Eastbourne wanderings – a random Battleaxe day out

We have been to Eastbourne loads of times, but somehow never get familiar with the place.  


Elm tree in Eastbourne

    It is larger than one might think, and very sprawling. After umpteen visits we still don’t understand how the different bits of the town fit together, and get lost trying to find the quickest ways from place to place. I can’t cover it all in one blog post, this is just a random outing. I am missing out the obvious things like theatres, sea front, bandstand and pier.  It also, like Brighton, has elm trees….
    We started off  with coffee in the Towner Gallery. I have written plenty of posts about previous visits, and how it compares with the Jerwood in Hastings, so I won’t go on about it. This time, there was an exhibition of truly enormous monochrome sea paintings by John Virtue. We quite liked them, but after a bit, seen one and you’d seen them all… Here’s an example.

John Virtue – seascape in the Towner

     Then there was work by Ori Gersht, an Israeli who photographs places where really horrible things have happened. Philosopher and I were much struck by ‘The Forest’, a film made in Ukraine, in a remote clearing where many Jews were shot in WW2.  At first, the forest seemed beautiful and tranquil, but then trees crash down, one after another, some silently, some with deafening crashes. I read that it relates to:
     ‘If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?’
    This is more Philosopher’s department.

     Finally, we inspected the new Ravilious room, which showcases the Towner’s large collection of Ravilious’ works.
     One of my favourite things about the Towner is the view out of the window to the tennis lawns.

Looking out of the Towner window

     Next, a walk around some of the nearby streets, looking at the little shops. As mentioned above, we never seem to go the same way twice, usually get lost and have to go scurrying back to the car because the parking money is running out. I think the area is called ‘Little Chelsea’, but am not sure of its boundaries  This time we went up a road we had never been along before, Cornwallis Terrace, and  found interesting places and some nice looking cafes. I bought a pig mug in a homewares shop I can’t remember the name of, then we went to the Emma Mason Gallery, which specialises in English prints. I loved this fold-out hare card.

Hare card by Mark Heald

     Round the corner into South Street, and to the Henry Paddon Gallery, which we have visited several times before, and always enjoy. Among many lovely things he sells pieces by Allister Malcolm, a glass sculptor who we encountered years ago at the Broadfield House Glass Museum in Stourbridge. Then, we bought a fish flask, which is now the signature piece in our fish-themed downstairs loo. Here it is, and here is a quick glimpse of some of the fishy display. Whoa, readers, I bet you never thought you’d go from a tour of Eastbourne to Battleaxe’s loo (or bathroom, for American readers).

Fish flask by Allister Malcolm….
….in Battleaxe’s downstairs loo

     Recently, we bought another glass piece from Henry Paddon, a green blob which will set the verandah on fire if I don’t move it soon – it reflects the sun and has actually singed the shelf which it sits on.
     We also saw this, of houses near us in Old London Road, Ore, by local artist Graham Sendall. It is not a very good photo but I am including it because of local interest.

Sunbeam Terrace – Graham Sendall

     Back to Eastbourne. I know if you carry on walking round those streets you get to an amazing second-hand bookshop on many floors – one of the guys from my Stanza poetry group works in there, but this time we didn’t find it.
     Next, Waitrose – still have to look on Google maps to find the quickest way. There are some interesting little shops in the streets behind the supermarket, incredible Arts and Crafts houses in the residential roads nearby, and the Manor Gardens, entered through an unaccountably spooky gateway,  opposite.

This Ravilious woodcut, Manor Gardens 1927, from the Towner collection, is possibly the same place?

     I think this is Eastbourne Old Town? Have read that a pub in the area has been turned into a branch of the Two Bulls Steakhouse, from Hastings, but needless to say I don’t know where it is. We had lunch in the Counting House pub, handily situated at the end of the Waitrose car park, then wiggled our way right across town to the big retail park.

Countin House pub – handy for Waitrose

     Eastbourne has some good architecture, medieval, Regency, high Victorian, grand hotels, mansion flats, art deco etc. Will look at more of this in future, but to finish, here are two interesting buildings.

Buccaneer pub, near the theatres
Deco style Pearl Court, Cornwallis Terrace

Other Eastbourne posts: here is one on the Redoubt Fortress, another on the Devonshire Park Theatre, Sovereign Harbour, and of course there are loads about Beachy Head. You may ask, did we ever think about choosing Eastbourne to live in? Answer no, too sprawling and city-like, prefer Hastings.

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