Friday, May 27, 2011

Spending a Morning in Meads, near Warren Hill and Moira House

It was just curiosity, but a couple of months ago, I wondered where exactly some of those Warren Hill School photographs I'd recently received were taken. There was one in particular, an image of a young woman standing much closer to the camera than was a small boy in uniform [left], which piqued my curiosity for some reason. In the background, one could see a rather large edifice looming over ivy covered walls.

My hunch was that it was taken on the lawn south of the school as described in the image below. Within the red circle would have been the photographer and a woman I finally posited might be Miss Josephine Goodland, daughter of Head Master Joshua "Jim" Goodland, although I had once speculated that it could be his wife. The arrow protruding from the circle indicates the direction in which I had thought the photographer was facing, slightly north of due west. The small, blue arrow indicates the building I had guessed stood behind her.

Enter the indefatiguable Barry McAleenan!

A friend of this site, Barry wrote [my emphasis]: "The building that you surmised to be the backdrop for Goodland's wife is un-towered and now known as Stanton Prior [sic, no 'y']. The janitor/handyman told me that it used to be a school and is now 6 flats. Photos were taken; 1 attached. This mansion is on the Eastern side corner of Beachy Head road and Darley road and is therefore contiguous with the [now] developed Warren Hill site."

Barry attached the following image of Stanton Prior today:

Having demonstrated that is clearly not the building in the photograph above, he continued: "Meads has become very much more developed since the 1930's and many of the Edwardian Mansions (some used as schools) have been taken over by Brighton University for the healthcare degree courses required by the NHS. Lawns and gardens have been taken over by car parks and more buildings. The early 'boulevarded' elegance of Eastbourne was instigated by the then-Duke of Devonshire who lived in Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, which is why so many roads are named after Derbyshire villages or use his family names or titles."

While taking a virtual "drive" around Meads this week, courtesy of Google, I could easily see what he means.

"I'm assuming that the resolution of the original file for the photo is higher than your blog reproduction offers. The school is on the junction between Carlisle Road and Upper Carlisle road - so seems to be in an ambiguous address position. My 1973 Kelly's street directory allows that the property is 42/44 Carlisle road."

The school Barry mentions is the Moira House Girls' School.

"The long shot [above] is from Salisbury road over what are now the Eastbourne College [2011] playing fields, i.e. to the west of Carlisle road. I surmise that these would have been used by Warren Hill in the 1920's or 30's.

The school is on the junction between Carlisle Road and Upper Carlisle road - so seems to be in an ambiguous address position. My 1973 Kelly's street directory allows that the property is 42/44 Carlisle road."

When the two are juxtaposed [above], we can easily see that Barry's position in capturing the above image is not all at all far from the location from which the photograph was taken around 1930.

Barry added: "Moira House Girls' School is actually in Boston House on the 1930 OS map." It's difficult to read on the map scan, but Boston House on the map is located exactly where Moira House Girls' School is plotted on the satellite image.

Let's take a look at the area, both then [circa 1930] and now:

It's easy to see, especially on the well-labeled Google satellite image, where Salisbury Road is located, as well as Moira House to the north [click on any image to enlarge it]. It would seem that whatever event Warren Hill School was enjoying that day, it was clearly being held on those lawns just south of Moira House, west of Carlise Road. The image we see at the top of this page was actually taken while facing almost due north, and looking at the shadows, it was just before noon during the very late spring or early summer.

I "drove" around to Moira House via Google and decided to take a look back at what Miss Goodland (or whomever) would have seen while posing for that photo. Here's a look south from the street just in front of the girls' school:

She'd have been standing on the far side of the distant wall, no longer festooned with ivy, and we can see the hill upon which Warren Hill was built rising in the distance. For someone who has never been to Eastbourne to fully appreciate the undulating terrain of the area of Sussex in which we find Meads, it's instructive to consider a description by Barry: "Warren Hill would have been named after the 'side' hill to the west. My 1973 Kelly's map does not name the road across the hill, but the road is now [2011] called Warren Hill on some maps as seen on the internet. As a very crude image, imagine a splayed right hand: Beachy Head is the back of the hand and the fingers (twisted to the right) are the named side hills that surround the sea level conurbation of Eastbourne."

We can see that the festivities in the 1930 photographs would have been held after children and staff had strolled down to these level fields to the north. It's difficult for a stranger to visualize completely the landscape and its rolling qualities. This final image may give a foreign reader some idea of how uneven the landscape can be [again, click to enlarge].

Above is an image looking a bit west of due north from Beachy Head Road, captured via Google from a location just west of the original site of Warren Hill School. It provides insight as to exactly how much the intervening terrain falls away between that southern roadside location and Moira House!

Readers familiar with Eastbourne will likely find this entry a complete bore: An examination of what would be either obvious to them, or easily ascertainable during a brisk walk or short drive. The fact that I can virtually visit it all with such clarity while sitting here in the sunroom [which my wife, a Brit-com aficionado, has now dubbed the 'con-serve-a-tree'] at the back of my house in Ocala, Florida, however, still amazes me at times.

Much appreciation goes out to my 'guide,' Barry McAleenan, though, for doing the legwork and providing me the details that made possible my trips to Meads this week. Thanks to Barry, we now know that, in addition to lawns to the south of the site of the school, Warren Hill had access to, and used, fields to the north of its campus as well. It would be interesting to discover what else we might learn from other images captured on that morning in Meads, should additional photographs exist.

And, perhaps someday, I'll visit the land of my ancestors and tour England myself, on my own. Until then, I offer thanks to Google and everyone else who has made it possible for me to spend the last year and more in England--sort of!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you have the wrong present day Masters House. The perspective in the original photo is deceptive and the house is further down Beachy Head Road, number 10 just across and upa a little from the junction with Colstocks Road.
    The house you have is too far up the hill, there is no right bend further up from it and no junction on the left.