Tragically, Andrew was killed in a hit-and-run incident on a pedestrian crossing in Eastbourne – an awful, premature and completely unnecessary death that happened a few days after he received advance copies of his book about Swanwick – a culmination of ten years work. Six people have been arrested and I hope they have a long time to reflect on their crimes. My sincere condolences go out to his family and many friends. RIP Andrew Geoffrey Forrest, 3rd August 1947–26th July 2023.
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The painter Harold Swanwick (1866–1929) moved to Wilmington with his wife Lilian in 1908, the very same year that the Black Horse Hotel was built (AKA the Long Man Inn and The Giant’s Rest) and lived here for the rest of his life. Increasingly sought after, Swanwick is admired for his wonderful, unsentimental and atmospheric paintings, which evoke a lost agricultural age of grazing sheep, village children, farm workers and horses ploughing and harrowing the South Downs.
Harold and Lilian were happily devoted to each other. Their harmonious, alternative lifestyle, simple and modest, was reflected in the walled garden and beautiful home they created together at Twytten House, filled with their own paintings and those of other artists – hung in double and even triple rows.
Swanwick is memorialised in a double tombstone in Wilmington churchyard, communion rails inside the church and a stone bench outside the back of the churchyard facing towards Milton Street and Firle Beacon – a magical spot where Harold and Lilian enjoyed idyllic, tranquil sunsets. (Unfortunately, if you look closely at the fading inscription on the seat you’ll notice that the stone mason accidentally left out the W from the name Swanwick!)
The Long Man Inn is hosting an illuminating talk on Swanwick and his time in Wilmington by art historian and author Andrew Forrest. Andrew is a friend of Rose Heatley, Swanwick's great niece on his wife’s side, who lived in Twytten House for many years, and is considered the foremost expert on Swanwick’s art.