Learn the stories behind some of Southwick’s historic buildings in a new exhibition at Manor Cottage Heritage Centre.
The Southwick Society reveals some fascinating facts about buildings around Southwick Green, including some long since demolished, and the people who lived or worked there.
The green has been at the heart of the town for centuries, originally as an area of common pasture, used for grazing sheep and cattle.
The pond and chalk downland stream that feeds it have gone underground but some of the early buildings remain.
King Charles’ Cottage was built about 500 years ago as a timbered framed open hall, probably home to a yeoman farmer. Unproven local tradition says that in October 1651, the fugitive King Charles II rested there before boarding the ship Surprise to sail for France.
The Hall, in contrast, is much larger, a well-to-do house of about 1680 to 1700. Inside are glimpses of an older, timber-framed house, so it appears to be a ‘modernisation’ of an earlier house.
The wealthy family who built The Hall are a mystery but later owners have included Edward Grune, a doctor who invented a special lens for low-light photography and worked with another Southwick resident, George Albert Smith, on the development of colour film.
In the 1930s, journalist and travel writer S.P.B. Mais came to live in The Hall and when Southwick Council tried to stop the playing of cricket on the green, he swung into action. Mais organised a celebrity team to play against Southwick Cricket Club in defiance of the ban and the nationwide publicity meant the council backed down.
Southwick’s first school was established on the opposite side of the green in about 1840 and as the village grew into a town, a larger school was built next door 30 years later.
The Green School educated thousands of Southwick children until the 1960s and a whole room in Manor Cottage is dedicated to education in the town.
Southwick War Memorial, at the southern end, is built of concrete blocks taken from the foundations of huts built on The Green during the war.
Find out more in the exhibition Historic Buildings Around the green, which opens on Saturday, August 3, and runs until Saturday, September 7. Manor Cottage, in Southwick Street, is open on Saturdays from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Admission is free but donations are invited.