Celebrating garden’s 80th anniversary

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The Helen Gardens in Meads celebrated its 80th anniversary earlier this month and to mark the occasion Looking Back has been delving into its archives for old photographs and memories.

In early September 1933, at the bequest of Mrs Helen Reid Hornby Lewis, The Helen Garden at the foot of Beachy Head was taken over by Eastbourne Corporation as a public pleasure ground.

The corporation landscaped the gardens and provided a thatched pavilion, a putting green and a bowls green before opening them to the public in 1935.

Mrs Hornby Lewis, who was an extremely wealthy widow at the time of her death, left more than £2 million pounds. She had a villa in Eastbourne, a house in Cannes and a London residence in Park Lane.

Both she and her husband, a Liverpool merchant, were very fond of Eastbourne and both played a big part by making a substantial donation to save the Seven Sisters for the nation.

When she died she was buried in the rose garden of her country house, Danesfield in Marlow, which is now a luxury hotel, with the stipulation that her age should never be disclosed.

To mark the 80th anniversary, members of Meads Community Association, St Johns Bowls Club, based at Helen Gardens, the Meads Neighbourhood Panel and the Mothers of Meads Association held an informal reception by the side of the Bowls Green recently attended by Eastbourne’s mayor, councillors and council staff who maintain the gardens.