Brett Volume 6: Chapter LVII - St. Leonards 1857
| This is a verbatim transcription of Brett’s work, which comprised both manuscript and typescript cuttings, and therefore reproduces Brett’s variations in style, capitalisation, punctuation and spelling. The only alterations made have been to the pagination and images whereby both page titles and images have been moved to the most appropriate paragraph as opposed to where they were pasted into the texts by the author. Where possible, personal names have been checked against census, parish records, contemporary newspaper reporting and the Central Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths. A number of footnotes have been inserted by the transcriber when this has been thought to be useful.
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Commissioners Meetings (pg. 74)
Vestry meetings in 1857 (pg. 76)
St.Leonards Church, St.Leonards Schools (pg. 77)
National schools (pg. 78)
St.Leonards Mechanics' Institution (pg. 78)
Archery meetings (pg. 82)
Fashionable Gatherings (pg. 83)
Balls, dinners, evening parties etc. (pg. 83)
Wesleyan items (pg. 85)
Lifeboat & Humane Society (pg. 86)
Lifeboat established (pg. 87)
Accidents & Injuries (pg. 88)
Silverhill Chapel (pg. 90)
St Mary Magdalen Church (pg. 90)
Sermons & other matters (pg. 77)
Novelties and Eccentricities (pg. 92)
East Sussex election (pg. 93)
The Postal Imbroglio (pg. 94)
Postal & Boundary Dispute (pg. 98)
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St. Leonards, 1857. Chapter LVII
The Commissioners present at the first quarterly meeting on the 25th of March, were Messrs. A. Burton (in the chair), Wagner, Ogle, Carey, Smith, Southall and J. Harwood. The transactions at that meeting were the resolutions to pay £270. 5s. 5d. as a half year's interest to the Royal Exchange Insurance Office; also £147. 16s. 10d. for a half year's gas, less £15 allowed for the Commissioners finding their own posts. £1. 12s. 7d. was to be paid for six copies of an Act of Parliament. Mr. John Smith was to be paid for repairing the se wall, and William Smith's tender was accepted to find horses for water-carts and men to pump at 1/6 per hour. Mr. Smith produced a new scale of charges for flys instead of the fares then being charged.
An offer of Ground. At the quarterly meeting on June 24th, the Commissioners accepted Mr. Burton's offer of a piece of ground lying between the then St. Andrew's Church (originally Quadrangle Chapel) and the West-hill road. At the same meeting was ordered a composition of coal tar and tur[ 75 ]pentine instead of paint, for covering posts and rails.
Bank Failure. - At a special meeting on July 10th, in consequence of the failure of the Hastings Bank, Mr. W. B. Young was appointed to prove the Commissioners' claim of £530. 6s. 9d., and the Clerk to write to the Royal Exchange Insurance Company, desiring that the offer to the Commissioners in December last to postpone payment of interest might now be renewed. Also that an account be opened with the London and County Bank. A letter was received from Mr. Gausden, expressing his willingness to contribute to a voluntary rate and his continued confidence in the Commissioners.
Reply of Insurance Office. At the meeting on Oct 1st, a communication was read in which the Royal Exchange Insurance Corporation stated that under the circumstances they would not require the customary payment of £400 that year, provided that in July, 1858, and July of 7 following years the Commissioners pay £450 per annum.
A Second Voluntary Rate. Mr. Wagner having reported that he had ascertained that a large number of inhabitants had again acquiesced in a voluntary rate to meet the loss sustained by the Bank failure, it was resolved that the inhabitants be invited to concur in a voluntary rate of 1s. in the £ upon all house property.
Royal Exchange offer not accepted. - Resolved that the offer of the Royal Exchange Company be declined, with thanks, in consequence of the proposed voluntary rate; that the £275 11s. half year's interest be paid, together with £400 of the principal. Numerous bills were also ordered to be paid including £149 12s. 6d. for gas lighting. It was further ordered that Mr. Painter's voluntary rate be returned to him in consideration of the satisfactory manner in which he had collected the said rate.
Stone Pavement. At the December quarterly meeting an application was received from Messrs. Hughes and Hunter for a York stone pavement to be put down in front of the houses they were building westward of 82 Marina. The Commissioners consented to pay half the expense. They also ordered to be sent £200 of the £400 arranged to be sent to the Royal Exchange Assurance Company, and to spend £5 in channelling Caves road.
Gas and Discount Also at the December meeting an order was given to pay £149 12s. 6d. for gas due in the following February, less £1. 17s. 4d. discount.
The Postal Question. At the same December meeting it was resolved that the draft letter then read on the changes proposed by the Hastings Town Council to be made in the postal arrange[ 76 ]ments in the St. Leonards delivery be sent to the Secretary of the General Post-Office and a copy of such letter be sent to the Mayor of Hastings. This, as will be seen further on was a most exciting subject and the occasion of much ill-feeling between the two towns.
Vestry Meetings (St Leonards)
At the Easter Vestry (March 27th) the following were the appointments: Overseers - Richard Gausden & John Peerless. Asstt Overseer - Wm. Payne (£10 a year) Assessors - Emile Grosslob & John Carey Highway Surveyors - Jas. Mann & Wm. Draper Special Constables - Aaron Ford & John Fuller Vestry Clerk - John Phillips. There were 12 persons present, and a poor rate at 5d. for the outbound was resolved upon. - At the meeting on May the only transaction was to require a bond of £100 for the Assistant Overseer. - At a meeting on July 30th only three were present to propose a poor-rate at 3d. - At a meeting on Oct 1st, a poor-rate at 4d. and a highway-rate at 1½d were passed and a commmittee consisting of Messrs. A. Burton, R. Gausden, J. Peerless, J. Carey, J. Mann, W. Hatchman and W. Draper, appointed to revise assessments.
Vestry Meetings - (St. Mary Magdalen)
The first meeting for the parish was on the 5th of February when a poor rate at 4d. was levied and a resolution was passed to give the assistant overseer an additional £20. There were 14 parishioners present. - At the Easter vestry, the appointments were:- Overseers' - Joseph Hadden Job and Henry Chandler. Assessors of Property and Assessed taxes - George Roberts & John Kenwood. Vestry Clerk - William Pain Beecham.
Eighteen persons attached their signatures to the minute book, among whom were Robert Deudney (chairman), Charles Cope, Joseph Boston and Thos. B. Brett. - At this meeting the chairman gave over to the parish officials a vestry and account book, commencing June, 1762 and ending 27th of Feb, 1830. This book had been in the possession of the Deudneys, as overseers or co-overseers for three generations. The meeting was held at the Commercial Inn. - The next meeting was held at the Albert Inn on the 25th of June, when there were 9 persons present, and a poor rate at 6d. was passed. - The next meeting, on the 1st of October, was that of the Assessment Committee, when 13 ratepayers were present. - The same number attended the meeting on December, 16th, with Mr. Boston presiding. A poor rate was then levied at 6d. in the £, having risen from 3d. to 4d., and from 4d. to 6d., at which last named figure it afterwards continued for several years. [ 77 ]
The St Leonards Church
The Bishop of Graham's Town preached in this church on Sunday Feb. 22nd, and obtained £38 for his diocese[Notes 2].
The Rev. Dr. Crosse preached a sermon here on January 11th which realised about £31 on behalf of the Infirmary.
The Rev. J. Chalmers was the preacher at St. Leonards Church on Sunday, April 5th, and obtained £35 for the Brighton Home for Female Penitents.
The Sermons preached in the same church on Sunday the 10th of May were productive of £27 5s. for purposes connected with the National Schools.
The Fast-day Sermon, on Wednesday, Oct 7th was supplemented by a money collection of £56.
The Rev. W. Tilson Marsh, M. A. late minister at Leamington, t this time became the Incumbent, having the Rev. E. H. J. Bower for his curate, who was also curate under the Rev. J. Chalmers.
The St. Leonards School
A Subscribers' Meeting was held in January, when the Rev. J. A. Hatchards resigned the treasureship, and the Rev. J. Chalmers accepted the same, the latter becoming ex-officio Chairman, and appointing his curate, the Rev. E. H. S. Bower, a member of the committee. The Rev. W. W. Hume having ceased to subscribe, was no longer a member.
The Bank Failure. At a meeting on the 30th of June in consequence of the failure of the Hastings Old Bank, the school trustees were requested to write to the Bank of England respecting the interest of money invested and to withhold the dividends. This investment I believe was a purchase in consol for the benefit of the schools. The Incumbency of the church having at this time become vacant, Mr. Cooper Gardiner was appointed to act as school correspondent, pro tem.
Change of Incumbency. At a meeting on the 6th of October, the new minister being the Rev. Tilson Marsh, he was elected the School correspondent, and Mr. Maggs the treasurer.
Annual Accounts. At a meeting held on the 16th of December, it was ordered that the yearly accounts be printed, and if funds would permit, about £8 or £10 to be applied at Christmas to rewards for the Sunday Schools.
Alterations. At the same meeting, it was decided for Mr. Hughes to remove the posts in the Boys school for a sum not exceeding £30 inclusive of other alterations.
The School Treat. On the 6 of August, the children[ 78 ]of the St. Leonards National Schools had their annual treat of cake, buns, tea, &c. in the public rooms of the town. At about three o'clock the children having assembled in their schoolrooms to the number of over three hundred, proceeded to the Assembly rooms, after perambulating a portion of the town. Here the young fold were quickly arranged, and after the singing of grace, sat down to enjoy themselves right merrily. Tea being over and grace again sung, the Rev. G. D. St. Quintin addressed the children and said he felt as much interested in their worldly and spiritual welfare as when he was the minister of their parish. At the request of that gentleman the children sang some appropriate pieces in a manner that reflects the greatest credit on their master and mistress - Mr. and Mrs. Gibson. The juveniles were then conducted through the Subscription Gardens oon to the St. Leonards Green, where they engaged in a variety of sports till the shades of evening bade them quit the scene of their amusements. There are many persons living in the town and neighbourhood who still remember, with pleasure, both the treats and careful teaching of the St. Leonards National Schools.
The Mechanics' Institution.
A Lecture on Africa was given in the rooms of the Institution, on Tuesday, Jan. 13th, by F. North, Esq. M.P.. The president of the society, A. Burton, Esq., took the chair, with whom, on the platform were H. Selmes, Esq. and other vice-presidents. The lecture was a very interesting one, and at its close, a vote of thanks was proposed by Mr. Putland, who remarked that it was doubly gratifying to listen to so instructive a lecture from a gentleman of Mr. North's position. In returning thanks, the lecturer said he totally disclaimed all idea of patronage, and thought that every member of the institution should do the same, confident, as he was, that to be really successful, institutions of that kind should be self-supporting. It may be said that the self-supporting principle has been the one by which the committee of management has usually been guided; for whenever an appeal has been made to persons associated with the institution, it has not been to meet ordinary expenses, but to add comforts to the reading-room, to provide additional literature and to afford other advantages to all concerned.
"The Friendly and Feejee[Notes 3] Islands" was another extremely interesting lecture, given on the 27th of Jan. by Mr. Fraser, who was practically acquainted with his subject, and exhibited a number of articles which he had brought from that part of the[ 79 ]world, and explained their use, his lecture was so amusing as well as instructive as to evoke frequent burst of applause.
"Shakespeare's Julius Caesar" was the title of a lecture delivered to a full room of the institution on the 11th of February by Mr. William Ransom, whose treatment of the subject gave much satisfaction.
Phrenology and Mesmerism were next dilated upon, on the 17th and 18th of February in a lecture by Mr. E. H. Lewis, a man of colour, but in other respects (in form, language and manners) more like an educated Englishman. The lectures were delivered in the Assembly Rooms, and half the admission money less expenses, was promised to be handed over to the Institution. The profits of the two lectures were £7. 14. 6; so that Mr. Lewis had to be thanked for a gift of £3 17s. 3d. It is the purpose of this History to adduce simple facts rather than reports of lectures, but so many persons have become professors of mesmerism, biology, thought-reading &c. since Mr. Lewis's time, that a summary from Brett's Gazette of the two lectures here named should not be considered out of place. The lecture on Phrenology was an exceedingly good one, and was listened to by a numerous audience with keen attention. Apart from their phrenological bearing, many of the lecturer's arguments were very striking, and his homely and amusing illustrations equally instructive. The manner in which children were unwittingly initiated into a course of falsehood and dissimulation by their parents and nurses were vividly portrayed. One illustration will suffice. - In the absence of its mother a child has the misfortune to break some little thing on which its parent has set great store, perhaps an old favourite tea pot. "Who has broken that tea-pot?" exclaims the excited mother. The child, with large "caution" and "secretiveness", stands trembling from head to foot, but says never a word. The mother in a milder tone, declares she will not beat the child, but will give him sugar instead if he will but speak the truth. The promise has its effect, and the child confesses to have broken the tea-pot. The mother's excitability returns and the child gets a sound beating and no sugar. On the next day, something else is broken but the promise of sugar fails to extort a confession. No! say the child - remembering his beating and his mother's breach of promise - "I didn't do it Ma, I didn't do it!" And thus the child with large organs of caution and secretiveness, feeds upon the finesse and duplicity of the parent, as is, s it were, unconsciously but perniciously led into a course of lying and deceipt. Beware said the lecturer, of what people call little white lies; for, sooner or[ 80 ]later they become detestable black ones. There was nothing, in estimation, more wicked than to deceive a child; and yet, persons thought they could do it with impunity. He would never even beat a child; for, he believed, as he believed in Heaven that a child would do more for the love of doing than by any such attempt to compel him. Almost every person had a different organisation, and it was the purpose of phrenologists to point out that for which they were fitted, and to elevate society from that sluggish feeling of a perpetual curse hanging over them to a nobler sphere of action to which God had designed them. He (Mr. Lewis) had lived much in the southern states and among negroes. He could bear testimony to many good qualities possessed by the untutored Negro, of which the white man had but little knowledge. He believed that God's spirit did communicate with man's spirit, independent of education. At the conclusion of his address, Mr. Lewis commenced a phrenological examination of the heads of a number of persons who ascended the platform for that purpose. He appeared to be exceedingly dexterous in his manipulation, and equally ready in giving judgement thereon. The estimate thus formed of the character of each person was so true to what was known either by the person himself or to those of his acquaintances as to call forth frequent plaudits from the company in token of astonishment.___That Mr. Lewis's entertainment had abated nothing of their interest the crowded room on Wednesday evening bore indubitable evidence. The subjects treated of were Mesmerism and Clairvoyance, in support of which an address of some length was delivered in moods alternately serious and facetious. The lecturer expressed his full belief in clairvoyance, although unable to give a satisfactory explanation of it. This inability he shared in common with others, but that was no justification for persons to pronounce it an illusion and an imposition. If we believed nothing more than we could explain, our belief must be very limited. Nothing was more mysterious than the connection of mind and matter, or even of common sleep. He would endeavour to find a clairvoyant subject among the company, but he might fail to do so. He was not always successful even in magnetising, and his failures ought to be regarded as proof that he was not imposing on the public; for, if that were his intention, he should take care never to have a failure. [ 81 ]As proof of the existence of clairvoyance, a case of drowning at Huddersfield was cited, in which after three weeks fruitless search, the body was found in the position and at the exact spot pointed out by a young woman whom Capt. Hudson had mesmerised for the first time.___The lecturer having brought his remarks to a close, a considerable number of persons went upon the platform to be magnatised(sic), and among them several females, one of whom the operator endeavoured to make clairvoyant. Whether he was successful I was unable to decide; but this much appeared certain - that to the enquiry where was a certain person? - what was he doing? - how was he dressed? - correct answers were given. This person must have had the mesmeric influence very strong upon her, as it was some time after the seance was over before she could be demagnatised(sic), and not then without some exertion. This was also the case with two other females, who had to go back to the room two or three times to be relieved of the influence; than which, one would suppose greater proof was not needed of that indescribable something called mesmerism or animal magnatism(sic).
Jordan and the Red Sea was the title of the next lecture in connection with the Institution. It was given by the Rev. W. Gibson on March 10th, and was a repetition of one previously given in Hastings, and for which in both instances he received a very cordial vote of thanks.
Musical Entertainment - Under this title - for they did not aspire to call it a concert - assisted by Mr. Funnel, realised on the 10th of Mach their two-fold purpose of amusing the public and contributing to the funds. The object in itself was a good one, and the manner in which it was consummated reflects the highest credit on the executants. The scene of this two hour's recreation was the Assembly Rooms, which was well filled by an audience of about 170, and resulted in the handing over to the Institution £3 5s. 4d., after all expenses had been paid. With this exception and the proceeds of Mr. Lewis's seances, there was generally a regrettable loss on the lectures, good as they invariably were, so that the Quarterly Meeting, held on the 14th of May, the accounts showed a balance due to the treasurer of £1 13s. 2½d. This small deficit, however was partly due to a decreased number of members from 190 to 173, owing to removals and other causes.
American Poets. This was the title of a capital lecture delivered to the members of the Institution by Mr. Arthur Ransom, of Hastings, o the 24th of March. In the course of his remarks the lecturer said his audience were not to suppose he had selected his subject as one in which he was peculiarly at home; but it had occurred to him that while frequent lectures had be given on English poets and poetry, the St. Leonards[ 82 ]lecture audience had not yet been introduced from the platform to the poets of America. He thought these poets deserved an introduction as they had often yielded to him a large amount of pleasure, he could not resist the opportunity of introducing some of those friends in whose company he had spent so many pleasant hours. No country, he said, could help having poets, and America, of all lands, the least so. It was true that it had much that was antagonistic to poetry. It had a rabid, unhealthy go-aheadism; it had a heap of vulgarity and conceit, and even beat us hollow in court; and of all humbuggism that of America was the most consummate. But those were the tricks of its boyhood - the uncultivated impulses of nature which experience would correct. Yet in spite of all these accounts of the time, a great future for American poetry was one of the things that must be.
Another Quarterly Meeting, which was held on the 12th of November, elicited from the committee's report that the exodus of workmen and visitors, so usual during the spring and summer, together with outdoor overtime labour of mechanics, had further reduced the number of members from 173 to 164, and that during the autumn it had again risen to 172. There was, however, a balance due to the treasurer of £6 16s., and outstanding liabilities to the amount of £13. 6. 6.. In consequence of this deficiency, the Committee were anxiously considering the best mode of increasing the ordinary income.
A Humerou Lecture by Mr. Grossmith, on the second of November, was the first of the winter session, and as there was a loss on his lecture of the preceding winter session, in consequence of rough weather, Mr. Coleman offered beforehand to buy the profits for a guinea and a half. Such being a certainty against an uncertainty, the committee accepted it.
A Concert by Mr. Dawes was the last public event of the year in connection with the Institution. This took place on the 17th of Decembr. The arrangement was for the expenses and profits to be equally divided between the Institution and Mr. Dawes, and the result was a benefit of 12s. to the Institution.
The first meeting of the season was as usual on her Majesty's birthday anniversary. A German Band was in attendance, and the winners of prizes were Miss. Parish, the Ladies' prize and honorary star; the Rev. J. Simpson, the gentlemen's prize and honorary star; and Miss. La Font the visitor's prize.
The Grand Meeting - so designated was held as customary on Aug. 17th, the birthday anniversary of the Duchess of Kent, when prizes were won by Miss Bartleet, Mr. Ernest Barteet, Miss Julia Brown, Mr Lionel Bartleet,[ 83 ]Mr. N. Mackay, Miss Jane Brown, Mr. Kenwick, Mr. Knopp, Miss Wood and Mr. Willis. The day was fine and the company present numbered 400. As usual, the proceedings were supplemented by a ball in the evening, when the prizes were distributed by P. F. Robertson, M.P.
Another Meeting was held on Saturday, Aug 22nd, when prizes were carried off by Miss Bartleet, Mr. L. Bartleet, Miss Daniell and Mr. E. Mackay.
The Last two meetings were held on Sept. 20th and Oct. 3rd, respectively. At the former the prizes were won by Miss Julia Brown, Mr. Norris, and Miss Bartleet; at the latter, by Miss Julia Brown, Miss Pennythorne and Mr. Norris.
A Bye Meeting, and the last of the season, was held on the 10th of October, when the successful competitor for the Nineteenth Century Poets presented by Mr. Cancellor was Miss Wood.
The Grand Duke Constantitne sailed past on Monday, May 5th, in the yacht Oborne, which vessel also passed her Majesty's ship Cumberland, which latter hove to and fired a salute.
H.R.H. Prince Alfred also passed en-route from Dover to the Isle of Wight, on May 22.
The outre season of spring and summer, up to the month of June, was better than usual, and the London May meetings did not appear to withdraw many of the well-to-do visitors and residents from the borough; and when August came, the two towns were fast filling with the families who usually pass the winter here. As one of the leaders of fashion, Mrs. Fletcher-Norton was prevented coming before Christmas, as Mr. Fletcher-Norton had a houseful of friends at his splendid mansion, Elton Manner, Notttingham. Fashionable gatherings, had, however, already commenced in a series of reunions, musicales &c.
F. North, Esq., one of the Borough Members, gave a dinner on Dec. 17th to the Mayor and Corporation. There were also present P. F. Robertson, Esq.,M.P., Viscount Pevensy, C. North, Esq., and other friends. Also on the 23rd, Mrs. North had a large party at a musical entertainment, the executants being Herr Deichmann, Miss Dolby, and Malle Zimmermann, assisted by Capt. North, Miss North and Miss Coventry. There were 150 persons present, who did not separate till after midnight.
The Annual Christmas Ball took place in the Assembly Rooms, St Leonards, on Tuesday, the 29th of December, under distinguished patronage, and was graced by a brilliant assemblage [ 84 ]of ninety-eight persons.
A Tradesmen's Ball was held on the night following that of the Christmas Ball, and in the same rooms, in aid of the Dispensary and Infirmary. This affair, originated with some leading tradesmen of St. Leonards, and proved to be a decided success. It was attended by 150 persons, and the handsome sum of £22 15s. was added to the funds of the Infirmary.
Col. Fraser entertained a number of friends at dinner on the 30th of December at 67 Marina.
Mrs. Brahann gave an evening entertainment and ball at her residence, 80 Marina, on the 31st of December. A similar party was to have taken place earlier in the year, but was postponed in consequence of the death of a relative. And this takes me back to the fashionable gathering of that said period, when a spirit of gaiety also pervaded the haut ton of the borough, and nightly reunions were taking place.
G. Scrivens, Esq. gave a dinner and ball at his residence to a large number of the principal gentry of the town and neighbours.
P. Blakiston, Esq., M. D. gave a soiree dansante at his residence in Warrior square on the evening of the 2nd of January.
Mrs. Benyon, on the 6th of January, entertained a party of 40 with a soiree musicale and ball at her residence, 72 Marina.
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Burton, on the anniversary of their daughter's birthday, invited a large party at the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms, the date being January 7th.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ransom, of 3 Verulam place, held a soirée danse, on the same evening (Jan 7th), at which there were present nearly fifty of the elite of the neighborhood(sic).
Mr. F. North, M.P., also on the same evening gave a dinner to the Corporation and other persons at his residence, Hastings Lodge.
Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher Norton, on the following evening (Jan. 8th) had a large and brilliant assembly at their Hastings residence, 4 Wellington square.
Mr. F. North, M.P. also gave a grand ball at Hastings Lodge on the 14th of January (a week after the dinner) at which there were present 120 members of the best families of the borough.
Capt. Doncaster gave a private ball to a large number of friends on January 16th, at his residence, 31 Marina.
Mr. Gray Buchanan, at his residence, 46 Eversfield place, gave a ball, on January 19th to about 70 persons.
The Rev. W. W. Hume, on the 20th of January, entertained about 50 of the principal gentry, at a soiree musicale, consisting of songs, duets, choruses, &c. in English, French and Spanish. The performers were [ 85 ]principally the organist and choir of the church of St. Mary Magdalen. Great interest was evinced by the company in the execution of the various pieces, and much gratification was expressed for the entertainment thus provided.
Mr. North, M.P. gave another dinner party and evening entertainment at Hastings Lodge on the 23rd of January.
The Bachelors' Ball. At the St Leonards Assembly Rooms on the evening of February 5th, the bachelors connected with the Hastings and St Leonards Gentlemen's Club gave a grand ball, which was attended by a brilliant company of 170 persons. After all the expenses of the ball had been met - which must have been very considerable - a surplus was left, and given over to the funds of the Infirmary.
Several other balls took place during February in different parts of the borough, and which were generally attended by as many persons as had been provided for. On the 10th about 40 assembled at the Kings Head (Old Town), and continued dancing till a late hour. On the 12th, about 50 took part in the Tradesmen's ball at the Royal Oak Hotel, and spent the night most agreeably. On the 17th, a respectable party of 50 assembled at the Norman Hotel, and joined in the waltzes, polkas and quadrilles, for which an excellent band was engaged.
Notwithstanding that the compiler of this History was both a journalist and a musician, there were several private balls and evening parties the particulars of which came not within his knowledge; but a sufficient number are here enumerated to show that 1857 was very beneficial to pastry-cooks and other caterers, as well as to musicians and flymen.
Sermons were preached in St. Leonards on Sunday, January 18th, and a public meeting was held on the following day in support of the Wesleyan Missions, when about £11 formed the amount of collections. - The anniversary sermons were preached on the 10th of April in the Wesleyan Chapels of Hastings and St. Leonards - the former in the morning, and the latter in the evening. A public tea-meeting was held at St. Leonards in the afternoon, which was attended by a large number of the connection from the outlying districts, the day being Friday - For the Wesleyan Chapel fund, a bazaar was held on the 18th of August, but of the amount realised I have no account.
The Bible Society
Two meetings on behalf of this society were held on Sept. 18th, which resulted in a collection of £15 at the first and £14 at the second. [ 86 ]
Propagation of the Gospel
At the public meeting held in St. Leonards on the 9th of October, the collection at the doors was a little under £20.
A quarterly meeting of the St. Leonards Juvenile Missionary Association was held in the Girls National School on the 20th of February, the Rev. G. D. St. Quintin, in the capacity of chairman addressed the meeting at some length, during which he alluded to the death of the Rev. Geo. Wagner, a gentleman who had addressed persons in that room with a power of eloquence which he (the chairman) could have wished to possess. He had been ordered to a foreign country in consequence of impaired health, and in that country had died, than whom no one ever left the world more deeply loved.
The Life-boat and Humane Society
There was once a life-boat in Hastings called "The Ariel", which being but little exercised and never called out in any emergency, fell into disuse. It was, as I remember it, a somewhat frail craft, and hardly likely to withstand the buffeting of the sea in a strong gale. It was first kept in the Condemned Hole - perhaps an unlucky omen - and was afterwards removed to the waste ground at the Priory, where it went to comparative decay. But in the month of October, 1857, some St. Leonards gentlemen - the Rev. W. W. Hume, Capt. Parish, Alfred Burton, Esq. and R. Cooper Gardiner, Esq. proposed a movement for the purpose of providing Hastings with a new lifeboat. They met the Mayor (F. Ticehurst, Esq.) and Commander Robertson, and formed themselves into a committee. After that the St. Leonards gentlemen attended a special meeting of the Town Council (Oct. 23rd) as a deputation, and suggested that the matter should be referred to the Stone Beach Committee, with whom the Lifeboat Committee would be glad to confer. They also expressed a hope that the Council would be able to find a piece of ground for a lifeboat house, and to assist in other ways. The Mayor remarked that he felt confident that it was as much to the Council's affair as it was that of the gentlemen who had so kindly and honourably taken the matter up. He was sure that everyone present must feel heartily thankful to them for the manner in which they had acted, and he hoped the Council would meet them with the same good feeling. Ald. Ginner thought that as the said gentlemen had, with great credit to themselves, raised subscriptions among themselves, the Council could not do less than provide the necessary ground. On the motion of Ald. Rock, it was resolved that the report of the Lifeboat Committee be received with thanks, [ 87 ]and be referred to the Stone-beach Committee, with power to act." - The Rev. W. W. Hume, in the name of the committee, said they had taken the matter in hand with the feeling that they would have the co-operation of the Council, and that the two parties would be able to work together.
The Subscriptions already raised amounted to between £200 and £300, and the Committee had accepted the offer of a lifeboat from the National Lifeboat Institution. They resolved to obtain rocket or mortars for throwing lines, and to place buoys, belts &c. somewhere in the West Ward.
A Public Appeal - In a letter to the Editor of the Hastings News, dated October 29th, 1857, Mr. Hume wrote-"Sir, - you will promote a good cause if you will print in your next number, the list of subscribers to the Hastings and St Leonards Branch of the Royal Humane Society. The wreck which occurred on our coast during the late gale and the loss of five human beings for the want of the necessary appliances for rescuing men from stranded vessels woke us up from the sleep of carelessness, and induced a vigorous effort to be better prepared for the future. In the case of fire, we are wise enough to be prepared beforehand, and to have our engines and fire-engines ready the moment the cry of fire is heard. Perhaps if we occupied our business in deep waters, we should be quite as anxious to have a lifeboat, rockets, &c. stationed on every part of the coast where it was possible that a vessel might be stranded and lost....Let us learn wisdom from the past and be prepared for the future. The amount collected is still below the mark of our requirements, and it is earnestly hoped that those who have the means will help our endeavours to a successful termination. W. W. Hume.
The Royal Humane Society. The month of November found established a branch of the Royal Humane Society, with the Rev. W. W. Hume as treasurer, R. Cooper Gardiner, Esq., as secretary, and Mr. T. S. Hide as assistant secretary.
The Life-boat Maintenance. - The Corporation having offered to defray the expense of the lifeboat's coxswains salary and the payment of the crew for quarterly exercise, Capt. Ward, R. V. (the Inspector of Lifeboats) in a conference said that such an arrangement would be contrary to the system pursued by the National Lifeboat Institution. He therefore urged that the control of the lifeboat should be jointly under the Corporation and other persons, to be managed quite distinct from any other society and be maintained by voluntary contributions. This was agreed to.
Sale of Stock
The year 1857 was for a long time remembered not only in St. Leonards and Hastings, but also in other parts of the county as that in which took place the largest sale of live stock that had been known during a century. It was on the 29th of September that was effected the sale of Sussex stock at Pebsham farm, Bulverhithe. Mr. Barton and his family, from [ 88 ]the year 1811 until 1857 had devoted much attention to the breeding of stock, and had announced a four day's sale, in which would be included 250 head of cattle, but having purchased a portion of the land which he had theretofore rented, he reduced the number to 185 horned cattle, 500 sheep, 9 horses and 4 colts. The first cow (which had obtained a prize) was knocked down at 32½ guineas, and the sale was continued with spirit until lot 8 was brought out. This was a cow seven years old, for which there was a severe competition, Mr. Arthur Brook being the purchaser at 42 guineas. The other horned cattle were sold at from 28 to 45 guineas, and the sheep from 42 shillings to 11½ guineas. The whole amount realised by the live stock was £5,740 19s. 6d. All the principal breeders, graziers and farmers in the county were present, and, as before stated, the sale was stated to be the largest during the century.
Accidents and Injuries
Charles Dearing, master of the Christopher George; and member of a well known St. Leonards family, in going aloft, lost his balance and fell on the starboard rail, and although caught by one of the men, he died within half an hour.
John Wellsted's Son, a youth of 15 years, living at St. Leonards, who had been in company with three other boys and by whom he had been deserted, fell down in the snow near a path leading from Bohemia to St. Leonards, where he lay in a state of insensibility for several hours, and when found was nearly frozen to death. Imagine the consternation of the parents on seeing their son brought home apparently a corpse, with livid visage and every limb of his body, as well as his hair rigidly frozen. The present writer, who had been his schoolmaster, could but rejoice that under the care of surgeon Gardiner, the youth ultimately recovered.
James Cruttenden, while larking with some other men in the London road at St. Leonards, on the 28th of March, fell on the pavement, and broke both bones of his left leg.
David Oakman, a lad, while employed in doing something to an engine at the Bopeep station, got his hand drawn into the machinery, and thereby so lacerated his fingers that amputation became necessary.
A Lady and Gentleman narrowly escaped serious injury while walking along Eversfield place on Sunday the 5th of April, a large piece of cement coping, weighing about 30lbs, having fallen from the top of a house on the very they(sic) had just stepped over. I remember several other [ 89 ]similarly marvellous escapes - one in George street, another at the Marina, and a third in Gensing road; each of them by the fall of coping or plaster.
Another Escape of a seemingly providential character occurred on the 29th of April. Some excavators had just left their work for breakfast when some overhanging mass of cliff at the West Marina, or (more correctly) at the west of St. Leonards, fell with a fearful crash, depositing at and around the spot the workmen had just quitted, tons upon tons of sand-stone, clay and loose earth, and which, had the accident occurred a minute or two earlier, must have completely buried them, without, apparently any chance of escape.
Several Accidents occurred during the week which ended on June 27th, but not of a very serious character. The first happened to a waggon which had its locomotion suddenly arrested by the giving way of one of its axles. The next was the falling down of a rather valuable horse and his getting up with broken knees. The third was the falling from his horse of Mr. Lulham, the dwarf known as "Little Jerry", who suffered concussion of the head and was otherwise pretty much shaken. He was taken into Mr. Hemsted's chemist's shop, and promptly attended to. He suffered but slight inconvenience from the said fall. The fourth accident was similar to the first and was quickly repaired. It was the upsetting of a cart through some derangement of its wheels or axles.
The Next Accident was described in the St. Leonards Gazette as follows:- "Well I never! Did you ever? Whatever can be the matter? ejaculated a worthy dame, the other day, as she attempted for the twentieth time to draw water from the public source. 'Here have I got bushels of clothes to git hom dis werry dee, and o'my to think dem ere fellers wot water the streets should rob us of all our water and wery like our bread too!" Poor woman! we could but sympathize(sic) with her, as from the same - to her unknown - cause we had that morning been deprived of our usual infusion of 'Mocha'. We do not, however wish to insinuate that the watering of the streets had anything to do with it. The fact is that the general drainage operations had disturbed and broken the water main of the high level service and for two or three days many house were deprived of their usual supply of that most essential of all commodities - water!
A Workman Injured. On the 1st of July, one of Messrs. Hughes and Hunter's workmen while employed in the excavations near to Grand parade, was severely struck by a heavy piece of timber twice falling on his head. The poor fellow was at first thought to be dead, but after a few minutes, he sufficiently revived to walk, with assistance, to the shop of Mr. Hempsted's where he remained till the arrival of Dr. Marks. A draught was administered to him and he was led home. It [ 90 ]was gratifying to learn that beyond a death-like palor(sic) and the staggering effects of what was literally a stunning blow, no immediate harm resulted, and the man was soon at work again. Some people seem to have charmed lives.
A boy named Friend must have been drowned on the morning of Sunday, the 1st of August, but for the plucky rescue of two young men of St. Leonards, named respectively Raven and Starnes. They were bathing near 39 Martello Tower.
A great Downfall occurred at 5a.m. on Jan 3rd, when nearly the entire end and front of Mr. Cooper's house, then being erected in Warrior square fell down with a crash in consequence of the high wind.
The Silverhill Chapel
This neat Gothic structure, designed by Mr. Carpenter and erected by Mr. Howell, was opened for public worship on Sunday afternoon, July 12th, when an eloquent discourse was delivered by Mr. Boyd to a full congregation. The service was repeated in the evening, when the attendance was even greater than in the afternoon, the cost of the building was something over £300 (since greatly enlarged and improved) two-thirds of which cost was contributed by Mr. Clement, of Hastings and Mr. Harris of Leicester. The trusteeship of the chapel was confided to Protestants of various denominations, the principles upon which its services at first were intended to be conducted being an unsectarian character, and in further of the plan of the Evangelical Alliances. A need of something of the kind in that neighborhood was beginning to be felt, and it is presumed that there may be thos who have had cause to bless the promoters of the undertaking.
On Sunday the 13th of December, the Rev. William (afterwards Dr.) Boyd preached his farewell sermon to a crowded congregation. As before stated, this chapel was built mainly at the expense of Messrs. Clement and Harris, and Mr. Boyd, who was living in Mr. Clement's house while preparing for orders in the Presbyterian church, undertook the task of preaching in a room near the Tivoli until the chapel was erected.
St. Mary Magdalen Church
At Eastertide the congregation of this church presented to the Rev. W. W. Hume and "Easter Offering" of £124 11s. 6d. in token of appreciation of that gentleman's ministerial labours.
The Church Missionary Society was benefited by £38 5s. collected at this church on the 8th of March. [ 91 ]Sermons were preached and meeting(sic) were held during the week ending March 14th in connection with the church Missionary Society, both at St. Leonards and Hastings; also at Ore, the collections at which were as follows:-
|St. Leonards Church||£||38.||7s.||5d.||All Saint's Church||10||4.||6|
|St. Leonards meeting||26.||2s.||5d.||Halton Church||6||11.||2|
|St. Leonards juvenile Association||34.||18s.||6.||Ore Church||6||1.||6|
|St. Mary Magdalen Church||38.||5.||0.||Fairlight Church||11||11.||9|
|St. Mary-in Castle Church||69.||15s.||9.||Hastings meeting||9||7.||2|
|St. Clement's Church||17.||10s.||7.||Hastings Juvenile Association||42||5.||7|
Indian Relief Fund
St Leonards contributed more than two-thirds of the £1,000 that was obtained for the Indian Relief fund in 1857, without a canvass.
Death of a Nonagenarian
The demise of the greatly respected and highly associated Mrs. Mather occurred at her residence, 65 Eversfield, on January 1st or the day preceding in her 92nd year.
Turn 'em Out!
On the 1st of January at an hour before daylight the streets of St. Leonards resounded with the unmelodious shouts of "Turn 'em out, rout 'em out, bundle 'em out!" an annual custom in the older town of Hastings, which at one time, presumably, was intended as a symbol of turning out the old year and bringing in the new, but which with the latter-day Saints (All Saints and Saint Leonards included) meant "Turn out your money and anything else you have to dispose of, and see how we'll scramble for it!"
"The Light of Other Days"
"Yes, (says the St. Leonards Gazette, of March 28th) the 'Light of other days 'has faded! before the new but 'time-honoured' luminary which has made its appearance in the 'western hemisphere' of the borough. We allude, of course to the illuminated clock of Mr. Sellman's in Norman Road, which was lighted up for the first time on Wednesday, March 25th. It is gratifying to find that whilst the 'East-enders' united efforts have hitherto failed to obtain a public monitor of the night, the Westenders have been more successful through the instrumentality of an enterprising tradesman."
A Novel Vessel
On Thursday, March 26th, a vessel of a novel description, and drawn by a horse, passed through St. Leonards. It had all the appearance of a light spring-cart, and but for the announcement on the stern "for sail" no one would have discovered anything nautical about it. [ 92 ]
In the last week of January, a bullock belonging to Mr. Parks, not relishing the order for a certain period of solitary confinement, determined to show his contempt of prison discipline by cooly releasing himself, and pro tempore, performing the duties of a public executioner by depriving of life a number of innocent sheep.
A Plucky Bantum - Anyone who was fond of a little mimic sport might have been gratified by witnessing the antics of a pugilistic bantum belonging to the late Mr. G. G. Gray at Stratford (now White-rock) place. This tiny combattant, at the slightest indignity offered either to himself or his female companions would turn round and face his assailant, - be he man or monkey, when, with neck extended and comb erect, he would commence an onslaught with his spurs that was really quite surprising. Should his antagonist show any symptoms of declining the contest, he would crow with a gusto that was equally amusing.
Clothes not to be worn. - Said the St. Leonards Gazette of the 16th of May, "We have it on private authority that in the neighborhood(sic) of Guestling, a few days ago, a man was seen going about in a state of primitive nature, under an impression that he had come by his clothes honestly, and was therefore determined not to wear them.
The Weaker Vessel. In the third week of July an itinerant fish-cart having run foul of a travelling fruit stall, Fish cart contended that Fruit-Stall "ought to look out for himself, 'cos he vos de weaker wessel".
The Magdalen Schools
On the 2nd of January, the children of the St Mary Magdalen schools, together with their parents and friends, partook of tea provided for them in the school-room.
The London, Brighton and South-Railway Company at the commencement of the year presented a weeks wages to each of the men in their employ in consideration of their good conduct, and in consequence of the Company's lines all the year last passed.
By the 1st of March, the electric wire of the same railway company was completed to St. Leonards.
In the following month, the same Company put some new and powerful engines on for traffic, by which means an acceleration of trains was promised and performed. [ 93 ]
The East-Sussex Election.
It is not often, in a General Election that a contest for the county has been deemed of so much local importance as that of the borough, but the fact of there having been in 1857 no opposition for the borough, and a severe contest for the county, and a severe contest for the county, the latter became, as a matter of course, by far the most exciting. There were four candidates in the field - namely, Mr. Dodson and Col. Cavendish as Liberals; and Lord Pevensey and Mr. Fuller as Conservatives. The nomination took place at Lewes on Saturday April 4th, and the election on the following Tuesday. At the several polling places throughout the district, great interest was evinced at an early hour, and which became more intense as the day wore on. At Hastings, all sorts of vehicles were employed in conveying voters to the polling booth, where jibes and jokes were not lacking to give it a little (of) the semblance of the election days of yore. It was remarkable that out of the eight polling districts of the county, not one, except Hastings, resulted in a record of votes proportionate to the grand total. Mr. Dodson was proposed by R. W. Blencowe, Esq. and seconded by Gen. Davies, whilst E. Hussey, Esq. proposed and W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq. seconded Viscount Pevensey. The result of the election was the return of Mr. John George Dodson and Viscount Pevensey - one Liberal and one Conservative, as against Col. Cavendish (Liberal) and Mr. A. E. Fuller (Conservative). The number of votes polled were-
The preliminary meetings and speeches at Hastings are noticed in the next Chapter - LVIII
A New Gun
On Monday, June 22nd, upwards of 50 belonging to the Preventive service proceeded to the 40 Martello Tower (the second one west of St. Leonard), for the purpose of landing a new gun, brought by one of the Revenue cutters. The gun weighed two tons and three hundredweights, and was intended to replace one of similar calibre, which having been used for several years as a practice gun, was considered to be too much worn. The new piece of ordnance was lifted into a strong, flat bottomed boat, and towed to the beach by two of the cutter's boats, where, on its arrival, planks were laid down for running it over the shingle. On endeavouring, however, to lift the monster, from the boat to the carriage, the tackling gave way, and it was found impossible to accomplish the undertaking until the tide had sufficiently receded to admit of a readjustment of the machinery. This was eventually done, and "Bonnie Black Bess" was consigned [ 94 ]to her humble shed with befitting ceremony. Her predecessor was taken back for repairs or to be "laid up in ordinary".
The Postal Imbroglio
On page ___[Notes 4] it was stated that the St. Leonards Commissioners at their meeting on December 24th resolved to send a letter to the Secretary of the General Post Office and a copy of the same to the Mayor of Hastings. To understand the nature of that letter it is necessary to refer to a report of the Town Council meeting held on the 4th of the same month which appears on page ___[Notes 5] in the next chapter. There it will be found that in renewing an agitation for the abolition of the St. Leonards Post Office, the real object was professedly to alter to the name of Hastings all that portion of St. Mary Magdalen parish that was not included in Mr. Burton's purchase for the town of St. Leonards, and which though not so included, had borne the name of St. Leonards for about 27 years. I will, however, here give an outline of the birth and growth of the district coveted by Hastings at this juncture. Mr. Burton commenced building the town of St. Leonards in 1828 - the same year in which the Woods and Forest Commissioners claimed the ground at the Priory, and gave the inhabitants a seven years lease dating from the preceding year. Over this ground, Hastings proper had no jurisdiction, its western limit being the Priory bridge, now the site of the Albert Memorial. Between Hastings proper and St. Leonards proper, there were no front-line habitations except the then recently erected Verulam place by Mr. Manser, Mr. Austin, Mr. Hilder and others. This range of ten houses was built on the western side of the then steep road over the White Rock, about seven years before the said road was levelled, and no one thought of calling it Hastings. There was, in fact, a mile of road between Mr. Burton's new town of St. Leonards and the old town of Hastings. The former town having sprung into existence in a remarkably short time, builders and speculators began to look about for other sites, and in 1829 or '30 ground was purchased immediately contiguous to Mr. Burton's property on the Eversfield estate. Among the purchasers and builders were Mr. Manser, Mr. Towner, Col. Jeffreys, Mr. Inskipp, Mr. Beecham and Mr. Eldridge, and by 1831, Adelaide place - now 1 to 13 Grand parade - and some houses in the rear were completely erected. As before stated, this property was a mile distant from the western boundary of Hastings, and it was also a mile and a half from the Hastings Post Office, then in George street. St. Leonards having been made a post-town from the first; and distant from that of Hastings; it was naturally convenient for the property that joined St. Leonards to be [ 95 ]included in the St. Leonards postal delivery; especially as the four-horse nightly mail from London, taking up the country mails on its route, after depositing the Hastings bags, went forward to St. Leonards and there remained till night, when the up journey was performed in reversed order; thus enabling the deliver in both towns to be commenced at the same moment, and the St. Leonards receiving box at night to be closed only a short time before the one at Hastings. It was clear, then, to any intelligent mind not pledged to the real motives of the promoters of change that to abolish the St. Leonards post-office with its money-order office, its poste-restante, and its other accessories for its duties to be performed by an office 1½ miles distant, would, if sanctioned be an act of folly, as well as of injustice. In 1832 - four years after the commencement of St. Leonards - Mr. Burton obtained an Improvement Act, under a board of Commissioners, whose jurisdiction extended to the east end of the Marina; and, not to be outdone, Hastings also, in the same year, obtained an Improvement Act under Commissioners whose jurisdiction extended to the west end of York buildings. Between these two governing bodies, the district had to (be) managed parochially. In 1834, the lease granted by Government to the inhabitants of the Priory ground terminated, and in the general exodus that followed, many persons replanted their property on purchased plots eastward and northward of the St Leonards Archway, which had already assumed the name of St. Leonards, but, in common parlance "St. Leonards Without" in contradistinction of "St. Leonards Within"; thus showing their close connection with St. Leonards, proper, as did Bishopsgate-without and Aldersdgate-without, their connection with the city of London; or again, locally and parochially, as St. Leonards outbounds and St. Mary-in-the-Castle outbounds. The immigrants from the Priory-ground (who knew how the Corporation of Hastings were put out of court by the Government officials when they put in a claim for the land which the Crown was about to appropriate, and who also, when the Reform celebration took place in 1832, would not consent to walk in the procession or to join Hastings in the festivities except as "Americans" under their new banner of stars and stripe) were not likely to call their habitations in London road, Norman road, Gensing road, Shepherd street, &c. by the name of Hastings even if there were no other conditions to consider; hence the description in the conveyancing deeds was generally "St. Leonards" or "St. Mary Magdalen", and in all cases, without exception, their business cards, invoices, circulars and advertisements bore the impress "St. Leonards" or "St. Leonards-on-sea". At the same time the front line sections continued to extend from west to east, and included (Seymour place (where the Queen Dowager resided as medically advised to St. Leonards), Warrior-square, Eversfield place, Verulam place, and the houses in White[ 96 ]-rock place numbered 1 to 20. The numbers of all those ranges of houses commenced - as they still do - from the St. Leonards end, as being an expansion of St. Leonards, and not of Hastings. They were nearly all designed by St. Leonards architects (Inskipp and Voysey) and mostly built by St. Leonards people, among whom Messrs. Beecham, Inskipp, Eldridge, Austin, Manser, Waghorne, Putland, Duke, Woodford, Kenwood, Barton, Chamberlin and others. The only Hastings men that I remember who built houses in the coveted territory were Messrs. Winter, Bromley and Vidler, the two last, with Mr. Ross, being Town Councillors and members of the autocratic H. I. P. S., as well as the prime movers of the sought-for change, notwithstanding that area in question had been called St. Leonards from the year 1830, and had retained the name for considerably over twenty years without protest, and had thus obtained a prescriptive title in addition to other rights and usages. It joined Hastings for the application of the Health of Towns' Act, for sanitary purposes, but not for a change of name, to effect which the said Act gave no power whatever.
Among the self-styled "Americans" who removed to St. Leonards from the Priory ground as I remember the names at the moment of writing were Akehurst, Austin, Bissended, Brett, Barnes, Bassett, Beney, Cork, Cutting, Chapman, Chester, Goodsell, Hook, Hyland, Honiss, Jinks, Knight, Kirby, Lee, Lansett, Levett, Milstead, Murdock, Noakes, Neve, Naylor, Prior, Perfitt, Prendegast, Picknell, Ranger, Russel, Smith, Sinden, Shaw, Starnes, Shepherd (from whom was named Shepherd street), Strickland, Thorne, Taylor, Tyhurst and Weller. These, with about three exceptions, who took up their quarters in the Burton-founded town, made their new homes outside; and, together with the builders and property-owners previously mentioned, extended the dwellings and other premises eastward and northward in such manner and magnitude as was never contemplated by the original founder. And so close and cordial were the relations of the two sections that the Archway was only useful - and that in a very partial manner - as indicating the eastern limit of the Commissioners' jurisdiction. Except for trading purposes - greatly to the advantage of Hastings, as I have more than once shown and many hereafter afford additional proof - that town was only associated with the district in question in its political aspect as being in the same borough. There was really no other community of intrests such as bound together the "insiders" and "outsiders" of St. Leonards. Readers of this history will have seen that an attempt had been made by the Lord of the Manor and a few of his friends to get an Act of Parliament for the whole of the district between the St. Leonards Archway and where is now the Albert Memorial to be a separate township with the name of West Hastings. That scheme would have embraced not only the greater portion of the Magdalen parish, but also the parishes of St. Michaels and Holy Trinity. To prevent this, the majority [ 97 ]of the three parishes joined hands, and with successful results. Those who first gave the name of St. Leonards to the area from the Archway to Verulam place or those who retained the name by prescriptive right, reasonably considered that as the district thus claimed as St. Leonards grew out of St. Leonards, so, on a similar principle, the area between Verulam place and the site of the Mmorial ought to be called Hastings, as having grown out of Hastings. Thus much was very properly concluded, and the Infirmary, by an unwritten law became, as it were, the natural division of the two towns. Little did the inhabitants of the West think that the very men of the East who united in strongly opposing the intermediate district being called "West Hastings" would afterwards propose the same name as a means of separating it entirely from St. Leonards, and in a less honourable manner that when it was proposed by Mr. Eversfield and a few others. This second attempt of a majority of the Town Council to deprive St. Leonards of its post office, because it stood in the way of calling St. Leonards Hastings, although it signally failed, renewed, in an intensified form, the acerbity which the first attempt created, but which it was hoped had been gradually dying out.
With this preliminary explanation, it is assumed, the ground will have been cleared for what follows.
An Important Meeting at St. Leonards
A large and influential meeting was held in the Assembly Rooms on the 22nd of December for the purpose of taking into consideration the resolution recently adopted and acted upon by the Hastings Town Council in reference to the alteration of postal arrangements, and also the alteration by which a great part of the district long known as St. Leonards-on-sea is to be called Hastings. The chair was occupied by Sir Woodbine Parish, who was supported on the platform by nearly thirty of the principal gentry of the district. Among the persons present there were Mr. A. Burton, Mr. Gardiner, Mr. Staines, Mr. Selmes, Rev. W. W. Hume, Mr. Dalzell, Rev. W. Tilson-Marsh, Mr. Cancillor, Mr. Booth, Major Ogle, Mr. Beecham, Mr. Bartleet, Mr. Smith, Mr. Montgomerie, Capt. Hull, Mr. H. Harwood, Capt. Parish, Rt. Hon. H. Addington, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Escourt, M. P., Mr. Dais, Dr. Adey, Mr. Beddoes, Rev. W. Hayward, Capt. de Lasalle, Mr. R. Ransom, Mr. Maggs, Mr. Hempsted, Rev. C. L. Vaughan, Mr. Grosslob, Mr. Southall, Rev. L. Marriner, Mr. How, Mr. Parks, Rev. C. A. Oak, Mr. Matthison, Mr. Knose, Dr. Blackiston, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Mann, Mesrs. S. Putland, sen & jun., Mr. Voysey, Mr. Carey, Mr Ranger, Mr. Bickles, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Stoneman, Mr. Paul, Mr. Pain, Mr. Gausden, &c. &c.
The Chairman, who rose amidst loud cheers, said - except as a form it would hardly be necessary for him to say that the meeting had been called in consequence of certain resolutions and procedings of the Town Council which militated very materially against the interests [ 98 ]of the inhabitants, not only of St. Leonards proper, but also of the large district which had long been known by the name of St. Leonards (cheers). The proceedings in question might be divided into two heads. The first was the resolution of the Town Council "That the calling of the town of Hastings by any other than its proper name is injurious to its interest as a watering place and that this Council do agree that all that portion of the Borough of Hastings which lies to the east of the Archway which is the boundary of the township of St. Leonards shall henceforth be styled Hastings, and the names of streets and places be written up accordingly." The second resolution was to move the Postmaster General to take into consideration the necessity of making an alteration in the postal regulations of the borough, and that there should be only one general post-office for the whole borough! The chairman reminded the meeting that the word necessity was used in the resolution. He believed, however, that he was right in saying that if there was any one point on which the inhabitants of the district could be almost unanimous it was in the general impression that the present postal arrangements were perfectly satisfactory (cheers). They had been in force ever since the place was built, had increased in accommodation with the growth of the place and were most admirably managed (renewed cheers). He might also say that it required a long time to bring about such a state of perfection, and it would take years before a fresh arrangement could be made intelligible to the public. He was very much surprised to hear in answer to enquiries he had made that the number of letters which went through the St. Leonards post office amounted to no fewer than ten or twelve thousand a week. That was one convenience which the inhabitants had; and the money-order office was another, which to deprive them of would be seriously inconvenient. He was told that no less a sum than £30,000 a year went through that office. In consequence of it being a head office the receiving box was kept open to the latest moment at night, and if it ceased to be a head office, it would make a difference of at least an hour. These were matters of very serious importance to them, and ought not to be trifled with or dealt with summarily with without(sic) consultation with the parties immediately interested. (cheers) They might have their own views of little changes, but that was for themselves to consider, and not those who had nothing to do with the place. A man might as well get up at Battle and make proposals as had been done at Hastings. To take away their Post Office would be to deprive them of what they held most dear. In continuing, Sir Woodbine said it was for the meeting [ 99 ]to pass such resolutions as they might think proper, it being for him only to indicate what were the motives for calling that meeting. The chairman next referred to the resolution of the Town Council respecting the name. That resolution had been transmitted to the Postmaster-General, requesting to attend to it. Whether he would or not, remained to be seen. The Town Clerk in his letter to the Lord Duke added a reason to the request which was very curious and worthy of remark - "Because there is great confusion in the delivery of letters, owing to a certain portion of the Borough of Hastings being styled St. Leonards, which is quite wrong as all the property on the East side of St. Leonards Archway is strictly Hastings, and nothing can be legally shewn to the contrary." Confusion! Now, was there any inhabitant of the district in question who would admit that? Were they not all met there to affirm exactly the contrary? (cheers) - to affirm their satisfaction with the present arrangements? But what would be the confusion if the resolutions of the Town Council should be adopted? - if this large district which for so many years had been called St. Leonards, should now be called Hastings? It was a name that had never been given to it. St. Leonards had been fixed to all legal documents and to public institutions. Among the latter were the St. Leonards National Schools, the St. Leonards Mechanics' Institution, the St. Leonards Wesleyan Chapel, the St. Leonards Provident and Coal Club, and several others (cheers). The existence of so many institutions proved the importance of the locality, and the very great inconveniences that would arise if any alteration were to be made in the name of it. There were institutions of the same sort in Hastings, and people would not know one from the other, and the Hastings people would probably get money that was intended for St. Leonards. It would indeed be "confusion worse confounded" This act of the Town Council has been committed in virtue of the wording of a certain clause in the Act of Parliament which regulated the proceedings of the Local Board. On looking over this he (the chairman) found there was not the least doubt that the Municipal body of Hastings had to see that houses were properly numbered. It was perfectly obvious that that was one of the necessary duties of the Municipal body, and it was especially necessary to name new places; but there was nothing in that Act which authorised the Council to change or in any way to alter the original denomination of a place.
There were a great many houses that had particular names; and they might next have the Council rubbing them out and put[ 100 ]ting up names of their own. The present was, perhaps, a legal question about the true meaning of an Act of Parliament, and he would not undertake to say what an Act of Parliament under any circumstances meant (laughter); but he thought the right of the Town Council to do what they had done would be disputed. The power to name streets, roads, &c. was absolutely necessary, but to change what was already established either by law or usage was fraught with great inconvenience both to individuals and the public, and not meant to have been attempted without due deliberation (cheers). The Council had acted contrary to the unanimous wish of the inhabitants of that locality, and he was quite persuaded that they would feel as he did, that the constituted authorities to all due respect, whatever might be thought of the acts of certain individuals.
He had no feeling against Hastings, but the people of Hastings had nothing to do with this locality. They knew perfectly well that the people of St. Leonards were their best customers, and it was neither their interest nor their wish to array such customers against them. The chairman then called on Mr. Burton to speak, and resumed his seat amid loud cheers.
A. Burton, Esq., proposed the following resolution:- "That in the opinion of this meeting the arrangements now in existence as to the St. Leonards postal district which were established twenty-two years ago, and were subsequently confirmed, after full consideration, in 1854, are ample and well adapted for the accommodation of the inhabitants of the district". He had much pleasure in proposing that the resolution for their acceptance, because he thought it would meet with the cordial concurrence not only of every man in the room, but also of a large circle around it. At the same time the subject caused him pain. He had imagined that they were then jogging along amicably together with their neighbours at Hastings. They had both had their misfortunes as well as prosperity, and he had hoped that they were going on hand in hand, till he was startled by the report of the Town Council attempting to deprive them of their post office - the greatest benefit they possessed. And this was done by those who professed every feeling of friendship for St. Leonards. One gentleman in the Council said it was a gross abuse to have two post-offices within a mile and a half of each other, on the score of expense. But that gentleman should have made further enquiries before he made such a charge. In 1854, a similar attempt was made, and a memorial was sent from Hastings for a joint post-office. A counter memorial was sent from St. Leonards, and the following was the reply:- "Sir, - With [ 101 ]reference to the memorial of certain inhabitants of St. Leonards, which was forwarded in your letter of the 25th of January last, relative to the question of establishing one central post-office, for that place, and the town of Hastings, instead of the two separate offices as at present maintained there. I am commanded by the Post Master General to inform you that he has caused full enquiry to be made into the circumstances of the case, and having duly estimated the advantages and disadvantags dependent on the measure he has determined that it would not be expedient to adopt the proposed change. His Lordship, however, has been pleased to sanction an arrangement by which a daily interchange of correspondence between Hastings and St. Leonards will be afforded, and letters misdirected to either place will be transferred and properly delivered on the day of their arrival, instead of being delayed until the following day as is at present the case. I am directed to add that his Lordship has not yet been able to arrive at a decision on the question of establishing a second day-mail between London and Hastings and St. Leonards, but the matter will continue to receive his best consideration.
I am, sir,
your obedient humble servant.
The reading of the letter was received with cheers, after wish, Mr. Burton said even if two offices caused a little additional expense that would be no sufficient reason for taking away so great a benefit. He would give them the opinion of a Hastings tradesman, with regard to the advantages to be derived from a post-office. This tradesman had lived near the old post-office in Hastings, and he said the removal of the office had been to him a loss of several hundreds, and he hoped they at St. Leonards would not meet with a similar misfortune. This tradesman further said that he did not at all approve of the proceedings of his representatives in the Council. He (Mr. Burton) thought the Council had taken a false step, and he hoped they would retrace it; for then the storm would be quelled, but if not, he feared they would be living in hot water.
Mr. Putland said he had wanted to sit still, but he had been called upon to second this resolution, perhaps as a compliment to him for taking an interest in the subject in the Town Council; not that he felt more than the other representatives of the West Ward, but perhaps he was a little more talkative. He was glad to see so many present. He then referred to the post-office question as "the tub which should stand on its own bottom!" He hoped they would never live to see the day when the post-office was taken away. He felt a great interest in St. Leonards, and friends at a distance wrote to [ 102 ]him, saying "Never give up St. Leonards." The Town Council thought that taking away the district from the Archway to Verulam place would be a stepping-stone to getting a central office, but the letter sent to the Duke went further and stated that they desired a central post-office and to do away with the post-office at St. Leonards. The central position of the St. Leonards post-office was very advantageous, and by the presence of many persons at that meeting, he was sure that they were well served by their post-office. The money-order department was more important than before, and its importance would increase as banking facilities decreased. From the railway bridge to Verulam place there was a frontage of about one mile and a half - nearly three quarters of a mile on each side of the post-office. The whole frontage of the borough was about three miles. No post-office could be more admirably situated to serve the district than that of St. Leonards (cheers). He felt deeply interested in this manner, having, as it were, grown up with the town, and having taken part in the building in which they were now assembled; they would therefore excuse him if he showed a little more warmth than some of the rest (cheers). He would, very cordially second the resolution. There was more that he could say, but he should have to speak in the Council. He wished, however to speak for five minutes on another subject, as he might not have an opportunity again of speaking to many at once. He referred to the representation of the West Ward. The time was come when they must move in that direction. Unfortunately, an Act of Parliament would be required; but an Act must be had, and the West Ward must be fairly and adequately represented in the Town Council of Hastings (loud cheers). If he had been sooner aware that an Act was required, he would have got a meeting and gave been prepared to bring in a bill this session, but it was now too late. Money would be required, but it must be had, and a fair representation of the West Ward be brought about as soon as circumstances would admit (cheers). The rateable value of St. Leonards and St. Mary Magdalen had increased during the last few years at the rate of £2,500 a year; and while they were increasing so rapidly in the west, unfortunately - for he was sorry to see it was so - the eastern parishes (one of them, at least) had decreased during the same period. According to the rate of increase during the past few years, these two western parishes would be equal in assessment to the whole of the East-Ward. This matter was very important, because there were large interests at stake. There were many trademen in this district - young tradesmen, he might say, who had been struggling and who were looking to the gentry for support and who were deserving of that support. He felt an in[ 103 ]terest in rising tradesmen (They know it! and cheers), and there were many in that room who might live to see the West Ward double the East Ward in value. Even now it was £3000 or £4000 more valuable than the East Ward, the representatives of which had hastily passed notes to abolish the post-office and the name of St. Leonards from the map of Hastings, for the latter was the real object (cheers). If their name were to be blotted out from the post-office, where would it appear? He referred to the struggles of tradesmen of an earlier period and remarked that the tide was turning in their favour; but the Council, without the least advantage to themselves, were bent on inflicting a real injury upon them and their town (prolonged cheers) - The Chairman then put the resolution to the meeting, and it was carried unanimously.
Mr. H. Harwood moved the next resolution - "That this meeting have viewed with very great surprise and regret the late proceedings of the Hastings Town Council to obtain an alteration in the arrangements of the St. Leonards Postal District, who are the parties chiefly, if not wholly interested." He thought it right before he commenced any remarks on that resolution to tell them that he should not have been placed in so prominent a position before them except at the request of a friend whom he and all of them very much esteemed - Mr. Wagner (loud cheers). That gentleman, although not by any means well, had nevertheless at some personal sacrifices, determined to come among them. As they were aware, he (the speaker) was not a resident, but he was a constant visitor, and hoped he should be for years to come (cheers). He therefore took some pleasure and pride in considering himself the exponent of the visitors. He really regarded it in a very solemn light that brother-townsmen who had lived so many years in friendship should, on a lamentably insignificant cause - so insignificant as to be almost beneath contempt (cheers) strive to raise a conflagration which it would be very difficult to smother. He should be very sorry to see so important a limb of St. Leonards as the district betwen the Archway and Verulam place dislocated from it. There could be no doubt that the Arch was erected as the eastern boundary of St. Leonards, but the intermediate space had been bare and barren ground. It was now one of the prettiest towns in the country. To say that because the Arch once formed the eastern boundary, it was still to continue the eastern boundary was a perfect fallacy. If it had not been for the fashion and popularity which the air and town of St. Leonards had given to it that space would not have been covered at all, or if it had, it would have been covered with a very different kind of tenements. [ 104 ]There had been a prescriptive right to call that district right to call that district[Notes 6] St. Leonards, which had never been disputed. Families - his own, for instance - came there because it was called St. Leonards. In point of situation there was a wide distance between the health of Hastings and St. Leonards. There was a popular prejudice about Hastings. If they converted so large a part of the town into Hastings, they would cloth that district with the old prejudice against Hastings. He felt that this act had been done in a manner which, to his taste, was exceedingly unneighbourly, and he might say un-English (cheers). If they were to have a conflict, let them, let them strike a good straight-forward blow. He considered the manner in which the name of Hastings was put up was nothing more nor less than an insult(cheers). It was really treating them as if they were children. He was extremely glad - he was always glad to be a peacemaker - to hear Mr. Burton read that letter from the Postmaster-General. If the ground alleged by the Council was really and honestly the true ground, it had been cut away from under their feet by that letter. The Council alleged that their motive was simply the present inconvenience. The Postmaster-General said that inconveniences did not exist. When he (Mr. H.) looked at the fact of their having yielded to this inconvenience for the last 22 years and of only just found it out, he believed that that was not the only reason. The debateable(sic) part was the ground between the Arch and Verulam place. Perhaps the Council thought it would add to their dignity and would be a very nice morsel if they could get it (laughter and cheers). If that was their object let them assert it. He hoped that it having been denied in such terms by the Postmaster-General, they would feel that the ground they started upon ahad ben cut away from under them. In conclusion, he would thrust upon the Council the adage they might "go further and far worse" (prolonged cheering).
Mr. H. Selmes rose, he said, with great pleasure, to record the resolution. He scarcely knew whether most to admire the resolution or the able manner in which it had been moved. The first intimation of that meeting was conveyed to him on the previous evening, and on being asked to second the resolution, he immediately expressed his concurrence. He had not seen in the papers all that had been said, but since he heard of the meeting he had read some of it, and was perfectly unable to account for all that had occurre. He could not understand why the Council had done this. [ 105 ]Whether they held it as a prescriptive right that all wise men resided in the east he knew not (laughter). It was the case in the antediluvian ages, but now wise men were sometimes found in the west. In the letter to the Duke, there was quite an unnecessary expression - "the confusion which has been caused". He was in the habit of receiving as many letters as most people, but he had never perceived any confusion. There were few persons who possessed a greater aptitude for business than their mutual friend, Mr. Southall. He thought that the persons who passed resolutions with a view to amalgamate St. Leonards with Hastings could scarcely be in a sane mind. Should the alteration take place, he supposed that in addressing his letters he should have to say "5 Upland Views, formerly of St Leonards, but now of Hastings." (cheers & laughter). Much had been very properly said by the last speaker of the strong connection of the people of Hastings and St. Leonards; that was one of the strongest grounds for teaching the former that they had unintentionally made a mistake (cheers). When a meeting of such importance as the present throughout the country, the Council would find it impossible to carry their resolutions into effect. The best-possible proof of the bad policy of the Hastings Council was that they wanted to do what, if it would annihilate the town of St. Leonards, would at least displease the people. The Council could scarcely suppose that what they were now attempting to adopt could possibly be acquiesced in by the people residing in St. Leonards. It was perfectly inconceivable to him. There must be something that they could not see through. The Council said there was confusion in the arrangements, but there was no evidence of that assertion as a fact; and when it was proposed to do away with this confusion by removing the post-office or by carrying a great deal more of the post-office to Hastings, it was a most extraordinary thing that the people of St. Leonards were never consulted, and that no explanation had been given to them. The Council had had their meeting, and in what the Council had done they were endeavouring to force an acquiescence. It was not at all a right way of going to work. If an alteration were to be made, it should be for him to know whether he would be getting his letters half an hour or an hour earlier of later. At present he had time to answer his letters before he left home, and as he often did not return home till late in the day, the matter was to him, personally of great importance. He thought the least the Council should have done would have been to show what were the particular advantages [ 106 ]to the public at large involved by the change (cheers). He thought the St. Leonards people had shewn both taste and tact in the calling of that meeting. He had been gratified by what he had heard from the previous speakers, whose observations were all extremely to the purpose.
Mr. F. W. Staines, J.P. said he was both a Hastings man and a St. Leonards man - a sort of amphibious animal. He was extremely sorry that the discussion should have arisen, and thought that the Town Council had been very inconsiderate in acting without at all consulting the wishes of the inhabitants. He did not desire to say anything about the legal question of right to put up the name of Hastings, because it might come before him as a magistrate, but he supposed the reason why they changed the name was because the locality was in the borough. The borough extended a great way. They had parts of the borough in Kent and elsewhere, and they might just as well write up "Hastings" there (cheers). Mr. Staines also referred to the fact that each railway had a terminus both at Hastings and St Leonards. If the name were altered, as proposed, the present Gensing station would be in Hastings, and there would then be two Hastings stations on the same line. What a confusion that would make! He next referred to the inconveniences of changing the name on medical grounds. If a patient wanted a mild air, he was sent to Hastings, but if he wanted a more open air, he was sent to St. Leonards. He could only remember one similar instance, and that was Bristol and Clifton. They were both in the borough of Bristol, but in that case, the people of Bristol did not want to put their name at Clifton. He felt an interest in both Hastings and St. Leonards, and he would remind them that a house divided against itself could not stand (cheers). The Chairman then put the resolution to the meeting, and it was carried unanimously.
Mr. Cooper Gardiner (surgeon) said he had the honour of being requested to move the next resolution - "That it is the opinion of this meeting that all such steps be adopted as may be necessary or expedient for the purpose of preventing any alteration being made in the present arrangement of the St. Leonards Postal District, and that a committee, consisting of five gentlemen, be appointed for that purpose, namely, Mr. Burton, Mr. Wagner, Rev. W. W. Hume, Mr. Beecham and Mr. Putland". Then said the speaker, after all that had previously been said, he need not take up the time in further remarks except to say that he thought all present must feel satisfied with the present [ 107 ]postal arrangements of St. Leonards. He knew of no town at the distance from London that had so many mails a day. He believed he was right in saying that their post-office was one of seventeen in the kingdom which had not had any complaints laid against them (cheers). There had been several complaints against the Hastings office, and perhaps the Council had made a little mistake in confounding their own mistakes with the no mistakes of St. Leonards. In sitting down, Mr. Gardiner was loudly applauded.
Mr. R. F. Davis, who was also received with applause, remarked that if the St. Leonards people ever had any reverence for the old town of Hastings, it would now be almost blotted out. He compared the Hastings Corporation with that of Folkestone, and caused considerable amusement by some references to a story at Folkestone of an immense peacock which the Folkestone people called the "Fiery Serpent", and about which most extraordinary things were said. He supposed the people of St. Leonards had offended the ex-Mayor, and that he had grown furious at their prosperity. The speaker also referred to a letter which appeared in the Hastings News of the previous Friday, and signed "A Native of Hastings." That writer spoke of the rigid technicalities of the law, and seemed to think they were never to be broken through. Laws were made to represent general principles, but there were times when they might be made to bend. The writer said no one could enforce anything contrary to Act of Parliament, and that the Postmaster-General had broken the law. He proposed that the Postmaster-General should be tried for High Treason (laughter). The writer of the letter also referred to the object the St. Leonards party sought to attain but it happened that they had not sought to attain any object whatever; they were merely endeavouring to prevent others from attaining an object that was unjust and discreditable. He (Mr. Davies) had been in St. Leonards fifteen years, and he felt very strongly on this matter. When he started in business he was considered to be in St. Leonards, and everything was done accordingly. Everyone present was bound up in the ward St. Leonards. It seemed to him to be almost an attempt to blot them out altogether. The Hastings people appeared to regard them as such rebels that whatever they said no notice should be taken of it. He thought rebellion consisted in rising for the love of it; but if the St. Leonards people were rebels, they were made ones. The Council passed a resolution which they knew would [ 108 ]stumble over. But they were good rebels after all. His own heart beat as well towards Hastings on the whole as if this event had never taken place. The writer of the letter referred to said the St. Leonards party had shewn their inability to offer any legal obstacle by their daubing over the word Hasting, their misleading additions to the word, and by their threatening to knock down the painter [Laughter]. If such was his (the writer's) conclusion, that meeting would show the contrary. They were not, however, supposed to countenance those who went about at night with the paint-point and tar-brush [the "Paint-pot society" for which see further on], but they were contending, not the substance for which most people contended; they merely sought to retain the name, to which they had a rightful claim. [Cheers]
The motion was then unanimously carried for the committee to consist of Mr. Burton, Mr. Wagner, Rev. W. W. Hume, Mr. W. P. Beecham and Mr. S. Putland.
The Rev. W. W. Hume moved "That this meeting have viewed with surprise the uncalled-for and vexatious proceedings of the Hastings Town Council in attempting to change the designation of a considerable district which from its commencement has always and only known as St. Leonards-on-sea - a name which has been extensively employed in legal documents and title-deeds, and which has been attached to all the public institutions and places of worship within the district in question." He exceedingly requested that any act of men in authority and men, many of whom were personally known to them and highly esteemed - should have necessitated by what they must call mis-conduct, their meeting that day. Such a meeting at such a time and for such an object seemed something like snow in harvest. It was quite out of keeping with the warmth of Christmas. If it were asked why the meeting had been called and why he came to it, he should say that his object was to promote peace and brotherly kindness in the neighbourhood. He would fondly hope that such a desire pervaded the meeting, and that it dignified and justified it. Nothing more would eat out affection than a concealed grudge. Prejudice would never thrive more than in the dark corner of concealement. Reserved dispositions might be very good for keeping secrets, but were not the best for making love. It was the plain out-speaking, manly bearing which best produced and best preserved real friendship. And so far from deserving reproach for meet[ 109 ]ing there, they were exercising the rights of man, and were discharging their duty as citizens by looking boldly in the face of the wrong which had been done them. His resolution was not about the post-office, and he had simply to prove to them that they were justified in being surprised at an uncalled-for and vexations act of the Town Council towards them; that the Council had treated them without common courtesy and kindness; in fact, had treated them not only as children but as very scrubby children, and their houses as dog-kennels which they might daub over as they plesed. The prime movers were very careful to express their good feelings for them, and said they were only acting from a reverence for the time-honoured name of Hastings. If they spoke as honest men, they were not acting as wise ones. All this hubbub at Christmas about a name! What was in a name? He would call the prime-mover to spell out in his own way what he meant by a name. The reverend gentleman then read the following extract from Ald. Ross's speech at the last Council meeting - "Visitors coming to that part of the town wrote home and told their friends that they were residing in the best part of the town and would call it St. Leonards. One of the consequences was that their friends, when they came, took tickets to St. Leonards Station, and were therefore taken to the Victoria Hotel or to lodging-houses in that immediate neighborhood. If the visitors could write home and call their place of residence Hastings, their friends would take tickets to Hastings and would come to the Hastings station and go to Hastings hotels and lodging-houses" That was what the Mayor meant by a mere name [Loud Cheers]. He meant by a mere name that which would fill lodging-houses and pay good rents; that which would fill hotels and pay long bills; that which would fill their carriages and buy goods from their shops. And then his usual supporter - it was quite fair to call him the seconder - Mr. Vidler [Cheers and laughter] seconded Mr. Ross's motion and he did it in a strnge way. And here they might perhaps have had a grudge against the Press. Perhaps the press laid down their pens, feeling unable to report the glowing eloquence of the speaker, but at all events, they did lay down their pens. "Mr. Vidler seconded the motion, and gave an instance, shewing the injurious effect produced by allowing the name of St. Leonards to be attached to the best part of Hastings." It so happened very [ 110 ]happily for them, the press was not the only means of conveying information. Mr. Vidler ran his head against a very awkward fact, and this might account for the silence of the press. Perhaps Mr. Vidler was not reported fully, because this, as he had been told was his fact: a gentleman came down and took a house in Carlisle parade and called it St. Leonards. But he was told he must not call that St. Leonards; it was Hastings. He replied that he had been told to come to St. Leonards, and off he walked through the Archwa. [Cheers] Next came a man whom they all highly esteemed and respected, the Mayor. He told them two reasons, to the first of which the seconder of the present motion would speak. The second reason was "that all the recent expenditure in drainage had been spent in Hastings and not in St. Leonards, yet it would appear, according to the post-master that a good deal had been spent in St.Leonards." Here was merely a name; and he should very much like to know if they could find out how much the money collectd in that part of St. Leonards had been spent in helping out the drainage of Hastings proper. They did not tell them that. [Cheers.] Mr. Putland next got up, and he (the speaker) thought they all owed him their best thanks, which he understood would that night be offered to him and to the other representatives of the West Ward for the manly and straight-forward manner in which they acted. He would pass over Mr. Putland's speech. His old and highly esteemed friend, Mr. Ginner, who was churchwarden when he (Mr. Hume) was curate at St. Clements, got up and first with that John Bullism which quite belonged to him, identified himself with Mr. Ross going right at the thing at once; but then, whether under the influence of Mr. Putland's speech, or only acting on his own sound sense, he delivered himself of a thought which one might have hoped would have had a little effect on the other members of the Council. "He thought if they made any violent alterations without giving notice they would be throwing the town into confusiion." That was common sense [Cheers.] It might have been possible to have met to investigate the subject; but they [such as composed the meeting] did not like people to come with no courtesy at all towards them. Next came two men who followed Mr. Ginner in common sense, but they also - true as the needle to the pole - went to the [ 111 ]old principle of "every tub on its own bottom" [Laughter.] Still, they agreed with Mr. Ginner in thinking that they should show just a little kindness. But, not a bit of it. The thing was to be done all at once, and out went the order for the paint-pot and brush. It seemed that no words of his were needed to prove that the Town Council had interfered in an un-called for manner. The people had been grumbling over for the past week. It had put them out of tempter, and they had thought that such a feeling was not the feeling they were made to have. [Cheers] The Town Council had made a great mistake and had tumbled themselves over in the dirt. Perhaps they had no other end than an exhibition of their own power, or were practicing that dangerous game of running after their own dignity. Like a man running after his hat in a gale, they would not overtake their dignity by giving chase to it; it must be brought to them by other people [Cheers.] The business of the meeting was to make peace. They did not want to have this ill-feeling last any longer. Whatever might have been the motive of the Council, Let the meeting hold out the hand of good-fellowship. They must have a brotherhood - Mr. Ross was fond of "Brotherhoods." [Cheers and laughter.] Instead of going to another part of the country for one, let them have a brotherhood here. Let them not shut the door at Christmas against those who had done them a little wrong. Let there be forgiveness - not compromise, but forgiveness - if the Council would only leave off daubing on their houses and they leave off rubbing out [Loud cheers.] He had learnt to respect many of the people of Hastings while residing there, and he wondered how some in the Council could have acted as they did. If anyone in the room had a friend in Hastings, let him whisper to that friend tht if the Hastings people had any respect for the welfare of Hastings they had much better paint the inside of their own houses than the outside of those in St. Leonards. [Prolonged cheering.]
Mr. W. P. Beecham, jun., on rising to second the resolution said the Town Council had taken the proceeding of putting up Hastings on what the meeting had always called St. Leonards. This was either legal or it was not, but it was uncalled for and vexatious; for, did not the meeting show that not one voice had called for it? Where were the injured innocents [ 112 ]who could not speak for themselves? None of them knew where to lay their hands on one who did not think it was uncalled for. What could be more vexatious than to have a name which they repudiated attached to everything? He had been in the district some years, and he had always said that he lived at St. Leonards, and had often sworn that he lived at St. Leonards, and others had done the same. He did not suppose he had committed perjury. Everybody knew that almost every house had St. Leonards on the lease and deeds. There would be one result of the change to which, personally, he could hardly object, but which would cause extra expense and trouble to the people. If they wanted to change their lease, they would have to make a declaration explaining the name in the lease. Then, again, the houses were insured. Supposing his house were to be burnt down, and he went to the insurance office. They would send down a surveyor, but he, on looking for Warrior square, St. Leonards, would find no such place if the name were altered. These were things that could be got over, but they would be exceedingly annoying for years. Although the Town Council had power to put up a name [such as that of a road or a street], they had no power to change the established name of a town or district. If they caught the gentlemen with the paint-pots the magistrates must settle whether they could fine them or not; but whether they were right in law or not, the question was whether they were right in fact. In 1823 an Act was passed with respect to the town of Hastings, limiting the town by words to the parishes of All Saints and St. Clement's, and the other parts were in the liberties of the town of Hastings. Mr. Burton's father built the town of St. Leonards, and in 1832 and(sic) act was obtained, limiting that to a certain district. The people of Hastings thought they were getting behind hand, and they obtained an Act, limiting the town to the three parishes of St. Clement's, All Saints and St. Mary in the Castle. [Cheers.] That was passed subsequently to the St. Leonards Act. If the east boundary of St. Leonards was the Archway, it was so merely for local purposes. The intermediate part was left as debateable ground. Hastings did not grow much, but St. Leonards grew rapidly, and ultimately the places met. The Hastings peoples finding they could not get any farther - like an ancient conqueror, having no more world to conquer - they began to regret what had ben done. The whole of that district was under no government at [ 113 ]at all until the passing of the Local Board Act, by which the borough was made one district for the purposes of the said Act - not one word was said about the town at all. St. Leonards had grown and had reached Verulam place. It was a mere question to which place by right of parentage that district belonged. It had always been accorded to St. Leonards as far as Verulam Buildings, and he considered that they were quite justified in saying what they did in the resolution [Loud Cheers.]
Mr. Cancellor said he believed there had been a great mistake on the part of certain members of the Town Council, but there was no mistake by those members of the Council who represent the West Ward. He thanked that small and gallant band for the opposition they had shown, and he was sure that they well deserved the thanks of the meeting. [Applause]. He found that the members of the Council were at the rate of two for the East Ward to one for the West Ward. He thought measures should be adopted for a better representation of the West Ward. He would move that a vote of thanks be given to Mr. Putland and the other members of the Council who represent the West Ward for their strenuous opposition to the resolution there adopted by the Council to alter present arrangements. [Applause].
Capt. Hull seconded, and the motion, like all the rest, was carried unanimously.
Mr. Rober Ransom of Verulam place and Eversfield place, said it was the duty of everyone to protest against the late proceedings of the Town Council; they were unwarrantable and had been done in a very stealthy manner. If they had given a proper notice of what they were about to do, St. Leonards might have been prepared in some manner to meet them. He would move "That these resolutions be published in all the newspapers, and that the committee named in the third resolution transmit a copy of the same to the Council of Hastings, to the Postmaster-General and to such other persons as they may think fit."
Dr. Marks, in seconding the motion, said he thought that meeting was quite sufficient to satisfy the public as to the folly of the Town Council upon this question. The statements made that afternoon were enough to convince the most sceptical that the St. Leonards people were on the right side, and would have their rights. [Applause].
Mr. Harwood Harwood, in proposing a vote of thanks to the Chairman said he had always found his name associated with every move[ 114 ]ment for the benefit of the town of St. Leonards.
The Rev. Tilson Marsh seconded, and Sir Woodbine having acknowledged the vote, the meeting separated.
From the St. Leonards Newspaper
The Hastings and St. Leonards Gazette, Visitors' Vade Mecum, and Fashionable and Commercial Directory, duly registered at Somerset House under two sureties of £100, was printed and published by T. B. Brett, 28 Norman Road West, St Leonards. In the 93rd number dated December 19th, 1857 (three days previously to the above described meeting) appeared the following leading article:
The Boundary Question
At the present juncture of affairs relating to these towns, we feel called upon to make a few remarks. It will be remembered that at a recent meeting of the Town Council certain resolutions were passed having for their object the transfer of a large district from St. Leonards to Hastings, and the abolition of the St. Leonards Post Office. In conformity with these resolutions the word Hastings has been emblazoned on the walls of houses in the district in question and the Postmaster-General has been requested to alter the postal arrangements accordingly. A more unfortunate or impracticable scheme has probably never emanated from that august body. The old party feud which for some year past has been deepening into a profound slumber, has been suddenly aroused from its torpor, and is beginning to display a fierceness which cannot be aught than detrimental to the interests of both towns. The Council - or rather the two-to-one division of it which represents Hastings - is firmly resolved to carry out its purpose whilst the St. Leonards are unanimously determined to resist what they regard an infringement of their rights and an exhibition of petty jealousy. Living, as many have done for years in the (now) disputed territory, and connected with St. Leonards by every social and commercial tie, it is natural for them to repel a seperation which can yield them no equivalent compensation. They well know that in a commercial point of view the east derives extensive benefits from the west which, from the nature of things cannot be reciprocated. It were easy to show that Hastings receives in various shapes nearly one half St. Leonards disbursements, leaving the other moiety to be struggled for by an already overstrained competition in the latter. town. The advantage thus accruing to Hastings would be greatly diminished were St. Leonards to be driven farther west and compelled to adopt a more exclusive mode of dealing; and those who would force on a change to that [ 115 ]effect are unconsciously doing battle with their own interests. Call Eversfield place Hastings, and it will no longer be regarded as part of a favourite town whose name is ever on the lips of the aristocrat seeking his own society, and the invalid seeking retirement in obedience to the recommendation of his medical adviser by whom he strictly enjoined to go to St. Leonards - not to Hastings. Not the latter towns fails to have its full share of visitors, as is proved by the last sixteen numbers of this journal, which records 853 arrivals there, as against 686 in the western district (thus, by the way, shewing that although published in St. Leonards and legally registered as such, the journal here named paid full attention to the old town). Hastings will always have its visitors. Hastings will always have its visitors(sic), but a glance at our Visitors' list will afford a pretty plain indication that those who visit St. Leonards are mostly of a class not likely to select the first-named town. For ourselves, individually, claiming Hastings as our birthplace, we can have no other sentiment towards the "home of our childhood" than a wish for its prosperity - a sentiment to which St. Leonards has an equal, if not stronger claim. Both towns must stand or fall together; and when we reflect on the gradual softening down of former asperities and the vast improvements, outwardly and inwardly which have resulted from united efforts, we cannot but regret the unwise proceeding which has so abruptly destroyed the harmony that existed. Does anyone think we are over straining the matter or attaching undue importance to it? - Let him consult the feelings of the people residing westward of the Infirmary, as we personally have done (from house to house), but which the Town Council declined to do; or of the 400 who signed a counter-memorial to the Postmaster-General, and he will soon discover the determined attitude taken to resist the alleged aggression. Already the offensive word Hastings has been obliterated, and we are assured that the operation will be repeated as often as the occasion may require, let the penalty be what it may. On the other hand the word St. Leonards, which has hitherto been confined to the heading of letters, invoices, announcements and the legal documents relating to property is now to be seen on almost every house and shop-window, whilst a hand-bill cautioning visitors not to be misled by the attempted alteration has been issued. If St. Leonards, growing into proportions which its founder never contemplated, has spread its wings over a part of the borough not originally in its provisions, and has also largely helped the old town to extend its own limits, there can be nothing to complain of. We remember when the Priory Bridge was the western boundary of Hastings, and still earlier when Hastings as a town was said to be limited to the west end of George street. It is but natural for the offshoot of a tree to be considered a branch of the [ 116 ]parent stem; if therefore, the district branching out of St. Leonards has been so considered, and has been permitted to entwine itself with the original into pubescent fruitfulness, we desire more cogent reasons than any yet aduced(sic) to justify a separation.
Published Letters - Pro and ConThe Post Office? - Under this heading, and dated December 15th, a "West Ender" wrote to the Hastings as follows:-
The case of the Postal District quarrel between the two towns should be put hypothetically thus:- I live in Hastings - Hastings by Act of Parliament, and by ancient consent and title. To oblige a few influential new-comers in a new township, my residence is placed in another postal district. I am called an inhabitant of St. Leonards. My letters must be addressed St. Leonards, or I have to pay extra postage and to suffer delay in delivery. Now I want to know by what authority the Postmaster-General or anybody else put me into a township which I have nothing to do with, alters my right address to a wrong one and makes me suffer inconvenience for keeping to right and law?"
The answer to "West-Ender" is that his declared residence was never called West-End nor West Hastings, although the latter name had been attempted to be thrust upon it. Nor was it ever any portion of the town of Hastings. It had no other name, in fact but what of St. Leonards from the first, given to it by its own inhabitants, which name it continued to retain for over twenty-two years (nearly 27) and thus became possessed of an established title, of which it could only be dispossessed by a special Act of Parliament. As the newer district joined the less new portion of St. Leonards where a general post-office was established, a mile and a half from the Hastings office the Postmaster-General could do no other than unite the two districts in one postal delivery. Any other arrangement under the circumstances great inconvenience to say nothing of additional expense - both to the Post Office and the inhabitants.
"The Two Towns" With these words for his text, MR. R. F. Davis, of 22 London road, St. Leonards sent the following to the Hastings News:-
One morning last week the majority of the Town Council seemed to have suddenly awoke from a long slumber. Whether they had been wound up to talking pitch at the Peacock Club we know not; however, when they did begin to rub their eyes and feel their feet, they certainly appeared to be dreadfully disconcerted and panic stricken to find that a part of the dear old town of Hastings had been called by a wrong name. From the speeches of ex-Mayor Ross (who certainly was the mercurius of the day and whom we St. Leonards people used to respect very much), we learn that during their years of torpor and culpa[ 117 ]ble unwatchfulness, a large and very respectable neighbourhood had sprung up in the western part of the borough, comprising Grand parade, London and Norman roads, Eversfield place, Warrior square, &c., and which by postal division, commercially, as well as by common consent and courtesy had for many years always been styled St. Leonards. This, of course, coould not be allowed in these days of antiquarian research, "Brotherhoods and Guestlings!". Old Hastings always was a remarkable place, and why should she not now claim her estranged daughter, St. Leonards (who by-the-bye, in her days of infancy always treated her mother in every other way than a true and legitimate child.)? But the rich have many friends, and in days of prosperity, there will, of course, be envious neighbours. And now, by dint of long struggling against great disadvantages and difficulties placed in our way by those who ought to have fostered the young town in its effort to raise itself to its present position, a mighty change comes over the spirit of the dream. The good folk at the Town Hall, all at once begin to see how naughty they have been and will now assume the attitude and the duty of the guardians to us.
There may be a little jealousy and vandalism about it, but we must not say so, as it would be too bad to impugn their motives; yet, as we have so long been recognised as the St. Leonards people, and are so well satisfied with our name, we are not disposed to be received into their arms as so many young prodigals; and rebellious as we may be, we are determined - and if need be - to fight in a constitutional way for our freedom. The course which Russia adopts when she wishes to destroy a people's nationality, is generally first to alter the name of their country, then to prohibit them speaking their own language; and one is almost ready to think there is a little Russianism in the present effort to change the present state of affars; and that too, without first consulting the inhabitants most interested. But this naturally raises the strong and patriotic feelings of the St. Leonards people. Mr. Ross's motion was as unnecessary as it was injudicious. The postal arrangements are working well and giving satisfaction to our visitors as well as to tradesmen. The two towns - one in the East Ward, and one in the West Ward - were never working more in harmony together, and it is much to be regretted that any disturber of the public peace should be found among 'the powers that be', for, it is quite certain that this attempted act of absorbtion(sic) will only tend to alienate the two parts of the borough more than ever. Councils and Local Boards of Health may pass as many [ 118 ]motions as they please and hardly wait an hour before they send out their painter's men with pots and brushes to enlighten our darkness and remove our ignorance as to where we live; but the fact is that we perfectly knew where we resided before the knight of the brush came round with his ladder to inform us. And if anyone who reads this wishes to know more of the matter, we - that is the people who reside on this side of Verulam place still live in St. Leonards, and here we think we shall continue to live both by our own intentions and what, undoubtedly will prove to the Postmaster-General's decision.
I remain, &c.
R. F. Davis,
22 London Road, St. Leonards,
Dec. 16th, 1857"
"Old Hastings". Under date of Dec. 16th and with the signature of "Civis", a letter also appeared in the News as follows:- In the course of the dispute now raging about our local boundaries, one remark has been made which I cannot allow to pass unchallenged. it is that St. Leonards has been the making of Hastings as a watering place. This is emphatically (excuse the vulgarity) fudge. That there has been a reciprocity of benefit nobody can doubt, but that the new town should claim this superiority over the old is absurd and is answerable by one incontrovertible fact. This fact is the notorious one that it was the rising reputation of Hastings as a fashionable watering place (fishing town though it be) that led to the foundation of a new town being laid in the immediate neighbourhood. I was living here when the first stone of St. Leonards - that is the real St. Leonards westward of their own boundary arch - was laid, and I well know how the old town used then to be crowded by visitors. Every attic and little room that could possibly be let for lodgers was turned to account, for the reputation of the place rose faster than men could build. It was originally the fame of Hastings that gave St. Leonards its birth and early prosperity. And after the very determined manner in which the boundary line was marked by the new town itself no one would then have imagined that any part of Hastings eastward of that line would ever have been claimed by the new settlers; nor would it have been if instead of the splendid mansions built at that part of our town, there had been a line of fishing huts. In that case, the aristocratic exclusiveness that so carefully shut out the east from the west before would have continued. The new name may have a certain charm for a certain class of minds, but I hope most earnestly that the historic and venerable name of Hastings is not to be in any [ 119 ]part of its liberties absorbed in a name of yesterday. The difficulty has arisen entirely from allowing the Postmaster-General in his wish to accommodate the St. Leonards memorialists with a post-office of their own to give the new town a part of ours to equalise the districts. But no postmaster nor race of new shopkeepers ought to be allowed lightly to rob us of a name existing before they were born. Yours, &c. Civic, Hastings, Dec 16, 1857"
If "Civic" was in Hastings as he said, when the first-stone of St. Leonards was laid, his letter shows him to have paid but little attention to the facts of history. In the first place it was not the reputation of Hastings as a watering place that caused Mr. Burton to build St. Leonards in its immediate neighborhood(sic). That gentleman, as an eminent architect, of London, dreamt, nor perhaps, unnaturally, of the design of a new town, but without conception where it was to be placed, and was afterwards engaged a considerable time in going about to find a site agreeably with his vision. He had almost fixed on Ecclesbourne when the St. Leonards Vale appeared to answer the conditions of his dream and as the most eligible spot on which to carry out his design. It is a curious psychological fact - as I can personally attest - that busy minds sometimes dream projects or inventions of superior character to others which
which they can intellectually grasp in their wakeful hours. It might have been so with Mr. Burton. But, in any sense, when he fixed upon the site, he immediately entered into negotiations for that portion of the Eversfield Estate, which, although in the borough of Hastings was no more a part of the town of Hastings than were the other pars of the borough situated at Pevensey and Winchelsea in Sussex, and Beakesbourne and Grange in Kent. The town of Hastings, as "Civic" ought to have known, extended no further westward than the Priory Bridge, and it was not necessary for Mr. Burton to ask permission of the Hastings authorities for anything in connection with the building or name of the new town. Nor could the same liberty be in any way denied to those people who purchased ground from the same estate and erected property immediately contiguous to Mr. Burton's boundary. The was nothing to prevent their calling their property by what name they thought it was proper to adopt; and that name was St. Leonards. That was done by mutual consent, independently of the postal arrangements. Then, in reference to the denial of Civic that St. Leonards had been the making of Hastings, and his assertion that there had been a reciprocity of benefits; also that Hastings gave to St. Leonards its birth and early prosperity; and that anything to the contrary was "emphatically fudge", the compiler of this History has already shown in the earlier chapter the various ways in which Hastings [ 120 ]was greatly benefitted by St. Leonards, and without any corresponding reciprocity. The alleged "early success" was non est in a commercial sense, as proved by the numerous bankruptcies and other failures and more from the absence of reciprocity than any other cause. The houses while in course of erection, employed a good many Hastings mechanics and labourer(sic), who spent their earnings at home. The same houses, when built, were mostly furnished by Hastings tradesmen (as the present writer has given evidence of his own twice or thrice a day journeys with heavy loads of goods from the old town to the new) and then, when the houses were occupied, both west and east of the archway, the visitors, as well as some of the residents, dealt so largely with the Hastings tradesmen, that the St. Leonards shopkeepers, after purchasing their goods of the Hastings wholesale dealers - one or two butchers excepted - were unable to make a living profit. Fish, poultry, fruit vegetables and even meat, were brought from Hastings and hawked from door to door, and all without reciprocity. Mr. Ginner, who became Mayor of Hastings, supplied the public-houses with porter, and called weekly for his money. This practice of the St. Leonards people dealing with those of Hastings, without reciprocity, has continued in a modified form, ever since. Watch the omnibuses, the bicycles, the tricycles and hand-carts, and the number of parcels carried in them or on them by passengers and messengers from the east to the west, without any corresponding returns (even now) will show how erroneous was the statement of "Civic" that it was Hastings that gave St. Leonards its early prosperity! The same writer is also barely logical when he refers to Hastings as being crowded with visitors, even as a fishing town and then asks where St. Leonards (or as he calls it Hastings) "would have been if instead of its splendid mansions, there had been a line of fishing-huts?" From this mode of reasoning, one might deduce that visitors went to Hastings because of its fishing huts, and to St. Leonards because there were no fishing-huts.
"Hastings and St. Leonards" Under this heading, "A Native of Hastings" wrote as follows:- "I cannot refrain from making one or two remarks upon the present controversy between the two towns. That the Local Board of Hastings have a right to call every part of their district Hastings is the claim made by that Board and virtually allowed by its opponents. No greater admission of this right could have been made by the St. Leonards party than that exhibited by their recent course of conduct. Had they a legal claim to the name "St. Leonards", they would not have resorted to such unworthy expedients in order to prevent the affixing of the name of [ 121 ]Hastings to the corners of the streets. By daubing over, by misleading additions to the name, and what was at least unmanly, by threatening to knock down the painter, and then, in one or two instances, preventing him from putting up the name, the St Leonards party have shewn their inability to offer any legal obtacle(sic) to affixing the odious name. The only question then can be - is it expedient?
expediant? and I think it can be shewn that expediency is done either with or without the consent of the interested parties. If with their consent there still remains the question whether their consent is sufficient to warrant that act of expediency. In the present case the authority is an Act of Parliament, and the question is whether the people affected by that Act have the power liberty of restricting or extending its enactments as they think expedient? If the people of Hastings may, for the sake of expediency give up a part of that which is theirs by Act of Parliament, where is the use of the Act as a deed of definition? Would it not be better to leave the whole subject open to the townsmen for them to manage from time to time according to their notion of expediency? It is something like challenging the authority of the Houses of Parliament to say that their enactment with regard to the name of Hastings shall be a dead letter, and that the restriction with regard to the limits of the township of St. Leonards shall also be disregarded. But in the present case the act of expediency has not the consent of the interested parties - the Local Board of Health. And here the question assumes a serious aspect. We English are proud of our constitutional liberties. If I understand our Constitution rightly, the Executive have an authority to carry out the enactments of the Legislature, and that in no instance can any member of the Executive - not even the Royal head of it - enforce anything contrary to a legally passed Act of Parliament. But here the Executive in the person of the Postmaster-General has stepped in and said that Hastings shall be called St. Leonards in spite of the restrictions of two Acts of Parliament - that of the township of St. Leonards, and that of the Local Board of Health. He has no right to do this. In doing it he has broken the laws of England and infringed upon the liberty of the subject. It may be thought that I am placing the matter rather high; but let us look at it in all its bearings. If the Postmaster-General has a right to alter a name thus legally established, may not other branches of the executive claim other rights against Law? If the Postmaster-General has no right [ 122 ]but does this as a matter of expediency, then the question arises whether an Act ought to be evaded, and it will at least be granted by all that he is not justified in resorting to any expediency contrary to the wishes of the persons interested. If the St. Leonards party should happen to succeed in obtaining their object it will show that the Municipalities of England are no longer free; it will show that we are all, whether chartered or not, that we are all at the mercy of the Executive to be disposed of as it pleases them. Is that the true liberty of Englishmen? I am afraid the true liberty spirit of English liberty is degenerating. We shall by and bye be the subjects of one great central authority.
I remain &c.,
A Native of Hastings"
If the St. Leonards people at the time had known the name and position of "A Native of Hastings" they probably would have replied to his letter in a manner to prove that he was merely acting the part of a special pleader, while indulging in a travesty of facts. His premmises(sic) were altogether wrong, and his conclusions were inevitably the same. But supposing them to be correct in substance, they had but to be paraphrased and used on behalf of the party against whom
thy whom they were directed for the arguments employed to have their due effect. The whole tenour of the letter is based upon the erroneous assumption that the Postmaster-General by the adoption of an expedient had unconstitutionally overridden the provision of two Acts of Parliament, whilst, as a fact, he had done nothing of the sort. What the postal authorities had really done is clearly stated in the preliminary explanation on pages 96 to 97; but a few additional remarks may here be neccessary(sic) to show how unsubstantial is the ground on which a "Native of Hastings" raises his argumentative structure. The two Acts of Parliament to which the writer referred to were not in existence when St. Leonards was built, and Mr. Burton was under no necessity of consulting any authoritative body for their permission. Not till four years later did he obtain an Act of Parliament - a local Act for the town's improvement under a board of Commissioners, and even then quite irrespective of any claim of right to interfere if such had been made by the Hastings Commisioners, whose jurisdiction extended westward only as far as the Priory stream. In the mean time a general post-office had been established in St. Leonards, and when, in 1831, some of its inhabitants build houses immediately outside that town and called the locality also St. Leonards, they asked to be included in the St. Leonards postal district. Their request was very properly complied with. As in Mr. Burton's case, there was no constituted authority that could dictate to the propery holders east of the archway as to the nomenclature of the new district, and to have called it Hastings, when Hastings was fully a mile away, [ 123 ]and could not in any way provide for its necessities, would have been contrary to the desire of the owners and occupiers themselves; and therefore an anomalous proceeding. Equally absurd would it have been for the new district to be served by a post-office in George street, a mile and a half distant, when all the necessary machinery for the purpose was close at hand and without additional expense. The Duke of Richmond, who was then Postmaster-General, had nothing to do with the alleged change of name. The people themselves gave the name to the place which they had a perfect right to do, and which was never changed. All that the officials of the Post-office had to do, was to deliver letters that were addressed "St. Leonards to persons who should receive them, whether inside or outside the original boundary. And this was done not "contrary to the wishes of the persons interested" as asserted by "A Native of Hastings", but with their full consent and solicitation. One of the solicitants was Miss Powell, who, in 1832, had a library and stationery business at Adelaide place, now Grand parade. Pigot and Co's Directory for 1832, included Warrior's Gate, East-cliff place, &c. as being in St. Leonards; and, two years later, when the territory became more extensively inhabited, the places included in the thoroughfares of St. Leonards were Adelaide place, Seymour place, London road, Norman road, and Verulam place. Hastings had no power to say ay or nay to the arrangements, nor even to to(sic) supersede the parochial officers for sanitary purposes until the Health of Towns' Act was obtained, by which time the district in question had retained the name a little of twenty, and 27 years before the Town Council attempted to call it by the name of Hastings. This Act endowed the Local Board with power to write up the names of streets, roads, &c., but no authority to change the name of an entire district. This was the second of two Acts which "A Native of Hastings" declared that the Postmaster-General by his action (more than twenty years before it became a law for Hastings) had infringed and thus "broken the laws of England" Could anything be more preposterous?
I should not have thrust myself into the present controversy between Hastings and St. Leonards but for the grandiloquent letter of "A Native of Hastings" which is highly instructive, we admit, and would have been highly prized no doubt by the Postmaster-General, who, we could wish, had a copy of it. I must say it puts me in mind of an unsophisticated gardener whose orchard suffered severely from the raids of juvenile trespasses. Warnings of 'Prosecution' were [ 124 ]idle tales. At length, one morning, the young cherubs were informed that if they did such naughty things any more they would be 'pacificated.' What awful thing as that? What might have been a joke became a terrible bugbear. Well it seems this erudite native gardener of Hastings finds out that for many years, his beautiful garden of Eden has been invaded by the audacious young dogs of St. Leonards, who have appropriated his delectable fruits - e.g. Eversfield place, Grand parade, &c. No wonder, then, that 'A Native of Hastings' consents to become a sort of Ghost-of-Hamlet finger-post, which, pointing, says-
Ye trespassers who here locate
Hasting your eyes will lucidate;
St. Leonards, too, beware and sigh,
And Argyll, mind your dexter eye.
Young St. Leonards"
Another Correspondent wrote thus:-
- Can nothing be done to stay the strife now disturbing the two towns? Both parties seem to have their blood up; and Heaven only knows where it will end. The present undignified course of reciprocal daubing is a disgrace to both parties, and may lead to a very serious and prolonged dispute. Is there no mediator - no friend to moderation - no man not yet blind and man to suggest a saving compromise?"
From the "St Leonards Gazette"
In a second article on the Boundary dispute, the following remarks
were contained appeared as an introduction to a report of the public meeting at the Assembly Rooms. - "Having been among those who took the initiative in repelling what was believed to be an unjust attempt of the Hastings Town Council to deprive the people of St. Leonards of a generally admitted and long-cherished right, and having moreover, in expounding our own views, deviated somewhat from our usual path, it may have been expected that our columns this week would contain a report of the numerously attended and influential meeting which on Tuesday afternoon was held in the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms. We may observe that the high tone of the speeches at that meeting, together with other events have fully justified our editorial remarks of last week. Content to await this issue of that demonstration, we proceed to record" &c. - (The lengthy report of the said meeting has already appeared).
From the same journal is the following:-
Rebuke to the naughty people of St. Leonards-on-sea.
Cooped up within bounds of his "Ancient Cinque Port."
With praiseworthy efforts to widen its span
But checked in those efforts - so runs the report
By neighbouring churls is our dear Hastings Man
"To the West, to the West, to the land of the free"
His vision extended, his action began;
'T would't do for the folk of St. Leonards-on-sea,
Who wickedly laughed at our dear Hastings man
Oh, fie! naughty people! how could you thus thwart
The poor man's intentions and frustrate his plan?
Indeed, its enough e'en to break his poor heart;
So pity his sorrows - the dear Hastings man!
You say that his "Peacocks" have very fine feathers,
That look very gay in a "Castle" divan,
But as they don't do it to be out in all weathers,
You bid them go home to their dear Hastings man.
You say he has filched all the best of the trade
What of that? He's a right to get all that he can!
And though by your help he a fortune has made
I cannot but pity, so ancient a man.
His fish'ry, you say, is a golden supply,
Get claim you a share of his tar and his tan;
But, please bear in mind he allows you to buy,
All the fish he can spare - does the kind-hearted man.
His cod'roy and fustian, you say, yields him profit,
So doth his blue jacket and rustic "ban-yan";
But compared with your purple, there's little comes of it;
Then give all you can to the poor Hastings man.
His shoe-clubs and clothes-clubs are many 'tis true,
Possessed he of some ere St. Leonards began;
With him spend your tickets - if red, white or blue,
And have none in return from the poor Hastings man.
You taunt him with having a building that's fit,
For the sale of his edibles - meat, fruit and bran;
That's no cause for quarrel; each pay-day, to wit,
You go there in crowds, and surround the poor man,
You say the Town Hall, where the wiseacres' meet
Belongs to himself, yet he grams all the corn,
While no civic mansion adornmetts your street,
And you call him a covetous, greedy old man.
His two-thirds of Councillors legislate there,
And as you have lately come under their fan,
They'll issue a warrant - so pray, take you care!
For resisting the claims of the poor Hastings man.
He has the great big-wigs, the Town-clerk and Mayor,
Potential their sway from Beershelm to Dan;
In his cave, jail or Castle you'll meet with hard fare,
If trifle you will with our dear ancient man.
You say of eight churches, six fall to his share;
All chapels, save one, are possessed by his clan,
And now he wants that you are ready to swear,
And sternly refuse it, the poor Hastings man.
You say of societies here round about,
Which good and benevolent breezes do fan,
He has his full share, and you utterly scout,
His pretention to yours. Oh the dear ancient man!
The Infrim'ry is his, the Dispensary too,
And many more things which the eye doesn't scan
Yet deigns he to take large subscriptions from you;
So do not be rude to the still needy man!
He gets the grand cirques and he has the Rock Fair,
For which he allows you to furnish the "scan";
And does all he can to amuse you when there,
What more should you want of the generous man?
The little one hasn't is always enough,
And to get just that little is part of his plan;
Then why is St. Leonards so bluff, gruff and chuff,
And so blind to the wants of the poor Hastings man?
Did you not break his Bank? - now I won't say you did[Notes 7],
But I know that you had there is fish in the pan;
And sins of that sort, you know, cannot be hid;
So I hope you'll atone to the poor dear old man.
There is one good trait - Give the Devil his due!-
When a life-boat to get, the subscriptions began,
Four-fifths of the money was squeezed of you,
And thankful for that is the poor Hastings man.
But Eversfield place and also Grand parade,
With handsome Belgravia- all spic and span;
They are but mere trifles St. Leonards has made,
But which she refuses the poor Hastings man.
There's your neat railway station just down Gensing Vale,
And there's one at Bopeep, of a pretty good span;
As they're useless to you, I do hope you won't fail
To give them both up to the good Hastings man.
There's St. Leonards "Mechanics" in Norman-road West,
There's another in Hastings;' twere much better than
Division so great, were they both to be blest,
In the kindly embrace of the dear Hastings man.
Why wish the retention of National schools?
Why in your own dogmas the youngsters trepan?
Would you see them grow up something better than fools,
Then pass them to Hastings - that erudite man.
There's your office for letters down by the Hotel,
To which very often quite late you all ran,
With missives important; yet sure its as well
To go a good mile to our dear Hastings man.
When post-office orders are sought in a hurry
By tradesman or servant, or meek artizan,
'Twould save a great deal of the fluster and flurry
To slowly walk o'er to the said Hastings man.
Our good man - Old Hastings - has wisely found out,
That one postal office is better than two;
And you of St. Leonards have no right to doubt,
That such can be else than most certainly true.
But true or not true, you've no right to have voice
To argue the point, nor demur to the plan
Of yielding possession sans option of choice
The things that are yours to the dear Hastings man.
His demands are so few, and his claim is so just,
That all of my friends and my wife, Mary Ann,
Declare, quite emphatic, you ought and you must
Give up all you've got to the old Hastings man.
Odds and Ends
Under the this(sic) heading the following paragraphs are also copied from the St. Leonards Gazette and Visitors' Vade Mecum of Dec. 19th, 1857.
"Extraordinary Phenomenon - Nine-tenths of the St. Leonards people having been compelled to become residents of Hastings during the advent of Christmas, were so debilitated by the sudden change of air, that it was found necessary that it was found necessary(sic) to restore them to their own atmosphere with all posible promptitude."
"Sudden Fright. - It is said - with how much truth we know not that several highly respectable families at Eversfield place, on hearing that their place of residence had changed its geographical position, were so alarmed at the fact of their having no longer an abiding place, that messengers were despatched with all haste to the Archway, to secure as many inside dwellings as the pressure from without would admit of."
"Wonderful, if True! - a report has got abroad that in order to check the growing properties of the fat boy of St. Leonards, who has grown too big for his clothes, a Grand Council was held and resolutions passed that he be beaten with many stripes and that the instrument to be used should be a coach-whip from the White Rock bazaar. In carrying the resolution into effect, however (so the story runs), the 'Ghost of the Old Commission' suddenly and unexpectedly made its appearance on the site of the old Priory Bridge, where it arrested their progress, and frightened them out of all propriety."
"A New Town - It having been discovered that St. Leonards-on-sea is a misnomer, it is proposed to remove the newest, largest and most valuable portion to Hastings, there to be used up as occasion may require. The remaining portion - which will be very small - is to have a mil(e)stone hung round its neck and cast into the sea, where it will form the nucleus of a new town, which, when of sufficient size, will assume its rightful title of St. Leonards-in-sea. The work is to be executed by a joint-stock company (limited liability), whose offices are at the Hastings Town Hall."
"What Next? - A pun my word, things are coming to a pretty pass! Mile's Boy has set it about that at recent meeting of Councillors, down-east, in consequence of Winter having come among them, it as so bitterly cold that some of 'wissages' were quite blue; but the thought of a little nose-pulling, and the prospect of a good roasting at the expense of the western coal-merchants - for which they had a burning desire - quite [ 130 ]took off the chill, and warmed them into new life. This was quite cheering to those of a lymphatic temperament, especially to a'beGinner, who, as he warmed on the subject, could not think How anyone could Put-land in any part of the world where it ought not to be; and as such had been done, he, for one, would support any attempt to remove it, How-ses, Trees, and all."
Settled at Last - During a long and eventful period, the orthography at Battle has been a topic for disputation. It is now decided, however, that as the town itself owes its origin to the famous battle of Hastings, and has ursurped for nearly eight centuries a title not its own, persons will be sent thither to write on every corner house the word Hastings. How Beakesbourne and the Grange, in Kent, first obtained their name which they have held so long a time is not accurately known, but as those places are in the Borough of Hastings, they, too, must in future bear the name of that town and borough."
As but very few present-day readers would understand the forgoing reference to "nose-pulling" in the paragraph "What Next?" it may be well to explain that it was a suit for damages by Anthony Harvey against Alfred Vidler for pulling or twisting his nose at a meeting of the Board of Guardians. The "Western coal-merchants" were Councillors How, Putland and Tree. In the paragraph "Wonderful if True" White-Rock Bazaar refers to Alderman Rock, coach-builder, as well as to the White-rock Bazaar then existing. In the same paragraph "the Ghost of the Old Commission" refers to the metrical production of that title written by Mr. J. Pitter, who, in a serio-comic vein makes the Ghost revisit the scene of his former days and compares the past with the present. Of the latter, the ghost is made to say
"The East and West fall out and fight
And vex each other out of spite
On victory each side is bent,
And 'tween the tow the money's spent,
What one sets up the next knowck down
And chaos regulates
regulates the town"
"The Paint-pot Society"
After the carrying out of Ald. Ross's resolution on the 4th of December to write up "Hastings" on every corner house in the district known as St. Leonards, private meetings were immediately held and legal authorities consulted, the outcome of which was the offers of volunteers to form themselves into a paint-pot association for the daubing out of [ 131 ]the obnoxious word whenever and wherever it appeared. The members of this association consisted mainly of young men, among whom were Skinner, Smith, Roberts, Brooker and Pulford. They were well assured of support both by residents and visitors, and in the event of any action being taken by the Town Council in a court of law, any amount of money for the defence would be forthcoming and advocates of the highest repute would be engaged. Of course, this new association of painters were willing to take upon themselves the risk of capture, but so numerous were the sentinels that notwithstanding the force against them of special constables, and the recent addion(sic) of six new policemen, they were able each night to effect their object without detection. It was winter time, and over-coats were in vogue. in one of such - an old one of course - a pocket was so constructed as to take a tin paint-pot of peculiar construction. When work was to be done, the person carrying the paint found his companions ready with walk-sticks so contrived that when three or four of them were put together they formed a rod, with a brush at the end, sufficiently long to reach the word Hastings intended to be obliterated. The constables set to watch the places were not many nights at their post before their suspicions were aroused by certain mysterious movements, and in some instances, whilst fixing their attention on the suspected party, someone stepped from the house (as pre-arranged) onto the balcony and gave "Hastings" a coat of ebony. Among other "ways and means" resorted to for the purpose of withdrawing policemen from their beat ad specials from their watch were pretend quarrels and fights, cries of fire, and feminine screams of a woman being assaulted on the parade. Whilst these false alarms were taking effect by certain persons in collusion with the paint-pot men, the latter, though concealed, were sufficiently near to the scene of the pre-meditated operation to be able to effect their object. Thus after the word Hastings had been painted upon houses in Verulam place, Eversfield place, Warrior square, Grand parade, London road, Norman road, &c. during the day, it was invariably daubed over at night, to be restored the next day and the daubing-out process repeated on the following night. While this antagonism of real-painters and pseudo-painters was going on, a party from Hastings assailed with a tar-brush and coat of tar, the newly grained and varnished doors and shop-shutters of Mr. Pain's house in Norman road. The owner was naturally much vexed at this exhibition of malice, and in the early part of the following evening called into his shop a man who had been set to watch Mr. Eldridge's house immediately opposite, where "Hastings" had been painted up a first time. It might have been that Mr. Pain purposely expatiated at some length on the villany of the tar process, but in any case, when the [ 132 ]man reappeared in the street, "Hastings" was a total eclipse. His ejaculation was simply "Well I'm blowed!" A night or two later, after the word had ben restored, another constable was set to watch at the same spot, and had not been there long when Mr. Pain's son rushed out and showed the constable a spurious half-crown, saying a woman, who was gone up the street, had passed it for a good one. The constable, after assuring himself that the coin was really bad, hurried after the supposed woman and overtook her. The woman, however, protested that she had not been in any shop, and knew nothing about the coin in question. Getting back to his post, the Constable found that "Hastings" had received another opaque daub. When the "paint-pot boys" thought they had had spot enough, they decided to leave the matter to the committee appointed at the public meeting, and as a last act in the comedy, started out with a pot without pain, a pole, and a short ladder. They more than ever purposely appeared to be dodging the police, and at length whistled as though signalling to a comrade. Sergeant Jones (I believe it was) hastened across the road and seized the "conspirators", at the same time exclaiming "I thought there was something in that whistle". The prisoners pro-tem begged to be let off, one of them declaring it would be very inconvenient to be shut up during the Christmas, he having promised to take his sweetheart to a ball. Supt. Glenister, who in after years could sing very melodiously "Good bye Sweetheart" - had at that time but recently succeeded Battersby as chief constable, and he with the sergeant, conducted the prisoners to the parts of the town where it was supposed they had been at the "old game", but found that no work had been done. The following pararaph from the St. Leonards paper will tell the rest:-
"Capture of a Notorious Gang" - "We learn, with unbounded gratification that one of the most active of our ever-watchful guardians of the peace, assisted by his chief (who knew 'there was something in that whistle'), succeeded at 8p.m. on Christmas Eve, in capturing, after a smart chase, a trio of the most notable exponents of devilry, whose favourite pastime of late is supposed to have been the beautifying the face of poor old Hastings with a cosmetic of ebony every time the venerable creature overstepped his boundary. Their mischievous designs (happily frustrated) may be judged of from the fact of their having in their possssion some very suspicious implements, consisting of a long pole, a short ladder and an empty paint-pot, and which they refused to surrender upon any other terms than that of indulging in a most audacious display of merriment, which (it being Christmas time) was so powerfully infectious as to assail even the well-known gravity of the beaks. It may well be imagined how serious were the charges against them when we say [ 133 ]that but for the humane character of their captors, the plea set up by these night-birds of having to go to a dance could hardly have sufficed to save them from that unutterable fate which is due to every owl that plucks the plumes of a 'Peacock' or pecks at the bill of 'Growse', notwithstanding that old birds are not to be caught with chaff".
Letter to the Postmaster General
The word Growse used above was the name of the Town Clerk, who wrote to the Postmaster-General (the Duke of Argyll) as follows:-
"Dec. 7th, 1857.
My Lord Duke -
At a meeting of the Council of the Borough of Hastings, held on the 4th day of December, instant, the following resolutions were passed:-
"Resolved that the calling the town of Hastings by any other name than its proper name is injurious to its best interests as a watering place, and that this Council do agree that all that portion of the Borough of Hastings which lies to the east of the Archway, which is the boundary of the township, shall henceforth be styled Hastings, and the names of streets and places be written up accordingly.
Resolved that the foregoing resolution be forwarded to the Postmaster General, requesting him to take into his serious consideration the necessity of making an alteration in the postal regulations of this borough, and that there should be only one General post-office for the whole of the borough. The reason of the last resolution being passed is because there is great confusion in the delivery of letters owing to a certain portion of the Borough being styled St. Leonards, which is quite wrong, as all the property on the east side of St. Leonards archway is strictly Hastings, and nothing can be legally shewn to the contrary. Therefore the Council intend for the future to have all that portion of the borough on the east side
on the east side of the archway and which is not included in the township of St. Leonards by Act of Paliament, called Hastings.
The Council therefore desired me to ask your lordship to make an alteration in the postal regulations, and to make only one general post-office for the whole borough, and so to reguate the delivery of letters that all those directed to any houses on the east side of the archway should be directed Hastings.
In the above letter to the Postmaster-General, Mr. Growse expressed the views of the Council as embodied in the resolutions, and wrote, as in duty bound, agreeably to instructions, but at a later date when discussing the question with some St. Leonards people in a friendly manner at the British Hotel, he admitted that he personally differed from those views, and had privately told the members of the Council that if their [ 134 ]claim got carried into one of the higher courts of law, they would most likely be defeated. He added that everybody knew that the town of Hastings and the borough of Hastings were not the same thing, and that Mr. Burton's town as they called it for distinction, was as much in the borough of Hastings as was the district eastward of that town on which the claim was made. He was well aware, he further said, the claim was based on a debateable wording of the Health of Towns' Act, but there was nothing to show that anything could be written on the houses but the names of streets roads, &c. There was, in fact, no clause which gave power to alter the name of a district which had so long existed as a town by itself or in association with an adjoining town. In justice to Mr. Growse, as Town Clerk, it should be said that this opinion of his was expressed after the Town Council had "ceased from troubling" in any active sense, albeit, the prime mover (Ald. Ross) continued to express his displeasure with the Postmaster General's reply and intimated that he should not give in. (See Council meetings in next chapter}. Mr. Growse's letter to the Duke of Argyll, was quickly followed by one from Mr. Burton as Chairman of the St. Leonards Commissioners; also a memorial, containing 400 signatures. To Mr. Burton's letter came the following reply:-
The Postmaster-General having had under consideration your letter of the 16th inst, I am directed to inform you, in reply, that the existing postal arrangements at St. Leonards-on-sea are considered the best for the accommodation of the inhabitants generally, and his Grace has decided not to disturb the present regulations at that place.
I am, &c.
Then, referring to the claims of each party to the disputed territory, the News continued "It is a pity the claim [of Hastings] was not made before the tacit concession to St. Leonards, had given the place a prescriptive right to locality in dispute. The real battle now is for a new postal division. If that be refused any local arrangement will be almost useless. Let the subject be narrowed to this, its legitimate limit, and fought out manfully, with as little vindictiveness as the nature of the case will permit. The Town Clerk has issued official notices of the resolutions of the Local Board to call the whole of the borough Hastings eastward of the St. Arch, and stating the liability of a forty shilling fine of any person who shall deface or alter the Board's inscriptions on property within the disputed territory."
Our attention has been called to the fact that we still arrange many of the visitors to Hastings in our weekly list of arrivals and departures under the head of St. Leonards. This is continued as it was begun for the sake of the visitors themselves, lest the conduct of the Postmaster-General in putting so much of Hastings in the St. Leonards postal district should result in inconvenience to them. We wish it to be understood that the arrangement is not continued out of deference to any claims of St. Leonards of any property within the jurisdiction of the Local Board. But we do not feel at liberty to incommode the visitors by altering the probable address of their letters until the postal arrangements are actually revised. Under this protest, we must, till then, continue in the visitors' list the present anomalous division.
This explanation of the News, together with its protest against altering its arrangements of visitors until by authority the postal arrangements were altered, was made on Dec. 18th, and consequently, before the decision of the Postmaster-General was known; and after that decision was arrived t not to alter the arrangements, the News [ 136 ]consistently continued its own arrangements as before, not only as regarded visitors, but also under the head of St. Leonards, its reports of the Mechanics Institution, the National Schools, St. Mary Magdalen schools, the railway station and other matters connected with the district claimed by Hastings. As concerning the threat of a forty shilling fine for defacing or altering the obnoxious word, it has been shewn that this was done daily, the parties being willing to risk the infliction of a fine which they knew the Board had no power to do. So much for the Hastings and St. Leonards News, which did not profess to be a visitors list in the ordinary sense, but only to give the arrivals, departures and miscellaneous items; but if the News declined to do the behest of the Council, still less inclined would be the two papers which were published in St. Leonards, whilst the News was issued from a Hastings press. Mr. Southall, the St. Leonards postmaster, published a visitors list for St. Leonards only, and which included all those places within and without the archway as far eastward as Verulam place. It was quite certain that he would not curtail such list at the dictation of the Town Council; and equally certain that the proprietor of the Hastings and St. Leonards Gazette and Visitors' Vade Mecum would refuse to be influenced by the same party. The latter being a native of Hastings, had an affection for the old town, but having improved both his health and his pecuniary prospects by removing to what had been theretofore known as St. Leonards, he had the same feeling for the newer town. His paper was legally registered under a bond as being "printed and published by T. B. Brett, 28 Norman road West, St Leonards-on-sea". To this newspaper was attached the first complete visitors' list published in the borough,[Notes 8] taking for the St. Leonards list the already recognised district westward of the Infirmary, and for the Hastings list all that was eastward of the same. This was regarded as a perfectly fair division, the district between the Archway and Verulam place having grown out of St. Leonards, and the inhabited area between where now is the Memorial and the Infirmary, having similarly grown out of Hastings. A page to each of the two towns was first devoted, and was sufficient for its purpose; but as both towns increased, the space ultimately required was four pages of twice the original size, and to show that Hastings had its full share of attention, the proprietor himself, did most of the [ 137 ]collecting for the Visitors' List, as the reporting work of the news sheet - a work than which he "ought to be doing something better" he was once told by one of the very men who in the Town Council passed the resolution to deprive St. Leonards of its long accustomed name. As a further proof that Hastings was well cared for in the visitors list, weekly or fortnightly calls were made at all lodging-houses even in such districts as High street, All Saints street, East Hill, Exmouth-place, Castledown, The Croft and Croft place, St. Marys terrace, Meadow road, St. Andrew's terrace and Belle Vue. Yet, for all that, nothing would have prevented the determination of the proprietor to resist to the utmost any attempt to change the arrangement of his visitor's list, for the purpose of throwing into Hastings that which by usage and prescription was really St. Leonards. But in addition to his own resolve he was desired by almost every owner and occupier of property, and through them by many visitors, not to place their names in the Hastings list; such desire being the more necessary in consequence of a Hastings , as well as a St. Leonards list being attached to the Gazette, whilst Southall's Visitors List was for St. Leonards alone.
So unanimous also were the trademen in the coveted district in retaining the name of St.Leonards, that such name, printed or written on cards, was placed in shop windows. Some, also, instead of daubing or rubbing out the word Hastings that had been painted on their houses, added other words thereto, and thus thwarted the intention of the Council. Mr. Hempsted, to wit, at 14 Grand parade, allowed the word to remain, but with the prefix "A mile to", so that it read thus - "A mile to Hastings" On the opposite side Mr. Hoad's office was made to inform the public that its proprietor was "Late of Hastings". One or two other person had painted up "☞ to Hastings". Mr. Montgomery, a gentleman residing in the part of Warrior square then known as Belgravia, changed the word to that of "St. Leonards House".
These facts will show how impossible it was for the majority of the Town Council to carry out their own sweet will, but so exiting and important was the question that further correspondence and other proceedings, pro and con, will occupy considerable space in the following chapter.
References & Notes
- Fire plugs were the predecessor of fire hydrants and were originally just plugs used to seal pre-bored holes in the water mains - see Firehydrand.org
- Brett later corrects this to St Mary Magdalen Church on page 90 - Transcriber
- This is a traditional spelling of Fiji - Transcriber
- Brett left this blank, obviously intending to insert the page number once the history was paginated - The page to which he refers to is page 75 - Transcriber
- Brett left this blank, obviously intending to insert the page number once the history was paginated - The page to which he refers to is Chap. LVIII Pg. 139 - Transcriber
- Brett (or the speaker) seems to have been distracted during this sentence - hence the duplication!
- This refers to the Hastings Old Bank which held a large amount of the St. Leonards' Commissioners' money
- Brett repeats the previous two sentences from "..same feeling for the newer town." - Transcriber