The real Radinden

As this site’s header image suggests, Radinden isn’t just a vaguely pronounceable bunch of syllables that happened to be a conveniently vacant domain name: it is – or rather was – a part of my home city of Brighton and Hove.

Brighton didn’t really start to develop as a major settlement until the 18th century, before which it was a small fishing village surrounded by several large estates or ‘manors’, which formed the basis of medieval administration. The manors themselves faded out by the 20th century, leaving only a handful of titles of ‘Lord of the Manor’ held for novelty value alone.

One of these manors was the manor of Raddingdean, which is first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as the demesne of ‘Rateden’ in the possession of Wiard. By the 13th century, there was a prominent Sussex family named after the manor, whose coat of arms with silver (or ‘argent’) martlets – a stylised heraldic bird – on a blue (or ‘azure’) field is echoed by the modern arms of the county of Sussex. The lands of the Radynden family thereafter passed through various hands before being sold in 1794 to William Stanford, who absorbed them into his neighbouring Preston Manor. The Raddingdean manor house may have been where Argyle Road in Brighton now stands, now in the shadow of the famous railway viaduct.

Of course, like for many medieval names, there wasn’t one single spelling of Raddingdean: it variously appears as ‘Radingden’, ‘Ratenden’, ‘Radynden’ and ‘Radinden’, and it’s under this last one that it’s commemorated today. I first knew of the name from Radinden Manor Road – the street sign in the heading – which was a short walk from where I grew up in Hove. It’s still a short walk from home for me now, from the other direction: my house was built on the former Stanford estate at the start of the 20th century, just north of the former manor.

As for the site of the manor itself, the only trace is now at the southern entrance of Preston Park, just down the hill from here, where a stone pylon records that it is the ‘Radynden Gate’ leading to where the lands of Sir John de Radynden lay to the south.

So as well as being conveniently unusual as an online pseudonym, I picked Radinden as it has a close connection to my home city. There’s also the question about how you pronounce Radinden: if you put the emphasis on the first syllable, it’s closer to ‘Raddingdean’, but many locals now stress the second syllable instead – ra-DIN-den – which is conveniently close to the cadence of my real name.

And yes, it didn’t hurt that the domain names were available: my own little online manor.

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