Welcome to the village

If you’ve got any queries about this area, or can add any information, photos or memories, please contact me at jennifer@mybrightonandhove.org.uk

Oral history book
I have always had a great interest in community histories – as a little girl I spent hours going through the family photo album and asking who people were and what they used to do.  I moved to Brighton over twenty years ago and I fell in love with the place. I lived in Ovingdean for eighteen years and in 1999 I applied for a millennium grant to produce an oral history of the ‘village’. With a group of volunteers from the community we interviewed over sixty people and I produced a 140 page book of extracts from the interviews – this was sold for the benefit of the village.

Ovingdean today
Thirty years or so ago Ovingdean was seen as essentially a ‘retirement village’. The community today which numbers approximately 1200 people, is a mix of both old and young. Activities and events are centred around the Village Hall, home to a wide variety of local clubs and associations which generate a lively social calendar. As it did at the beginning of the last millennium, St. Wulfran’s Church still provides an important focus point for the village community. The successor to the ancient manor farm which has existed in varying acreages since time immemorial, is managed by the Baker family who took it over in 1945 and so the farming tradition of the area continues.

‘In Living Memory: an oral history of Ovingdean’ by Jennifer Drury and published by Ovingdean Millennium Society is available in the Jubilee Library.

Comments about this page

  • Does anyone have any photos or details of the old prefab houses at Woodingdean built after the war for servicemen? They have now been demolished. A friend of mine lived in one known as 19 Warren Road and I would love to find a pictire or history of the houses.

    By Jill Sinclair (29/09/2005)
  • Wonderful trip down memory lane for me this site. I was a altar boy for the church in Ovingdean and attended the local deaf school. Seeing the pictures of the area of the church brought it all back. Many thanks. Will look on the site more with great interest.

    By Alan (08/03/2006)
  • Can you please tell me what the word ‘dean’ means. Response: Hello Stephen – dean means ‘small valley’. (Editorial Team)

    By Julie Beckett (30/06/2006)
  • My understanding of the word ‘dean’ is ‘a wooded area’. Hence Saltdean, Rottingdean, Woodingdean , Withdean, Westdean and many others in the area. [Editorial note: ‘dean’ is also the Anglo Saxon word for valley.]

    By Robert Coe (27/07/2006)
  • My parents and I moved to Woodingdean as part of the Ashton/Richmond Street slum clearance in about 1956. The new council houses at that time were a breath of fresh air after the middle of post-war Brighton. You could go mushrooming in the adjoining fields and it was a good place to grow up. Going back recently I was saddened to see that the area had itself become another slum clearance nightmare.

    By Bob Munro (07/08/2006)
  • I was born at 50 The Ridgeway in 1954. I doubt that the house still stands as it was made from asbestos. There was a road opposite – I think it was Crescent Drive. I used to walk down past Mrs. Moyle’s house to Sunday School and the sweet shop. There was a post box across the road and prefab homes where I used to visit a lady called Maisie. Mrs. Weller lived next door, she used to make gas mantles. Looking at the third photo down on this page, I feel the second house up was hers. The Drs McGees’ surgery was at the bottom of the hill. l wonder if any one has recollections of these people or knows if No.50 is still there?

    By Amber Wills (05/11/2007)
  • I lived in Woodingdean from 1969 to 1984 and I wondered of anyone has any photos of Woodingdean from the 1970’s just for nostalgia value?
    I also wondered if the Julie Beckett who posted a comment above is the same Julie that lived across the road from me in Crescent Drive North?

    By Suzie Box (26/01/2008)
  • I moved in 1957 with my mum and dad to Meadow Cottages on the Warren Road and the row of prefabs were our next door neighbours, separated by the Woodingdean Youth Club which is still there today. I attended Woodingdean Primary School and jumped over the back fence every morning to run across the playing field to school. We were moved to Langley Crescent when they built the Woodingdean library – literally in our back garden. My friend Vernion Smallwood lived in the first of the prefabs. Fond memories.

    By Maurice Wheatcroft (18/03/2012)
  • Thanks Andy, it’s something I have become increasingly aware of in the UK, almost an acceptance of harvesting what grows by itself, or a sense of if we do the right things then it should happen automatically.”Probably a product of our industrialised process driven society! Drop a penny in the slot, pull the lever, and out the pops the product. Unfortunately people are more valuable than that, and relationship building is so often a lost art.

    By Alexandra (13/04/2012)
  • Lived at the bottom of Ainsworth Avenue from when I was born until 1973 when we moved to Wanderdown Road. Sadly do not have many photos but a few slides that my dad and granddad taken from the early 50s onwards – will try to get them on the computer if the technology allows me (actually if I can work it out!). Would be fantastic to hear from anybody who remembers the 60s/70s era in Ovingdean.

    By Graham Boyce (08/07/2014)

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