Notes and queries: The Pelham family
The following query was posted on our messageboard by Sam Taylor, 1/11/01:
“Can anyone tell me any interesting stories regarding the Pelham family who lived at Stanmer? I’m not sure what dates they were there.”
The following response was researched by Jan, volunteer on the My Brighton and Hove project:
“The Pelham family, prior to their purchase of Stanmer, had had a long and illustrious association with Sussex. They owned Pevensey and Hastings Castles together with land at Lewes, Laughton, Halland and Bishopstone. In 1545, Sir Nicholas Pelham gallantly defended the south coast against an attack by the French and his exploit is recorded on a memorial in St Michaels Church, Lewes. “What time the French sought to have sacked Sea-foord This Pelham did repel-em back again”.
Family divided during the Civil War
During the English Civil War the family were divided in their allegiance. Some fought for the King, whilst another was among those who signed his death warrant. The Pelham emblem, the Buckle, dates back to the surrender of the French king to John Pelham in 1316 after the Battle of Poitiers. Tradition says that when the king handed over his sword, Pelham kept the sword buckle and henceforth used it as his crest.
Pelham estate sold in 1947
The 1920’s saw the beginning of the end of the Pelhams at Stanmer. In 1926, the 6th Earl and the 7th Earl (then only 21) died of flu within a few days of one another. The ensuing death duties took a toll on the family and it was around that time they ceased living in Stanmer House, the Dowager taking up residence at Falmer. In 1947, the Pelham family sold the Stanmer estate to Brighton Corporation. The 8th Earl was killed in action during WW2, shortly before the birth of the 9th Earl. In the 1960s the 9th Earl, never having lived at Stanmer, purchased an estate in Wiltshire.