Folklore in Rottingdean

1-DSCF0846 Off we go on a field trip with tutor Colin Manton – who is a Lecturer in Local history and is now teaching a new course at Whiteways called Landscape and Ritual, Heroes & Villains:  English Folklore.

This, the first of two field trips, is just five minutes away.

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We pause at the Blacksmith’s house, and Colin tells us how essential such a man was in a country village and, of course, there are all the associated stories and the ‘lucky’ charm of the horseshoe.

Many of us have wandered this High Street before but now we observe for ourselves the materials used to build many of the cottages and houses, including stones from beach. Uneven stones were often used for the cottages of the labourers and fisherfolk whilst the houses of the wealthy were built  with stones of similar size, chiseled to a more regular pattern and with better mortar being used.

Nothing escapes Colin’s attention, here is the barber’s pole denoting the place for cutting hair but also apparently the local barber could turn his hand to minor surgery on the side. So that accounts for the red stripes perhaps, the sign of blood.

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On we go to the  old Blacksmith’s Arms, reminding us again how important the blacksmith was. 1-DSCF0842We pause and remember the enormous contribution made by the Copper family with their wealth of songs portraying their lives as farm workers.

1-DSCF0844We move along the High Street towards the coast where the Smugglers sign reminds us of the other occupation of this village, smuggling.

Up on the coast road  Colin takes us to the ‘hanging stone’ and regales us with a tale of ne’er do well who stole a sheep and tethered it to the stone.  He then went and got drunk at the local inn.  On returning to collect the sheep he fell asleep. The sheep got hungry and wanderered round and round the sleeping figure. The next day the man was found dead.

Just one of the many tales that you will come across on one of Colin’s courses, together with all manner of evidence that tells us legend and belief  are intertwined and an integral part of our culture even today.

1-DSCF0846    1-DSCF0848   1-DSCF0847 (the hangman’s stone)

We stop at the  The Olde Cottage Tea Rooms and Restaurant which are said to be haunted. After very friendly service for the tea, Colin has asked in advance for a brief introduction to the niece of previous owner who regales us with a few of the ghost stories


She tells us a lady in a black hat is said to appear, cups have been known to jump across the kitchen and one room on the first floor is best avoided!!!

All very strange goings on but a pretty tearoom with many original features, they also do coffee and lunches too!

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Of course a visit to the wishing stone is essential. I learned the ritual on Colin’s last course, but took the opportunity to have another wish, which apparently is in order.DSC07710

Whiteways has some great courses and some ‘one off’ talks and study days, worth checking out their website!

I’ll leave you with a picture of Colin’s favourite gravestone and the oldest one on record, in the grounds of St Margaret’s Church, where there are also the most beautiful pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows.    Incidently the gravestone has nothing to do with smugglers.


Colin also teaches at Sussex Uni.

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Link to previous post about the wishing stone.

An award winning blog     for ‘a blog that brightens our day’!

This entry was posted in Brighton - out and about, Cheer yourself up, Finding my feet in Brighton, Photography, Rottingdean and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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