Brett Volume 3: Chapter XXXIII - St. Leonards 1845
| This is a verbatim transcription of Brett’s work, which comprised both manuscript and typescript cuttings, and therefore reproduces Brett’s variations in style, capitalisation, punctuation and spelling. The only alterations made have been to the pagination and images whereby both page titles and images have been moved to the most appropriate paragraph as opposed to where they were pasted into the texts by the author. Where possible, personal names have been checked against census, parish records and the Central Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths. A number of footnotes have been inserted by the transcriber when this has been thought to be useful.
Generally the transcription follows the guidelines set out by the National Archives. Work is in hand to identify and annotate hand-written sections and other annotations within the transcriptions, the main difference being that hand-written sections are indicated by a Cursive font on screen. If any portions are
Readers should be aware that Brett’s narrative was written some forty to fifty years after these events (the typeset portions being perhaps 20 years earlier) and his memory has occasionally been found to be at fault by later historians.
Chapter XXXIII - St. Leonards 1845
The front line buildings in 1845
Troup versus Ricardo
The faggoted road
Meteorology of the year
A broken-winded church organ and resignation of the organist
The Commissioners in 1845
Parochial officers of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen. Rev. J. Murray's efforts in providing a Christmas dinner for 250 children
The same gentleman assisting at the new Fairlight church
View of the old church
The writer as a musician and dancing master
A surprise at the Oddfellows' ball
The two town bands uniting
The "Battle of Hastings” painting and all about it.
Front Line & Contiguous Buildings in 1845 - Post Office Returns
The buildings in existence in 1845 between the Government ground (now Robertson street, &c.) and the St. Leonards Archway were Stratford place, Albert place, White-rock place, Verulam buildings, Agincourt terrace, Chiff cottages, Warrior square (a portion only), Seymour place and Adelaide place. At the time of writing only three of these ranges of buildings can be recognised by their original names.
Cliff cottages, as has been before explained, were the houses which are now numbered 5 and 6 Eversfield place, eastward of which was Lossenham Villa, in which Mr. and Mrs. Woodford resided, and to which Mr. Woodford afterwards attached four other houses, which he designated Agincourt terrace. At a later period Mr. B. Tree erected a contiguous range of houses, thus extending the front line still further towards Hastings, and for a time this block of buildings was known as the “Seven houses.” A time came for a further extension eastward, and ultimately the united erections merged into the appellation of Eversfield place. Mr. Woodford’s five houses were then re-named Glenstone (now 7 Eversfield), Alma , Rockingham , Agincourt , and Rushton .
It will be understood that the houses and shops constituting 1 to 4 Eversfield place were not then existent. These were built afterwards, as were also Nos. 2 to 12 Warrior square, immediately contiguous. The first three (2,4 & 6) were erected by Messrs Voysey, Cooper and Putland. Nos. 8 and 10 were built by Mr. John Kenwood, one of which was sold to Lady Paget, and the other to Mr. Ranger. No. 12 and the offices behind were built by Mr. Beecham, who, with his son occupied the said offices some years as solicitors. These were all designed by Mr. George Voysey.
Mr. Voysey also built Nos. 5 and 6, and afterwards No 7, Norman-road East, now known, without the distinction of east and west, as 15, 17 and 19 Norman road; the numbers thus running the reverse way. He also designed the Norman Hotel, the work of which was performed by Messrs, Smith and Nicholas. Having already given some particulars of the lower east side of Warrior square, I will take my readers across to the corresponding portion on the west side. The houses here known as 1 and 3 were designed by and built for Mr. Walter Inskipp; then followed 6 and 7, erected by Mr. Voysey. The next three houses, 9, 11 and 13, were built by Mr. Joseph Brown, whilst 16 (the afterwards enlarged, lavishly furnished, but. unsuccessful Oxford and Cambridge Hotel) was constructed by Mr. Howell. I am now reminded that the stately and strongly built mansions, 21, 23 and 25 Warrior square, erected in carcase for Mr. James Troup, ceased being proceeded with in 1845, and remained unfinished for several years, in consequence of Troup's disagreement with Mr. Ricardo. Troup’s idea, as I understood at the time, was that Ricardo was to advance money to any extent, whilst the latter gentleman contended that the amount, although undefined, was limited. Mr. Troup - as has been shown in other matters already treated of — was a man of unbending self-will, and to prevent a final adjustment of the dispute, betook himself for a long period to France. He did not, however, forget to order his distribution of Christmas beef to one hundred poor families.
It was in the same year that Henry Tompsett, the hale and active octogenarian and ex postman, commenced his bi-daily journeys between the Hastings and St. Leonards post-offices, and it was on one of these journeys that he was able to reply to the exclamation ”Hollo! what's all this?” of a workman engaged in preparing the foundation of a house in Eversfield place, by assuring him that he had dug down to the beached and faggoted road which skirted the crooks and crags of the cliff in bygone times. Yes, that was the road, portions of which, in Tompsett’s and my own remembrance, used to be frequently submerged by the sea, but which is now a hundred feet out of harm's way, notwithstanding the fuss and fume of some of our townsmen about the ever increasing inroads of the sea. Although Mr. Tompsett continued his official duties as postman many years after I had relinquished mine as post-clerk, I naturally felt an interest in the working of the Penny-post system which was developed by Rowland Hill, and the more so, perhaps, as it had been a part of my duty to prepare the local returns required for the purpose.
Five years had now elapsed since the new system was set in motion, and I have it on record that the Post-office returns for the year 1845 showed an increase of twenty two millions of letters on the number of the previous year, and consequently a still vaster number over the number before the penny postage was introduced. The Post Office has always been regarded as an economically conducted establishment, but in 1845 it was especially so, every effort being made to secure as large a nett revenue as was obtained under the old system. The number of employees was quite inadequate to the greatly augmented duties, and both the energies and temper of the officials were at times greatly strained. If anything went ever so slightly wrong, complaints poured in from all sides, whilst for any extra duties exceptionally well performed no acknowledgement was tendered as an encouragement.
Happily, this inconsiderateness has been changed; for, whilst I am writing, a circular is received from the General Post Office, dated January, 1884, which, in reference to the letter and parcels work of the Christmas week is worded as follows :— “ The Postmaster-General wishes to make known throughout the Service his high appreciation of the energy and zeal displayed in successfully meeting the unprecedented pressure of Post Office business experienced throughout the United Kingdom during the last few days.”
I think I have already made some remarks on the meteorology of 1845; but, at the risk of repetition, I may say that there was a gale with rain and a high sea on Easter Sunday (March 23rd) under the influence of a perigeal new moon, preceded by severe frost and deep snows from March 14th to 21st. There was also a late harvest, a wet autumn and a mild and boisterous winter. During a severe gale on Sunday, the 28th of December, a Dutch East Indiaman was driven ashore ”all standing,” at Pevensey Sluice, within the borough of Hastings, the said ship being 800 tons measurement, and laden with indigo, sugar, coffee, silk and other merchandise from Batavia for Amsterdam. She had a crew of 36, all of whom were fortunately saved except one man, who had been six weeks out of health. The ship grounded half a mile from shore, and at high tide was under water. The large poop, common to all Dutch vessels, was speedily destroyed, and a short time sufficed to reduce the ship to a complete wreck. The coast between Pevensey and Rye became strewed with the ship’s cargo, and for the carrying off some of the indigo, two St. Leonards men named Parfitt and Freelove were tried and imprisoned. Of this wreck not a wrack has been left standing, as is the case with the Amsterdam, a ship of the same nationality, which, although stranded at Bulverhythe 130 years ago, still presents its upper timbers to the gaze of the public, By the same gale a Normandy vessel foundered in Rye Bay, resulting, it is supposed, in the loss of the entire crew. A more satisfactory occurrence was the landing at Hastings on the 31st of October of no fewer than 60 lasts (700,000) herrings by 25 boats, the same being sold at from £9 to £12 per last.
When referring to the enormous increase in the transmission of letters at the General Post Office in 1845, it would have been opportune to have mentioned the exceptionally enormous increase of the Hastings Post-office work during the Christmas of 1883. This was the transmission of 640,000 letters and 8,127 parcels.
At the present time of writing the information comes to hand that some two or three old people of Hastings and St. Leonards have put off this mortal coil; and a reminder is afforded me that on the 5th of December (1883) a similar event occurred to Mrs. Maria Elford, the widow of Edmund Elford, the first organist of St. Leonards Church, and the man through whose exertions in collecting the necessary funds, the first organ was provided. It was either in 1845 or a short period antecedent that Mr. Elford resigned the situation, and the cause of his doing 80 ao to be still fresh in memory. The Rev. C. W. Leslie was Incumbent and the Rev. Markham Mills or the Rev. James Murray was curate at the time, both gentlemen resigning their clerical duties at the church not long after Elford’s resignation. But to my story. A daughter of Lord Leigh was in the habit of practising on the organ, with the understanding that she was to engage Mr. Elford’s organ-blower; not because it would be of any pecuniary advantage to the regular organist, but because of the man’s practical acquaintance with the work. It should be here stated that the organ being neither a new one nor a large one, there was a possibility of over-blowing it. From motives of economy — so it was thought — the amateur organist was somewhat inclined to evade the stipulated terms as to the organ-blower, and on one occasion she obtained the key from the curate and enlisted the services of her brother or some other gentleman to inflate the bellows of the organ. This service was indiscreetly performed, and as an unfortunate result the bellows became “ broken-winded.“ On the next practice night for the choir or the next Sunday service — I forget which — both the organist and his blower were disconcerted, and the latter was quite unable to exultingly ask the former, “ Didn't we do that well?” As may be imagined, there was a break-down in the musical service, and following upon that were some unpleasant altercations between the organist and the curate as to the cause and personal responsibility of the accident. Mr. Elford contended that the curate had no right to sanction the manipulation of the lever by an unskilful hand at the risk of disarranging the instrument, and the curate retaliated by expressing an opinion that the organist had purposely damaged the bellows himself to support a crotchet. Ultimately, Mr. Elford was desired to get the organ repaired at his own expense, which order he viewed as an act of injustice, and rather than comply with it, he declared he would give in his resignation. This he did; and so attached to him was his choir — a very excellent one — that as many of its constituents as were free to act as they liked, left the church at the same time, whilst the rest (chiefly school-teachers) cried the next service instead of singing it. It was not long afterwards that there was also a change of incumbency and curacy; but in the mean time many of the parishioners looked upon the disagreement as one that did not place the clergymen in a favourable light, and some of them, to give force to their news, ceased going to the church, At the same time a question was raised as to whether the organ was not more the property of the parishioners who subscribed the money for it, than that of the church. A printed or painted list of those subscribers (at the head of which was the name of the Dowager Queen Adelaide) used to hang in a frame over the stairs which led to the organ gallery, the organ being at that time near the vestibule; but for some purpose, which I cannot divine, unless it was in contempt for the parishioners’ claim, this framed list was first turned against the wall, and ultimately taken away altogether. Some other and still more unfortunate disputations attached themselves to the St. Leonards Church in after years, an account of which it is purposed to give at the proper time.
St. Leonards a Happy Family - Innovation and Surprise at a Ball
besides being a Member for the borough, Mr. Hollond was a member of the St. Leonards board of Commissioners, being elected and re-elected to the latter post more as a compliment than for his attention to its affairs. Anyhow, the only members who attended the meetings in 1845 were Decimus Burton, Alfred Burton, W. F. Burton, G. B Greenough, Thomas Brown, W. Waghorne, S. Chester, C. H. Southall, Major Jeffries, G. F. Jarman, R. Deudney and Caps. Davies. These gentlemen in their official capacity appeared to share in the general prosperity of the year; for, at their first quarterly meeting on-the 25th of March, the Committee reported, somewhat exultingly, that they had been able to pay the whole of the interest due on bonds, as well as the income-tax, clerk’s salary, collector's commission, and tradesmen’s bills. But to this satisfactory statement there was the usual rider that the efforts to obtain further loans were still unsuccessful, and that the provision in the Act of Parliament for establishing a sinking-fund was still impossible to be complied with. In another matter the Committee were more hopeful. They had been in communication with Mr. Scrivens, and were led to believe that the town could be more effectually lighted at the same expense. The sequel of this was an arrangement with the Gas Company for forty lamps to he lighted all the year, less 60 moonlight nights, for £163, instead of fifty lamps, half the year, for £150. The new arrangement was soon complained of by the townspeople, and a resolution was passed by the Commissioners “That the Gas Company be reminded that the town is not properly lighted according to contract.“ This reminder appeared to have no effect, and at a later meeting the Clerk was directed to renew the application for a better supply, and if necessary to take such steps as might be advisable to enforce the performance of the contract. Drainage matters were also taken into consideration, and Mr. Burton was requested to supply a copy of the plan of the town in his possession, with a description of all drains and gratings. That gentleman probably complied with the request, and he did something more, viz., beached and otherwise improved at his own expense the Westhill road from Miss Morley's house (West-hill Lodge) to the house then in course of erection for Miss Moore, afterwards known as Davenham. The Commissioners’ old enemy, Neptune, was now and again troublesome, as he had been aforetime, and in the month of September, as though he were enraged at the persistent encroachment upon his domain, he unceremoniously repeated his breaching antics upon the parade wall. Instructions were, however, given to Messrs. Hughes and Hunter to repair the damage, which, with great exertions, they accomplished in a few hours at an expense of over £20. About three months later, viz., Dec. 28th, the sea became furiously restive under the impulsion of a severe gale, but the tide was not so high on that occasion, and the parade-walls suffered no material damage. The gale was a very severe one, and at Pevensey Sluice a Dutch East-Indiaman was blown ashore, where it became a total wreck. Excepting one man, the crew of 36 were all saved, but the coast between Pevensey and Hastings was strewn with indigo, sugar, coffee, silks, etc. The Commissioners effected many minor improvements during 1845 which need not be described, and they recommended that clauses be inserted in the “ Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway Act” and the “ Hastings, Rye and Ashford Extension Act, 1845,” for securing a supply of water to the town and for providing a station at St. Leonards.
Having referred to the resolutions of the St.Leonards Commissioners in connection with the railways then in course of construction it will be appropriate to quote a resolution passed at a vestry meeting held at the New England Bank (a public-house the site of which is now occupied by the West-Marina railway station)
“That it would be highly desirable to concur with the Railway Company now forming a station at Bopeep, in making a straight line of road between the Fountain Inn, and Harley Shoot, or such part thereof as may be arranged, and in raising the whole or such part as may be made to a level with the railway station; and that the surveyors be authorised, with the consent of the proprietors and occupiers of the premises over which the line of road will pass, to permit the Railway Company to raise and form such road, the surveyors fencing and beaching it, if necessary, at the expense of the parish.”
This resolution was passed on the 27th of March, but ere the company’s work was thus forward, namely, January 21st, a public dinner was provided at the Fountain Inn, and presided over by Mr. Clitheroe, to celebrate the commencement of operations at the western part of St. Leonards. Later in the year (Nov. 3),an influential meeting was held at Hurstgreen to promote the direct South-Eastern line from Tunbridge Wells to Hastings and Rye; seconded, a few days after, by a similar advocacy at the last named town.
The parish officials for St. Mary Magdalen were Chas. Neve and H. P. Hutchings, overseers; John Austin and Harry Hurst, surveyors of highways; C. V. Levett and Wm. Noon, assessors; and T. B. Baker, vestry clerk. Mr. Hutchings filled the office of overseer from March to August, when, in consequence of “moving out of the district,” his place was supplied by Edward Mitchell. The rates levied during the year were two for the poor at 6d.; and; one each for borough and highway at 6d.
I have mentioned the dinner to celebrate the commencement of the railway station, and I must not forget that there was a feast of a more pretentious character held in the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms on New-Year’s Day. The Rev. James Murray — who had been about four years curate of St. Leonards church, and had exerted himself every winter to collect funds for a distribution of coals to poor people - was mainly instrumental in getting the wherewithal for a bountiful dinner of Christmas fare for 250 children of the parochial schools and their parents. The provisions consisted of 250lbs. of beef, with a suitable quantity of vegetables; 280lbs. of Plum-pudding, and some casks of ale. The scene was enlivened by a band of music, and at the close, cheers were given by the recipients for their benefactors — the Bishop of Chichester, the Rev. J. Murray, the ladies, and the schoolmaster and mistress.
Not only was the Rev. James Murray active in benevolent movements during his curacy at St. Leonards (1840-46), but he was also earnest and energetic in the discharge of his minsterial duties. He was one of the clergymen who took part in the formal ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of the new Fairlight church on the 19th of May, 1845. The other ministers present on that occasion were the Rev. W. Pearse, rector of Fairlight (who arranged the service); Rev, C. S. Faught, Rector of Ore; Rev. H. S_ Foyster, Rector of Ail Saints; Rev. H. W. Simpson, Vicar and Rector of Bexhill; and the Rev. T. Vores, Incumbent of St. Mary’s-in-the-Castle. These at the time of writing have all passed to that other world to prepare souls for whieh’ they laboured for many years. The foundation-stone of the new church was laid by Mrs. Milward (afterwards Lady Waldegrave), who contributed a thousand pounds towards the cost of erection, Mr. Lucas-Shadwell also giving £500, together with the stone used in its construction. The ceremony consisted of singing and prayer, preceded by a procession of school-children, the clergymen above named, the churchwardens, and the architect, in whose hands were the plans and coins. The weather was unusually cold for the time of year, thus giving, it may be, a keen appetite for the luncheon at the Vicarage, which terminated the proceedings, The church previously existing on the same site was taken down a few weeks before, but not without a protest from the inhabitants, some of whom declared its demolition to be a sacrilege. It was, however, a mean and uninviting Structure, consisting of a chancel, nave and low square tower, composed of bricks, and in the style, apparently, of the 12th century. It might well give place to the larger and more elegant edifice commenced in 1845, finished in 1846, and represented by an engraving in the next chapter.
If the supplanting of a plain and dilapidated building by one of handsomer design more in accord with modern requirements was thought to be a sacrilege, what will be said of a deed committed in the same year within the walls of a church nearer home, an outline of which is as follows:- On the morning of Tuesday, March 25th, it was discovered that the St. Leonards parish church had been burglariously entered by forcing open the door which led to the vestry-room at the back. Also that a bottle of communion-wine had been consumed, the school donation boxes emptied of their contents, seats removed, a vault uncovered, and the receptacle of a dead body wrenched open. The last named was composed of three coffins, the inner one being of lead. This outrage had been effected with the aid of a pickaxe and a crowbar, but even with such formidable implements the labour must have been great. The coffins contained the remains of a lady named Eliza Dansee Mushet, a native of Gomar, in Africa, who had married a gentleman of fortune, and had come to St. Leonards, with the hope of recovering — from pulmonary disease, but who expired at the age of 22 years, and was interred on the Friday preceding the desecration. It had been stated that the corpse had been buried with the jewels. which the lady had possessed; and to rob the dead of those Valuable articles was the object of the intruders. Such report was, however, without foundation, and the misguided men were disappointed of their booty. The said men were two in number, and having been traced, were committed for trial. Bad as were the actions of the evildoers, they did not bear out the many exaggerated accounts which were circulated at the time; and it was fortunate for the husband of the deceased lady that he left St. Leonards on the same morning, quite uninformed of what had happened.
A more agreeable theme is that of public amusements, the principal of which in the year under consideration were the races, the regatta, the archery meetings, the horticultural exhibitions, the Whit~ Monday processions, and sundry balls and banquets, The Annual Races ware held on the 18th and 19th of September, Musgrave Brisco, Esq., and Alfred Burton, Esq., being the stewards, and the weather of the first day, with its storms of wind and rain, being as unsuitable as could well be. It did not, however, much interfere with the attendance at the ball which in the evening was held at the Swan. The same may be said of the ball with which the grand archery meeting terminated on the 17th of August in honour of the natal day of the Duchess of Kent, the weather of that day being similarly unfavorable(sic) to that on which the Races were held. The winners on that occasion were Miss Mackay and Capt. Davies of the 1st Victoria prizes, and Miss C. Broadhead and Mr. W. G. Flood of the 2nd ditto. Miss Mackay and Mr. Flood also carried off the 1st Society’s prizes, whilst Miss Helen Wood and Mr. G. W. Wills took the 2nd. Miss Shewell and Mr. G. Gordon won the 1st prizes for Subscribers and Visitors, and Miss Wanklyn and Mr. Legeyt the 2nd. The prizes were distributed by G. B. Greenough, Esq., the President at that time. Among those who witnessed the sports were their Serene Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Oldenburg and their suite, all of whom had been staying at the Victoria Hotel. These distinguished visitors offered a handsome prize to be shot for at a bye meeting in celebration of their birthdays. The prize was won by Miss Helen Wood. Four special prizes had been previously given by Mrs. Broadhead, the lady of a wealthy family at that time residing at 64 Marina, The last-named prizes were won respectively by Miss Mackay, Miss Parry, Dr. Burton and Miss Davies. - The same unfortunate weather also came on the Regatta day, Angust 26th, which prevented the sports taking place, excepting a sailing match. The boats were started at 10 a.m, in a strong S.W. wind, and ere they had proceeded far on the course — twice round two buoys moored off the Victoria Hotel and Bexhill — they were drenched, as were some of the people on shore, by one of the heaviest downpours of rain which had occurred for many years. The race occupied five hours, the winners being Swain’s “Three Sisters“ and Cobby’s “Ella Nancy.”
The Archery balls and Race balls were not the only terpsichorean festivities of the period, another annual event of that character being the ball at the Assembly Rooms in connection with the Adelaide Lodge of Oddfellows. These balls were usually arranged by the officers and a few other members of the Lodge under a guarantee fund, whilst the profits accruing from the same were applied to the Widow and Orphans’ Fund of the society. In the present case the surplus was between seven and eight pounds, and the date of the entertainment was the 13th of February. I need hardly say that the banners and regalia of the Lodge, and the scarves, honours and other insignia of the members, added to the permanent adornments of the rooms, gave a brilliancy to these annual events unsurpassed by any similar scenes which the St. Leonards people had an opportunity of witnessing. They were occasions too of unalloyed pleasure to all concerned. But, alas! how have the mighty fallen! The balls have long since been discontinued, the object of their philanthropy has long since ceased to be the recipient of the annual benefit, and but very few persons are now living who participated in the pleasure. The town was then but seventeen years of age, and the subsequent period has made sad gaps in the social community which then existed. I use the word advisedly, for there was more genuine sociality when the inhabitants were comparatively few and were intimately known to each other as a sort of happy family who soothed each other’s sorrows and shared each other’s joys.
Where are now the neighbourly gatherings, irrespective of creeds and politics—the fireside circles of friendly intercourse—the private dancing parties during the winter and the occasional picnics during the summer—and, above all, the musical meetings ‘in their round of reciprocity at each other's dwellings? I ask, Where are they? and Echo answers “Where!” The response of a younger generation ‘would probably be “You had no Pleasure Pier, no ‘theatre, no temperance entertainments, no railway-excursions, no Blue-ribbon and Salvation Armies, and consequently no such means for religious revivals and recreative reunions as are open to our latter-day folk.” True! and yet for all that, the social life of St. Leonards at the time of writing is not to be compared with that of 1845, when each member of that smaller community was more in sympathy with his fellow and less solicitous for personal or party advantages. But I am digressing. It is my will not to forget that the Oddfellows’ ball above described was witness to a novel innovation, and one which may be even regarded as an outcome of the sociality which then prevailed. In a school room at 17 (now 69) Norman road, a select, but not exclusive bi-weekly quadrille-practice was attended, not only by young people, but also by many middle aged inhabitants, who, although otherwise good dancers, had not learnt the more fashionable terpsichorean exercises, St. Leonardensis, I am vain enough to say, was the dancing-master, and there are still a few survivors who are ready to attest the fact that his system was a successful one. But the trainer, in that as in many other things, was nothing if not practical; for after thoroughly drilling the quadrillers in the recognised ”First Set,” ”Lancers”, ”Caledonians,” &c., he composed the music and presented the figures of many other sets of. quadrilles, in which both novelties and antiquities were introduced, and in which the whole of the executants were kept moving from beginning to end. As this was an event in which History is barely likely to repeat itself, and as, moreover, it Pg.279 has been incorrectly bruited that a comparatively modern conductor of quadrille parties was the first to introduce that kind of amusement to the St. Leonards people, it may be permitted me to dwell on the subject to a greater length than would otherwise be deemed necessary. The plan of the tutor was to first walk through the figures with his pupils, himself acting as a partner to every lady and every gentleman in turn, and never suffering a second or third figure to be attempted until the preceding one had been thoroughly mastered. Then when a knowledge of the entire set had been acquired, the tutor would take an instrument — sometimes a flute, sometimes a violin, sometimes an accordion, but more often a guitar — and perform the appropriate music, When it happened to be the last-named instrument, an organophonic accompaniment was applied, and to this was usually added the vocality of the quadrillers, who, entering into the whole thing with an enjoyable zest, thus constituted themselves a kind of band, whilst they traced the figures and measured the music with their feet. And now for the grand demonstration - or, as I have already called it, the innovation — which evoked surprise at the Oddfellows’ ball. The bandsmen, under the direction of Messrs. B. Wood and E. Elford, had left the orchestra for the supper-room, when the Norman-road quadrille party, forming three sets, placed themselves in position, as by pre-arrangement, and immediately led off with the new figures and the original music to which they had been trained. Their band was entirely vocal, and such was the effect produced that the rest of the company showed their appreciation with hearty plaudits, whilst the musicians got up from their seats to feast their eyes on the performance.
Musical Adaptations - The Battle Abbey Painting
It was perfectly easy for this quadrille party to constitute themselves a vocal band; not only because they had learnt all the tunes during their private practice, but also because many of the original quadrilles to which they were accustomed had the advantage of being adapted from popular airs.
I am now, in 1897, revising (perhaps for posthumous publication) what had been previously written of the events of 1845; and, as it is 43 years since I relinquished the profession of music for the more serious work of a journalist, I have an old man's curiosity to renew the acquaintance of some long hidden music books. The first that comes to hand is sufficient to illustrate the facility of vocalising the quadrilles (still in manuscript) danced on the occasions referred to at the Assembly Rooms. The first in this particular book is called "Brett's 27th Sett" dated 1844. Further on is "Brett's 8th Sett," adapted from "I'd be a butterfly," "See the Conquering comes," "Matrimonial Sweets," "Home sweet Home," and "Here's a health to all good lasses." The 9th sett begins with "Oh no, we never mention her," followed by adaptations of "Miss Lucy Long," "The Trances," "The Garland of Love," and "My Heart and Lute." The Tenth Sett is similarly adapted from popular airs, and the "Eleventh Sett" is arranged from Scotch songs.
By such adaptations several other quadrilles became favourites with my quadrille classes, as well as not a few of those which were exclusively original, together with numerous polkas, waltzes, gallops, country-dances and songs, mostly composed, I find, between the years 1840 and 1854, during which period the arranging of music for two distinct bands (brass and string) fell to the lot of the present writer.
Apropos of the guitar, I shall have something more to say anon of this useful but generally abused instrument. That to exhibit its full capabilities much practice and some little ingenuity is required cannot be denied, but that it was possible for St.Leonardensis in, the hey-day of his musical career to produce from it the melody and harmony of waltzes, quadrilles, polkas and country-dances with sufficient power for a goodly number of dancers, may be credited by those who, a few months ago, had their ears ravished on the Pier by the vastly excelling performances of an American executant upon four banjos at once, each instrument being less a banjo than a guitar.
I have said that the music provided for the Oddfellows’ ball in 1845 was by Messrs, Wood and Elford (or rather by Elford and Wood) the latter being a member of the Adelaide Lodge and the conductor of the St. Leonards Band, then in a declining condition, and the former a joint-conductor of the old Hastings Band, also becoming effete. It was about that time that certain members of the two bands amalgamated, and performed alternately on the Hastings and St. Leonards parades. It must not be supposed, however, that it was this united band of wind instruments which was engaged for indoor service. No: the two principals here named were respectively performers on the clarionet(sic) and ophicleide on the parades, and the violin and pianoforte to indoor assemblies. And here I desire to record my sense of the musical tact and ingenuity of Mr. Elford, whose enthusiasm in his profession shortened a useful life, and at the same time to pay a compliment to the efficiency of the old Town Band, of which Mr. Elliott was the ostensible leader and Mr.Wood a most valuable member. It is another of those many coincidences which keep cropping up, that at the instant of my writing, a grand stand is being erected on the White-rock parade for the Town Band of the present day, whilst in 1829 a grand stand was erected on the Marine parade for the Town Band of that period, whose services I have had to lay under consideration in my account of 1845.
I have said in the next chapter that Lady Webster and Madame Bergeret were brought home from France in the baronet’s yacht, and it may be added that after many years had passed end her ladyship had become a widow, it was “ Madame ” who gave the present writer the first intimation of Lady Webster’s desire to present to the Corporation of Hastings the large historical painting which for many years had occupied a conspicuous place in the Hall at Battle Abbey.
I was asked if I thought the Corporation would receive it and preserve it; and I ventured (unofficially, but perhaps officiously) to promise three things on their behalf: Firstly, that they would, undoubtedly accept it; secondly, that they would be grateful for it; and, thirdly, that they would be sure to preserve it. This conversation was held on the occasion of one of my visits to ” Madame,” when she and the dowager Lady Webster were residing at St. Leonards; and the circumstance is here made mention of because there appears at the time of writing a probability of the painting in question being relegated to a loft as useless lumber. It was understood that when it was first put away in the Market Hall, and afterwards removed to the Music Hall, and lastly to the Skating Rink, such a mode of disposing of it was but a temporary necessity that would be obviated as soon as a new Town Hall was built. When the latter came into existence it was discovered that no provision had been made for the painting which represented the Conqueror William finding the body of Harold. We are now told by some members of the Corporation - who may be or who may not be competent judges - that as a work of art the picture is valueless. To this, however, I can only say that whatever may be its real merits or detects, it has historical associations of the utmost value, and deserves to be preserved as such, I know it as a fact that of the thousands who visited Battle Abbey before the removal of the painting most of them evinced the greatest desire to see it; and that after its removal, many hundreds of persons enquired for it. I say, therefore, that if a suitable place not be found for the picture in the people’s own hall, the townspeople themselves should insist upon some other building provided for it, so that enquiring visitors should not be dissapointed(sic in their search for what to them, at least, is a reminder of one of the greatest event in the history of England and the annals of Hastings. A painting which cost £1500, representing the costumes and armour of the combatants, soldiers bringing forward the dead body of Harold, the Conqueror mounted on his cream-coloured charger, together with a group of Normans, among whom are Bishop Odo, Tostain, &c., surely must have some artistic merit; but apart from that, it possesses an historical interest of both local and national dimensions. - It is to be feared that while we are ever boasting of parks, pleasure-grounds, and other modern acquisitions which are now common to every other town of any pretensions, and which strangers do not come to see, we are treating with the greatest indifference the battle picture, at Hastings, and the ”Conqueror’s stone,” at St. Leonards, which, were they in the possession of other towns with like associations, would be made the utmost of. Had the lady who gave the picture to the Corporation, and her old companion who confided to me the intention of such gift, not gone the way of all flesh, it is conceivable that long ere the time which I am writing, a suitable place would have found for it; but, alas! although their span of life was a long one, it yielded to the inexorable call of Time, and the common lot of all was theirs, Her ladyship died at St. Leonards on the 30th of January, 1867, and her housekeeper died at Hastings, on the 26th of May, 1869. Their ages were 75 and 82, respectively, and their remains were deposited, one beside the other, in the churchyard of Hollington. A handsome monumental tomb records the death of Charlotte, widow of Sir-Godfrey Webster, Bart., and another monumental Stone, but slightly inferior, makes it known that resting there are the remains of “Eliza Bergeret, for 50 years the attached friend and companion of Charlotte Lady Webster.” It should perhaps be stated that at the period to which the gift of the picture to the Hastings Corporation has reference, there were two Ladies Webster residing at St Leonards; Lady Charlotte, widow of the fifth baronet, at 29 Warrior-square, and Lady Sarah, widow of the 6th baronet, at 22 Church road.
In a series of letters written from Hastings in 1826, by a ”Cosmopolite,” who was himself an artist, the writer describes the picture thus:-
”The modern painting of the battle of Hastings is 30 feet long and 17 feet high. In the centre on a cream coloured horse appears Duke William and before him is the dead body of Harold, held up by two of William's followers, whilst another holds up the crown or helmet of Harold. At the sight of this, William starts with astonishment, and the sword falls back out of his hand at this finding, after such a desperate day, the crown of England and his fallen enemy before him.
On his left is Odo Conteville, uterine brother of William, and Bishop of Bayeux. This ambitious prelate seems to express great delight, and looks with eager attention Pg.280 to William to see how he receives this addition to his power. A little behind the Bishop, a monk holds up the banner that was sent by the Pope, and appears to say 'you owe your victory to this.' Behind the body of Harold a soldier points to a bloody arrow as the one that caused his death, he having been shot through the eye. The Normans are distinguished by their heads being shaven, as the monks in Italy are to this day. The Anglo-Saxons [are recognised] by their long hair and long beards, with battle-axes. The Normans are covered with different sorts of armour, and many [appear] with the bow.
In the foreground are dying and dead in various groups. To the left of the picture, a herald on horseback sounds the trumpet of victory. The middle is full of figures to show the manner of fighting. The Normans are pursuing their enemies in all directions. In the distance [are] the hills of Hastings, the sea, &c. At the first view of a picture like this, I cannot give you the description I wish. I must see it again. One is too ready to find fault. I look at the beauties first, and would say of this that the heads of William, the Bishop of Bayeux, and those of two figures kneeling, are exceedingly characteristic. After the battle-piece there is nothing but portraits...A large picture of Sir Godfrey Webster in an old English dress, and opposite is Lady Webster, with a large dog near her. These are by Wilkin, who also painted the battle-piece”
At a much later date (1897) the said picture was much talked about, and the question was asked, what had become of it? I then sent to the local press as a sort of reply my own reference thereto which appears in this history since which it is satisfactory to know the painting has been got down from the lumber loft of the Municipal buildings and after undergoing a process of repairing and cleaning has been hung in the Central Drill Hall.
Mr. E. Marshall, Librarian of the Brassey Institute, corroborates the statement of ”Cosmopolite” that the picture was painted by F. W. Wilkin, who, he also says, belonged to a family of artists, and while engaged in a truthful rendering in water colours of copies of the old masters, he received an order to paint, in oil, on a very large scale, the Battle of Hastings. This, when completed, in 1820, was exhibited at Spring Gardens. It was regarded as a great effort, but was viewed as deficient in effect in consequence of the seeming motionless attitude of the figures. Horsfield, however in his "History of Sussex" speaks of it as one of the best historical paintings he had met with.
Deaths and where buried in 1845
Whilst writing this history for serial publication in the Gazette I had to say that More than one reminder has reached me from constant readers that it is a long time since I described the growth of the town in building operations. This is not strictly accurate, although it must be admitted that a general review of structural augmentation has, not been-submitted since the year 1839 was treated of, Commencing, as it were, with no pre-intention of giving so copious a description of the rise and progress of the town and its associations, my materials were in no way arranged therefor; and if I have not kept my readers so well posted up in some minor matters. of detail as some of them desire, I excuse myself on the ground of being forced by the eagerness of friends and the interest evinced by the public into a more complete retrospect than was originally contemplated, When another year has been brought under notice. seven years will have elapsed between that date and 1839, when a description of the houses and inhabitants was given, It may then be convenient to again review the topographical situation, thereby showing the very considerable changes which were effected during that septennial period. In the mean time, I bring the year 1845 to a close, as I have done several of its predecessors, with an alphabetic list of deaths and places of interment in St. Leonards and its neighborhood(sic), so far as they have come to my knowledge.
Avery, James, 15 months, March 31, St. Leonards.
Atwood, Elizabeth, 74 years, Sept. 21, St. Leonards.
Brett, Frederick, 15 mos., March 9, St. Leonards.
Burt, Emily, 8 mos., April 22, St. Leonards.
Barnes, Edward, 75 years, Feb. 18, Bexhill.
Butcher, Benjamin, 89 years, March, Bexhill.
Beeching, Ann, 84 years, June, Bexhill.
Butterworth, Hy. Whiting, 31 years, March 4, St. Marv’s-in-Castle.
Bird, Jane, 54 years, daughter of W. W., Ksq., of Cape of Good Hope, Catacombs of St. Mary-in-the-Castle, Jan. 18.
Baker, Lady Harriet, 53 years, widow of Sir Fredrick Francis, Bart., and youngest daughter of Sir John Simeon,Bart.,Nov. 16, in the catacombs of St. Maryin-the-Castle.
Breeds, Thos. James, a Hastings merchant, 75 years, May 24, All Saints.
Crowhurst, John, 74 years, June 13, Bexhill.
Collins, Joseph, 71 years, May 21, All Saints.
Carpenter, Thomas, 74 years, Aug. 15, All Saints.
Clark, John, 39 years, Oct., All Samts.
Cornelius, Jane, 7 years, March 28, St. Leonards.
Dundas, Rt. Hon. William, 84 years, Nov. 16, St. Leonards.
Doyle, Georgiana, 20 years, Feb. 20, St. Mary-in-Castle.
Dake, William, surgeon and Alderman, of Hastings, aged 68, Jan. 8, Battle.
Day, Richard Esq., of Bexhill, son-in-law of Alderman Duke, 46 years, Dec. 8, Battle.
Edwards, Charles King, 2¾ years, Jan. 21, St. Leonards
English, Adelaide, 7 weeks, Feb. St. Leonards.
Friend, James, 5 weeks, March 5, St. Leonards.
Frazer, Hugh Mary Ann, 24 years, Oct. 2, St. Leonards.
Foord, Ann, 2¼ years, Nov. 16, St. Leonards.
Foster, Ann, 40 years, Noy. 22; All Saints.
Freeman, Mary, of St. Mary-in-Castle, 47 years, Oct. 8, All Saints.
Faller, Edward, of St. Mary-in-Castle, 30 years, March 27, All Saints.
Gristwood, Mary, 3 mos., April 11, St. Leonards.
Gardiner, William, 17 years, Sept. 15, All Saints,
Gallop, Ann, 70 years, Sept. 1, All Saints.
George, Sarah, of St. Mary-in-Castle, 33 years, Oct.11, 11 Saints.
Grant, Stephen, 24 years, April 2, All Saints.
Graham, Jane Amelia, 22 years, daughter of J. G., Esq., Jan. 3, St. Mary-in-Castle.
Hooper, Isaac, 15 weeks, March 8, St. Leonards.
Hyland, Margaret Catherine, 14 years, July, St. Leonards
Hill, Thomas, 25 years, Dec. 6, St Leonards.
Hubert, Henry, of Westminster, 88 years, June 26, Halton.
Jaffray, Elizabeth, relict of Captain, 76 years, Nov. 17, St. Mary-in-Castle.
Le Geyt, Jane 64 years, Oct. 5, St. Leonards.
Latter, Elizabeth, of St. Clement’s, 85 years, Dec. 7, All Saints.
Lock, Charles, of St. Mary-in-Castle, 18 years, August, All Saints,.
Lodge, Martha, 88 years, daughter of Edward, Esq., and Mary, March 3, St. Mary's cemetery. Her mother, aged 81, buried at same place 11 months before.
Mushet, Elizabeth Dausee, a Indy of colour, 22 years. March 14, St. Leonards Church.
Mills, William, 64 years, Nov. 12, All Saints.
Maybourne, Martha Sarah, 18 years, Nov. 8, All Saints.
Moore, Thomas, 27 years, July 16, All Saints,
Mann, George, 39 vears, June 15, All Suints.
Marris, William, Esq., of Gray's Inn, Oct. 19, St. Mary-in-Castle.
Norman, William, 36 years, July 4, All Saints.
North, Capt. Dudley, 42 years, brother of Frederick, Esq., M.P., Jan. 25.
Penfold, Brutus Henry, 29 years, April 15, St. Leonards.
Price, David, 63 vears, Aug. 25, St. Leonards,
Phillips, Jacob, of St. Mary-in-Castle, 68 years, Dec. 20, All Saints.
Piper. John, of St. Clement’s, 26 years, Dec. 2, All Saints.
Poole, Ann, 52 years, April 30, All Saints.
Phillips, George Tichbon, 3 mos., Feb. 24, All Saints,
Phillips, Jacob, a barrister, 67 years, Dec. 19, All Saints.
Prior, John, 81 vears, Dec. 22, Bexhill.
Russell, William, 16 mos., March 12, St. Leonards.
Roper; Edward. 85 years, Sept. 2, St. Leonards.
Reaves, Jane Mary, 15 years, Nov. 26, All Saints.
Richardson, John, 19 years, Aug. 12, All Saints.
Stanbrook, James Mores, 2 mos., July 8, St. Leonards.
Sharp, Edward, of Ore, 77 years, Aug. 21, All Saints.
Swain, Thomas, 68 years, Dec. 20, All Saints.
Sinden, Thomas, 55 years, Dee. 21, All Saints.
Streeter, Hannah, 88 years, Jan, 19, Bexhill.
Towner, Alfred, 4 mos., February, St. Leonards.
Towner, Anne, 29 years, Nov. 7, St. Leonards.
Thorpe, Thomas, 39 years, ag 19, St. Leonards.
Taught, Sally, of St. Mary-in-Castle, 64 years, May 8, All Saints.
Tiltman, Ann, of Ore, 63 years, May 4, All Saints.
Tutt, Mercy, 72 years, March 20, All Saints.
Wood, Charles, 6 mos., April 24, St. Leonards.
Weller, Caroline, 3 years, Feb. 9, St. Leonards.
Wingham, Mrs, Elilabeth, of St. Mary-in-Castle, 77 years, March 1, All Saints.
Wingham, Elizabeth, wife of George, 21 yeas, March 21, All Saints.
Wood, Henry, 75 years, April 8, All Saints.
Weston, Robert, jeweller, of St. Clement’s; 48 years, July 8, All Saints.
White, Sarah, 18 years, September, All Saints.
White, Susannah, 24 years, Feb. 25, All Saints.
White, Ann, of St. Clements’s, 18 years, April 17, All Saints.
White, George, 41 years, Sept. 18, All Saints.
White, Elizabeth, 62 years, Sept. 20, All Saints.
Wilson, Eliz. Frances, wife of Capt., 49 years, Jan. 11, All Saints.
Yates. Sarah, 65 years, Oct. 15, St. Mary’s cemetery.