Meet the team

Meet the Team

Who we are

Here at Heritage Eastbourne, we feel it’s important that our visitors have the opportunity to get to know the individual team members, what they do, and what they recommend. This is a great way to provide valuable insight behind the scenes at Heritage Eastbourne and also offers a glimpse at some of the things we do that you might not be aware of.

Katherine Buckland - Heritage Engagement Officer

Katherine Buckland

Tell us about yourself
I am the Heritage Engagement Officer for Heritage Eastbourne and have worked within the team for just over seven years. I love discovering the stories of ordinary people in and around Eastbourne throughout its long and sometimes unexpected history and most importantly sharing those stories as widely as we can

What does your job entail?
One of my favourite things about this job is that every day is different. One day I might spend visiting schools with our collections to explore the story behind objects from Eastbourne’s history. The objects have often been discovered near the school or perhaps where some of the students live which makes the link to Eastbourne’s past even more real. Another day I might be planning and designing our exhibitions, which can be challenging fitting such big stories into one exhibition space whilst making it interesting, accessible and memorable. When I’m not doing that, I could recording some of the stories of Eastbourne through oral histories, answering research enquiries, and managing our social media accounts - yes it’s me that needs to apologise for the terrible history related puns!

What inspired you to work at Heritage Eastbourne?
I have carried out a number of roles with Heritage Eastbourne but the continuing theme with each role has been telling the stories of real, ordinary, yet truly extraordinary people who have lived in or experienced Eastbourne from prehistory to present day. I think this is the best way to learn about history; to discover what life was really like for people living, working, passing through the town we call home.

What are your three favourite stories of Eastbourne?
What an impossible question! One of my favourite stories is about one of the cooks at Summerdown Camp, Mary ‘Louie’ Wells’. We are lucky to have an archive of diaries, autograph books, newspapers and photos from the camp. The archive tells us about the first and biggest convalescent camp in England during the First World War and the people who worked and convalesced in this pioneering place.
Part of our collection of fossils from Eastbourne contains another favourite - teeth from a Late Cretaceous Shark called Ptychodus. It’s amazing to imagine Eastbourne millions of years ago with all these prehistoric sharks swimming around!
My last choice is 100% truly geeky. It has been said that I am obsessed with buttons – but with good reason. The buttons that we find in archaeology can tell us so much about what clothing people wore, how wealthy (or not) they were, and in some cases (like Pococks Cottages in the Rodmill area) tell us where the previous resident worked. They aren’t simply another metal object but rather a tangible link to the lives of the people we are discovering.

If you could recommend one thing for a visitor to do with Heritage Eastbourne, what would it be and why?
We work on all sorts of projects and events as well as running our own community excavations each year. They are all different but great fun and a brilliant way to get involved and find out about our local heritage. And of course you must visit the Story of Eastbourne and let us know what you think.

Jo Seaman - Heritage Manager

Jo Seaman

Tell us about yourself
I am the Manager of Heritage Eastbourne and have worked for the Heritage Service within Eastbourne Borough Council for over 10 years. Previously, as well as being a freelance archaeologist, I have been employed by English Heritage, The National Trust and East Sussex County Council in various heritage roles.

Trying to understand the human experience of everyday life throughout time really excites me. What would I have seen, heard, smelled at a given time in the past? How would the clothes I wore make me feel, what would I have used these objects for? I love trying to try to answer such questions and then try to communicate to this to anyone who will listen!

What does your job entail?
Because our work is so varied and diverse, it can be a tricky task to manage everything and do the multiple projects, ventures and services we provide real justice. But this diversity and the challenges it brings is what I really love about this job. One day I can be working out accounts and putting together funding bids and the next I can be up a ladder inspecting traces of medieval graffiti in a Church!

What inspired you to work at Heritage Eastbourne?
I come up with loads of ideas, (many of them worth forgetting!) and in Heritage Eastbourne I found an employer who encouraged free and imaginative thinking, whilst also teaching me to keep one eye firmly on prudent budget management and sustainability. My Manager also said that she wanted me to get out there and tell people why our heritage in Eastbourne was so exciting....how could I turn down that opportunity?

What are your three favourite stories of Eastbourne?
We are currently investigating the story of how Eastbourne developed from small dispersed farming communities to a medieval market town and it turns out to be rather an unexpected one, so has to be up there.

The Saxon burials from St Anne’s road build up an incredibly emotive picture of our ancestors lives and beliefs and we are sill learning so much from them.

One of the most powerful objects we have in the collection is a letter from Walter Jones,a 20 year old soldier from Eastbourne written in 1917 whilst in the Trenches of Northern France. In many ways it is rather ordinary, asking after friends and family at home until he added towards the end ; “You can guess I shan’t be sorry to see you all again, and the sooner the better. It’s gone past war, it’s murder out here now’.
Tragically Walter was killed less than two weeks later at the Battle of Aubers Ridge. This was his last letter home.

If you could recommend one thing for a visitor to do with Heritage Eastbourne, what would it be and why?
Obviously I would suggest visiting The Story of Eastbourne as a good way to start exploring the history and archaeology around you. Beyond that though I think it is just so important to spend more time exploring your local environment. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking through Town or across the Downs, evidence of our heritage is hidden in plain sight. Sometimes it is preserved in a view or vista – stand at the top of St Anne’s Road and look out over the Town towards the sea and you will start to understand why people were buried on this spot for hundreds of years. Or it could be in preserved in the topography, even though the landscape has changed – think here of the ‘hills’ of Langney or Hydneye, occupied at times for over 10000 years at least.
Our heritage is everywhere, you just need to look, explore, appreciate and most importantly ask questions!

Kelly Van Doorn - Heritage Collections Officer

Kelly Van Doorn

Tell us about yourself
I am the Heritage Collections Officer. I have been in post since July 2018.

What does your job entail?
I manage Heritage Eastbourne’s collections which range from archaeology to photographs to military objects.
Within this role, I deal with the care and documentation of the objects, enquiries pertaining to them and new donations.
I also manage Collections Volunteers, ready objects for display or talks, research objects and people associated with them, update the database and digitise records, undertake object condition checks, assembling/disassembling exhibitions and minor conservation.
As part of the Heritage Eastbourne team I am also involved in other projects. Myself and Jo Seaman run the Sussex Medieval Graffiti Survey which is volunteer-focused and started in St Mary’s Church, Old Town. We will soon be moving on to other buildings in other areas. I will also be involved with future archaeological excavations!

What inspired you to work at Heritage Eastbourne?
I have always had a fascination with museums, objects and history in general. It was whilst I was studying archaeology and ancient history at university that I volunteered with Heritage Eastbourne. It was at this point I realised how I knew very little about the town in which I had called home for 15 years and wanted to know more.
Fast forward 4 years and there was a job opening at Heritage Eastbourne working with the objects I had learnt so much about during my volunteering. It was an opportunity I couldn’t miss! I applied and, thankfully, started this job soon after.

What are your three favourite stories of Eastbourne?
This is really tricky because having such a large local history collection, there are a lot of fascinating objects and people attached to them!

If I had to choose, I would pick the Jane Potts medal donated to us recently. It was part of a wide collection belonging to a nurse who grew up in Eastbourne and worked at the Princess Alice Hospital. I had not seen this before so decided to research Jane Potts. I found out that Jane Potts lived in Meads Street and was Princess Alice’s governess- hence the hospital connection!
Secondly, (and I am cheating here), but our bound newspaper archive. It is a valuable resource for ourselves and researchers and helps us gain an insight into the Eastbourne of the past!
Thirdly, the story of the fabulous Mrs Wilson and her enticing pie! It is an almost unbelievable tale but one definitely worth knowing. If you don’t know her story, pop down to The Story of Eastbourne…

If you could recommend one thing for a visitor to do with Heritage Eastbourne, what would it be and why?
In the Autumn, Heritage Eastbourne invite expert guest speakers to talk on a range of topics. Previous topics have been on Piltdown Man, Neanderthals in England, magical protection of the house, Roman London and the history of Christmas dinners!
These talks are always popular, informative and you get a glass of wine thrown in for good measure- what’s not to like?

 

Lizzie Williams - The Story of Eastbourne Supervisor

The Story of EastbourneTell us about yourself
I’m the supervisor at the new Story of Eastbourne Exhibition, and started in my role in February 2019.

Before this role, I had been volunteering with Heritage Eastbourne for a number of years, where I have been able to go on a couple of archaeology digs and was also able to do some work with the collections.
I studied History at the University of Liverpool and most recently worked for English Heritage at Battle Abbey.

What does your job entail?
As supervisor at the Story of Eastbourne Exhibition I look after the day-to-day running of the exhibition and I have a great team of staff and volunteers that I work with throughout the week. We’re here to greet people when they come to the exhibition and help them with any enquires they might have- we don’t know everything but we’ll try our hardest to get answers to even the most obscure questions about Eastbourne!

One of the best aspects of the job is being able to interact with members of the public. I love hearing about people’s memories of Eastbourne or stories about family members who have lived in or visited the town.
We’re also here to find out what people think of the new exhibition and how they would like to see this project develop in the future.

What inspired you to work at Heritage Eastbourne?
I have lived in Eastbourne for most of my life and was really excited at the opportunity of being involved with this new project about the history of the town. Having been involved with Heritage Eastbourne before, I knew how many wonderful artefacts there are in the collection that could be put on display, and was excited that this new exhibition would be a place to share these artefacts and stories with the residents of Eastbourne and tourists visiting the town.

What are your three favourite stories of Eastbourne?
All of my choices come from The Story of Eastbourne Exhibition. The first isn’t technically an object or story but the six illustrations in the middle of the exhibition. You could miss them if you’re reading the text on the walls, but they’re a brilliant pictorial storyboard with each showing a different era of Eastbourne’s history. I love that they are a different way of absorbing some of the information in the exhibition, and that they are so bright and colourful- they really help to bring the people of the exhibition to life!

From a history point of view my second choice is the Roman coin hoard that was found on Bullock Down. I studied the Roman Economy at university and was lucky enough to help with the set-up of this part of the exhibition and got to see the coins up close. I find it really interesting to think about why these coins were buried in their pot, we may never know the true answer but there are so many different possibilities as to why they ended up there.

My third choice is George Grimmond. I find it amazing that so few people have heard of George Grimmond or know that he invented the trick of catching a bullet in his mouth- I hadn’t heard of him either until I started working here! I love this story in the exhibition especially because people have come in and said that they knew George Grimmond or remembered him, and have told me little bits of information about him.

If you could recommend one thing for a visitor to do with Heritage Eastbourne, what would it be and why?
Definitely to visit the exhibition and learn more about Eastbourne’s amazing history. The exhibition is great for all ages and even people who know a lot about Eastbourne’s history can usually find something interesting or new when they visit. If you do have memories of Eastbourne do come and tell us about them. Likewise if you have a question please do ask us- you might not get an answer straight away but we will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible!

Last but not least....

Story of Eastbourne

The rest of our team work at the Story of Eastbourne and are on hand to welcome you to the exhibition and answer any questions you might have.

 

"My favourite part of the Story of Eastbourne is how the stories in the exhibition evoke such special memories for visitors. I really enjoy listening to their stories and appreciate people taking the time to share them with us" - Kelly

"My favourite part of the exhibition is the Anglo Saxon grave goods, I feel very drawn to Migration Period art" - Dave

"I really like the factual time-line running around the top of the exhibition but think my favourite thing is the artwork, depicting Eastbourne’s history. I love the fact that everything on there is there for a reason and is significant. And you can buy a piece as a souvenir of your visit!" - Majella

"The stories of past residents - Mrs Wilson's fascinating story is my favourite. Reading the story of Eastbourne through her eyes, amazing!" - Sharon

Get Involved

Learn and Discover
Saxon Treasure

Join us at a Heritage and a Half, Culture and Cake or Town Hall Talks to learn and discover more about what we do as well as Eastbourne's History. You can also book us for a talk about almost any part of Eastbourne's Story.

Book here

Volunteer
VolunteerWe offer a range of volunteering opportunities a great opportunities to pick up new skills and meet new people.
From stewarding at The Story of Eastbourne to assisting in archaeological digs, we aim to provide opportunities which will inspire people and provide a taster of potential education and career paths.

Volunteer

Research
Collections

We aim to provide the widest possible access to our outstanding collections, be that printed material, documents, sound, archaeology, photographs or works of art. If you can't visit us to carry out your research, we have a research service for a small fee.

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