Paul Sherrington and Phil Carter moved to Rottingdean just weeks ago and recently took charge over The Rottingdean Club, but already feel it’s the home they have always wanted. Phil says “we came here looking for somewhere to live, walked past the club and to our surprise the very next day we found out it was for sale. Well as they say, the rest is history”
“Rottingdean has such a tremendous community spirit, Paul and I love the fact that village is so diverse. We feel as Brighton grows and spreads out Rottingdean is the next place which will grow but everyone here is determined it will keep the quaint and beautiful village atmosphere. It’s a wonderful place to be”
The land where Rottingdean has grown up was given to William de Warenne, the Lord of Lewes, to reward him for his support at the Battle of Hastings, according to the Domesday Book. For centuries it remained an isolated rural farming settlement but as the coastal road from Brighton improved, it became a magnet for people who wanted to dwell in village surroundings yet remain close to all the attractions and amenities of its much larger neighbour.
From the late 18th century onwards it attracted leisured folk wanting a genteel alternative to Brighton and by the end of the 19th century Rottingdean provided the seclusion and inspiration for some of the most influential names in English cultural life. The famous painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones and his nephew Rudyard Kipling made their home there and Kipling’s old house, adjacent to Kipling Gardens, is still standing, while the former house of the painter Sir William Nicholson is now open to the public as a library and museum.
Residents take enormous pride in their lovely village and the Rottingdean Preservation Society has led the way in ensuring that historic features such as Kipling’s Gardens, the famous black wooden Rottingdean Windmill and St Margaret’s Church, with its beautiful stained glass windows by Burne-Jones, remain to be admired by future generations.
Kipling’s Gardens were once part of The Elms, where Rudyard Kipling lived from 1897 to 1902. He rented the house for three guineas a week and it was here he wrote Stalky and Co, Kim and some of his famous Just So Stories.
The gardens later became derelict for many years under private ownership and eventually permission to build on them was sought. This was refused on appeal and the land was bought by the Preservation Society, which then restored the gardens. It’s now a wonderful place to sit and relax in secluded and beautiful surroundings and has frequently held the prestigious Green Flag awarded to the best parks and green spaces in the country.
The village’s rich heritage and culture can be explored at the popular Grange Art Gallery and Museum, one of the hubs of village life.
In more recent history, WWI veteran Henry Allingham was a resident of the St Dunstan’s home at Rottingdean. He was the oldest man in the world and the last founder member of the RAF when he died in July 2009.
Rottingdean also boasts several traditional old inns once frequented by local smugglers, especially during the 18th century. Rumour has it that the smugglers used a network of secret passages under the village.
As well as its charming village character, modern-day Rottingdean has plenty to offer both its residents and visitors. Coffee shops and restaurants galore, lots of independent retailers including jewellers, antique shops, florists, fashion boutiques, interior décor, traditional greengrocers, butchers and bakeries.
But we can’t leave Rottingdean without mentioning the pirate tragedy of long ago! In the summer of 1377, French pirates raided the village, probably intending to pillage the nearby Lewes priory. The raiders were spotted as they landed and many of the inhabitants took refuge in the church’s Saxon-built tower. The pirates, unable to take the tower, set it on fire and over 100 people are thought to have perished in the blaze.
Those who come to Rottingdean nowadays are sure of a friendly welcome and a wealth of things to see and do. Surrounded by beautiful coastal scenery and with all the charm of a traditional Sussex village, Rottingdean never fails to delight all who live here – and it’s the perfect place for visitors, too. ■