SEDLESCOMBE PARISH MAP
Parish Map Centenary
The 1994 Sedlescombe Parish Map was commissioned by Sedlescombe Parish Council to celebrate the centenary of its first meeting on 13 December 1894.
James E Davies
The artist was 80-year-old James (Jim) E Davies of March in Cambridgeshire.
Jim had strong family connections with Sedlescombe, as his mother was born in the Village. He also spent most of his childhood summer holidays between 1920 and 1931, staying with his grandparents Alfred and Honor Freeland, at Belle Vue (later renamed Wendymill House), Chapel Hill, Sedlescombe, but only visited the Village briefly after 1931.
Apart from the time Jim spent as a prisoner of war in Poland and Bavaria, his life’s work was spent in artwork, printing, publicity and advertising, living most of the time abroad in Khartoum and Nairobi.
In Jim’s own words: “My re-introduction to Sedlescombe must have been pre-ordained, for it was certainly very strange. I happened to be talking to a friend, John Cole, in our local park in 1993 and mentioned the many happy hours I had spent as a child in a tiny village in Sussex. John asked me the name, and I said ‘Oh, you wouldn’t know it… it’s very small’. He pressed me again and I said ‘Sedlescombe, near Hastings’. To my utter amazement, he said ‘I’m going there next week’. On thinking this over later, I decided to arm him with some of my memories, from which he might be able to contact some who remembered us as children.”
“Imperfect Memories of Sedlescombe”
Jim put down his memories in the form of a sketch which he entitled “Imperfect Memories of Sedlescombe” and gave it to John Cole. As luck would have it, John was visiting the late Frank Johnson, a distant relative in Sedlescombe who, at that time, was very involved in researching Sedlescombe’s history and giving slide talks which he called “Sedlescombe Revisited”.
When Frank received the sketch, he showed it to Pauline Raymond, Clerk to Sedlescombe Parish Council, who was living next door to the house where Jim stayed as a child more than sixty years earlier.
The Parish Council’s search for an artist
Unbeknown to Frank, Pauline had just started to make enquiries on behalf of the Parish Council into who might be able to produce a Parish Map to mark the Parish Council’s centenary the following year. The arrival of Jim’s sketch appeared to be heaven-sent. Although Jim had not been to Sedlescombe since 1931, his memories of Sedlescombe remained remarkably clear, not only for the places, but also for the people who lived in the village at the time.
After receiving the Parish Council’s approval to make further investigations, Pauline and her husband Colin visited Jim in his March home in December 1993 and Jim’s affection for the Village was immediately clear. He was subsequently chosen to produce the Map. For the next six months, letters and telephone calls passed between Jim and Pauline about the content of the Map. In the spring, a draft was produced and, in the June 1994, the final Map arrived in time for its first display at the Sedlescombe Parish Council Centenary Exhibition at the end of July.
The Map is in the following form:
- the border shows 59 varieties of wildflower from the parish, all labelled, with some varieties of butterfly and fungi;
- maps showing the growth of the Village in the past hundred years;
- the text across the top is divided into ten-year sections listing achievements nationally as well as local events;
- many different spellings of the name “Sedlescombe”
- a quote about Sedlescombe from a 1910 newspaper found in Hastings Museum, which highlights the change in lifestyle during the century, but from which Sedlescombe is still recognisable;
- the new Parish Council logo by Barbara Hanson of Catsfield, the winner of the Parish Council Logo Competition, also held to celebrate the centenary.
The original map is held at the Public Record Office in Lewes, East Sussex. Prints of the map can be purchased from the Clerk, price £4. A framed print can be seen in Committee Room 2 of Sedlescombe Village Hall.