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History Lesson

Moulsecoomb lies in a deep, soft-sided "dry valley" (that is, one with no running water along its bottom) surrounded by other Downland hills and "coombes", or "deans".

The Iron Age people who built Hollingbury Castle, high above Moulsecoomb, would have looked south to Whitehawk Hill and seen a camp there that was already 3500 years old. It was those earlier, "Neolithic" people who, with their flint tools, had cleared the forests of Lime, Elm, Oak, Yew, Maple and Hazel. The forest clearance brought with it soil erosion and the thick, brown forest loams would have slurried off the high Downs in winter, into the valley floor.

Moulsecoomb is a Saxon settlement named after Mul, an anglo-saxon lord. He is best known for laying waste to the kingdom of Kent and for being burnt with several followers as an act of retaliation.

The boundary between Moulsecoomb suburb and the farmed slopes of Falmer Hill is roughly the old boundary between the valley cornfields of Moulsecoomb Manor and Hodshrove Farm and the sheep pastures above.

Although not in Moulsecoomb the allotments and railway station would have once been part of the nearby manor house, a listed building currently used by the University of Brighton that has also been used as a school, a branch library and the headquarters of the Parks Department. There has been a manor house there from at least the eleventh century and attached to the rear of the building is a timber-framed cottage, one of the oldest buildings in Brighton built between 1350 and 1400.

Up the hill a dovecote was converted into a summer house where the Prince of Wales would play his silver flute. Further along is Queensdown School, which occupies the old site of Upper Moulsecoomb/Home Farm, and was also apparently once a monastery.

Before the estate was built on the allotments and fields Hollingdean was a small village best known for the abattoir and dust destructor on Hollingdean Road.

The Bates Estate was once Bate's Nurseries, where quite a few of the people I interviewed went `scrumping' for the fruit on the trees!

Moulsecoomb Place allotments was, we think, a pig farm until at least the late 1950's.


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