History of Hollingbury

Until the 1930s the area was open Downland with farms, small-holdings and piggeries on the lower western slopes of the great swelling hill that is topped with a fine Iron Age hillfort. The hillfort is often called Hollingbury Camp, though Castle is used in the 19th century.

During the early 20th century, housing crept along Ditchling Road from the Fiveways in fine half-timbered, pebbledashed, suburban style, reaching the southern boundary of the fort area, opposite the beeches of Hollingbury Woods, by 1939. From 1912 onwards a golf-course had grown along the road and surrounded the fort, adding to the middle class appearance of the area.

All this tranquillity ended with WWII and threats to the area came in 1945 with plans for a huge post-war development. Brighton desperately needed new housing and jobs. Hollingbury was chosen for the borough’s largest factory estate with the housing for the workforce close by. By 1950 the western slope was a well planned, well-built, vast council estate, which is what it is today, apart from the fact that many of the houses are owner-occupied (mine for instance!).

History of Coldean
The quiet downland valley on the fringe of the Stanmer estate contained a few flint farm buildings and was, until at least 1954, known as Cold Dean.

By World War II there was a straggle of suburban semis (Parkside) opposite Stanmer Park at the bottom of the flinty track that led up to Old Boat Corner, but it was the local authority postwar housing boom that saw tremendous change, plus a name change to Coldean.

Largely built in the late 1940s and into the 50s, there has been some infilling with later property, but overall this is a sympathetic housing spread. The Hikers Rest pub reflects the almost rural location of the estate.

History of Stanmer
In a word – lots! The estate from 1713-1947 was in the sole hands of the Pelham family, who after 1801 were Earls of Chichester.The Pelhams had the present house built between 1724-1727. It is a stone clad Palladian structure that is sadly now unused. The entire estate was sold to Brighton Corporation in 1947, after the Earls were badly hit by inheritance tax (three earls had died in 13 months).

Stanmer House was at one time used as offices for the early Sussex University administrative staff, but in spite of various schemes, it has lain unoccupied for nearly 30 years.

Until the ‘right-to-buy’ scheme of the Thatcher years, the entire village was in effect a council estate, albeit possibly the most charming one in the kingdom!

Comments about this page

  • What a surprise to find your site! I was searching for information on Egremont Street for a book I am writing called ‘Women of Sussex, 1830-1870’. I was amazed to find on your site not only a photo of my old school, Carden, but a history of the council estate at Hollingbury where I grew up until the age of 7. Then we moved away and I have never been back except to drive past 60 Rotherfield Crescent. I would love to see inside it again.

    By Helena Wojtczak (05/05/2003)
  • Does anyone have any pictures and information on Larkfield Way?

    By Mark Halliwell (Varndean College) (26/09/2005)
  • Since I moved to Westfield Crescent I’ve always been curious about its history. Our house is is one of the red-brick three-bedroom semis facing west.  I understand that the council had these built before the majority of the rest of the estate was built.  The houses are not of the usual council house appearance and I have heard they were built for the council’s employees.  Ours is reported to have been sold to its tenant fireman. I’m interested to know the truth of this.

    By Pete West (29/09/2006)
  • I used to do electrical maintanance in about fifteen houses in Westfield Crescent in about 1978 to 1982.  These were army houses (married quarters) and were different from the others. They were situated at the bottom end on the down side. The Ministry of Defence sold them off in the 1980s.

    By David Maynard (05/02/2007)
  • I lived at 96 Stanmer Park Road during the war. I had afriend Johnny Hinds, where is he now? I had an older brother David who went to the Intermediate. I think the corner shop was kept by Mr. Tuck.

    By Alan Fry (01/05/2007)
  • Westfield crescent and Eastfield crescent were police houses and classed as married person’s accommodation in the 1960s. I am also looking for information about Larkfield way

    By Sara (01/09/2007)
  • I too lived in one of the three bed semis (bay windows) facing west in Westfield Crescent. These were originally built as corporation houses and the vast majority were sold as and when they became unoccupied. My house was bought privately in the 70’s. The houses at the end of the road towards Wilmington Way were the MOD houses and indeed, still are!

    By Tina (07/02/2008)
  • I currently live in Eastfield Crescent, my Mum has been living in the house since she was 6 (51 years!). I never knew that a lot of the area was once police houses. Two policemen and their families live in the road at present!

    By Melon (22/02/2008)
  • We moved out to 22 Petworth Road, Hollingbury, in the winter of 1947. The estate only consisted of Midhurst Rise and Petworth Road then, and even included a small pig farm. The bus service was by the Number 35 or by the 5 to Mackie Avenue and from there you had to hoof it up and over the hill. There was no Carden School or factories and many of the labourers building the roads at that time were fomerly Italian prisoners of war from Lewes Prison. With the war over some 18 months earlier, I could never understand why these men had not been returned home.

    By Roy Grant (18/03/2008)
  • My family lived in Eastfield Crescent from 1965 ish until 1983. We rented at first from a trust, I thought from the builders Braybon who had built these houses and were held in trust for family members and /or employees. We eventually bought the house as it was released from the trust but can’t recall many details. We had a very happy time and the many children in the Crescent had a wonderful time growing up here.

    By Ann West (14/06/2008)
  • It was lovely to read the comment from Helena Wojtczak. I used to live next door at 58 Rotherfield Cresent.  I was born in the house and Helena and I went to Carden School together and were very best friends until 1965 when we moved up to Shropshire where i still live to this day. I did pass the house a few years ago and I would have liked to have had a look around the inside my old house too.  I lost contact with Helena 43 years ago and would love to get in touch with her so if anybody knows any information could you please pass it on to me.  I was told a few years ago that she was trying to get in touch with me but nothing happend.  It is both our 50th birthdays this year and it make our 50ths to remember.

    By Denise Birkett (nee Steedman) (18/06/2008)
  • Woo woo Denise! My sister Ros just this moment told me you’d posted here, so I came straight here! I have a photo of us together on this very computer I’m writing at! Your brother and I are liaising to organise a double-family reunion at Rotherfield Crescent in the near future, so we’ll all be meeting up after 43 years. As the genie said “your wish is granted!” Exciting times, eh? Helena. If you’d Googled my name you’d have found my website, email and phone number.

    By Helena Wojtczak (02/08/2008)
  • I too lived in Rotherfield Crescent. I remember the long walk down Rotherfield to my home in ALL weathers. It wasn’t till later they introduced a bus that went right along Rotherfied and past my door.
    I remember the old trolley buses that frequently came off the rails at the top corner turn of Carden Hill. It was quite a sharp turn and at an angle so if the raod was slippery it didn’t help. The conductor would have to nip outside with a very long pole and try to hook the trolly pole back on to it’s wires. Good memories.

    By Sandra (03/12/2008)
  • One trolley bus conductor, something of a wag used to say “Any More Lolly for the Trolley”, instead of “Any More Fares Please”. This was in the 50s. I would have been 9 or 10 at the time.

    By Graham (21/05/2009)
  • I have only just discovered this excellent site that has brought back many happy memories of my childhood and teenage years in the 50’s and 60’s in Hollingbury. We started off in Lyminster Avenue (No 63) and then moved up the hill to Hartfield Avenue. School at Carden then on to Varndean. It was great to see the pictures of trolley buses and to read the memories of Carden School.

    By Chris Spicer (14/12/2009)
  • I lived in  Hollingbury Park Avenue and I had Lots of pals in the Avenue (1939 onwards) Can any one remember me?

    By Jonn Booker (09/08/2010)
  • Lovely to read these comments. I moved into Chelwood flats in ’56 from emergency accommodation in Eastern Road, Brighton. Best day of my life. I loved the flat, the area and Hollingbury complete. My brothers and I used to press our ears to the metal pole at the bottom of the hill because you could hear the trolley buses long before they came. We then moved to 79, Fernhurst Crescent, our first whole house! We three brothers all went to Varndean school in the days of the best headmaster ever, Mr Hutchings. I shall keep a look out on this page.

    By Paul Winch (16/09/2010)
  • To Jonn Booker. I did not live in Hpa, but would like to find Beverley Simmons who lived about 6 houses down from the church.

    By Jenny Shaw(curd) (15/02/2011)
  • Nostalgic trip to Hollingbury. Used to live in Crabtree Avenue from 1949 to about 1970. My Mum and Dad lived there until Dad died around 2001. Went to Carden and Dorothy Stringer. Last time I visited Crabtree Avenue I could not believe the cars parked up the road. We used to play kerb football in the road, no chance of that now. Very many happy memories of childhood and youth around Hollingbury. Be happy to swap memories with anyone.

    By Brian Baldock (18/05/2011)
  • I lived in County Oak Avenue until 1974 when we came to Australia. I went to Carden School and to this day love Brighton and have fond memories of growing up there. I am in contact with a few school friends. Think anything about Brighton is great.

    By Angela Horton (20/08/2011)
  • What a joy to find a website devoted to Hollingbury, my birthplace. I was born at home in Larkfield Way. There was a war on at the time and all hospital beds were needed for the war wounded. Confinements occurred elsewhere. Primary school was Balfour Road, Carden was still in the near future, in fact one of my earliest memories was of seeing POWs working on road building at the top end of what would become Carden Hill. Then on to Varndean, also during the reign of the unforgettable “Butch” Hutchins. In 1958 it was off to Australia. Thirty five years later I returned to Hollingbury, and I confess that I was amazed at how little had changed. You still caught the 26 bus up Ditchling Road, almost no development at the top of the hill, just a service station had been built in the interim. The trolley buses had gone of course and the the golf course had a new clubhouse in a new location. I’d be pleased to hear from anyone else who spent some, or all of their formative years in Hollingbury, especially Angela Horton who is also here in the “wide brown land.”

    By Peter Clark (11/09/2011)
  • Does anyone know anything about the history of the Lyminster Methodist Church? In particular why the stones next to the front door hold the names of the other methodist churches? Also does anyone know why this spot was chosen for a church to begin with?

    By Jaime Bainbridge (22/09/2011)
  • Just found the site and love it and the memories. Brian Baldock and Chris Spicer I remember you both from Carden School. I was Carole Brown then and lived with my sisters Sue and Ann in Buxted Rise. Drive through very occasionally and agree the estate has not changed. Buxted Rise was THE hill to sledge on when it was snowy.

    By Carole Harvey (15/12/2012)
  • My family moved to 31 Hartfield Avenue, Hollinbury when I was nearly 5, so I had to wait a while before I could go to Carden Avenue school with my older sister. We moved to Southampton in 1956 just after I had started at Dorothy Stringer school, so I was very upset. So many happy memories of life in Hartfield Avenue.

    By Marion Palmer nee Alford (18/01/2013)
  • I grew up in Hanover from 1983 to 1998, so we could not believe the size of the gardens when we moved to 83 Denton Drive, I lived here from 1999 to 2003 when me and my ex moved to 15 Petworth Road, then from 2008 we moved to 39 Rotherfield Crescent, I love the views, people, houses and gardens! If any one wants picture of the roads that I have mentioned let me know. I would also like to hear from anyone who knows the history of Petworth Road house (as number 15 had a very big corner plot) and Rotherfield Crescent (as there used to be a ‘dare devil?’ who lived here?!) Thanks, lovely to hear all your stories.

    By Natasha Humphrey (27/01/2013)
  • Hi Natasha. Very interested in your offer of a photo or two. I lived in Rotherfield Crescent from ’49 till ’66. Would love a picture of my old home either privately or for this website. email: themossfairy@cooptel.net  Love to hear from you.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (28/01/2013)
  • Hallo again Natasha, I am very curious about the ‘Dare Devil’ of Rotherfield Crescent. Your adventures in Rotherfield are much later than mine but I still love to hear about them. Anything more you can say about that or is it a secret??

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (nee Baldwin) (05/02/2013)
  • With regard to the Petworth Rd enquiry above: this was a part of the small estate north of Carden Avenue that was the first part of Hollingbury to be built after WWII. There is an aerial photo taken 19th April 1946 that clearly shows the chalk base of the roads laid out, with two buildings [possibly workmen’s accomodation?] north and south of the first turning on the east side of Midhurst Rise. There are no structures in what would be Petworth Rd. This all must have been planned pre-war, it is adjacent to Braybon’s Carden Ave Estate built in 1935. Braybon’s had produced the plans for the area across the valley, now Hollingbury, in 1937, only they would have named it Withdean Estate East. The Hollingbury council estate built from 1946 is largely based on Braybon’s original plan but with more roads and modified lines to the planned roads. Petworth Rd was built using German POWs who were unable -or unwilling- to return home. Similarly they were involved in building the Hove Sunninghill estate at the same time. I interviewed one of the original Midhurst Rise ‘settlers’ some years ago; she told me that when they moved in the workmen were clearing the Small Holdings opposite [now Carden School and the retail parks]. After the men had gone for the day her husband would scour the bulldozed spoil-heaps and retrieve any fruit bushes to stock their empty garden!

    By Geoffrey Mead (06/02/2013)
  • I lived at 5 Eastfield Crescent from 1961 to 64 (aged 9 to 12), it was a wonderful and safe place for kids. I recall the winter of 62/3 – opening the front door to find snow drifted to the top of it and digging ourselves out. Great adventures over the golf course and down to the Giant’s Foot (aka Wild Park) on Lewes Road. Went to Balfour Road School, outside loos, corporal punishment, playground bell-ringer, the works. Mrs Scott patrolled the field lunchtimes, in loco parentis. Then Varndean. What became of Rod and Linda Hornett (billiard table in garage!), Alan Parsons, Terry and Pauline Down, Warren and Adam Ball (their Dad published Autobooks car manuals), the Paynes (Nicholas and Roger) round the corner on Woodbourne Avenue?

    By Dick Wynne (01/03/2013)
  • Oh, and I suppose I should return the copy of “William’s Happy Days” on my shelf to Hollingbury Library.

    By Dick Wynne (04/03/2013)
  • Well it was lovely to read all your happy coming of age stories. I haven’t got any links with the estate except to say my maiden name is Hollingbury!  My granny lived in Hove as a child, her surname was Baker and her father I believe was a coachman in Farm Road. Anybody know anything about them?

    By Caroline (06/03/2014)
  • Amazed at discovering this site as I was only checking up on Hollingbury history. My parents Trevor and May moved us here to Buxted rise in 1956 when I was 10 and my brother Graham was eight. My neighbours were, on one side the Brown family, the three daughters being Carole, Susan and Ann. Next to them was a Polish family. The other side were the Lee family, Bill, Kitty, and two daughters, one was called Barbara,  next to them I believe we’re the Smith family. I loved playing over the downs and on top of the “Giants Foot” and climbing trees next to the golf course, plus finding golf balls to sell back to the players. I also enjoyed riding the trolley buses and remember the arrival of the new diesel buses. I had good friends round there, Phil Keating, Mick Ross, Derek Bravery, Lee Smith, John Legg and Susan Legg and many more. I attended Carden School before going on to Dorothy Stringer, one teacher being Mr Lowe who used to strap the bad lads. I also attended the Boys Brigade over at Patcham. Good days, I miss them.

    By David Hurford (15/09/2015)
  • Just asking if Peter Clark knew Eileen and Mac Staley at 32 Larkfield Way, they lived there from before WW2 had three children Malcolm, Michael and Ann.

    By Valerie Farrer (02/11/2015)
  • I was born at 27, Zedgewick Road in 1961, and moved to 32, Birchgrove Cres in 1965. Lived there till I was 18, went to Carden, then on to Margaret Hardy. Loved Hollingbury!

    By Vicki Taylor (nee LEWERY) (27/02/2016)
  • I remember all the great things I got up to around Hollingbury. From 1960 we lived in Denton Drive and when mum died I came back from Australia and bought it off my brothers and lived there till we moved back to Australia. My daughter Isabella was born in that house in 2002. We had the same people next door both sides still when we left as we had in 1960 when we moved in.

    By Paul White (01/07/2017)
  • Hi I grew up in Lyminster Ave ,when they were just new built houses ,with my two sisters ,I remember playing cricket in the road ,then moved to 16 Petworth Road  ,1951 till my dad died 1957 when we moved to Bates Road flats ,went to Carden school until 1950 ,then went to the Catholic school in Hove ,lots of memories.I used to walk up to Stanmer Park. My sisters were France’s and Anne Young ,my mum worked in the school canteen ,wonder if anyone is still around from  that time ,I heard on Brighton Past there is a 70th reunion soon would love to go .

    By Joan Downs (21/12/2017)

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