History of Woodingdean
It is generally accepted that the name Woodingdean, (Kelly’s 1890 Directory) evolved from its association with Woodendean (i.e. wooded valley) Farm which was situated in the south end of what is now Ovingdean. This farm existed from before 1714 until 1979; it is recorded on a map of 1714 as a small thatched type of farmhouse unlike Ovingdean Grange which was a large stone-type house. The last farmer to work the area was Col. Percy Filkins, son-in-law of William Cowley who had previously farmed at Ovingdean.
Woodendean House, which stood in what is now Ovingdean Close, was built in the 1830s by a Mr. Lennard. By the late 1800s it was known as Woodingdean House. Notable owners include Mrs. Van der Elst, who lived there from 1929-39, ‘the richest woman in Brighton’ who had three Rolls Royce motor cars and fifteen servants. Thomas Henry Sargeant of Brighton ‘gent’ – better known as Max Miller – owned the house from 1939-45. He ‘cheekily’ changed its name to Woodland Grange regardless of the fact that it certainly never was a grange. Between 1958-60 the then owner sold off plots of the land adjoining the house for redevelopment. When he died in 1962 the rest was sold off and the house eventually demolished.
Earliest recorded farm?
Perhaps the earliest farming settlement to be identified in the area was situated in Wick Bottom, adjacent to Woodingdean Lawn Memorial Park, off Warren Road. It was here that the Wick Farm, later Warren Farm was situated. In 1296 a lay subsidy of 16/2d was levied on ‘Matild ater Wyke’ the owner of this area of land. As this amount was considerably more than the other 7 individuals noted, it suggests ‘Matild’ had a lot more land/wealth and that this was indeed a farming settlement.