Pat was born in St Albans on 7 October 1939. Her introduction to archaeology was early – as a child she would take herself to sit on the edge of trenches being dug by Sir Mortimer Wheeler who from time to time would give her pottery sherds which she took and saved on her windowsill.
After leaving school at 15 Pat went to work at the Shredded Wheat factory in Welwyn Garden City. She later commenced nurse training; leaving Hertfordshire to complete her studies at the local hospital in Eastbourne in around 1958. This is when she met Lawrence and found they had many shared interests. They married in 1963 at St Saviours Church on a very snowy day and some well-known local names including Richard Gilbert and Vera Hodsell attended. The couple went on to have one child, Cecilia, in 1964, who assisted them with their local endeavors.
Pat opted to run her own business and stopped nursing when Highland Lodge closed down. She set up a printing business and was the first person locally to use an offset litho printer – she produced many pamphlets and reports on local history.
In 1962 Patricia was one of the founder members of the Eastbourne and District Preservation Society. The need to preserve Polegate Windmill was identified and Lawrence was successful in stopping a planning application for demolition. The Duke of Devonshire officially opened the mill to the public in 1967.
In about 1966 Pat had her first excavation on Pashley Down. This identified an 18th century post mill. Other excavations followed and later she took an extra-mural course in Field Archaeology at the University of London moving on to specialize in animal bones, studying with renowned zooarchaeologist Professor Tony Legge. The next year she and Lawrence led the Bourne Valley excavations in Eastbourne. The couple worked on excavations together since the 1960s, including on many windmill sites, Michelham Priory, Church St, Old Town and St Annes Hill. Together they had become champions of archaeology in Eastbourne. Now professional archaeologists Mike Allen, Greg Chuter and Chris Greatorex, along with numerous other volunteers, had their earliest experiences of excavation with the Stevens’. Pat continued with various research projects some of which have been published or presented as talks in association with Lawrence. The protection of the old artifacts from the Towner was successfully achieved with a great deal of assistance from Pat .
There was the purchase of some Southdown sheep, a rare breed at this time, and the recruiting of a ram called Bartie (even his name has local historical significance – Bartholomew de Badelsmere being the 14th Century Lord of the Manor of Eastbourne) soon the sheep became a flock!
Pat continued to raise her sheep, run her yellow jeep and her shop in Old Town until she was taken ill. She was known locally for her involvement in archaeology, local history and the preservation of Polegate Windmill and was Vice President, a life time member and mainstay of ENHAS. She will be greatly missed.
In view of Pat and Lawrence’s long association with windmill archaeology, it is eminently appropriate that her interment was at the woodland burial site at Clayton, below the Jack and Jill windmills, whose sweeps were set vertical and horizontal for mourning.
Obituary from Helen Warren
I first met Pat when I was about 10 and dug at the Eastbourne Urban Medieval Project. As a teenager I have fond memories of Pat showing me how to record animal bones at the Towner Museum, although I found bones very interesting, I got easily distracted by rebuilding a huge Bronze Age pot we found in the museum collection. Pat was a cheery, energetic lady who always made you feel welcome, and had a wealth of knowledge on many subjects. She will be greatly missed.
Greg Chuter MA, MCIFA
I have only known Pat for around 8 years but in that time I saw her many and varied talents. Her skills with identifying animal bones were well known and appreciated by many in the archaeological world and her dedication to conservation at Polegate Windmill is quite literally recorded in the very structure of that wonderful building and the legacy that this gives us. Our cats and chickens have been very pleased to have benefited from Pat’s sage advice on animal feeds and toys. And personally I have benefited from having Pat as a colleague, advisor, volunteer and I hope, most importantly, friend.
A much respected and loved local historian. It was Pat’s energetic and no-nonsense approach that got me involved in local history back in the 1970s when I dug with her and Lawrence on the Jesus House Excavations opposite St Mary’s Church in Eastbourne.
Local historian and member
Although I have not know Pat for long, I was always struck by the way Pat was always so competent and confident; she seemed to know what to do when something went wrong, and how to fix it – always retaining her sense of humour. She had so much energy and interest in the world around her, and she is going to be sorely missed by all at ENHAS – a remarkable lady.
I first really met Pat at the St Anne’s Road dig in the ECAT grounds. I took our 10-year-old son Tim, and he was fascinated. He asked me if he could help, so I suggested going over and offering to empty a bucket where Pat was excavating a skeleton. She grabbed his hand, pulled him down to kneel beside her, and put a trowel in his hand. By evening he was hooked, having excavated the bones, a spear, shield boss, and knife! She was wonderful, and it was something I have never forgotten, neither has Tim.
ENHAS Treasurer and Membership Secretary