What is the South Downs Schools Living History Project?

Over the next two years we are embarking on a unique partnership between The Friends of the South Downs and four West Sussex Primary schools. This project has been made possible by a £10,000 contribution by the Friends of the South Downs and a £48,700 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Our knowledge of how people lived on the South Downs is being lost. A generation who remember the South Downs prior to the introduction of intensive agriculture, hastened by the food demands of the Second World War, are now in their late 80s and 90s and these precious memories will be lost forever if they are not recorded now...

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D-Day Remembered 🔉

George Geere was one of thousands of troops who took part in the D-Day landings of June 1944. In this interview extract George explains how he was camped at Waterlooville in Hampshire, waiting for the orders to disembark. Suddenly an opportunity presented itself for George to get back to see his wife and son in Worthing before the invasion. George's ...
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Beggars of the South Downs 🔉

How tempting it is to imagine that life in South Down villages a hundred years ago or more was something of a rural idyll: yet for many people life was very hard, work was scarce, poorly paid, and unemployment a constant fear and possibility. The very poorest took to tramping the roads, seeking what work and charity they could find ...
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The Legend of Jack Upperton

Just off a lonely bridleway about a mile from the village of Warningcamp, stands a pole with a wooden plaque on it bearing the legend ‘J U 1771.’ This unexpected discovery puzzles all those who come across it, unless of course, they are familiar with the legend of Burpham Highwayman, Jack Upperton. In 1770, Jack Upperton was a farm labourer, ...
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Chris’ Blog

Winner of our Schools’ Oral History Competition

We are really delighted to announce the winner of our schools' oral history competition. Ten-year-old Buddy Liszka from Chesswood Primary School was our winner with his highly engaging interview with his former neighbour Rosie Slough. Buddy was able, in a few, well directed questions, to elicit a host of wonderful memories from Rosie. Buddy told us, "I have known Rosie ...
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Interviews and a Competition

What glorious weather we have had this week - perfect for doing outside interviews. This week we travelled to Stedham, outside of Midhurst, to interview John and Bernie Hills, whose memories go back to the Second World War. They described with both love and humour the village of their birth and the changes they had seen over the decades. We ...
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Photographs and Films

So much has happened since I last updated this blog. We have received several written memoirs from people recalling the South Downs in the days of their youth and these have now been uploaded to this website, with more to follow. You will find these under 'South Downs Memoirs' on the drop-down menu for Oral History. Alan Wheeler has sent ...
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South Downs Memoirs

It is truly exhilarating to see how much interest this project is generating. We have been sent several memoirs of life growing up in the South Downs and so we have decided to create a South Downs Memoirs heading on the website. At a time when it is not possible to conduct face-to-face interviews, these personal recollections are more than ...
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The last week has seen a flurry of activity concerning the project. Several people have contacted us saying how much they are enjoying the website. Richard Howell wrote, telling of his family's connection with the manhunt on the downs in 1934. Members of the Friends of the South Downs have come forward, suggesting people we could interview, or offering themselves ...
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