Small Varndean farm established c1800s

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

c) VARNDEAN: The other small farm established in the early nineteenth century was Varndean, although the name dates from the thirteenth century {76,289} and the plantations of trees date from around 1750. A flint barn, now partly restored in brick and used as a maintenance store, remains along with three cottages in Stringer Way; no.2 Varndean Cottages retains its flint facade. The late-nineteenth-century brick and flint farmhouse, Varndean Holt, stands in the woods to the west. {109}

The land around Varndean was purchased by Brighton County Borough Council’s Education Committee in about 1909, and the area is now known for the five schools in the vicinity. Varndean High School was opened in 1926 by the Duchess of Atholl to replace the York Place Girls’ School, while Varndean Sixth-Form College was the boys’ municipal secondary school, opened on 2 March 1931 by Viscount Hailsham to replace the Pelham Street Boys’ School; both later became grammar schools. The other schools are Dorothy Stringer High (opened 1955), Balfour Road Junior (opened 1924), and Balfour Primary. The Surrenden Pool opened in 1972. {123,124,210,305}

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • I write hoping to get a reply from the author (Tim Carder), rather than for publication on your excellent web site.
    The interesting item from Tim on page 9068 says “Varndean Sixth-Form College was the boys’ municipal secondary school, opened on 2 March 1931 by Viscount Hailsham to replace the Pelham Street Boys’ School”.
    Quite a few current members of the Old Varndeanian Association went to the school in York Place. To a man, they refer to it as York Place School. I’d be interested to know more about Pelham Street Boys’ School. Are we referring to the same place?

    By Ron McLaren Newsletter Editor, Old Varndeanian Association (10/01/2009)
  • This photo is of Varndean Boys, not Dorothy Stringer. Sorry

    By Raymond (Dickie) Bird (14/01/2010)
  • Interesting. My father worked at the farm and lived in one of the cottages with Harry and Flo Patrick who farmed at Varndean. Following the devastation caused by an outbreak of Foot and Mouth when a large pit was dug for the  slaughtered animals to be buried sprinkled with Lime the farming unit relocated to Balcombe. I would imagine that the Education  Committee purchase would have taken place following that devastation and would think was later than 1909, bearing in mind my father was born in 1908. Harry Patrick the farmer, to supplement the income from farming, also operated a Horse Drawn Cab (taxi service). Should ‘Uncle Harry’ have been too inebreated to drive home if he had stopped for a drink, he was put in the cab and the horses would arrive home safely to the displeasure of ‘Auntie Flo’ who would have then to unharness the horses and with the help of my Dad put everything away safely. Apparently as my Dad was only a child the horses would automatically kneel for my father to enable him to take the harness etc off. The tale goes that even the shire horses on the farm would also kneel for Dad to enable him to harness etc them.

    By Pauline Newman-Starley (09/06/2014)
  • Pauline do you have any information about the pit location on the site?

    By Peter Lynton (01/10/2017)
  • The Harry who worked on the farm was Charles Harry Patrick, he was my grandfathers nephew. In the 1911 census it shows Harry with Flo who had been married under a year, also Charles’ sister Ethel lived with them. My grandfather’s son William is shown, he unfortunately died of his wounds at Flanders on Sept 2 1918, he is buried in France.

    By peter patrick (03/11/2017)
  • I believe the farm was sold on the understanding that the farmhouse remain standing. In 1967 I took part , with 5 girls from my school and 6 girls from 5? Other schools in a course run by the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme. We didn’t get a certificate though. Each group from each school had a “kitchen”. Our budget for the week was our total dinner monies for the week. With this we had to provide our own cleaning materials and food. In the morning we would write a list of shopping and go to the shops in Preston Drove . On our return we would prepare our lunch, dinner and pudding. After lunch wash and clean our area. After this we were taught wallpapering and papered a wall in another room. The tutor showed us under the carpet, footprints from her toddler from when they stained the floorboards and he ran across. We also learnt how to change a plug, painted kitchen chairs. One day of the week we had to invite the Heads of our schools for lunch. When we had nothing to do in the afternoons we scoured the recipe books for menus. Remember cooking Egg curry. Sounds odd but was delicious and well within budget. Best week of my school life.

    By Elaine Edwards (23/07/2020)

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