|Lane End Common, Newick Hill|
|Distance (S) from Greenwich|
|OS map details||OS Explorer: 135|
|OS grid ref||TQ 40378.22310|
|WGS84 lat/long||50.983090, -0.001523|
When first erected, this stone monument stood in open land. Over the years, trees and scrub grew up around it, obscuring it from view and making it difficult to find. The majority of them were eventually cleared in around 2010. The monument was provided by Ivor Grantham Esq, Lord of the Manor of Balneth. The stonework was undertaken by Percival Bridgman of Eastgate Wharf, Lewes.
The description below is taken directly from www.lordofbalneath.fsnet.co.uk a website that sadly no longer exists.
The unveiling at noon on October 10th 1953 was well attended by local residents, members of the press etc, and two donkeys. Two local school children Jean Long and Fred Cottenham, were chosen to walk down a whitewashed line to indicate the Meridian and were each given a silver crown for not falling off, while the Lord stood with a foot in each hemisphere. When they reached the stone they pulled back the Union Jack flag to reveal the stone and its inscription. Both children then promised the lord that they would make a pilgrimage and return in the year 2000 to rededicate the stone.
The Lord wrote to the children in 1976 giving them 24 years notice of their next meeting, and told them they should bring one or more of their children or grandchildren. As the Lord was 79 years of age he knew he would not be able to repeat the ceremony himself
Over the years many articles have appeared about the ceremony and stone, and whether it would be rededicated. When Eric Taylor became Lord in 1995 he promised the widow of Ivor Grantham that he would rededicate the stone and if possible, to get both children back for the occasion.
Eric took up the challenge and commenced a feasibility study, and this is where the Parish council came in. Accepting on the council's behalf was Cllr. Tony Oliver. Tony and Eric discussed such matters like: were there any laws affecting what is now common land, but which in 1953 was manorial waste. Should they make the day a much bigger affair for the benefit of Chailey, by including Morris Dancers, Tug of War, Maypole dancing etc. etc. These considerations would have required facilities for the public (toilets, catering, covered area in case of rain etc ) and possible the approval of the Secretary of State. Also if large number of vehicles turned up, police cooperation would have to be sought. When they checked the diary it turned out the day in question was a Tuesday and a school day, which would severely lower numbers, and it was agreed the extra expense and work could not be justified.
The first visit to the stone took place on 17th January 2000, with Eric Taylor, his wife, Tony Oliver and representatives from two local papers, the Sussex Express and the Mid Sussex Times. A decision was taken not to 'clean' the stone as it had a degree of weathering and it would have detracted from the appearance. The stone was now surrounded by bracken, trees and undergrowth, but originally in 1953 it was on its own in the open. A guest list was prepared of who would be able to attend, other lords, civic dignitaries etc.
The papers both mentioned the forthcoming event and Eric started to trace the two children. With the help of friends both children were eventually traced and agreed to attend the event. Various phone calls were made over the following months to ensure all was right on the day, and confirmations of who would be attending. It was also arranged to re-enact another old custom of demanding ale for the Lord and his Guests.
On the morning of Tuesday 10th October 2000 Tony Oliver visited the site early and put down markers for people to follow, he laid a white strip to show where the whitewashed line would have been, and covered the stone with a union jack. The weather the day before had been atrocious and had caused an amount of local flooding and it was hoped it would not affect the day’s outcome.
Mr. Paul Foulkes-Halbard, Lord of the Manor of Filching Wannock, who has a magnificent collection of vintage cars at his home, Filching Manor, agreed not only to attend but to provide two vintage Rolls Royces, one of which belonged to Sir Malcomb Campbell, as transport for the event. Unfortunately the weather had resulted in the cars not being available to be used.
At approximately 11:45 am Mr. Eric Taylor the Lord of the Manor of Balneath, Mr. Paul Foulkes-Halbard the Lord of the Manor of Filching, Mr. Andrew Taylor, the Lord of the Manor of Luxford, Mr. Eric Parrish, the Lord of the Manor of Burghurst, Members of the Royal Society of St. George, including the Vice Chairman and Standard Bearer, Major Robert Peedle, M.B.E., T.D., Branch Vice President, Colonel Peter Howard-Harwood, M.B.E., D.L., local Member of Parliament Mr. Norman Baker M.P., the two children Jean Martin and Fred Cottenham, Mr. Ian Freshwater, the Ale and Wine taster to the host Lord and about 30 others met in the car park at Lane End Common. Then everyone made the short walk to the stone and were given a leaflet by Mr. Edwin Mathias describing the original event.
Several speeches were made by the various dignitaries present about the rededication and the people involved who had helped. Eric Taylor said, "I wish to pay a special tribute and record my grateful thanks to local Parish Councillor Tony Oliver. He has become a good friend and without his enthusiastic support for this event, it would have been a much lower key affair"
At Exactly 12 noon Eric Taylor unveiled the Stone and said "In honour of the memory of Ivor Grantham, and to carry out my obligation I am most privileged and proud to re-dedicate the Meridian Stone to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth”. Lots of photographs were taken and the press asked Fred and Joan would they walk down the line again to show how they did it originally.