from Sussex, with love

The Ashdown Forest – Obscuring our Past; Becoming our Future

For my second year at University I had to complete a photography module. My main struggle at uni was coming up with the initial concept for a series. Being creative within a set brief is actually incredibly hard and I generally prefer the creative ideas to come to me as opposed to force them, so I was really struggling for a theme.

But then Alex and I took a day trip rock climbing (his favorite hobby) and while I was reading his local climbing guide I discovered that there was more history to the rock wall than I had first thought. This gave me the idea to focus a project around areas local to me that had become part of the landscape, but that may have once been a little more important. Places that were once significant and that now just blend into our surroundings. Places that locals, like myself, never gave more than a split second glance.

The title of the project and the execution could certainly have been drastically improved, but I thought I would share these images to give a taste of some of the history of my area.

That, and my laptop is dying and I don’t want to lose them when it completely gives up the ghost!

The Teeth


These teeth used to line the roads surrounding The Ashdown Forest, as well as much of Britain, in order to defend against tank invasions. Many roads were rebuilt adjacent to these teeth after the War because of their hardiness; a success of their design.

The Training Wall


Isolated locations such as this were used by both the British Army and the Home guard for what is believed to be training purposes. Many sandstone walls around the Forest can be found covered in bullet holes, while others were quarried and used as lookout posts.

The Pillbox


This Pillbox is one of many along ‘Pillbox Alley’, a prominent site during World War II used to defend the river Ouse from incoming German‘s. Many were disguised as ordinary buildings such as outhouses, castles and even branches of W.H.Smiths.

The Airman’s Grave


The Airman’s Grave commemorates the lives of two bomber pilots that crashed on The Ashdown Forest in 1941. On Remembrance Sunday each year a tribute is held at the site. The wreaths are kept there permanently as a constant reminder to all who visit the site.

The Old Radio Station


Now situated within a police training facility, the old radio station was used during World War II by the Foreign Office to broadcast propaganda messages and information to the resistance. Locals reported driving past the post during the war and loosing their car radio signals, their programming instead being replaced by the song “Oranges and Lemons”.

My photography lecturer, and prolific photographer, Melanie Friend wanted me to focus on this series for my final third year project; developing it and my photography further and exploring my area in more detail. Unfortunately I opted for a digital media (specifically installation art) piece for my final project. I often think I made the wrong decision as I think there was a lot more I could have done around this. Maybe I can pick it up again one day!

Kelly is a twenty-something lover of all things nerdy. Cocktails and lie ins are her favorite things, neither of which she can enjoy since becoming a mum for the first time. She writes about everything she loves and loathes (with a little indifference thrown in for good measure!) She also blogs over on the BabyCentre about life as a new mum.


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