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In Your Street: Stanmer, the council estate with difference
Residents of beautiful Stanmer Village have been dealing with the aftermath of a popular music festival for two months now.
Nearly 20,000 revellers flocked to their precious park for the Shakedown event in October and, according to one resident, left the site as a “mud bath”.
They’re angry and disappointed – and after The Argus paid a visit, we can see why they want to protect their home so much.
A crisp November’s day is perhaps the perfect time of year to dwell on Stanmer’s qualities. As you take a walk into the village, a half-frozen pond glistens in the winter sun.
The village name is believed to derive from the Saxon word ‘stan,’ meaning stony, and ‘mere’, meaning pond. Giving credibility to this theory, a large number of Sarsen stones surround the pond and it is probably for this that the name was given in 765 AD, although the site by this point was home to a monastery.
The Church held ownership of the estate until around 1713 when Sir Henry Pelham, later known as the Earl of Chichester, snapped it up for a cool £7,500.
Henry ordered the renowned French architect Nicholas Dubois to construct the iconic Stanmer House in 1722.
In its time, the building has been home to the Pelham family, was used as a military building during the Second World War and even succumbed to serious weather damage during the Great Storm of 1987.
The Grade I listed mansion sits in the centre of the above mentioned Stanmer Park, which was given the title of ‘a park with special historic interest’ by English Heritage in 1983.
Stanmer is effectively a council-owned village. In 1947, Brighton Council bought the 5,000-acre Stanmer estate from the Earl of Chichester’s trustees for around £225,000. Today the council owns all but three of the listed properties, including 18 in the village street.
Ann Markwick has been living in the village for 31 years. She said: “Brighton Council wanted the water supplies and for the people of Brighton in perpetuity as a place of rest and relaxation.
“The earls who lived here always intended that Stanmer should be given to Brighton.”
Another resident, Jamie Hooper, 60, is one of the few to live in a privately owned home.
He added: “I was the first newcomer to the village for many years when I moved in 1999.
“All the residents were people that worked for the council or the farmers, or who were related to them in some way.
“There are just three private properties now and I have the luck of having one of them. There have been no house sales or purchases for many years and it’s the same situation now.”
If all the residential properties in Stanmer Village were privately owned there would probably be a never-ending waiting list of potential buyers, such is the beauty of the surroundings and apparent ease of life.
When the area isn’t populated with party-loving festival goers, an abundance of ramblers and dog walkers can be found filling their lungs with the fresh South Downs air.
Perfect retreat After a refreshing stroll, they duly descend on the popular Stanmer Park Tea Rooms for a hot drink. It’s the perfect retreat from the frosty elements.
Caroline Li, 51, is the manager of the tea rooms. She came to Sussex five years ago from the sunnier climes of California. She said: “I’ve been in the trade for about 30 years and decided to take my work with me to the UK.
“Compared to California the village is like night and day. I miss the sun of the states but I don’t miss the city.
“It’s a great place to experience new ventures. It’s beautiful here. I open my window in the morning and am lucky enough to get to see the horses. In Los Angeles that doesn’t exist.”
If you would like your street featured, call Ben James on 01273 544536 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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