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The Mystery of Benfield House

by Tony Betteridge 16 April

Close to the junction of Hangleton Lane and the A293 Link Road, now covered with brambles, hawthorn and short-lived elm suckers lies a sizeable piece of waste ground hiding the foundations of what was Benfield House. Until his death in 1959 this was the home of Herbert Scott-Dunn veterinary surgeon to the local farming community. At the time Hangleton Lane was a single track unmade road and, with few cars in the area, the approach of the vet in his huge black Ford V8 Pilot could be heard and seen from afar. As children there was a collective fear of the vet (completely unjustified) and when we spotted or heard his approach there was a rush to hide in the bushes or behind trees. At the age of thirteen I secured my first job delivering evening papers and Benfield House was on my round. He took the London Evening News and the Evening Argus. Delivering his papers enabled me to see more of the magnificent late Victorian or Edwardian property, painted green with sash windows and having extensive gardens with kennels at the back. Both he and his wife were very friendly if they happened to see me and I was rewarded with a ten shilling Christmas box as that time of the year came round. That was more than my weekly wage at the time.. .
Visiting the area in the late 1990s after being away for many years I was disappointed to find that the house had been razed to the ground. To this day nothing has been done with the plot of land and I have often wondered why such a fine house should have been knocked down for no apparent reason. Perhaps the cognoscenti of Hove and Hangleton can come up with some information?