Genealogy can be addictive!
Having lived in the same house in Compton Avenue for over half of my life, a few years ago I decided it was high time that I started researching its history and inhabitants, which has proved a fascinating and, somewhat, obsessive journey.
Running alongside my house research I have also been carrying on from where my late father left off investigating his, and my, ancestors, resulting in delightful and informative trips to Herefordshire and Worcestershire over recent summer holidays. Finding an elderly gent sitting outside the house where my Nan had lived in 1911 was a treat and we got an idea of how the family lived then as nothing much seemed to have changed.
But, back to Compton Avenue. Through a combination of camping out at The Keep (an archive and historical resource centre which stores, conserves and gives the public access to over 900 years of records relating to the English county of East Sussex and the Special Collections held by the University of Sussex) and being fortunate enough to have had an Ancestry subscription for the past three years, I have discovered that my house was built in about 1859 in the then-named Compton Terrace – its name changed to Compton Avenue in 1890.
It started off as a boarding school with the two neighbouring houses. For the next two decades it was occupied by Rev Samuel Evershed, schoolmaster and father of nine; Mrs Hugall and Miss Gale who ran a young ladies’ school; Irishman Walter Thomas Turpin, landowner turned preacher and his five children; and Yorkshireman, solicitor John Henry Dresser and his American wife (Angela Jex, from Louisiana) lived here with their two sons in the late 1880s. In 1890 the Cramptons moved in.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of my findings. It is, thankfully, a never-ending project.