High Weald


There are many reminders of the Great War to be found in the High Weald.

There are four brothers commemorated on the war memorial in Dallington, East Sussex.  James, Charles, Thomas and Percy Harmer all took part in the Great War.  Percy died on the Somme on 3 March 1918, aged just 19, although the other three brothers all returned home.  There are many stories across the High Weald of brothers, workmates and friends who went to war in France and Belgium, some returned but many did not and their names can be found on any war memorial in any town or village across the High Weald.  In September 1914, Colonel Claude Lowther, the owner of Herstmonceux Castle and MP. for the Eskdale constituency in Cumberland, received permission from the War Office to raise a Battalion of local men. He set up recruitment offices all over Sussex, but principally in the seaside towns of Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne, Brighton, Worthing and Bognor. Recruitment started on September 9th and within two days 1100 men, from all walks of life, had volunteered, many of them from across the High Weald and were known as the Lowther's lambs. 

Take a look at a local war memorial and see if you recognise any of the names.  Some names that you may see have connections with the High Weald landscape and its industries such as Akehurst, Collins, Relfe and Thorpe, possible descendants of men involved in the Wealden Iron industry in earlier times.

There are signs of the Great War across the landscape of the High Weald, for instance practice trenches can be seen at Broadwater Warren, as well as on Ashdown Forest where there are also the remains of firing points and firing ranges.  Ashdown Forest was used by a number of regiments during the war for training the troops before they travelled to France, and there were also camps at Crowborough.  Regiments came from across the country to train in this area.  

To find out more about the Great War in your area why not visit one of the many exhibitions and displays that are being held in museums and attractions across the High Weald this autumn:

Scotney Castle are running an exhibition called Arthur's war, a personal collection from the First World War

The Eden Valley Musuem at Edenbridge are holding an exhibition on The First World War in the Eden valley 

For other events and exhibitions visit our events calendar.

Find out more about the First World War in East Sussex on a new WW1 East Sussex website.