Golden Square and The Wash House

This area of land immediately behind Tesco’s store was the site of a terrace of four cottages demolished in the 1930’s when Council houses were built north of the village. Neglected and ready for redevelopment, it became a Millennium project in 2000 when the Parish Council leased the site to preserve it and Rottingdean Preservation Society restored the wash house.

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The Parish Council had taken interest in the site for a century since it was when Georgiana Burne- Jones (wife of Sir Edward, the painter pictured below) was elected to the Parish council in 1896 that she campaigned for public wash houses and baths for cottages with no running water.

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The wash house met the needs of the four cottages in Golden Square. The only water supply the cottages had was a single brass tap fixed to the outside wall of the cottages.

On wash days, usually Mondays, the copper boiler was filled and heated by a fire underneath. The clothes, starting with the “whites,” were stirred with washing powder or soda as they boiled and the atmosphere became like a steam bath! A far cry from our modern washing machines and tumble dryers.

A wooden copper stick was used to lift the clothes out of the boiling water into the sink so that they could be rinsed.  They were then hung out to dry on washing lines stretched between the buildings or on wooden clothes horses which could be taken indoors if it rained.

In the earlier constitution documents the Wash House was actually one of the responsibilities of the Society when it was first formed. Rottingdean Preservation Society acquired legal title to the Wash House in 2019 – Brighton and Hove City Council granted a lease for a term of 10 years from 25 March 2019 to the Society on 2 September 2019 at a peppercorn rent.  The inside of the Wash House is used for props storage by the Rottingdean Drama Society.  The artist’s impression of the Wash House in action (above) was painted by local artist Mick Bensley: www.mickbensley.co.uk

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