Object Details

Beachy Head Commemorative Seat

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Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright for Photograph:

Creative Commons

Location

Street:Beachy Head
Town:Eastbourne
Parish:Eastbourne
Council:Eastbourne Borough Council
County:East Sussex
Postcode:BN20
Location on Google Map
Object setting:Public Park
Access is:Public
Location note:Opposite the Beachy Head hotel
In the AZ book:East Sussex
Page:159
Grid reference:N7
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.

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Makers


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General Information

Construction period:Seat replaced by new one and opened 21/11/1979
Unveiling date:29/10/1929
Inscription:ERECTED TO COMMEMORATE THE PURCHASE BY THE EASTBOURNE CORPORATION OF THE DOWNS FROM BEACHY HEAD TO FOLKINGTON FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE AMENITIES OF EASTBOURNE. THIS TABLET WAS UNVEILED BY HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS OF YORK ON OCTOBER 29 1929.

Similar one for the Duke

Another tablet records that the area of Downland belonging to the Corporation is 6½ square miles.

The tablet which bears the names of the Mayor (Colonel Roland Gwynne, D.S.O.) and Councillor J.W. Woolnough (Chairman of the Downs Preservation Committee) also states:
IT WAS PURCHASED AT A COST OF £100,000 UNDER SPECIAL POWERS CONFERRED UPON THE CORPORATION BY THE EASTBOURNE CORPORATION ACT, 1926, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PUBLIC, AND PRESERVATION OF THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF THE SKYLINE TO THE WEST OF THE TOWN.

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History

History:The original seat was to commemorate the purchase of the downs and was unveiled by the Duke and Duchess of York (later George VI and Queen Elizabeth) on 29 October 1929. The seat was badly damaged in the war, removed and replaced with a much less ornate seat on 21 November 1979 in the presence of the Duke of Devonshire.

The Duke and Duchess attended a reception at the Town Hall hosted by the Mayor (Colonel Roland Gwynne) and laid a wreath at the War Memorial prior to making their way in an open topped car to Beachy Head.
'The Mayor then read the Address of Welcome, which was on gold embossed vellum….''The ceremony in which we have asked Your Royal Highnesses to take the principal part is intended to celebrate the purchase by the Corporation of the stretch of Downs on the western side of Eastbourne extending from Beachy Head in the south to Folkington in the north, containing over 4000 acres at a cost of about £100,000 to secure them from being built upon and thus preserve the amenities which they afford and which have for so many years been enjoyed by the inhabitants of and visitors to Eastbourne. This purchase was accomplished with the cordial consent of the inhabitants but only after we had been granted unprecedented Parliamentary powers by the Eastbourne Corporation Act, 1926, and we wish to record our appreciation of the fact that the landowners consented to sell the land by agreement and that there was therefore no necessity to resort to compulsory powers. We venture to hope that Your Royal Highnesses will agree that our action manifests a commendable public spirit and we trust that it will move other public bodies to secure places of special interest and beauty from being acquired and their beauty destroyed by syndicates or private individuals for their own pecuniary advantage. It affords us the greatest possible satisfaction to have Your Royal Highnesses with us today to unveil Commemorative Seats which will remind the present and future generations not only of the honour you confer upon us by your visit, but of our efforts on their behalf.
We tender our most respectful and humble thanks together with our loyal heartfelt wishes for the future welfare, health and happiness of Your Royal Highnesses''
The Duke rose to reply amid prolonged hand-clapping, which became almost deafening, and he said: ''...In acquiring the Downs and thereby making them free for all time for general use and enjoyment, you have performed a national service, and I warmly congratulate the Borough Council and the citizens on what they have done and the spirit which prompted this action. The Downs, with their bracing winds and their beautiful views and their open stretches, are proving a source of delight and recreation every year and it would be a sad day for England if these amenities were ever lost…''
…The approaches to Beachy Headwere lined with expectant and enthusiastic spectators. …as the head was neared the lines of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides gathered in density, gay streamers floated and flauted all the colours of the rainbow, eager little faces beamed with excitement, and squadrons of youthful vitality raced hither and thither. The air was decidedly fresh-but it was typical 'Downland' weather. As far as the eye could see sunlight chased shadow across the rich olive-green and grey pasture and fallow-land. …Mounted police were the immediate fore-runners of the Duke and Duchess and after a cry of ''Here they come!'' they arrived within a minute or two of scheduled time, and the Duchess, whose smile warmed all hearts, was immediately greeted by the Mayor of Eastbourne, who led the way along the scarlet carpet to the dais. Owing to the high wind which blew with gale-like force during Monday night it was found impossible to erect a marquee over the commemorative seats, consequently the unveiling ceremony was performed in the open. But the Duchess braved the elements with a smile, and arrived with the Duke in a large open touring car. A large space around the commemorative seats had been reserved for the many distinguished visitors who were to witness the historic event, and a pathway for the Duke and Duchess was made by the use of a red carpet, which was also used on the rain soddened turf immediately around the seats. …In the enclosure was a guard of honour provided by the band and 100 members of the Eastbourne College O.T.C. in charge of Major R. Butler, Captain R.G. Howell, and Liut. R.C. Storrs. The arrival of the Duke and Duchess was heralded with a prolonged outburst of cheering and the smart click of rifles as they were brought to the present and afterwards to the slope when the Duke, accompanied by Lieut.-Colonel Stevens, inspected the O.T.C. Following the inspection the Mayor accompanied the Duchess, whose face was wreathed in smiles, to the seat, which overlooks the sea towards the town. The Borough Engineer, Major Roseveare, handed a pair of scissors to the Duchess, who cut the blue ribbon which had been fixed across the recess. She then unveiled a tablet by pulling the silk cord which released a plum-coloured satin covering ornamented with roses. The Royal visitors immediately proceeded to the seat facing the stretch of Downland where the Duke performed a similar ceremony. For a few minutes the Mayor remained in conversation with the Duke, and the Duchess remained talking with the Deputy Mayor (Councillor Miss. Hudson.). Shorltly afterwards, accompanied by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, the Duke and Duchess left the enclosure amid round after round of cheers from Girl Guides and Boy Scouts.

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References

Source 1 :
     Title:'Eastbourne A History'
     Type:Book
     Author:Surtees, John.
     Publisher:Phillimore and Co. Ltd. Chichester.

Source 2 :
     Title:The Eastbourne Gazette
     Article:3456
     Type:Newspaper
     Page:1, 13&16


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Photographs





Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

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