Bottle Alley

Bottle AlleyBottle Alley is the 480 meter long lower deck of Hastings Promenade that runs between the Pier and Warrior Square. It was built in the 1930’s by Sidney Little the ‘Concrete King’ of the South Coast. He loved concrete and also designed the baths at White Rock and West Marina, as well as the sea defences. His expertise was used by the Admiralty to assist in the design of the Mulberry Harbours used at Normandy after the D Day landings.Bottle Alley

It’s called Bottle Alley because embedded into the concrete wall are countless multicoloured pieces of broken glass bottles. It was for a long time a haunt for the local drunks. Your nose would be assaulted by the fragrant mix of the sea, spilt alcohol and urine as you walked down it. It was place to be avoided, especially at night. Recently though, it has been renovated and repainted. A kayak hire business now operates from a unit halfway along it, so now it’s a much more pleasant walk. I’d still avoid walking down it on my own at night though.

These photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Ghosts of Carlisle Parade

Carlisle Parade
Ghosts of Hastings

Carlisle Parade has remained relatively unchanged in the years since this military parade took place. The question here is what is the military parade for? The original photograph was in the Hastings Forum, which is part of the 1066 Online website. Contributors there suggest it took place to mark the end of the Boer War, in which the 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers took part.

At that time the Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers had adopted blue slouch hats with a blue plume upon their return from South Africa, and would still have been dressed in red tunics as shown here.

Through my work with the Hastings & St Leonards Pictorial Advertiser, I have found the answer. The photo is from a medal presentation ceremony by the Canadian Army, who were stationed in Hastings in February 1917. Further on in this post is copy of the article presented in the paper. It is likely to be the presentation of the Military Medal to Private W F Ede of the 52nd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was awarded the medal for carrying a wounded comrade away from battle whilst under fire.

The merged image can be viewed in a larger size on my Flickr page by clicking on it, and the photo used to create the image are below.Carlisle Parade

Carlisle Parade

Military Medal Presentation


Flying the Union Flag

Union FlagThere are two Union Flags on the seafront in front of the De La Warr Pavilion. They stand out as the contrast well with the white painted cuplolas they stand next to. They also stand out because I don’t think that we see enough of the Union Flag flying in the country. I’ve only visited the USA once, but one of my memories of the trip was seeing the Stars and Stripes flying everywhere. Literally everywhere.

Now there is probably a whole series of books that could be written about the politics and history of our flag, but it comes down to being proud of where you come from. This is Great Britain after all. It would be nice to see the flag more.Union Flag

Brightling Needle

Brightling Needle 2The Brightling Needle stands at the 2nd highest point in Sussex, a couple of miles from the village of Brightling. It was built in around 1810 by John Fuller. No one quite knows why it was built, but it was possibly to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. Brightling NeedleBest known as ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller, the squire of Brightling village built several other unusual buildings in East Sussex, Including Fuller’s Tower which can be seen from the village. One of its windows peek out from the cover of the trees, watching the village like an unblinking eye.Tower FollyJohn Fuller was a politician and philanthropist. As well as the follies, he is best known for saving Bodiam Castle from destruction, funding the Eastbourne Lifeboat, and funding the Belle Tout Lighthouse on Beachy Head. His pyramid mausoleum, within the Brightling Church cemetery was built in 1810, 24 years before his death.Pyramid MausoleumJohn Fuller’s mausoleum is very similar to that of James Burton, the architect of St Leonards on Sea. Was Burton inspired by Fuller’s memorial? These pyramid mausoleums are still being built. Actor Nic Cage apparently has one already waiting for him in a New Orleans graveyard. Brightling ChurchEach of these photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Rye Harbour Pill Boxes

Rye Harbour Pill BoxThe Rye Harbour Pill Boxes were built in August 1940. They were designed to house the Vickers Medium Machine Gun, probably two per pill box. Their design is apparently a local variation of a series of bunker templates created by the Directorate of Fortifications and Works, when they realised that the threat of invasion was real.

These pill boxes would have been part of extensive fortifications in the area including tank traps and barbed wire. Some of the tank traps can still be seen as you walk down to the Pill Boxes from Rye Harbour.

The ‘local variation’ doesn’t seem to take into account the usual weather conditions at Rye Harbour. They certainly weren’t built for comfort. The wind blows through them almost as they weren’t there. I don’t imagine they would have provided much defence to those inside, from either the elements or the enemy. They stand now as a reference to the past, and also a place for people to urinate in when they are caught short.

These photographs of the Rye Harbour Pill Boxes can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Rye Harbour Pill Boxes

Sissinghurst Castle

Sissinghurst CastleSissinghurst Castle is a house and garden in the care of the National Trust. Situated in the Weald of Kent, it is not really a castle at all. It is more of a moated manor house, but with the turreted gatehouse I guess it could be described as a castle. It certainly isn’t what an excited child would imagine a castle looks like.Sissinghurst Castle

Instead the property conveys what has happened to it during the five centuries it has existed. In its past it has been host to overnight stays by royalty, a prisoner of war camp, farm and finally a household for Vita Sackville-West, who was responsible for the formalising of the gardens.Sissinghurst Castle

Like all National Trust properties it is a good place to spend several hours. When we visited the sun decided to make a rare appearance, and the spring flowers were in full bloom. There were a lot of visitors there on that day, which caused a crowding problem on the narrow, maze like paths through the gardens.Sissinghurst Castle

Like in supermarkets, people amble along in their own world of thoughts. I’m the same probably, but my attention is looking through the viewfinder of my camera.

These photos of Sissinghurst Castle can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.Sissinghurst Castle

Old Scotney Castle

Old Scotney CastleI’ve blogged about Scotney Castle before, but the place is very photogenic that I think it is worth doing again. The day we visited was nice and calm, which meant there were some good reflections in the moat.

Old Scotney Castle looks like something you’d find drawn in a book about fantasy castles. This is exactly how the owners of the estate wanted it to look of course. The Victorians loved to renovate ruins so that they looked aesthetically pleasing. A great job was done here.Old Scotney CastleOld Scotney Castle looks lovely from every view you see it from, whether approaching it from the hills above or walking around its moat.

Each of these photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.Old Scotney Castle

Windsor Castle

Windsor CastleWindsor Castle was first built by William the Conqueror, not from stone but of a wooden motte and bailey. Over the centuries various kings have improved and extended the fortifications making it the impressive building it is today. What struck me as I walked through was how clean the exterior looked. The Queen still uses Windsor Castle as a residence, and it is regularly used for various ceremonies and state visits. In addition an average of 5k people visit every day.

Windsor CastleThere are no crumbling walls or accumulations of soot here. But the exterior is nothing compared to the opulence within its walls. There is Queen Mary’s dolls house within which, if you were accidentally miniaturised, you could lead a very comfortable life complete with a full library and wine cellar. The state rooms are richly decorated and reflect the history of England and the British Empire. It is most impressive, even to a jaded National Trust tourist like me. You can’t take photos of any of it though.

Windsor 2

Every day there is the changing of the guard. The new guard marches in each morning accompanied by a military band and old marches out a little later. Windsor Castle is the 4th largest castle in the world. How many soldiers are on guard at any point during a day? Four. Perhaps there are more when the Queen is in residence. There are lots of armed police around as well

Windsor Castle

I suspect however that the soldiers mainly perform their duty there to please the tourists. Just like you see in American films, these guards stand by their posts stoney faced whilst being gawped at by the five thousand visitors. It’s probably something a foreign tourist expects to see when visiting our country.

Windsor Castle

Each of these photos can be viewed larger size on Flickr by clicking on them.



Fading Beauty?

Fading Beauty - Marine Court

From a distance Marine Court remains an impressive sight, a bright white beacon in the summer sun. Like most works of art, being viewed from afar is the best way to appreciate what the artist intended. Up close it’s a different story and Marine Court appears to be a fading beauty. It cannot easy for the owners of the building to keep it looking pristine. Sited by the beach, it takes the punishment of wind and corrosive sea spray regularly. The good news is that work is being done to restore this grade II listed building, funded in part by the shocking £5k a year service charge paid by the residents.

At the moment though I can’t help but be reminded of how the Costa Concordia looked when it was raised from the seabed. At least Marine Court won’t be towed away for scrapping. We can look forward to it being restored to its former glory.

The photo above is best viewed full size. You can do this by clicking on the image.


ChartwellChartwell in Kent is best known as Winston Churchill’s house. It has also been described as an example of ‘Victorian architecture at its least attractive, a ponderous country mansion of tile-hung gables and poky oriel windows’. It was described as such in 1992 by the National Trust who now own and manage the property. The National Trust website now says Chartwell is “the much-loved Churchill family home and the place from which Sir Winston drew inspiration from 1924 until the end of his life”. That’s a much nicer description, and much more accurate.


Churchill loved the place, but even he was unable to meet the costs of maintaining it. A group of his friends purchased the estate and allowed the Churchills to live there for a nominal rent after the war. As you can see, it is a beautiful place to walk around. The house has been set up to relate the story of Winston’s long and interesting life. It’s well worth a visit if you are interested in the man.


These images of Chartwell can be viewed larger size on Flickr by clicking on them.