Bohemia Farm

From Historical Hastings

Following the closure of the St. Mary Magdalen Hospital, the area fell into agricultural use and it is believed that one wall of the barn was part of the original hospital ​building​s. Sketches of the farm show a tall, narrow barn with a window high up in the end wall. This has a semi-circular arch flush with the exterior of the ​building​ - a typical Norman style and suggests perhaps 12th century work[1].In 1762 the area of the farm was known as "Mrs. Collier's Land," and was farmed by Samuel Cramp, at a rental of £53 10s. This occupier continued on the farm until 1769. The farm was then recorded as being the property of General-Murray, the son-in-law of Mr. Collier; having married Cordelia. The tenancy then changed hands from Samuel Cramp to Benjamin Foster.[2]From 1770 until 1796 the property at Bohemia was described as "General Murray’s land" during that 26 years.

Benjamin Foster continued the tenancy of "General Murray’s Land" from 1770 till 1782, when William Foster — probably his son — carried it on until 1804, when he was succeeded by Mrs. Ann Foster, who, I presume, was his widow, and who kept on the farm for two years longer. During the 35 years’ tenancy of the Fosters and the previous occupancy by Cramp, the house and lands in question appear to have let at the same sum of £53 10s., although they had passed through three ownerships and four tenancies.[2]The third owner was a Mr. Green, thus from 1797 to 1805 the property was described as “Squire Green’s Land.” In 1806 Mr. Webster Whistler became the tenant, and the rent was raised another eleven guineas, thus making it £65 per annum.

After being held by Mr. Whistler for four years, Mr. Henry Farncombe succeeded to the occupancy, when the name of "Bohemia" appears to have been first associated with the farm.[2][3]Mr. Farncombe held it from 1809 till 1813, when it was passed over to Mr. John Vincett, who occupied it for eight years. In 1821 a new tenant was found for Bohemia in the person of Anthony Crisp (a son-in-law of Mr. Vincett’s), who built a malt house on the land, but instead of using it for its intended purpose, made a dwelling of it for himself, letting the farm-house to visitors[2]. When the interior of the barn was excavated in 1862 the centre of the ​building​ was found to be full of skeletons, coffin handles and medieval pottery[4][5].

The farmland extended from Bohemia Road all the way down to the seafront with field names including Maudlin, Hornetey, Curtisse, Churchfields and Wallys. The farm and ​building​s were demolished in the 1880s to build De Cham Avenue. There is an area of land at the junction of Bohemia Road and Magdalen Road just above The Oval where there is a rocky outcrop. This may be what is shown as a pond on C19th mapping and part of the farm.


References & Notes