Friday, October 23, 2015

Eastbourne Lighthouse- Sailor's Friend


The beautiful red and white striped lighthouse at Beachy Head in Eastbourne, England is no longer in use.  It remains at the base of the cliffs and is often photographed by those who walk over the South Downs. (If you would like to know more about the history of the lighthouses in this area, including Belle Tout which is now a luxury Bed and Breakfast, you may read this book, "The Story of the Beachy Head Lighthouse" by Rob Wassell.)
In past centuries, there are stories of people deliberating using lights to entice ships to wreck upon the coast so as to plunder the ships. (I think I first learned of this practice from a book by Daphne DuMaurier, "Jamaica Inn.") The white cliffs are easily seen in daylight in good weather, but the nights could be treacherous in storms or fog.  Some inhabitants of the area would walk with lights upon the cliff edge or else attach lights to grazing livestock and the ships at sea would think that the moving lights would be another ship and therefore, the water would be safe for passage. By the time they recognized the looming land mass, it would be too late and the ships would run aground. (Of course, not all shipwrecks were  caused by plunderers, but were honestly wrecked by the mariners   not being able to see the shoreline.)
Jonathan Darby became the Parson of Parish of East Dean in 1706. It was his job to bury the bodies of those who had washed up on the shore. He realized that a fixed light was needed and so, incredibly and amazingly, he climbed up and dug a hole into the chalky, crumbling cliff-side and put a light there on stormy nights. (This cave was 20 feet above the high water mark.) He also created a chimney that led up from the coast and made ledges where he could also set the lights.  Parson Darby died in October 26, 1726 and is buried in Friston churchyard with this engraved upon his tombstone: "He was the sailor's friend." 
 This is the kind of person that I admire  - one who sees a great need,  goes straight to work and does something about it! Shining a light, indeed!





37 comments:

  1. Aye in many parts of the coast shipwrecking was how they made their money. They were indeed poor then. It happened worldwide also.

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    1. I read book about a shipwreck in Cornwall once and I have never forgotten it. If I can get myself organized, I will do a post about it!

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  2. I didn't know the origin of the lighthouse. I knew about people deliberately crashing ships with lights but I thought that came with lighthouses. He sounds like a pretty great man and while I am sad to hear that the lighthouse is going out, I suppose there's far less need of one today.

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    1. The Sovereign Light Tower is about 8 miles from the shore but from what I understand, it is fully automated. On a clear day, you can see it very well.

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  3. I do love lighthouses and think they do represent safety from the storms. We have several here along the shores of Lake Erie, which is the nearest body of water close to where I live.

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    1. Would love to see the lighthouses along the shores of Lake Erie! I have never been to that part of the country, maybe one day!

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  4. Hi Kay

    The next time you are in the UK we must take you and Rick to the Friston Forest (just beyond East Dean) and/or the South Downs between Lewes and Alfriston.

    As ever, it was really good to see you both this time.

    Safe journey home,

    Henry

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    1. Wonderful to see you and your parents too, Henry! I know that the Friston Forest is one of your favorite spots, would love to visit it with you and Sarah one day.
      Take care, REBEL YELL!! :-)

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    2. Hi Kay

      Many thanks to you both for the book. As an indicator of how much I am enjoying it, I am just shy of page 400!

      The pub in East Dean referred to below is called The Tiger. Nearby is the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre which has just about every breed going. And from 3 March onwards ( no idea how they can be so precise!) you can see lambs coming into the world. In between is a cricket pitch so all very English.

      J and H are similarly taken with their books and asked me to pass on their best.

      Am at the De la Warr Pavilion tomorrow to see Nils Lofgren.

      Take Care

      H

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    3. So happy you like the book, I guessed correctly that you would!
      The lambs! Oh, I have always wanted to see that in the spring! Ever since I read the books by James Herriot I have loved them! And to see the men dressed in their cricket whites and on that gorgeous green grass is such a picture!
      Give your Mum& Dad a big hug from me! So happy they liked the little bits we gave them too!
      I love the De la Warr Pavillon, I will always remember as being bathed in sunlight and seeing that lovely sunset with you!
      AND having tea at the Sovereign Light Café! Wonderful!
      Give Sarah our love!! ALL WILL BE WELL...don't forget it! xx

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    4. Am at the Pavilion tonight to see Nils Lofgren. Was last there to see Don McLean in May.

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  5. Great post, Kay, including great photos. I seem to remember there being a nice pub in East Dean...

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    1. Thanks, Mike!
      I love how the pubs are so very close to the churches!

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  6. A fascinating story and great pictures, Kay! Parson Darby was a true, if mostly unsung, hero indeed.

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    1. Thanks, Meike! Richard took some more photos of the lighthouse that I think could be made into post cards, that are just that good!!

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  7. I enjoyed this post very much, Kay! I knew that some people deliberately lured ships to obtain plunder, but I didn't realize the extent of the practice. I LOVE lighthouses, and the sound of their foghorns blaring in the fog is the soundtrack of much of my childhood. I enjoyed your rainy and sunny photos of Stone Mountain. I still laugh over the fact that the first cross section I ever drew was in my first geo 100 course and it was through Stone Mountain! But it never was real until I saw it through your eyes. I usually shared the original "Jungle Book" movie with my kiddos. It made a great emergency sub plan, if I were very sick. And I always seemed to get really sick, even landing in the hospital, each year. A teacher could get all sorts of activities and learning out of it, it was easy to pick up and run with, and the kids loved the movie and its music. Have a lovely weekend! Don't worry, visit when you can; I'll be happy to see you when you are able. Take care!

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    1. Hey Louise!
      Great to see your comment here! I love that you had Stone Mountain in your college course! And for you to say that it wasn't real for you until you read my blog just makes my day, thank you!
      Let me know if you see Jungle Book and what you think!
      I love the way you write your blog, Louise, and I thank you visiting mine! x

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  8. Such a beautiful spot - thanks for sharing. Wish I was there right now!

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    1. I really am American to the bone but you may understand why I say I have an English Heart!

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  9. I like this kind of story so much. It is an entertaining bit of history. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Emma. Glad you think so too.

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  10. What a wonderful thing for him to do! We should all have someone on our side like that!

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    1. I know! For him to climb and place those lights into a cave that he had dug himself, that is an amazing story to me, I wish I could make a movie about him.

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  11. I have read Rob Wassell's- The Story of Beachy Head - a while ago now but found it very interesting.
    Loved that post - reminded me so much of from whence I came.
    Next time you are in England do let me know. We miss your visit each time by such a small margin and it would be so nice to meet up for a coffee.
    It was lovely meeting Pauline from the Paddock the other day at Graham's house -
    I can now put a voice to the name.
    Thank you so much for the present. It was a lovely surprise and I am writing to you shortly.
    Safe journey home x

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    1. I am glad you got the little package! It was just my way of thanking you for giving me the Northern Lights! Wish I could have met with you, did I just miss you in Eastbourne? That is just typical! Wish I could have met Pauline too!
      You know, if you had your own blog, you could have a lot of interesting posts about Sussex AND the Isle of Lewis! Just saying!! :-)
      Thank YOU for your friendship! xx

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  12. I remember reading Jamaica Inn, too. It was an amazing story. England has so much history and I loved this little lesson. xo Diana

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    1. Oh, you know me, I am full of stories like this one, if only I can remember to post about them! AND I just saw the old movie Jamaica Inn recently with Maureen O'Hara and I just learned that she died this weekend...she was really beautiful in that film.

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  13. I love lighthouses, Kay! Perhaps because of D.E. Stevenson and her family....Her early book, The Story of Rosabella Shaw, has a bit about wreckers in it.........

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    1. I think you have written of your love for D.E. Stevenson before, so I thank you for mentioning it here on this comment for others! I think I could live in a lighthouse, I am round enough! HA HA!!

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  14. It looks so lonely perched there...sturdy, but lonely.

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    1. Yes, and even though there is great beauty there you can sense the sadness due to the fact that many people will go there to jump off the cliff to end their lives. There is a row of crosses that have been placed on the edge. So sad.

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  15. What a great story, Kay - practical Christianity in action!

    Such a beautiful coast.

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    1. Glad you liked this story too. I love to find out about stories like this and post about them.
      It IS a beautiful coast. You would also love to ride your bike in this area, Sue, there are so many spots to stop and admire the scenery.!

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  16. I love lighthouses and particularly the stripy ones. A friend made me a DVD of clips about them for my birthday and there are some real beauties with amazing stories to tell like this one. x

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    1. Your birthday DVD sounds like such a great gift! And do tell us all about the lighthouse stories on your blog, you know I would love that!! xx

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  17. I'm always sorry when I think lighthouses are not used any more. they seemed such a great idea, simple, fun and offering a very different kind of lifestyle to the unusual people who operated them!

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    1. They had a campaign a few years ago "Save Our Stripes" that raised money to preserve the lighthouse. I am glad that they keep the lighthouse carefully preserved, it would be a shame to let it fall into disrepair.

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