Rottingdean Through Time – Chapter 10

General Views

Distant Bazehill Road (1)

The Falmer Road divides this 1930s scene lengthwise. Most prominent (centre) are the converted farm dwellings, Court Barn, Little Barn and Lanterns, to the left of which are Northgate Cottages and Challoners Cottages. At top right stands Bazehill House, part of which – as Hillcott, now Hill Cottage – would become the residence of the artist Cecil Rochfort D’Oyly-John (1906-1993). Nearby is the lost Northgate House – see page 47.

The tasteful Burnes Vale development dominates the modern picture.

Distant Bazehill Road (2)

Here we have moved a little way to the north, which affords us a splendid view of Rottingdean School, with Bazehill Road on the right. Bazehill House is quite prominent.

The extent of tree growth is again remarkable, although virtually all the conifers which once stood near the school have gone.

1930s Housing off the Falmer Road

There are a large number of residential properties both north and east of the village. Here Alfred Wardell allows us to see work in progress on the new bungalows in Eley Drive. The property under construction is thought to be Nos 17/19. In the distance stands St Mary’s Convent, now the Rottingdean Place apartments.

The cottages in a row on the left (lower view) are Court Ord Cottages of 1896, while in the foreground are houses of Meadow Close.

Two Convents

This rare postcard depicts ‘St Mary’s Home, Rottingdean’, erected and dedicated in 1912 as a home for female penitents run by the Community of St Mary. Later known as St Mary’s Convent, it is, and always has been, in Ovingdean parish. On the left is the new 1930s housing of New Barn Road/Court Farm Road. The buildings of New Barn Farm show little change today (see p. 72).

An unusual rear-elevation view of St Martha’s Convent on The Green, from a postcard sent in 1932.

South-easterly Prospect

The tree growth is surprisingly abundant in this Wardell postcard of 1930s vintage. The playing field (left) of the lost Preparatory School has survived, next to the Hog Plat allotments. Closer examination reveals The Elms’ garden (left of the white-walled outhouse below the church) and Hillside, masked by a tree but with its garden gazebo just visible.

The older panorama boasts plenty of farm buildings with, as yet, little housing on distant Rottingdean Heights.

Newlands Road and St Aubyns Playing Field

Another sharp Wardell card of the 1930s has perfectly captured Rottingdean’s development. Largely unchanged is the playing field, although its southern portion has been developed (see next page). Running along its eastern boundary (below) are the substantial dwellings of Newlands Road – none more so than the present-day Rottingdean Nursing/Care Home. The earlier photograph reveals that this replaces two former residences.

For its part, the Catholic church of Our Lady of Lourdes, as noted previously, occupies the site of a large garden in Steyning Road.

The Sea Again

Here is the extensive St Aubyns Mead development on the playing field (early 1980s) and the recent white/orange Ocean Reach apartments which replaced a luxury 1960s residence on the corner of Newlands Road and the A259. The constant traffic and controversial new bus lane can be clearly seen. St Aubyns School, with its white walls, is also conspicuous.

Brighton photographers, Avery’s, produced many local postcards in the early days. This example, showing the school – in a view that cannot be reproduced today – was posted on 3 August 1923.

Clifftop Changes

Rottingdean in a coastal context. The moderate height of Highcliff Court allows part of East Saltdean, and the cliffs beyond, to be seen.

Postally used in 1932, this card, by Judges of Hastings, is captioned Rottingdean Heights and shows the new housing on East Hill. The corrugated-iron bungalow on the left can only be the Iron House, listed in Kelly’s Directory as early as 1895. Work on the new Undercliff Walk is in progress west of The Gap.

A Westward View Lost

Even Boots the Chemist produced postcards. This sharp, sepia example appears to date from the mid-1930s, as the newly widened coast road can be seen in the distance. Closer examination reveals construction in progress of the unnamed block of flats on Marine Drive today numbered 21-29.

The bungalow at bottom right (No. 36 Marine Drive), now minus its rear dormer window, is common to both pictures, but otherwise St Margaret’s and Highcliff Court dominate the rest of the scene.

Birds Eye Views

These sepia views of an unusual kind, by Wardell, contrast with each other and dramatically with the contemporary panorama.


I am especially grateful to Daphne Turner for the loan of the late David Baker’s collection of Rottingdean images. Brighton historian Chris Horlock donated his entire collection of pictures of the village, while Peter Booth readily lent me all his collection of postcards of this area. I thank Roger Luther for putting me in touch with Amberley Press at the very outset.

I also greatly appreciate the assistance given by: Mick Bensley; Brenda Burnell; Paul Chaloner (of Messrs Adams & Remers); Patrick Collins (National Motor Museum, Beaulieu); John Copper; Jill Dudley (née Copper); Jon Dudley; Sandra Funnell; Comtesse Laurian d’Harcourt; Arthur Hazell; Simon Hitchings (Headmaster, St Aubyns Preparatory and Pre-Preparatory School); Ian Hyder; Lady Helena Hughes (of Challoners); Alan Lambert (National Motor Museum, Beaulieu); John Leech (Archivist, Rottingdean Preservation Society); Steve Myall; Carol Plater; Violet Simpson; Joan Snudden; Jackie Sullivan (Archivist, Roedean School); Mike Tucknott; and Chris Wrapson.


The Argus, (newspaper archive from 1998) Blyth, Henry, Smugglers’ Village – The Story of Rottingdean. Privately published. (undated; c. 1964) Carder, Timothy, The Encyclopedia of Brighton. Lewes: East Sussex County

Libraries, 1990 Coates, Professor Richard, A Place-Name History of the Parishes of Rottingdean and Ovingdean in Sussex (including Woodingdean and Saltdean), Nottingham: English Place-Name Society, due 2010 Copper, Bob, Early To Rise: A Sussex Boyhood. London: Heinemann, 1976 d’Harcourt, Laurian, Rottingdean: The Village. Saltdean: DD Publishing,

2001 (published 2002) Heater, Derek, The Remarkable History of Rottingdean. Brighton: Dyke Publications, 1993 Payne, Tony and Scott, Eddie, Rottingdean in old picture postcards. Zaltbommel (Netherlands): European Library, 1985

Copyright © Douglas d’Enno, 2009

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