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Visiting Brodie Hall, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England: former schoolhouse recalling Julia Brodie and a noted family
Two sisters, each founding schools, one of which was Brodie Hall
In the Roselands district of Eastbourne, in England's East Sussex, is a remarkable flint building, dating from the mid-19th century. Founded as a schoolhouse by Julia Brodie (1814-1872)(1), the single-storey structure, on the local road known simply as Seaside, is known as Brodie Hall in her honour.
Brodie Hall is situated adjacent to Christ Church, which Julia Brodie also endowed; the commencement of this small complex of buildings dates from 1859. In addition to flint (2), Its building materials include multicoloured brickwork. The roof is of slate.
The structure formerly functioned as a church school.
Interestingly, Julia Brodie was not the only Brodie to have founded a school in Eastbourne; her sister Lidia Brodie (1815-1892) founded Flint Halls, an infants' school in Old Town, Eastbourne in 1853.
Their father, the Reverend Dr. Alexander Brodie (1773-1828), served as Anglican Vicar of Eastbourne, and chaplain to the Prince of Wales.
A sister, Emma Brodie Grace (1805-1846) and a brother, William Brodie (1819-1908) are remembered jointly as the moving forces behind the establishment of Edgmond Hall, which, as distinct from the Anglicanism of several other Brodie family members, still survived in the late 20th century as the building in which an independent evangelical congregation met.
A niece, Wilhelmina Brodie-Hall (1845-?), was active in various educational and women's causes; a strong supporter of medical education for women, she was a local collaborator of Milicent Garrett Fawcett (1847-1929) in the women's suffrage cause, and served as a local Poor Law Guardian; she was also a noted, local meteorologist.
A brother, Walter Brodie (1811-1884) was an early European resident of New Zealand, near the time of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Another brother, Frederick Brodie (1823-1896) was socially prominent by his second marriage to Ada Blanche Carden, daughter of Sir Frederick W. Carden, Member of Parliament and Lord Mayor of London.
In the 19th century, members the Brodie family thus collectively exemplified a peculiarly Victorian combination of social aspirations and devotion to progressive causes.
Today, Brodie Hall serves as a centre for the homeless.
December 27, 2013
(1) Forster's Education Act, 1870 was thus passed by Parliament within Julia Brodie's lifetime; this Act expanded elementary education in England and Wales, which had previously been more fully under church auspices, through many local institutions such as Brodie Hall.
(2) Flint was formerly a popular building material in parts of England; often the flintwork would be knapped, that is, the edifice would be built with cut portions of flintstone; this has been the case here at Brodie Hall. In some parts of England, notably in North Norfolk, whole flintstone was commonly used.
For futher details of the local, Brodie family, see also: http://historyofwomen.org/brodie.html
Also worth seeing
In Eastbourne itself, various, noted buildings and attractions include the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Old Town, dating from the 12th century; and the Italianate All Souls Church, other attractions include: the Beachy Head cliffs; Eastbourne Pier; Holywell; the Redoubt fortress; the 19th century Town Hall; Sovereign Harbour; the Martello Wish Tower; Leaf Hall; and many others.
How to get there
United Airlines flies from New York - Newark to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Eastbourne : 146 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Eastbourne from London Victoria railroad station. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.