Stuck high up on a wall verging on a busy road in the village of Rottingdean, this piece of local folklore located on the former home of Rudyard Kipling is so hard to find even most locals might not know its there. To some, it looks like a dog, to others a human face, or even a gargoyle.
Nobody knows exactly what it is supposed to be, but this curious stone is the center of an odd local custom. Local custom is to touch the wishing stone on the nose with your right forefinger and, being careful to not be run over by passing cars, close your eyes and turn around three times while facing away from the sun. If you do everything just right, it is said that your wish will be granted—as long as it’s not a wish for monetary gain.
How it got there is something of a mystery, but it is rumored that the stone was pulled from the rubble of the nearby St. Margaret’s Church during a restoration.
The house behind the wall, known as the Elms, was also home to the famous writer Rudyard Kipling. The Elms was built around 1850, and originally belonged to the larger area known as the Green. Kipling first went to Rottingdean in his youth when he stayed at North End House with his aunt Georgiana Burne-Jones. Kipling lived there from 1897 to 1902, when his increasing fame led him to move to a more secluded spot.
An unpublished story written and illustrated by Kipling’s father features Kipling’s daughter Elsie touring the world on an elephant, using the Elms as a starting point for her journey. Pictures of the family at the Elms, as well as a recreation of Kipling’s study, can be seen nearby at the Grange art gallery and museum.
Know Before You Go
Be careful of passing cars and vehicles!
Buses that stop in Rottingdean: No 2; Coaster 12, 12A, 12X, 13X; 14, 14A, 14B, 14C; 27, 27 C