The exhibition from the RPS Archives held January 20-28 proved a runaway success. Over 400 visitors came to browse through the many fascinating items assembled by Michael Laslett, our Archivist, which included many items never displayed before. These included the fortunes of the Taylor family and many other village “characters”, as well all the detailed study and photographs of St Margrets’s graveyard.
Sadly, due to ill-health, Michael was unable to give the afternoon tours of the village he had planned, but they may be scheduled later in the year. He is to be congratulated on bringing Rottingdean Past to life so well.
After over a year of negotiations, the Society has finally signed a new 25 year lease for the Windmill with Brighton & Hove City Council. As discussed at The AGM, the terms are similar to the previous lease, with responsibility for the maintenance of the fabric of the Mill, and we have a reserve fund set aside for this purpose. Crucially, however, we now have a six-month break clause allowing the Society to withdraw from the Lease should circumstances change in the future.
The earlier lease, drawn up in 1922 between the then owner, The Marquis of Abergavenny, and four prominent local individuals, Sir George Lewis (owner of The Grange), Penelope Lawrence (headmistress of Roedean), Robert Lang (Headmaster of St Aubyns) and Rev Lewis Varey (Vicar of St Margaret’s), can be read here.
NEW WINDMILL CONTRACT APPROVED
The annual meeting was held on Thursday 3rd November 7.30 at the Whiteway Centre. The Chairman reviewed the activity of the Society over the past year, with record numbers attending the Windmill Open Days and over 7300 visitors to the Grange Gallery and Museum. The most important item, however, was approval of a new lease that the Society has negotiated with BHCC to extend our contract for the Windmill for a further 25 years. This item had received general approval at the last AGM in Oct 2016, but the Society has since then taken full legal advice and carried out a full up-to-date survey of the Windmill, before agreeing the final terms. The new contract crucially has a break clause of six months, which gives the Society much greater flexibility in the future.
You can read the draft minutes of the AGM here and download a full copy of the Annual Report here.
Sue Backhouse, Glenda Vincent and her team of volunteers celebrate another year of success with a SILVER GILT AWARD in the S and SE In Bloom competition. This year they did better than last year, but were just a tantalising two points short of a Gold award, which would have put them in the same league as the likes of Parham House, Hever Castle, and Osbourne House! The judges were particularly complimentary about the planting and maintenance of the garden with retention of some of the unique features created by Gertrude Jekyll. Unfortunately we have no record of the original plans at the Grange but the Archive team are going to try to identify them by searching the Archives of other libraries.
The Volunteering team meet once a month on a Thursday, and if you would like to join them please email Sue Backhouse at email@example.com
James Trollope will be discussing his fascination with this popular artist of the pre-war years, who lived at Seaford. He writes:
“I bought an Eric Slater colour woodcut of Seaford Head seven years ago because it’s a lovely image of my home town but could find little about the artist’s life so started my own research. One thing led to another!”
First an exhibition at Towner in Eastbourne, then a book (“Slater’s Sussex”) followed by a Brighton and Hove bus being named after him, a Slater Trail (a 2 hour walk taking in views which inspired him) and his work being appraised on the Antiques Roadshow (among other things).
The Talk, held at the Whiteway Centre, Rottingdean, 7-9pm, will be followed by refreshments and a guided tour of the exhibition
The Mayor of Brighton, Cllr Mo Moffat, opened the refurbished William and Mabel Nicholson Studio at the Whiteway Centre on Sept 23rd, in the presence of fellow Councillors, the Headmaster of St Margaret’s School, Simon Hateley, and Rafaele Appleby, Nicholson’s great-granddaughter who was exhibiting at the Grange Gallery. For a full account of the event click here.
This has been a busy two weeks for Rafaele, who also ran four workshops for St Margaret’s and Longhill Schools. She discusses her visit here and the impact of her artistic heritage in an interview with Marian Philips, which you can read in full here.
Over the last few months, the Society has worked closely with the Whiteway Centre to renovate the Nicholson Studio, which was once part of the Grange Gardens, but now lies in the grounds of St Margaret’s School. It was built in 1912, and was designed by their friend, the internationally acclaimed architect, Edwin Lutyens. It has a fine north-facing window, so vital to artists for providing consistent light without direct sunlight.
Over the years, the link to William Nicholson and Lutyens was largely forgotten. Now that its origins have been rediscovered, the Rottingdean Preservation Society have renovated the exterior of the building, and, with the kind permission of the School, plan to use The Nicholson Studio for community events.
The Re-Dedication of the Nicholson Studio is to be celebrated by a Study Day on the Nicholson family of artists organised jointly with the Whiteway Centre, in which Rafaele Appleby, Nicholson’s great-granddaughter, herself an artist, will talk about the important contributions the women of the family made, including Winifred and Nancy. It will end with an official opening by the Mayor of Brighton, Cllr Mo Marsh at the Whiteway Centre on September 23rd at 3.30pm.
Details of both these events can be obtained from the Whiteway Centre.
The RPS stand brought a little of the Grange Gallery and Museum down to their stand at this year’s annual Village Fair, thanks to hard work by the Art Gallery organiser, Anne-Sara Odor, and Mike Laslett, the Society’s Archivist. There was considerable interest in both in the artwork and the selection of items from the archive, especially the old postcards of the village. But the highlight of the stand was the ‘painting in a day’ by Rob Upward, where he invited visitors to contribute, sometimes with surprising results – the windmill is portrayed by a young girl in red, obviously her favourite colour!
Grange Gardens July 7-9th 2017
Synergy theatre delighted audiences during the three days that they staged “The Importance of Being Earnest” in The Grange Gardens last weekend. The weather was perfect, so that the players did not have to contend with the elements, and Oscar Wilde’s play proved an ideal choice to entertain in the delightful walled upper garden. The cast did justice to Wilde’s quick wit, and achieved much with very little in the way of staging. This is the first time that the Society has used the Grange gardens for outdoor theatre and judging by the audience response we hope to repeat this again next year.
The Gallery has continued to be part of the Open Houses events run during the Brighton Festival, and has been very popular with more than 1000 visitors last year. This year we are holding a number of Meet The Artist evenings for our members and their guests which we hope will be popular. These are all at 6.30 at The Grange and include wine and refreshments. Come along and bring your friends!
Wed May 10th 6.30pm – Bob Webzell (photographer) on The Maasai
Wed May 17th 6.30pm – John Plater (wood-turner) on Talking to Wood
Wed May 24th 6.30pm – Mike Hatchard (artist and musician) on The Music of an Artist (with music!)
Children’s events are also planned during the month and, for your added entertainment, Los Gringos will be performing in the Grange Gardens on Sun 14th May from 1.15-4pm, something for the whole family!
We have more events during the summer, including a performance of The Importance of Being Ernest in the Grange Gardens details will be posted nearer the time.