Heading west on the Brighton by-pass A27, just after the Hangleton turn off, there on the left you will see a Victorian water tower; this is the Foredown Tower and Camera Obscura.
On arrival at the tower I found mounted on the wall a circular metal earth shaped map, this showed the stars and moons and was put there in 2000 for the millennium. Below this is an unusual shaped sundial. At the top of the building there is a weather vane on the tower, it represents the ship from the Hove crest. As I walked through the gate on my right there was a stone figure of a little girl in chains studying a book. This was originally at the London County Council Reform School that used to be in Mile Oak.
Around the back of the building there is a rather grand arched doorway into the ground floor area, this is where I met Mike Feist who runs the ForedownTower. Mike is a mine of information on the structure. He started as a volunteer in 1991, and for the last 12 years has been employed full time. Mike gets regular help from interested volunteers. On the day I visited, George Hurrion was on site showing off the camera to visitors.
This is where Mike and the volunteers will welcome you and this is also where you will find the shop, library and maps of the area on display. Mike then took the time to take me up the outside iron staircase show me around.
On the first floor is the lecture room for group study and other events. It contains glass cases with interesting wildlife and past times village scenes, lent to the tower by the BrightonBoothMuseum. There is also full information about the ‘Mile Oak Henge’, a large piece of sandstone rock that was excavated by archaeologists in 1989/1990. The rock was from Neolithic/Early Bronze age c2000 BC. There are photographs and an explanation about the original Henge, that no longer exists and is covered by the by-pass road. From this floor a fine spiral staircase takes you to the top floor.
Formerly the water tank, this is now dedicated to the camera obscura viewing area, but still houses the old pipes and valves for controlling the flow of water when the tank supplied the water for the isolation hospital. The camera obscura is mounted in the roof of the building, and is demonstrated on the hour.
Well worth a visit
On a sunny day this would appeal to everyone with an interest in science, nature and the environment. Foredown Tower Countryside Centre offers interactive displays and exhibitions, countryside research and scientific data, as well as breathtaking views across the beautiful Sussex Downs. George Hurrion also sets up his Solar Telescope at weekends so he and visitors can look directly at the sun and see solar flares if they are lucky. Take a trip one weekend to the Sussex Downs above Hove and you will be pleasantly surprised with what you find.