Relative of William the Conqueror?
Query from Neil Pentecost, posted on 03-10-03:
I have read somewhere that a relative of William the Conqueror (nephew or cousin or distant relative) possibly used to settle or rest in Woodingdean all those many years ago. Not sure if there is any truth to that? I think i read it in the Argus one day? Anyone know of any interesting facts like that?
Response 1 from Jennifer Drury, posted on 07-10-03:
William de Warenne – a kinsman of Duke William (William the Conqueror) certainly had connections with the area but in Ovingdean and not Woodingdean – which did not exist at the time. He was from Normandy in France and received large grants of land from William the Conqueror because of the distinguished part he took in the Battle of Hastings. Some of those lands were in the area of Ovingdean and what we now know as Woodingdean. The de Warenne family owned land in the area until 1347 when there were no more male heirs and the land passed into the Fitzalan family. William de Warenne himself died in 1088 and is buried in Lewes.
Response 2 from Sue Craig, posted on 07-10-03:
Just to add what Timothy Carder’s Encyclopaedia of Brighton has to say about the de Warrennes (from the entry on St Nicholas’s Churchyard):
‘In medieval times, it is said, the fair Lady Edona waited in the churchyard for her lover, Manfred de Warrenne, to return from the Holy Wars, but she fainted when she saw his ship sink just offshore at Brighton. Now a ghostly ship, St,Nicholas’s Galley, may be seen gliding into Brighton at midnight on 17 May each year. The father of Manfred, John de Warrenne, was buried in the churchyard together with his horse, and it is said that a spectre on horseback may be seen on dark nights.’
Though what relation they are to William, I know not!
Response 3 from Geoffrey Mead, posted on 08-10-03:
Warrenne was the son in law of The Conqueror so was in line for a big hand out post-Hastings. He got the Rape (land division)of Lewes which would have included Woodingdean. Until the 20th century the area was known as WOODENDEAN after the farm)now demolished) at the southern end of the present suburb.