The village developed in the Saxon Age around the pond opposite the church. A small farming community, the town’s name translates as ‘the valley of Rota’s people’. After the Battle of Hastings, Rottingdean was given as a reward for William de Warenne, the Lord of Lewes in acknowledgement of his support to William the Conqueror.
At the end of the 19th century, writers, artists and public figures began to settle here. Residents have included Rudyard Kipling, Enid Bagnold, Sir William Nicholson, Angela Thirkell, Lord Carson, William Black, Sir Edward Burne Jones, poet Alfred Noyes, Fred Perry, Lady Baldwin and Sir Roderick Jones as well as the famed folk singing family, the Coppers.
1. The Windmill
The windmill is situated to the west of the village on Beacon Hill. It is open to the public on National Mill days and every 3rd Sunday from May-September between 2.00-4.30pm. The Windmill is maintained by the Rottingdean Preservation Society.
2. Beacon Hill Nature Reserve
Adjacent to the Windmill is a Neolithic long barrow dating back to at least 4000 years BC (model in The Grange) discovered in 1995 by an aerial survey. The Local Nature Reserve on Beacon Hill is looked after by a Working Group to preserve the flora, fauna and ecology of the Downs. Beacon Hill Nature Reserve offers wonderful views of the South Downs, village and sea.
3. The Elms (not open to the public) & Kipling Gardens
Rudyard Kipling wrote some of his most famous works whilst living at The Elms between 1897 and 1902. Formerly within the grounds of The Elms, Kipling Gardens are open every day to the public and contain a walled rose garden, an area of ornamental grasses, a chalkland wild area and a croquet lawn. The gardens have been awarded the prestigious Green Flag award for six consecutive years.
4. The Green & Village Pond
The Green, in front of St Margaret’s Church has been the focus of village activities since the Stone Age. The pond, once fed by a spring, provided the only source of drinking water during Neolithic and Saxon times both for humans and livestock. It was recently relined and replanted and is now a place for calm reflection and enjoyment.
5. North End House (not open to the public)
A blue plaque designates the former holiday home of Sir Edward Burne Jones. Later residents included the author of National Velvet, Enid Bagnold and her husband, head of Reuters, Sir Roderick Jones. For more information see – www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk
6. St Margaret’s Church
The Parish Church was originally built during the Saxon era with a tower being added by the Normans. In 1377 villagers sought refuge from French pirates and some died when the church was torched. It contains many stained glass windows from the 19th century including 7 designed by Burne Jones and made by the Morris firm.
7. Our Lady of Lourdes Church
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, consecrated in 1958, is situated in Whiteway Lane. Although it is a relatively modern construction, its flint facades help it fit into the local environment. The catholic presence in the village began with the arrival of the dispossessed Sisters of St. Martha from France in 1903 who established the convent of Our Lady of Lourdes, now situated on the west side of the Green.
8. The Grange Gallery, Museum & Library
Originally the Vicarage renamed by Sir William Nicholson, The Grange now contains a Public Library and an Art Gallery. There is a permanent Museum of the history of Rottingdean and its famous residents and a garden café. For more information see www.rottingdeanpreservationsociety.org.uk
9. The Whiteway Centre
The Centre is a registered charity, self-funding Community Centre run by an elected committee of volunteers. It provides a range of daytime and evening Adult Education and Leisure classes including a new computer club. All rooms are available for hire. For information on: courses 01273 304180 or 305292, lettings 078 4008 8575 or visit www.rwc.org.uk
10. The Old Customs House (not open to the public)
During the heyday of smuggling in the 17th and 18th centuries the Rottingdean Gang was active. The customs house in the high street was established in 1760 to help prevent further smuggling.
11. Rottingdean Terraces
Rottingdean terraces, situated between the White Horse Hotel and the seafront have recently been converted into a multi-purpose outdoor performance space. For forthcoming performances see www.rottingdeanarts.org.uk
12. The Gap, Cliffs & Undercliff
The long undercliff walk from Black Rock to Saltdean was built between 1930 and 1935 as part of the sea defenses to reduce the erosion of the chalk cliffs. The Gap is a natural valley break in the cliffs allowing access to the village.
13. Beach & Sea
The beach is backed by chalk cliffs and a life guard service operates in summer. There are rock pools to explore and the remains of tracks for Magnus Volk’s extraordinary ‘Daddy Longlegs’ Railway can be seen. The only train ever to have a lifeboat attached, it ran from 1896-1901. There is a model of the Daddy Longlegs in the Grange Museum.