This is the first in an occasional series of short articles about things you maybe didn’t know about our wonderful county. We all know how blessed we are with our rich and diverse landscape, our history and heritage, our spectacular coastline, and our welcoming towns, villages and local communities. But there are also some more obscure facts about East Sussex that you might have missed and might just surprise you…
There’s a girl down the chip shop swears she’s Elvis (daughter)!
Recently the news featured the sad and untimely death of Lisa Marie Presley. You probably know her as Elvis’ only child, as a former wife and confidante of Michael Jackson, and as a singer, performer, and global star in her own right.
But did you know that she also had an extraordinary past in East Sussex?
Somewhat randomly, if you had been in the village of Rotherfield a few years ago and you fancied a fish and chips takeaway, it might have been the multi-millionaire celebrity, daughter of the king of rock and roll, who served you!
Let me explain.
Coes Hall, Rotherfield
In 2010 Presley and her then husband, Michael Lockwood, moved to the village just outside Crowborough. They bought the grade II listed manor house, Coes Hall. But far from shutting herself away, she became a familiar face in the village. She would often visit the Kings Arms pub with pals and became friends with the then landlord Justin Scales. He also owned and operated the mobile fish and chip van that served the area.
And it was this friendship, and that chippy van, that led to her pulling on an apron and serving hungry customers with their Friday night takeaway.
Customers didn’t have a clue
Following her sad death, Mr Scales told ITV how this random series of events had come about. “She just asked one night if she and her son Ben could join the staff who were serving. They got on the back, and I was working, and they served. Ben was frying the fish, and Lisa was serving the customers. This was quite early on when she came to the village so the customers didn’t have a clue who she was!”
Justin said the star was happy not being recognised and just being one of the villagers. “She just wanted to live a normal life in the village, and she was just accepted by everybody. She wasn’t pretentious at all – she would just come in with a hat on and drink a pint of Guinness. It seems she just wanted to escape and live the village life in Rotherfield – and she did.”
Village protected her
And it appears the village took her to its heart as well. “When the media and papers would come around, the villagers would never talk about her. They shielded her, and let her be who she wanted to be.” Justin added.
It was to be a relatively short-lived association, however, because when she and Lockwood split in 2016, they put Coes Manor, with its indoor pool and 50 acres of land up for sale. According to the Daily Mail it sold for £3.35million.
East Sussex has been, and continues to be, home to many artists, writers, scientists, and stars of film and TV – but not many of our villages will be able to boast that they’ve been served their Friday night takeaway by a global star.