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Visiting Crumbles Pond, Princes Park, Eastbourne, England: A Visit by the Prince of Wales; & When Is a Pond Not a Lake?

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A Princely name and regal-looking birds

There sometimes does not seem to be a definite distinction between the use of the words 'Pond' and 'Lake'. While here in Ontario — defined, indeed by the Great Lakes — the Province is supposed to have half a million freshwater lakes, the body of water in Walden, Massachusetts made famous by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) is known as Walden Pond, whereas the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park is referred to as a Lake.

In Eastbourne, East Sussex, the term 'Crumbles Pond' has stuck for the engineered body of water which which extends to approximately 0.2 hectares (1). With inflows and outflows controlled a sluice and an outlet channel (of which more, below), Crumbles Pond has at various periods been the focus of various water activities, including boating (2).

The Pond is also a place where waterfowl such as swan and grebe may be spotted (3). While on my visits to Crumbles Pond I recall the swan and not the grebe as having been in evidence, in 2018 it was reported that a grebe got into difficulty at the Pond's outlet to the English Channel, prompting a rescue by the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS); the bird in question was subsequently cared for at the WRAS’s Casualty Centre at Whitesmith (4)

Crumbles Pond takes its name from a wider local area collectively known as The Crumbles; it would seem that over a number of centuries in undrained marshland between Pevensey and Eastbourne a number of ponds existed at various times; currently, the Pond at what is now Princes Park has retained the name (5).

In the Park in which the Pond is located a rose garden has been maintained for many years. On June 30, 1931 an oak tree was planted by Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII and subsequently Duke of Windsor). The occasion of the Prince of Wales's visit brought about a change of the Park's name to Princes Park (6). Previously the Park was known as Gilbert's Recreation ground, which Eastbourne Borough Council began to manage in 1907.

May 7, 2019


(1) See map at:

(2) Different local authority regulations have pertained at various periods. A number of sporting activities have been pursued in the vicinity of the Park over many decades, including bowls, golf putting and soccer.

(3) Visitors to England may note that The Queen, in her capacity of Seigneur of the Swans, jointly owns swans on the Thames — a considerable distance north of Eastbourne — together with the City of London's Vintners' and Dyers' Companies. What is known as annual swan upping is a ceremony by which swans are apportioned among the Crown, the Vintners and the Dyers. In 2012, a momentous event occurred in the history of the Seigneur of the Swans' upping ceremonies: because of very high waters, the ceremony was cancelled for the first recorded occasion in 900 years. (One may suspect, however, that high waters on the Thames have at some other stages of the past 900 years also affected the timetable of the swan upping ceremonies, but such occasions have apparently gone unrecorded.)

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(4) See also:

(5) See also:

(6) Pedantry aside, no apostrophe in 'Princes' seems to have stuck!

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

"Swan Hopping". Swan upping on the Thames, 1875 illustration Henry Robert Robertson (1839 - 1921), Life on the upper Thames, Virtue, Spalding, and co., London, 1875, p. 160, Engraved by Williaw J. Palmer on drawings on wood by Henry Robert Robertson

"Swan Hopping". Swan upping on the Thames, 1875 illustration Henry Robert Robertson (1839 - 1921), Life on the upper Thames, Virtue, Spalding, and co., London, 1875, p. 160, Engraved by Williaw J. Palmer on drawings on wood by Henry Robert Robertson

Also worth seeing

In Eastbourne itself, notable sights include: Beachy Head and lighthouse, which lie within the town's limits; the Pier, the Promenade, the Martello Wish Tower, and the Redoubt Fortress attract many summer visitors; the Town Hallis architecturally distinguished; Sovereign Harbour is reputed to be Europe's largest marina; there are many fine examples of ecclesiastical architecture.

At Pevensey (distance: 6.6 kilometres), the castle is partly Roman and partly Norman in origin.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York - Newark to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Eastbourne : 146 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Eastbourne from London Victoria railroad station. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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