First all electric village in 1930

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.

Telscombe parish lies immediately to the east of Brighton and includes the attractive Telscombe village, East Saltdean, Telscombe Cliffs, and the large common of Telscombe Tye. At the end of the eighteenth century it was said to be inhabited almost exclusively by smugglers! Standing in an isolated position, with road access only from Southease nearly two miles away, the village has retained its appearance and peaceful character mainly through the 1933 bequest of wealthy bookmaker and lord of the manor Ambrose Gorham, who left most of the village to a trust known as ‘Gorham’s Gift’ in the care of Brighton Council ; six trustees are appointed by the council to manage the village within the strict conditions laid down by Gorham. One condition was that there should be no development. Gorham, at his own expense, had had mains electricity and water supplies laid to the flint-walled houses, and indeed Telscombe was the country’s first all-electric village in 1930. In 1960 the manor house, parts of which date from the twelfth century, and fifty-four acres of the village were gifted to the National Trust by Ernest Thornton-Smith. The small, flint Church of St Lawrence dates principally from the twelfth century but has some modern additions on the northern side.

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.

The following resource(s) is quoted as a general source for the information above: 1,45,233}

Comments about this page

  • My mother Nel Whatman (nee Lloyd) worked for General Watson (of Watson’s Horse in India) during the 30s. She worked 6 days a week living in as an upstairs maid and had Sundays off after she had served breakfast. If she wanted to go into Brighton she had to walk across the Tye to the coast road to catch the bus and walk back in the dark. She said that General Watson wouldn’t have Ambrose Gorham in the house as he was “trade”. I believe that just to the left of the road running from Telscombe to Rodmell was the old site of a gallows.

    By David Whatman (19/01/2009)
  • I used to ‘do’ the boilers at the Manor … it is a magical place.

    By Paul Marsh (24/12/2010)
  • The house of Major General Watson in the 1930s. My mother worked here as a maid.

    By David Whatman (25/08/2011)
  • I take it there aint many people left in Telscombe going by the lack of comments, but anyway for the few that are left, do you remember the TV program ‘No Hiding Place’? Well a lot of episodes were filmed on the cliffs there, the reason I know this is myself and mates went for a bike ride from Woodingdean through Rottingdean and along the coast road. When we got to Telscombe we noticed a lot of activity, so being nosey kids we got closer. That’s when we saw the actors from the program. As we got too close we got chased off, but being kids we sneaked back, going behind an old chalet type bungalow which was derelict as was most of them due to the cliffs receeding. We didn’t notice one of the actors come up behind us and it was Raymond Frances who played the inspector in the program. He had a chat with us for about 20 mins before he had to go and play his scene. He told us if we were quiet and behaved they wouldn’t mind us watching. This was back in the late fifties or early sixties so if there’s anyone still breathing from that time and that area you might remember all the dwellings that used to be along the cliffs ,probably all gone now due to the cliff erosion.

    By Danny/Dave Kimberley (26/10/2011)
  • The population of Telscombe Village has never been more than several dozen, nowadays around thirty hardy souls live there. Where as Telscombe Cliffs has become a sprawling housing estate,and has a population of approximately 3,000. Telscombe Village and Telscombe Cliffs are two completley different places. However, geographically very close, although Telscombe Village is situated a good mile or more from the coast and looks much the same as it did a hundred years ago. East Saltdean, Telscombe Tye, Telscombe Cliffs and Telscombe Village all are part Telscombe Town council. (I think).

    By Christopher Wrapson (28/10/2011)
  • My father Vincent Mackenzie was employed at the age of 14 years as a houseboy to the parson at Telscombe. His employment there lasted two years. I presume he was working at The Old Rectory and can only assume the parson was a man named Harries. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks Ian Mackenzie

    By Ian Mackenzie (02/04/2013)
  • My grandmother, Mrs Lilian Mary Edwards taught at the schoolhouse in the 1920s. Apparently she would walk the local children from Peacehaven there as a group before the Tin School was built.

    By Janet Roland (03/06/2019)

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