The beginnings of Hollingdean

Advert from an 1891 trade directory showing the buildings with the steep bank copse behind
Reproduced with permission from " A History of Hollingdean"
Flint buildings now renovated as flats 2007
Photo by Simon Cooper

As early as 1831, Dog Kennel Road, later Hollingdean Road (so called because it was the site of Brighton Harriers Kennel for the Union Hunt) was mapped as linking Ditchling Road down to the Lewes Road. A map of 1867 shows that development was gradually moving uphill along Ditchling Road, beyond Viaduct Road, with some housing as far up as Round Hill on land surrounding the Tower Mill.

Open Farmland
The land to the north of Dog Kennel Road was open downland, with the Harrington Farm, and its buildings, lying on the site of what is now Hertford Infant school in Hertford Road. By 1885 another farm is shown described as Lower Roedean, on a site now recognisable as the end of Stanmer Villas. A later map of 1899 shows two further groups of farm buildings to the north of Lower Roedean, in the area now occupied by Golf Drive and Roedale allotments, and Hollingbury Park.

The Roedales
Renamed as Lower Roedale, there is also a ‘Roedale’ and an Upper Roedale farm. At the time these farms do not seem to have been listed in directories – prior to the 1880’s Hollingdean had few official or postal addresses deemed then to be of note apart from  ‘the Parish Dustyard, Brighton Harriers Kennel and the Jews Burying Ground’. In a Brighton directory for 1892, listed after Hollingdean Road just a  path is described as ‘the road to Harrington farm and Roedale’. On several old maps the area from Lower Roedale to Harrington farm is labelled as ‘Cowley’s Bottom’, local reference to the fact that a Charles Cowley was dairy farming at Harrington Farm and land on the Lewes Road from the 1850’s to the 1890’s.

Saved from dereliction
The advertisement from an 1891 trade directory shows the flint buildings in Stanmer Villas in use as a dairy, with the familiar copse covering the steep bank behind as now. A local resident recalls as a child in the 1920s seeing horses being shoed there and these two buildings are now all that remains of the original farm. They survived dereliction to be rebuilt to their original style in the 1990’s into Housing Association flats and now provide homes and gardens of great character.

Comments about this page

  • No one mentions the old school in Davey Drive, St Joesph’s infants school. I’d love to see photos of that.

    By Bridget (24/09/2007)
  • I have lived in Hollingdean almost all my life and I remember walking past the old farm house on my way to school around 15 years ago. I went to Hertford Infants and Juniors and we got shown old photos and went on a trip to see it. I wonder if they still do that.

    By Kelly Hayward (06/08/2009)
  • Your item interests me. I visited Brighton in the 1990’s checking for Harrington Farm as I am a descendent of the Cowley Family through the marriage of Kate Cowley to Thomas Priest Maddams My understanding is that Cowley Dairies had 2 shops in Brighton and sold out to United Dairies about 1835, This is that part of a family tree I have. The numbers being the generations from Thomas Cowley THE COWLEY FAMILY of SUSSEX which is grafted into to BEDFORDSHIRE MADDAMS FAMILY This is based on various bits of information from different people and some of doubtful accuracy Some from census sources, and some from family knowledge, letters, local history in Sussex, and from the Mormon records in London. We know the people existed but whether they are in the right place remains debatable 1 Thomas Cowley m Mary May 20.11.1673 at Woolavington 2 Henry Cowley m Hannah at West Stoke 3 Francis Cowley b 27.11.1796 3 Henry Cowley m ? 4 Charles Cowley born at Balsdeane Farm, North of Rottingdean, Farmer m about 1824 Mary Ann ? 5 Stephen Cowley b 1827 @ Preston, Sussex, Shopkeeper and dairy farmer m Louisa Ellen Wilkinson daughter of Mary Jane & George Wilkinson Coast Guard married 24.05.1848 who farmed Harrington Dairy Farm, Preston with 300 acres and 20 workers 6 Charles Cowley [ He is probably the Cowley refered to in your article] 6 Thomas Cowley 6 Kate Elizabeth Cowley b 05.12.1854 buried at Ashwell. Herts They had 7 children. One of theirgreat great grandsons is a Dairy herd stockman near Ely. m married at Preston 25.11.1876 Thomas Priest Maddams of Biggleswade bp 18.08.1854, dairyman / nurseryman died 1919 buried at Ashwell Church yard 7 Their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren 5 Charles Cowley, b 1829 at Preston ( 1878 at Wick Farm ) m Elizabeth Pipe 6 Charles Cowley bp 29.06.1856 3 Triplets or were they all baptised same day. 6 George Cowley bp 29.06.1856 6 William Cowley bp 29.06.1856 m Elizabeth Wickham on 25.12.1875 6 Nathaniel Cowley b 22.03.1857 5 Henry Cowley b 1831 at Preston ( 1878 at Black Rock Farm Rottingdean ) 5 George Cowley b 30.08.1839 5 Louisa Cowley b 1846 at Rottingdean 4 Henry Cowley Warehouseman m 19.03.1820 to Fanny Lemmen 5 Henry Cowley b 10.02.1821 5 Caroline Cowley b 14.12.1823 Bread and Biscuit maker m 21.01.1852 John Gaston at Rottingdean 5 Edward Cowley b 07.05.1826 who may be the one who died in 1891 5 Mary Anne Cowley b 21.09.1828 4 Mary Ann Cowley m John Hawkes on 07.04 1840 5 Mary Ann Cowley 4 Sophia Cowley m James Hawkes on 21.07.1824 4 Thomas Cowley m ? 5 Thomas Cowley. He may in fact be a brother of Stephen Cowley rather than a cousin m Harriet 4 Thomas Cowley m ? 5 Thomas Cowley. He may in fact be a brother of Stephen Cowley rather than a cousin m Harriet 6 Harriet Honoria Cowley at Rottingdean b 21.11.1852 6 Carolina Helena Cowley b 29.04.1855 6 Charles William Cowley b 21.02.1858 at Rottingdean 6 Mary Maria Cowley b 28.08.1859 6 Emma Jane Cowley b 10.03.1861 3 Catherine Cowley m Pte John Stone in the Sussex militia 16.04.1800 …….3 Charles Cowley m about 1805 4 William Cowley labourer of Woburn Place m Jemima 5 Caroline Cowley b 09.03.1823 5 William Cowley b 08.08.1824 5 Sarah Cowley b 26.03.1826 5 Henry Cowley b 26.07.1831 5 Edward Cowley b 27.03.1836 5 Edwin Cowley b 11.03.1838 4 Susan Cowley m Thomas Ledwood 15.06.1827 4 Francis Cowley, printer m Emma Woolgar 21.06.1829 5 possibly Stephen Cowley otherwise not able to be placed m Mary 6 Mary Jane Cowley b 10.07.1853 at Rottingdean 5 possibly Thomas Cowley otherwise not able to be placed m Lucy 6 William Cowley b 27.08.1848 3 James Cowley m Sarah Grant 18.02.1833 3 Charles Cowley m Susannah Paine 03.04.1830 daughter of James Paine, watchmaker and sister of Elizabeth Paine who married David Wood on 24.07.1837 and Mary Paine who married William Vine, son of James Vine, labourer and of James Paine who married Mary Ann Virgo on 05.06.1832 who had a sister Ann, and brothers Henry and James and of John Standen Paine who married Ann Hogg and George Paine 4 Charles Joseph Cowley. Printer, b 19.11.1830 4 James Thomas Cowley b 21.10.1832 There is also an unaccounted for Frederick John Cowley son of John and Laura Cowley baptised at St Stephen’s Brighton July 28th 1872. John E Maddams 1938 – 2010

    By John E Maddams (26/01/2010)
  • In my previous post I mistakenly gave the sale of Cowley Dairies as 1835, that should have been 1935 . I have a rather feint photo taken in 1970 of a water colour of Cowley Farm Rottingdene painted in 1924 on the edge of the cliff with two high chimneys, and some yards from it inland, a lane, on the other side of which is a cottage. In front of the two high white chimneys at the end of one building is a low single storey building with a blue framed window and red tiled roof. In front of that is a large green field and in the foreground is a hedge, with two figures which look like women, where the hedge joins the lane, and in front of them looks like an allotment or vegetable garden. The cottage and lane are on the left of the painting, and the cliff edge and sea on the right with several white cliffs in the distance. In 1824 a Charles Cowley was lodging at the “Jolly Fisherman” In 1837 a Charles Cowley voted in respect of copyhold houses at Rottingdene Between 1855 and 1887 Charles Cowley appears in trade directories as farming at Preston In 1878 Stephen Cowley was farming at Bear Farm. In 1887 Henry Cowley was farming at Black Rock, Rottingdene. Harrington Farm in Charles Cowley’s time had 300 acres, 20 men and 5 house servants. The Cowley’s had left Harrington Farm by 1890 and it was made into 2 houses and 50 fruit trees were planted and there were spacious lawns with many beautiful shrubs planted and roses. There was a small holding market garden and the kitchens were tiled with stone from the quarry and the copse gave way to Hertford Road. In 1925 Harrington Farm or part of it was occupied by a Sidney Hamblett. We have some photos of a Bob [ Robert ] Cowley a local cricketer, and one with him along with a teenager and two young men sitting on a round topped stone wall with cowboy type hats on. John E Maddams Maddams Family Research Project 1972 -2010

    By John E Maddams (26/01/2010)
  • I would very much like to have contact with John Maddams. If you read this John, you can contact me via my web site at

    By Peter Cowley (02/08/2010)
  • January 15th 2011. I have just noticed your message Peter and registered on your board. Hope we will have contact soon. Kind regards John

    By John E Maddams (16/01/2011)
  • Charles Cowley married Miriam Mockford in 1824.

    By Jo Williams (15/01/2014)
  • I remember at the top of Stephens Road beyond the houses on the north side, in the fields there were a series of white single storey buildings all linked together. We used to play in there. There were hundreds of little metal boxes that we used to mess around with among other things. Have often wondered what went on in these before they were abandoned.

    Further up in the barn where hundreds of Hay bales were kept we used to get in there and tunnel deep within by pulling bales out and creating a den. Looking back now it was a very dangerous thing to do. Had they collapsed we would probably have never got out. Coulped with the fact that quite often we heard the barn had been set on fire. This would have been in the mid 50’s.

    By Barry Plank (19/02/2018)
  • My great, great Grandfather worked at Upper Roedale Farm and died in one of the buildings in 1890. His name was Joseph Manser and was shown as a ‘Diaryman’ on the probate. His wife was called Martha.

    By Neil Soane (30/06/2020)
  • The main path through Hollingbury Wood is a bridleway (no. 96 on the definitive map of Rights of Way) but I’ve been told that it used to be a road, which is why it’s mostly got an asphalt top.
    • I’d like to know when it was last used as a road and when it became a bridleway. All information would be gratefully received.
    (It runs northwards, from just south of the Bowls Club on Ditchling Road, downhill to the corner of the allotments at Golf Drive.)

    By Max Glaskin (06/08/2022)

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