Ebernoe’s last commoners remembered

Bluebells at Ebernoe Common
Bluebells at Ebernoe Common

ONE of Sussex Wildlife Trust’s kissing gates at Ebernoe Common nature reserve has been adopted by two sisters whose family have strong ancestral connections with the common.

Linda Kane, from Angmering and her sister Jill Isaacs, from Hove, have adopted the kissing gate in memory of their parents John and Mary Holden after reading about the scheme.

The kissing gates, each with a brass plaque for personal dedications, allow access to visitors who come to enjoy the Sussex woodland but also keep Sussex Wildlife Trust’s grazing animals safe.

For centuries Ebernoe Common was grazed by commoners’ livestock and as part of the ongoing restoration programme, Sussex Wildlife Trust is reintroducing British White cattle to help open up the reserve’s flower-rich glades and rides to encourage wildflowers and a variety 
of insects.

Mr and Mrs Holden were regular visitors to the common, but Linda recently discovered that relations on her father’s side, her great-grand-uncles, were some of the last commoners to work the land at Ebernoe during the early 1900s.

Linda’s ancestors, the Holdens, included five brothers who worked as agricultural labourers, barrel hoopmakers and brickmakers. As subsistence farmers at the common’s edge, they relied on Ebernoe for extra grazing for their livestock, regularly overwintering sheep from Kent on the common.

The Holden family leased and worked farms on the common, and two of the brothers worked the brickworks and kiln at Ebernoe until it went out of use in the 1930s.

Linda said: “My ancestors sound like real characters, living a poor, hard life, but apparently responsible to a large extent on the way the common developed.

“It’s great to think that in their memory and also in memory of our parents, we can help Sussex Wildlife Trust restore Ebernoe Common back to what it was like when they were living and working there.”

A donation to Sussex Wildlife Trust adopts a kissing gate, including a brass plaque for personal dedications, either as an original gift or as a lasting memory of a loved one.

Anyone interested in finding out more about Sussex Wildlife Trust’s kissing gates please contact Ashleigh Braund on 01273 497522 or ashleighbraund@sussexwt.org.uk