Rev. Alex MacLean

Rev. Alex MacLean moved into 22 College Road in 1987 on his retirement as Vicar of Turners Hill Parish Church, due to ill health.

He quickly became involved in many aspects of village life and to assist local Rectors as required. He was very much a first call by Funeral Directors when they were requested by families to arrange a priest.

He was the Mid Sussex Times “Voice of Ardingly” for seven years and was, because of this, a fount of knowledge on village life. Alex was a qualified structural engineer who was called to the Ministry later in life.

He held various positions in Lancashire before moving to Turners Hill in 1979. He studied for his MA Regional History at Sussex University and took the Diploma in Landscape Studies at Falmar. Because of his interest in History, both Turners Hill and Ardingly were to benefit from his research.

He had a very good relationship with Lord Wakehurst and, following a visit his Lordships’ London House, found considerable amount of archive material.

The impetus for the formation of the Ardingly History Society came from Alex. He called a public meeting on 3rd November 1998 on the theme ‘Are you interested in the History of your Village?’ 25 people attended the meeting and at a further meeting called on 26th January 1999 when 35 people attended the meeting the formation of the Society was approved and a Committee elected, with Alex as President. The rest, as they say, is history.

During his tenure at Turners Hill he wrote the history of the village, published as ‘The Voice of a Wealden Village.’

Alex’s interest in history was apparent in all his discussions and it was because of this that John and Eva Newman were encouraged to contact all London evacuees with a view to a reunion. This proved to be very popular and subsequently approximately 100 wartime children gathered at Culpepers in August. (Video on YouTube)

Following this meeting Alex acquired his information from the evacuees and wrote ‘A Sussex Village at War.’

Alex was a great asset in his relatively short period in the village and it was a great loss when he died of a heart attack in 2000.

Following his death his wife offered all his Archives to the Society and it is due to this generous gesture that we have some 130 files in our Archives. The amount of information we found when going through Alex’s Archives was amazing, his contact with Lord Wakehurst in London and other local historians is apparent from these files.

Subsequently three more Evacuee reunions were arranged and all those involved were eternally grateful to Alex MacLean for instigating the idea.

Roy Tester; Newsletter No 42; December 2022