Brett Volume 3: Chapter XXXVI - Hastings 1846

From Historical Hastings

Transcriber’s note

Chapter XXXVI - Hastings 1846

Accidents on the ill-lighted road at the Priory
Removal of the ash yard for the south eastern railway
Looking back on old conditions
The Priory Farm (with view)
Fishermen's rope-shops destroyed by fire
The East Well (with ancient view of the spring)
£100 for a catch of mackerel on New Year's Day
Free trade and Protectionist meetings
Mr. Scriven's re-occupancy of the Swan Hotel
Death of Major General Sir Howard Elphinstone
The pretty race course
Musical novelties
The weather of 1846
Family litigation (Protestantism versus Romanism
Groynes and criticisms thereon
The year's fatalities
The game of curling at Beauport
Consecration of Fairlight Church (with view).

[ 288 ]

Reminiscence of the Old Priory Farm and its Surroundings

In one of the paragraphs touching the local charities, it has been intimated that the Charity Commissioners did not fail to keep themselves from absolute need of charity, and this was pretty well demonstrated by the official returns for the year 1846 now under consideration. They show that the expenses of the Commission during the 20 years of its existence had been £261,826. Thus, the average cost to the country was about £15,000. Some persons would be uncharitable enough to exclaim monstrous!

As an improved condition of certain ​road​s by property-holders in the out-district of St. Leonards was a sine qua non for the dedication of such ​road​s to the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, so, in the same ear, a similar stipulation was insisted upon by the Hastings Commissioners in the case of Russell street and Bedford place. In the latter case, twelve years had elapsed since the Commissioners declined to accept the dedication of the ​road​ in question, and now again they very properly refused to take it under their management until the inhabitants or the parishoners(sic) generally had put it in better order. And while on the subject of ​road​s it may be stated that the thoroughfare through the parish of Holy Trinity, where Robertson street now is; being unlighted during the spring and summer months, it became the source of no inconsiderable danger on dark nights, and accidents were sometimes caused thereby. On Saturday April 25th Mr. Smith, of Robertsbridge, while driving over the said ​road​ on his journey home from market, was thrown from his cart and considerably hurt, while his wife and sister, who were with him, escaped without any personal injury. On the same night Mr. Thomas, of Bexhill, was also thrown from his cart or gig, and sustained a fracture of his collar-bone.

The Bill of the South-Eastern company for a railway between Tunbridge Wells, Hastings and Rye passed its third reading on the 26th of March, 1846, and at a meeting of the Hastings Commissioners, in November, of the same year, a notice was received to the effect that the South-Eastern Company were desirous of purchasing the Ash-yard on the Priory Farm, for the construction of a terminus. The Commissioners lost no time in intimating their willingness to treat with the Railway Company for the removal of the premises and material, the cost of which was estimated at about £75.

What a vision does the bare mention of the “Ashyard on the Priory Farm“ recall to the mind that can realise its every outline and detail as it appeared from fifty to sixty to seventy years ago! On almost the exact spot of what is now the Central Wesleyan Chapel at the angle of Cambridge ​road​ and Cornwallis Gardens, were the footpath, the steps and the wicket which formed the approach to the Stepmeadow, through which and some contiguous fields was afforded a delightful walk in the direction of Bohemia, Just to the right on the meadow was a range of high trees, which added not a little to the picturesqueness of the landscape. Two or three of these in a memorable storm were partially destroyed by lightning, and at a more recent date others were removed in clearing for a site of the Holy Trinity Church, where it was first proposed the ​building​ should be erected. In its place there now commences, from Cambridge ​road​, the lower range of houses in Cornwallis Gardens. A little lower down - say at the left-hand side of Cambridge Gardens as entered from Cambridge ​road​ — would be the site of the original Priory farm-house, as it still existed fifty years ago. It had a weather-boarded exterior, painted white, with roses and creepers trailed between the doors and windows, and flowerbeds in front, enclosed by white palings. It so exactly faced the east that at a period when it was not every man’s privilege to barter a five-pound note for a watch, the roof could be looked upon by workmen as a sort of sun-dial to denote the hour of noon. In shape and style, as well as in its relative position to the cardinal points, the farm-house at the Priory was a type of most of the farm-houses in the vicinity of Hastings. Such, or similar, were the farmhouses at Mount-pleasant, Blacklands, Bohemia, Filsham and Pebsham, as I knew them when severally occupied by Messrs. Tutt, Edwards, Vincent, Farncomb and Barton; all of them facing the east, and all having a picturesque appearance, with their white fronts ornamented with foliage and flowers. The Priory farm-house, as already stated, had its site on the left-hand side of Cambridge Gardens, just as the ​road​ leading to the houses of that name is entered from Cambridge ​road​. My younger readers must not suppose, however, that it stood on ground so elevated as the ​road​s just mentioned. Rather must they imagine the ​road​ leading up in that direction from the Albert Memorial non-existent, and the farm-house approached through a large gate or a smaller one by its side as from a ​road​ in the same direction and upon the same level as what are now, Trinity street and Claremont. Thus back in imagination to the more primitive condition of fifty years ago, we enter the farm premises by the ​road​ at the gates, and encounter flocks of geese, broods of chickens, herds of swine, a number of cows and horses, and all that pertains to the business of agriculture.

In the accompanying view only a small portion of the farm-house is shewn, the more prominent objects being an old barn, a cow-lodge and a waggon-load of hay. This portion of the farm was once the site of the Priory of the Holy Trinity, which was inundated and partly destroyed by the sea. Leaving the farm-house on the left hand and the lodges, barns, oasts and granaries on the right, while traveling(sic) over the semi-public and always open pathway of the farm, we should have come to where the ​road​ divided into two branches,

Priory Farm.png

one curving round the base of Step-meadow on the left to the ash-yard whose purchase by the South-Eastern Railway Company has led to this digression, and the other leading diversely to the higher pasture-lands and corn-fields. The direction of the first would cut through the left or western side of what are now the houses in Cambridge Gardens, and round to the lower part of the present Cornwallis Gardens close to the ​road​ which runs under the railway; and the second would lead more directly to the site of the railway station, passing through the right or eastern side of Cambridge Gardens, with Priory Street still more to the right. Bisecting the former branch ​road​ was a small stream of clear water, to which, by the kindness of Mrs. Foster, certain inhabitants of the Priory had gratuitous access, together with the leaches(sic) which were frequently found in the dipping-place; whilst on the latter branch was another spring of water, which, by being pumped into budges, was supplied at a penny per load (two pailfuls) to the inhabitants of “squatter-land“ ere the said land was seized by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, to be afterwards leased for the erection of Robertson terrace, Robertson street and Carlisle parade. Immediately contiguous to the Priory Farm was the irregular delta or alluvium known as the Priory Brooks, many acres in extent, and at the present time covered by all that modern and valuable property which is circumscribed by Cambridge Road and Bank Buildings on the south, the Railway-station and Devonshire Road on the west, and Queen's Road on the north and east. Before the purchase of ground by the South-Eastern Railway Company in 1846 for their Hastings station — a purchase which has since led to the conversion of a swamp into a principal portion of the borough — the “sea and land forces“ frequently contended for possession of the soil, and as frequently held it, unitedly, for weeks or days together. At such times, if the floods were followed by severe frosts, a vast field of ice would be formed for the delectation of some hundreds of people ever ready to exhibit their skill and dexterity in skating and sliding. If congealation was absent, the overflow waters from storm and flood would still be a source of amusement to such as could command the service of a boat or a baulk of timber; whilst under more normal conditions the several streams which intersected the ground would yield to the efforts of the spearsman many a dish of eels — the fish with which they most abounded. The main stream ran from north to south, passing under a large bridge at what is now the site of the Albert Memorial and emptying itself close to where now stands the Queen’s Hotel. A parallel stream ran along from the Gas-works to a point that would now be marked by nearly the centre of the front houses in Devonshire Road, where it was diverted at right angles across the meadow now occupied by the Recreation Ground. The main channel at a point near to where stands the London and County Bank, was also fed by another stream which ran from the farm ​building​s in an easterly direction parallel to what is now the rear of Cambridge ​road​. In very dry seasons some of the ground instead of being covered with verdure, exhibited a surface of sun-dried mud, with numerous cracks and fissures. This was particularly noticeable over the area nearest to the dike or stream last described — a stream which separated the Brooks proper from the Rock-fair ground, and one in which many a man was “ ducked ” till nearly drowned who was found cheating at the Rock-fair toss-ring. Cambridge ​road​ now covers the so-called Rock-fair ground, and, as an apropos incident in connection with the efforts made to abolish the said fair, it may be stated that in 1846 it was bruited that the fishermen’s wives seriously contemplated sending a deputation to Dr. MacCabe, urging him to name some other remarkable day in lieu of the Fair, whereby they might remember particular events, such as births, marriages, &c. [ 289 ]

Fishermen's Rope-shops ablaze - Fishermen Lost - £100 for Mackerel on New Years Day

164 Having described the opening of the Brighton Railway as far as Bulverhithe, the preparation for its extension to St. Leonards, and the application of the South-Eastern Company for ground whereon to erect a station at Hastings; and having thence wandered into reminiscences of pre-existing conditions at the Priory and the contemplated memorial of the fisherfolk anent the efforts of the town authorities to abolish Rock Fair, I am further reminded of some noteworthy events of 1846 as connected with the last-named fraternity.

At one o’clock in the morning of the 12th of January the fishermen’s rope-shops near the bottom of Bourne street were discovered to be in flames, and the said shops being composed of tarred wood, a destructive conflagration ensued. The three fire-engines belonging to the town were quickly on the spot, but the difficulty of obtaining water rendered them of little service. As an alternative means of checking the ravages of the fire, several of the shops were pulled down, the work of which was materially facilitated by the calm weather which prevailed. But, notwithstanding the portion of property thus saved from total destruction, the loss to the fishermen was great, owing to the cluster of storehouses at that spot being one of the most considerable on the stade. The fire was supposed to have been caused by a man named Adams, who, while in a condition the reverse of sober, entered one of the net-shops with a lighted pipe and there went to sleep. It was in that condition he was discovered by the person who first saw the flames, and to the exertions of the discoverer the safety of the sleeping man was due. Two days later a public meeting was held in the Town Hall to take measures for relieving the poor fishermen, and a subscription list was immediately commenced with £50 each from the Borough Members—Messrs. Brisco and Hollond, and £20 from Mr. F. North; the last-named gentleman suggesting the immediate formation of a Fishermen’s Insurance Society. More than enough money to repair the fishermen’s losses was contributed on that occasion, and the surplus was afterwards applied to the cost of erecting an ornamental well at the East Cliff for utilising an excellent spring which issued from the base of the rock.

The said well and its surroundings (as seen in the annexed representation) though less ornamental than the more modern erection, still in existence, was at least, as picturesque to the view of an artist.

East Well c 1840.png

After the fire, matters went on pretty smoothly with the fishermen until the autumn, when seven men and a boy were unfortunately lost in a fishing boat off the North Foreland. Another appeal to the inhabitants was then made, and the sum of £80 was collected for the families of the five married men among the eight persons whom the sea had taken to itself.

A far more agreeable record concerning those who get their living on the water is that of the fortunate catch of mackerel which on the first day of the year realised one hundred pounds sterling for the prorietor and crew of Mr. Breach’s new fishing lugger, bearing the name of Free Trade. This capital “sivver“ was supplemented on the following day by a similarly successful haul in another boat belonging to the same well- known family. It may be assumed that the owner of the “Free Trade” fishing-boat was himself a Free-trader by conviction or conversion, and the assumption takes me once more into the region of politics. It was on Saturday the 17th of January that Mr. Robert Ross Rowan Moore renewed his acquaintance with the Hastings and St. Leonards people by again addressing them on Free-trade principles in the Royal Pelham Arcade. The address was a very eloquent one of two hours duration, and elicited much enthusiasm.

On the 18th of August another visit to the borough was made by that gentleman to join in the festivities of a Free-trade dinner at the Oak Hotel, which was also attended by Sir Howard Elphinstone, R. Hollond, Esq., M.P., V. Shelley, Esq , and other influential gentlemen in the Liberal ranks. Mr. Thomas Ross (1810-1881) was chairman on that occasion — a townsman who on the 26th of February had been presented with a silver cigar case by the Liberals of the East Ward as a token of their esteem for him as a public man.

Lest it be thought that the Free-traders were having all the game to themselves, it should be stated that a fortnight only had passed after Mr. Moore’s address at the Arcade when a Protectionist meeting was also held in the Swan Assembly Room, attended by Sir Chas. Lamb, Mr. Lucas-Shadwell, Mr. C. Pomfret, Mr. Wyatt, Mr. H. N. Williams, and other foremost gentlemen of that political faith. Speeches were delivered and resolutions passed in favour of a restrictive policy, but at the close of the meeting some politicians of opposite views revealed a presence by giving ”Three cheers for Free Trade.”

Opposed, however, as were the two parties on the general principles of Free Trade and Protection, there was a densely crowded meeting held on the 2nd of January, convened by the Mayor on the requisition of 145 signatees(sic) of all political creeds, to take into consideration the alarmingly insufficient supply of food, and to petition Her Majesty to open the ports for a time for the admission of all sorts of grain, duty free. The presiding Mayor was Mr. Alderman Maw, a gentleman to whom, on the 18th of May, a testimonial dinner was given at the Swan Hotel, and who was succeeded in office on the 9th of November by Mr. F. Ticehurst.

I have said that at the Free-trade banquet Sir Howard Elphinstone was present. This gentleman — who represented Hastings in Parliament nearly fifty years ago, and is still a resident in St. Leonards in 1835-7 — had succeeded to his father’s title about four months previously. The death of Gen Sir Howard Elphinstone occurred on the 28th of April at his residence, Ore place; and, a few days later, his remains were borne to the burial-ground at Ore by twelve of his workmen uniformly dressed in long white linen frocks and crape armlets. Several of those bearers were men well advanced in years, yet five of the twelve have survived a subsequent period of five-and-thirty years. On the monumental slab of the late baronet is the following inscription

”Sacred to the memory of Major-General Sir Howard Elphinstone, Bart., Companion and Colonel-Commandant of the Royal Engineers, who died April 28th, 1546, aged 73 years; and of Dame Frances, his wife, born Sept, 21, 1783, died Aug. 24, 1858.”

As, in the first month of the year, the three Hastings engines were all but powerless to extinguish the fire in the fishermen’s quarter in the old town, so, in the last month of the year, the St. Leonards engine was equally ineffective for putting out a fire in the new town. Between 3 and 4 a.m. of the 30th of December a fire was discovered at 12 Undercliff; but, as assistance was at hand the destruction was confined to the furniture of the bedroom in which the fire originated. The engine arrived after a delay of 45 minutes, and had it not been that the neighbours made great exertions, the house might have been burnt to the ground. A remarkable circumstance is that the engine was exercised only the day before, opposite to that very house.

Among other gatherings of a kindred nature to that of the Freetrade banquet in 1846 was the annual Tradesmen's Dinner at the Royal Oak on New-year’s Day. It was attended by some forty or fifty of the leading tradesmen of Hastings and St. Leonards, most of whom, together with the hotel-keepers (Mr. and Mrs, Yates) have passed from off the stage of life. There was, of course, the conventional Mayor’s Dinner on the 9th of November, a noteworthy feature of which was the unusually small number of persons present. It could hardly be credited that the two towns could be so wanting in loyal feeling to their newly chosen chief magistrate as to contribute only thirty persons, including officials, to the company on that occasion. If there had been a Gog and Magog, endowed with speech, in the festal hall of the old Swan, they probably would have borne testimony to such a scene, as being one of exceptional presentment for a century last past, or at least during the catering of the several hotelkeepers in retrocessional order known as William Carswell (1808-1858), George Robinson, Francis Emary, Wood and Emary, C. F. Mott, Thomas Breeds, Thomas Stockwell, and William Scrivens. One doubts if there were ever so few as thirty at the Mayor's feasts even under the old regime of civic entertainments when mayors and deputy-mayors were elected alternately for any number of years, and when for the honour thus done them they paid, or were supposed to pay, the whole cost of the feast with their own private moneys. When, on Sunday the 21st of April, 1793, Edward Milward, senior, was elected Mayor for the 22nd time, with his son as Deputy Mayor, John Carey as Town Clerk, and Thomas Bossom and William Edmunds as Chamberlains, followed next day by a dinner given to all the jurats, freemen and officials, under the merry strains of the band of the Berkshire Militia, surely the guests must have been more than those of 1846. So, too, at a previous decade of time (April 18th, 1783) there were probably more than thirty feasters at the Swan when an “elegant dinner“ was prepared by Mr. William Scrivens (grandfather of our worthy magistrate, Mr. George Scrivens) for the/Mayor, jurats, freemen and officials, to celebrate the freedom of the Corporation being given to Mr. Edwards, a peruke maker[a]; Mr. Shorter, a schoolmaster; and Mr. Thatcher, a yeoman. That was in the fourth year of Mr. Scrivens’s occupancy of the Swan Hotel, as is shown by the following somewhat quaint advertisement:—

”Swan Inn, Hasting(sic), Sussex. William Scrivens respectfully informs the Nobility, Gentry and others that he has taken and entered upon the above Inn, where he has laid in a large stock of excellent wines and other liquors, and humbly hopes for their favours, which will be thankfully received by their most obedient and humble servant, W. Scrivens. Note ! Hastings is situated on the sea coast, within 20 rods of the sea, is one of the best watering-places in the kingdom, and its healthy and pleasant situation is too well known to render any further description necessary.”

But, returning to the Mayor's dinner of 1846, how is the small number of guests to be accounted for? Perhaps it was because Mr. Ticehurst (who was then elected to succeed Mr. Maw) having commenced his political career as a Conservative was then a Liberal; added to which he had not grown into that popularity which won for him the honour of five times filling the ciyic chair. For this, his first election, he had been proposed by Mr Jas. Emary and seconded by Mr. T. Ross, the only avowed dissentient being Mr. Staines, who stated his objection to be that Mr. Ticehurst was Medical Officer to the Union.

The next festival was that of the Hastings Benefit Societies, of which a considerable number of St. Leonards men were members. It happens that I have no record of the event, but so far as my memory serves me the united procession was a very long and imposing one. The time of year was of course the usual one of Whit Monday. It was the 31st anniversary of the ”Old Friendly,” who dined at the Swan, in company with the Borough Members; the 15th anniversary of the ”Victoria Lodge of Oddfellows,” who dined at the King's Head; and the 5th anniversary of the ”Benevolent,” whose banqueting place was the Market Hall. The processional and prandial music on that occasion consisted of the Hastings Old Band, the St. Leonards new Brass Band, and another band from a distance. The sermon was preached by the Rev, J. G. Foyster.

Annual Races - Musical Associations - "Curling" at Beauport

I believe have heretofore described the now departed pageantry of the Hastings Races, and have stated that they were first instituted as an annual event under official and influential patronage in the year 1823, I also have a notion that an account has been given of the peculiar circumstances under which my own visit was made to those first races on the Bulverhithe Salts. But there are a few particulars which I may have omitted, and these I will now supply. A subscription list was opened on the 22nd of September, and the affair came off on the 3rd of October.

The ground selected at Bulverhithe was a mile-and-a-half course, and for which temporary bridges were placed across two or three streams of water, as well as over the haven along the beach, known in war time as “Bonaparte's Ditch.“ Mr, Barton, as owner or occupier of the land, was one of the stewards, and the others were Mr. Edward Wenham (the reputed owner of smuggling cutters) and Mr. Edward Farncomb. The sports on this occasion were limited to one day, and the prizes [ 290 ]competed for were a Town-plate of fifty sovereign[1]s and a Ladies-plate of the same amount. The sports were similarly repeated on the same course in 1824 and 1825, but in 1826 — quite an important year in the annals of Hastings — a new and superior course was formed in the Filsham valley It was in the shape of the figure 8, and could be seen throughout the whole distance both from the grand stand and from the hill at Bopeep where the Misses Brisco have had a ​road​ made over an extensive area from St. Leonards Green This racecourse had the reputation of being the-prettiest in the south of England. It was calculated that at least six thousand persons were present at the races in 1826, which then and afterwards extended to two days. Messrs. Frederick North and Musgrave Brisco were the stewards, to be followed next year by Messrs. Edward Milward and Lucas Shadwell. The race-dinner, as usual, was held at the Swan, under the presidency and vice-presidency of the stewards. But, leaping forward, as it were, over a digression of twenty years, I find the customary Ladies’ Plate hads vanished from the scene, the prizes run for on the first day being the Town Plate of £50, a Sweepstakes of £2 each, with an added £30, and a hurdle-race for an unstated amount. The second day’s stakes were the Stewards’ Plate of £50, a Sweepstakes, as on the previous day, and a plate of £20 for losing horses. As I happened to be one of the bandsmen at those races, I remember that the newly introduced polka had lost nothing of its popularity, and that the interest. in that species of dance music was kept up by the introduction of new varieties by different composers, of which the Drum Polka by Mons. Julien was one. With my then musical aspirations, I contributed to the general stock, — as might seem to be egotistically intimated in an earlier chapter, — and this contribution and other compositions, all in original MSS., are just now in the keeping of a local popular musician, not of “the olden time.” It may be mentioned that on the introduction of the polka as a dance forty years ago, it was described as the invention of a Bohemian nobleman, although as a matter of fact its rhythmical measure was that of the peasants’ dance in the suburban districts of Cracow, called the “Krakoviak” by the Poles, and “Cracovienne“ by the French.

While on the subject of music, it may be stated that it formed a prominent feature at a soirée of the Mechanics’ Institution held in the Swan Assembly room on the 27th of October, the said soirée being in every way successful, and attended by 300 persons.

Another musical novelty of the year was the formal opening of the new organ at the chapel of St. Mary-in-the-Castle by the late Mr, George Lindridge. It was a powerful instrument, built by Mr. Allen, and its cost was defrayed by subscription, to which the esteemed incumbent, the Rev. T. Vores, contributed liberally. Music was also an accompaniment of the Horticultural Show held in the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms on the 16th of September, on which occasion the exhibits were judged to be under an average merit, both for quantity and quality. If this was in any measure due to the very hot weather which prevailed during the summer months, it could not apply to cucumbers and melons, for those productions grew to great perfection even in the open air, And this leads me to describe in outline the meteorological conditions as in the next paragraph.

The year commenced with extremely mild weather, which caused the trees and hedges to bud into leaf in the midst of winter, and to 8o continue until the 19th of March, when real wintry weather set in and lasted about three weeks. The temperature of April was six degrees below the average, although the 12th (Good Friday) came with an abnormally strong and warm wind, followed by a wet Easter and a very hot May, June and July. The thermometer rose on several days to over 90 degrees. Snow fell in October, and the weather continued cold, with much rain and snow during the succeeding winter

A great interest was manifested by the townspeople in the religious rivalry of 1846 in which the claims of Romanism were not superlatively successful. In the month of December Mr. Anstey obtained from the Vice-Chancellor’s Court a writ of habeas corpus at the suit of Mrs. Sarah North commanding Mrs. Gloucester Wilson and her daughter to produce four children, ranging from four to ten years of age, of the late Capt. Dudley North, alleged to be detained by those ladies. The affidavit of Mrs. North was to the effect that her late husband about two months before his death, with herself and two children, frequented a Roman Catholic chapel at Plymouth; that since then she had been received into the Roman Catholic Church; that she had lived the last 15 months within 200 yards of her late husband’s mother, at whose residence the children had taken their meals and spent many hours daily; that Mrs. Wilson, on being told that the children’s mother had embraced the Catholic faith, replied that she could not permit her son’s children to be brought up in that religion; that she (the mother) consented to the children remaining at their grandmother's that night, but on sending for them next day, her messenger found they had gone In the month of December Mr. Anstey obtained from the Vice-Chancellor’s Court a writ of habeas corpus at the suit of Mrs. Sarah North commanding Mrs. Gloucester Wilson and her daughter to produce four children, ranging from four to ten years of age, of the late Capt. Dudley North, alleged to be detained by those ladies. The affidavit of Mrs. North was to the effect that her late husband about two months before his death, with herself and two children, frequented a Roman Catholic chapel at Plymouth; that since then she had been received into the Roman. Catholic Church; that she had lived the last 15 months within 200 yards of her late husband’s mother, at whose residence the children had taken their meals and spent many hours daily; that Mrs. Wilson, on being told that the children’s mother had embraced the Catholic faith, replied that she could not permit her son’s children to be brought up in that religion; that she (the mother) consented to the children remaining at their grandmother's that night, but on sending for them next day, her messenger found they had gone

It may be mentioned that the influence of Lady Waldegrave, a younger sister of Mrs. Wilson, was brought to bear in the above case; and it is a little curious that her marriage with Earl Waldegrave had only taken place about 8 or 9 days before this legal suit commenced. The great assistance afforded by that lady to the schemes for ​building​ and endowing churches is well known to the older inhabitants, and it needs no words of mine to prove how thoroughly Protestant were her principles in all that she espoused. It seems, however, chargeable to the irony of events — not to tread on more debateable ground - that at the present time a new Roman Catholic church stands on a site nearly opposite to Garden Cottage, the property of Lady Waldegrave in 1846, in which Mrs. North, the new proselyte to Romanism, resided, and that a larger mansion, then the residence of her ladyship, was at the time this was written tenanted by Mr. Coventry Patmore, a gentleman who hags been the greatest contributor to the funds of the said church. Sure am I that such a church on such a site would never have been built in the lifetime of Lady Waldegrave and Mrs, Wilson. I ought to have stated that the consummation of the long-talked-of marriage of Mrs. Milward and the Earl of Waldegrave was effected at All Soul’s church, Langham place, London, on the 8th of December; that the Bishop of Chichester conducted the religious rites; and that the nuptials were celebrated in a very quiet manner.

At the Council meeting of Monday, September 19th, it was resolved to construct a new groyne at the east end of the town, the same to be 276 feet in length, and the cost to be £260, I shall have occasion to show, if I am spared long enough and with the requisite time amidst my other pressing engagements to publish my intended history of the foreshore, that the increasing in​road​s of the sea at the Fishmarket was as much due to the erection of this and subsequently constructed groynes at the east end as it was to the groynes at the west end. And, daring as it may be on the part of one who has constantly watched for over fifty sixty years the moves on the marine chess-board by “Old Davy“ on the one side, and the Town Authority on the other, I shall endeavour to overthrow the criticism of those who never seem to tire of blaming the Council for their “ignorance,” their “procrastination ” and their “blundering in commencing the later groyning operations at the wrong end.“ It is not yet twelve months since I was personally ridiculed for venturing to assert that there would be an abundance of shingle at the east end, irrespective of anything that Sir John Coode might advise; and now, for several months past, the unprecedented accumulation of the protective material in that district has given us the opportunity of “turning he tide“ against our many assailants. But, as above intimated, I hope to have much more to say on this topic in a more special form, and will therefore for the present close my remarks on this head.

In the transactions of the Commissioners at their meeting on the 7th of September, it will be seen that they had an eye to improvements. One of these sought-for improvements was the removal of the “ Old Warm Baths“ from the Marine Parade the “New Warm Baths,” in the Fishmarket, having been already got rid of. The proprietors of the former had been applied to for terms of purchase, but, as reported by the Surveyor, they declined to sell, and as Mr Walter Inskipp had been asked to get out plans for the baths on another site, the Commissioners voted him a sum of two guineas, Thus it is seen that even architects worked cheaply in those days. It was further reported that the new pump and water-wheel at the Priory worked admirably. This was an arrangement for watering the ​road​s. Another sought-for convenience was shown in the application to Mrs. Milward for permission to place steps to the stiles on her land at the West hill. That lady promised to give the application her consideration, and having done so, returned a favourable reply. The steps were then put up as a matter of course at the expense of the Commissioners; and this fact may be of some interest to those who at the present time advocate the open use of the West hill to the public.

Eighteen-forty-six was, perhaps, less a year of fatalities than the average as respects St. Leonards, the sudden deaths, according to my record, being nil, but in the sister township of Hastings the cases calling for coroner's inquests were somewhat numerous, and all within the fast four months.

On the 15th of September an enquiry into the cause of death was held on the body of Benjamin Butcher, a man 66 years of age, who on the previous evening was killed by falling from a scaffold at the Gas Works. This man had, for a long time, resided in Bourne Passage, more familiarly known as the ”Lower Lane.” His week-day occupation was that of a bricklayer or bricklayer’s labourer, whilst his Sunday employment was nominally that of a ”dogwhipper,” but practically to look after sleepy or otherwise inattentive boys and girls ensconsed in the old-fashioned high-backed pews of St. Clement's church. Although I have an unfailing recollection of the man who came to his and in the unfortunate manner described, I do not know that he was a native of the town; indeed, I have a notion that he was a son of the Benjamin Butcher, of Bexhill, who at the age of 89 preceded him by eighteen months to the grave; also that he was a brother of George Butcher, who died in the Battle workhouse twenty-one years later at the age of 82.

It has been often observed that mishaps rarely come singly, and at this time the remark received corroboration in the fact that on the same evening that Mr. Butcher fell from the scaffolding, a lady named Isabella Webb fell from the Marine parade in front of Diplock's Library, while listening to the band. She said at the time she was not much hurt, although on examination by Mr. Savery it was found that she had fractured one leg. Her recovery was regarded as all but certain until the sixth day, when she complained of pain in her left side and immediately expired.

Another inquest was held on the same evening on the body of a London clerk named Longbotham. The deceased was 44 years of age, and, according to medical evidence, died of apoplexy while bathing.

Nineteen days later (October 10th) the body of Mr. Ellis, a retired silversmith, was washed ashore at Ecclesbourne, it having drifted all the way from Guernsey, where the unfortunate gentleman was drowned a fortnight previously.

On the 4th of December an inquest was held at the Hare-and-Hounds Inn, Ore, on Mrs. Sarah Phillips, who had been found dead in bed. She was 81 years of age, and, according to the finding of the jury, had died in an apoplectic fit.

On the same day, an inquest was held at the ”Two Sawyers ” on the body of Thomas Crossingham, who had been found hanging from a tree in Pannell’s wood, the poor man having been missed for a week.

#Among the minor events of 1846, not hitherto noticed, was the carrying off, by some unknown thief, two overcoats and a waistcoat from the shop of Mr. Harman, a tailor. The robbery was effected while the family were at breakfast. Mr. Osborne, a printer and stationer, of the same street,was also robbed of several silver pencil-cases and tooth-picks. Whether the thief or thieves took themselves off by one of the coaches just now described, or by an aerial flight, this deponent sayeth not, it being one of the mysteries beyond his ken. But the adjective aerial is so near to the noun Ariel as to remind me that in the year under consideration a life-boat, bearing the latter appelation(sic) was laid up in ordinary on the vacated land known as the Dissolved Priory, alias Dissolved America, there being no crew to man it. even if its services had been eversomuch required. The position of the boat, I remember, was keel uppermost, on what is now the site of Trinity Church.

When treating of the sports and pastimes of 1846 it would have been apropos to have included the novel game of Curling — novel at least in the South of England — which was played on the ice in Beauport Park, the estate of Sir Charles Lamb and Lady Montgomery. It took place during the Christmas holidays, and was witnessed by a large number of visitors from Hastings, Battle and other places. The following lines, describing the event, appeared in the Sussex Express :—

”The day is clear, the frost is rather keen,
For prospect, such a valley’s seldom seen;
And by the pond where pheasants often drink,
We hasten on to mark the icy rink,

The curling on, twice twenty yards in length,
The game requires both skill and manly strength;
To cross the score, advancing to the ring,
The stone to sweep, the broom we deftly swing,

The players anxious all to cover ”Tee,”
Such noble game the folk here seldom see;
All ranks of people to our curling come,
From morn till eve, nor one of them is glum.”

[ 291 ]

Consecration and description of Fairlight Church

Fairlight Church
In chapter XXXIII was described the laying the first stone of Fairlight church by Mrs. Milward, who gave a thousand pounds to the fund for its erection. That was in 1845, and the church having been completed in the present year, 1846, the consecration took place on the 7th of August. The ceremony was conducted by the Bishop of Chichester, in the presence of Mrs. Milward, (the Lady for whom in the same year his lordship performed the marriage rites when taking as her second husband, the 8th Earl Waldegrave). Mr. W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, who gave the stone and £500, was also present at the consecration, together with about thirty clergymen of Hastings and neighbourhood, and a number of other influential persons. The Bishop was received at the west door by the chancellor, registrar, rural dean and the parish curate, attended by the clergy in their robes. After the consecration and the reading of the morning service, his Lordship preached a sermon, and at the conclusion returned to the communion table and read the offertory sentences during which there was collected £60 1s. The musical part of the service was by Hastings choir, under the direction of Mr. E. Elford. The Lord's supper was administered to 160 communicants, after which a party of about fifty persons adjourned to the parsonage to lunch.

Fairlight church is quite a landmark to sailors, and there is just one small spot on the high ground (top of Brittany Road in St. Leonards) from which Fairlight church can be seen on a clear day. There are no records of the old edifice of St. Andrew from which a reliable an authentic history of the church could be written. It was a small church, consisting of a nave 30 feet in length and 20 feet in width, a chancel 22 feet by 17 feet and a tower at the west end. From its architectural features it was judged to have been erected about the year 1180, a period when the Norman style was passing into Early English. The chancel and the arch under the tower were both pointed with chamfering-arch moulding. These, with the a small Norman window-light in the tower and indications of similar windows on each side of the chancel were the remnants of architectural interest that still remained. But the entire fabric was in a dilapidated, not to say, dangerous condition. The tower which at one time was said to have been surmounted by a spire, had been reduced for greater safety, and had a stunted appearance, and even then had to be supported by unsightly buttresses. (illegible text) For greater accommodation a gallery had been constructed on one side of the nave,(illegible text) but even then, the seats were too few for the parishioners and coastguards. It was absolutely necessary therefore to replace the old structure with a new one. The new church (of which see engraving) was dedicated to St. Andrew, but on a larger scale, its seating accommodation being for 400 persons. Messrs. Hughes and Hunter were the contractors of St. Leonards were the builders, but the internal fittings were by MR. William Edwards of Hastings. The design was by Mr. Little of London, and in the grave-yard church-yard are the graves of Maria Little, born 1804, died, 1876, and George Hutchinson, eldest son of Charles and Rebecca Little, who died, born 1825, and died at Hastings, 1867. In the same ground are many handsome monumental graves of Hastings and St. Leonards people. [ 292 ]
New Fairlight Church.png
[ 293 ]

Obituary of Mrs. Robert Hollond


[It is uncertain whether Brett intended this passage to be in the following Chapter or this one. The passage is not indexed in this chapter, but appears prior to the Chapter 37 header page and is indexed in Chapter 37]

Mrs. Hollond

113½ St.

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.

  1. A peruke was a wig, normally made of goat, horse, human or yak hair - Transcriber
  1. An explanation of old currency and coinage may be found at the following website Pre-decimal currency, accessdate: 16 June 2022