Brett Volume 3: Chapter XXXVII - St. Leonards 1847
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Chapter XXXVII - St. Leonards 1847
Reminiscences evoked by the Queens Diamond Jubilee
The old and new Bopeep inns
The great snowstorms of 1847
The year's weather in general
The one-man choir at Hollington
The first houses at White Rock and its previous condition (with view)
Verulam Place and the Infirmary (with view)
The new National schools
Railway accidents on the Brighton line and meetings to urge on the construction of the Ashford and Hastings line
Chancery suit, Eversfield v Troup
Interpolatory. Mrs. Hollond, Sir Joseph Planta.
[Brett here started to write the interpolatory paragraphs at the end of the previous chapter and as indexed to be at the end of this, but struck them through - Transcriber]
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Queen Victoria's Jubilee
In "Historico-Biographies", sympathy was expressed for the Royal family on the death of the Duke of Albany, which occurred in 1884, whilst this local history was being written in weekly instalments for the St. Leonards Gazette; and now, in 1897, while the same is being revised for the chance of some sort of reissue, Queen Victoria has celebrated the sixtieth year of her reign. As Her Majesty's sojourn at St. Leonards when Princess Victoria has been fully described and other royal visits have been dwelt upon in foregoing chapters, a few remarks, suggested by the Queen's Diamond Jubilee may not be importune ere the revision of another chapter is entered upon. The time has been, even in the remembrance of the (illegible text) writer, when in Hastings the birthday and coronation-day anniversaries of George III and George IV would be made special occasions for public dinners, public balls and other demonstrations of rejoicing, but those were times when Hastings was a military — and to some extent a naval - rendezvous, and when it was necessary to encourage by every means the ardour and the loyalty of our fighting men. It was also a time when the means of recreation and amusement were neither so numerous nor so varied as they now are; and when, as a consequence, the sympathy for the monarch was less a consideration than the opportunity which was afforded for personal indulgence. If, therefore, we do not now parade our loyalty by means of dinners, balls, and other pastimes specially instituted for royal birth-days and coronation days, it is not because our attachment to the monarch is less sincere, but because our opportunities for showing it are more frequent, and, perhaps, more genuine. “Our virtuous and beloved Queen” is not a meaningless phrase, but a genuine sentiment, felt by the heart as expressed by the lips.
We did not display the warmth of sentiment a fortnight ago, in We do not display the (illegible text) warmth of sentiment on recurrent anniversaries in the old manner of feasting and military parade, although her Majesty's birthday is not allowed to pass away without some recognition. There is at least the customary ringing of church bells, the firing a salute from the Town guns and the hoisting of flags on many a mast.
Queen Victoria is now in her 87th year, and for 60 years, has ruled over this empire. Sixty-three years have also passed since her Majesty and her mother came to reside at St. Leonards
Called to the responsibilities of a throne at the early age of eighteen, she has been Queen of England three years as a maiden, twenty-one as a wife, and Thirty six as a widow.
The term of her sorrow, it will be seen, now almost equals that of the other two stages combined. From the time of her Majesty’s accession to the death of her mother the Duchess of Kent, nearly a quarter of a century elapsed, a period comprising the happiest time of her existence. Then began the series of trials to which the Queen so touchingly referred in her recent letter to her people.
Mother and husband were taken from her within a few months of each other, and in her maturer years she to had to bear the loss of two children who had attained to the ages of 35 and 31 respectively.
Comparing the world now with (illegible text) that upon which the sun shone 78 years ago, in very many respects it seems not the same. At that time the nominal but not actual sixty years' reign of the infant princess' grandfather was drawing to a close. The decrepit old king, for nearly a decade, had been confined in his palace, a prey to an unfortunate mental malady. From the celebration of his jubilee in 1809 until his death in 1820 he knew nothing of the stirring events which were happening in Europe. The disastrous retreat of Napoleon from Russia, his overthrow by the allied armies at Liepsig(sic), the assignment to him of the sovereignty of Elba, his escape from that island, the hundred days, the march upon Paris, the crushing catastrophe at Waterloo, and the banishment to St. Helena never again to be a disturber of the public peace—upon all these events the shattered mind of the aged monarch was a complete blank. Could he have understood what was passing, how grateful would have been to him the intelligence that the tyrant who had deluged the Continent with blood had been successfully grappled with at last! At the time of the Queen’s birth instead of a sovereignty in England there was a Regency, and the chronicles of that day have told us something of what the Court of the Regency was like. The quarrels between the Prince Regent and his wife, afterwards Queen Caroline, had become a national scandal. The vicious atmosphere which surrounded the Court was notorious, and the outlook for the future was a gloomy one. Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Regent, who had been married to the late King of the Belgians, had died, so that there was no direct succession to the Throne so far as the King’s eldest son was concerned. It passed to the next brother, the Duke of Clarence, who had contracted an unrecognised alliance with Mrs. Jordan, an actress. Any issue of such a union could not come to the Throne. Then the nation turned to the next brother, the Duke of Kent, who tor two years subsequently to the death of the Princess Charlotte was childless. At length, on the 24th of May, 1819, a Princess was born to the Duchess of Kent, and the infant of that time has for the unparalleled period of sixty years ruled over the vast domin[ 295 ]ions of the British empire. She was welcomed to the throne with extraordinary enthusiasm, and this is not at all to be wondered at. A young sovereign had been unknown in these realms during more than three-quarters of a century. When George III. died at the age of 82 his eldest son was verging on 60. When George IV. died at the age of nearly 70, his brother and successor came to the throne at the mature age of 65,
the number of years now reached by her present Majesty. Therefore, when the heralds proclaimed on a fine June day in 1837 ‘ The King is dead! Long live the Queen!” it may well be understood that the substitution of a young girl for a race of old and decripit(sic) kings, was greeted with shouts of acclaim. By far the greatest proportion of those who then swelled the chorus of approbation have passed “ to where beyond those voices there is peace.” The Queen remains a dignified and stately figure, looking down upon the ever-varying panorama of life outspread before her. On the day when she was sworn in as sovereign of these realms she subscribed the oath that she would govern according to the Constitution of the kingdom, and this obligation bas been faithfully kept. Many have been the complexions of the administrations from the time of Lord Melbourne
to that of Mr. Gladstone Lord Salisbury, But while Queen Victoria has always been a constitutional Sovereign, it may also be truly said, that ”Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour!”
Great Snowstorms in February and March - Frost and Snow in May
A meeting of the St. Leonards ratepayers was convened on the first of February to elect new commissioners in consequence of the disqualification through non-attendance of Robert Hollond, Esq. M.P., Dr. Harwood, the Rey. J. C. Leslie, Mr. W. Waghorne, G. F. Jarman, Esq., Mr. C. Deudney, and Mr. J. Rock. The result was the re-election of Mr. Hollond, Dr. Harwood and Mr. Jarman, and the election of Rev. G. D. St. Quintin, and Messrs. T. Adams, J. Mann, and G. A. Murton, Dr Harwood and Mr. Jarman, however, declined to act, and Mr. Murton, withdrew on the plea of not having sufficient property. Messrs. Adams and Mann qualified. The Commissioners’ meeting having immediately followed the ratepayers’ meeting, the first business of the Board was to appoint William Smith to the office of Coal Meter, and to order that keys of the fire-engine house be kept at the “Horse and Groom” and the “Coach and Horses,” and that notice of the same be painted up. The Clerk reported that Mr. Carey had completed the raddle (hop-pole) groyne and that certain drains were again defective in the West Marina, the latter making it necessary to employ Mr. Walter Inskipp, who had prepared a plan of drainage from the Sussex Hotel to the Haven, west of the town. The Rev. G. D. St. Quintin regretted that he was legally disqualified to sit as a Commissioner, but would suggest the advisability of placing a flight of steps from the parade to the beach on the west side of the confectioner’s shop [afterwards reading-room of the Victoria Library]. The Gas Company’s offer was accepted to light the public lamps during the summer at 2d. per lamp per night. At the next meeting of the Board, June 25th, which was as usual at the Victoria Hotel, with Mr. Alfred Burton presiding, it was resolved to accept Mr. Woodgate’s tender of £3 14s., in preference to Mr. Carey’s of £3 12s., for constructing wooden steps from the parade to the beach; also to permit Mr. Viner (grocer) as far as they had power, to enclose his house at the east end of the Colonnade same as Mr. Brown (wine-merchant) had done at the west end. Mr. T. Skinner having complained of the assessment of the Upper Mews, lately purchased by him, it was resolved that the amount be reduced from $100 to £80. Also that Miss Dynely be rated at £90 for the privilege of connecting a drain with the Commissioner’s sewer. Messrs Hughes and Hunter's tender of £57 158, was accepted for paving with York stone from 105 to 116 Marina, with the understanding that the house proprietors pay one third of the expense. The Clerk was directed to call attention of the trustees of the St. Leonards and Sedlescomb road to an encroachment above the North Lodge. At the next meeting of the Commissioners (Sept. 29) a letter was received from the Trustess to the effect that they were getting an acknowledgement from the Misses Dynely of their trespass, At the last meeting of the Commissioners for that year, namely, Dec. 27, the only business transacted of any importance was the ordering of two notice-boards of the Hackney Carriage Byelaws to be made and put up.
It will have been seen that the year 1847 was a rather quiet one in so far as the board of Commissioners were concerned, whilst from what follows it may be judged that the work of the Overseers was also not of a laborious character. The nominations for the latter, which took place on Lady Day, were John Painter, Chas, Thorpe, John Peerless, Richard Lamb, and William Chamberlin; the first two afterwards receiving magisterial appointments. - The Surveyors were Robert Deudney and Edward Farncomb, the Assessors were William Noon and Newton Parks, the Outbounds Assessors were Edward Farncomb and Richard Lamb, and the Vestry Clerk was John Phillips, The vestry meeting on this occasion was held at the “Fountain Inn,” the “New England Bank” at Bopeep, which had existed for considerably over a century; having given place to the railway terminus, and being therefore no longer available for parochial transactions. Not far from its site, however, a larger and more modern structure was in course of erection by Mr, Payne, the latest tenant of the old wayside inn, where used to be held an annual fair, and where, before the Bopeep barracks were razed, in 1811, many a soldier was known to have hobbed-nobbed with smugglers, notwithstanding that the former were frequently called upon to assist in the capture of the latter. The new house was completed by the summer of 1847, and on the 22nd of July the second of that year’s vestry meetings was held therein. This meeting—which I had the privilege of reporting for a county paper, there being no local paper as yet existent in Hastings and St. Leonards--was attended by Messrs. Robert Deudney, Robert Eldridge, Wm. Payne, John Peerless, Geo. A. Murton and C. M. Thorpe. At the conclusion of the business, which was not of an elaborate character, Mr. Payne was congratulated on the completion of his substantial and convenient house, which included in its design a spacious room for assemblies. It occurs to me among other reminiscences that I supplied the band for the first balls and quadrille parties at the Railway Terminus Inn, where the floor-boards had no abnormal vibration, as well as for the last dances at the New England Bank, where, notwithstanding additional supports were specially applied for the occasion, the visible contraction of the old walls was was such as to threaten a general collapse. But to return to the parish meetings, the third and last one for the year was on the 4th of November, and at which Mr. Alfred Burton presided. The only business transacted besides the making of a sixpenny poor-rate and a fourpenny borough-rate, was the passing of a resolution to deduct 20 per cent. instead of the hitherto 10 per cent. from the general assessment, an exception to be made only in the property of the South-Coast Railway Company, an agreement having been entered into for a fixed sum of £400 per mile.
The overseers appointed for the Magdalen parish were Edward Mitchell and C, T, How; whilst John Austin and George Voysey were appointed surveyors, and W. Noon and N. Parks assesors(sic). The meetings(which were more frequent and more numerously attended than those of the adjoining parish) were seven in number during 1847, but the business like that of the other bodies already named was of a generally quiet character. The meetings were variously held at the Horse-and-Groom, the Saxon, and the Warrior’s Gate; the levies upon the ratepayers were three sixpenny poor-rates and one threepenny highway rate, an appointment to collect the latter having fallen to Mr. James Everett.
The gratification which one feels in the knowledge that of the many townsmen who attended the parish meetings of forty years ago there are still living a number equal to the digitals of a single hand is chasened(sic) by the reflection that save such few, all have passed over to the silent majority.
Having described the St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen officials, and the principal transactions of the several bodies for the year 1847, it will be convenient here to summarise the meterological conditions of the said year. As viewed in the main, the weather of the year was of an exceptional character, the range of temperature being no less than 78 degrees in our own locality and 87 in some of the more inland districs(sic). The difference of barometric pressure also was as much as 2.18 inches. The temperature of January was 8 deg. below the same month of the preceding year; and, as the month came in with frost and snow, the “Printer’s Devil” of the Sussex Express referred to it in the following ode :—
”Hail Forty-seven! well I know
Your advent great is frost and snow,
While the keen arrows from your quiver—
Imp, though I be—provoke a shiver.
Young Year! to make your first essay
You choose a most untoward day—
The busy day of publication—
For one in my unhappy station.
Now come my bustle, toil and care;
Called here, called there, called everywhere.
Worn from my legs, I dare not drop,
For our Express trains never stop;
Yet all my sorrows shall explode,
Gun-cotton like, in this poor ode.
I'm fairly qualified, I think,
And dabble quite as deep in ink
As Bulwer, Box, or any writer
With intellect a trifle brighter;
And, howsoever Punch may vapour,
Like, him, I spoil a deal of paper.
New Year! whatever you produce
For comfort ornament or use;
Whether you tease us or befriend us,
Or benefits or torments send us,
Or bad men vex, or tyrants lord it,
We'll duly note it and record it;
And to the myriad friends who read,
Express it with a railroad speed.
I watched your latest predecessor,—
Not very fiercely a transgressor, —
But truth obliges me to say
Evils occurred beneath his sway;
Yet, would I have it understood,
He sometimes laboured for our good;
And Charity forbids to fix
Much stigma on old ’Forty-six,
How often on a Friday night,
Toil-worn, and in a piteous plight,
I’ve longed and sighed for foaming beer—
To me, alas ! both scarce and dear.
The rich may look on beer with loathing;
To us ’tis meat and drink and clothing.
Oh, 'Forty-seven ! in your brief reign
Let not the thirsty poor complain !
Remember, poverty’s no fault;
So take, oh take, the tax off malt!
Then Labour's sons well-pleased and happy,
May quaff a cheap and wholesome nappy;
At their warm hearth discuss its merits,
Free from the baneful taint of spirits.”
February was even colder than January, notwithstanding that the maximum temperature once or twice reach 53 deg. On the morning of the 12th, the thermometer at Hastings registered 18 or 19 deg. of frost, whilst at Greenwich, the cold was 7 deg. more severe, and at Uckfield, the temperature was only one degree above zero. This, as may be conceived, was the greatest cold of the year. An almost unparalled(sic) snow storm commenced on the 7th and continued for a week, some description of which will be given further on. The next month was a comparatively dry one, but the mean temperature was still low, being over two degrees below the average, and four degrees below that of March 1846, The thermometer, on one occasion, registered 13 degrees of frost, and on the 11th of the month another heavy fall of snow threatened at first to be as formidable as the one in February, April was even colder by comparision(sic) than the three preceding months, the mean temperature being six degrees below the average. It came in with sharp frosts, snow and cold rain, and went out with severe storms of wind, hail and lightning, (as predicted). During twenty-one nights out of the thirty, a thermometer laid on the grass registered a temperature of between 18 and 32 deg. The 4th day (Good Friday) was unusually cold and gloomy. The first week in May was also very cold, frost and snow being prominent features After the 8th day, however, a period of warmer weather, with growing showers set in, and vegetation improved rapidly, On the 23rd and 28th the heat was quite abnormal, reaching to about 77 at Hastings, and to 84 at Camberwell. The price of corn was kept up, however, partly from scarcity and partly from the greed of merchants to obtain famine exactions. On the 15th of May a load of wheat was sold at Windsor for £31, and in the Hastings market the quotations were not materially less. Trade was also depressed and bread earners were in great distress through the dearth of employment, as is now the case, thirty-eight years later, at the time of writing. It was on the 28th of the same month of May that a public meeting was held at Hastings, under the presidency of the Mayor, (Mr. F. Ticehurst), to devise means for relieving the wants of the poor, mainly in consequence of the high price of bread and the prospect of further scarcity, notwithstanding that the Corn Laws had been repealed ten months previously. There was even greater distress at the time in Ireland, to alleviate which, Lord John Russell’s Government voted ten millions of pounds. Although the next month (June) was five degrees less warm than that of 1846, it was nevertheless a period of thriving vegetation, and hopes were beginning to be expressed that a bountiful harvest was on the way to reduce the price of the quartern loaf from fourteen pence to a price within reach of the half starved poor of these towns. The month of July was in every way favourable to agricultural prospects, the mean temperature being above the average of twenty years, and the maximum for over a week ranging between 80 and 90 degrees. August was another fine fructifying month, the maximum temperature reaching to 83 degrees, and the mean temperature to over an average of twenty years. An excellent harvest was the result. September was as remarkable for its reaction of temperature, the mean being several degrees below average, and the minimum on grass below the freezing point on ten or eleven nights. The 24th was noted for a display of aurora and a disturbance of magnetic instruments, simultaneously with the stationary position of Mars, the quartile relations of Jupiter and Uranus, and an eclipse of the moon. October came with another surprise, the weather being remarkably fine, and the heat four degrees in excess of a twenty years’ average. It had not been equalled in October since 1811, the great comet year as it was called, There were auroral displays and great magnetic oscillations on the 15th, 23rd and 24th. Similar phenomena occurred on the 1st, 2nd and 19th of November; and although the later part was very cold, the earlier part was so much the other way as to bring up the mean temperature to 4 deg. above the average of twenty years. Two more displays of aurora occurred in December, and although many of the nights were cold, the average temperature was considerably above par. The lowest barometric range of the year (28.38) occurred on the 7th of this month, and was said to have been the lowest reading over England for many years.
The snow-storm of the 7th to the 12th of February should now be noticed, it having swept over the southern counties with a severity very rarely equalled. In absolute depth, the snow was said to have exceeded even that at Christmas in the year 1838, although in certain localities the storm of eleven years previous was much more severely felt, the drifts in the valleys and hollows being greater, and the wind which aided the accumulations being stronger. Many of my readers are already familiar with the details of the exceptional storm of 1836, and have been let into the secret of my own adventures in connection with that memorable event. As in 1836, so in 1847, traveling(sic) was entirely suspended, and for almost an entire week the mails were unable to reach Hastings. The storm may be said to have commenced on Sunday the 7th, although it was not till Monday that the depth of snow was so great as to cause serious apprehension. On that day a train from Hastings to Brighton, with fifty passengers, came to a dead lock at a point a little beyond Lewes, notwithstanding that it was drawn by three engines, whilst several other trains were snowed up all night. Pedestrianism, as a rule, was kept within narrow limits, and where it was entered upon as a necessity, it was attended by many inconveniences, and in a few cases with disaster. The Seaford postman, who was several times in danger of being lost, managed to get over twelve miles of ground in fifteen and a half hours. The conflict between the two vapours of snow and steam afforded a subject for the muse of a rhymster(sic) in a Lewes journal, who Express'd himself as follows :-
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“Whoever could dream that the blasterer Steam,
Whose powers we all so well know,
In a trial of skill, and opposed to his will,
Would be beaten by soft-hearted snow ?
“Steam left his abode and took to the road,
With ladies and gents in his train;
And, proud of his might, he e’en screech’d with delight,
But the sequel will show ’twas in vain,
“For the envions snow-his implacable foe,
Determined, it seems, to prevail,
Produced his broad flakes, without any mistakes,
And blocked up the course of the rail.
“The driver was vexed and the stoker perplexed,
When the engine no longer could go;
And many fair faces left Steam’s warm embraces
To be far too familiar with snow.”
Myriads of Ladybirds - One Man Choir - Old View of White Rock
Another violent snow-storm occurred on Thursday, the eleventh of March, and for a time it threatened to be as formidable as the one last described. It was, however, of shorter duration and of less intensity. There was but one other abnormal atmospheric condition of the year that calls for notice, and that was the severe gale which occurred on the night of Saturday, Oct. 23rd. As a concomitant of this storm, Hastings was visited with — not the highest, but certainly — one of the highest tides within living memory, At two hours before midnight the basement of the Albion hotel was flooded, as were also most of the houses at East parade, Marine parade, and Beach cottages. The waves rolled over the parades in immense volumes, and flooded West street and George street, greatly to the detriment of property, as they have done many times since, under similar influences. What those influences were it may be useful here to state, inasmuch as their manifestation seemed to offer & proof that the theory was a sound one which ten years’ observation had enabled me to formulate. On that day at 8 in the morning the moon attained to her perigeal position (nearest to the earth), being at the same time in conjunction with the planet Uranus, and quartile with Jupiter. At night of the same day she was in opposition to the sun, and consequently “full.” These were the combined lunar forces operating at the time on the aerial and oceanic waves, resulting, as has been shown, in a raging wind and a rampant sea. It was a fortunate circumstance that just at the nett time of high water the wind shifted and the flood was checked. But for this change the damage would probably have been more serious.
One of the rarities of the year was the presence of myriads of lady-birds. For an entire week in the month of August these beautiful “fly-goldens” were in such numbers as to cause no little excitement. The fields, the paths, and even the streets were so thickly covered with them that it was impossible to walk without crushing many hundreds of them beneath the feet. They came with a northeast wind, and they took their departure with a change of wind. In connection with the extraordinary snowstorm which commenced on Sunday the 7th of February and blocked up the roads for an entire week, it may be permitted to relate an adventure that has still some interest for a few old persons whose memory will serve them to attest its truth, whilst as concerns the writer, the circumstance itself will afford another instance of his practical application of the aphorism ”Where there’s a will there's a way.”
Being in the practice of music, partly, as a profession, I had yielded to the solicitation to assist in the formation of a choir for Hollington Church; and for this purpose meetings were held at 17 (now 69) Norman road, where a weekly rehearsal of psalmody was engaged in. Matters went on regularly and smoothly, and the new choir became an attraction sufficient to cause an increase in the attendance at the Sunday services. A spirit of emulation was abroad, and in a short time the Hollington choir were occasionally assisted by members of the Crowhurst choir. It should be stated that the church had no organ nor any other instrument of its own that could be used in the musical portion of the service. It therefore fell to my lot not only to exercise my vocal powers, but also to manipulate one or other of three instruments which I generally carried with me into the so-called singing-gallery. On the Sunday which preceded the great snowstorm the weather was extremely wet and boisterous; and the St. Leonards men, myself excepted, were thereby deterred from meeting the one or two Hollington members of the choir who had managed to be present. This resulted in the service being carried out without singing. I afterwards twitted my comrades for their lack of courage, and an all-round promise was then made that every man would be at his post on the following Sunday, even though the condition of the weather should be that of rain; ”snow or blow.” As if to try how far the party could be faithful to their pledge, the weather was of much greater severity than that which kept most of them at home on the preceding Sunday. The wind was keen and the fall of snow was so incessant that on the hill and plains the hoary visitant was several inches deep, whilst in the vales and hollows the depth was as many feet. Very few of the villagers — perhaps not more than thirty—braved the meteorological inclemency in their desire to get to church that morning, but among that few was the present writer, who, after the promise that had been made; was not a little surprised to find himself solus in the choir-pew. Nothing daunted, however, by the unenviable position in which he was thus placed, St. Leonardensis chalked on the slate (as was customary) the hymns intended to be sung; and with voice at double forte, assisted by all the harmony that the six strings of a Spanish guitar could be made to produce, the musical service was commenced and carried through to completion The clergyman (the Rev. H. Rush) as though tacitly admiring the confidence exhibited by him who alone constituted the choir, joined in the singing most lustily as he stood in the pulpit, and his efforts were also aided by the comparatively few persons who formed the congregation. The novelty of the venture. coupled with the rarity of the weather which gave rise to it, caused the day to be remembered and talked about for a long time after; and I doubt not that it is still in the recollection of at least two of the defaulters who have not yet taken their departure from the land of the living. One of these is John Palmer, who before he joined the Hollington choir was connected with the first (the parish) church of St, Leonards; and the other is the now feeble Moses Ades, whose lower diapason. was but little inferior in depth and strength to that of the once-celebrated Tom Wimble. The last-named, I may say in passing, was for a considerable time a musical associate of the Giles family, who mainly constituted the choir at Ore church, and whose excellent vocal combination, together with the preaching of Dr. Fearon, contributed so largely to the Popularity of that otherwise unattractive edifice; Mr. Wimble ended his days at St. Leonards.
At the present time of writing (May, 1885), the premises owned by Mr. Gray, and known as 34 and 35 White-rock place, are being taken down to make room for a larger and handsomer building, the contract price of which is £15,950. As a portion of the premises now being razed was the first erection in that precise locality, and as it was included in my description of the front line between the Archway at St. Leonards and York Buildings at Hastings, when treating of the year 1836, it occurs to me that it would not be inappropriate now to exhibit the growth of house property in that district during the ten years that intervened the date just stated and the year to which this history has reached. Beginning with Mr. Gray's property and proceeding westward, the description will be necessarily inversely to the numerical arrangement, the numbering of the several ranges of buildings being from west to east.
The White-rock brewery was first the property of Mr. Henry Tindall, and was erected in 1831 or 2. This proprietor was more than once called to account for cutting down and excavating the high rock in the rear of his premises, and it may be assumed that he squared the matter with the landowner by making some pecuniary compensation, The brewery was alarmingly undermined, together with the Seaside House (built by Mr. Thorne) and the coach-building premises (built by Mr. Rock) during the severe gales and rough sea of October, 1834,when an immense chasm was made in the road, similar to those witnessed more recently in other parts of the sea front. On that occasion her present Majesty on her arrival at Hastings, was obliged to travel a circuitous route to St. Leonards over the hill (as heretofore described in detail), and for some time the direct route from one town to the other could only be made on foot, and even by that means a small toll had to be paid to those who at the breach had erected a temporary bridge with planks, About 1838 the brewery was in the possession of Messrs. Charles Deudney and Harry Hurst, the latter partner living in the house immediately contiguous. In 1846 the premises passed into the hands of Peter Pagden, a gentleman of considerable ability, genial manners and generous disposition. He had a great fondness for music, a fact that was made patent to myself through a number of brief engagements offered to, and accepted by, the band with which I was then connected. Between the brewery and what is now the White-rock post-office (35 to 29) there was a plot of unoccupied ground for some years; but in 1842 the house now known as 32 was built for Mr, John Coussens, and let out in apartments by Thomas Cordwell. Twelve months later 31 and 30 were erected by Messrs. Beal and Coe, two highly respected stonemasons, who had previously occupied business premises not far from Trinity Church that now is, and had a stone depository, with saw-sheds on the site of the “Black Pond,” which, pond on being drained, many years before, disclosed to view some huge timbers, together with sturdy flood-gates and other remains of a sluice. Mr. Coe also built what is now 50 Queen’s road, but which was previously 14 St. Andrew's road, and originally 11 Spring terrace; its first name being suggested by an excellent spring of water on the opposite side, which is still in existence, with the appliance of a pump. My obituary list gives the date of Mr. Coe’s death as January 27th, 1859, and that of his widow as March 30th, 1873. Their ages were 69 and 85 respectively. A niece, who lived with them, was a Miss Smith, afterwards Mrs. Miller, whose son (Mr. J. C. Miller) is the proprietor of the Queen’s-road refreshment rooms and the Queen’s-avenue restaurant. Mrs. Miller having been for some years the proprietress of 30 White-rock place, which was built by her uncle in 1842, brings me back from my digressive, albeit associative reminiscence. The next three houses (29, 28 and 27) were the property of Mr, Edmund Strickland, who had a steam flour-mill and coal yard from about 1838 till 1844, after which the latter was successively let to Harry Hurst and Peter Pagden. So far as my memory serves me there was no definite appellation to Nos. 34, 31, 30, 29 and 28 until the year 1840, when Mr. Hurst took possession of the brewery-house simultaneously with the marriage of the Queen to Prince Albert, and the name of Albert place was at once given to those five houses, The next six houses were designated White-rock place; No. 1 commencing with what is now 26, and No. 6 — being what is now 21, The first four were the property of Mr. William Austin, the fifth belonged to Mr. John Austin, and the sixth was owned by Mrs. Sophia Howell. In 1847 and two or three preceding years, Mrs. Howell’s son (Mr. John Howell) had a carpenter's shop behind his mother’s house and when I tell my readers that the young carpenter of that date has since been one of the greatest builders, one of the most active politicians,
and a Mayor of the town, and that he is now one of the largest property holders of Hastings and St. Leonards, they will readily imagine that the history of his private enterprise and public career would be one of considerable interest.
I have said that the White-rock brewery was in the possession of Messrs. Deudney and Hurst about the year 1838, and that Mr. Hurst occupied the house next to it in 1840; but I was forgetting at the moment that the said partnership commenced in the latter year, and that for two or three years previous to 1888, the brewery firm was known as that of Deudney and Fagg. And now that the site is being cleared and a number of human bones have been found below the surface, I will interpose a few remarks in support of the conjecture that the bones in question may have fallen, ages ago from their high estate on Cuckoo Hill where was St. Michael's Church, attached to which, in all probability, was its burial ground. That these relics of a past age have been discovered just within the parish of St. Mary Magdalen (originally St. Margaret's) and on the very confines of what remains of St. Michael’s, is no barrier to the plausibility of the conjecture. The dividing line of the two parishes might have been a few feet or a few yards more to the west at an earlier period, and the portion of the brewery site where the skulls and other bones have been found might have been within the boundry(sic) of St.Michaels but even without that hypothesis, my readers have only to be reminded of the old condition of the locality to imagine the likelihood of any object falling from the top of the cliff to the area below in a direction either east or west of a direct descent. I well remember the immense mass of fallen earth, sand and pieces of rock which formed the somewhat rounded foreslope at the spot, under consideration even within as late a period as that between 1820 and '30; and I have myself climbed up that mass of debris to the “sand-holes,” some of which were within twenty or thirty feet of the top. This accumulation was being continually added to, both by the occasional disintegration of the cliff and by the refuse from the excavations by poor people who got a living by selling white sand from door to door as boys do at the present time by selling “pipe-clay,” similarly obtained. Even that large accumulation would have been greater but for the necessity of the parish authorities, together with the possessors of the lime-kilns and the rope-walk, having sometimes to remove a portion of the base to make the narrow approach to the steep White-rock road at all passable.
The mass of rock and sand at the bend of the road in the accompanying view is
that part the spot where the brewery was afterwards built, and where in 1885 the human bones were found on the demolition of the brewery and the making of further excavations for the erection of what is now the Palace Hotel. It will be seen that the engraving represents that part of the town before the road was levelled and the White-rock houses were built.
[ 297 ]
Having referred to, and given the dates of, numerous sand-getting accidents in bygone years at White Rock, it may not be out of place to narrate a few other occurrences at that once picturesque but somewhat dangerous spot. On Friday, Nov. 20th, 1778, a soldier of the Queen's Royals, whilst traveling(sic) from Eastbourne to Hastings fell over the White rock road,a depth of about thirty feet, on to the beach, where the poor fellow lay until his moans attracted someone to his assistance. But on being removed his injuries were found to be so severe that his life was despaired of. It was the same soldier, I believe, whose remains were interred at Hastings with military honours on the 4th of February following.
On the 23rd of January, 1790, four lads, while in the act of digging sand, were buried beneath a fallen mass, and one of them was got out dead.
In 1794 the Admiralty decided to construct a gun-battery on the White Rock, but the work was not carried out until three years later, when after the battle off Cape St. Vincent, Commodore (afterward Lord) Nelson, under Admiral Sir John Jervis capture the San Josef, a three decker, and a triplet of her guns being brought home were placed on the projecting portion of the White Rock, between which and the cliff at a still higher elevation, the road leading from Hastings to Bopeep formed a sort of saddle.
Accidents and Fatalities - White Rock Guns
In the absence of such a view as is here presented, to those who are not old enough to have seen it, it would be almost impossible to realise the general contour of that locality, howsoever minutely it might be described. The imagination, however, may be assisted by a glance at the cliff, caverns and sand banks in the eastern part of Hastings as they still present their bold, outlines and other interesting features to the curious gaze of strangers. If it be objected — as I happen to know it has been — that the comparatively thin crust of earth upon the solid rock at Cuckoo (St. Michael's) Hill does not favour the supposition of its having served as a place of sepulchre, the same objection might be urged against other parts of the cliff, such as those in the rear of Verulam place, Eversfield place and Norman road, at all of which spots large numbers of human bones have been found when the debris was being cleared for the foundation of houses. Religious edifices (including those of St. Margarets and St. Leonards) are known to have anciently existed and perished at these places, and there is no good ground for believing that the church of St. Michael was less provided with an attached burial-place than were those of other parishes. It is sometimes said that history repeats itself, insomuch as that which has happened may happen again; and applying this aphorism or truism to the present as it relates to the future, one has only to look at the burial-ground on the hill contiguous to the St. Leonards church, and the great mass of fallen earth in front of it, to imagine where the contents of the graves may be found a few centuries hence. Although so comparatively modern as is that small cemetery
only 50 years having elapsed since its formation - its preservation even to the present time has been due to sundry and costly contrivances which it has been found necessary to adopt. I see in the newspaper reports of the finding of human bones at White-rock place, an alternative suggestion that the bodies of smugglers may have been buried at that spot in the days when deadly conflicts were rife between contrabandists and Government employés. Judging from the records in my possession of such conflicts - records more numerous, perhaps, than those possessed by any other person—I am emboldened to say the latter suggestion is hardly likely to be Horne out by facts. Of greater likehood, I trow, were occasional fatalities in the getting of white sand — a practice already alluded to — a mass of rock, it may be, on some few occasions fell upon and buried those whose undermining process had rendered it insecure. I do not know that I have any record of such fatalities in which the bodies were irrecoverable, but the readers of the Gazette who may have filed their copies will find that The Postman, when describing "The Sand Rocks" at Gloucester Place, in the number for Sept. 23rd, 1582, incidentally referred to several fatal accidents from such cause at the White Rock and other cliffs. The several dates of these unfortunate occurrences were there given as Dec. 1th, 1809; March 26th, 1806; April 4th, 1813; Aug. 10th, 1822; Dec. 2nd, 1823; and May 4th, 1824, I have dwelt longer on this incident than I intended, but the reminiscent associations are sometimes so numerous or so ramified that when I begin to digress, I can hardly tell where I am likely to stop at.
I have already described the property between 35 and 21 White-rock place inclusive as consisting, in 1847, of fourteen houses, thus showing that eight had been added to the number since 1836. Some of these earlier houses were reconstructions of those which at the bidding of the Woods and Forests Commissioners had taken their, and all of them were specimens of architecture devoid of uniformity, and with but little pretension to stateliness or elegance.
It will be seen that in tracing the White-rock houses from east to west, I have only got from 35 to 21; and here for the present, I must stop, as the other block of twenty houses were in course of erection in 1847, and consequently, were not fully and properly in existence up to that date. Albeit, before quitting the older half of White-rock place, I will repeat a statement which I believe I have previously made, that there existed, in my younger days, a recess in the rock at about half way up the road, from which flowed a copious spring, useful alike to man and beast. It was from this spring that a considerable number of the nicknamed “Americans” (denizens of the Priory or Holy Trinity) obtained their drinkable water, it being conveyed to them in budges and doled out at a halfpenny per pailful. This spring (from which I have many times quenched my thirst in summer, and from which, in hard winters, I have seen pendant and stalectitic(sic) icicles in beautiful clusters) was a source of trouble at first to those who wanted to build, but was afterwards utilised instead of being diverted. The receptacle prepared for it was, I believe, behind what is now 24 or 25 White-rock place; and although it at one time contained several thousand gallons, it is now reported to be dry. It is therefore probable that the town is still getting the water through some other channel.
Having referred to, and given the dates of, numerous sand-getting accidents in bygone years at White Rock, it may not be out of place to narrate a few other occurrences at that once picturesque but somewhat dangerous spot. On Friday, Nov. 20th, 1778, a soldier of the Queen's Royals, whilst traveling(sic) from Eastbourne to Hastings fell over the White-rock road,a depth of about thirty feet, on to the beach, where the poor fellow Jay until his moans attracted someone to his assistance. But on being removed his injuries were found to be so severe that his life was despaired of. It was the same soldier, I believe, whose remains were interred at Hastings with military honours on the 4th of February following.
On the 23rd of January, 1790, four lads, while in the act of digging sand, were buried beneath a fallen mass, and one of them was got out dead.
In 1794 the Admiralty decided to construct a gun-battery on the White Rock, but the work was not carried out until three years later, when after the battle off Cape St. Vincents, Commodore (afterwards Lord) Nelson, under Admiral Sir John Jervis, captured the San Josef, a three-decker, and a triplet of her guns being brought home, were placed on the projecting portion of the White Rock, between which and the cliff at a still higher elevation, the road leading from Hastings to Bopeep formed a sort of saddle.
On the 13th of October, 1804, a man named Roffe, while driving a waggon over that steep and narrow road, was knocked down by a passing cart and killed by the wheels passing over his body. The All Saints’ register shows that a Thomas Roffe was buried on Oct. 16 — three days after the accident here described.
On Feb. 19th, 1808, a terrific hurricane besides committing much other havoc, blew down a mill on the White-rock, owned by Mr. Cassell [Carswell], the miller escaping as by a miracle unharmed This was the second mill similarly destroyed in that locality, the previous one, standing on Cuckoo Hill (as shown in the Corporation map, of 1746) having been also blown down by a fierce gale.
In the month of October, 1812, a gentleman’s coachman and horses were nearly drowned at the White Rock, in consequence of a high tide flooding the road.
On the 6th of January, 1815, Mr. Thatcher and the Revenue officers, with a party of dragoons cased the smugglers of a large quantity of spirits which they were attempting to ”run” at White Rock. The ”Fair-traders” seeing that resistance would be useless, made discretion the better part of valour.
In 1819 the entire foreshore was inundated by un extraordinary tide, and the damage done to the White Rock and the road, (mainly composed of faggots and shingle) between that and the old Woman’s Tap (now the Victoria Hotel) had to be repaired at the expense of the four or five ratepayers then inhabiting the parish of St. Mary Magdalen The cost of labour was £3 6s. to William Dabney [ 298 ]for 33 days; £3 2s. 6d. to Arthur Fuller, who lived in the shepherd's house at the top of the White Rock (now the site of White-Rock Villa) for 34 days work; £19 10s. to Mr. Whyborn (who lived at Bohemia) presumably for cartage of materials; and £1 Os. 8d, to a boy, for 31 days work.
On the 19th of August, 1822, a lady and gentle. man were thrown out of their tilbury at White Rock, but not very seriously hurt.
The Infirmary - The Hancocks - The MacKays - Railway MattersAt the commencement of 1826 the White-rock road, which still led on to the western entrance of Hastings at the Priory bridge, was considerably improved, there being a line of posts and rails from the part where the chalk-sloops and colliers discharged their cargoes (at the slipway where the steps now are at the end of the Baths) up to the top of the road, to the south and to the height of (what is now the
I have said that at Verulam place no structural alterations had been made, and it may be added that even the residual changes up to that time had been but few. David Manser was still the owner of Nos. 1,4, 9, and 10, these being tenanted respectively by Mrs Charlotte Gilbert, Mrs Ann Baldock, (in lieu of Jno. Geo. Glanfield ) Mrs Fuller and Thos. Cox. No 2 had been purchased by Jos, Sidney Cooper, who had disposed of his business known as the Battery or Powell’s Library to Geo. Curling Hope, and had accepted Spencer Catt a lodging-house keeper as his tenant. No 3, which was still the property of William Creswell, had changed its tenant from Edmund Fuller to Robert Ransom, a surgeon-dentist.
Nos. 5 and 6 (which with No 7 were converted into the Grand Hotel 37 years later, through the enterprise of G. C. Hope, above mentioned), were owned by Edward Hilder and rented by Nelson Andrews, the latter with his wife having failed to make a fortune as a silk mercer, glover &c, at Pelham place, turned his attention to lodging-house keeping. No. 7, owned by Charles Pilcher, was still occupied as a private residence by Miss Hancock, as it had been for twelve or more years, whilst No.8, also the property of Charles Pilcher, was the third house rented by Nelson Andrews, where he also had a small shop — the first and only place of business in that range of large and handsome dwellings.
Apropros of the Han
dcock's a brother and four three sisters together, with the brother's widow, have been interred at Fairlight - namely Lieut. General Hancock in 1872, aged 70; Susan, his widow, in 1890, aged 88; Frances Hancock, in 1888, aged 84; Lucy, in 1879, aged 71; and Caroline in 1896, aged 89; thus, on the whole, a long-lived family.
Between Verulam place and Clift Cottages (now 2 and 6 Eversfield place) there was still an open space of about 500 yards — a full quarter-mile, — with a rugged cliff to the north, the sea to the south, and between them a fairly formed parade, parallel with a loose shingly road, and an unkerbed and somewhat dangerous gravelled path. Lamp-posts there still were but no lamps, and to grope one’s way over this via media in a dark and, perhaps, a stormy night, was by no means a pleasant or easy task. In coming from Hastings, as it was my practice to do four or five nights out of seven, it always afforded me some mental relief to have reached Cliff Cottages, No.1 of which was still owned and occupied by George Duke, barrister-at-law, and No. 2, owned by John Jeffery and let to Miss Hill.
It was in 1849 that two fancy fairs were held in the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms on behalf of the Infirmary fund and a fund
for that was being raised for the St. Leonards new National Schools. The first was held on the 21st and 22nd of October, the stalls being beingattended by the Countess of Antrimm, the Countess Waldegrave, Lady Webster, Mrs. Robert Hollond and Mrs. Musgrave Brisco; the two last-named being, respectively, the wives of the two rival M. P.'s who, as before stated, exerted themselves greatly for the general welfare of the borough. The admissions on the first day were about a thousand, and the receipts were £450. On the second day, the visitors numbered about five hundred. The Queen Dowager sent £10, and the Lord Warden £5 for the fund. The Ear! of Antrim mounted the rostrum a la George Robins, and disposed of the remnants by auction. The other bazaar was suggested and promoted by the Misses Mackay — three sisters who were mainly instrumental in establishing and maintaining the Archery Society, the Clothing and Coal Clubs, the Parochial schools and some other local institutions. The school bazaar realised a net sum of £155, which amount was added to £868, paid or promised by those who had subscribed to the building fund. In my treatment of 1846, I described the resolutions and plans in connection with these new schools, and it is tor me now to say that at the first general meeting of the Committee in 1847 it was proposed by Mayor Jeffries, J.P., and seconded by Mr. Gilbert, a surgeon, that an additional room be added for the Infant School, the plans of Mr. Burton being submitted to that gentleman for the needful alterations. It was also resolved that the schools be built with stone to be. given by Mr. Burton, the same to be quarried by Mr. Putland, and Mr. Walter Inskipp to be clerk-of-the-works. This last occupation was afterwards declined by Mr. Inskipp on the ground of impaired health. At the next meeting, Aug. 17th, the following tenders were received :
|Geo. Clark Jones, Hastings,||£1564.|
|Burgess and Tree, St. Leonards,||£1456.|
|Hughes, Hunter & Carey, do.,||£1309.|
The last-named tender was accepted, as well as an additional tender of £56 by the same contractors for alterations and repairs to the schoolmaster’s house, which Mr. Burton had sold at a low price to the committee. At the December meeting (with Rev. G. D. St. Quintin, as usual, presiding), thanks were again tendered to Mr. Decimus Burton for his gift of ground, stone and architectural designs; also to Mr. W. W. Burton for his gratuitous conveyancing.
The further progress and consolidation of the schools which have done excellent work during the past forty years, will be noticed when I reach the year 1848.
Among the surgical operations at the Infirmary in 1847 — which institution so largely benefitted by the bazaar of that year — was the attempt to remove a dangerous tumour from a young man while under the influence of ether, The effects, however, of this new anaesthetic were such as to alarm the. operators for the safety of their patient, and at the suggestion of Mr. Ticehurst, the chloroform was discontinued. But a few days only were permitted to elapse ere a lady was relieved of a cancerous tumour by Messrs. Barnard and Hobson, of Hastings, and Dr. Underwood, of Battle. This took place on the 24th of February, and being perfectly successful, was the first painless operation of the kind ever performed in Hastings.
The name of Mackay in connection with the schools and the Archery Society instinctively leads me into my annual review of the latter's proceedings. A committee-meeting was held in London on the 19th of April — whither, as is still customary in April, May and June - the St. Leonards gentlefolk had gone for a change, when Mr. Greenough resigned the presidency, and Sir Thomas Marrable was elected in his place. Nine new members were elected and eight competition meetings were fixed on, together with weekly target days. The resolution of 1844 for making the shooting for her Majesty's prize an open one was rescinded, and a resolution passed for the highest scores in the contest for the Victoria Challenge prizes to have no deductions made for previous winnings. The same prosperity waited on the archery amusements of 1847 as was observable in most other affairs. The weather, too, throughout the entire season was more than usually favourable, whilst the attendance was all of the best. There were 62 shooters, 24 family subscribers to the meetings and 46 family subscribers to the grounds. About 3,000 persons visited the grounds during the season, thus contributing to the fund about £50, whilst the receipts from other sources swelled the total to £183. Over forty pounds of this was obtained at the grand annual meeting on the 17th of August, when his Imperial Highness Prince Peter of Oldenberg was elected an honorary member. On that occasion the gold enamelled bracelet was won by Miss Mackay, and the silver cup by Mr. Cuming, their scores being respectively 308 and 355. The Society's prizes were obtained Miss. E. MacKay with 152 points, and Miss Merrick, with 122, The Visitors’ prizes were carried off by Miss Lomax, Miss Bramley, Mr. H. Ford and Mr. W. Ford, The ball in the evening was numerously attended, there being among the company the Earl and Countess of Antrim, Lady Victoria Wellesley, Sir W. and Lady Clarke, Sir Warren Peacock, Sir Thomas Marrable and family, and other persons of distinction.
Railway matters next claim attention as items of importance in the year under consideration. On the already established Brighton and Hastings — now called the London, Brighton and South-Coast — line three accidents, unattended by personal injury, occurred within two days. The first was on May 22nd, when just as the 9.40 train was about to leave the St. Leonards station, the engine broke down and the passengers had to wait two hours whilst the rails were being cleared and another engine brought up. During the detention, an unlucky painter upset his pot and poured its contents down upon the heads and dresses of several persons who were beneath him. The station-master (Mr. Sutton) made every suitable apology, and promised on the behalf of the Company all expenses that the bespattered passengers might be put to. On the Queen's birthday anniversary, two days later, as the 2 p.m. train was coming on to St. Leonards another breakdown of an engine occurred near the Berwick station. The passengers had to wait until the up goods-train came along, then its engine was made to take the place of the disabled one By a vexatious and singular mischance, that engine [ 299 ]also refused to perform its work after it had got a short distance on the way. Nothing could then be done but to detain the passengers for several hours to. await the arrival of the last_down train. much for the South-Coast line; now for the South Eastern. On the 17th of June a great public meeting was held at Hastings, with mayor Ticehurst presiding, at which resolutions were passed urging the South-Eastern Company to extend their railway from Ashford and Rye to the Priory Meadow at Hastings; also from Tunbridge, via Battle, to the same spot, in lieu of a line up the valley to Whatlington, thence round by Battle to St. Leonards, only, as had been reported, they intended to do.
The excuses for non-attendances at the meeting were somewhat serious. Mrs. Frewen, as one of a recent deputation, was absent and declined any further (illegible text) with the South-Eastern Company until an alteration was made in its management. Mr. Fuller also would be unable to attend
the (illegible text), but he considered Mr. McGregor was a gentleman of too high a character to state that which was not intended to be carried out. Mr. Hollond was not able to attend the meeting, but was warmly interested in the (illegible text) efforts of the inhabitants to obtain the deserved accommodation. Mr. Brisco was unable to attend but was ready to assist the (illegible text)wants of the inhabitants. Mr. North was also unable to attend, but said his previous impression was confirmed that the company did not wish to construct the line in accordance with the Act. Dr. MacCabe would be sorry to see a bad feeling continue between the Company and the inhabitants.
Mr. McGregor had distinctly stated that the line was to be made, but there was no surety given for a station at Hastings, although he believed there would be one. Mr. Putland was not in any way connected with the South-Eastern Company, but he had spent more time in examining the route of the proposed railway than anyone else, and was firmly convinced that the company never would and never could carry out the proposed line. The expense was enormous, the lowest estimate from Rye to Hastings being £400,000. The Company would only be justified in asking Hastings to assist them in applying to parliament for an Act to substitute another line that would be equally advantageous to Hastings. He held that the present projected line was bad in all respects. Mr. Clement would have them bear in mind that Mr. Putland lived at St. Leonards, and that if the station could be kept there, his property would be more valuable than if the station were removed to Hastings. The Mayor believed the Company would never carry out their lines from Ashford to Hastings unless they were compelled to. Ultimately a committee was formed to watch the Company's proceedings. #It turned out that Mr. Putland was decidedly wrong in his opinion and that the denizens of the old town were unduly nervous over the matter, the Company in question soon giving proof of their intention of running trains into Hastings by their purchase of land through Which to make cuttings and construct tunnels. In June and July, the engineers were busy with their theodolite in the taking of levels, and by the middle of August, shafts were being sunk on the Eversfield estate. The deepest one, (that which is now in Pevensey-road west) was 140 feet. The lowest tender that could be obtained for the construction of the tunnel was £80 per yard, which was thought to be an extravagant price, and so the Company resolved on doing the work themselves. A later offer of £50 per yard, I believe, was accepted. Messrs. Newton, Smith, Mendy, and Co. were the contractors, and the work was said to be satisfactorily accomplished. There was some hitch, however, in the South-Eastern Company's affairs, which caused them in the month of October to suspend the works for a time both in Kent and Sussex, and consequently to discharge a great number of workmen.
Having described in the present chapter the commencement of operations for the South-Eastern line of railway to Hastings and related several matters in connection with the South-Coast line already completed to St. Leonards, it occurs to me that the founder of Warrior square — the irrepressible James Troup, as some persons were delighted to call him — had been trying for some time past to start another railway company in opposition to the South another railway company in opposition to the South-Coast Company. Those who have followed me in this history will remember how, as a shareholder in the last-named company, and one who had not paid up his shares, Mr. Troup sought to sow discord at the half-yearly meetings, and had been obliged to submit to a general rebuke for his dictatorial remarks. This self-assertion of a would-be dictator was so persistent in Mr. Troup that he was frequently entangled in the meshes of law, albeit his adroitness, if it did not always clear him of the entanglement, in most cases baffled the purpose of those who endeavoured to fix him in his difficulties. Two legal suits were filed against him in 1847, the first of which was in connection with his own railway scheme. The plaintiffs were Messrs. Dawson and others, who sought to recover in the Court of Exchequer £478 from the defendant as a provisional committeeman of “The Direct London and Hastings Railway Company” for advertisements inserted in various journals during October and November, 1845. It appeared that “actuated by a desire to benefit the country in general and Hastings in particular,” Mr. Troup embarked on the troubled sea of speculation, and in September, 1845, started his scheme for a direct line from the metropolis to Hastings, he having duly registered himself as ”The Promoters.” Part of the patronage attached to this venture was the office of ”Attorney,” and which Mr. Troup bestowed on Messrs. Potter and Collingridge, who, in consideration thereof, magnanimously gave him a written guarantee whereby they undertook to carry out the scheme free from any liability on the part of the one-man “Promoters” they looking to the public for their remuneration. The question now raised was whether Troup, who ordered the advertisements, or the solicitors, who guaranteed him from liability, should be responsible for the cost of them. Troup, of course, shielded himself under his guarantees but then there was the awkward fact that the Company consisted of a solitary individual, who was just then living at Leeds, and who alone had paid his deposits; a circumstance which amidst a rather extensive panic at the time, caused the scheme to fail. Sir Frederick Pollock animadverted on the objectionable method of getting up companies as exemplified in this case, and said the questions were whether the defendant had given the attorneys power to pledge his credit for the advertisements, and whether those gentlemen had pledged his name and credit with the plaintiffs, If the jury thought that these two propositions had been made out, they would find for the plaintiffs; but if not, they would find for the defendant. After consultation, the jury decided in favour of the defendant.
The next was a chancery suit, when, in the month of June, the trustees of the Eversfield estate sued Mr. Troup to complete the purchase of land in fulfilment of the original agreement. It appeared in evidence that Mr. Eversfield's trustees sold to the defendant in 1836 seven acres at St. Leonards for building purposes at the price of £2050. The vendors had also agreed that at some subsequent period the brick-yard and kilns used by Mr. Mercer should be done away with within a stipulated time. They were, however, worked for a longer time and were even then in existence. The defendant contended that the non-abolition of the brickyard was a breach of the contract, for which he was entitled to claim compensation, as it had delayed his building operations. The Lord-Chancellor said, if the agreement to abate the nuisance formed no part of the contract, the plaintiffs would be entitled to their decree, but the defendant would at the same time be entitled to an undertaking that the nuisance should be forthwith abated. That decision of the Chancery Court had but little effect in accelerating a settlement of the dispute, and as other difficulties followed, it was many years before the Warrior square projected by Mr. Troup was carried on to completion, and then not by its founder, but by Mr. Moreing and others, to whom the land was resold for that purpose.
The death of Mrs. Robert Hollond on the 29th of November, 1884—just as I am entering the historic threshold of 1847 - brings to the front a crowd of political associations of the earlier year in which the deceased lady and her less recently deceased husband were prominent figures. It was on the 29th of July, 1847, that Mr. Hollond was returned, a third time, as one of the Hastings representatives in Parliament; his colleague, whom he headed by 16 votes. being Mr. Brisco, of Coghurst Hall. Mr. Hollond’s first election was ten years antecedent to the last-named date, when he became the colleague of the Right Hon. Joseph Planta. who obtained 403 votes, as against Mr. Hollond’s 383. The losing candidate on that occasion was Mr. Brisco, who polled the comparatively good number of 312. This result, as viewed on party lines, was very significant; for whereas in 1835 the number of votes polled for the Conservatives were only 316, as against 665 for the Liberals, in two years’ time the conditions were entirely reversed, the Conservative votes being 715, as against the Liberal 383. At the time of Mr. Hollond’s first election (1837) he was unmarried, his temporary residence being at 2 Breed’s place, and his residential companions being E. L. Richards, Esq., and E. Kendall, Esq. In the following year he took up his abode at Allegria, a pleasant villa in St. Leonards, of which he became the proprietor. It was to this mansion that Mr. Hollond brought his young wife on the 10th of August, 1840, the nuptials having been consummated at the village of Stanmore, near London, on March the 18th of the same year. The bride’s name was Ellen Julia Teed, the only daughter of Mr. Thomas Teed, a Justice of the Peace. For about twelve years out of the fifteen that her husband held a parliamentary seat for Hastings, Mrs. Hollond displayed her amiability among a large circle of friends in her “at-home” balls, dinners and other parties, as well as in many acts of benevolence among the poorer members of her husband’s constituents. She naturally took an interest in the elections of 1841 and 1847, and acknowledged with becoming courtesy the enthusiastic greetings of the Liberals on those occasions, and especially on the chairing days, the magnificent processions of which were events not easily to be forgotten. As Mr. Hollond declined to be put in nomination for the election of 1852, he disposed of this St. Leonards residence to Mr. Coster, and withdrew to his other beautiful mansion, Stanmore Hall, Middlesex. It is there that his widow has recently died at the not over venerable age of 62 years. Mr. Hollond was known to have invested a large sum of money in Hastings and St. Leonards, in addition to the very liberal amount which he expended in various ways, and which, it is fair assume, gave him a considerable hold on the voting power of the borough. I may, perhaps, venture to state that only by the demise of Mr. and Mrs. Hollond has their connection with Hastings and St. Leonards wholly ceased, it being understood that sundry unredeemed or unrealisable properties in various parts of the borough have remained in possession of that gentleman and lady or under the management of trustees until the present time.
The deceased lady survived her husband seven years, the date of Mr. Hollond’s death being Dec. 26th, 1877. In addition to Stanmore Hall, in Middlesex, Mr. Hollond had a villa residence at Cannes, to which he gave the name of Allegria, that being (as before stated) the name of his former residence at St. Leonards. It was while Mr.and Mrs. Holland , were en route for Cannes that the former was seized with inflammation of the lungs. to which malady he succumbed at Paris. Both before and since that time, Mrs. Holland seems to have been as well known in the French capital as at Cannes; and now that she, too, has passed the portals of death a Parisan journal 'La-Justice' refers to the event as of Parisian interest. It says, The deceased lady enjoyed in her widowhood a considerable fortune, of which she made an intelligent and beneficent use. Before her health obliged her to winter in the south of France, she resided a good deal in Paris where she had, during the Empire, the foremost literary and musical salon of the time. It was then called “Le Salon de la Ligue Liberale,” and was frequented by M. M. Guizot, Montelambert, Remusat, Henri Martin, Prevost Paradol, &c. Mrs. Hollond was the original of Ary Scheffer’s “St. Monica.” She had always about her, both in Paris and at her villa, struggling and meritorious Protestants; and one of these, Mdlle Marie Dubois, who, as a pianiste, obtained, last August, the first Erard prize at the Conservatoire, wrote a letter overflowing with acknowledgements of the kindness which she had received from Mrs. Hollond.
Sir Joseph Planta.
Another associative circumstance occurs in the fact that whereas in 1840 Mr. and Mrs. Planta were among the guests at Stanmore when the lady who has just now died at the time of writing was married to Mr. Hollond, so, in 1847, the year to which this History has reached, the death of Mr. Planta was recorded, The right honourable gentleman’s demise occurred at Fairlight place on Monday the 3rd of April, in the 60th year of his age. His father was the late Joseph Planta, F.R.S., a native of Switzerland, who had been long domiciled in England when he became Librarian to the British Museum and Secretary to the Royal Society. The son of this latter gentleman was in early life engaged as a precis writer in the Foreign office, and in course of time became Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which office he held for about three years. He accompanied the then Marquis of Londonderry as Private Secretary to the Congress of Paris, Vienna and Aix-la-Chapelle, and was greatly trusted by that nobleman, to whom his attainments as linguist and publicist were of great value. From May, 1827, till November, 1838, Mr. Planta was one of the joint Secretaries of the Treasury; and although he never took a prominent part in the business of the House of Commons as Member for Hastings (for which borough he was returned in 1827, 1830, 1837 and 1841), he was generally recognised in official circles as a man of great knowledge and ability. He made Fairlight Place — (a rather small house owned by Mr. Milward) — his Hastings residence for many years; but although a man of fine proportions, his close application to official duties so affected his health as to cause him to resign his seat in 1844 by accepting the stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds. At some time during the period 1831-5 the honour of knighthood was conferred upon him, the distinction being a G.C.H. (Grand Cross of the Hanoverian Guelphic Order); and his having also a seat in the Privy Council, entitling him to the prefix of Right Honourable, It would have been difficult to find a man of more presentable features, of more gentlemanly address, or of a kindlier disposition. His death, though sudden, was not altogether unexpected, for his health had been gradually giving way during the previous seven years. His remains were consigned to one of the catacombs of Kensal-Green Cemetery, and his property was left entirely to his wife. He recommended that his papers should be destroyed, but that his wife should first consult her son (Mr, Adolphus Orme) and also obtain the opinion of his esteemed friend, Sir Woodbine Parish, as to what papers it might be necessary to preserve. Where, however, positive directions had been given on the papers themselves, such directions were to be rigidly followed. The right honorable(sic) gentleman was never regarded as a man of great wealth, but he had a large circle of aristocratic and official friends, besides which his personal influence was greater than that which fell to the lot of most other Parliamentarians.
He was thus enabled to procure situations in the Civil Service and other departments for the sons of his constituents when applied to, and in many other ways to benefit the townspeople generally. On the other hand, Mr. Hollond, with his abundance of money, was not slow to assist those who wanted pecuniary help, either by purchasing what they were desirous of turning to profitable account or by lending them money on stipulated securities at less than the usually demanded interest. That Mr. Hollond also spent a large sum of money in the borough in the giving of balls, dinners and parties, and that he contributed liberally to local charities and other institutions, are facts pretty well known to the townspeople of that period. Then there was Mr. Brisco, who was a losing candidate in 1836, ditto in 1837 and 1841, a successor of Sir Joseph Planta in 1844, and again a winning competitor in 1847 and 52. His benevolence and munificence were responsive to every call, whilst the expenses of his electioneering contests must have been enormous. When Mr. Hollond was first introduced to the electors in 1835, a Liberal journal was exuberant in its thankfulness that Mr. Hollond’s wealth would save the borough from the long purse of Mr. Brisco. I think, however, it must be admitted that its effect was to give the borough two long purses instead of one. Anyhow, the commercial and other advantages which accrued to Hastings for about fifteen years through the political rivalry of two long purses and the emulative energy of a third medium, with more of personal than of pecunious influence, were such as I have not since witnessed, and such also as were hardly likely to have been equalled, even in the palmy days of the Lyffes, the Ashburnhams, the Beaumonts, the Parkers and the Pelhams, when the night of election was with the jurats and freemen, resident and not receiving alms. One hardly likes to suppose that there was anything in all this that could by any possible means he considered as partaking of the nature of undue influence, howsoever short a period had elapsed after Parliamentary Reform had been achieved for candidates and electors to wholly forget the pocket-borough system. And yet a dreamy thought almost challenges the bare possibility that imaginations reveled(sic) in the vision of something being due to the electoral body for the preferential bestowal of their votes. It does not seem so very difficult to conceive that something more than an intelligent policy on one side and a purely political conviction on the other was necessary to secure a parliamentary seat even no longer than thirty or forty years ago. When Mr, Elphinstone refused to re-try his chance of election on account of “the ruthless expenditure,” and Mr. North declined a contest on the ground of the expense being “too great for a country gentleman of ordinary means,” it would really seem as though the distribution of wealth was the great political lever in those halcyon days when a greatly extended franchise was still within moderate limits by comparison with what it has subsequently become. If, therefore, vast sums of money had to be spent during the period referred to for obtaining and maintaining a parliamentary seat, let those and the descendants of those who benefited by such necessity be thankful that the possessors of the “long purses“ used them with a genial and generous disposition.