships in the English Channel. It was built in 1802 by Thomas Beard, whose initials 'TB1802' can still be seen on one of the internal timbers. The mill continued to grind corn until 1881. In 1922, the village raised money for repairs and the mill is now preserved by the local Rottingdean Preservation Society.
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