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
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
House of the Giant of Brede
by Robin Rye
"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".
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.
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
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.
by Joseph Braddock
an extract from a
piece published in the December 1965 edition of "Sussex Life"
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
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.
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.