November 2017


LATEST ON THE TIMELINE : From Bridge Farm to Westham, the untold story of Pevensey School


LATEST FROM THE PEVENSEY TIMELINE: Mum wondered how many survived the War, Iris Matthews recalls her account of the young airmen who came to stay from her diary entry written in 1995: I remember, Pevensey castle in 1940.—Bay Life, 11 April 2017

We lived in Pevensey Village, the last house on the left next to the bridge (going out towards Hastings). Lovely happy house, acre of land at the back. Kenilworth it was called.

My father had 100 chickens, which were useful, as food was rationed at the time.

My elder sister Renee, was ten, my brother Louis, seven years old. We went to the small village school in Church Lane, it was lovely.

We spent many happy hours in the castle grounds. The moat was clear with running water, swans, ducks (and fish) animals grazing on some days. I did write to the Pump and ask why the moat had not been cared for.

My mother was asked to take in some young airmen as the camp wasn’t quite ready for them (she took six) who went in the long bedroom upstairs. They brought camp beds with them and blankets.

They were great. We loved having them. My mother spoiled them. They used to fight over who was going first to read my brother’s Dandy and Beano comics.

We were sad when they left and Mum wondered how many survived the War.

Dad was a musician in the Palm Court orchestra at the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne. It was broadcast on the radio, every week. He was also an engineer, so we had to move to Windermere, the Lake District as he worked on the flying boats in the factory.

We loved the Lakes

Ethel and Harold Birchall family
Renee, Louis and Iris (twins)

Pevensey Castle WWII defences
Pevensey Castle has been fortified since Roman times. The current fortifications consist of the remains of the Roman curtain wall, a medieval Keep and Bailey and WWII pillboxes positioned in the ruins of both the former. It the structure survived 4 seiges and luckily for us didn’t face a fifth.

The area was designated a fortress in July 1940 as it was close to a prime landing beach for German forces invading the UK mainland. Construction of the pillboxes began immediately. The pillboxes are a fantastic example of using the natural materials of the old castle to create almost perfect camouflage. Unfortunately none of the surviving pillboxes are accessible as most are perched high on the crumbling ramparts of the roman wall and medieval keep. These are all thought to have been for medium machin guns such as the Vickers.
TEXT: Derelict Places, Documenting Decay. cptpies Veteran Member, March 2010

This article features in the latest issue of the broadsheet newspaper Pevensey Bay Life: the Journal, issue 9, Bay Life and Times for the Digital Age, available in local newsagents this week and as a full digital download on subscription.