Friday, 3 June 2011


Rottingdean is a village just to the east of Brighton, but which comes under the Brighton and Hove administrative area. In the 18th and early 19th centuries the village was a hive of smuggling activity, the contraband being stored in a maze of underground cellars below the High Street. Rottingdean’s most prominent landmark is the old windmill located high above the village on Beacon Hill, so named because it was here that a beacon was lit to warn of the approaching Spanish Armada. The mill dates from 1802, and continued to grind corn until 1881. It is now looked after by the local Preservation Society.

Probably the most famous resident of Rottingdean was the writer Rudyard Kipling, who moved there with his uncle the painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones in 1897. It was there that he wrote one of his most famous works, the Just So Stories. He also wrote “A Smuggler’s Song” after moving away from the village, which was probably inspired by the aforementioned smuggling trade. His old house is adjacent to the gardens named after him, Kipling Gardens. It appears he had a rocky relationship with his neighbours. In 1902 the Sunday Vindicator reported that Rottingdean residents were outraged when Kipling’s aunt displayed a pro-Boer banner, which “provoked a tumultuous assemblage of the villagers”, who were met by Kipling with “the use of sundry forceful expletives”. This incident made him so unpopular with the locals that he moved to a new home near Tunbridge Wells, making the excuse that he was fed up with the large numbers of his fans descending on him in Rottingdean.

Map of the area.

File:Beach Huts, Rottingdean - - 227900.jpg
Beach huts at Rottingdean. Photo by David Eldridge, via Wikimedia Commons

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