Ancestors of Mandy Willard

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Brede, Sussex


The following photographs were taken on Tuesday 17 May 2005, whilst on a walk with the Bexhill Ramblers:


The River Brede, just south of the village, looking east from Brede Bridge

Looking south along Doleham Ditch near to where it joins the River Brede

Looking south towards Crowham Manor from the road leading from the Church to the Waterworks

Many thanks to Angela and Ann for organising and leading the walk.

(Click on the images for a larger view.)


My most recent connection to the parish of Brede was with the baptism of a 5x Great Grandmother, Sarah Fuller in 1738.  She married Thomas Whiteman in 1765 in Udimore and that is where she raised her children and was buried.  Her parents were John Fuller and Elizabeth Longley who had married in 1736 in Sedlescombe, Sussex, but had their children baptised in Brede between 1737 and 1755.  John was most probably also baptised in Brede in 1713.  Elizabeth was buried in Brede in 1767 when she was described as the wife of rather than the widow of John.



The House of the Giant of Brede

by Robin Rye
reproduced from "Sussex Life" May 1965, Vol.1, No.1



Brede Place, the home of Mr. and the Hon. Mrs. Roger Frewen, is said to be haunted.  Only recently Sir Shane Leslie, who is related to the Frewen family, told members of Old Hastings Preservation Society about an eerie experience he had some sixty years ago while staying at Brede Place.  Certainly it is not difficult to imagine that this 14th century Manor House, which was originally called Ford Place, because it stood close to a "fording place", is haunted.

Perhaps the slow, heavy steps on the stairs, which Sir Shane Leslie said he had heard on that night in 1905, were those of Sir Goddard Oxenbridge, the 16th century knight who owned Brede Place.  Sir Goddard is remembered as The Giant of Brede, and horrific stories are associated with his name.  In actual fact he appears to have been a God-fearing and peace-loving man.  It was he who, among other things, added the Tudor porch to the house, as well as a two-storied tower at the south-west corner of the great hall.  His tomb can be found in St. George's Church, Brede.  In his Will he directed "that over same Tombe shall be hanged my coote armour and other things a apertyne to the Order of Knighthoth".

Sir Goddard's daughter, Elizabeth, married Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, and at one time she had the somewhat onerous task of being governess to the Princess Elizabeth.  Brede Place remained the home of the Oxenbridge family until 1616, and ninety-two years later it was bought by Sir Edward Frewen, in whose family it has remained ever since.  However, for the greater part of the 18th century, and for part of the 19th as well, the old house fell on evil times and became so dilapidated that it was scarcely fit for habitation.  Smugglers were quick to see the advantages this neglected building offered and they used it as a storage place for contraband goods.  No doubt its ghostly reputation enhanced its usefulness in the eyes of "The Gentlemen".

It was not until 1872, when Mr. Benjamin Marriott took a long lease of the estate, that Brede Place began to restored to its former glory.  Unhappily, Mr. Marriott died soon after acquiring the lease, but the restoration work went on.  Coventry Patmore, the Victorian poet, who lived at Hastings, visited Brede Place, and Stephen Crane, the American writer and war correspondent, whose book "The Red Badge of Courage", a story of the American Civil War, is a classic, lived there for a short time towards the end of his brief life.

The Frewens returned to their old home at the beginning of the century and Mr. Moreton Frewen carried on the work of restoration.  His daughter became the well-known sculptress Clare Sheridan, whose works, including a bust of her famous cousin, the late Sir Winston Churchill, and those of Gandhi, Lenin and Trotsky, can be seen by visitors to Brede Place.  As well as an Ave Maria statue in the chapel at Brede Place, Clare Sheridan has a splendid work, Our Lady of Brede, which she sculpted out of an oak grown in Brede Park, in Brede parish church.

The present owner, Mr. Roger Frewen, spares no effort in preserving this fine example of a medieval Manor House, which is open to visitors certain times of the year.

The writer readily admits his indebtedness to "Brede", by Edmund Austen, and to "An Illustrated Guide to the Church of St. George, Brede", by the Rector, the Rev. P. W. Hill, and also thanks to Mr. Roger Frewen for his kind co-operation.



Some Sussex Ghosts

by Joseph Braddock
an extract from a piece published in the December 1965 edition of "Sussex Life"


Brede Place (photograph from the December 1965 edition of "Sussex Life"Sussex is quite as rich in ghost stories as other counties.  Seven miles from Rye, Brede Place, a lyric in stone and brick, has been described by Sir Edwin Lutyens as the most interesting and haunted inhabited house in Sussex.  Mrs. Clare Sheridan (the sculptor cousin of Sir Winston Churchill and the owner of Brede Place during the war) has written movingly about the ghosts in her sensitive book, "My Crowded Sanctuary"; of Martha, of the tree spirits and of Father John, for the house is said to have been built upon the site of a religious shrine.  But here I will not trespass, for her pages must remain her sanctuary.

Before she married, Mrs. Sheridan was a Frewen, and (except for the years 1947-1950) the house has belonged to the Frewen family since Sir Edward Frewen bought it in 1708.  The present owner, Mr. Roger Frewen, who is Clare Sheridan's nephew, gave me not only some news of the ghosts, but told me that he felt his presence in Brede Place was certainly approved of, perhaps blessed, by the spirits of his ancestors.  Especially he felt this was so of his grandmother, Mrs. Moreton Frewen (one of the Miss Jeromes of New York before she married, and the sister of Lady Randolph Churchill) who had restored and beautified the house between 1900 and her death in 1935.  About Christmas 1954 a psychic manifestation of approval and benevolence was experience by Roger Frewen which was conveyed by the pleasant odour.  During the night he rose and went into an adjoining room now a bathroom that had once served as a lumber-room for the personal belongings of is grandmother.  As he opened the door he smelt a strong wave of violet perfume, unforgettably the scent his grandmother used, the sensory impact of which was accompanied by a moving confidence that this was the old lady's way of conveying her delight in all the was doing for Brede Place.

Mrs. Moreton Frewen once said that when they first moved back to Brede, after their house in Ireland had been burned during the "Troubles", she had invited her sister, Lady Randolph Churchill, to pay her a visit.  She put her in the haunted bedroom.  Next morning Lady Randolp left in a hurry, saying she never would enter Brede Place again.  But Sir Winston came and slept there and didn't mind!

Mr. Roger Frewen lent me an interesting letter, with his permission to reproduce it in my book "Haunted Houses", written to his grandmother by A. P. Sinnett, who was a vice-president of the Theosophical Society.  He visited Brede Place with an occult friend in 1910 to investigate, and later wrote to Mrs. Frewen about "the astral frequenters" - "The room I slept in is frequented by a lady who died there suddenly under tragic circumstances about 150 years ago.  She is in no way hostile to you or anybody, but she sometimes tries to manifest herself and does occasionally give rise to noises in the effort to materialise.

To be more up-to-date Mr. Roger Frewen has told me that from May 1 to 3, 1953, during the Easter holidays, a friend of his and her schoolboy son, aged 15, from Harrow, stayed with him.  the boy woke up at 2 a.m. to see, standing in the bedroom a lady with very high shoulders wearing a large floating dress.  At first he thought it was his mother; but when he saw that she was nobody living, though she looked fairly solid, he was terrified and hid under the bedclothes, where they found him in the morning still curled up and buried.