Welcome to Roedean and Rottingdean

Rottingdean is the place I will always call home. My family moved here from the city when I was a small child as they wanted to be near the sea and to enjoy a better place for their young family. As luck would have it they chose this charming village and have stayed in the vicinity ever since.

Although I now live on the Isle of Wight, my childhood and teenage years were spent in this delightful place and it gave me the chance to enjoy the community spirit that only a village has to offer.

Smuggling and cricket
Rottingdean is an old smuggler’s village. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, smuggling was a way of life on this coast. Overlooking the village is the Windmill which continued to grind corn until 1881 and is now preserved by the local Rottingdean Preservation Society. Legend has it that before the present windmill was built the ground on the top of Beacon Hill was used as a cricket pitch. In 1758, whilst playing cricket there a batsman hit the ball so hard that it rolled down the hill into the village. A fielder was sent to chase it and threw the ball too hard so that it missed the stumps and rolled down the other side of the hill! There were no boundaries in those days and the batsmen managed to achieve a total of 67 runs – a record that has never been bettered before or since.

The village green
The village green tends to act nowadays as the focus for the village. Village fetes are held here during the summer months and at the very heart of it is the Village Pond. The pond is now the home of various ducks, but at one time it was bustling with activity as nearby farms used to take their sheep to drink here. This part of the village also boasts Rudyard Kipling’s House, which is to be seen across the pond.

St Margaret’s Church
Opposite is St Margaret’s Church. Little remains of the original Saxon building as it was rebuilt in the first around AD 1100 and again in AD 1200. In 1377 a party of pirates from France took over the village and many of the terrified villagers sought sanctuary here as the rest of the village was torched. Sadly, the pirates also went on to fire the church and many of the poor villagers were burnt alive inside. Evidence of this fire can be seen by the pinky/grey colouring of the interior stonework which was the result of the intense heat. Following its destruction it was rebuilt and has been periodically restored ever since, the last major restoration being during Victorian times. I was confirmed in this church and have many happy memories of “Church with Mother” and helping with the flower arrangements while I was a child. I particularly find comfort in the Garden of Rest as it is where both my Grandparents ashes are scattered.

Comments about this page

  • Rottingdean and the St Margarets area was where my GGGGrandmother spent her elderly years with her daughter, Esther Lucy, and her husband, Edward Ridsdale, at the Dene Rottingdean. I too am doing family research and am deeply interested in this area.

    By Richard Martin (Smiths Lake, NSW Australia) (04/06/2005)
  • Very interesting information. I used to live at Saltdean and often walked to Rottingdean with friends and my family in old days.

    By Angela Treanor (09/11/2005)
  • Thanks for your great site – it helped to refresh my childhood memories… I schooled in Rottingdean in 1955/6, then emigrated to Perth, Australia. Have never been back, but am very keen to now!

    By Mick Cater (18/05/2006)
  • Further to my previous post I have now established that my GGGG Grandmother, Ann Thacker, and her daughter, Esther Lucy Ridsdale nee Thacker, have distinct ties with St Margarets and Rottingdean. There is a Thacker family crypt there and with Esther Lucy’s daughter Lucy marrying Stanley Baldwin which in turn links us to a Victorian fascination of ‘A Circle of Sisters’ which encompasses the Balwins, Kiplings, Burne-Jones and Poynters increases my desire to know more. Esther Lucy’s husband, Edward Ridsdale, had stained glass windows designed by Sir Edward Burne Jones installed at St Margarets. What a wonderful heritage link that one day I or my children may one day visit.

    By Richard Martin (Smiths Lake, NSW Australia) (06/07/2006)
  • Thank you for this feature of Rottingdean/Roedean. I now live in Yorkshire but lived in Hove for the first 23 years of my life. I remember spending many a day up by the windmill, by the pond, by the church and even in the old toy museum. Is that still there? I used to sit on a white rock sticking out of the ground near the windmill, between it and the cafe/pitch & putt building further down the hill. I used to love the windmill & the whole village so much and have so many fantastic memories of my days spent there. I even remember the drought of 1976 and the pond was totally dry! I rarely get to visit the city these days, but when I do and I pass that way I always look for my beloved windmill! Last time I passed – it had no sails and looked to be having some restoration done on it.  I hope it looks OK now!  Let’s hope it continues to provide more memories and love for future generations. I love to tell my kids about the mill and the village and hopefully will bring them to see it one day!  Note: You will be pleased to know that the windmill now has its sails back.  Editorial Team.

    By Chrissie Burton (21/10/2006)
  • I was born and brought up in south west London but while I was growing up, I spent most of my summer and Christmas holidays in Saltdean and Rottingdean staying with my godparents, Simone and Charles Gwyther. A tree has been planted on the village green to remember Charles Gwyther who was very instrumental in winning Rottingdean the Best Kept Village award (see the plaques on the front of the old Toy Museum) for, I believe, three years in a row in the 1970s. My parents’ (Georgie and Roy) ashes are also in St Margarets’s Garden of Remeberance, as are my godfather’s. My godmother, Simone, has recently passed away and will, no doubt, be soon resting there with them. I will always be popping down to Rottingdean from time to time to see my Mum and Dad, but with these visits I notice the things that have gone from when I used to stay there: the book-shop by the White Horse, the Newsagent opposite the Black Horse and the small sweet shop by the Plough. But thankfully there are the constants that will stay: the Windmill, the Old Place Club (now known as the Rottingdean Club), the Black Horse, the village green and the Druid’s face in Rudyard Kipling’s wall! I hold one more connection with Rottingdean as I was christened in Our Lady Of Lourdes church behind the Toy Museum.

    By Cole Burden (14/11/2006)
  • Does anyone know anything about a Robert Dennis Chantrell who retired to Rose Cottage in Rottingdean in about 1860. He was a retired architect. I would be obliged for any local information.

    By Peter Chantrell (03/12/2006)
  • Hello Peter, I am not sure what you are wanting…? I do know that Robert Dennis Chantrell was an architect. He was born in England and at one point went over to Europe to do some work on Gothic churches in Belgium. I understand he was born in Southampton. His daughter, Marion Felicity Dennis Chantrell, is my great-grandmother who married Frank Lisle and came to New Zealand in the late 1880s. She was an artist, composed music and played the piano. How are you connected to Robert Dennis Chantrell?

    By Marianne Klaricich (19/06/2007)
  • Hello Marianne, Thank you for your information. I am trying to find out more about my own great grandfather who was Robert Leopold Chantrell, and would have been borne about 1830, probably in London. I do not think he was connected to Robert Dennis, at least, not closely. I have hit a very difficult wall. Sorry for the delay, I have been out of action!

    By Peter Chantrell (24/11/2007)
  • I am just starting to research my family name/tree and noticed the messages about Robert Dennis Chantrell. As I have only just begun looking, I was wondering if Peter Chantrell has any information or advice as I am looking for any regarding Harry Chantrell born 1910 in West Gorton. Son of Benjamin Chantrell and Susanna Chantrell nee Collins. Any information would be great, thanks. By the way my father is also Peter Chantrell.

    By Karl Chantrell (18/01/2008)
  • My father was called Ronald Chantrell, the son of Benjamin Chantrell and Gladys Chantrell (nee Day). My grandfather was the son of Benjamin and Susanna. We have recently been in contact with the wife of Harry Chantrell who lives in Chorlton. Do you have any other information relating to the Chantrell family?

    By Lorraine Gorman (nee Chantrell) (15/02/2008)
  • Does anyone know the name of the sweetshop that used to be opposite or near Sally Lunn’s Tea Rooms (Margo’s Mews 75-77) in the 1920s. And the name of the lady who ran the sweetshop who, if you spent a halfpenny she let you go through the kitchen and see the magnificent views from the Downs and a view of the sea. Thank you.

    By Richard Linford (17/02/2008)
  • Hello Karl and Lorraine. I think this site possibly is not the right place for this family history. Perhaps you could contact me by email at peter.chantrell@virgin.net. Like to hear from you.

    By Peter Chantrell (01/03/2008)
  • I have recently bought Mill Cottage in the High Street, Rottingdean, and am looking into its history. If anyone can help (personal memories as well as historic), I would be very grateful. Thanks.

    By Neil Austin (23/03/2008)
  • I’m from The Paranormal Investigation Group of East Sussex (the P.I.G.S) and we are currently researching ghost stories and/or old legends in Rottingdean.  If anyone has any information, however small, please contact me or our website http://www.the-pigs.co.uk/. We are especially interested to hear about the ‘Black Horse’ and ‘The Plough’ pubs and the Olde Cottage Tearooms. Thank you very much.

    By Lauren Setters (25/04/2008)
  • Hi I am Tim from the Paranormal Investigation Group Sussex (P.I.G.S). I would like to add that Lauren on the above post is also from this group although it seems has decided to re-name us piges, which is somewhat better than when she referred to us as (paranormal investigation society sussex) ha ha ha, Lauren please try to get it right – it’s the P.I.G.S (paranormal Investigation Group Sussex and yes we are made up from a core of ex-police officers)

    By RED (13/09/2008)
  • P.I.G.S - You might like to slip down to St Margaret’s and see if you can make contact with Edward Ridsdale as he was into paranormal behavior and if you search the name Thomas Doe Thacker you can read reference to a sitting with a Mrs Marshall in the 1800s where a Mr Ridsdale and a Miss Thacker witnessed the name Thomas Doe Thacker tapped out on a table. Thomas Doe Thacker was Edward Ridsdale’s father in law and the Miss Thacker was Emma Mary Thacker who was the only unmarried Thacker at the time of the event. Richard Martin in Australia

    By Richard Martin (30/08/2009)
  • Does anyone have any recollection of Jimmy (John) Webb who lived in Rottingdean in the late 50s/60s?

    By Pip (28/02/2010)
  • Two of us were in the ancient bar of the Black Horse on 27.3.2010 at lunchtime & took two photos. One shows me looking into the far corner & surrounded by a great many orbs. The other shows the wall & 2 corners furthest from the windows, few orbs, but what we are certain is a face. I am interested to know more of the history of this place!!!

    By B (28/03/2010)
  • Hi, I have just moved into this area from Brighton, where I was born and would like to know if there is anywhere in Rottingdean I can get my son christened?

    By jennifer (12/05/2010)
  • I am also on the family history trail, and would be very pleased to make contact with anybody who may have already researched Rottingdean in the 18th century. Apparently my 5 x Gt Grandfather, Thomas Meadows, ran one of the village pubs for a while and his son, William, was involved in smuggling. William went on to be an actor and made his first performance in Brighton in c.1773. If anyone has any ideas which pub (past or present) may have been concerned, I would be very interested to know.

    By Alan Hart (04/08/2010)
  • Although I lived at Roedean I went to school in Rottingdean. First at the infants school in the High Street where Mrs. Reeve was headmistress I think. Then after to the junior school up Whiteways lane where Mr. B C Darlowe was headmaster. I was there till about 1956. He was very strict. On June 2nd 1953 Coronation Day we were all given a prayer book and a glass beaker, I still have both. When I was there we had some “BLUE EGG” shaped collection boxes in the classrooms for Polio or what was then called Spastics . Nobody seems to remember anything about them except me. Can anyone else remember what this was about?

    By Julian Saul (03/02/2011)
  • I am currently working as a postman based at Rottingdean delivery office. Have been told that the sorting office used to be a school – has anyone got any information, photos or dates regarding this topic as would be interested to find out more, thanks.

    By Colin Howard (26/02/2011)
  • Yes Julian, I remember the eggs- they were NSPCC collecting boxes if my memory serves me correctly.

    By David Lacey (24/03/2011)
  • In the mid sixties, probably about 1965/6, I worked in Clark’s the bakers. This was near the pub on the right in the high street. If you were coming down towards the crossroads going towards Brighton it was to your right. Was there a swimming pool? I seem to recall going towards the sea- end one lunchtime? I absolutely love Rottingdean; did then – still do.

    By Jennifer Tonks (11/12/2011)
  • Does anyone remember Hilders bakery in the High Street? It was owned by Edgar Hilder but he sold up in the late 60s. I’m wondering if any of you know any of the family – they were Jean (Edgar’s wife), Heather, Tina, Bobby, Michael, Lucy and Katie. They lived at Westview, Steyning Road (it was a double cottage). I lost contact when I moved to Scotland back in 1973 and would like to make contact with them now I’m back in the south east. Although I was down there about 5 years ago, nobody I spoke to in the tea room and the White Horse pub remembered them – it seemed like they never existed. So I’d appreciate any help if anyone knows of them. Obviously the girls’ names would have changed due to marriage but I think they went to Longhill School through the late 60s & 70s and they were a very popular family.

    By Danny / Dave Kimberley (27/05/2012)
  • Mary Bean, I also went to Rottingdean CofE and remember Dick Darlow and Miss Hilton. I also remember Miss Brown, Mr. Edwards, Miss Clark and many other teachers. I remember the Mulberry Tree out in the playground and how the teachers always told us they were poisinous so we would not eat them. Great to see you remember the headmaster and headmistress.

    By Michael Britt (18/06/2012)
  • I went to Rottingdean Infants School in the 1950s when it was at the bottom of Neville Rd where the sorting office is now, I remember Mrs Reeve and our teacher was a Polish lady who’s name I cannot remember. As I lived in Saltdean an additional school was opened there in the church hall headed by Mrs Newton and I moved there with the rest of the oldest class, unfortunately I had to move back to the junior school in Whiteways Lane where I spent some of the unhappiest years of my life. Strict discipline was maintained by keeping the children in a constant state of fear and by the constant withdrawal of anything remotely enjoyable (football, choir, recorder group etc) for the slightest misdemeanour. There was a rule for everything we did including walking from the bus stop to school in the morning and there was no attempt to encourage any individuality. Even though it was a church school religion played an unhealthily prominent part in daily life. My time their affected my attitude to school for the rest of my schooldays and I’ve since met several of my old friends who have told me that they were affected by the experience in far worse ways than I was, I remember the staff, Mr Darlow, Mr Rowlands, Miss Hilda, Miss Simpson and Mrs Della I think. I visit Rottingdean occasionaly when I’m passing through mainly because as an adult I had many happy times when the Loft Bar (The Plough ) became the meeting place for the local youth. I was in one of the shops a few years ago and some elderly residents were telling me how wonderful the old school had been, I didn’t disillusion them.

    By David Darlington (22/06/2012)
  • I think the blue charity eggs were called “League of Pity”, I seem to remember that they held an event at the school every year.

    By David Darlington (20/07/2012)
  • Message for Dave Kimberley – Mum and Dad have now passed away but Lucy and Tina own the cottages in Steyning Road (which they rent out ) just in front of West View. My home number is 01323 890321

    By KATE HILDER (Hill) (06/11/2012)
  • In response to Dave Kimberley’s comment back in May, yes, the Hilders are still very much involved with Rottingdean, the village where they were born and brought up. My sister Lucy and myself frequently visit the village as we own the family cottages, just below our old family house in Steyning Road. Sister Kate lives nearby in Bishopstone, Heather lives in Falkland, Fife, Bob lives in Worthing and Michael in Weymouth. In recent years, a field near to the playing fields was named Hilder’s field in recognition of the long standing Hilder family’s connections with Rottingdean.

    By Tina Hilder (08/11/2012)
  • Hi there Tina, you say you have a brother named Michael. Was this the same Michael that served in the Royal Navy in the early 80’s? If so, I would very much like to hear from him. We both served on the minesweeper H.M.S Wilton. If so would it be possible for you to ask him to contact me gary.peck@yahoo.com   Cheers

    By Gary Peck (19/08/2014)
  • Does anyone know of a gentleman named Gaston living at the Dean Hotel around 1955?

    By Amy (28/10/2014)
  • It’s great to see so much interest in Rottingdean. However it is also attracting interest from developers who want to build over 100 homes on the site of St Aubyns School and playing field. This will destroy the village forever and mean that future generations will not be able to share your wonderful memories of the village. A group of us have formed SAFE (St Aubyns Field Evergreen) to protect the village. The Parish Council have already designated the playing field as a local green space. We are now working to persuade Brighton & Hove Council to include the designation in the City Plan. Once done, this will prevent the field from ever being developed. Please do take a look at our website:  http://www.safe-rottingdean.org.uk

    We need all the help and support we can get. Any donation you can give will be used to protect the village for future generations. Do please help if you can. We are confident that we can achieve all our objectives with the right support. Thank you, Nigel.

    By Nigel (24/03/2015)
  • Despite being the original writer of this thread about Rottingdean, I am wondering if there is anyone who can help me recall the names of the teachers at St Margaret’s in Whiteways Lane during 1974-1977? I remember Mrs Ruck (a fantastically good teacher who was very encouraging to pupils), Miss Crossland (who was rather harsh in my memory) – but the others are a blank. In my mind I have a Mr Dewhurst as a Headmaster? A random Mr Bell? And a site manager who kept those grounds really well cared for. Sadly, Googling names versus places has not been very fruitful. I would really appreciate anyone else’s memories on teachers during this particular era.

    By Julia Phelan (04/09/2015)
  • Hi, Julia. On the whole I loved my time at Rottingdean School, from 1975 to ’83.  Bright, airy buildings set in beautiful grounds with some excellent teaching. Perhaps not so good with new names now, but I’m happy to list those I clearly remember – many happy memories!  Mrs. Alston (Juniors), Barbara (Lollypop Lady), Mr. Bell (Juniors), Mrs. Charman (Playground), Miss Clark[e?] (Infants), Miss Crosland (Infants), Miss Hilton (Deputy Head), Mrs. Killick (Infants), Mr. Lawrence (Headmaster), Mr. Ludlam (Juniors), Mrs. May (Music), Mrs. Packer (French), Mrs. Pickles (Drama), Mr. Piggott (Juniors), Mrs. Ruck (Juniors), Mrs. Slaughter (Juniors), Mrs. Sweetman (Playground), Mrs. Tempest (Music), Mrs. Townsend (School Secretary). – I think we had much to be grateful for, including the school dinners (up from 25p. to £2.40 a week during my time there) ! I’m sure the names will set off many recollections. Sam Flowers. 

    P.S I have to say I liked Miss Crosland. Upon leaving Class 2 I gave her a commemorative spoon, for it was 1977, the year of the Queens’s Silver Jubilee.

    By Sam Flowers (01/09/2016)
  • In response to Tina Hilder. I remember your sister Lucy. My name is Lisa Buxbaum (now Bushby) I often wonder what happened to everyone from that time in my life. I moved to the US back in 1980 so hearing a lot of names is really bringing back memories. Hope she is well. If you think about it please send my regards.

    By Lisa Bushby (10/11/2016)
  • … more names from Rottingdean Junior School on Whiteways Road. Mrs Dellar, Mrs Simpson, Miss Hilton, Mr Darlow (headmaster), Barbara Dunn (Lollypop lady) Mr Cave (caretaker).. These would have been in the 1960s and as of this writing Mrs Simpson is still alive and well into her 90s. I remember the school burned badly in the 1970s I believe and was subsequently rebuilt.

    By Richard Wheeler (26/11/2016)
  • … I was reading the comment above by Dave Darlington who I remember quite well from Rottingdean school. I agree very much with his memories and impressions of life in school back in the 60s. Pupils were treated more like inmates than children to be supported and encouraged, although on the positive side, the school did have an impressive record of success in the 11+ exams. I came away with a love of learning but a lifelong dislike of authority. For anyone interested I do have good photographs of all three school buildings in Rottingdean from Nevill Road and Whiteways Lane. I am happy to send pics to anybody who cares to email me at rwhee@me.com

    By Richard Wheeler (26/11/2016)
  • Thank you, Richard, for providing the list of names.  I believe Mr. Lawrence took over from Mr. Darlow as Headmaster in around 1977.  My experience was one of a happy school.  The original bright and airy 1950s “Modern Movement” buildings of Whiteway Lane (the Assembly Hall and Junior School classrooms) were seriously damaged by suspected arson in ’86 (I think) and demolished soon after.  

    By Sam Flowers (28/11/2016)
  • I work as a volunteer guide at The Georgian Theatre Royal in North Yorkshire which was built in 1788. After almost 100 years of closure a local history teacher called a Edwin Bush began in 1939 to conduct research to rediscover the theatre and was instrumental in it reopening for a short time in 1943.There is not a lot more known about Edwin other than we are aware that he lived in Rottingdean in 1961 and that he passed away there in 1978.It is quite likely that he took up a teaching post in the area when he left Richmond and I would be grateful if anyone has any knowledge of Edwin Bush.

    By ALAN ANKERS (22/11/2017)
  • Interesting so many comments re Rottingdean school. I was there 1967-1974. Remember Mr Darlow (who wouldn’t) whilst there are a lot of comments about how terrible he was – he did have some crazy ideas I was very happy there. In my experience Darlow’s bark was worse than his bite and worked out how to handle him – even at that tender age. That said being interviewed at the age of five was a terrifying experience. Mr Dewhurst took over in 1974 in the summer term and we had a new teacher Mr Jarman. They both had a lot of new ideas and looking back it was an interesting snapshot of the social changes happening. Mr Dewhurst’s son, who was in our class, died suddenly after we left which I presume was the reason Mr D left.

    By Andrew Rivett (17/05/2022)
  • Hello and thank you, Andrew. You have me thinking and realising I might well have made a mistake in my remark of 28/11/16 : Mr. Jarman (not Mr. Darlow) possibly being Headmaster immediately before Mr. Lawrence ?

    By Sam Flowers (19/05/2022)

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