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image for Guided Tour item typeHeritage Open Days at Italian Gardens

Guided Tour, from 13 Sep 2018, free entry


Terrie Rintoul


King Edwards Parade,
BN20 7XL

Events at this Venue

date event
Thu 13 - Fri 14 Sep Heritage Open Days
Sat 15 - Sun 16 Sep Heritage Open Days


Once a chalk quarry, the land was laid out as a garden in 1904 and redesigned in the Italianate style in the early 1920s. Join the Friends of Meads Parks and Gardens to celebrate this hidden gem, with 1920s costumes and music on Saturday and Sunday.

What appears to be a wooded amphitheatre carved out of the cliff face was originally a chalk quarry. Laid out as a garden in 1904, it was redesigned in the Italianate style after World War I. The fact that the two columns on either side of the central structure are engraved with the year 1922 probably indicates the year of its completion.

People often wonder about the small building immediately on the right of the entrance. In 1861 the Holywell-Dieppe underwater telegraph cable, one of the first to reach the UK, was brought ashore and housed in a hut on Holywell beach. News of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914 reached London by telegraph and it is possible that this dispatch was routed via Holywell.

In 1922 the cable terminal was removed from the beach and rehoused in a specially designed building in the Italian Gardens and carried on transmitting until 1940. A search of the interior of the terminal building in 2004 showed no traces of the cable or the terminal equipment.

Although the pergolas and arbours are now sadly empty, every summer the gardens are brought to life by the Eastbourne Operatic and Dramatic Society providing the perfect backdrop for their open-air performances of Shakespeare’s plays.

The Friends of Meads Parks and Gardens are working with the Council to restore them to something of their former glory. But in the meantime, many people continue to enjoy these gardens which are a natural sun trap with views out to sea.

Event details

Dates Times
Thu 13 - Fri 14 Sep 2018 14:00 to 17:00
Sat 15 - Sun 16 Sep 2018 10:00 to 17:00
Thursday 13 September: 1400 - 1700
Friday 14 September: 1400 - 1700
Saturday 15 September: 1000 - 1700
Sunday 16 September: 1000 - 1700


Free entry


See location of Italian Gardens on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: OA 603729  Lat: 50.75307 Long: 0.27116

Situated just below Helen Gardens at the Western end of the seafront between King Edwards Parade and the Promenade

Parking: free

Accessible by Public Transport: 2 miles from Eastbourne station