Bed and Breakfast at Ocklynge Manor, Eastbourne.

07979 627172     01323 734121

 Eastbourne. East Sussex. BN21 2PG.

Knights Templar

Ocklynge Manor is built on the site of a Commandery of the Knights of St. John, from which it takes its name the Manor of St. John of Jerusalem, Ocklynge (meaning oak line) Rushlake and Swine’s. The knights were a religious body, and their occupation of this site was from the middle of the 11th century until the suppression of the monasteries in 1540.  A Roman font was found on the site and is now at the Towner Art Gallery. The resident monks would have been able to see the Norman invasion of 1066 from these walls. The site would have had a 360 degree viewof surrounding lands, the coast line and approaching visitors.

Ocklynge Manor was a small community of the Knights Hospitallers, or Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusualem, one of 95 in England and an off-shoot of the larger preceptory of Poling. The establishment of this order and the Knights Templar, was connected to Godfrey de Bouillon who is recorded as staying at the commandery and then went on to capture Jerusalem. For the safe-guarding of the Holy City and the entertainment of the numerous pilgrims who soon flocked to Jerusalem in great numbers, he established the two orders of military monks.

The business of the Templar Knights was to defend the Saviour’s tomb and guard Palestine. While the Knights Hospitallers job, as well as fighting, was to tend the sick and wounded and provide for the welfare of Christian travellers. Each order created special monasteries in all European provinces.

A “return" of the property of the Knights Hospitallers in England, made in 1338 gives the following particulars of their possessions at Ocklynge in Sussex:

"There is at Okelyng one messuage which is worth yearly 12d. And there are 52 acres of land, value per acre 12d., and they are worth 52s. Also there are 3 acres of meadow, value per acre 18d., and they are worth 4s. 6d. Also pasture there is common for 200 sheep, which is worth yearly 16s 8d. And please and perquisities of courts worth 6. 8d."

After 1540, the property reverted to the crown until the reign of Charles 11 when, it was offered for sale. Eventually it became the home of the Hurst family, who remained for over four generations. Until 1894, there were 32 acres of land including the chapel and St. John’s windmill. Documents detailing the history of Ocklynge Manor, can be found at the Museum of the Order of St. John, St. John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 4DA.

A Short History of Ocklynge Manor.

The Governor of the Falkland Islands lived at Ocklynge Manor at the turn of the century.

The children’s artist Mabel Lucie Attwell lived her in the 1930’s  (She illustrated Peter Pan).

There is a photograph of Mabel standing outside the garden doors with her eldest son Bill. This was kindly donated by her grandchildren when the historic blue plaque was unveiled.

A drawing by Mabel Lucie Attwell showing The Staircase at Ocklynge Manor.

The present garden still has an 18th century gazebo purported to be an original look-out tower for the London stage coach and a fine example of an 18th century grotto, although this is now dwarfed by a three hundred year old holm oak.

Near to the gate, connecting the house with Mill Road, is a deep well. The garden is still a major part of the site, with an orchard from which three chapels could once be accessed.

A manna ash, about 150 years old and the only mature one on record in England, stands majestically in the main part of the garden. It usually flowers around the first week in June and has a similar flower to that of the Russian vine.

The Botany library of the British Museum in London, sent the following information – "F Ornus, of southeast Europe and western Asia. Becoming 50 to 60 feet in height, this handsome tree should be planted more often. It blooms in May and June and delights with its fragrance. Its flowers are white and are produced in dense, showy panicles up to 5 inches long. The leaves have usually seven stalked leaflets that are reddish-pubescent on their midribs beneath. The winter buds are greyish or brownish" – Everett, T. H. Encyclopedia of Horticulture Vol 4. Page 1406.