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The Alfriston & Cuckmere Valley Historical Society

The Historical Society was formed in 2003 to help preserve and promote the rich heritage of this beautiful downland village and the adjoining Cuckmere Valley. We have regular meetings at which visiting speakers talk on a wide range of local and national historical subjects. We also organise mid-summer and Christmas events with historical themes. 

Committee Members 

Chair: Ian Chopra


Hon. Secretary: Bill Rendall  - - 01323 870057

Susan de Angeli

Garth Buckle

Jackie Hurwood

Diane Ostler

Helle Yeates

Become a Member

To join the Historical Society please contact our Secretary Bill Rendall.

2021 Events
(dependent on coronavirus restrictions)
Thursday 20 May 2021 at 7.30pm

History of the Tower of London


Meeting to be held by Zoom video link

Speaker: Alan Kingshott


 The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror shortly after the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  It has played a prominent role in English History and has served as an armoury, a prison and as a home for the Treasury, The Royal Mint, and the Crown Jewels.  Our speaker will guide us through this rich history over the centuries.


Alan joined the Body of Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London in March 1998, following a distinguished 25-year career in the Royal Hussars. He was promoted to Chief Yeoman Warder in 2012.  One of the ceremonial roles of the Chief Yeoman Warder involves overseeing the Ceremony of the Keys, when the outer gates of the Tower are locked and secured for the night.  Alan retired in 2017 and has been awarded the Royal Victorian Order, a personal gift from the Queen in recognition of services to the Royal Family.

Thursday 17 June 2021 at 7.30pm

The People's Palace
Restoring the Pavilion in Brighton

Meeting to be held by Zoom video link

Speaker: Jackie Marsh-Hobbs

George IV’s exotic Regency Palace has had a turbulent history and our speaker will describe how it has been rediscovered and restored  to its original 1823 splendour.  She will also describe some of the new Royal Loans that have been made by Buckingham Palace.


Since 2000 Jackie has worked at the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum as a lecturer, guide and teacher.  She has also addressed numerous organisations, societies and universities around the country and abroad on subjects ranging from pleasure piers to the Royal Pavilion.   She is especially interested in architecture and the history of houses.

Thursday 16 March 2017 at 7.30pm


Hearth & Home - Dr Geoff Mead


Dr Geoffrey Mead MA, PhD, is a regular visitor to our Society.  He specialises in landscape studies and local history, and his previous talks to us have included his PhD subject, a critical survey of interwar housing development around Patcham.  This evening he looks at how the geology of Sussex has influenced the county’s vernacular building styles.

Thursday 14 October 2021 at 7.30pm

Ernest Shackleton His Life and Times

Deans Place Hotel

Speaker: Isobel Williams

Shackleton led three expeditions to the Antarctic and was a crew member on a fourth. He is famous for escaping with all his men from the icy grip of the Weddell Sea in his 1914-1916 expedition and for his incredible 800 mile journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia. However, he achieved more than this - in 1909 he was within 100 miles of the South Pole, the first to get so close.  Our speaker will describe these momentous achievements.

Previously, Isobel was a Consultant Physician. She qualified at St George’s Hospital, London where she was surrounded by the iconic Antarctic paintings of a former graduate, Dr Edward Wilson, Captain Robert Scott’s friend. Thus was born an interest in the Antarctic which came to fruition after Isobel’s retirement from medical practice. She has always particularly admired Shackleton.

Isobel has published three biographies of Antarctic heroes.

Most events start at 7:30pm and take place at

Deans Place Hotel, Seaford Road, Alfriston BN26 5TW


Admission is free to members and £5 for guests

Programmes may be subject to change for unavoidable reasons. Please check nearer the date. Evenings typically finish by 9:30pm.

Thursday 22 April 2021
at 7.30pm

Annual General Meeting 

Members only: meeting to be held by Zoom video link

Thursday 16 September 2021
at 7.30pm
The Development of Victorian Eastbourne under the Seventh Duke of Devonshire

Deans Place Hotel

Speaker: Richard Crook

The Seventh Duke inherited a considerable amount of property in Eastbourne from his grandfather and from his wife Elizabeth Compton.  The Duke’s vision for a seaside resort suitable for “Gentlemen” led to the development in the 19th century of its parks, baths and squares.  Our speaker will give an illustrated talk on the Duke’s plans and vision for Eastbourne.


Richard is a local architect with a strong interest in conservation of historic buildings.  He also values the importance of complete street landscapes and has campaigned on many aspects of Eastbourne’s heritage.

Thursday 18 November 2021
at 7.30pm
The Smyth Memorials in St Andrew's Church: a Double Crimean War Tragedy


Deans Place Hotel


Speaker: Mike Hinton

St Andrew’s Church contains memorials to Lt. Col. Harry Smyth and his son Lt Harry Edmund Smyth, both of whom died in the Crimean War. The father died at the battle of Inkerman while his son died of fever contracted in the Crimea. The story of this family tragedy will be retold some 165 years later using surviving 19th century documents and photographs and contemporary material.

Mike obtained a PhD from the University of London on medical aspects of the Crimean War.  He belongs to the Crimean War Research Society and the Victorian Military Society.  He has visited the Crimea on four occasions and is the author of the book “Victory over Disease. Resolving the Medical Crisis in the Crimean War, 1854−1856”.

Thursday 9 December 2021

Christmas Wine & Cheese Party
and a Photographic History of Alfriston
War Memorial Hall, Alfriston
Complimentary for members and local guests
(Advance registration required: further details to be announced)

This new event will allow members and local guests who might be interested in joining the society to get together. The programme for 2022 will be announced and there will be opportunities for membership renewals, or new membership applications.

During the party, your chairman, Ian Chopra, who is experienced in video production, will present a new film of the village and its surroundings.  This covers the period from 1842 to the present. It has been compiled and edited by Ian from art work, photographs and video belonging to the Society, or kindly lent to the Society. Thanks to digital technology many of the original images have been preserved and enhanced.  Ian will briefly describe these techniques and will invite any members wishing to restore old photographs, or cine film, to contact him for help and advice.

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