The Black Horse
65 High Street, Rottingdean, Brighton, East Sussex
Opened as a pub in 1515, the building is from the 14th century. By the 17th century, Black Horse was the nickname of seventh Dragoon Guards, who had black collars and cuffs on their jackets and rode black horses. It is timber framed with plastered walls and the lounge was once a blacksmith’s forge. Between two main bars, there is a fascinating snug bar and the pub was once, locals knew, as the ‘Black Hole’. From the mid-1700s, it was a hive of smuggling organized by the Rottingdean Gang and tunnels between the houses and pubs. At one point, during those parlous times, there was a ruthless battle between smugglers and Revenue men. It opened on a nearby beach. However, it worked its way to the Black Horse. Here, several of the outlaws expired, either inside or immediately outside the building. Their ghosts still haunt it and they manifest as shadowy figures, surrounded by a strong odour of rum. A previous Rottingdean vicar, the Rev. Thomas Hooker, was their lookout. He did his work so well the chief of smugglers offered him 50 of his own men to train as militia to confront Napoleon. Rudyard Kipling, who lived at Rottingdean for five years, wrote ‘Four and twenty ponies trotting through the dark’ about these men.