Women’s Suffrage Campaigning in Crowborough, Uckfield and Heathfield

In the years preceding the First World War many women in East Sussex were active in the Suffrage campaign, as explained by author and local historian Frances Stenlake. Women’s suffrage campaigners in the Crowborough, Uckfield and Heathfield area, as elsewhere in rural Sussex, were likely to be ‘suffragists’ rather than ‘suffragettes’, i.e. emphatically non-militant and law-abiding, and […]

Muriel Matters

Muriel Matters was a strong supporter Women’s Suffrage and opponent of the First World War who came to live in Hastings, East Sussex. Born in Australia on 12 November 1877, Muriel took a keen interest in music. After studying the topic at the University of Adelaide she began giving public recitals and performances. However, in […]

Hastings Pier Fire

On 15th July 1917, a fire devastated Hastings Pier. 100 years on, we’re commemorating the centenary with a selection of new Kieron Pelling ‘Then and Now’ images of Hastings Pier. First opened in 1872, Hastings Pier was an important focal point for the seaside town. It was designed by Eugenius Birch who, as a noted seaside architect, […]

Alcohol and the First World War

The outbreak of the First World War brought about many changes to life on the home front, including a long-lasting impact on the serving of alcoholic beverages. Public houses and beer had been a staple of British social and socialising life in the years before the First World War. During the Victorian era many pubs […]

Bonfire Night in the First World War

The celebration of ‘Bonfire Night’ remained popular in East Sussex during the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the onset of war in 1914 brought about laws that threatened the continuation of this tradition. Events marking the anniversary of the failed gunpowder plot of 1605 have been a staple of many British communities for decades […]

East Sussex Suffragettes

Both before and during the First World War, the Suffragette movement campaigned for equal voting rights for women. This movement could be seen within East Sussex. Whilst the campaign for equal voting rights for women is often closely associated with the First World War, it did not begin there. The women’s suffrage movement first began […]

The Thorntons and East Sussex County Council

During the First World War, whilst Major Robert Thornton served as Chairman of East Sussex County Council, his son was fighting in Belgium. Born in 1865, Robert Lawrence Thornton had a long life of civic and military service. Although born in Surrey, it was with East Sussex that Robert became most closely associated. Robert served […]

First World War Graves and East Sussex

At the end of the First World War the bodies of hundreds of thousands of British soldiers did not return home. Many other men who had been wounded and returned to Britain would also lose their lives and be buried in their country. At the outbreak of the First World War any plans or consideration for how […]

British Nannies in Great War Sussex

When refugees from Belgian began arriving in Britain during the First World War, some British women prepared to help the youngest amongst them. From the opening days of the Great War in August 1914, the Belgians were able to claim the unenviable status of the first mass civilian casualties and dislocated people of the war on […]

Homosexuality in the First World War

Homosexuality was illegal during WW1, and remained so up until 1967. As any evidence of homosexual acts between men resulted in corporal punishment or two years imprisonment, records of experiences are sparse. Although societal norms forbid homosexual acts between women, what were referred to as ‘acts of gross indecency’, were never made illegal. This story […]