Modern-day Bayeux

Despite a rich history spanning more than 16 centuries, Pevensey is known primarily as a pretty holiday destination.

An ambitious new project aims to change this.

Online portal the Bay Life Tapestry will weave together text, sound, images and video to present a portrait of the Sussex village from Roman times up to the present day. Local web developer Simon Montgomery is leading the project, which will see more than 4,000 pieces of material collated by a team of volunteer editors in just a year.

“This is, without question, one of the most exciting projects I’ve been involved in to date,”

he says. “I don’t think anyone has tried to create a timeline on this scale with volunteers and we’re excited about what it could do for Pevensey and the Bay, both locally and nationally.”

Montgomery has worked on numerous community and heritage projects over the years and came up with the concept for Bay Life while on a train to Pembrokeshire to discuss plans to create a timeline for the Welsh town of Narberth.

“The idea was that the timeline would scroll horizontally online so people could browse the history at a glance. It suddenly dawned on me that the same approach would be perfect for Pevensey.”

Pevensey was the landing spot for William the Conqueror when he invaded in 1066 and the village is mentioned in the Bayeux Tapestry. Montgomery’s vision is to create a modern response to the tapestry. The project will start in Roman times, moving through the story of Pevensey Castle, the Norman Invasion, Pevensey’s Elizabethan role as one of the “Cinque Ports”, tales of smuggling in the 19th century and into the present day with Pevensey Bay as a holiday destination.

The idea is to collate information already available online, rather than attempting to transcribe hard documents. Montgomery has been astounded by how often the village crops up in national resources.

“It really is extraordinary. If you cut through the layers of local history, it’s like looking at the rings on a tree trunk of the whole country.”

Information will be crossreferenced to build a vivid picture of a particular period; for example, the history of Pevensey Castle could be supplemented with images of its artistic representation by figures such as John Constable, or a page of poet Christina Rossetti’s diary might accompany material relating to Eastbourne Road, where she lived for a time during the 19th century.

Montgomery and district councillor Dianne Dear, who is helping lead the project, are confident they can find, edit and collate the information over the next 12 months with the help of their team of volunteers.

“It’s certainly ambitious but the response has been phenomenal,”

says Montgomery.

“We’ve had a lot of offers of help and various people getting in touch with relevant research and information.

There’s never been a resource like this locally and it really seems to have captured people’s imaginations.”

The project will go live at the end of this month and is expected to be completed by the same time next year.

* If you are interested in getting involved, call 07851 311782, email info@pevenseybaylife.co.uk or visit pevenseybaylife.co.uk, where regular updates and information will be posted.

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