TQ4700 : Grand Avenue

near to Bishopstone, East Sussex, Great Britain

Grand Avenue
Grand Avenue
Laid out in the 1930s as the spine of a new coastal town that was to be based around Bishopstone. By the outbreak of the war this road, TQ4700 : Hill Rise, a few houses on TQ4600 : Rookery Hill, and a new station had been completed. Work stopped and would never start again after post war shortages and the new tougher 1947 Town Planning Act bought proceedings to a halt. Rookery Hill was completed by the early 1970s and the area on Hawth Hill around the station detached from the rest by the construction of the Buckle By-Pass in 1963 was also completed during the same period. However, Grand Avenue whose planners envisaged houses and other roads branching off the highway has become a country lane and a local access route for those wishing to get to the northern end of East Blatchington, now a suburb of Seaford.
Bishopstone Parish
Bishopstone is a small coastal parish that lies between Newhaven to the west, Denton to the north, Alfriston to the east and East Blatchington, later Seaford, to the south. Part of the western corner containing Brooklands was lost to Newhaven in 1934. Much of the parish is chalk downland with Rookery Hill providing a shelter for a former tidal inlet that snaked round to the current site of the village. To the west lies the brooks that once formed the River Ouse tidal estuary and the course of the river itself until the 16th century.

Its location means settlement in the area can be traced back to the Neolithic period with many archaeological finds discovering artefacts from all the major periods after and was being farmed by the time of the arrival of the Romans. The Saxons were also prominent initially basing themselves on Rookery Hill in the aftermath of their invasions before expanding in the centuries after. By the early 8th century the manor was important enough to be handed over to the Bishops of Chichester from whence the settlement derives its name, 'farm of the bishops'. They retained ownership until the dissolution when the manor reverted to the Crown who held it until the 16th century when they passed it on to the Pelham family who remained owners until the 20th century. Consequently over a 1000 years as an estate village meant change has been slow and contained and only from the 1930s did expansion begin to start with plans to build another large seaside settlement similar to nearby Peacehaven. A new station was built on Hawth Hill around which a nucleus of the new town was started and another road, Grand Avenue was laid out. However, the Second World War put a temporary halt to these plans which then ended when tougher planning laws were passed in 1947. The only building since then was in the 1960s on Rookery Hill.

The parish originally contained one hamlet, Norton, to the north of Bishopstone which developed around Norton Farm, and was large enough to possess its own chapel by the medieval period. Since then the hamlet has shrunk to a cluster of houses around the farm. Another centre of settlement sprung up in 1768 when a large tide mill opened on an old course of the River Ouse. The site was extended in the first decade of the 19th century under the ownership of William Catt who also built dwellings for his staff and took an interest in the welfare of the small community. The mill remained prosperous until the 1850s and 60s when the development of Newhaven harbour cut off access for boats and though a new station and siding was provided the long decline of the mill set in, assisted by a ruinous storm of 1875 and the eventual truncating of Mill Creek. The mill was closed in 1883 and demolished in 1900. However the community remained and the population numbered 75 in 1911 no doubt employed in the docks or other industries in nearby Newhaven. In 1920 the site was taken over and used for stabling racehorses and Chailey Heritage built a small hospital nearby. However, by the 1930s all of the houses were declared unfit for habitation and much of the population moved out in 1937. The last inhabitant, a member of the Home Guard, left in July 1940. The remaining buildings were demolished by the military though some survived to 1947.

The River Ouse ran through the parish during the medieval period as a shingle bank running west to east diverted the mouth away from its original spot under Castle Hill. The course often shifted due to the movement of the shingle and may have ran as far east as the side of Rookery Hill. A combination of storms and the inning of the Laughton Levels and Brooks further upstream which reduced the power of the river's scour at the mouth had rendered Seaford useless as a port and a new cut was made at the old Roman mouth in the 16th century though this too was soon pushed eastwards by longshore drift and followed the course of Mill Creek entering the sea wherever the river was strong enough to push through the shingle. The mouth was recut permanently in the 18th century. Between Rookery Hill and Hawth hill is a flat valley that was once the location of a tidal creek which ran up to a few wharves near the village centre. This had largely disappeared by the end of the 16th century though the former sea cliff can still be made out.

The main road running through the parish is the A259 part of an ancient route that follows the eastern side of the river to Seaford and is now the main road between that town and nearby Newhaven, and originally headed south around Hawth Hill and ran along the coast. However, constant closures during rough weather and a narrow bridge induced the council to construct the Buckle Bypass in 1963. Heading north eastwards off this highway is the road to the village itself though the current route is originally the drive to Bishopstone Place which was demolished in 1831. This lane continues north of the village to Norton whereupon it becomes a bridleway through Poverty Bottom. An older route containing that bridleway, the lane between Norton and Bishopstone and another bridleway known as Silver Lane which continues on to the neighbouring village of East Blatchington was the medieval through route.

The railway arrived in 1864 as an extension from Newhaven to Seaford and a station was built at Tide Mills which served the parish as a whole. This was superseded by a new station opened in 1939 which was designed to serve the new community planned for the Downs in the immediate vicinity, though the old station continued on to 1942 having been renamed Bishopstone Beach. An hexagonal gun emplacement was added to the roof of the new station on the outbreak of the war.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Simon Carey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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TQ4700, 121 images   (more nearby)
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Date Taken
Sunday, 26 August, 2012   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 28 August, 2012
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Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 4762 0051 [10m precision]
WGS84: 50:47.1226N 0:5.5667E
Photographer Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 4732 0020
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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