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The Stag at BBCH

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The Diplock Stag has a prominent place in the BBCH driveway

The majestic stag which is the centrepiece of our driveway is always a talking point and has aroused much interest - and even some controversy - over the years.

The original Diplock’s Cottages, which later became the Bernhard Baron Care Home, was built as a memorial to wealthy local resident and landowner Caleb Diplock who lived at Southdown Hall. There has been much debate about the origins of the stag, but we know that original plans for the long-demolished hall showed the location of the ‘stag arch’ on the main driveway from Polegate High Street.

Whilst the reasons for the stag being at the hall remains a mystery, it is known that the Diplock family had grand garden ornaments imported from France soon after the hall was built and an elderly gentleman from Polegate has boyhood memories of daring to sit on the stag and being chased away by the gardener. It is also understood that the stag was used in the design of beer labels for Diplock’s brewery which was founded by Caleb Diplock.

 

We also know that an almost identical stag was placed over a single lofty brick arch at Charborough Park, a rural estate in Dorset in, 1841 so maybe they were once a pair?

 

Whatever the story behind the stag, we like to believe it represents the Chinese symbol for happiness and good fortune. True or not, it is what we wish our residents. 

 

The stag was relocated here when Diplocks Cottages became the Bernhard Baron Care Home and in June 1947 Sir Edward Baron, the grandson of Bernhard Baron, and his wife visited the homes to officially unveil a new plaque on the stag which replaced Caleb Diplock’s name with Bernhard Baron. It was recorded that as Lady Baron stepped forward to carry out the ceremony a guest of wind whisked off her hat and it had to be retrieved from a nearby rose bed!

 

Sitting prominently in the drive, we are all very fond of the stag and its attachment to the homes. That said, its rather vulnerable position means it has suffered a few accidents over the years when it has been hit by passing vehicles. Some years ago a dust cart backed into it and although it was severely damaged it was restored to its former glory. These days the stag is surrounded by a high curb in the hope of preventing further damage.

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