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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

Helle Yeates

Sandy Hernu

Become a Member

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

Annual Membership is £15 single and £25 for a couple.

2022 Events now running
Thursday 19 May 2022 at 7.30pm

The History of Vaccination

Speaker: David Rowlands


Jenner performing his first vaccination against smallpox, 1796.


The coronavirus pandemic shows that vaccination is one of the most important ways of protecting against infectious diseases.  In some cases previously devastating diseases such as smallpox and the cattle virus Rinderpest have been eliminated. Vaccination has its origins in Jenner’s work on smallpox vaccination in the 18th Century.  Since then It has advanced enormously and our speaker will illustrate how vaccine technology has evolved in the past two centuries.  He will also discuss some of the difficulties still to be overcome in future vaccine development.


David is Emeritus Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Leeds. He obtained his PhD from the University of Southampton and has previously worked at the Pirbright Institute, and the Wellcome Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.  Amongst many research projects, he is currently working to develop improved polio vaccines.

Thursday 16 June 2022 at 6.00pm

Dinner followed by
Alfriston Thanks the
World War One Generation    
The Video

Members and invited guests only.  Payment for the dinner will

be required in advance; further details to be announced

Introduction: Garth Buckle

The evening will comprise a two−course dinner at Deans Place Hotel followed by presentation of a video of the memorial event which took place in August 2019.  The video will provide an opportunity to remember this magnificent and moving occasion which was attended by 73 people.

“Thank you for such a special evening.  What an honour it was to have been invited to speak and to have been included in such a stellar line up.” Juliet Nicolson.


“Thank you to all who made such a special evening of gratitude to the brave.  It made me feel proud of my own father who was wounded in action at Passchendaele in 1917 when he was just nineteen.”  Rosemary Gee.


“Thank you so much for organizing such a wonderful evening of remembrance and nostalgia last evening.  A delightful meal, excellent speakers and presentations that just touched perfectly the event we were remembering.”  Michael and Ruth Staff.

Thursday 13 October 2022 at 7.30pm

Brunel: Father, Son and Grandson

Speaker: Bill McNaught

The talk will cover three generations of one of England’s finest engineering families.  The father, Marc Brunel provided the boots for Wellington’s Army and the ship’s blocks for Nelson’s Navy, and built the first tunnel under the Thames.  The son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, built the Great Western Railway, and the three largest ships in the world at the time: the Great Western, The Great Britain and the Great Eastern. The grandson, Henry Brunel, helped design Tower Bridge and other structures, as well as another ship.

Before retirement Bill worked for over 45 years in various Defence and Aerospace Companies.  He is presently chairman of the 5 Deans U3A and Secretary of Brighton Probus.


Thursday 17 November 2022
at 7.30pm
Oh No it Isn’t: A History of Pantomime


​Speaker: Pete Allen


​Pantomime is a strange concoction of fairy tales, dance, cheesy jokes, songs and cross-dressing.  Our speaker will tell us why we are attracted to this unusual form of entertainment and what it’s like to be the back end of a cow!

Pete is the Director of the R.C. Sherriff Trust and has worked extensively as a theatre director and actor.


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

Deans Place Hotel, Seaford Road, Alfriston BN26 5TW


Admission: Members free, non-members £6,

except where indicated

Programmes may be subject to change for unavoidable reasons. Please check nearer the date. Evenings typically finish by 9:00pm.

Thursday 21 April 2022
at 7.30pm

Annual General Meeting 

followed by

The Crumbles Murders

Speaker: Kevin Gordon

After the AGM, Kevin will present his talk about two shocking murders that occurred in the 1920s on the Crumbles, the desolate stretch of shingle to the east of Eastbourne.  Alfred Hitchcock described one as his ‘favourite murder’.  Kevin will tell the tragic

story of these crimes and will explain how they have influenced modern crime investigation.

Kevin is a retired British Transport Police Officer with a lifelong interest in local history.  Previously he was a chairman of our Society and a trustee of Seaford Museum.  Currently he is a committee

member of the Eastbourne History Society.

Thursday 15 September 2022
at 7.30pm
The Glory of the MGM Musicals


​Speaker: Delia Taylor

In the 1940s and 1950s MGM produced some of the greatest film musicals ever seen.  The songs written for the films became classics and the actors and actresses appearing in the musicals became screen stars.  Our speaker will present clips from some of these great movies and you will also learn about the trials and tribulations of producing some of the films we have grown to love.


Delia has been a public speaker for over 15 years and has a special interest in Hollywood films made during the first half of the twentieth century.

Thursday 8 December 2022 at 5.00pm

Christmas Wine & Cheese Party
and a Photographic History of The South Downs
War Memorial Hall, Alfriston
Members only. Advance registration and payment for entry required: further details to be announced

During the party, your chairman, Ian, will present a new historical video of the South Downs.  This covers the period from about 1880 to 1980.  It has been compiled and edited by Ian from 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.

The programme for 2023 will also be announced and there will be opportunities for membership renewals.

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