Book reveals people who shaped county

Injured first world war soldiers at Brighton.
Injured first world war soldiers at Brighton.
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LARGER than life and fascinating, a host of great Sussex personalities are recalled in a new book by Alexandra Ayton.

Sussex Remembered is published by Pomegranate Press (www.pomegranate-press.co.uk at £7.99 (ISBN: 978 1 907242 11 3).

Covering the 19th and 20th centuries, Sussex Remembered celebrates the men and women who have helped shape the county’s recent history.

Alexandra’s cast includes writers as diverse as Rudyard Kipling, Patience Strong, Patrick Hamilton, Enid Bagnold and G K Chesterton; characters such as Mad Jack Fuller and the ‘Red Indian’ conservationist Grey Owl; and the inventors Magnus Volk and John Logie Baird.

You can also read about a Sussex missionary martyred in Africa, a renowned healer who foresaw the 9/11 atrocity and the man who created the flying car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Alexandra, for whom the starting point was a series of magazine articles she wrote, explained: “As the title suggests, the book focuses on both major events and fascinating characters who have made a big impact on Sussex as we know it today.

“For railway enthusiasts, there are chapters on the Balcombe Viaduct and the navvies who built it, Magnus Volk and his electric railway and the Brighton Belle, that most glamorous of trains.

“For those interested in education, Canon Nathaniel Woodard, founder of Lancing, Ardingly and Hurstpierpoint Colleges and Dame Grace Kimmins, founder of Chailey Heritage School are featured.

“For the Indian community and history buffs interested in Sussex at war, there are chapters on the Indian soldiers who fought for us in the Great War, ‘Dr Brighton’ and the medics who treated them at the Royal Pavilion, the Chattri on the South Downs where less fortunate Indian ‘warriors’ were cremated according to their own religious customs and Lloyd George and the Armistice Talks which took place in secret at Danny, the Elizabethan mansion just outside Hurstpierpoint.

“National figures such as the late Queen Mother and the little princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, the Queen’s dressmaker Sir Norman Hartnell and Rudyard Kipling are all included in a concise and informative, easy-to-read style with illustrations when time is at a premium for the average reader.”

The idea grew out of the magazine articles when Alexandra, who lives at Lindfield, found herself wanting to range more widely in the subjects she was choosing.

“I enjoyed doing what I did. I went to various places. I had the fun of going everywhere and meeting the various people.

“I have already been asked about a second volume. I have only just got this one and it is new to me, but if I had the time, I would not dismiss the idea of doing a second one.”