Groom’s Cottages, Ocklynge Road


A short, easy walk around the historic heart of Old Town.  During the walk you will see many listed buildings which are indicated with an asterisk (*)  This is a short version of a more detailed historic walk which was due to be given for the 2020 Eastbourne Walk-Fest by Kevin Gordon.

We start the walk at the LAMB INN * a 16th Century pub built over a much earlier medieval undercroft. The original entrance can still be seen facing the church.

Enter the Churchyard and behind the blue noticeboard you will notice a CORNISH CROSS which, as it dates from before the Norman Conquest is one of the oldest relics you will see in East Sussex. It was bought to Eastbourne over 200 years ago.

Walk along the path between the church and the main road and enter the CHURCH * by the south door.  There is much to see in this his magnificent building and I highly recommended that you buy a church guide.  The church dates from the 12th Century and there are several interesting monuments including that of Henry Lushington who survived the Black Hole of Calcutta.  A recent survey of the interior has discovered dozens of scratched graffito many in the form of fish or conjoined circles some dating to the 14th Century. 

Leave the Church via the north door into a covered walkway which is a WAR MEMORIAL to the local soldiers who were killed in both world-wars.  Turn left and stand between the massive church tower and the Parsonage Wall.   Ahead of you in Church Lane you will see several COTTAGES * which date from the 18th Century. Peering over into the garden of the Parsonage you will see a WELL. Motcombe Stream ran through here and fed the Bourne Stream which we will see later.

Retrace your steps  and as you pass under the war memorial arch you will see the PARSONAGE * on your left.  This Tudor building was originally a manor house but was later split into three houses. Note the splendid chimneys.  Opposite OLD PARSONAGE BARN * was once a coach house and stables.

Continue along the left hand path and walk down the steps into Ocklynge Road.  Facing you is ST MARY’S HOUSE * which dates from the early 1800s. This was the home of Frederick Paviere who was a royal photographer. He took photos of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and Kaiser Wilhelm.

There are several listed buildings alongside in BAKERS ROAD * which once led to the demolished Star Brewery. Ocklynge Road was once a busy shopping Street (you must remember this area around the church was the heart of old Eastbourne.) the modern white houses on the right (Brodie Place) replaced a row of shops.

Cross the road and in set into the kerb outside 7, Ocklynge Road is a drain. If you listen carefully you will hear the sound of the BOURNE STREAM gurgling under your feet.  This is the stream that gave Eastbourne its name and for centuries was its main source of drinking water.

At the end of the road is the CROWN INN. This Victorian pub was possibly built on the site of an earlier inn, probably one of the many local pubs served by the nearby Star Brewery.

Turn left. The white building to the left of the community centre is THE OLD BAKE HOUSE * which has a Victorian facade incorporating a shop-window. The building however is much earlier and dates from the mid 1600s.

Opposite the Old Bake House are a pair of delightful Victorian of red and yellow bricks and slate roofs. These are the OLD GROOMS COTTAGES.  The grooms in question worked for the Brodie family who lived at a large house called The Gore that once stood nearby.

Return to Motcombe Road.  On your right, opposite the park, one house (7, MOTCOMBE ROAD) has the outline of the comedian Tommy Cooper who married a local girl and had a holiday home here.

Enter MOTCOMBE PARK and walk straight ahead with the bowling green on your left.  Cut into the wall on the other side of the green is a hole which is a DECOY through which Victorians would shoot the ducks in the pond. (This is sometimes hidden by plants). The path crosses a wooden ‘bridge’ under which you can hear water running. This is the start of the Bourne Stream which rises in the nearby pond. If you walk around the pond you will notice how clear it is. It is protected by a statue of Neptune.

On the other side of the pond you will see the medieval dovecote which, despite its name provided the occupants of the nearby MOTCOMBE FARMHOUSE * with a steady supply of pigeon eggs, game and guano – fertiliser for crops. The site was excavated by Heritage Eastbourne in 2019 and you will see the recently uncovered well and water-troughs nearby.

Returning to Motcombe Road you will see the Edwardian MOTCOMBE BATHS on the other side of the road. They were opened to the public in 1905 who could enjoy the large pool or, in the days when most homes did not have a bathroom, an ordinary bath. The baths are still supplied with water from a nearby spring.

Turn left into Parsonage Road and follow the road around to the left.   On the left you will see MOTCOMBE MEWS * which were previously the stables for Motcombe Farmhouse.  These were originally thatched but have now been converted into small cottages.

On the left of PARSONAGE ROAD are two rows of Victorian red-bricked terraced houses built in 1901 for the Duke of Devonshire’s gardeners.  Opposite these on the right hand side between 5 and 17, Parsonage Road, a small twitten leads you up into Bradford Street, named after a local wealthy coal merchant.

Just beyond New Place on the left is PILLORY BARN * the date of which is clearly shown over the large cart-door with the initials of the owner, Charles Gilbert. At the side of the building you will see the ventilation holes which would also allow owls to enter to catch any mice.

Continue to the end of the road where you will see the TALLY HO PUB * built in the arts-and-crafts style in 1927.  Note the attractive plaster-work showing hunting scenes. During the Second World War there was an anti-aircraft gun on the roof of what is now a pizza-shop on the side of the building.

Keep to your left and walk into the busy Church Street (A259) and cross the road at the Zebra Crossing.  Ahead of you the three story buildings were once a part of ST MARY’S HOSPITAL which was previously a workhouse and before that a cavalry barracks.

Turn right into Vicarage Road.   On your left look down BRIGHTLAND ROAD, built in the 1880s but struck by Luftwaffe bombs in March 1943.  You can still see the gap in the houses on the left where the bombs dropped.

Turn left into Greys Road. At 33, GREYS ROAD is a blue plaque to show the home of Company Sergeant-Major Nelson Carter who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross in 1916 for his bravery in action at the Battle of the Boars Head on the Somme.

Further down on the left 61, GREYS ROAD is named Barricadoes.  A barricade across the road here once separated Greys Road from ‘The Greys’ a short road named after a house which stood here.

Turn right into Borough Lane. On the corner of Vicarage Lane is PARK CLOSE, an attractive ring of pretty arts-and-crafts houses.

Where Borough Lane becomes Compton Place Road notice a tall metal STINK PIPE used to vent gasses from the sewers underneath.

Cross the road and a gap in the flint wall will take you into MANOR GARDENS. Keep to your left and you will soon see the yellow painted HERMITAGE * which was a summer house built in the late 1700s.   Follow the path around and across the lawn to THE MANOR HOUSE * built in 1776 by Henry Lushington, the Vicar of St Mary’s Church.  This was once the Towner Art Gallery but is now a private wedding-venue.

To the right of the Manor House steps lead you down into the High Street.  Look at the buildings at the bottom of Borough Lane.  The half-timbered PILGRIMS * which dates from the 1500s and is one of the oldest dwellings in Old Town although it is built over an earlier medieval cellar. It was the home of Victorian artist Augustus EGG (1816-1863) and the blue plaques shows that Charles Dickens was a visitor.

To the left is BOROUGH HOUSE * which dates from the 1700s and is of red and grey brick on a stone base. Note the ten fine sash-windows although one has been blocked off probably to avoid window tax.

You are now back at the Lamb Inn where the walk started.

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Map & Directions

Motcombe Meander

Type:Town Trail

The Lamb Inn, Church Street, Old Town, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 1HH

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Eastbourne Visitor Centre, Welcome Building, Compton Street, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4BP

01323 415415

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