Telling the bees’ is an ancient custom. Bees were notified of all births, marriages and deaths in a family because folk believed that unless this was done the bees would either fly away or die.
Because of the widespread belief of a kinship between men and bees, you can also talk over your problems with the insects. A man living at Stanmer recounted how a drunk once stumbled into his garden and announced: ‘I see you have got some bees, I must go and tell them my troubles.’ He laid his head on one of the hives and began to talk. Instead of swarming all over the drunk the bees kept absolutely quiet as though listening. Presently the drunk departed, saying ‘I feel better now.’
The village and its church are set in a large park, and the 18th century Stanmer Place was once the home of the Pelham family, Earls of Chichester. The village was completely evacuated during the Second World War when it was used as a ‘battle school’ by the army and suffered much damage. But it was restored to its former glory by Brighton Corporation.