Brett Volume 8: Chapter LXIV - Hastings 1860
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Town Council Meetings
East Cliff – A Liberal Offer
At the meeting on Jan. 7th, a letter was received from Mr. Phillips, solicitor to the Countess of Waldegrave, with an offer from her ladyship to sell to the Corporation all the sand and stone that fell from the East Cliff between Hastings and Ecclesbourne for £10 a year. It had been let to Mr. Cramp at a higher sum and would be so again if the Council declined it; but her ladyship wished the town to have the privilege. Ald. Ginner and Couns. Vidler and Picknell regarded the offer as a very liberal one and worthy of acceptance. One member said that at one time as much as £100 a year had been paid for the privilege, but was reminded by another member that such was before the Council asserted their right to the stone beach. The offer was accepted. At the next meeting it was resolved that Frederick Ashton be appointed as overlooker and that he be authorised to sell the sand and sandstone at a certain stipulated amount per cart-load, but that the hard blue stone and white sand should be retained.
The Western Stone-beach.
Thomas Tutt, jun. having applied for a piece of ground 24 x 12ft on the stonebeach at Bopeep whereon to erect a shed to keep his boats in, Ald. Ross moved the granting of the application, remarking that it would be making some use of that for which the Corporation had been paying rent for 300 years without exercising any right over it. In reply to Mr. Howell, the Clerk said he would so draw the lease that Tutt should not come on the Council for any damages in the event of a law-suit. The application having been complied with, at the next meeting of the Council, Mr. George Standford applied for a piece of stonebeach 75ft square, for a carpenter’s shop next to Tutt’s piece. At the meeting on the 2nd of March Mr.Picknell moved, and Ald. Ross seconded the adoption of the committee’s recommendation of a piece of stonebeach to be leased to Stanford at a spot opposite the Fountain Inn. Coun. Putland objected to the site, contending that it was the worse part in which to try their right, and that it would have been better to have gone farther westward, beyond the tower. They would be throwing the whole expense of a contest on the smallest piece of beach instead of facing the fight with a large and valuable frontage as if they were afraid to face the difficulty [No, no!] According to the papers, if the Corporation permitted a place to be put up it would be pulled down. [See page 19 for the lord of the manor’s threat and the execution thereof] Coun. Putland moved as an amendment to the Committee’s recommendation that the land granted to the applicant should be beyond the tower (then known as 39), but he did not get a [ 36 ]seconder. Ald. Ross could not understand why Putland wished the Council to go westward. It was perfectly ridiculous to suppose they were afraid of Mr. Frewen. [Hear, hear.] The Council would claim the whole beach from the western end of St. Leonards right down to Bulverhithe. The Committee were unanimous in the matter and had decided to commence on this part of the beach, but they wished to settle the question as amicably as possible. They were only seeking to recover their rights for which they had paid rent to the Crown for 300 years. [To most persons it would seem strange that any persons should pay rent for what was their own property. It has yet to be learnt that when the Government built the towers on the said ground, that the Corporation was asked for permission, and that when the railway company constructed their line across the said beach the Corporation was consulted. The Hastings fishermen who used to dry their nets there always contended that the rent paid to Government was on their behalf.] The Town Clerk said there was a letter received from Mr. Young on behalf of Mr. Eversfield, disputing the title of the Council to that portion of the beach which it had been agreed to let to Mr. Tutt, and requesting to know how the Council proposed to establish their claim to the same. In the Committee’s report, which was adopted as against Mr. Putland’s amendment, it was recommended that the Council’s reply should be that they were unwilling to enter into any correspondence on the subject, but that instead of acting vexatiously towards Mr. Eversfield, would like that some steps should be taken to try the question by a friendly suit. – At a later meeting (July 6th) Alderman Ross asked if any explanation could be given respecting the western stonebeach? He also alluded to some arrangement which he thought had been made between their Clerk and Mr. Eversfield’s solicitor, with regard to sending a joint case to Mr. Welsby for his opinion thereon, so as to settle the matter amicably. The clerk said he had obtained an opinion and Mr. Young, Mr. Eversfield’s solicitor had also sent up a case. Mr Young and himself (Mr. Growse) could not agree on the subject, the former considering that the Council had acted in a very improper manner in taking possession of the ground when it was already in possession of Mr. Eversfield. The Stonebeach Committee thought it would be imprudent at present to make known what steps had been taken; but the matter was progressing as fast as it could be got on with.
Groynes and Wharfing
At the meeting on Feb. 3rd, the Stonebeach Committee reported that the [ 37 ]groyne at Stratford place had been much damaged by the late violent weather, and recommended that instead of repairing the old one, a new one should be constructed a little to the eastward at a cost not exceeding £250. This was agreed to. Another matter of groynes came before the meeting on May 4th, when, in consequence of the beach having been washed away from the east side of the groyne at Marine cottages (Carlisle villas) it was decided to spend about £35 in alterations. Coun. Picknell (who, as well as his brother, had property there, actually placed on high-water mark at spring tides) declared that to be one of the most neglected spots in the borough. Coun. Bromley desired a wharfage and roadway to be made there, so as to connect Caroline place with Carlisle villas. This was afterwards done to a small extent, and at the Council meeting on July 6th, a memorial was received from the owners of Carlisle villas and Denmark place, asking permission to continue at their own expense the wharfing that had been constructed by the Council. This was granted. In a conversation I had at the time with Coun. Picknell, I pointed out the unwisdom of building in such close proximity to the ordinary flow of the sea, and expressed astonishment that such should have been done by those whose experience of the late Rope Walk should have been a caution. “Well, said the Councillor, in reply, if my property is in danger, I expect to do what I can to save it and not expect the town to protect it for me.” This reply did not well accord with Mr. Picknell’s previous statement that this was one of the Council’s most neglected spots. However that might have been, its exposed position even since that time has made one of the most costly to repair and protect.
On the site of the old Rope Walk is the Government property of Carlisle Parade, and at the Town Council meeting of August 3rd, Alderman Ross drew attention to what he described the disgraceful state of that parade. He said it was one of the best parades and the worst kept. It was his wish that the Clerk should write to the Woods and Forests Commissioners. Visitors thought that it belonged to the Local Board, who were unjustly blamed for its wretched state. After considerable discussion, this was agreed to.
Beach Cottages (now Beach Terrace)
At the quarterly meeting on May 4th, Ald. Ross also called attention to the discreditable state of a piece of land at the western end of Beach Cottages, the boundary of which had been broken down by the sea, and the place had become the rendezvous for objectionable [ 38 ]people. It had been bought for the purpose not to be built upon. He thought they should ask the trustees either to enclose it or allow the Council to take charge of it. Mr. Lansdell told Coun. Vidler that although he and his father paid £40 to have it enclosed, they got no assistance from others. He (Mr. L.) would be glad for it to pass into the hands of the Council. Ald. Ross’s suggestion was adopted.
The Crown Lane
The Cottage Improvement Society having offered a strip of land in the Crown Lane at £10 for widening the road, the Roads Committee at the April meeting recommended that instead, £20 should be offered for a similar strip then forming a part of the stables. Coun. Putland moved the adoption of the report, urging the advantage of widening a thoroughfare which led to the Tackleway where they had already expended £700. Ald. Ginner objected to a proposal which would only widen the road three feet and set a bad example by the Board undertaking to do that which was rightly the business of the owners to do. The motion to purchase was negatived.
Roads at Gensing (Warrior Square) Station
At the same meeting were received from Mr. Ryde, surveyor of the South-Eastern Railway, plans and sections of three new roads, 40 feet wide, in proximity to the said station. These were sanctioned on condition of provision being made for surface drainage.
The Western Road
Also, at the same meeting the Committee reported that Mr. Moreing would give up a strip of land, 4 feet wide, the whole length of Western road (1065 feet), and a strip of land in Norman road, from the new house, 21 Warrior square to the roadway at Norman hotel. He would also set back some houses about to be built in Western road 4 feet beyond the new line, give the Board permission to drain into a 12 inch new sewage pipe, build walls, lay down paving, &c, by the Board paying Mr. Moreing £350 in two instalments. Mr. Moreing had stated that it would cost him every penny of such sum. The Roads Committee recommended the following counter-offer:- Mr. Moreing to take down the wall and erect another, four feet back; also a fence opposite the site of the proposed new houses. The Board to level the ground, to lay down kerb and pavement on the east side of the new road from Cross street to the station, and provide drains and gullies in Western road; but not to contribute anything further. After a lengthy discussion rather discursive, during which the two schemes did not appear to be clearly understood, the Committee’s recommendation was adopted. The contra offer by the Board was rejected by Mr. Moreing, who then called on the Board to repair the wall. This was decided to be done,
at an estimated cost of about £40. The subject came up again at the next meeting on June 1st, when was accepted Mr. Palmer’s tender of £46 12s for the repairs of the wall. At the same time Coun. Putland stated that in a conversation he had had with Mr. Moreing, the latter asked “Will the Council widen the road if I give them the land? In consequence of such question and other remarks, Coun. Putland moved that the subject be referred back to the Roads Committee, with power to act after communicating again with Mr. Moreing. A lengthy conversation ensued, in which Messrs. Ginner and Vidler spoke against widening the road, the latter insinuating that Mr. Moreing wanted not only to “catch the bird, but also the salt upon its tail.” Messrs. Winter, Putland, Howell and Tree advocated widening the road, as a thoroughfare to the railway station and the new district likely to spring up around it. The motion was therefore agreed to. – At the next meeting (July 6th) the Roads Committee presented another report, from which it appeared that Mr. Growse had again asked Mr. Moreing if he would give up the land necessary to widen the road. In reply Mr. Moreing made a similar offer to his first, but would take £300, although it would cost him £350. The Committee recommended that instead of accepting the offer, the Board should agree to do the necessary work within two years, if Mr. Moreing would give up the land. Another wearisome discussion followed, in which Aldermen Ginner and Ross and Couns. Vidler opposed the proposed expenditure. Councillors Putland, Gausden and Kenwood strongly urged the contrary view, and pointed out the increasing traffic at the Gensing station – nine-tenths of which was said to take the road in question – and the desirability of having a level outlet for the new property about to be erected on the north of the station and which would also be made the outlet for a new road across the charity? land to Bohemia. The Committee’s recommendation was carried by 9 to 4. At the Council meeting in August, a letter was read in which Mr. Moreing repeated his last offer to give up the land, widen the road, rebuild the wall, and do other things (then specified) in nine months, for £300, and to accept payment in three instalments of £100 each out of the rates made in February and August next year, and in February of 1862. This was finally agreed to.
The Gensing Road
At the meeting on December 7th, on the motion of Coun. Neve, seconded by Coun. Putland, the recommendation of the Roads Committee that Gensing road should be accepted and dedicated was agreed to. Pg. 40
Meadow Road and Spring Gardens
These two places which formed separate parts of what is now Queen’s road were taken into consideration at the meeting on the 6th of July. The Roads Committee recommended the Local Board to accept and dedicate the road at Portland place and Spring terrace, and repair the wall. Councillors Gausden and Putland moved and supported the adoption of the report and on the ground that it was a part of the borough that contributed its fair share to the rates. These two councillors were representatives of the West Ward, whilst two representatives of the East Ward objected – Mr. Bromley on account of the expense (about £25) and Mr. Winter because the standing orders had not been complied with. To the latter objection, the Clerk replied that the work would be done by their own men. The motion was therefore carried.
On the recommendation of the Roads Committee, the tender of Mr. Grisbrook for widening the Meadow road was acted(sic), Alderman Ross remarking that Mr. Soane [10 Bedford place] was the only person who refused to comply with the reasonable request to set back his wall for so desirable an improvement.
Norman Road Thoroughfare
This affair, which had been a subject of prolonged negotiation – see pages 10 and 11 – was settled at the meeting held on August 3rd. The Roads Committee recommended the Board to increase their offer for the piece of land at Lavatoria from £125 to £150. The former sum had been positively declined, but it was understood the latter sum together with the contribution of £25 by the St. Commissioners would be accepted. Coun. Gausden said such was the case, and he therefore moved the adoption of the report. Another wearisome discussion followed, totally devoid of any new argument. Coun. Poole thought the St. Leonards Commissioners ought to subscribe a larger sum; Coun. Winter said they had not the power; Coun. Bromley thought £100 was quite enough; Councillors Howell, Putland and Kenwood would each gladly give £150 for the ground to build upon. Coun. Gausden reminded them that Stanhope place, The Lawn, Upland Views and other valuable property were not in the St. Leonards Commissioners district at all, and that the Local Board had a much greater interest in the opening up of Norman Road. The motion was carried.
At the August meeting, it was resolved, on the motion of Ald. Ross, that all the buildings in Bohemia (now Cambridge) road, from the Congregational chapel to Prospect terrace, be known as Linton terrace. Pg. 41
Also at the August meeting, Alderman Rock called attention to the bad state of the road on the West hill, from the Eft pond to Plynlimmon. He would move that it be referred to the Road’s Committee with a view to it being macadamised. Coun. Putland had always contended that for roads in unenclosed lands within certain distances of market towns a width of 30 feet might be claimed. A width of 30 feet had been claimed at Bulverhithe. Ald. Rock added to his motion that the said road be surveyed and widened to the width allowed by law.
At the same meeting, Coun. Putland complained of the dilapidated state of the roadway and footpath of Prospect Place, leading from Bohemia road to the Coastguard station on Cuckoo hill. Mr Growse said that although a private road, the same course could be taken as in the case of Church road – First serve the occupiers with notice to repair, and if it remained unheeded, the Board should do the work and recover the expense by private improvement rate.
New Road to the Cemetery
At the meeting on July 6th, the Clerk reported a letter from Messrs. Bell and Freame, on behalf of the gentleman who had purchased the Ore place estate, in which it was stated they had been informed that it was the wish of the inhabitants of Hastings to obtain a public road to the Cemetery by way of Ore Lane, and that such proposition was in accordance with the new proprietor. The letter also inquired whether the Board would make a road 40 feet wide if the land were given up for that purpose? Coun. Winter thought the matter should be treated with every consideration. Coun. Putland was pleased at the receipt of such a letter, showing as it did that the gentleman was more liberal in his views than some of the preceding owners of the property. The letter was referred to the Roads Committee. At the next meeting, the Road’s Committee recommended the Board to postpone for the present entering into any consideration of the matter, it being of such great importance as to require more information.
At the Council meeting on Nov. 2nd, Councillors Winter and Duke referred to the bad state of Ore lane, near Blacklands farm, and were told by the Street Inspector that the road at that part had been recently done up and newly beached. This was confirmed by the Mayor, who said the road was greatly improved. Coun. Kenwood also complained of the footpath at near the Terminus Inn at Bopeep, and suggested a little drainage to carry off some overflow water from a spring.
Pg. 42 Priory Street
It was resolved at the last meeting of the year that the occupiers of property in Priory street should be served with a notice to put the street in proper repair; and that in default of their doing so, the work would be done by the Board and the cost be recovered by means of a private improvement rate. At the same meeting it was also resolved to comply with a memorial from the occupiers of four houses in White-rock place to replace a piece of dilapidated brick pavement with York stone. This was to be the last piece of brick pavement along the front.
Steps in Saxon Road
At the November meeting an offer of Mr. Peter’s was accepted to remove the steps in Saxon road, in the rear of Grand parade, which had been complained of on condition that the Board would make some alterations required to give the tenants access to his property, which could be done at a cost of £14, of which sum Dr. Blakistone had guaranteed a contribution of £8.
H. E. Wyatt and Mount Pleasant Road
Mr. Wyatt having complained that in excavating for a house at the bottom of St. Mary’s terrace, the earth had been thrown upon his land, the Town Clerk, at the February meeting of the Council explained that what Mr. Wyatt claimed as his land was a portion of the roadway that had been dedicated, thereby becoming the property of the Board. The earth had been deposited with a view of making the roadway wide enough for a carriage to turn round, and as soon as the weather was a little settled it was intended to place steps and a handrail leading therefrom.
Mr. Wyatt’s Liberal Offer
At the Spring Assizes in 1859 (see Chap. LXII) a successful suit was tried against Mr. Wyatt for blocking up a public highway, and in December of that year, the same gentleman offered to give up the existing road passing his mansion at Mount Pleasant on condition that the Local Board should make a new road (for which he would give up the land) from the N.W. end of St. Mary’s terrace, to join the one already made. The Board then declined the offer on the ground that they could not legally spend money in making a new road. They, however, would agree to take the existing road from Ore lane to Priory road, in its then state if Mr. Wyatt would make the new road himself. And now, at the Council meeting on Nov. 2nd, the following letter was read, as received by the Town Clerk :-
“Mount Pleasant” Hastings, Oct. 27th, 1860
“Dear Sir, - In reply to yours, conveying the views given at a meeting of the Hastings Local Board of Health, that they cannot legally make a road from St. Mary’s terrace, but are willing to take the present road running Pg. 43 through my freehold property – namely, from Halton to Ore Lane, also to the railway station and to St, Leonards, as a free communication has been so long wanted; therefore in accordance with your letter, I will agree to give up the privacy of the road through my freehold property, and to withdraw that part of my former proposition for the making of a new road; and to facilitate the great requirement, I have given my several tenants notice to quit at Christmas next; so that your Surveyor should not be impeded in his duties to widen the road, &c., as will be required for the benefit of residents and visitors, as a public highway.”
Yours most respectfully,
Henry Earley Wyatt”
The Town Clerk stated that Mr. Wyatt gave up three gates in the road; that he intended to take down the wall on the west side of his house, and put it back in line with his house. The road would then be made 35 feet wide throughout except at the entrance from Ore lane, where it would be 30 feet. The offer was accepted, with the understanding that the Board would fence off an open part of the road, but that Mr. Wyatt must keep the fence in repair.
At the next meeting, (Dec. 7th) a tender of seventeen guineas was accepted from Mr. Welfare for fencing a portion of the new road given up by Mr. Wyatt.
Land at Claremont.
At the Council meeting on Jan. 6th, the Clerk reported that he had received an offer from Mr. Burchell (with whom some arrangement had been recently made to give up land at Claremont to widen the steps leading into Bohemia (now Cambridge) road, that on consideration of being paid £50, he would covenant not to raise any building on his land above the level of the existing wall.
At the next meeting it was resolved not to accept Mr. Burchell offer for the purchase of his land at £210, but to carry out their previous offer to purchase a strip of it, two feet wide, to be added to the steps from Claremont to Bohemia road. There appeared to have been some further negotiation with Mr. Burchell respecting the steps, one half of which were his. He had written to the Town Clerk to the effect that if the Board would not take the wall at a valuation, they should not have it at all. It was then resolved that instead of purchasing Mr. Burchell’s share of the wall, to allow Mr. B. to remove it, and the Board to erect a new 4 inch wall by the side of Mr. Burchell’s new house, to support the additional width of the steps. The subject again came up at the meeting on May 5th, when the Roads Committee reported that having reconsidered Mr. Burchell’s offer respecting the wall at Claremont steps
Pg. 44 and finding that the difference between them was only £7 10s, they recommended the Board to pay that amount and allow the wall to stand.
Board Work unfairly distributed.
In moving the adoption of the Finance Committee’s report at the Council meeting of January 6th, Mr. Poole said he would take the opportunity of saying that a large amount of dissatisfaction existed among the tradesmen of the town with the manner in which the work in connection of the Board was given out. He thought it would be better to adopt the plan of the Board of Guardians, where a list of tradesmen was presented every quarter or half year and the persons to whom orders were to be given during the quarter were selected by the Board in rotation. He had himself occasion to complain before he became a member of the Council, for he did not think that he had his fair share of the work. He had heard many similar complaints from others, and he thought it would be much more satisfactory to the ratepayers, if the course he recommended were adopted. A recommendation was given to the Finance Committee to consider the subject. The writer of this history can personally attest the accuracy of Mr. Poole’s remarks. Residing, as he did, in the Local Board’s district, he received a three month order for the work in alphabetic rotation with other printers, and at the end of the period when a cheque for the amount of his bill was handed to him, he was complimented by Mr. Hide, the Assistant Town Clerk, who said “We have had from you the best work and materials, and at the lowest price; whilst from Mr. Knight we got the worst work and materials at a much higher price.” This kind of honest servitude did not secure to him who was thus complimented a renewed order when it should have come again to his turn. Instead of which the work was given to a German named Burg, whose charges were so exorbitant that – as he himself confessed to the writer – he had to reduced(sic) the total to nearly half.
From the Town Clerk’s explanation at the January meeting, it appeared that a new rule in reference to building plans had been adopted. Previously they had been passed by the committee, and did not appear in the minute book, which gave rise to some irregularities.
The Roads Committee, on May 4th reported that they had approved of plans for three new houses in Robertson terrace, two cottages in Pg. 45 Priory street and one at Spittleman’s Down.
At the October meeting the Committee reported in favour of two houses in Havelock road for Mr. Joseph Brown, a house and stonemason’s shop in Middle street for Mr. Burchell, and three houses in Upper Maze Hill for Mr. Kenwood. The Surveyor also reported on two houses in Havelock road for Mr. Howell, and three for Mr. Longhurst. The plans for these latter had been sent in since the committee met, which gave rise to expressions of dissatisfaction. In moving that the plans should pass, Coun. Putland said although the course was a unusual one, it would be nearly a month before the Committee again met. Vidler thought that Howell at least had set a bad example. Coun. Howell retorted that it was better for plans to come before the Local Board than wait till after the buildings were commenced. According to the bye-laws any person could go on building after fourteen days notice had expired if there had been no meeting of the Committee or Local Board. This was a surprise to some of the members, but the Town Clerk said it was quite right.
At the November meeting the following plans were passed, subject to certain stipulations:- Invalid Ladies Home in Church road; additions to 3 Archery Villas, additions to Convent, cottage and mews in Cross street for Mr. Ades, alterations to front of Fountain Inn, vine vaults at 25 White Rock, new house in Havelock road for Mr. Message additional room to Havelock hotel, with shops on ground floor.
The Priory Conservatory.
At the December meeting Mr. Barham applied for permission to place his conservatory on the vacant ground between Mr. Moulton’s wine stores on the east and Harold Place, on the west. This was originally the site of the priory water, and when covered in it was let to Mr. Peter Banks by the Mayor and Jurates, with a stipulation that he should put it in proper order and not to build upon it. Mr. Barham had arranged with Mr. Banks to place his conservatory there, and only wanted the sanction of the Council. On the motion of Mr. Poole, the application was referred to the Stonebeach Committee.
Alteration at 1 Verulam Place
At the meeting on the 1st of June, the Roads Committee presented a report in reference to a proposed alteration of 1 Verulam place, whereby the front would be extended for a shop, but as neither plan nor particulars had been submitted, notice was given to the builder to cease operations until the bye-law had been complied with. A communication was then received from Mr. Phillips on behalf of Mr. Southall, the owner, denying that the Board or its officers had any right to interfere. After that the question was submitted to the Secretary of State, and his reply was that under the 35th section of the Local Govern Pg. 46 ment Act, the Board had the power to interpose until the plans had been submitted and approved of. Coun. Howell was of opinion that the Board too often interfered in an unnecessary manner with the alteration of premises. The house was not going to be rebuilt, and it was no business of the Board’s whether it was intended to put a shop-front in or not. Coun. Putland called attention to the word “altered” as well as “rebuilt”, and ably contended that the whole tenor of the law was to prevent A making any alteration which would injure his neighbours B & C. He thought the Board did right to interfere and that the Clerk had taken the proper course. It was then agreed that the question should remain in the care of the Roads Committee. A memorial was afterwards presented to the Board from a number of inhabitants of Verulam place and Eversfield place, requesting the Board to adopt such powers as their Act gave them to compel the owner of No 1 Verulam place to alter the front of the shop there recently made so that it should not project beyond the other houses. But a difficulty presented itself in the fact that the Board had already sanctioned shop-fronts at the western end of Eversfield place. The Clerk opined that the Board was not in a good position, in consequence of not following up the notice given by the Surveyor to the owner of the house. Ald. Rock thought the Board had not quite lost all power, and he therefore proposed that the memorial be referred to the Road’s Committee, with a request that Mr. Growse should examine the law bearing upon the matter.
At the next meeting, (Dec. 7th) Mr. Growse said the Committee had agreed to postpone their report on the memorial, until the next monthly meeting. (See Chap. LXV.)
Dedication of Streets.
At the October meeting a memorial was presented by the Road’s Committee for the dedication of Union Row. Alfred Street, &c., such memorial having been sent in by the owners and inhabitants of districts thus named. It was explained that the Board could only take over roads and streets on the written application of the owners and occupiers, even if all parties were agreeable. The memorial was here legally complied with.
A general district rate at 7d. in the pound, to produce £2290, was passed at the meeting on Jan. 6th.
At the July meeting an eightpenny rate was agreed to, after a good deal of discussion. Coun. Bromley remarked that twelve month7 ago a sixpenny rate was sufficient, and if they went on increasing their expenses a shilling rate would soon be necessary. They improved streets and lanes faster than the burgesses could Pg. 47 pay for them. Coun. Vidler (an avowed economist) said it pleased him to hear people to talk about improvement and get up and grumble about paying for them. Coun. Bromley said he should find fault with the expenditure whenever he pleased. Coun. Putland did not think the money had been sent extravagantly. There would, of course be a continued demand for improvements, but there would be an increase of rateable property to meet it. It was the general expenditure that seemed to be growing and would have to be watched. He hoped and believed they would go back to the sixpenny rate, notwithstanding new roads and improvement of old ones.
A rate of 4d. was also passed under the old Hastings Improvement Act.
A general district rate at 2d was also agreed upon at the December meeting, the said rate to extend as far as the water mains were laid. The estimated amount was £350.
At the August meeting, Coun. Treee(sic) opined that it was quite time that the Board arranged for the collecting of the Market tolls at the west end. Gardeners and hucksters, he said, came down the London road and passed into Stanhope place, where they were met by the shopkeepers, and goods changed hands without any payment of toll. He believed the dealers would willingly pay the toll, but they would not go all the way to the Market and back [a distance of 3 miles] before they could dispose of their goods. Subject referred to Stonebeach and Market Committee. At the next meeting of the Board, it was resolved that the Market Committee be empowered to appoint a proper person to issue tickets in the West Ward for Market tolls, to obviate the necessity of gardeners and others taking their goods to the Market previously to selling them.
Proposed Pier at Verulam Place
At the Council meeting on the 6th of October, a letter was read from Messrs Scott, Tahourdin & Shaw, solicitors of London, asking permission to erect a pier at a spot to be selected, and a grant from the Corporation of a necessary portion of the beach; also that the latter would appoint a committee to carry into effect all that might be requisite for vesting in the Company the portion of beach selected. Mr. Hooper, a gentleman connected with Mr. Sharp, a railway contractor, was in attendance and in reply to Alderman Ginner, (who thought the estimate of £4000 very low), explained that the Southport pier, which was £1200(sic) feet long, had cost £8,700, which was even a less proportionate sum. A committee was formed consisting of the Mayor, Messrs. Rock, Ross, Ginner, How, Gausden, Winter, Bromley, Howell and Putland. – At the next meet Pg. 48 ing (Nov. 2nd) the Special Committee reported that they had been met by the projector and solicitor, and after a full consideration of the subject, they recommended the Council to adopt the following:- To grant by lease for a term of 150 years (provided the necessary consent of the Treasury could be obtained) at the annual rent of £5, such portion of the stonebeach from the parade wall extending seawards 300 yards, as may be required by the Company or their trustees for the purpose of erecting a pier of the above length, and in width about 20 feet, with a landing end seaward 40 yards square, and the site of such pier to be about the centre of Verulam place; that in such lease a condition to be inserted that the maximum toll to be levied shall not exceed one penny per head each visit; that the pier shall not be used for any other purpose than as a promenade or pleasure pier, and that no goods nor merchandize liable to toll to the Corporation or Local Board shall be landed thereon without consent in writing being first obtained from the Corporation or Local Board; that the lease be void if the pier be not completed within two years from the date of such lease; and also be void in case the pier be allowed to get out of repair, or be unfit for use, or be deserted by the company and kept closed for 6 months consecutively at any time during the term except for necessary repairs. A question was raised by Alderman Rock, whether the Lord Warden was not the custodian of the shore below the stones’ foot, but the general opinion appeared to be that the jurisdiction lay with the Admiralty. The Committee’s report was adopted.
Bathing Machines and Bathing
It was resolved, at the meeting on May 4th, that clause 5 of the bye-laws, relating to machines for bathing, should be amended so as to include stands for them as well as for carriages, and that the alteration be sent to the Secretary of State for confirmation. The new proposals, as placed before the Council on Aug. 3rd, were that bathing-machines for ladies and gentlemen respectively, should be kept 75 yards apart; that a boat should be kept at each bathing-machine station; that all articles found in bathing-machines and public carriages should be taken to the Police Station if not claimed within 24 hours, but to be returned to the finder if no owner be found within six months; that no pleasure-boats pass within 50 yards of bathing machines; and that no bathing be permitted without proper bathing-dresses between the hours of six in the morning and nine in the evening at any place from the old East groyne to 39 Tower. [Mixed bathing and some other modern privileges would not have been allowed in those days]. Pg. 49
The Chaplain to the Borough Cemetery
At the meeting on the 6th of January, an application was received from the Rev. T. Nightingale for an increase in his stipend, as the £35 per annum did but little more than pay for fly-hire. The application was referred to the Burial Board Committee. At the next meeting the Committee recommended an increase from £35 to £60. Coun. Bromley in moving the adoption, regarded such increase as a very reasonable one, seeing that the duties had largely augmented, and that the Chaplain had to go a long distance in all sorts of weather, thus frequently necessitating the expense of a fly. Coun. Picknell thought it unfortunate that the distance from the town had not been sufficiently considered when the cemetery site was determined on. Coun. Winter, moved the rejection of the Committee’s recommendation, and went considerably into statistics to show that the stipend of £35 had averaged 7s. for each interment during the first year, or an average for the three years of 5/6 each interment, or nearly double the legal amount that a parish clergyman would receive. He would propose that in future the Chaplain receive 6s. each interment. The fee to dissenting ministers was 3s., and he had not heard that they had complained. He was surprised that anyone should have proposed such a rise, which in the three years interments would average 10s. each. – Ald. Ginner reminded Mr. Winter that the clergy had given up to the Burial Board the monumental fees, which they could have legally claimed, for the advantage of the town, and that there should be no dispute about the salary of the Chaplain. Coun. Vidler (who caused a nearer site to be abandoned) replied to Coun. Picknell’s remarks about the distance, which elicited cries of “Question,” “Chair,” “You are wrong,” “No such thing,” &c. Coun. Putland seconded Mr. Winter’s proposition, because he thought it was a just principle to pay the Chaplain for each funeral at which he officiated. – Ald. Ross did not think the proposed sum was too large, although he agreed with Mr Putland in his view as to the Dissenting ministers. He was, however, sorry to see among the members of the Board an underground current of feeling such as he had never before witnessed. – Coun. Howell agreed with the principle that a man should be paid for his work, but it should be remembered that the Cemetery was not a paying concern. Under the plan proposed in the amendment; for according as the Board got customers, the Chaplain’s emoluments would increase. He would also like to see the Clergymen and Dissenting ministers placed on an equal footing. – Ald. Rock dissented from the last speaker’s views, inasmuch as they would be paying more for the Chaplain’s services by that plan of single payments if the interments increased, as they believed they would, than Pg. 50 by a fixed salary. – Coun. Wingfield would have no objection to an increase to £45, but he held to the opinion that £60 was too much. Throughout the lengthy discussion there were frequent interruptions of approval or disapproval of the speakers’ opinions, and in which a good deal of excitability manifested itself, and on Mr. Winter’s amendment being put to pay 6s. for each interment it was carried by a majority of two amidst much applause, particularly by the members, who professed to be Dissenters. But that part of the business was not even then concluded; for before the meeting broke up, the Clerk announced that he had just received a note from the Rev. T. Nightingale, in which that gentleman said he had just been informed of the result of his application, and that he begged to tender his resignation, with a request that he might be released from the duties of the office at the earliest moment. The reading of this unlooked for communication caused a long and acrimonious discussion, during which occurred one of those too frequent forgetfulness of self-respect and municipal dignity which seems to be a characteristic of bodies vested with the powers of local government. – Coun. Bromley moved and Ald. Ross seconded that the resignation be accepted. Coun Howell asked what certain members meant by endeavouring to get the Board into difficulties? and alluding to Ald. Ross’s statement that there was an under current of feeling, said it was now shown to be on the other side. He spoke in condemnation of a member leaving the Hall to convey information of the proceedings out of doors, and he hoped the Board would mark their sense of it by referring the letter to the Burial Board Committee. During the former discussion a note had been handed to Ald. Ticehurst, soon after which he left the Hall, and that circumstance gave rise to suspicion that he had done so to acquaint Mr. Nightingale with the result, and hence the resignation. – Ald. Ross, replying to Coun. Howell’s remarks, spoke warmly and declared that every word of the last speaker’s insinuation was untrue. – Coun Bromley (interrupting) said “Tell him it’s a lie, sir, tell him it’s a lie!” [Cries of “shame,” “Order,” “Chair,” &c.] Ald. Ross, resuming, explained that the note handed to Ald. Ticehurst contained an intimation that a person was waiting to measure him for his military uniform, and it was possible that he might have accidently met Mr. Nightingale and told him of the result. The discussion then diverged into the right or wrong of a member giving information of the proceedings before the business was over, so that it could be acted upon before the business was over. Messrs. Putland, Duke and others condemned the practice, whilst Ald. Rock and others supported it, on the ground that Pg. 51 that the Council meetings were public. Mr. Howell’s motion that the Chaplain’s resignation be referred to the Burial Board Committee was carried by a large majority.
The Chaplain’s Stipend Again!
Another spirited discussion over this subject took place at the Council meeting on the 1st of June, when Ald. Ginner introduced a motion to rescind the resolution passed on the 3rd of February. The speaker, after some introductory remarks, said he had brought the matter forward from the very best of feelings and with a desire to promote the best interests of the town. Boards of that character sometimes did their business rather hastily, and it was no discredit to the gentlemen present if he said their own Board had sometimes done so. It was stated at the former meeting that it was incumbent upon the clergy of each parish to bury the dead of their own parish, but it happened that two parishes had no clergyman, and two others had no burial grounds; consequently they had no burials to perform, and unless the clergy of these parishes chose to take upon themselves the dutices(sic), they could not be called upon to do so. Thus, if there were no appointed chaplain, others could not be compelled to officiate. It had been urged that the Cemetery was unproductive, but the receipts had increased marvelously since All Saints’ church had been closed. Last year the receipts were £335, but this year in five months they had reached £360, mainly from expensive funerals. It was stated at the last meeting that it was not legal to appoint a chaplain in the way they had, but he believed there was an Act by which they could if they applied to the Bishop. The Town Clerk here explained that there was a provision in an Act by which they could nominate a chaplain and give him a fixed annual sum. He would ask them to calmly consider the great interest they had at stake. It was worth something to have a quiet meeting, but it was worth a great deal more not to have a party strife, dividing the Board with respect of the Cemetery. He moved that the former order be rescinded, and that £60 be granted to Mr. Nightingale. – Coun. Bromley , in seconding the motion, said it never occurred to him before that by not having a regularly appointed chaplain they might drive all the best class of funerals to Fairlight or Hollington, a course which would be prejudicial to the interests of the borough. Coun. Vidler was an advocate for an increase of salary, but hoped there would not be a repitition(sic) of the previous angry discussion. – Coun. Winter, in a warm, but telling speech, opposed the rescinding of the previous decision. He had hoped that when the Board had settled the question it would not again be re-opened. It was not as a Dissenter that he opposed the motion. He took the ground that the Board had no power whatever to appoint a Chaplain. Before he was a member of the Council Pg. 52 he had called together a meeting of friends and had got up a memorial to the Secretary of State. The answer to that memorial had been hawked about the town until every resident must be well aware of the purport. That reply was so clear and distinct that it was almost impossible to make a loophole in it. Sir George Grey said strictly and positively, through his Secretary that “the payment of a Chaplain out of the funds of the Burial Board would be an illegal payment.” Now, when he objected to the payment of the Chaplain, he argued that on the part of Dissenting minsters(sic) that there was no quid pro quo. They refused to accept the paltry sum of 3s. which the Board had the magnanimity to offer them. If the Board put themselves into such a false position as to say that a large class of gentlemen who were in no way inferior in talent and respectability to the Clergy should only be paid the paltry sum of 3s. they must expect that it would be resented. The Dissenters had submitted to the grievance without complaint, but they contended that the opinion of Mr. Growse was fallacious and that the clause on which it was founded was only intended to meet an exceptional case. The clause was introduced into the Act because there were several parishes joined together in some Burial Boards. The Clergy of the district had no power to make the charges; it was a matter entirely for the vestry. [At this point, Coun. Bromley became uneasy, and gave expressions in an undertone which compelled Mr. Winter to appeal to the chairman to be freed from interruption]. The speaker then went into facts and figures in support of his argument, and also referred to a case at Tynemouth similar to their own, in which the law-officers of the Crown decided against the action of the Burial Board of that town. In conclusion Mr. Winter said he was strongly of opinion that when a course had been settled upon by the Board, it should not have been interfered with, and that the wisest course would be to pay, not by salary, but at so much for each interment. – Coun. Putland also denounced the unwisdom of reintroducing the question after it had been settled. Every member of the Board had the highest respect for Mr. Nightingale, but as a matter of principle he (the speaker) contended that the proper mode of payment was by each interment. As regarded the unconsecrated ground and the Dissenting ministers, the time was come when the latter should stand on a level with the clergy of the Church of England. Such being the feeling, it was not right for one class of gentlemen to receive 3s. for the performance of another class received 7s. or more. – Ald. Ross said although he should not vote against Mr. Ginner’s motion , he thought that an attempt was being made by the Dissenters to show that they were a persecuted body. – Coun. Howell, although a churchman, could not Pg. 53 agree with the act of the Council in offering Dissenting members 3s. as a fee while the church minister was paid at the rate of 7/6. The motion being put, after Ald. Ginners reply, it was negatived by nine to five. (See page 63 for a solution of the difficulty).
Sale and Gas Act
At the meeting on January 6th, the Clerk, having explained that the preliminaries required by the Act for regulating measures for the Sale of Gas had been carried out, its adoption was agreed to, and referred to the Roads and Lighting Committee. On the 6th of April this committee reported that in consequence of the imperfect working of the Act and by the advice of the Lords of the Treasury, they recommended the Board to defer the appointment of an Inspector. The recommendation was adopted. On the 4th of May the Clerk stated that he had received a letter that morning to the effect that no alteration was likely to be made either in the list of things required or the prices, except in the official stamp, which was under consideration by the Lords of the Treasury.
Gas or Air-shafts, which?
No more was heard that year about appointing a gas inspector, but the gas itself appeared to have got into bad odour in a double sense. At the November meeting, the Inspector of Nuisances said that having had his attention drawn to the bad effluvia in the Priory Valley, he had visited the Gas Works, and there found everything well and cleanly kept. His opinion was that the bad smells came from the shafts of the drainage culvert, of which there were 12; also that the old course of the Priory stream was in a foul codition(sic). Acting on this report , it was resolved that several of the air-shafts should be closed, and that the owners of property abutting on the stream between the Gas Works and Goods station road (now Station road) should be requested to cleanse the portions that bounded their property. This did not, however remove Coun. Picknell’s belief, which he had expressed at a previous meeting, that the odours arose from the Gas Works. Coun. Howell coincided in this opinion, and stated that since he mentioned the subject he had received complaints from the inhabitants of the Long Fields [St. Mary’s Terrace], who said they frequently experienced the same unpleasant smell. He would like to know whether the Gas Company had room to cool their coke without throwing water over it. He was convinced that the smell was that of coke vapour, and he hoped the Gas Company would endeavour to find a remedy.
Sale of Ashes.
At the meeting on the 6th of January, the Roads’ Committee recommended that Mr. Mitchell’s tender of £10 12s per 1000 bushels of ashes be accepted, and this recommendation was adopted.
Pg. 54 Coal Meters
On the recommendation of the Stonebeach Committee, the Local Board on the 6th of January appointed Robert Plane and T. Tutt, jun. as coal meters.
At the January meeting, Ald. Rook, as an officer of the Rifle Corps, said they were at very great inconveince(sic) for the want of a sufficiently large room. The Corps had hired the Swan room, but now that a drill-sergeant was coming, their inconvenience would be increased; and as the corps had only patriotic objects, he hoped their application for the Market-room would be granted. In many other places public rooms and grounds were freely provided for Volunteers. – Coun. Howell moved that the Corps be allowed the use of the room once a week free of cost, and Coun. Kenwood seconded. – Coun. Vidler understood that the Artillery Corps would also be applying for the use of the room in conjunction with the Rifles. – Ald. Ginner reminded the members that it was not a borough room, but that it was built by the old Commissioners in the hope that they would get a return for it. It belonged entirely to the east end, which was the least able to pay for it. The gentlemen who had spoken lived in the West Ward, and that ward contributed nothing to the Market room. Before they decided that there should be no charge made for the room he hoped gentlemen would take these things into consideration. – Ald. Rock thought the West Ward did its share of paying for the Water Works. – Coun. Putland could see no way but that of the Board hiring the room for the use of the two corps and and(sic) charging the expense upon the whole district [Hear, hear!] – The Clerk said the Board had no power to spend money in that manner. – Coun. Winter did not object to their having the room at a nominal rent, but they ought to pay for gas and leave the room clean. Coun. Howell, in reply deprecated the continual bringing forward the idea that one part of the borough belonged to one and that part to another. The West helped the East in the coal duties, and it was beyond contradiction that that the increase of valuable property in the West Ward materially assisted the old town. [He might have added that the West Ward, directly or indirectly, had their share of the Market fees, the result of which was to enhance the price of fruit, vegetables &c., whilst the Market itself was too far away from them to be made use of.] Mr. Howell’s motion was carried.
At the meeting on May 4th, a letter was received from Capt. Harcourt stating that a gun was shortly expected from Government for the Artillery Volunteers and desiring to know if the Council could appropriate any spot eastward of the Fishmarket that would be suitable for gun practice? It was resolved to remit the application to the Stonebeach Committee, with power to act. The application was granted, as will be seen in Pg. 55 what follows. At the meeting on Oct. 5th, the Clerk read a letter received from Capt. Scrivens, of the 4th Cinque Ports Artillery, communicating a vote passed by the Finance Committee of the Corps, thanking the Council for granting a portion of beach for the gun battery at a nominal rent, and the Local Board for the use of their horses to draw the guns in the late procession through the town.
The Water Supply.
At the first meeting of the year (Jan. 6) The Clerk read the reports from the Water Committee to the effect that a sub-committee had visited Pevensey Sluice, where there was a good supply of water, but were told by Mr. M. Vidler that the whole quantity running in the summer was required by the Commissioners of Pevensey Levels. The Committee had also considered it advisable to apply to the Countess of Waldegrave for a lease of land at St. Andrew’s for 99 years, if her ladyship would grant one on reasonable terms. The general committee had received a letter from Mr. William Hull (secretary) as follows:-
“I am directed by Mr. Chas. Clark to inform you that as there are now large volumes of water running to waste from the Western Water-works, and having arranged with the landowners, he is enabled to filter and store large quantities, which will be sufficient to supply at a short notice the low levels of the East Ward – say commencing at St. Andrews terrace and extending through Bedford place, Russell street, the Castle hotel, Wellington place, Pelham street, Castle street, George street, the Albion hotel and so far eastward as the levels allow – excellent filtered water, ample for all domestic purposes, at 6d in the pound on the present rating. No payment will be required until the conditions are satisfactorily complied with. The contract may be taken for a term of years. Your early reply will oblige. Jan. 3rd, 1860.”
Another Offer from Mr. Clark. After the Committee had replied to the above communication in a bombastic and erroneous manner that instead of requiring any water from him, they had an abundant supply in their own works and were capable of supplying both low and high levels in the Local Board district, another letter was read in which Mr. Clark offered to sell his interest in the Eversfield Waterworks at a fair valuation. Some of the members of the Board received the intimation with “Bravo, Clark!” “That’s sensible!” &c. The opinion generally expressed was that it was the most straight-forward letter that had been received from Mr. Clark. Ald. Clement remarked that to sell the works at their fair valuation was altogether different to the price of £12,000 or £13,000 which had been talked about. – Coun. Putland said most of them knew the value and character of Mr. Clark’s works, and for himself he would say that if they could be obtained even for a thousand pounds more that their value, give it, as the putting the water supply under one authority Pg. 56 would be to the advantage of the borough. – Ald. Ginner had no confidence in the offer then made and advised caution in dealing with Mr. Clark. He thought it was the duty of the Board to entertain the offer, but it ought to come through a solicitor. It was resolved to refer the matter to the Water Committee, with an understanding that the negotiations must be through a solicitor, and as soon as Mr. Clark’s compliance with the suggestion was received, a special meeting to be called.
The Local Board’s offer declined. At the meeting on February 3rd, the Committee reported that they had received an offer through Mr. Clark’s solicitor to sell the Eversfield Waterworks at a fair valuation or to lease the same, the amount of purchase money or rent to be settled by arbitration under the Local Government Act. The Committee had offered through the same solicitor to give £8000 for the same, free from all incumbrance except the ground rent. The acceptance of such offer was declined, but Mr. Clark repeated his offer to sell at a price that should be fixed by arbitration, and if the Board refused that offer, Mr. Clark would say that he had done all that could be expected of him. It was then resolved that Mr. Clark be informed that the Board considered they had made a fair offer, and regretted that he should have been advised to reject it absolutely without naming any other sum.
A Memorial was presented at the same time from 132 residents of the West Ward (Magdalen parish) soliciting the aid of the Local Board in providing a more abundant supply. To this memorial the Board replied that they were taking steps to supply that district, and had commenced laying pipes for that purpose.
Contemplated New Reservoir. The Countess of Waldegrave having consented to grant a lease of land at St. Andrew’s (late Mr. Shirley’s garden) for 99 years at a rental of £35 per annum, it was stated at the meeting on April 6th that Mr. Laing, the borough surveyor, had prepared a plan for a new reservoir, ten feet deep, to hold more than nine millions of gallons, but as the statement was not a report of the Water Committee, on the motion of Coun. Howell, its consideration was postponed for a special meeting to be held on the 20th of April. That meeting was not largely attended and the consideration of its special purport was considerably influenced by another communication from Mr. Clark although the latter could not be practically dealt with. It was to the effect that Mr. Clark had entered into a new lease with Mr. Eversfield, whereby he had secured all the water-shed between Ore and Bulverhithe, and had also the exclusive right of supplying water to the Eversfield estate. He was willing for the Board to take the lease from him or a direct lease from Mr. Eversfield. He wished to retain only a small portion of land near Gensing
Pg. 57 Wood. The price asked was £10,000. The Clerk had seen the lease, with its map and plans, the offer had been made through Mr. John Philips, a solicitor, and Mr. Young, a solicitor had assured the Clerk that all the preliminaries set forth in the document had been settled between Mr. Eversfield and Mr. Clark. It was discovered that Clark had obtained an additional piece of land by which he could secure to himself the spring at Buck’s Hole, usually known as Dr MacCabe’s, from which the Board were getting a supply. The prevalent feeling of the meeting appeared to be “Let him do it if he can, but we believe he can’t.” It being understood that nothing could be done with the present offer beyond referring it to the Water Committee, the remainder of the meeting was mainly occupied with the object for which it was specifically called. Councillors Putland and Howell had both changed their views in relation to the proposed new reservoir, and agreed that it would be much better to make it on higher ground, that the water might find its way by gravitation, instead of having to be pumped up from so low a level. The former speaker was of opinion that instead of spending £2,000 or more in making such a reservoir it would be better to apply that sum to the making of drains and other works at the Ecclesbourne reservoir, where millions of gallons then running into the sea, might be stored at a height of 250 feet above low water. – Couns. Duke corroborated Mr. Putland’s statement as to the large stream running away at Ecclesbourne, and added that if only one fourth of the money now proposed to be spent had been expended in completing the Ecclesbourne works [taken over from the Commissioners] a good supply might long ago have been obtained. In reply to Councillor Winter’s question whether Mr. Putland had ever made a motion for securing that valuable supply? The latter said he had never received encouragement to do so, although he had several times mentioned it in committee. The Council had never looked upon the Ecclesbourne reservoir with any favour; and as it was rather a personal matter in which he, as superintending the work was badly treated, he had not cared to be the one to move in the matter. He explained what he had wished to have seen done, and intimated that a thousand million gallons of water could be
obtained on the high levels from the neighbourhood of the Dripping Well. – One member remarked that it could hardly be said that their discussions had amounted to nothing, seeing that Mr. Clark had reduced his figure from £25,000 to £10,000.
At the meeting on the 4th of May, it was resolved not to accept Mr. Clark’s latest offer of £10,000, but to adhere to the Board’s original offer of £8,000. Pg. 58
A £6000 Plan – At the meeting on the 1st of June, the Water Committee presented the following scheme of the Borough Surveyor’s for the supply of water in the Western district, which is here produced in Mr. Laing’s own words:-
“ The present mains extend as far as the Seaside Hotel [now the Palace Hotel], White-rock-place, an 8 inch main having recently been laid down from the Priory through Robertson street to that spot; but beyond this, westward, there are no pipes belonging to the Board – the district being very inadequately supplied by a 6 inch main belonging to Mr. Clark, which is in a bad condition. Considering this fact and the increasing importance of this part of the borough, I beg to submit the annexed carefully prepared plan, showing the extension of water mains, which I think the Board is called upon to carry out in this direction. I recommend that an 8 inch main be laid from the termination of the present 8 inch main along the whole front line of houses as far as the Arch and up the London road as far as the houses extend – a total distance of about 4,500 feet. Also that a 6in. high level main be laid from the termination of the present high level main at Linton terrace, round Cuckoo Hill and along the Norman road to Lavatoria square, together with the 6in. branch mains shown on the plans; making a total amount of about 10,600 feet. This 6in. main is imperatively called for, as the houses upon the high level in this district were totally unsupplied with water for a considerable period last summer, and it is necessary to provide against a similar contingency during the approaching dry season.” [This alleged absence of water in the high-levels was flatly contradicted at the time by the editor of Brett’s Gazette so far as his own house was concerned, which was nearly at the top of Norman road. Not only was he never without water on the ground floor and in the basement, but he could also draw from a tap on the third floor, which was the height of two floors above the summit of Norman road. He gave a public invitation to persons interested in the matter to come and prove his statement. The cause of some persons on high ground being without water was the bad provision or non-provision of cisterns, and the wasteful use of water when they got it; the latter practice having continued more or less ever since.] “For the smaller streets” (continued Mr. Laing), “4in. pipes will be sufficient, and a length of about 5,000 feet will be required. I also recommend that an 8 inch main be laid in Meadow (now Queen’s) road, from Stone street to the present main near the pedestal, being a distance of about 1100 feet. I have also prepared plans and sections which have met with the approval of your committee for a new reservoir in St. Andrew’s Gardens, and for the enlargement and embankment of the present large reservoir there, which will enable the Board to store in those gardens a quantity of water amounting to about 9,559,640 gallons.” – Accompanying this Pg. 59 document was a detailed estimate of the cost of the works at a total of £6,000. The Committee recommended that the plan be put into execution as soon as practicable, the front line, Meadow road and Priory street requiring immediate attention. They also recommended the Board to apply for sanction to borrow the £6000 on the credit of the general district rates, to be repaid in 30 years. – Coun. Howell, in moving the adoption of the report, thought it was not possible to come to terms with Mr. Clark, and as the Board had passed a resolution to supply the West Ward with water, they must either rescind that resolution or carry out the works. He then referred to the proposal of bringing water from the Rother, which was undesirable on account of its estimated cost of £12,000, without reckoning the purchase of land, the erection of pumping engines, and the laying of necessary piping in the borough. – Ald. Ginner, in seconding the resolution, did not think it was the best plan that could be adopted, but that it was the best the Board was likely to undertake. He was not one of those who would turn round and walk away becaus(sic) he could not have his own plan carried out. The Board had now an additional means of supply, and had also land whereon they could make reservoirs by the extension of the lease in St. Andrew’s Gardens from 17 to 99 years.
Supply of Pipes. On the recommendation of the Water Committee it was also resolved that the order passed at the previous meeting for contracting with Messrs Cochrane &Co. for twelve months’ supply of water pipes, should be rescinded, as it was found that it was intended to supply Yorkshire iron, instead of Derbyshire iron.
The Government Inspector (Mr. Ranger) having visited Hastings, in consequence of the application for sanction to borrow £6,000, the Water Committee reported at the meeting on the 3rd of August that the Inspector’s opinion was that it was unadvisable to spend money at St. Andrew’s for new reservoirs, and recommended instead the formation of a new distributing reservoir. The Committee concurred in that opinion and recommended that amended particulars should be forwarded to the Secretary of State, asking permission to borrow £7,000. The Committee would select a site and report further as early as possible. – Report adopted.
Sanction Obtained. At the meeting on Sept. 7th the Clerk reported that he had received the sanction to borrow the money, and the Water Committee recommended that the Surveyor be instructed to prepare working plans, sections and specifications for the proposed works, and lay them before the Board at their next meeting. This was agreed to.
Land on the West hill. In answer to Coun. Bromley’s question as to the probability of acquiring land on the West hill for the new reservoir, Mr. Grouse said that he and the Mayor had had an interview with Lady Waldegrave that morning, and it did not appear that any difficulty Pg. 60 would arise from that quarter. He expected a reply on the following day. – Coun. Putland cautioned the Board against the expenditure of money on such a high level reservoir, contending that a new one at a height of about 100 feet, the present tank would be sufficient for some years to come, whilst with another tank they would need another engine, and would be pumping up water to a height of 250 feet, eight tenths of which would be drawn off at a level below 100 feet.
Another Waterworks Phase. Certain gentlemen appeared before Mr. Ranger, the Government Inspector, when he was at Hastings, in opposition to the Board’s application for sanction to borrow money, telling him that they were arranging for the purchase of the Eversfield Waterworks. The Inspector gave them to understand that it would be illegal for them to do so in their official capacity as overseers. At the Council meeting above stated the Clerk reported the receipt of a communication from those gentlemen, and the Water Committee recommended that those gentlemen be informed that the Board could not interfere in their parish matters. The said communication was worded thus: - “To the Local Board of Health. – Gentlemen, - We presume you are aware that we have agreed to purchase the Western Waterworks for the supply of water to the West Ward. In so doing, it is not our intention to act in contravention of the local authorities, but simply as a protective measure to secure a cheap and excellent supply of water to the inhabitants. Our object for the present communication is to solicit your approval and assistance to further our endeavours to promote the welfare of the town. The terms on which we have agreed to purchase are those last offered to the Local Board. We trust the members returned for the West Ward will support us in carrying out our undertaking, and we hope to have the co-operation of the East Ward members as well, the more so as the revenues arising from the West Ward are greatly increasing and help to support the well-being of the borough at large. We are of opinion that the Western Waterworks should be preserved exclusively for the West Ward and that the members of the Local Board returned by the West Ward (together with the different parishes of the West Ward for the time being) should be the directors and committee of management. Your serious consideration of these matters for the benefit of the borough, and your reply will oblige your most obdient(sic) servants (signed by) Messrs Polhill, Walder, Shotter and Davis, the committee appointed by the inhabitants, 5th Sept, 1860.”
Coun. Howell informed the Board that Messrs. Polhill and Walder had disclaimed being purchasers of the works, and that they signed the paper when brought to on the understanding that the other parishes would join.
Pg. 61 The West-hill Reservoir. At the October meeting, the Water Committee reported that they approved the plans and sections of the proposed new reservoir on the West hill for the storage and supply of water for the western district, and recommended the same to be adopted. They further reported that the Law Life Assurance Society had offered to lend £5,000 at 4½? per cent, repayable by 30 annual instalments; this they also recommended to be accepted, with the addition of £2,000 on the same terms, if the Society were willing to lend it. – Report adopted.
Error in taking the levels. At the meeting on November 2nd, the committee reported that the levels of the proposed reservoir were not correctly stated in the specifications. They recommended that the tenders for the work should not be opened, and that a sub-committee should be formed to ascertain the exact levels. This was done, and at the annual meeting on the 9th the sub-committee reported that the plans were not sufficiently accurate to enter into a contract upon. They advised the drawing-up of fresh plans and specifications, and that the general committee should be empowered to receive fresh tenders and to act upon them. It was stated that alterations in the plans would be made which would be more advantageous and cost less money.
Unsatisfactory Decision. The power given to the Water Committee to receive tenders and to act upon them had a result that was far less satisfactory to some members than was anticipated. The said committee reported at the December meeting that they had accepted Mr. Grisbrook’s tender of £1470, and that two lower tenders (W. Hughes’s £1455, and Mr. Broadbridge’s, £1425) had been rejected because the conditions of the specifications had not been complied with. Couns. Howell, Kenwood and Bromley strongly condemned the decision of the Committee, which they stigmatized as unjust. Mr. Howell contended that the usual practice in all contracts for public works was not to require sureties to be named until after the tender had been accepted, and that by the irregular acceptance of Grisbrook’s tender, the Committee had wasted £45 of the ratepayers’ money. He moved that the Clerk be instructed not to sign any contract for the construction of new reservoirs till the subject had again been before the Board. The motion was, however, negatived by a majority of four.
The Water Mains. Tenders for the laying of water mains were received from Messrs. Broadbridge, Welfare and Ashton, and that of Ashton was accepted. It was also resolved to employ George Glyde to fix the joints of the pipes at 4s. 6d per day. Glyde was an athlete who professed to be able to walk or run faster than any other person in Hastings, but had to yield the palm to the present writer in a non-pre-arranged trial.
Pg. 62 Water-rate Collector. Mr. Adams having applied for an increase of per centage from 3½ to 5 per cent, the Water Committee, on the 6th of April, recommended that £10 be given him for his increased duties, but to postpone what was asked for until some definite arrangement was made with respect to the Water-works. Coun. Wingfield understood that Mr. Adams first undertook the collection at 1½ per cent, and at that rate received about £20 a year. He soon after received an increase which brought it up to about £48 a year, and this he considered to be ample pay. Coun. Winter would have dissented from the report under ordinary circumstances, but Mr. Adams had had his time taken up and his mind diverted from his own duties during the late short supply of water by persons calling on him with their complaints and by his assisting them in obtaining remedies. Coun. Duke also referred to the collector’s largely increased work over that of the Assistant overseers by having to make out his rate from three or four parishes. He (Mr. D.) cordially supported the Committee’s recommendation, and would have been pleased to propose £20 instead of £10. – Carried with only one dissentient.
A New Forge. At the same meeting, it was resolved to erect a new forge at the engine house in St. Andrew’s at a cost of £20. It was believed that the expense would soon be saved in the repairs of tools and other implements.
Memorial against Hawking.
At the Council meeting on Oct. 5th a memorial was read by the Clerk as follows: - “We the undersigned owners and occupiers of property beg to call your attention to the increase of hawking. It is a great hardship that parties living in or out of the town, having no establishments to keep should be allowed to do what we are forbidden to do, namely to hawk their goods. We are aware that it is in many cases difficult to prove the offence in consequence of the parties pretending to call for orders, but this is well known to be only a subterfuge, the parties having always an assortment of goods with them. If the present state of your law cannot meet the wishes of your memorialists, we trust you will pass a bye-law for the purpose, or cause some more stringent measures to be taken to put a stop to hawking and selling”
The memorial was signed by about forty tradesmen of George street, Robertson street, High street, All Saints street, London road, Grand parade and Norman road, including the principal poulterers, greengrocers, and a few of the grocers. Coun. Poole remarked that the Local Board had provided a Market and had otherwise done what they could in the matter; he and a brother-councillor to whom he had spoken, were both convinced that a great portion of the goods sold by the greengrocers were purchased by them out of the borough, therby(sic) evading the tolls. He thought the parties ought to deal fairly by the Local Board. – Ald. Ginner observed that Pg. 63 some of the parties whose names were attached to the memorial never paid a penny toll; and he thought the only course that could be taken was to request the police to keep a sharp look out. The memorial was then referred to the Watch Committee.
At the Council meeting on May 4th, Coun. Bromley put a question to the Clerk concerning the proposed public drinking fountains, and was told that the fountains were in store and had been that morning under the consideration of the Water Committee. Ald. Ross remarked that the matter had been deferred, to avoid expense until the fountains were likely to become generally useful in the warmer weather. At the next meeting, the committee recommended the purchase of an additional fountain to be erected in Warrior square, Mr. Clark having promised to supply the water gratuitously. The Clerk also explained that it was intended to place the two fountains already obtained at the east end of the Marine parade and at the pedestal at the end of York buildings.
The Stipend difficulty solved.
At the Council meeting of July 6th, the Burial Board recommended the rescinding of the orders on the 3rd of July, 1857 and the 3rd of February, 1860, relative to the fee of 3s. agreed to be paid to Dissenting ministers for interments in unconsecrated ground, and to the sum of 6s. agreed to be paid to the Chaplain for each interment in the consecrated portion; and that in lieu thereof, the sum of 7/6 be paid to the Chaplain for each interment, and a like sum to any Dissenting minister for the performance of funeral rites at the Cemetery. Coun. Winter had great pleasure in proposing the adoption of the report, because he thought it would be satisfactory to all concerned; and Coun. Bromley had equal pleasure in seconding the same, because he hoped it would bring the matter to an amicable conclusion. He knew Mr. Nightingale was perfectly satisfied with such arrangement, and it was hoped that the Dissenting ministers would be equally satisfied. The report was unanimously adopted.
Revised Scale of Fees.
The Burial Board also recommended a number of alterations in the rules and regulations by which the Cemetery was governed, and a revised scale of fees as follows:- The charge for interment in a common grave to be 10/6 instead of 7/6; a steined grave to be reduced from 17/- to 15/-; a vault to remain at 21/-; for the purchase of a common grave 6 feet deep, exclusive of the above fees, two guineas instead of four guineas; ditto 9 feet deep for two interments, £3 3s.; ditto 12 feet deep for three interments Pg. 64 £4 5s. Steined graves, with the privilege of erecting monuments, £6 6s. instead of £7 7s.; and an increase of 3s. for each foot depth beyond 8 feet. In openings and removals a reduction to be made in common graves from a guinea to half a guinea. For permission to place iron railings round a common grave 10/6; and for turfing graves on purchased ground 2/6. A number of minor alterations were also proposed in the regulations. It was recommended that application be made to the Secretary of State to sanction the revised scale. Coun. Picknell believed the alterations would work beneficially to all parties. Coun. Bromley hoped that the change would bring a larger income by the adoption of the intermediate description of graves, it having been a great jump from 17s. to £4 4s. Coun. Winter referred to the expense which had attended funerals at the Cemetery, such expense being from five to six guineas, which induced visitors to avail themselves of the common graves, on each of which there had been a loss to the Board of about 12/- The report was adopted.
Death of a Councillor.
At the meeting on May 4th, Ald. Ross said that since the Council had last met one of their number had passed to his final rest. He felt sure that everyone present would bear witness to the sincere and honest manner in which Mr. John Austin had carried out the duties connected with the office of a Town Councilman for so many years; and he would move that the Clerk be instructed to write a letter to the executors of the deceased member, stating that it was the desire of the Council to pay a last mark of respect to his memory by following his remains to the Cemetery. Proposition carried. The expense of this funeral amenity was afterwards represented as being illegal by the Borough Auditors in their report on
The Borough Accounts.
“We the undersigned Auditors of the Borough of Hastings beg to report that we have examined the Treasurer’s accounts, and find them correct. Great credit is due to him for the labour and diligence bestowed in their classification. From the magnitude of the accounts and the great responsibility devolving upon him, we are of opinion that he is insufficiently remunerated in comparison with other officers who are very liberally paid for their services. It being our province merely to audit the Treasurer’s accounts, yet, before we close our report we feel it our duty to make a few observations respecting three items of expenditure embraced in them, viz, an amount of £12 12s. fly hire for the accommodation of the Council in joining the procession at funerals (which should be paid for by those Pg. 65 who used them) an annual subscription of £5 to the Mendicity Society (which we admit to be a useful society, but charity should not be bestowed from the public rates), and an annual subscription of £20 to the lifeboat committee; all of which payments we submit are illegal, and may ultimately lead to a refusal to pay them if such appropriation of funds raised by taxation be continued.” “James Breeds
Anthony Harvey Auditors”
The reading of this report was followed by ironical laughter and cries of “Oh oh!” Ald. Ross denied the spending of money on processions, although the Council had publicly attended the funerals of the late Earl Waldegrave and of their fellow Councillor Mr. Austin. Mr. Ross justified these attendances on public grounds, and spoke highly of the merits of his late lordship in connection with religious and philanthropic objects. He also vindicated the donation to the Mendicity Society and expressed his belief, as Chairman of the Board of Guardians, that the ratepayers saved £40 or £50 a year by the operations of the society. – Coun. Bromley agreed with part of the report which referred to the stipend of the Treasurer, which was not at all commensurate with the extreme care and accuracy with which the accounts were kept; but to show his contempt for the rest of the report, he would move that it be placed under the table. – Ald. Rock thought the report showed their officers did their duty in examining and scrutinizing the accounts placed before them. He had strong doubts of the “illegality” of the payments, as the whole of the Council income was not raised by taxation. To show that the Council approved of the vigilance and attention of the auditors, he would move that they be thanked for the consideration they displayed in carrying out their duties. This motion was not seconded. – Coun. Poole said the auditors were paid for their services [which were to see that the accounts were correct]. Mr. Ginner remarked that the auditors had taken their conclusions, but the Council was not obliged to agree with those conclusions. He moved that the report be entered on the minutes in the usual way, his motion obtaining only three votes. – Coun. Howell characterized the auditors remarks as “cool impudence”. Coun. Winter moved an amendment that they pass to the next question, which was carried. [Of the moral bearings of the disputed payments there should be but little doubt; but if the subscription to the Mendicity Society was legal, then the decisions of the Council and the Board of Guardians in 1857 were wrong; for, then, both bodies declared by resolution that although the Society had been the means of diminishing vagrancy and rendered assistance to the police, yet to aid the Society from the funds would not be legal, See Vol 6, page 161. Then as to Ald. Ginner’s assumed justification of the £20 given to the Lifeboat fund on the ground of the purpose of that institution being to save life, the same argument Pg. 66 might be used in contributing to the support of the Hospital from the borough funds, the object of that institution being also to save life; yet, who would doubt the illegality of such proceeding? The more courteous and probably the more correct view was the one taken by Ald. Rook, who could not get a seconder to his motion that the auditors be thanked for their attention.]
The Election of Mayor.
At the quarterly meeting on the 9th of November, all the members of the Council were present – namely, the Mayor (E. Hayles, Esq.) Aldermen Clement, Ginner, Ross, Rock and Ticehurst; Councillors Emary, Gutsell, Howell, Winkfield Winter, Poole, Vider(sic) Picknell, Gausden, Neve, Duke, Putland, How, Tree and John and James Reeves. – Ald. Ginner, in a brief speech, proposed as Mayor, F. Ticehurst, Esq., who, he said, had already the tacit acceptance of the Council, and who in being chosen would not leave the Bench at the expiration of his term of office, he having been a magistrate for several years. Coun. Howell had great pleasure in seconding the nomination of Mr. Ticehurst, whose satisfactory performance of the duties of that office on previous occasions was of itself a sufficient recommendation. The Mayor elect remarked that they were all aware that his pursuits and engagements were such as to preclude his doing so much as the late Mayor had done, but he would perform the duties to the best of his ability. [Loud applause]. Ald. Rook proposed, and Coun. Winter seconded – both in eulogistic terms – a vote of thanks was passed to the ex-Mayor (E. Hayles Esq.), and the new Mayor appointed the same gentleman as his Deputy.
The Postal Question again revived.
That most heated of all contentions was once more revived at the meeting on the 7th of September, when Ald. Ross said he had placed a notice on the agenda [to consider the propriety of conferring with the Postmaster-General on the present postal arrangements], finding there had been a change in the Postmaster-General [of his own political views he might have said] whom, he thought, might now be pleased to look at Hastings in a more favourable view than those who had preceded him. The matter had on previous occasions been so much discussed, both in that hall and elsewhere that he thought it was well ventilated. He would only move that a committee be appointed to wait on the Postmaster-General to confer with him on the present postal arrangements of the borough.
Councillor Gausden thought the way in which the matter was brought forward was a very unbusiness-like one. It appeared to him Pg. 67 to be a matter of great importance, and had more to do with the public than with anyone else. There had been no complaint from the town, and Mr. Ross had moved in the entire absence of public complaint. They all knew what great unpleasantness had been caused by previous movements, and the Council ought to consider the public before their own individual views. As members of that Board they were simply holding power as the servants of the public, and he thought they ought not to take any step on the question against the recent expression of opinion on the subject. The public had most to do in the matter, and if any complaint had to be made the public would do it to the Postmaster-General. His own business connection was a pretty large one, but he had heard no complaint; in fact, parties at the west end had expressed themselves highly pleased with the present arrangements, there being three deliveries every day [Sundays, of course, excepted, when there was only one delivery]. As Mr. Ross had spoken so strongly at the last meeting about the recurrence of “East and West,” and had condemned the use of the terms, he (the speaker) had hoped to hear no more about the present disputed question. The Council could certainly do no good, nor would they gain an inch of ground on the subject, while the members themselves would be divided. Under such circumstances they could not expect to get the sympathy and respect shewn them by the Post-Office authorities which was otherwise due to a public body, engaged as they would be in urging forward resolutions in opposition to the public. He should oppose the movement both in the Council and out of it, and would now move that the Council pass to the next business.
Coun. Putland was sorry the matter had been brought up again. He would tell them that he did not care whether they said he lived in Hastings or St. Leonards, but he did care about the attempt now being made merely because there was a new Postmaster-General, without any consultation with the public. The Council ought not to be drawn into collision with the inhabitants, nor ought public feeling to be aroused and embittered in consequence of there being a new Postmaster. He (Mr. P.) had heard no complaints for months, and was not aware that any mistakes had been made with his own letters. At the last Board meeting, if his memory served him rightly, Mr. Ross said it was scandalous to be continually alluding to East Ward and West Ward; but his present resolution was to throw East and West into direct opposition. It aimed at doing away with the western Pg. 68 Post Office [Oh, no! from Mr. Ross]. Then what about making it a branch office? That, he believed, was intended, which would be both an injury and an insult to the west. He would remind the Council that the rating of the parish in which he lived was equal to the whole of the parishes of Hastings proper, except eight or nine thousand pounds. He said again that it was not only an infringement upon their duties in taking such a subject in hand in opposition to the public, but it was also an insult to those who were perfectly satisfied with the present arrangements. The adoption of the proposal would throw them into such confusion as to make it not only an improper interference with liberty, but also to do a great moral wrong. It would place them in a position where they would be surrounded by complications. Many of the public institutions and buildings were not within the limits of the St. Leonards Act at all. Two of the churches, the two National schools, the Wesleyan Chapel the Railway Station, and the Mechanics’ Institution were not; yet they were in the district known as St. Leonards from the first. No benefit could be gained by the change. It was simply Hastings, the strong in the Council, against St. Leonards, the weak in the Council. It was not likely that the West Ward representatives would be content to sit in that hall as only six against 24. There never had been more than one alderman made from the West Ward. Even in the town of St. Leonards westwards of the Archway there was three quarters of a mile frontage of some of the largest and best houses in the borough which ought not to be placed under merely a branch post office. They would have to go over the same ground in this contention as they had done before, and with the result that the Board would again place itself in the wrong. He would himself do everything in his power, working with the inhabitants of the West Ward, to oppose the proposal. He did not believe there was a Post-Office anywhere better conducted than the one at St. Leonards, and there was high official authority in support of this assertion.
Ald. Ginner said it was quite true so far as he was concerned, that in the past agitation as it was now, his object was to do away with the two Post-offices and to have one united post office for the borough. He had no personal feeling against the West, but he believed the keeping of two separate establishments was one great cause of the ill feeling and the mistakes that were made. They could not find such another case where there were two general post-offices in one borough [and for the reason, probably, that they could not find another case where there were two towns in one borough Pg. 69 and the two offices a mile and a half apart]. It was only the back-stairs influence which had continued things as they were. They might be able to continue it, but it could not be much longer, for the number of letters which were mis-directed and were detained for hours and hours had gone on increasing to a fearful extent. There must soon be an alteration. He might say there had been a gentleman in the town officially connected with the Post Office within the past few days. [Mr. Putland – “We already know it”] who knew it was a disgrace to the place and was altogether derogatory to the public good. Even under a change the west would be supplied with their letters just as early as at present, and as the town got better arranged there would be an end to the present confusion and mis-direction of letters. He believed they were now about to throw off the incubus which prevented their doing right. In this borough people were expecting letters in the afternoon and did not get them till the morning, or else those which should have come in the morning were delayed till the afternoon. Visitors did not know the reason why and St. Leonards people did not tell them why [Yes, they did! They were told at the St. Leonards Post-office, by printed notices, by the St. Leonards Gazette, and by those who were asked, that the St. Leonards delivery extended eastward to Verulam place, and that if letters were simply addressed St. Leonards or St. Leonards-on-sea, without the addition of “Hastings” or “near Hastings”, there would be no delay. But independently of this, the St. Leonards visitors did not complain, and did not desire any change.] Mr. Robertson had, he believed, built the end house in Robertson street for a Post-office, and he (Mr. Ginner) was sorry that it had not been taken there.
Ald Rock repudiated the doctrine laid down by Mr. Gausden that the Council had no right to initiate anything not called for by the public. Mr. Gausden interposed by adding the words “as against the public” By their last expression of opinion, the public were decidedly opposed to the proposed alteration, and without a further expression of feeling to the contrary, he thought the Council should not act against the previous expressed wish. Ald Rock, in resuming said Mr. Gausden had assumed too much when he said the public, as it was not the whole of the public who were against the change. For himself he could say that his letters reached him at Fairlight early in the morning, and that they were sometimes directed St. Leonards, sometimes Hastings, and sometimes Fairlight, of course he felt none of the present evil, because he was well known [and perhaps he still had a private bag or a private messenger as his father before him had, to the latter of whom the present writer when Pg. 70 in the Hastings Post-office many time delivered Mr. Rock’s letters, which as Mr. Rock’s factory and dwelling at White Rock were then out of Hastings, had to be sent for, - a distance of three quarters of a mile] But he (Ald. Rock) would ask how would it be with visitors receiving letters variously directed, and whom the Postmaster had no means of tracing? A remedy, he thought would be found in having only one Post-Office. [In such cases whether one post-office or more than one would make no difference; for if letters were so indefinitely addressed that the Postmaster had no means of tracing the persons to whom they were addressed, they would be sent to the “Dead Letter” department, where even in 1899, it is officially stated that the number received every year amounts to millions].
Coun. Winter had arrived at the conclusion of Mr. Ross’s remarks to vote against the resolution. On the previous discussion of the question he had taken a very active part, and from the feelings of Mr. Tilley, the Postmaster-General’s secretary, he thought there was no chance of getting any change. But Mr. Ginner had thrown out hints respecting something about which he was completely in the dark. He thought it would have been well if some further information had been afforded the Council. If he were to understand that Government wished that some step should be taken on the part of Hastings to afford a remedy for the existing evil, he would be the first to support it [Mr. Ginner – “It is”]
Coun. Bromley had hoped to have heard stated the number of misdirected letters which came into the borough every year, and was told by Mr. Ginner that it was between ten and twelve thousand, three years ago, and had gone on increasing ever since. Then, continued Mr. Bromley, it showed the existence of an evil which required a remedy.
Ald. Ross , in reply, thought they were all well acquainted with the subject, and he had little faith that opinions would be much altered if the Council talked about it all night. He took it up as a borough question and his opinion was that by taking away a portion of the town, they were taking away also a part of her good name by calling that part St. Leonards. St. Leonards had her Act and her boundary, but beyond that boundary it had been Hastings for a thousand years. [Here, again, as in all his previous contentions, Mr. Ross claims a certain district in the borough of Hastings as the town of Hastings, which latter is described or denoted in old Guide books and itineraries as consisting of two parallel streets running nearly north and south opening to the sea, and a suburb extending along the beach, at one time to the west end of George street, and at a later period to the Priory Water. Pg. 71 In all ancient documents, including parish registers that the writer has seen, the parishes of Holy Trinity, St. Mary Magdalen and St. Leonards, also “The Pryorie” are described as “near Hastyng”, “next Hasting”, “juxta Hastings” “Extra parochial”, &c.; or as being in the liberty of Hastings; but not as the town of Hastings]. The amendment only had the support of 5 W.W. members.
Ald. Ross then moved that the committee which formerly conducted this business be re-appointed, but Mr. Winter thought it would not be proper for him to serve as he was then connected with the Post-office, and Mr. Rock wished Mr. Bromley to serve in his stead. Mr. Putland desired to know if it was intended to place any West Ward member on the Committee? Mr. How was then named, but he also declined. Mr. Putland continued to oppose the appointment of the committee as one of great unfairness without the addition of a West Ward member, and at length Mr. Howell proposed Mr. Gausden, and this was carried by 12 votes to 8. The committee was thus formed of the Mayor, Ald. Ross, Ald. Ginner, Coun. Bromley and Couns. Gausden.
A dishonourable artifice and signal defeat. – At the Council meeting on the 6th of December, Ald. Ginner said, at the September meeting the resolution come to after considerable debate, was that a committee should be appointed to wait on the Postmaster-General to get a better arrangement if possible in the postal service. That resolution was carried by 13 to 5. But, strange to say, immediately after the passing of that resolution in naming the committee, a resolution was caried(sic) by 10 to 8 [12 to 8] for the insertion of the name of a gentleman who was directly opposed to the object we had in view. I should at the time have declined to have my name on the committee, only I supposed it would be arranged that three only of the five gentlemen named should go to London. I am quite sure that Mr. Gausden will bear me out in saying that there was nothing personal occurred at the meeting of the committee afterwards held to carry out its resolution. Mr. Gausden behaved in the most handsome and proper manner. He admitted to us that his election was for the purpose of tripping up our heels. Therefore, when I found in committee by the resolution in the minute book that the whole five had a right to go and meet the Postmaster-General after a resolution had been passed by three to one that only three of us should go, we refused to go with the whole five, because I have never heard of a deputation going to seek an object and carrying with them, willingly, the means of defeating that object. Pg. 72 We agreed to ask the Postmaster-General for an interview at a future day, which he has granted us. We therefore resolved to make another appeal to this Council to get the old committee discharged and another appointed. I shall end with a motion to that effect, but before I do so I wish to make a correction in one of my remarks. When I spoke about the delay of letters I had no notion – so quiet have the postal arrangements been kept – that a special messenger was set apart for sending the misdirected letters arriving by the morning mail to St. Leonards for the early delivery. I had no idea of this arrangement, and therefore in so far as those letters were concerned I was in error. But that fact of itself was the most condemnatory. Why should there be a postal messenger to convey the misdirected letters between the two towns? [And why, Mr. Ginner, did your usual intelligence so forsake you as to make so illogical a question possible? You and others acting with you, made the number of misdirected letters the burden of your complaint; and so, because an additional letter-carrier was put on to remedy the allegd(sic) evil, you declared that “it condemned the Post Office more than anything else.” Mr. Gausden will show you, further on, that of your 17,000 misdirected letters (erroneously estimated), 9,000 at least suffered no delay in the delivery from this arrangement alone. A careful reasoner would conclude that your admitted ignorance of this remedial arrangement was more condemnatory of your own want of care in ascertaining facts than it was of the Post-Office authorities]. Ald. Ginner having expressed his belief that the number of mis-directed letters was even greater than he had stated, and being asked by Mr. Gausden if he could give the figures, replied that he could not, and had a special reason for not doing so. He concluded by moving that the former resolution of the Council be rescinded. Ald Ross seconded, without comment. Coun. Gausden denied that he had made use of the expression attributed to him by Mr. Ginner, but Coun. Bromley, although he did not on this occasion shout “tell him it's a lie, sir,” strongly asseverated that he did. What he did say (continued Mr. G.) was, that unquestionably his appointment was that he should go to the Postmaster-General, and in opposition to them. The motion before them involved a very serious question – the independent action and voice of the Council [Hear, hear! from Mr. Howell]. There was no question about it. Mr. Ginner had brought forward the motion without any fresh argument to which was used when he (Mr. Gausden) was appointed on the Committee; and when it was stated to the Council what had taken place since the last discussion, he thought they would say with him that if Mr. Ginner did not choose to go, he ought at Pg. 73 once to have declined serving, or to have brought the subject forward at the last meeting. There was no question but what the other gentlemen on the Committee thought that they could put him on the shelf when they liked, and take him down again at their convenience. He next recapitulated what had occurred in committee; that the Postmaster-General had appointed to meet the deputation on the 20th of November, and that at the meeting of the committee when this letter was read, Mr. Bromley moved a resolution that the Mayor and Aldermen Ginner and Ross should be the deputation. To that resolution he demurred, and told the other members of the committee that he was put upon it for the express purpose of representing the West Ward before the Postmaster-General. After the resolution had been carried, he asked for a copy of the resolution passed by the Council, and on maintaining his right to go with them Ald. Ginner appealed to the Town Clerk as to the legal bearing of the resolution of the Council. The reply was that the resolution just passed was illegal, and that Mr. Gausden had a right to accompany the deputation. Messrs. Ginner and Ross then said they would not go, and Mr. Ginner afterwards moved a resolution that the Postmaster-General should be informed it was not convenient for the deputation to wait upon him then. He also said he should bring it before the Council. Now, he (Mr. Gausden) appealed to the Council to say if that was the treatment that a member of one of its committees ought to receive? He maintained that if he were appointed on a committee by the Council that it was unfair for any other member of the commitee(sic) to endeavour to get him passed over. If there were facts and circumstances to be stated, he maintained that he had a right to speak upon them; and he felt surprised that two gentlemen such as Mr. Ginner and Mr. Ross – both gentlemen who had held the highest office in the borough – should treat another member of the Council in the way they had acted towards himself. He said the character of straightforward Englishmen would not bear that sort of conduct. He then replied to Mr. Ginner’s assertion that the fortnight’s return of mis-directed letters was taken during one of the smallest fortnight’s in the year, by giving the following figures obtained from official sources as the average weekly number of letters received at the St. Leonards post-office. In 1859 the average weekly number was 8067; in April, 8273; in July, 6388; and in October 9,264. So that in October there was an increase of 1197 letters in one week over that of January. Then in 1860, the weekly average Pg. 74 for January was 9629; for April 9129; for July 7509; and for October, 10,606, which gave an increase of 3097 in a week in October over the number received in July. [Instead, then, of the return made in October being for mis-directed letters during the smallest fortnights’ total of all letters, it was during the largest average of the year]. Mr. Gausden continuing, said a great deal had been made about the number of mis-directed letters and the delay in the delivery of them. In the case of 9386 arriving by the early morning mail there was no delay whatever, whilst the inconvenience of the mis-directed letters by the Dover and Day mail was only to the extent of three hours; and no post was sent out during that time. By the second day-mail there were 48 letters during the fortnight, which were delayed till the next morning’s delivery; but that was the only delay, and its average would only be about three letters per day throughout the year to all the inhabitants. On the former discussion it was said that St. Leonards would suffer very little inconvenience by the change, as the inhabitants would be able to post their letters nearly as late as they do now. He said, No! They would be debarred the use of the morning mail. Letters were delivered at about half-past eight, and the box was closed at half past nine. He had ascertained that at Brighton the boxes closed one hour before that at the general office. Under such circumstances as these how could the St. Leonards people make use of the first mail without sending all the way to Hastings. There was another point; the boxs(sic) at Brighton at night closed three hours before the mail left; and therefore they could not expect their letters to be sent away unless they posted them by seven or eight o’clock. St. Leonards, they all knew was a growing place, and he thought they ought to strive together to increase and not diminish the postal facilities of the place. At the St. Leonards Post-Office in 1841, the weekly average delivery of letters was 1542, but now there was an increase of about 8,500 [estimated average was 9236]. The population of the St. Leonards postal district was about 10,000, and these received an average of fifty letters each per year. That was a remarkable fact. An average of fifty letters for each individual of the population was a higher proportion than in Dublin, Edinburgh, or Liverpool. He would ask if St. Leonards was not to have some consideration from the gentlemen who represented the interest of the old town? St. Leonards asked them to give them a fair opportunity to go before the Postmaster-General to explain their position. He felt that the alteration if ever carried out, would bring inconvenience ten or twenty fold to the slight one now felt by the district generally. The income of the St. Leonards Pg. 75 Post-office was £2,000 a year, while its expenses were only £280, thus giving the authorities a large revenue. In laying these matters before the Council he asked whether he ought to be treated with contempt. The question now was whether he should go to the Postmaster-General or not? The Council had frequently said they had the interest of the West Ward at heart. He thought then, they would give some proof of their sincerity by uniting for the common prosperity of the two towns. He left these remarks with the Council, and he believed the members would treat the question as men of business, as men of uprightness, and as men of independence. [Great applause].
Interruptions and Personalities. During the remainder of the discussion (says the Hastings News) the remarks of the speaker were of a greatly animated character, but less to the point, more personal, with frequent interruptions and expressions of feelings among the members generally.
Coun. Winter believed that a great evil existed in the postal arrangements and had endeavoured to work out a course that would tend to get the anomally(sic) altered, but he could not throw himself into the course adopted by Messrs. Ginner and Ross. If they had a case to go before the Postmaster-General, let them go and put it before him fairly. Mr. Gausden was an honourable man, whom, he thought, would do nothing that would not be creditable to himself and the borough. He believed that the evil was so great that it would work its own way, irrespective of what the deputation might say or do. That, however, did not alter his view upon the present motion, and he should certainly vote against it, because he thought the committee ought to have gone to the Postmaster-General when an opportunity was given them. If they had done so, perhaps the question would now have been settled, instead of which he believed it was irretrievably lost. After condemning the revival of East and West, Mr. Winter expressed his belief that the present agitation had been promoted by the Post Office authorities themselves, who found the evil grow from bad to worse, and were making cat’s paw of the Council, so that when the change was made they might say the Council had petitioned for it. [Rather should Mr. Winter have said that the East Ward Councillors had been for years, endeavouring to make a “cat’s paw” of the Postal authorities by demanding, as well as imploring, by means of petitions and deputations a change in the postal arrangements, whilst the real object was to get the name Pg. 76 of a certain district changed from St. Leonards to Hastings, which no legal powers had been given them to effect themselves.] Coun. Howell, in some lengthy remarks, attributed to Ald. Ginner the invention of some of the statements he had made, and said it was his desire the question should be fairly represented and discursed before the Postmaster-General, leaving that official to be the judge between the two sides. It was with this view he had proposed Mr. Gausden’s name on the committee, and now, when through the pettishness of one or two gentlemen that member was to be put on one side, and those gentlemen came before the Council to ask it to undo what it had previously done, on personal considerations, he thought he would be justified in saying they were attempting to rule by a cabal. [Ald. Ross, interrupting, “I think you are gone a long way out of order.] He contended that the committee had no right to come and ask the Council to rescind the former resolution on such grounds as had been put before them. Surely the three gentlemen could not have been afraid of the abilities of Mr. Gausden, seeing that they were three to one, and well able to state their own case. He did not care so long as both sides were fairly put before the Postmaster-General; for then there need be no fear of intrigue of “backstair” influence. There had been an intrigue to get the post-office shifted from George street. Many of the Council resisted that, but one fine morning they found the head office shifted by some back door influence to the Priory. Many had complained bitterly of the disadvantage this had been to them, and he wanted them to remember [that if the proposed change were effected] the visitors and others would have to put up with similar inconveniences. He asked them whether they would not be ruining instead of improving the place? He contended they had no business to attempt to destroy St. Leonards as a post town. Mr. Ginner had stated that there was no other place where there were two Post Offices in one borough; but he would ask him if he knew the Post Offices of Birmingham and Dudley and Walsall; yes, and Rochester and Chatham, and many other places, all of which were similar? Mr. Howell next referred to the question of “Hastings v St. Leonards” for the St. Mary Magdalen portion of the borough, remarking that that, after all, was the whole matter to be tried on, and that if the question were to be put to the vote, the entire district would be against the Council. He concluded by calling on the members to assert their independence, and not rescind the resolution; also adding that if rescinded Pg. 77 he would be one of the first to urge the inhabitants of St. Leonards to appoint a counter-deputation to wait on the Postmaster-General at the earliest moment.
Coun. Putland also addressed the meeting at considerable length. He said that from 100 to 150 circulars had been sent through the Post-office from London or some other distant place directed in the most ridiculous manner, such as George street and Caroline place, “St. Leonards” This was done, he believed, to make the number of missent letters larger than it would have been. His information came from a source on which he could depend for its accuracy, and for the purpose of getting a higher average of wrongly directed letters. Then, even supposing that there was such an inconvenience as alleged in the western district, why was it that there was no complaint from the people in that district. Was there a single individual that complained? He did not know of one. He hoped that by the vote to be given the independence of the Council would be asserted.
Ald. Ginner briefly replied, reminding Mr. Putland, that he (Mr. G.) had admitted himself in error with respect to the misdirected letters sent by the night mail, as he was not aware of a special messenger being employed to exchange them, and in which it appeared there was no delay, but although the St. Leonards gentlemen thought there was no delay in the remainder, he knew that some people would call it a delay when letters which might have been delivered at two or three o’clk(sic) were not delivered till six or seven. He concluded by saying that he had taken all the remarks in good humour, and would bow to the decision of the Council, although he should still maintain his own opinion that the deputation should not go with a gentleman who was opposed to the object. The resolution, on being put to the vote was supported by five members only, all the remainder apparently voting against any change in the constitution of the committee. The result was loudly applauded, in which not only the West-Ward members joined, but also some of the East-Ward. It must have been gratifying to the former to have had the support of Messrs. Winter and Howell, who, although Liberals in politics, as were all the prime movers in this renewed agitation, allowed their sense of justice to become paramount, the effect of which was to defeat a machination, which even if it had been successful, could have brought no honour to a Corporative institution, whilst it would assuredly led to the developement(sic) to a counter and more determined effort, already conditionally Pg. 78 arranged for by the inhabitants of an entire district which would have been seriously inconvenienced by the change. Mr. Gausden’s statistics so demolished Mr. Ginner’s statements, that the latter’s reply was necessarily tame, whilst they served to convince most of the East-Ward representatives and all of the West, that Messrs. Ross, Ginner and Bromley had given utterance to conditions based on error, and had placed themselves still further in the wrong when they plotted to have only one side of the case laid before the Postmaster-General, by shutting the door against the one appointed co-committeeman whose more correct knowledge of the whole affair, they feared would prove fatal to their own design. Some of the unfair methods by which it was sought to influence the postal authorities were exposed by Messrs. Gausden and Putland, but even those gentlemen knew less the extent to which was carried the surreptitious means of increasing the number of misdirected letters than did the proprietor of the St. Leonards Gazette, whose peculiar associations gave him facilities for obtaining information not generally accessible. The credentials for these advantages – if such a term be allowable – were as follows:- He had once been, for three years a post-clerk in the Hastings office, and had afterwards continued friendly with the Hastings Postmaster; he had also many a chat with Henry Tompsett the many years’ Hastings postman (the two having been servants together in the same office), who, when a messenger between the two towns, had brought for the Gazette on more than one occasion a purposely misdirected communication. The proprietor of the Gazette was also on friendly terms with Mr. Southall, the St. Leonards Postmaster, whose senior letter-carrier (Mr. Shaw) lived next door to the said proprietor, whilst the latter’s own brother was another of the St. Leonards postmen. Then, as the owner of a newspaper to which was attached a visitors’ list, and for which to secure as great an accuracy as possible, he personally collected the arrivals and departures from house to house, he was frequently shewn mis-directed circulars, and sometimes letters, as a proof of the adopted means to swell the number of such missives passing through the post-office. But for the pledge not to betray confidence, to the injury it might have been to the informants, some of the authors of these unworthy tricks might have been disclosed. Had, however, the result of Mr. Ginner’s motion at the December Council meeting been other than what it was, the intimation given in two editorials of the Gazette (see pages 20 & 22) would have been acted upon. Mr. Ginner, with great assurance, stated that in the event of the St. Leonards Pg. 79 post-office being abolished, the St. Leonards people would receive their letters as early and be otherwise served as well as before. He also stated that visitors did not know why they did not get letters at the proper time, and the St. Leonards people did not tell them why. It had also been put forth as an argument that the postal district was ill-defined. Now, as all the mails, except one, came by railway trains which deposited the St. Leonards bags at the St. Leonards station before the Hastings bags arrived at their destination, the work of “sorting” could be commenced immediately; whereas, if there were no general office at St. Leonards, the bags would be carried through to Hastings, and the letters taken back to St. Leonards by some more cumbrous or less rapid means. This would certainly be a retrograde step, and almost as surely a great inconvenience to the would-be callers at a general office (and they were many) to give instructions, to make enquiries, or for other purposes. Then, as to the posting of letters, Mr. Gausden showed that at Brighton, where there was only one general office, letters had to be posted at the receiving houses at from one hour to three hours before the closing of the box at the head office. But he need not have gone so far as Brighton to disprove the assertion that after the change the St. Leonards people would be able to post their letters nearly as late as before. Mr. Gausden might have found the necessary support of his contra-argument at home, where the letter-boxes closed at all the receiving houses one hour and 45 minutes before the one at the general office. The following information, tabulated from the official notices, and clipped from the St. Leonards Gazette, will show the fallacy of Mr. Ginner’s statements.
Mr. Howell, while supporting Mr. Gausden’s views, referred to the inconvenience experienced by the inhabitants of the eastern part of Hastings after the removal of the Hastings chief office from George street to Wellington place. The annexed table shows that instead of posting for the night mail at 9.45 as was possible before the removal, the change necessitated the putting letters into the box at the substituted receiving house at not later than 8pm. This again shows the absurdity of Mr. Ginner’s assertion that the abolition of the St. Leonards office would make little or no difference in the time of posting letters. Even under existing conditions, it will be seen that for all mails except the second morning out-mail Pg. 80 there was a difference in the time of closing the boxes at St. Leonards and Hastings, which gave the latter the advantage of a few minutes; but there was a convenience in having two chief offices – one in each town – which the one-office advocates entirely ignored, and their opponents appeared to have overlooked. If letters had to be posted by persons residing between the two offices, or money-orders or stamps had to be purchased, or other postal business had to be transacted, it could be done at the Hastings office if nearest or if the party was going eastward either on business or pleasure; or at St. Leonards if that office was nearest, or the same party wanted to go westward for any other purpose.
But the Postal question – the most heated and the most unfortunate contention between the two town(sic) for several years – was a mere subterfuge; a subtle design to get, if possible, the Postmaster to do, indirectly what could not be effected by any other means, morally or legally. There was a St. Leonards township and there was a St. Leonards outside community – a Burton founded town and a people’s erected town – a town by Act of Parliament and a town by prescription; but all under the appellation of St. Leonards or St. Leonards-on-sea. Both of these were in the Borough of Hastings but not in the town of Hastings. One section or district was in the jurisdiction of a Board of Commissioners and the other was under the management of officials appointed by the vestries. Both of them grew up together and were so knitted by ‘commercial, parochial, geographical, social and family ties that nothing but a despotic act of the legislature could have separated them, and which were it even possible to obtain, would have thrown those inhabitants and their belongings into chaotic confusion. When the Town Council moved for the introduction of the Health of Towns’ Act – an act that was in every way permissive – every possible attempt was made to force the district within the jurisdiction of the St. Leonards Commissioners into union with Hastings for that purpose. This was successfully resisted by the Commissioners and the inhabitants over whom they had rule; but the other section of the St. Leonards inhabitants who had an undisturbed and undisturbable possessoy(sic) title of between twenty and thirty years to the name of St. Leonards, had no local Act by which they could borrow money for sanitary purposes and other necessary improvements, and they therefore readily threw in their lot with Hastings for the application of the Health of Towns’ Act. This they could do by mutual consent; and so could Ore, Fairlight, Bexhill, Battle, or any other place, situated either within or without the borough of Hastings, if all parties were so agreed; but there was no clause in that Act which gave power to change the name of such towns or districts. Mr. Ross, however, appeared to believe that Pg. 81 such was contained in the clause which empowered the Local Board to write up the names of streets, roads and other thoroughfares; hence, by order of himself and his party the writing of the word Hastings in that part of St. Leonards which had placed itself under the Local Board for sanitation, lighting, drainage and other improvements. This sudden and arbitrary action was naturally and properly met by the daubing or blurring out of the name thus rendered obnoxious to the inhabitants. Thus failing, and with a single eye to claiming for Hastings much that had never belonged to the town itself, and which if it could have been embraced as such by the indefinable boundaries of the Elizabethan charter had long ago disappeared with the centuries of change, the next thing to be done by those who sought to have all the district under the rule of the Local Board called Hastings, was to repeatedly worry the Postmaster-General to do away with the St. Leonards post-office, so that Grand parade, Eversfield place, Warrior square, London road, Norman road, Stanhope place, North street, Shepherd street and other parts within the St. Leonards postal district by being placed in the Hastings postal district might be more generally recognized as the Town of Hastings. But even this disingenuous move failed – as it was bound to do in one way or another – and Mr. Ross had the mortification of being obliged to add this to the other failures into which he had been led by misconstruction of antiquarian research. As has been before said, Mr. Ross was a diligent archaeologist, an excellent Mayor, and in many ways a valuable member of the Corporation, but in this initiation of the boundary and postal contention, he and those who acted with him unfortunately and disastrously blundered.
The second lecture session of this association was opened by Dr. Garrett, who discoursed on “Respiration of Man and animals”. The portion of his lecture which had the greatest local interest was as follows:- Speaking of Hastings and St. Leonards combined as a place of residence, this doctor remarked – The motions of the atmosphere are not without their valuable effects on respiration, as we observe in the sheltered southern coast of England; for whilst the chilly northern blast on the opposite side of this island produces laborious respiration, the refreshing southerly breeze, acting on the excitor nerves of the face and chest, promotes a full and deep respiration, which by expanding the air cells of the lungs, is highly antagonistic to the deposit and growth of Pg. 82 tubercles, the seeds of consumption. Nor, indeed is this all the advantage we gain by residence in this locality. You are possibly aware that moisture is necessary to decay, and that no animal or vegetable matter can decompose without it. On the burnt-up deserts of Arabia and arid plains of Egypt the corpes(sic) of men and animals are found dried up and withered – not decomposed. Now, recollect that the south and south-winds usually are those which bring us rain. The south wind coming over the hot sands of Arabia, imbibes water plentifully in passing over the Mediterranean sea and British Channel, the moisture being condensed on reaching this country. The south-west wind, coming from the torrid zone, deposits its rain on our northern islands. These winds, therefore, carry the chief part of their moisture over and beyond our land margin, and the sea breezes which follow these rain clouds, blowing the moisture which they may have deposited with us far inland, leave us comparatively freer than any other place from land-damp. Dr. Carpenter says “the decay of the tissues of the body which takes place with increased rapidity as disease increases and we approach death, is increased by moisture of the climate, but diminished by dryness.” These arguments only require to be known to secure to Hastings and St. Leonards that pre-eminence to which they are so justly entitled.
Poetry and Progress. For the same Institution, on the 23rd of Jan. Mr. J. Powell of Brighton delivered a lecture on “Poetry and Progress” in which he expressed his belief that a poet had considerable influence upon society, and that in the religious, political and social world, the poet had much to do in the formation of men’s opinion; also that in the carrying out of great events his influence was strongly felt. He held that the true mission of the poet was to stimulate and report progress. He strongly believed, too, that the national songs of a people were the true indicators of progress and generally of morality.
The Quarterly Meeting was held on the 1st of Feb. with Mr. J. C. Womersley in the chair. The reading of the report and the comments thereon showed that during the year there had been an increase of 84 members; that, the expenses of removal (about £60) had been paid; that the recent fête enabled them to place £25 in the Savings Bank; that half that amount had been drawn out to pay the loss on the conversazione; and that although there was a balance of over £12 in hand, it would be required for the payment of Bills.
‘Sir Walter Raleigh’. This was the subject of a lecture delivered in Pg. 83 connection with the Institution on the 6th of Feb. by Mr. Eastlake. The lecturer took his audience with him (mentally, of course) to the birth and parentage of this great man; his going with a company of volunteers to France, in aid of the Huguenots; his services in France and the Netherlands; his command of royal troops in Ireland; his favour and disfavour with the Queen; his knighthood and grant of 12,000 acres of forfeited estates; the part he played in scattering the forces of the Spanish Armada; his imprisonment in the Tower; his restoration to power; his rank of rear admiral in the taking of Cadiz; his trial for treason in connection with Lord Cobham; his being condemned, but reprieved and sent to Tower, where he remained 13 years; his conditional release and subsequent decapitation. A more lengthy resumé of the lecture, together with memoirs of Sir Frances Drake and other historical celebrities will be found in Brett’s “Hastings and the Armada”, intended to be reproduced from the St. Leonards Gazette.
“The Eye in its adaptation to Man and Animals” was the title of a lecture given to the members of the Institution by J. C. Savery, Esq. on the 13th of February, illustrated by digagrams(sic). In the course of his lecture Mr. Savery said that although our five senses had their special uses, one could not but perceive that that of sight was superior to them all. He then proceeded to describe the different parts of that organ and the particular uses of the eyelids, eye-lashes, the cornea, the sclerotic (white of the eye) the aqueous humour, the iris, &c. In treating of the eyes of the lower animals, the lecturer said he would begin with the Polygastria, in which they were mere spots, whilst in others only a red spot, and again in others a great number, as in the cockchafer and the fly as many as 7000. In the dragon-fly there were as many as 24,000. The water beetle had two sets of eyes, one to watch the larva on which it feeds, and the other to direct its flight in the air. Spiders eyes were so formed as to see all over the web at once. The eyes of crabs and lobsters were curiously formed, some of them containing as many as 500 facets, and as now, so in the days of old, for the same thing obtained in the eyes of the tribouti, an animal found at an immense depth in the earth. In molluscs the eyes were rudimentary, those of the scallop and cuttlefish being a fringe round the head. But it was in the vertebrate animals that the eyes were more fully developed, some of them having eyebrows and eyelids, and in fishes and birds some of them protected by bony plates. The fishes that swam in the open sea had large eyes, and those near the shore, small. In birds the eye had to be adapted to the different densities which they inhabited and the requisite rays of vision. The ostrich possesses eyelashes. Birds of prey and cats have the eye adapted to night vision. The timid animals had great range of vision, which enabled them to see behind Pg. 84 them. The lecturer concluded with remarking that any doubter would be convinced of a First-Cause or Supreme Being by only examining the eye; and it was, he said, that cavillers rarely attacked natural history.
A Lecture on Spain, in connection with the Institution was delivered to a crowded audience on the 22nd of Feb. by F. North Esq. M.P., he having visited that country with his talented daughter the afterwards great painter and traveler, who in her charming “Recollections of a Happy Life” says “We let the house at Hastings for that summer , and wandered off abroad, starting by way of Jersey for the Pyrenees and Spain, returning in an English ship from Cadiz to the Thames on the 3rd of Jan. 1860. It will thus be seen that the lecturer’s visit to Spain was quite of a recent date, and that his interesting description had an up-to-date freshness. He first adverted to the condition of Spain as a country that had been almost blotted out from the political map of Europe for some centuries, but had now made a fresh start and was progressing; it had consequently become of peculiar interest at that moment. His object was to give a few sketches of its character and its people derived from his own recent residence among them. Spain was a stony land, and over much of its surface it was barren, except where the water supply was utilized in irrigation. On the southern coast the most extraordinary fertility showed itself. In that part the vine, the olive, rice and the sugar-cane all flourished, as well as the graceful date-palm, the banana, and all the varieties of the orange tribe. The last-named thrived from Valentia to Gibralta(sic) as orchard trees and were very beautiful when wildly growing in the open fields, whilst its fruit – green and golden – hung at the same time with perfumed blossoms. The olive was a less picturesque object, rather that of a ragged-looking evergreen oak, and its grey foliage had almost a wintry appearance. He saw them harvesting its fruit on the 23rd of December last, the manipulation of which was coarse – almost disgusting. After the oil had been extracted by pressure, it was stored in enormous pear-shaped crockery-pots of some ten feet in height, half of which were buried in the ground to withstand the pressure of their contents. It was in such pots as these in which were hidden the forty thieves of the well-known story; and, positively, he had seen oil-jars in which could be hidden with ease half a dozen of the biggest thieves of the world. They were exactly in the shape of the old Roman amphora. The oil was mostly sent to market in bags of skin hung on the backs of donkeys. He entered Spain by way of Catalonia, at the south-east corner of the Peninsula, and he knew of nothing that more strongly marked the primitive character of its population than their method Pg. 85 of drinking from the goat-skin or pig-skin sacks in which liquids were carried, as well as from their tea-pot like vessels [a specimen of which was shown]. Not only would they pour the contents of one skin to another, but also down their own throats by untying the legs of the animal’s skin, and thus allow it to pour into their pharynx in a stream without their lips touching the orifice at all. In Catalonia the drinking vessels of the grog-shops were made so as to enable the drinker to pour a stream into his throat in a similar manner. The Pyrenees extended the whole length of the frontier, and his entrance was made at the extreme Mediterranean end of this chain. There were carriage roads from Bayonne on the north and Perpignan at the South, otherwise throughout the whole chain from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean no carriage-roads existed for wheeled vehicles, and the only possible communication between France and Spain was by mule tracks, and often only by men’s foot-tracks. Of these there were about fifty in the 800-mile chain of mountains, their main use being to give passage to the smugglers. In those districts smuggling was not a mere habit of the people, but a profession, and the contrabandista occupied a place in society of some estimation (the value of which in Hastings fifty years ago the lecturer’s audience could easily imagine). One could hardly wonder at it; for, the Spanish laws were of the most prohibitory character, whilst their officers were ill-paid and venal to the highest degree. His mode of entering Spain was by the diligencia or public carriage. Beside that no other mode of traveling existed but riding on horseback. The public carriages were maintained by Government and by great companies. A grandee of Spain would travel by no other conveyance. They were of various sizes, and he traveled in one of the largest. To realise it they must imagine a centre body about equal to a first class railway carriage; in front a coupé, which they called berlina, and behind, a large slice of a London omnibus that held – he would not say accommodated – six passengers. Over the coupé a sort of cabriolet body was devoted to the mayoral or conductor and three passengers; behind him was a strange erection like the tilt of a waggon, in which heavy luggage was generally packed, and this, on hilly roads, going at speed, communicated a somewhat alarming motion to the whole machine. In one instance he had seen a diligence carrying 29 persons, besides the postillion or monkey who rode the leader, and a strange anomalous kind of horse-keeper, who jumped up and down to encourage the intermediate cattle; flogging them and calling them by names of endearment, alternately. This individual had a particularly vicious mode of punishment for a refractory Pg. 86 horse or mule when it had been flogged to his heart’s content, he picked up a pocket-full of flintstones – doing everything on the run, and then ascending his seat, from that he would fling the stones with wonderful precision at the tenderest parts of the erring quadruped, while the vehicle continued at a pace that was frightful for the unaccustomed English to behold. The team of the largest diligences consisted of 12 horses and mules, harnessed indiscriminately, the “mayoral” having reins only to the two wheelers, the rest of the animals being simply connected with the leaders by loose traces. A lad or small man rode the foremost animal and thus kept the long galloping train in the proper direction. They would go on an average of about six miles an hour, always galloping down-hill and traveling slowly up-hill. – A word about inns. It should not be supposed that the genial accommodation found in England would also be met with there. The Spanish landlord, whether at a first-rate fonda in Madrid or Seville or at the venta of some petty village, was an independent sort of person and was brusque to a fault. You might occupy a room if you found one vacant, and you would get anything that there was in the house to eat; but you would rarely find any furniture in the room, and not often food in the kitchen. This would not apply to the cities on the southern coast, such as Seville or Malaga, but to the interior and mountain districts; as there one could find only such bare accomodation as he had described, and often at such absurd prices that one had to dispute the bill next morning. In one instance he remembered, at a small village on the Ronda mountains, the landlord charged them much more than Madrid prices, and when they remonstrated, very cooly(sic) declared he would throw them out of the window if they did not immediately produce the cash. His colleague in the argument was an intelligent Russian gentleman, who produced a revolver, and the landlord, after saying that two could play at that game, cheerfully took a fair rate of pay, assisted them to mount their horses, with great civility, and when they met him afterwards going to his farm – for he was a farmer as well – welcomed them with much good humour and with that almost invariable courtesy which distinguished a Spaniard. But in dealing with them it is absolutely necessary to show great determination, when they at once become reasonable. In dilating on the facilities for inter-communication, Mr. North said the only railway was that from Alicante on the east to Madrid. Some others were in progress under the superintendence of foreign engineers and by the aid of foreign capitat(sic). There Pg. 87 were hardly any turnpike roads in the kingdom, excepting the “Caminos reales (royal roads) from Madrid to the provincial capitals. From one province to another the roads were of the most ordinary description, traversed by enormous waggons called galeras. The consequence was that the inhabitants of the different provinces had hardly any intercourse or interchange of feelings, so necessary in the promotion of civilisation. No native ever traveled except on matters of business and wherever there was but little business and no roads – the position of nine tenths of the Peninsula – the difficulties of travel were much increased. Mr. North’s party tried (and happily succeeded in) the experiment of riding a journey of some length on mules and horses over the mountains from Granada to Malaga, and also from the latter place viâ Rouda to Seville, an expedition of nine days altogether on the saddle. [See also “Recollections of a Happy Life”, selected from the journals of Marianne North, Vol. lll, page 21]. People talked of robbers, but he had satisfied himself in the first instance that his muleteer was a safe guide. Since returning he had read in a french account that the man was notoriously in league with the brigands, and that he had paid them black-mail to secure their good offices. In the second instance his party ventured without knowing much of their guide beyond the fact that the Consul of Malaga (one of the most agreeable of English officials) was aware that they were departed under his care; so that the man’s character was to some extent involved in their security. This Arab sort of travel in fine weather produced a might joyous and independent feeling in passing over a wild country, if one only resolved to take things easy and make the best of miserable accommodation. They carried a raw ham, some cold roast turkey, a Dutch cheese, and an hermetically sealed tin of butter of which he would only say, as Mr. Gladstone said of the rhubarb champagne, that it was dangerous to the stomach. It was, he regretted to say, of English preparation, and possibly had been returned from the Crimea amongst the unused stores. Some stone jars of good Malaga wine and an earthen jar of water, which was carried with a brandy flask, completed the stores. An iron kettle, a spirit lamp, and a due provision of tea and sugar, they also found indispensable creature-comforts; for, except bread, no amount of money would procure the other stores at a Spanish venta. The scenery passed through would, alone, have repaid one for any amount of fatigue. The track, except a small portion on the first and last days, was only a mule path, over which no carriage could have passed. Indeed, one moonlight journey they ventured upon was without track at all, and they proceeded across the open country with no certainty beyond knowing that their destination lay due Pg. 88 north [and, of course, that the Norths had to take a northerly course]. As one who had come almost direct from the neighbourhood of the Spanish war then raging on the north-east coast of Africa, between Spain and Morocco, it would be expected that some opinion should be given. Of the effect of the war the newspapers had told them, but what the war was about or what the object professedly in view was, he doubted if the great bulk of the Spaniards themselves could explain. Centa, a sort of African Gibralta on a small scale, had been for some centuries a kind of advanced post for Spain on the coast opposite to our own rock fortress, from which it was distant only a few hours’ sail. They possessed no more territory around it than we had on the north side of the Strait; and for all purposes of utility beyond that of warlike exercise, might as well be without it. But there was a rooted hatred between Spaniards and Moors, dating, probably from before the Gothic Kings. Well, Spain had now for some time – at all events, since she had had a settled Government under Queen Isabella – been feeling herself to be behind hand amongst European Nationalities. She was now led by an Irish Prime Minister; for, O’Donnell, though a Spanish grandee, was of Milesian extraction, and he probably thought the most rapid road to European distinction was by the sword. Latterly too, the finances of Spain had begun to improve; and this new state of things was so agreeable, that, like spendthrifts in private life, she sought an opportunity of shining before the world in preference to paying her debts. It was reported that Spain wished to send her quota to the allied army in the Crimea, and it was notorious that she offered to take the military charge of Rome if Louis Napoleon had withdrawn his troops. The crusade on the African coast, the lecturer thought had been unwisely undertaken; but the nation was positively mad on the subject. They were as ready to fight Moors of Morocco as their ancestors, under the most Catholic Sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella, were to encounter those of Grenada. The Spanish priesthood too, though shorn of their former great revenue, and occupying a far less influential status than in the olden time, encouraged this feeling and seemed to heartily throw themselves into the movement. They were warring for an “idea”, and they hardly knew what. It was said that the thoughtful statesmen of Spain had a feeling that a great national movement would tend to raise the Spanish character, and so encouraged this otherwise objectless expedition by way of exciting the energies of the people. His (the lecturer’s) party, was at Malaga and at Cadiz, in the thick of the military movements. It was sad to see the sick returning by ship-loads to find very little hospital accommodation. At Malaga the crier was sent round to beg the loan of beds, linen and other necessaries for the wounded from such of the wealthy as were patriotically or humanely dis Pg. 89 posed. The call, he understood, was well responded to. The Spanish officers, however complained that the promised Government provision had not been made. Some of the elder officers looked very grave as to the expedition itself. The business of transport from Malaga to Centa was mostly conducted in hired French steamers; for the Spanish marine was at a miserably low ebb; and they would have been sadly troubled at that time to find an Armada with which to invade England, though they still talked about “perfidious Albion”, who they thought had not been friendly to them in the foray they were making on the Moors. It was not so easy to set them right in the matter without more knowledge of the language than the lecturer possessed. It was possible to get on upon the road, even to obtain information on ordinary matters; but to hold a political conversation required rather a fluent tongue.
Among many other particulars of an interesting nature related to the audience by the worthy lecturer were a bull-fight at Valentia, an acount(sic) of the vintage, the smuggling from Gibralta, the peculiarities of dress and manners, some eventful adventures, and many other matters pertaining to the visit of himself and his two daughters to Spain. He also exhibited a number of curiosities and manufactured articles, which were closely inspected by the audience.
The giving a more lengthy report of the above lecture than was intended to come within the scope of this Local History is because of its personally local associations. Mr. North was a highly respected native of Hastings, and (with his family) was always exerting himself for the town’s welfare. He was also one of the best as well as the longest representatives of the borough in Parliament. Of his two daughters who accompanied him to Spain, Marianne was afterwards a celebrated traveller, artist and diarist; and Catherine (afterwards Mrs. Symonds) was the lady who edited her sister’s journal, the published three volumes of which should be read by all persons desirous of acquiring knowledge from the extraordinary adventures of a practically lone woman in all parts of the civilized world. In the story of he travels, Miss North’s word-painting is as fascinating as are her floral paintings still exhibited at Kew because Hastings could not find a suitable place for them. The three volumes of “A Happy Life” are, probably to be found at the Reference Library in the Brassey Institute where also this volume of “Local History” is also deposited.
The Theory of Projectiles was the title of the next lecture delivered in the rooms of the Institution. Mr. John Banks was the lecturer and the chairman was Mr. J. C. Savery, that gentle Pg. 90 man, as well as several other volunteers who were present, appearing in his uniform. The lecturer commenced by stating the reason why he thought no apology was necessary for discanting on so dry a subject in this age of volunteer Rifles and Artillery Corps – namely that it ought to be a matter of some importance to every member of those corps to know with mathematical certainty, if possible, the path of a projectile, such as a bullet or cannon-ball would take to reach the mark at which it was aimed. His lecture was listened to with much attention.
A Lecture on “Progress” was delivered in the rooms of the Institution on the 27th of February, by Mr. Joseph Pitter, formerly on the staff of the Hastings News, but then on that of the South London Journal as its Editor. Mr. Womersley, who presided, briefly introduced the lecturer as an old townsman and member of the Institution.
Astronomical Phenomena was dilated upon at the Institution rooms, on the 19th of March, by Mr. Banks, who supplied the place of Mr. Blake, who had been seized by illness. Mr. Banks’s lecture (illustrated by magic-lantern slides) included a description of the laws of astronomical phenomena, such as the seasons, the diurnal motion of the Earth and other planets, the laws of gravitation and atraction(sic), the changes of the moon and lunar influence on the earth in causing tides, &c. &c. The lecturer was frequently applauded, and at the close, Mr. J. Huggett (now a J.P.) who then occupied the chair, announced the title of the next lecture to be that of
“The Pilgrim Fathers”. The lecture on this subject was by the Rev. W. Culverwell, of London, a gentleman who had previously lectured on “The Catacombs of Rome”. From the time of Constantine up to the Reformation there had been no great persecution (as there had been in the 13th century by Pagans and the 16th by Puritans) and all for conscience sake; but the church had been notorious for corruption. The doctrines were made of none effect by tradition, and the people grew weary of monastic institutions and Papal indulgencies. He could not tell what might have happened if Henry Vlll had not fallen out with the Pope, but he knew that although that king cast off the Popish supremacy he did not throw aside many Popish customs. The people were disappointed in Elizabeth; for, against their expectations, many of the Popish customs in the Queen’s Chapel, were not abolished. The various persecutions under different reigns were detailed in an interesting manner and the lecture was illustrated by diagrams.
Pg. 91 The Quarterly Meeting, which was also the annual meeting, took place on the 2nd of May, when the accounts showed a balance in favour of the institution of a little under a pound. The Committee’s report regretted a decrease of 14 in the number of members, although their then number was 329, as compared with 337 in 1859; 269 in 1858; and 274 in 1857. Mr. C. J. Womersley (against his expressed wish) was elected President, on the proposition of Mr. W. Ransom, seconded by Mr. Grady, in the place of Mr. G. Scrivens, who had resigned. Mr. T. S. Hide was re-elected Treasurer. Mr. J. Huggett, proposed by the Rev. J. A. Hatchard and seconded by T. S. Hide, was elected Secretary, in the place of Mr. John Banks, who had resigned.
At the next Quarterly Meeting (Aug. 1st) the Committee’s report stated that Harry Chester, Esq., President of the Society of Arts, had been kind enough to deliver an address to the invited Mechanics’ Institutions of Hastings and St. Leonards, which had since been printed by request, and a copy presented by the Rev. J. A. Hatchard. The number of members was then 312, being a further increase of 19 during the quarter. The financial position was a favourable balance of £2. 10s.
The Winter Session for Lectures was opened on the 12th of November, with a lecture by the talented Mrs. Balfour, her subject being “Charlotte Bronte”. For nearly two hours Mrs. Balfour entertained a fairly numerous audience with less of a biographical character of her subject than of a semi-critical, semi-controversial kind, in which allusion was frequently made to the criticisms which had been passed upon the writings of “Currer Bell”, the nom de plume of her heroine.
The 2nd Lecture of the Session was delivered by Mr. Joseph Pitter. The date was November 19th, and the subject “Cowper’s Poetical Works”. The lecturer commenced with saying that lectures were sometimes like public dinners. It was not the quantity that the people ate and drank, but the opportunity it afforded of an intellectual treat at the close of the repast. So it might be with his lecture; it was not for the amount of information that he might convey to them that he had come from London, so much as to avail himself of an opportunity of seeing many of his old friends and of talking to them about a poet whose writings he loved. He then treated of the poetic faculty generally, and repudiated the general notion that poets must be born such. He [a poet himself] did not contend that all persons might be poets by cultivation, but he maintained that even a born poet needed cultivation, and that one would not be a poet worthy of the name if he did not cultivate his mind, just as a beautiful garden if not taken Pg. 92 care of, would soon run to waste and ruin. The lecture was illustrated by readings from Cowper’s works, shewing his peculiar characteristics, and was listened to with breathless attention.
George Dawson on “Hamlet”. In connection with the Institution the popular orator, George Dawson, delivered, on the 5th of December a most entertaining lecture on Shakespeare, of which the title formed but a minor topic of his serio-comic discourse. In the course of his lecture Mr. Dawson said books had been written to show that Shakespeare was a protestant, a Church-of-England man, a Catholic, a nothing at all; also that he was a Radical and a good Conservative. Shakespeare, he contended, was all of these as far as they were parts of human life. Shakespeare undertook to tell you what you are and not what you ought to be, he held the “mirror up to Nature.” Many men in these times hid iniquity by clothing it in fine language. Our forefathers, on the contrary talked about coarse things in coarse language. He (Mr. D.) did not justify all that Shakespeare had written, but he did not think it would much hurt his hearers to read it and know it. Shakespeare must be regarded as a great painter of human life in its varieties and eccentricities.
“The Battle of Hastings.” This was the title of a lecture given by J. C. Savery, Esq., in connection with the Mechanics Institution on the 10th of December; and, as was the case with Mr. North’s lecture, on account of its local associations and its treatment by a local man, a longer report of it than other lectures is given in this volume of Local History. Mr. Savery introduced his lecture by some remarks on the importance of acquiring a knowledge of local history, and then, with the assistance of a facsimile copy of the “Bayeux Tapestry” proceeded with his description. He gave a concise account of the physical condition of the country around Hastings at the time of the Battle, the whole being covered by a dense forest, and probably with roads only sufficient for local traffic between villages extending to the sea. At Hastings there was an Anglo-Saxon garrison, the site of which might well have been on the West hill, and which is pointed out by the extensive work east of the present castle. The country between Hastings and Battle was also probably obstructed by woods; for, we read that the Normans did not arm until they reached Hetheland, which has been identified as Telham. The field of battle itself was a line of rising ground, flanked on the right at some little distance by the great forest of Andreaswold. The left was defended by the woods of Whatlington and Bathurst; the rear of the position rested on the hills behind; while, in front was a slope up which the invaders must approach. The pass of Battle was the Pg. 93 only way by which the enemy could get to London – which, as the capital, ever was and ever will be the aim of an invading army under any circumstances. Harold had been for some months on the south coast, watching his enemy, before he was called off to the north. His head quarters were probably near Ninfield, where “Standard Hill” still remains to record the post which he held; but there is no notice that he was at that spot immediately previous to the battle; for, he barely had time to return to the south before he was attacked by the Norman chief. Harold’s fleet had just failed in provisions, and had to retire to replenish. It was at the end of September; the harvest had been just gathered in; and the clear places round the villages were feeding the herds of the Saxon farmers, which were soon to become the prey of the Norman foragers; for, in spite of the asseverations of the Norman chroniclers, the soldiers of William’s army were as good thieves as any Zouave, and the state in which they left the neighbourhood may be inferred from the many entries in Doomsday Book, “it has been destroyed”. Hooe, Catsfield, Netherfield, Brooham, Sedlescomb, Saleshurst and Guestling, all fell a prey to the ravages of the conqueror, and bear the dread appendage to their names “Vastatum fuit”. The next portion of tapestry shows that “Here Duke William, in a large ship, crossed the sea and came to Pevensey”. On Thursday the 28th of September, William landed his numerous army. The archers landed first, with their hair shaved off and wearing short coats. Then came the cavalry, wearing coats of mail and helmets of polished steel, nearly of a conical form, and furnished with a peculiar nose-piece. They were armed with strong lances and double-edged swords. These were followed by the pioneers and workmen of the army, who brought on shore three wooden castles, ready to fit together at any place they might require. The landing of an army of 60,000 men must have required a considerable space along the shore; but the ships pf the Normans were all able to be beached, and the time therefore wanted to effect this disembarkation was not long, as every vessel would land its own cargo simultaneously. It probably took place in the flats between Pevensey and Bexhill; for we find the villages round here especially devasted by the pillage of the soldiery. William, on landing, fell to the ground, but he turned this supposed unfortunate omen to good account by taking the sand in his hand, and crying “I have taken seizen of this land, and by the splendour of God, all it contains is ours.” They remained five days at Pevensey. The tapestry exhibits a party sent to Hastings to seize food, and in several compartments are shewn the process of cooking and feasting. Having recruited his army, William detached 9,000 men to Hastings to erect the moveable castles; and ordered a camp Pg. 94 to be dug – i.e. earthworks thrown up for the defence of his troops. He then marched the whole body thither on the 3rd of October. Mr. Lower, the antiquarian (who has paid great attention to all connected with the battle) fancies that the fields near Bohemia and the Priory were the sites of this encampment; and, certainly, there are the ridges of of an extensive camp, which render this supposition probable. Mr. Savery here exhibited a plan in which the camp might have been placed, and to have extended from the hillocks shown in the Step Meadow, and at the rear of the railway station , across Mr. Brisco’s lands near the Catholic convent. Access to the sea would be gained in the eastern part by means of the Priory Valley [or Priory water]. Harold had been informed of the landing of the Normans; and, hurrying from the north, he approached the Sussex coast with but little more than 20,000 men. He probably arrived at Battle on Wednesday or Thursday, the 11th or 12th of October. William had numerous outposts, which brought him intelligence of Harold’s approach. On Friday night, William informed his army that the battle would take place next day. The night was spent by the Normans in prayer; and according to Norman accounts, by the Saxons in feasting and riot. But, we must remember it is only a Norman account. The Saxon chroniclers are silent on this point. Referring to the tapestry, we see the Normans marching out of Hastings, after having burnt a portion of the town. Their path lay along the southern slope of the hills towards Battle; and we have the scouts coming in and informing William of his approach to the enemy. Harold’s outposts also warn him of William’s advance. The chronicle of Battle Abbey says that William marched to Hetheland (Telham Hill), where he completed his arming and harangued his troops, calling on them to fight manfully and skilfully, shewing that Harold was perjured and under the ban of the Church. He disposed his troops in three columns of attack. In the first were the warriors of Boulogne, Ponthem and the mercenaries; in the second were the troops of Maine, the Bretons and men of Poiteers; while William, himself, led the third, composed of his own subjects, the chosen chivalry of Normandy. Harold’s army was drawn up on the side of a hill opposite to that on which the troops of William were formed, and separated from them by a wide valley. The ground sloped away on both sides and the edge of the ridge was fortified with hastily thrown-up entrenchments formed of beams and willows, and faced by the shields of the soldiery. Harold’s banner stood Pg. 95 where the Abbey now stands, bearing the emblem of a fighting man, emblazoned in gold and ornamented with precious stones. The troops were all on foot, and packed closely within the confined space. The Kentish men occupied the post of honour in front; the Londoners formed the second rank; while the remaining Saxons formed the rear. They were armed with swords, bills lances and clubs, but their favourite weapon was the terrible battle-axe they had borrowed from the Norwegians, wielded with both hands and having a blade a foot long. The shields of the Saxons were mostly heart-shaped, like those of the Normans, although some were round and convex. The Normans advanced, and before them rode a Knight who played with his sword, chanting the song of Rowland and Charlemagne until he came upon the enemy, when he threw himself among them, dealing death on every side until he was overpowered. Then the battle began. The Normans attacked the camp in front and on both flanks. The Norman war of “Dieu aide” was answered by the Saxon “Out, out! holy cross!” For some hours the battle raged with fury; Harold’s men stood well together, and woe to the Norman Knight who came within reach of the resistless axe. But no progress was made by the attacking force until William ordered a feigned retreat to be made, when Eustace, Count of Boulogne, followed on the rear of the pursuing Saxons and threw them into disorder. Yet the day was not yet lost! The English rallied, charged the foe, and drove them pell-mell into a ditch [a steep hollow] one over another and made a terrible slaughter. This place was thence termed Malfosse, which became corrupted into Manfosse. This we know from some deeds to have been near Winchester Croft, which still exists, and are therefore able to recognise the spot again. It is probable that the Saxon army had by this time become surrounded by its more numerous foe, and that the feigned retreat was made in a north-west direction. And now the cry was raised that William was killed at Malfosse, and many of the Normans began to flee from the dangerous neighbourhood. William therefore raised his helmet and rushed among the fugitives, crying “Look! I am alive, and, with God’s help, I will conquer!” Odo, Bishop of Bayeux was also foremost in checking the fugitives. The Anglo-Saxons regained their entrenchments, and hour after hour the conflict raged; and, as Wace says, “The battle was up and down; none knew who would conquer and win the land.” The Saxons still kept their compact array, and all the charges of the men-at-arms could not prevail. The arrows of the archers fell harmlessly on their shields until William ordered that flights of Pg. 96 of arrows should be directed so as to fall on the heads of the closely packed Saxons. Then the fatal fortune of the day took place. An arrow pierced the eye of the English king, who fell at the moment to the ground. His brothers Gurth and Leofric fell with him, but he rallied and continued to fight. Now it was that twenty Norman Knights bound themselves with a vow to bear off the Saxon standard or perish in their attempt. In this hazardous enterprise many fell, but the rest hacking out a path with their swords, bore off the prize. In its defence the already wounded Harold fell. An armed man struck him on the ventail of his helmet and beat him to the ground, and as he sought to rise, a Knight struck him down again, cutting his thigh to the bone. The Abbey was afterwards raised on this site, and the high altar marked the spot where the Saxon king expired. From this time the tide of battle turned against the Saxons. The ruling spirit of the latter was dead, but his patriotic warriors still fought, more with the energy of despair than with the encouragement of hope. The battle continued until darkness set in, but after the fall of Harold it became a series of private combats which were only arrested by the arrival of night. The remnant of the Saxons fled to the woods, and William passed the night in the tent, feasting with his chiefs on the spot where the standard of Harold had waved throughout the day. The Sabbath sun rose on a gloomy picture. The Normans had lost 6,000 men, whilst the loss of the Saxons was never known. The melancholy rites of sepulchre had now to be performed, and Odo having laid aside his warlike baton, conducted the masses for the dead; which, being completed, William returned to his camp at Hastings.
There are great doubts as to the place in which Harold was buried. William of Malmsbury said his body was given up to his mother, to be buried at Waltham, and Wace says the same. But the greater number of the chroniclers state that he was buried on the cliff in the camp at Hastings, and one of them gives this inscription as carved on his tomb:- “By order of the Duke, you rest here King Harold, to guard the shore and sea”
“Oh! mighty Caesar, dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.”
“The Normans advanced” (said the lecturer) “and before them rode a knight who played with his sword, and chanted the song of Roland and Charlemagne.” &c. It so happens a mere coincidence that a son of the present writer is named Roland and a grandson named Norman. But Pg. 97 a circumstance of real importance is that in 1854 was published the said “Song of Roland” as translated by the author of “Emilia Wyndham”, the Introduction to which is as follows:-
“It was on the 13th of October, 1066, that the armies of Harold, of England, and William, of Normandy, met upon the plains of Hastings. But before they came to blows a Norman knight issued from the ranks, and spurring his horse in front of the battle array, animated his fellow-countrymen to conquer or die, as in a loud voice he chanted forth the Song of Roland. This incident is no poetical invention. All the historians most worthy of credit make mention of it. William of Malmsbury, Matthew Paris, Ralph Higden, Alberic de Trois Fontaines, all speak of this celebrated song of the Carlovingiens as inaugurating the battle of Hastings, and as being repeated with one voice by the soldiers. Even the very name of the intrepid Trouvère is recorded who thus sang forth between the armies. He was called Taillefer and was a follower of the Count de Mortain. There have been many songs written upon this subject, of Roncesvalles, and the death there of the renowned Roland, Paladin of the still greater Charlemagne. All of them, however, with which, until lately, the world had been made acquainted, bore undoubted evidence that they were composed long subsequent to the date of the Conquest – which took place three centuries below the times of the great Emperor. At Paris, at Lyons at Metz and at Cambridge, versions of the Song of Roland had been known to exist; but each one, as we said, bore indubitable evidence, both as regarded the language and construction that they belonged to a later age – to the twelfth, to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuris(sic). It had become a question of considerable interest among antiquarians whether the identical Song of Roland as chanted at the battle of Hastings were still in existence. At length it has been discovered; and singularly enough, it is by a learned Frenchman that it has been drawn forth from the Bodleian Library at our own University of Oxford. It appears that the existence of a manuscript answering to this description had been slightly noticed by Tyrwhitt, in a note to his edition of the “Canterbury Tales”. This note and the existence of the manuscript in question, were first announced to the literary world of France by the Abbé de la Rue, in his Essay “Sur les Trouvères Normands,” upon which announcement, M. Guizot, at that time Minister of Public Instruction, immediately despatched M. Francisque Michel to Oxford, who made a copy of the manuscript, and in the course of two years, Pg. 98 brought out an edition of it. That the text of this manuscript was anterior to those of Paris, Lyons, Metz or Cambridge, appeared to admit of no doubt. The changes that take place in a language in what may be called the earlier stages of its formation, are such that it is much more easy than at later periods, to affix the date of any writing from that circumstance alone. The French language at the time in question, was in the most crude and immature state; and the judges competent to examine into the subject affirm, without hesitation that the Song of Roland found in the Bodleian cannot belong to a period later than to the eleventh century. The language is, indeed, precisely the same with that of the laws of William the Conqueror, whilst the construction, versification and whole tissue of the story are of the utmost simplicity; so that a comparison with the more elaborate poems on the same subject belonging to a later era, will at once satisfy the critical reader that this before us bears the impress of those times and manners to which it professes to belong. As regards the author of this poem, all that can be told is, that the name of Turoldus is found appended to the last verse. But the question arises whether this be the name of the author or merely that of the copyist? If of the author, who was this Turoldus? The preceptor of William the Conqueror bore that name. He died in 1033. But there was another Turoldus, son or nephew of the first mentioned. He was a Benedictine of the Abbey of Fécamp, and accompanied the Conqueror to England. After having rendered considerable services, he was made Abbot of Malmsbury, and, subsequently of Peterborough. Now, it is a curious circumstance connected with this latter fact, as reported by Gunton, that among the manuscripts of the Abbey of Peterborough, there were anciently discovered two copies of a French poem upon the war of Roncesvalles (“De Bello Valle Runciae”), and it appears most probable that one of these it is, which has found its way to the Bodleian. Ten years after M. Michel had published his edition of the poem in its original antique language, M. Génin undertook to give the world a translation of it; but, unfortunately, this gentleman chose for his medium the French language as it existed in the time of Amyot, which though admirably calculated to convey an idea of the simplicity and energy of the original , yet, has become so far obsolete as to require itself a translation to make it accessible to those not versed in French antiquity. This has been undertaken by M. Vitet, Pg. 99 and as far as I may presume to judge, with admirable success. His version of this singularly beautiful poem has been lately given to the world in the “Revue des Deux Mondes.” I was so charmed with the work that I could not refrain from endeavouring in my turn to render M. Vitet’s delightful French version into the best English I could attain to, thus making the poem (which by rights belongs to both nations) our own as well as theirs. I have not succeeded nearly as well as I could have wished; but such as it is, I submit my attempt to the public, thinking that in an age like the present it may not be amiss to bear to English hearths this simple and touching record of the loyalty and bravery, the truth and warm affection, and the fervent though somewhat rude piety of those who became our ancestors. The poem contains about four thousand verses; but it has not been given at full length by M. Vitet who thus expresses himself upon the subject:- ‘It might have been better, perhaps, to have translated the whole, but this our limits did not permit. We have contented ourselves with a rapid exposition of what was merely secondary and accessory....but we have endeavoured to reproduce the principal part of the work – what may be called the heart of the subject – with complete integrity. These we have translated faithfully, without abbreviation or the least alteration in what may be called the most naives anachronisms, or the most credulous hyperboles.’
I have, for myself, most scrupulously adhered to the same plan as regards M. Vitet’s translation, and have not allowed myself in the slightest deviation from the most careful adherence to the simplicity of my original. I must here take the occasion to offer my sincerest thanks for the politeness and liberality with which M. Vitet has authorised me to publish my translation, and then begin, as he himself does, with the first lines of the ancient poem.”
The Last Lecture of the half session of the Institution was delivered by the Rev. J. H. Blake, of Sandhurst, the date being Dec. 17th, and the subject being “Great Men and Little Men.” J. C. Savery, Esq. occupied the chair on that occasion; and the lecture, though not uninteresting, was not so attractive as most of Mr. Blake’s previous efforts.
The first assembly of this society for 1860 was held in the Castle-hotel the chief business of the evening being to read a paper by J. Penhall, Esq., that had been written by Dr. Knox, author of “The Races of Man”. The object of the writer appeared to be to further make known the views which he had already set forth in his book – a volume that was written Pg. 100 from a one-sided and thoroughly un-English point of view. The title of the paper was “Africa: its past, present and probable future”. The chief theory enunciated was that in times past foreign or intrusive races had occupied parts of that continent, back from the days of the Carthaginians and the Romans, up to times of mediaeval European nations, and that all in their turn had died out, leaving no vestige of their existence, having been overcome by the superiority of the native races. The same course of conquering, inhabiting and annexing had in late years taken place among the Anglo and Dutch Saxons at the southern, and the Celts at the northern extremities, and which Dr. Knocks(sic) believed would terminate in a similar manner. The paper, after being read was discussed by Dr. Hunt, the Rev. Tilson-Marsh, T. H. Cole, Esq., G. Scrivens, Esq., Dr. Moore and Mr. J. C. Womersley, all of whom dissented from the writer’s views, and introduced numerous facts to rebut Dr. Knox’s arguments.
“The Chronology of Egypt” was the title of another paper read at a meeting of the society on the 30th of January. The author and reader of the paper on this occasion was Samuel Sharpe, Esq., who claimed a less antiquity for the pyramids and other monuments than the period usually assigned to them. In a succinct and lucid manner he sketched the situations and history of the great monuments, and showed the methods adopted for arriving at their chronological data. He also alluded to the discovery of a method of reading the hieroglyphics. The 13,000 years that had been calculated by Mr. Horner to be required for the progress of Egypt to the present time, Mr. Sharp held to be fallacious, and thought that it might very well be divided by four.
“The Influence of Domestic Animals on Civilization” was the title of a paper read at the monthly meeting of the society on the 8th of February, Dr. Hunt being the chairman, and J. Crawford, Esq. being the author of the paper, which was read by the secretary, T. H. Cole, Esq. The paper was full of interesting facts and details, the object being to show that in proportion to the possession of domestic animals, among New Zealanders and the aborigines of other countries, man has progressed or retrograded. In the discussion which ensued, Mr. Rock thought it was a question how far the supply of of domestic animals had kept pace with the requirements of an advanced civilization. Mr. Tate differed from the conclusions of the paper, and contended that the domestication of animals was the effect and not the cause of civilization.
“Works of Art in the Drift”. At the March meeting of the society, the President, James Hunt, Esq. read a paper, with the title here Pg.101 named. It was an elaborately critical paper and the subject was greatly aided by specimens of flint hatchets, adzes or axes lent for the occasion by a pains-taking geologist and collector. The gist of the paper was to show that these flint instruments could not have become thus shaped by any other means than that of human agency, and that from their position in the geological drifts, they must have been fashioned at a period anterior to that which was assigned to the human race. Affirmative opinions were given by Dr. Hale, Dr. Moore, and Mr. Tate; whilst Mr. J. Rock, jun, Mr. Cole and the Rev. W. Tilson-Marsh thought judgement should be suspended till more evidence was acquired.
“The Plurality of Worlds” was the title of a paper read by T. Tate, Esq., F.R.A.S., on the 11th of April, to hear which there was a crowded audience. The object of the paper was to refute the arguments of a recent writer on the same subject. The reader of the paper showed by analogy of the primary condition of the earth, its shape as as oblate spheroid, by geological considerations and by the density and other conditions of our atmosphere, that the planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune, all of which were similarly conditioned, were possessed of the physical requirements for sustaining life. It was also, the writer of the paper, thought to be absurd to suppose that those and innumerable other worlds were created without a purpose. There was afterwards a prolonged discussion, the general opinion being in favour of Mr. Tate’s views.
“The Origin of Arts and the Influence of Race over their Development” – a paper by Dr. Knox, was the subject for discussion at the May meeting, which was thinly attended , and the paper – a portion only of which was read by the President – appeared to meet with even less favor than Dr. Knox’s previous paper on Africa. Mr. Cole defended the Universities against an attack which Dr. Knox made upon them, whilst Dr. Hale and Dr. Moore entirely dissented from the views expressed an(sic) advocated in the paper.
The remainder of Dr. Knox’s paper on the “Origin of Arts”, &c. was read by T. H. Cole Esq., on the 13th of June, and was followed by a short but not very animated discussion.
The Annual General Meeting was held on the 24th of October, when the report showed continued success of the society, in an increase of 9 members, making the number 42, and a balance of £12 9s. 3d in hand. The council recommended the session to terminate in May instead of June, and to hold an additional meeting in the winter. The officers elected for the year were Jas. Rock, jun., presi Pg.102 dent; Mr. J. G. O’Neil, treasurer; Mr. T. H. Cole, secretary; and Mr. W Ransom, auditor.
The First General Meeting of the new session was held in the Castle Assembly Room on the 29th of October, and was more than usually well attended. The chief object of the meeting was to hear a paper read on “The Pyramids”, by S. Sharpe, Esq., F.S.A., a well known archaeologist. The paper was loaded with interesting details, which included theories as well as facts, and furnished the ground for an equally interesting discussion, in which parts were taken by the new President (Mr. J. Rock), Dr. Hunt, Dr. Stone, Dr. Hale, Dr. Moore, Mr. Tate and Mr. Womersley.
The next monthly meeting of the society was on the 14th of November, when Mr. Cole, the honorary secretary, read some extracts from a paper recently read at the annual meeting of the British Association, on an expedition to the White Nile. This was followed by the reading of the third and concluding part of Dr. Knox’s paper on “The Influence of Race over the Development of the Arts”. The discussion which followed was less entertaining or instructive than dry and abstruse.
The Instinct and Reason degrees of the same or different powers of the minds? This was a question propounded by Dr. C. J. Stone, of St. Leonards, in a paper read at the meeting of the society on the 12th of December, the object being to elicit opinons(sic). It was followed by an interesting discussion.
Literary and Scientific Institution.
The first meeting of the year 1860 was held on Jan. 27th, when the officers elected for the year were F. North, Esq., M.P. president; T. Agar, Esq., G. Batty Esq., P. F. Robertson, Esq., W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq., W. B. Young, Esq., and the Rev. T. Vores, Vice Presidents; J. G. O’Neil, Esq. Treasurer; the Rev. J. Parkin and Mr. T. H. Cole, Secretaries. The a/cs. showed a balance of cash in hand to the amount £17 12. 3.
The next Committee meeting was on the 30th of March, but the business was purely formal and of no public interest.
At the quarterly meeting on the 29th of June, Mr. John M. Griffiths sent in his resignation as librarian. A letter was also received from the Treasurer of the British Meteorological Society, demanding payment of three years’- subscription – 1857 -‘8-‘9. It was shewn in the accounts that £2 was paid in 1856, £1 in 1857, and £1 in 1859. It was resolved to send the balance of £2, and to discontinue further subscriptions.
Two sermons in aid of this institution were preached at the St. Leonards Church on Sunday the 29th of January, which realised about £28, to which was added a sum of £10 by a private donor.
The 20th Annual Meeting of Governors, under the presidency of the Rev. G. D. St. Quintin, was held on the 6th of March, when it was shown that during the year 97 patients had been received into the house, eight of whom still remained; that the outdoor patients, with readmissions, numbered 1067 (the largest number of any previous year), 95 of whom were still under treatment; that the income had been £852, and the expenditure £34 greater (chiefly caused by a thorough renovation of the premises); thus reducing the balance in hand to £183, in round numbers.
A Rebellious Crew. A special meeting of the Committee on the 7th of March in consequence of the crew refusing to take the boat off for the quarterly practice. Capt. Gough had given orders for the volunteer coastguard men to assemble, and requested Morfee, the coxswain, to have the rest of the crew at the boat-house at the same time. Morfee, who was ready to go off, finding that the Hastings contingent of the regular crew (coastguards excepted) refused to man the boat, went for the St. Leonards portion, who also refused and gave the coxswain a volley of abuse, at the same time asked who was to pay them for risking life or broken bones? Fishermen about the beach said it was quite practicable to get the boat off, they having many times gone off in rougher weather in ordinary boats. The Rev. W. Hume, Capt. Gough and Mr. Ross endeavoured to get a crew by acceding to the demand of 10s., but on their return the demand had risen to 20/- each. The result of the meeting was to discharge the appointed crew of shoremen.
A Coastguard Crew. The “Victoria” life-boat, after some little difficulty, was got to sea on the 13th of June for the usual quarterly practice. The new crew of coastguardmen were rather awkward at first, but, under the management of Capt. Gough, R.N., assisted by Mr. Morfee, the late coxswain, they put the boat through its “courses” as efficiently as could be expected, it being some of the crew’s first attempt.
The next Quarterly Meeting, took place on the 11th of July, under the presidency of the Rev. W. W. Hume, when it was resolved to accept a barometer from the parent institution and to find a suitable place for it.
At the Quarterly Meeting held in the Town Hall on the 14th of October, Lord Harry Vane being present and taking the chair, an application was received from Capt. Scrivens for permission to make use of the life-boat house for placing ammunition, shot and uncharged shell under cover during the gun- Pg.104 practice of the Artillery volunteers. In reply, a resolution was passed, that considering the risk of danger likely to be incurred, the committee, with great reluctance, felt themselves bound to decline giving the permission. In the Humane Society branch 10s. was awarded to William Mann, a boatman for saving the life of a little boy. Capt Gough reported that in consequence of the coxswain (a coastguardman) having disobeyed his orders in taking off the boat at the last practice, he had discharged him from the command of the boat. He further reported that he had an excellent volunteer crew of coastguards, who desired that Morfee should be their Coxswain, who was willing to accept the post.
Much Distress. A meeting was held on Jan. 9th, of the Special Relief-fund committee to take some steps to relieve the distressed state of the fishery. There was a balance of £110 in the Bank of the fund collected two years before, and of this it was resolved to distribute £10 to each of four districts amongst the persons connected with the fishery who were found to be most in want, and for that purpose a sub-committee was formed.
A Turn of the Tide. After a long period of restless weather, during which the fishing luggers could rarely put to sea, news arrived from the west coast in the second week of January that the Hastings boats in that region had commenced the mackerel season with a prospect of success. T. Page’s “Fanny” caught 39,000; R. Foord’s “Charlotte” 25,000; E. Pomphrey’s “Endeavour”, 16,000; William Gallop’s “Swan”, 16,000; G. Hutchings’s” British Queen”, 10,000; and some other boats a less quantity. Trawl fish, at home was also abundant.
More Misfortunes. The anticipated success of the mackerel season was not realised, owing mainly to unfavourable weather again setting in, so that up to the 31st of March, the earning were almost nil. At home, also, the constantly recurring rough weather necessitated the boats being wound up for about three weeks.
Ten Fishermen Drowned. Next came the violent gale of the 2nd of June, as described on pages 14 and 15, when ten fishermen belonging to Hastings were drowned, while attempting to get into Newhaven harbour. Three more bodies, in addition to that of Edward Pomphrey’s were afterwards picked up from the “vasty deep”, and were provided with a resting place beneath their native soil. They were identified as those of Stephen Spice, Thomas Adams and Austin White.
A Relief Fund for the families of the drowned fishermen was set on foot, and on the 9th of July a meeting of the committee was held at the Town Hall, when it was found that the collectors had got together about £420. It was resolved that £250 should be appropriated to the relief who suffered losses belonging to Hastings, and that the surplus Pg.105 should be sent to Yarmouth to be added to the fund being raised there for the relief of such as were in a distressed condition through the late disasters on that coast.
Recovery of the “Endeavour”. In consequence of some of the nets and a part of the stern of this lugger having been washed ashore near Newhaven, it was supposed that the boat had quite broken up; but at a later date she was discovered by some Brighton fishermen by means of the floating of other nets still attached to the wreck. Divers were employed, who were fortunate enough to secure the tackle and to raise the boat which they towed into Newhaven harbour on the 3rd of August. The repairs, however, would be expensive. By this time all the bodies of the ill-fated crew had been picked up except that of the boy Britt.
The Early Herring Voyage was commenced in the second week in August by the sailing of some of the larger luggers for the North Sea; and in the third week of the following month some of the crews at home cast their nets with satisfactory results. Foord's boat came in on the 28th of Sept. with 36¾ hundreds, which were sold at 6/6 per hundred; and Haste’s boat with a similar quantity, which realised 9/9 per hundred. The work was pursued with a fair amount of success on the home grounds, and on the 4th of October, about 20 boats landed quantities from about a thousand to a last each, which were disposed of at a rate of £20 per last, at least. Little was reported from the north beyond catches of two lasts by the “John Whiteman” and one last by the “Ocean Queen”, which was sold at £28 per last.
“Michaelmas Herrings”. – A tolerably good stroke of business continued to be done by our home fishery; and on Monday, the 8th of October, about 40 boats landed from 500 to over a last each of what is known as “Michaelmas herrings”, a sort that only vists(sic) the Channel at long intervals. The total quantity brought ashore was estimated at about 20 lasts, realising little short of £400. On the following day about 25 lasts were landed, which sold from £16 to £18 per last. It was said to be the largest catch of that kind of fish in home waters for half a century.
Variations of Fortune. On the Wednesday following the above successful catches, the fishery experienced a reverse in consequence of a backing and greatly increasing wind. Many of the smaller boats came ashore for safety, whilst others which shot their nets got them damaged and caught but a few fish. The weather continued unfavourable, and for a week most of the boats were wound up; but on the 17th of October Diton’s boat came in with nearly a last of “Michaelmas herrings”. On the preceding 15th and 16th, the boat of which James Page was master caught near the Goodwin Sands three lasts each night and sold them at Pg.106 at £20 per last; thus earning £120 in the two nights. The boats in the north were only moderately successful, although one boat that was missing during a gale, returned with fish to Yarmouth that realised £50.
A Glut of Herrings. The week ending Oct. 27th was a very busy one with those connected with the fishery, there having been some extraordinary catches of herrings on several days, which realised sums of money ranging from £10 to £100. On Sunday the 21st, the beach at Hastings presented a rare scene, the heavily-laden boats bringing in their cargoes in rapid succession until the amazingly large quantity of 70 or 80 lasts was deposited theron(sic). On Monday and following days some very fair sivvers were made, notwithstanding that the scaly tribe exhibited themselves in diminished numbers. The wholesale price ranged from £19 down to £10 per last, whilst the itinerant retailer shouted them at 20 a shilling or 40 a shilling, according to circumstances.
Our Boats in the North Sea. After the great catch described above the herring season at home was mainly suspended in consequence of moonlit nights; but the larger Hastings luggers in the North Sea were reported to be doing well. An unprecedented quantity of fish had been sent into Yarmouth. One boat had caught 200,000 herrings in one night, and another boat (belonging to the neighbourhood of Yarmouth) was unfortunately lost by its overload, and its crew of nine men drowned. The fish continued to remain plentiful in the north, and the season promised to be longer than usual. On the 18th or 19th of Nov. E. Kent’s “Ocean Queen”, of Hastings, took five lasts into Lowestoft and exchanged them for £75, and W. Breach’s “Pet” did the same. The weather during that week was not very favourable for home fishing, although on Tuesday, Nov. 20th, or Wednesday Nov. 21st, four Hastings boats landed a last each at Rye, which realised an average of £9 per last. It was reported from Yarmouth that herrings continued to be caught there in large quantities, and that after the return home of the Hastings boats, some of the others made as much by their fish as £100 per night.
The End of the Season. In the third week of December the following paragraph appeared in some of the London papers. “The parties engaged in the fishery off the eastern coast are now making up and congratulating themselves on the success which has attended their vigorous labours. It is estimated that the boats connected with Great Yarmouth have taken 8,000 to 10,000 lasts, or the enormous number of 100,000,000 fish. The sum thus obtained by each boat has been from £400 to £1,000; and all taken above £500 per boat is profit. At Pg.107 Lowestoft equally encouraging results have been obtained, the value of the fish caught being estimated at £50,000; one boat alone having taken 1,000,000 fish. The fishermen are paid according to the success which follows their exertions, and some of them will have £30, £40, and even £50 to receive at the hands of their employers.”
The Sharing Out. In reference to the foregoing paragraph, the Hastings News, of Dec. 28th, remarked – “We have made enquiries of Mr. Breach, fishmonger of Commercial road and Robertson street, respecting the Hastings fishery and the result is appended below. The common practice among fishermen who are not paid any regular fixed amount is to share out at the end of the season in certain fixed proportions. The owner takes a share with the crew, and the boats ‘siver(sic)’ is frequently divided between twelve to sixteen persons. Our informant estimates that the larger boats have caught on an average 35 lasts each, and the smaller boats 20 lasts each. Of the first class there are nearly forty boats, each carrying eight or ten men. The boats numbering from fifty to sixty have crews of five or six men. The ‘sharing out’ or ‘making-up’ in east-country lingo in the larger boats (which pursue their avocation from September to the end of November) has amounted to £42 down to £15 per man; & that of the smaller craft from £22 down to £10. The smaller sums, however, hardly pay the expenses of the voyage. At a rough guess about 2,500 lasts may be set down as the quantity of of fish taken by our boats. The luggers (larger boats) are now preparing for mackerel voyage, and eight or ten of them are expected to leave for the Devon and Cornwall coasts next week.”
The Fortunate and Unfortunate “Endeavour”. It has been omitted to state in its more appropriate place that this lugger which with its crew, was lost on the 2nd of June, landed at Hastings on or about the 1st of the previous February 16¼ thousand of fish, which sold at 20s. per hundred, and thus realised £160. Another Hastings boat, the “Mary Ann” James Geering master, was in company with the “Endeavour” on the fishing ground, and netted 24,000 fish at the same time. The latter were taken to Portsmouth and were sold for £228. But these successes were exceptional.
On the 28th of January, the Phoenix (Eastland, master) nominally owned by Messrs. Kent was “knocked up” at Pevensey in consequence of the mooring hawser having broken, the sea being turbulent at the time.
On the following Monday, the schooner Fairy (Morfee, master) belonging to Messrs. Burfield, whilst unloading her cargo, was endangered by a rising gale, and had to be drawn up with the tide, for safety.
Pg.108 Wreck of a Yacht. On Saturday morning, Sept. 15th a maritime casualty occurred in front of Hastings under singular circumstances. The pleasure yacht “Sabrina”, of 27 tons measurement, belonging to W. Halliday, Esq., of Cowes, but hired by Mr. Carter, a gentleman near Battle, anchored in the roadstead on Thursday, en route for the Thames regatta. A holiday was given to the master and crew, and, as the weather was fine, the yacht was left without anyone in charge. At night a S.W. gale came on, and made it very risky for the crew to go off. Some of the Hastings ferrymen made proposals to go out to the yacht, but these were declined. At 7.30 on the following morning the chain cable of the unoccupied craft broke, and soon the Sabrina was ashore among the rocks under the East cliff. There she broke up in a very short time. She was insured for £250, but it was doubtful whether it could be claimed under the circumstances.
A Floating Harbour.
The wreck of the yacht Sabrina, described above, was instanced by a correspondent of the local press as a proof of the necessity of a harbour which was then being proposed. A Mayor’s meeting was held in the Music Hall on the 3rd of September to consider the propriety of forming a harbour on the principle designed by Capt. Sleigh. Addresses were delivered by the Mayor (E. Hayles, Esq.) and Capt. Claxton in favour of the scheme, after which Capt. Sleigh gave an exposition of his plan, in which it was shewn that for £6,000 a floating breakwater of 200 yards might be constructed that would afford shelter for ordinary sized vessel and a promenade terrace under its lee. If at any time it was desirable to extend its dimensions, the designer explained that it might be done at a cost of £50 per yard run. The scheme was warmly supported by Messrs Ross and Putland, Lord Harry Vane, the Rev. W. W. Hume, Mr. J. Rock, jun. and Mr. Beecham. There were, however, persons present who, if not opposed to a harbour in toto, were certainly disinclined to favour the scheme there advocated. These dissentients found exponents in the persons of Messrs. Howell, Womersley, and Harvey. Nevertheless, a committee was formed for carrying out the contemplated object, whose names were the Rev. W. W. Hume, G. H. M. Wagner Esq., A. Burton, Esq. and Messrs Ross, Rock, Putland, Bromley, Beecham and Bannister, together with the Mayor.
The Hastings News, on the following Friday had an editorial, with which the St. Leonards Gazette coincided, as follows:- “The public meeting has been held – some glowing speeches have been delivered – and a committee formed to attempt the realization of the visions which dazzled the imaginations of some of our good townspeople on Monday. So far the movement has taken more definate(sic) shape, and Pg.109 has greater claims on our respect. But still, there is so much that is indefinite in the proposals and so much appears incoherent in the arguments urged by the advocates of the plan proposed, that a few remarks on the subject might at least serve to bring out something more clearly defined than we we have seen or heard at present. We confessed ourselves puzzled in the first place to know what our friends really desire. Is it a large harbour in which (as one speaker declared) a royal fleet might ride in time of war? – or is it merely a small affair, which might be made for very little money, and fit only for fishing-boats and coasters? We have heard of no plan for raising money for the prospective glory of accommodating Her Majesty’s Navy, nor do we yet see that even a smaller harbour is popular with the very classes for whose protection it is offered. To say that a harbour of refuge is useful for ships to run into during a gale is to assert what might be said with far greater truth of other places on the coast. But we apprehend that this plea of philanthropy is not the moving power with those who wish to speculate in the matter. The real question for us to decide is this:- Do Hastings and St. Leonards want a harbour to enhance their prosperity? Let us see if the affirmative of this has been proved. These towns have risen into note as watering places, not as ports. Building has gone on rapidly in the borough on the very correct assumption that our permanent revenue must ever be derived from visitors. The reputation of the place has been wonderfully on the rise for years, and a steady stream of prosperity seems to have set in which we should be careful not to arrest. Eager to prove the need of a harbour here, it has been observed that some places with harbours have advantages over Hastings. So they have, of course; but are they advantages that we should desire for Hastings? The greater accommodation for colliers, barges and wharfage that Rye has, for example, makes it all the better for that town. But Rye is not a place of resort for visitors and never can be whilst it possesses the kind of ‘advantages’ we do not possess. Our towns, on the contrary, have no such claim to the favourable notice of the class of traders who make the fortune of people living in a harbour town. Our ‘advantages’ are of another kind – the right kind for the class of people who keep alive our professions and trades – the visitors. We have neither wharves , foreign coasters, swarms of colliers, incessant street bustle and noise, nor the other concomitants of a harbour. But we have fine houses, quiet streets, an unrivalled promenade, a clean and beautiful beach, romantic scenery, and a lively and pleasant sea-view. Our business is to make the Pg.110 best of this; not to mar it. Such contrasts as we are talking of are absurd. Manchester has advantages over us; but should we try therefore to make Hastings a manufacturing town? Dover has advantages over us; but do we wish to lose our best visitors by making Hastings a garrison town? Every place has its advantages, and each place should turn its attention to the improvement of whatever natural or artistic good it has; but what is a good in one place is not in another. Nature and Art have given us a character which is quite sui generis; and, if we are wise, we shall improve, and not spoil it. One gentleman (not a Hastings man) asserted that every sensible person must see the need of a harbour here. That it would be serviceable for some things is, of course, true; but we deny the correctness of this gentleman’s modest assumption; for, we know many sensible men who, on weighing the arguments on either side do not see that the need of a harbour is so great as the need of a total absence of whatever would interfere with the comfort, taste and health of the people from whom we get our living. One of the speakers, in referring to the good of a harbour, confounded certain places having harbours and some having only piers. We submit that there is confusion in the logic here. The ‘nonsense’ is not ours, but the speaker’s. it is perfectly conceivable, surely, that a watering place might be improved by a pier, and yet not be benefitted by a harbour. The places named at the meeting proved this fact clearly. Ryde, for example, has a good pier, and thrives as a resort of visitors; but some of the other places, with harbours, can bear no comparison with such a watering place as our builders and townspeople are properly trying to make of this borough. We cannot have every advantage combined in one place. We have our choice, and shall do quite as well if we make that choice independently of the counsels of the promoters of pet schemes, and of strangers who talk as if those of our townsmen who don’t agree with their views are fools. Capt. Caxton expressed a belief that for every £1000 raised for this project, Government would give £2000; and yet Government has only promised £10,000 for experiments all along the coast, and Lord Harry Vane very caustiously(sic) advised the meeting not to be too sanguine on this head. One proposal is to raise the money by a rate. We are sorry to state that our conviction in regard to much that was said about the help a harbour would be to the 2,000 persons depending on the fishery is that it resembled too much the ad captandum vulgus style of oratory to prove anything to the point. We know, moreover that many of the fishermen and merchants in whose behalf the Pg.111 speakers were so greatly interested, entirely repudiate the alleged benefits of a harbour to their class. Whatever might be said about saving life from shipwreck, would have, of course, a shadow of truth in it; but, (as seems to be admitted by some of these advocates) other places near us are more favourably situated than we are for this purpose. Why then, if charity be a real plea, and not a mock one, should not one of those better sites for a harbour of refuge be left for Government to choose if it choose any at all? Why should we try to scheme such refuge here merely to answer our commercial ends? Let us keep our visitors and maintain our position as a watering place, and leave the advantages of a port to those sites better adapted by nature for the purpose. Besides, that several of the Council have given in their approval of a pier similar to one recently built at Southport, and which it is proposed to construct without cost to the town. Are we to have both schemes at once; or are our local improvers getting into a muddle? We have spoken our mind freely because we feel as strongly interested in the attractiveness and prosperity of Hastings as anybody. We do not differ gladly from those gentlemen who have so warmly taken up the project which we cannot yet see reason to approve. We should be better pleased to agree with them if we could; but, as we cannot, we have no intention of being hindered from expressing plainly all that we think about our local elements of prosperity. Meetings do not always speak the sentiments of the borough; and if they did, we should still aim at forming an independent opinion, and be resolved to express it. It is but fair to Capt. Sleigh and just to ourselves that we are not for a moment objecting to his plan of forming breakwaters; but to the desirableness of adapting any plan to Hastings until a stronger case has been made out in proof of the assertion that a harbour is required here. All change is not progression nor every alteration an improvement.”
Mr. Womersley on the proposed Harbour. In the same issue of the News , Mr. C. J. Womersley wrote thus: “Sir, - As time at the public meeting did not admit of anything being said con after the pros had had proper opportunity of putting their case, and as I am one of those who think there is something to be said against – albeit that idea seemed to be ignored at the meeting – will you permit me to attempt it in your paper? I would proceed by way of reply, but really I heard no argument in favour of the project as applicable to these towns. There was some claptrap about the poor fishermen and some about shipwrecked sailors, but it was not shewn that a harbour Pg.112 would relieve fishermen from having to apply to Boards of Guardians; because, forsooth, to accomplish that, the harbour must be large enough not merely to shelter in, but also to fish in during stormy weather. Nor in a national point of view was it at all shewn that Hastings offered any particular facilities beyond almost any other part of the coast; it might therefore be left as a moot point whether the ‘Ness or Rye harbour, Pevensey Bay, Newhaven, or Shoreham, might not be at least as good places for spending a few thousands as even Hastings, where there is neither indentation of the land nor back water. May I express my wonder whether those gentlemen who seemed to have floating in their minds certain visions of merchant and even of Royal Navies as riding in safety at anchor here, had really thought how many feet – shall I say miles – of break-water would be required for such a purpose? Surely it would not be more expensive nor much more utopian to talk about a large umbrella to keep off both wind and rain. I venture the opinion that the business of the meeting really was – not to express cheap sympathy with starving fishermen and drowning sailors; but, under all circumstances, is a harbour desirable for Hastings and St. Leonards. The borough has two branches of industry – one its fishing trade, the other its lodging telling. Of the first, I will only say that, no doubt, shelter would be of service in bad weather, but would it be cheaper for our boats to pay for the help an erection here would afford them or run, as they do now, to where shelter already exists? The other trade – lodging houses, would they be benefited by a harbour? I will not talk of opinions – one man’s may be as good as another’s – but before jeopardising our unexampled prosperity here, let us look at some other places. Now, of the principal sea-bathing places in the South of England, Ramsgate, Margate, Dover, Southampton and Weymouth have harbours, while Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton and Worthing have none; and from my own knowledge, by information gleaned at one time or another at the places themselves, the state of property and general prosperity of the former towns will bear no comparison whatever with the latter ones. It was said at the meeting that a harbour was a great attraction to visitors. If so, it is really surprising that the shrewdness of English people has not led them during the last hundred years to establish their marine watering places at some of the many noble harbours and ports we have in this country, whereas there is scarcely an instance of that being done. French traffic is by some supposed to be available for the desiderated harbour at Hastings; but with Dover and Folkestone Pg.113 eastward, and Newhaven to the west, is there really such an amount of traffic with our friends over the water as to require another point of contact? Or, if viewed as a matter of competition I am told by those who know the place, that St. Valery, the only French port offering geographical advantages to Hastings, is utterly unworthy of being thought of, on account of the wretched condition as a harbour. I have said before that Hastings, whether with reference to the house-owners or the inhabitants of the owners’ houses, are enjoying a prosperity so far as I am aware unexampled in its history . What more can be had? Or if it can, let those who propose a change show how that will accomplish it. Other towns on the coast have their vocation as places of business and commerce; Hastings has its advantage as a place of pleasure and salubrity. It’s air, its hills, its sands and beach, and its esplanades. Let not visionaries seek to mar what is now both beautiful and profitable. I am, sir, yours obediently, C. J. Womersley.”
Remarks on the above letter. In the foregoing communication to the Hastings News, Mr. Womersley referred to St. Valery as the only French town offering geographical advantages to Hastings, but which with its wretched harbour and other circumstances could not be thought of. Perhaps he remembered the correspondence between the Mayor of St. Valery and the Mayor of Hastings in 1855 (See Local History Vol 5, page 163) in which the latter, assisted by the Town Clerk, made it clear that it was almost impossible to establish a maritime traffic and continental communication between the two places. Mr. Womersley also alluded to Newhaven harbour (as well as to those of Folkestone and Dover) against which a harbour at Hastings would not be able to successfully compete; and in this opinion he would have been well fortified if he could have read the up-to-date history of that extensive harbour and gigantic appliances at an immense cost as described in Vol. IV., pages 79 to 84 of the present work. Not only would the Newhaven harbour in 1860 have afforded facilities which Capt. Sleigh’s proposed harbour at Hastings could never have attained to , but at the present time (1899), being the property of two powerful railway companies – one in England and one in France – it is more than ever in a position to hold its own against the possibly-to-be-finished one at Hastings still undergoing delay in its construction. But to return to the argument against Capt. Sleigh’s design in 1860.
Another Letter – bearing the signature of “Civis” – appeared in the same number of the Hastings News as follows:- “Sir, - The harbour meeting appears to have been a one-sided one, so far as oratory and voting Pg.114 went. Possibly many of the inhabitants who considered the proposal a mere chimera, did not trouble themselves to attend, and others might have preferred discussing the wider question of the need or otherwise of having a harbour at all to the restricted one of the merits of a particular plan. With all deference to the position and intelligence of the speakers, I do not consider that they made out a case. Capt. Sleigh’s advocacy of his own plan was all very right and natural, but will not weigh much with my fellow townsmen unless their judgments(sic) are convinced by a personal examination as well. Before we allow the town to be pledged by a few sanguine and interested speculators to a scheme that might (as you say) entirely alter the character of these towns, there are a few questions that require answering, which were not met by anything said at the meeting. As to the talk about the poor fishermen, &c. I regard as so much bosh - very taking at a public meeting, but a very poor foundation for harbour-building. If any of my brother townsmen who favour the movement would reply to these queries of mine they might be serving the borough and instructing me. – 1st. – Is it possible to combine the advantages of a first-rate watering-place with the privileges of a commercial port? 2nd. – If these be compatible will it be possible for Hastings as a port, to compete with other ports along the coast which have a better position and a settled trade? 3rd. – If it be doubtful, is the risk worth runing(sic) of deteriorating the value of the immense amount of lodging-house property in the borough by bringing more coasters and colliers near our beach and filling our streets and promenades with their crews and traffic? 4th. – Is not the vast increase in our local prosperity due almost wholly to the fact that great sums of money have been invested in houses for visitors, and to that natural beauty of our scenery, and to that cleanliness of our sea-beach which have attracted visitors to fill those houses? It is scarcely possible we could have made greater progress the last dozen years than we have. Doing this without a harbour where is the proof that we should do more with one? Is it not wise to let well alone? We have grown and are still growing. 5th. – If the proposed floating harbour be large enough to do one third of what is promised, who can guarantee that it will not extend further west than some of its promoters desire? And if it be not so large what good would it be? In the one case its size would spoil our frontage; in the other it would be only throwing money into the sea. 6th. – Supposing a harbour to be wanted, is the proposed plan the best? Are Pg.115 no other plans to be submitted? Has this been tested and approved, or is Hastings to have the honour (and cost) of making the experiment? 7th. – The floating breakwater is said to keep the breakers from the sheltered vessels, but how does it affect the ground swell? If the craft roll much (as in the case of another experiment some years ago at Brighton) they might as well be in the open sea. 8th. – Suppose the committee or a few enthusiastic speculators decide on adopting the plan proposed, the house-proprietors and ratepayers will have to be consulted I presume before the prosperity of the borough be staked against a crochet.” “Civis”
“A Resident”, dating his letter Sept. 7th, writes:- “Let not the clean, pleasant shingle of our shore be fouled by the inevitable dirt of a harbour of any description. Our beach will now vie with that of any watering place in the kingdom. It is very far superior to that of Brighton. Let us aim to keep up the character we possess in this respect. It would assuredly be lost in the attempt to add marine commerce to the means of health and pleasure. To spoil the beach is to spoil the borough. This I think ought to settle the question. Eastbourne, which is already sheltered by the Beachy Head range from west and south-west gales, would be better for Capt. Sleigh’s experiments.”
Deep Interest”, under date of Sept. 10th, also wrote thus:- “Mr. Womersley is right in stating whether under all the circumstances a harbour is desirable for Hastings and St. Leonards? He honestly thinks it is not, and every such opinion upon such an important question deserves attention. My first impression – the subject coming so suddenly upon me – was that there could be no doubt that such a harbour was desirable, and that the only question could be how to get it; but finding that you and others, equally, if not more competent to judge, differ from me, I feel that I expressed myself too strongly and too hastily..... Allow me to suggest that in a question of so much importance and in which all parties must wish to arrive at a right conclusion, it would be better to drop all insinuations of personal motives or interest, and to discard all angry feeling, and to confine ourselves entirely to an unbiased discussion of the merits of the case. There is no fear or hope of turning Hastings into a Manchester or Liverpool, and I believe the only object at present is to make it of some use as a shelter to boats and vessels, to be extended if found to answer. I plead guilty to the charge of not being a Hastings man or permanent resident, but in everything connected with its prosperity I have a “Deep Interest”.
Much other Correspondence followed, including one or two more letters from Mr. Womersley, one from “Esperanza”, another Pg.116 “Civis”, one from “An Annual” three or four from “Let Well Alone”, and three at least from the Rev. J. A. Hatchard; but notwithstanding the published advice of “Deep Interest” to drop all insinuations of personal motives and to confine the harbour question to unbiassed(sic) discussion, personalities (particularly between the two writers “Let Well Alone” and the Rev. J. A. Hatchard) were such that the Editor of the Hastings News determined at length to admit no further communications that wandered from the subject.
A News Editorial of September 14th ran thus:- “The Harbour Question is the principal local matter of controversy at present. Our correspondence columns give abundant evidence of this fact. We have heard nothing to change our views on the subject, and our opinions remain precisely the same as we expressed last week. The feeling is gaining ground that the difficulty of raising means to carry out the scheme will deliver the objecting part of our townspeople from any apprehensions which they may have entertained about the matter. The resolution adopted at the recent harbour meeting embraced two distinct objects. It pledged its supporters to the assumption that a Harbour was wanted here, and bound them to recommend a particular method of constructing that harbour. A suggestion that these two distinct clauses should be separated was slighted, and the meeting swallowed both at a single gulp. The unfairness of this would soon become apparent if Hastings were really serious in its determination to have a harbour; for, amongst the many theories afloat in the engineering world on the subject of breakwaters and harbours, it is just possible that one or more might be propounded of equal worth with the theory we are asked to adopt. Without wishing to disparage Capt. Sleigh’s plan, we think it right to ask that, in case of a harbour of some kind being erected here, every business-like measure should be adopted to secure for the town the best possible system of construction. The usual course in both public and private business is to invite competition; not to take the first theoretical plan that may be offered. We write in this way because already another nautical gentleman – Vice-Admiral Taylor (who has a plan of his own to recommend) has ventured to dispute Capt. Sleigh’s claim to having the best plan to offer. In reference to the assumed power of Capt. Sleigh’s breakwater to stand a heavy sea, the Admiral thus writes to us – “Each section of his breakwater offers a surface Pg.117 of 300ft. by 60ft. Imagine this being borne up on the top of a wave, and being moored at each corner allowing only upward movement. What mooring or structure could hold such a strain? The anchors would be torn from holding ground or chains give way, and the sections being hinged together, one on the top of a wave and one in the hollow of the sea, the former would be pulling against the latter, with tons of water upon it. No water-tight structure could stand such a strain. The plan looks well in a drawing with smooth water, when they are all in an even line, but how would they be in a gale?” – Admiral Taylor is a claimant, as others are, on the public goodwill to have his system tried, and his first anxiety is to moor a section with life-saving apparatus, in deep water on the edge of the Goodwin Sands, where there is good holding ground, and where valuable service might be rendered by it to the cause of humanity. This proposed Asylum for shipwrecked sailors would be formed of a large section with cabins. &c., which cabins would not be required in the sections of which a breakwater would be made. We are no advocates of this plan or any other; but we wish our readers to see that, in the opinion of engineers there is more than one plan to be examined before these towns speculate blindly in harbour building. During the last agitation for a standing harbour, there were four plans submitted, and each had its warm partisans. Similar competition in floating breakwater plans would produce similar results; and without such competition no guarantee can be given to the ratepayers that they have been fairly dealt with. The Pier question is quite a distinct one from that of the harbour. The elegant iron pier offered by the builders of that at Southport has met with favour in the Council, who seem to think the neighborhood(sic) of Verulam place the best site for it. This is a scheme certainly more in accordance with the character of first-class towns of resorts for visitors.”
“The Ways and Means”. In one of the clauses of a communication from Mr. Womersley, the writer said – “As regards the question of ways and means, we have not been enlightened yet. Of the amount for anything of the harbour or breakwater kind, I would rather believe in sixty thousand than six; and for this there are three sources – a national expenditure, a local rating, and a raising of funds by way of a private enterprise. If the first, Parliament will see to it; if the last, it is a shareholder’s question. But let the ratepayers carefully watch that no attempt be made to fix an additional burden on them by way of rates, either by Pg.118 the local authorities, if they have the power, or by special enactment for the purpose. The expenditure would be certain and, perhaps, enormous; the income more than problematical.”
“Let Well Alone” contributed the following:- “Although this bantling appears likely to die of inanition, yet, as these mis-begotten things are sometimes very tenacious of life, the interest which I take in the social and material prosperity of the place [this will be shewn further on] induces me to lend a hand towards giving it its coup de grâce. In the first place the way the thing has been got up is objectionable. We don’t want outsiders to tell us what we really want. What matters it to them how hard and uncomfortable the bed may be they have helped to make for us; they will not lie upon it. Capt. Sleigh is, no doubt, an ingenious and worthy man, and his plan may be the best in the world; but we don’t want to be made his experimental frog. Fiat experimentum in corpore vili; there are places where if it does no good it will do no harm; let him try there. Next comes Capt. Claxton, who, of course, says ditto to Capt. Sleigh, but if he is, as I suppose the same gentleman I met at Clifton, years ago, he could tell us whether the class of people we desire to attract go to Bristol, which is a cheap place, with a port, or to Clifton, a comparatively dear one without one. Then, we have that most unfortunate unique Irish landlord, Lord Clanricarde, who can find no better use nearer home for a thousand pounds than to help to create a nuisance at Hastings. Last but not least, figures our respected member, Lord Harry Vane, who pro hâc(sic) vice, must be considered as an outsider, also; for, like Olympian Jove he will look down from the empyrean heights of Battle Abbey on us humble dwellers in the plain, and never have to encounter, in prop-per(sic)., the nuisances he will have helped to call into life. But we hope better things from his good sense; and I may add, en passant, that the respectable portion of this community would feel deeply indebted to his lordship if he would discourage as far as in him lies those impertinent aggressions which certain ambitious parties attempt periodically to make upon us. [Here, the writer gets away from the harbour question]. As respects a harbour at Hastings, we are, I suppose, all agreed that it would effect a great change in the character of the place, whether for good or for evil – socially, morally and materially. I have no hesitation in saying it would be for evil. The great charm of this place has been its comparative quietude and the absence of all constraint, combined with the general attractions of the locality. Ladies can walk out at all hours unattended, without fear of insult or annoyance of any kind; but this independence we know cannot be enjoyed in seaport towns. Pg.119 This would be our case even if we had only our own rollicking tars to deal with; but, if, as one of the advocates of harbour proposes, we are to be favoured with excursionists on their way to and from St. Valery (and Saints Valerius and Leonardus having sworn eternal friendship) we are to have a continuous influx of French hawkers with their abominable prints and snuff-boxes, their infamous books and their bestial oaths, compared with which English swearing is Euphemism itself, to say nothing of the female importations with their spécialité à vendre. If, I say, these be some of the advantages likely to accrue to Hastings from the possession of a harbour, I humbly submit to Capt. Claxton that any paterfamiliâs(sic) may fairly decline the proposed favour without forfeiting all claim to common sense. I can only say for myself that if I could have foreseen the possibility even of such a nuisance the many thousand pounds I have laid out in this locality would certainly have found another destination. I am confirmed in this view by a naval relative of mine who has just returned from visiting Weymouth, with which he was formerly well acquainted. He says that the harbour is a magnificent work, but that it has entirely changed the character of the place, which is no longer to be recognised. So it would be with us.”
Reference to St. Valery in the above letter arose from the expressed hope of the Rev. J. A. Hatchard’s that the Town Council would renew the negotiations with St. Valery which they abandoned a few years before. The reverend gentleman was in error as to negotiations. It was simply a reply to questions put to the Mayor of Hastings by the Mayor of St. Valery, as to what facilities we had for landing and shipping passengers and goods en route to and from London. To these questions there could have been but one answer – namely that there were no suitable facilities, and that if a harbour were constructed, the two railway companies were not at all likely to support it against their own respective interests and arrangements of Dover, Folkestone and Newhaven.
The Further Reference to “abominable French prints and snuff boxes” as likely to be brought over by French hawkers if a harbour were constructed, was, in itself, a weak argument against such construction; but the suggestion of a possibility of an importation of such debasing objects was, perhaps, justified by the fact that a considerable number had already been imported either by French or English agency, and that even in St. Leonard(sic) such things, with their immoral representations, were passed from hand to hand at public houses and other places, without any but a feigned attempt at secrecy.
Pg.120 The Committee at Work. On the 19th of September the following advertisement appeared:- “Hastings and St. Leonards Floating Harbour Association (Limited), capital £12,000 in shares of £1 each. The public meeting of the 3rd of September having passed unanimous resolutions for the formation of a Floating Harbour on the principal designed by Capt. Adderley Sleigh, K.T.S., and the Committee thus appointed having made a report after full consideration by a sub-committee, chosen for the purpose, expressive of their opinion that such a harbour should be placed off the Old Fishmarket, and from the patronage and support already given to this object, as also from the encouragement offered by the recent recommendation of a select Committee of the House of Lords, before which the Mayor and other authorities of this borough were examined, it is announced that the Association is now being formed to carry out the above mentioned object. Propectuses(sic) with names of Patrons and supporters, with every detail, will shortly be issued. In the mean time, full information on all points, Plans and particulars of amounts already subscribed may be had at the office of the Association, Marine Parade. By Order, Hastings, 19th Sept., 1860.
Comment on the above. The Hastings News, of the same week had the following remarks:- “The Harbour Committee appointed by the public meeting in Hastings is quietly pursuing its studies. Something definite has now been done, - at least, so we learn from an advertisement in today’s News, - and the public are invited to speculate in a £12,000 harbour, the money to be raised in £1 shares. On two suppositions this is a very sensible way of going to work, as it gives men of every class a chance of having a vested interest in the undertaking. Those two suppositions are – First that a harbour is wanted here; and, secondly, that £12,000 will be enough money to make one sufficiently large to be of use to anybody. If it be intended only for experiment we apprehend the inducement will be hardly strong enough to lead many persons to risk even their single pound. In last Friday’s Steam-Shipping Chronicle there is a sketch of some breakwaters of Vice-Admiral Taylor’s designing, and an explanation of their principle. Audi alteram partem.” [Hear the other party.] “We have nothing new to remark on the question, except that we believe the asserted unanimity is a fiction, as we hear that the Rev. W. W. Hume refused to sign the Report.”
Mr. Hume’s Withdrawal. This gentleman, acting on the dictates of his usually good sense, on discovering that the prepondering public opinion was decidedly against the proposed harbour, prac Pg.121 tically withdrew from the appointed committee.
Mixed Opinions and Personalities
The Rev. J. A. Hatchard, in reply to “Let Well Alone’s” insinuation that the harbour question was dying of inanition, wrote – “Mr Let-well-alone seems to write in your journal as though if he lent a hand to give the Harbour Association what he is pleased to call the coup de grace there must necessarily be an end of it altogether. Whether the plan is a good one or not, if Mr. Let-Well-alone disapprove of it, he evidently supposes that the bantling must die of inanition forthwith. It is all very well for the ‘fine old English gentleman’ (‘one of the olden school’) ‘who sits at home at ease’ to draw his easy chair before his table in his snug study, and write about the nuisance of a harbour; but had he been one of those who were exposed to the storm of last Monday I strongly suspect he would not have voted a harbour ‘an intolerable nuisance’. It sounds not a little selfish for a gentleman who can afford to spend ‘many thousand pounds’ in excluding the rough blast from beneath his warm comforters to hear him growl out a dyspeptic ‘Let well alone’. If your correspondent’s position is so influential why does he always discharge his pop-gun from behind his gauze screen? There may be occasions when only measures and not institutions or individuals are the theme. When a man is perfectly justified in withholding his name; but I esteem it to be an unwarrantable infringement of the law of liberty and fair dealing when an anonymous writer makes pointed public attacks upon literary or other institutions and allusions of a personal nature, if not direct, yet sufficiently pointed for the community generally to know clearly who the person referred to is. [It may be here explained that whilst “Let-Well-alone” (Mr. Montgomerie) was an ardent Conservative, Mr. Hatchard was a restless Liberal; and that whilst the St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institution, with its professed neutrality in politics and religion, declined to receive a Conservative Journal as a gift from Mr. P. F. Robertson, the Hastings Mechanics’ Institution, under the same rule of neutrality accepted as a present from Mr. Hatchard a Radical paper known as the Morning Star. Hence the allusion to institutions &c.] Mr. Hatchard continued – “As I have before now, if I mistake not, been the subject of anoymous(sic) attacks by Mr. ‘Let-well-alone’ and another anonymous writer I consider it just to myself to protest against conduct so truly un-English... I suppect(sic) that the composer, writing accurately, cannot describe himself as belonging to St. Leonards township. [Mr. Montgomerie’s usual signature afterwards was “S. Leonardis” as a contradiction to Mr. Hatchard’s assertion.]...Numerous as are the topics on which he writes, his signatures are nearly as nu Pg.122 merous. The learned phrases, however, in known and unknown tongues sufficiently indicate that all these letters are by the same author. Who the learned scribe is everyone has the same opportunity of guessing as I have. I beg to remind Mr. Let-well-alone that other people have also spent many thousand pounds’ in the borough. I am one of those persons. I have contracted to spend many thousands more, which I certainly should not have done had I not felt sanguine that Hastings, as well as St. Leonards, would soon emerge, from their ‘comparative quietude’ and become much more prosperous than they have ever been as commercial places.... I have carefully read Capt. Sleigh’s able exposition of his schemes in his Essay on Hydrographical Engineering, and I, for one, believe in the practicability of his plan. I can assure your correspondent that the ‘bantling’ is likely to become quite a pet child, and instead of dying of inanation, already exhibits signs of a healthy rotundity. All the fostering care I can give it shall not be withheld. I believe the scheme only requires energy and enterprise to make it not only remunerative, but highly important as a protection to valuable property and to still more valuable life, and at the same time highly conducive to the peace and prosperity of our common country. On these grounds I give the scheme my humble but hearty support, and shall not fail to endeavour to promote its prosperity in every way in my power. I intend to possess myself at once of one hundred shares; and if I find that the business of the association is being transacted with the vigour that its deep importance deserves and with the enery(sic) that is in harmony with the progressive spirit of the century in which I esteem it my privilege to live, I shall be sure it will prove a highly remunerative undertaking; and as a matter of self-interest shall be glad to make my stake larger in it.
“Let-Well-Alone’s” Rejoinder. – In the next number of The News (Oct 5) Mr. Montgomerie re-entered the arena of opinion and personality, but as he wandered considerably from the legimate(sic) line of controversy only portions of his letter are here reproduced. He began by saying that – “It would seem that the despairing Pons Assinorum(sic) of the young middies ‘Given the length and breadth of the ship to find out the captain’s name’ is not so absurd after all. We now learn that if two anonymous letters resemble each other in style, you can work out the writer’s name. I will not stop to examine the logic of this new formula, but will Pg.123 proceed at once to observe in answer to the suggestion of your correspondent with ‘name in full’ that as I hold the true principle of newspaper correspondence to be Non Quis sed Quid – not who writes, but what is written – and as I have no desire for notoriety nor for seeing my name in print, I must decline to gratify him by removing my ‘gauze screen’. In return, I will offer him a counter suggestion. Let him procure the same article for himself, the most impervious he can find before he addresses you again, and I will promise him not to commit the indiscretion of attempting to remove it without his consent. I can assure him that to employ a ‘Nominis umbra’ is no ‘un-English’ device, but the natural consequence of a free press and free institutions....It is, I have no doubt my expression of opinion on other points, and not my interference with that bubble, the Hastings Harbour Association that has so exited(sic) your correspondent, and stirred up his ‘dispeptic symptoms’. He is known to us all as a well meaning man, and we all wish him well. Why, then, doesn’t he ‘Let-well-alone’, instead of constantly getting into hot water at the risk of scalding his fingers?”
Another from “Let-well-alone”. This gentleman having been reminded that he had wandered from the subject, and must in any further communication keep to it, wrote again, in the following week in these words:- “Sir, - In reference to the editorial remark appended to the letter ‘Let-well-alone versus The name in full’ will you kindly permit me to observe that that letter was evidently intended as an answer to a printed attack on ‘Mr. Let-well-alone and his pop-gun’, which clearly called for another pop in return; and your correspondent with the “Name-in-full’ having wandered from the harbour into certain by-paths, there was no alternative but to follow him. I readily admit that the greater part of that ‘assault without battery’, was only to be laughed at, and that I might very well have said, with Lord Derby’s Lifeguardsman, when his shrew of a wife tried to pummel him, ‘Never mind; it amuses her and it does not hurt me.’ But I could not allow it to be supposed that I had found fault with the management of educational institutions in this place without stating some of the grave, and as I think, very sufficient reasons which induced me to do so. As regards the benevolent institutions, it is simply a misstatement. The would-have-been Reformers, of whom I was one, and whose sound and benevolent views were thwarted by the selfishness of some and the silliness of others, signed a printed circular and publicly expressed their opinions at the meeting. The cry was then Pg.124 against the publication of influential names. In either case the complaint is a childish sham; and no one who has really peeped behind the ‘gauze screen’ and knows who sits there will believe that that person is either afraid or ashamed to avow and support his opinions. [The benevolent institutions here alluded to had reference to the efforts of the Rev. W. W. Hume, Mr. Montgomerie, and perhaps one or two other gentlemen, who, with the opinion of acturies(sic) sought to get those institutions – and more particularly the Old Friendly Society – so to alter their rules as to place them upon a safer basis. They were told, however, in published letters to mind their own affairs and not meddle with things they knew nothing about. Alas! the melancholy end which those busybodies foresaw came sooner than was expected; for although some alterations in the rules were afterwards made, the change was too inefficient or too late, and the insolent boast of some of the officers was followed by an inevitable break-up]. “And now with respect to the Harbour Question, I cannot say pur et simple; for, though the shareholders may be simple, the neighbourhood of the harbour will be anything but pur. I suppose I need not stop to argue the point whether those who happen to differ from your correspondent’s views are necessarily selfish and reckless of human suffering and loss of life. Among competent persons, (including naval men) are those of opinion that ten times more lives would be lost upon this dangerous coast by tempting men to run for a harbour at Hastings than by keeping out to sea and giving a wide berth altogether. And as for selfishness, the charge is clearly most applicable to those who for the sake of carrying out a commercial speculation, would force their ill-concocted scheme down the throats of their fellow-townsmen. To show that all the humanity, as well as all the common sense of the place is not, as we are told, monopolized by the advocates of this scheme. I may add that I am at liberty to state that Lady Waldegrave - who is as distinguished for her active benevolence as she is for her position and possessions, and is ever ready to lay the ‘first stone’ in any act of humanity and public utility – entirely disapproves of this Hastings Harbour scheme, as also do the chief persons of the place with whom I have spoken on the subject. The reason there has been no active opposition seems to be indicated by the answer I have received when expressing my misgivings as to the evil consequences – ‘Don’t be under any apprehensions; nothing will ever come of it’; and, so far from looking upon the inanition of which I spoke as the probable result of the expression of my opinion, that opinion was Pg.125 merely a reflex of public opinion. But, indeed, it was not then known that your correspondent, with ‘Name-in-full’ was prepared to certify to the professional and scientific merits of the plan proposed, and his ‘fostering care’ would not be withheld! This fostering care, it seems, consists of possessing himself of £100 worth of shares, for which he confidently expects ‘a good return!’ ‘Thank ye for nothing’ I suppose is the appropriate form of thanksgiving in such a case; and as for the value of his opinion on a professional and scientific question, it is the same value as mine – absolutely nil; and if anyone is simple enough to invest even a fourpenny piece upon it, it will only prove the truth of the old proverb ‘A fool and his money are soon parted.’ Your correspondent does not seem to perceive that the possessing himself of a hundred shares put him out of court as a witness to character. No one cries ‘stinking fish’ and, henceforth, like Mr. Hudson, he is bound to make things pleasant. But where are the dividends of this highly remunerative undertaking to come from? I am told that the fishermen think ‘small beer’ of it, and would hardly be induced to make use of the accommodation even if it could be had gratis... I had purposed examining the value of certain other arguments which have been advanced in favour of the harbour, but I must not occupy any more of your space at present.”
A Change of Views. Finding that the apathy of some and the arguments of others of the townspeople were likely to entirely thwart the action of the Harbour Committee, Mr. Hatchard executed a change of front, as will be seen from the following extracts of his next letter to The News:- “Sir, - You will remember that in the first letter I addressed to you from Edinburgh, I said that unless the prospectus announcing the undertaking could show that it would prove profitable to shareholders it would fall to the ground for want of support. Saturday was the first day that my other engagements permitted of my making enquiries about the precise state of affairs on this important question. I admit that I had taken it for granted that those investigations had already been made, without which it is clearly impossible for a scheme of the sort now mooted to stand in favour with the public. I have now another proof before me that it is unwise to take anything for granted in matters of a strictly business character. I find that no announcement of the proposed harbour has been made in official form to either of the railway companies whose lines connect Hastings and St. Leonards with the me Pg.126 tropolis, and that no enquiries have been instituted as to what support, if any, they would be likely to afford to an association formed for the establishing of a port at Hastings; nor have any enquiries been made as to how far our neighbours on the opposite side of the Channel would be inclined to help us carry out such a scheme as to make it sufficiently remunerative. Nothing of this kind has been done; there is, consequently, no data on which to ground an appeal to the public, without whose support a plan of the kind now before us must necessarily fail.... Upon further going into the present case as it now stands, I am bound to confess that there is nothing yet before us to lead us to entertain the hope of such support. I feel it right to say this, as I have taken a somewhat prominent part in the discusion(sic) of this question.... Until we can produce a prospectus, as I said, virtually at first, that can satisfy members of the Stock Exchange, we can never expect to make anything of this important scheme. It is not my wish to anticipate the primary question, because my view is that we should again begin at the beginning; yet I cannot help saying that, personally, I cannot see that a harbour can do the two towns anything but good.”
Mr. Hatchard’s Last Fling. Thus far, the avowal of a changed attitude was honourable; but there was no admission that the harbour project was already dying of inanition as suggested by “Let-well-alone” nor any but a tacit acknowledgement that there was any soundness in the arguments which he had himself so strongly denounced with provokingly personal allusions. On the contrary, Mr. Hatchard filled the remainder of his letter with a long string of personalities against a gentleman who whatever else he might have said of his opponent, also publicly asserted “Mr. Hatchard is a good man, and we wish him well.” Equally a good man was he who penned that sentence, as the people of Hastings and St. Leonards had the happiness to know. Continuing his latest letter on the Harbour, Mr. H. wrote – “ I am just now engaged in two or three public matters which tax all my energies of mind and body. I cannot therefore allow myself to be drawn into a war of words with an hypochondriacal patient who probably finds more relief for his malady in the vulgar amusement of persecuting a parson than in the more regular and respectable expedient of calling to his aid one of the able doctors of physic practising in the borough. For the future I shall therefore treat his false and unfair insinuations Pg.127 with the contempt his anonymous scurrility deserves; though, in justice to me, I am sure you will give my answer to his letter of last week. I feerlessly(sic) throw myself on the good feeling of the community that surrounds me and leave it to them to decide whether it is or is not a gross infringement of that law of liberty under which we happily live for a man whose name is not given to offer another whose name is given, the public insults conveyed both directly and indirectly in a letter written by one who signs himself “Let-well-alone”. In the opinion of your correspondent nothing can be well, for he never will let anything alone. Did the necessity for my remarks in your impression of the week before last require proof, it was abundantly furnished by the letter which immediately preceded mine signed with the same signature, which letter was written of course while I was writing mine; consequently, before I could have known its tenour.... As I am threatened with further attacks from Mr. “Let-well-alone” I repeat that my time is far too valuable and too much occupied to be taken up by supplying him with that weekly potion of excitement upon which his being well seems to depend. It really requires almost as great amount of moral courage to give open expression to an independent opinion on any subject in some of our petty principalities at home, nowadays as it once required in the petty principality of Bomba, himself. For the sake of the elucidation of truth, I deeply regret that such should be the case and with the expression of that regret, I subscribe myself yours faithfully, J. Alton Hatchard.”
The Editor’s Resolve. – “We have now allowed Mr. Hatchard to reply to the remarks of ‘Let-well-alone’, not connected with the Harbour question, and now decline further insertion of any more communications (from either party) if they are not free from the personal matter that has recently been introduced into them.”
Two Different Natures. It has been stated that the above named disputants were both good men; but they were as opposite as well could be in their physical constitutions, their individual temperaments and their political creeds. Mr. Montgomery was an invalid and an ardent Conservative, who wrote much and under a nom de plume, whilst Mr. Hatchard was a robust clergyman and a Liberal politician, whose desire for popularity induced him on all occasions to attach his real name to whatever he communicated to the press. The former gentleman established at his own expense an Invalid Industrial Kitchen and Ladies’ Home, contributed liberally to charitable and philanthropic institutions, and kept an almost open house to persons who were really in distress. The latter gentleman, as indicated even by his own letters, was at the time seeking for profitable invest Pg.128 ments, although desirous that such investments should benefit the borough as well as himself. He was a would-be pioneer in matters of sanitation, water, and general improvement, he was good to poor people and an advocate for suitable recreation for the so-called working classes; but being of an impulsive temperament, whenever or wherever he fancied a mere change would affect an improvement, he could not brook delay. That change must be made, be it ever so right or ever so wrong, without waiting for the more matured opinions and experience of others. Hence at the very time of the harbour proposal, the committee of the National Schools were unable to work with him, which caused, first the resignation of Mr. Hume, and then of Mr. St. Quintin, and lastly himself. It was afterward the same with the St. Leonards Commissioners and the Mechanics’ Institution; and later still, the Hastings Town Council over the water question. The reverend gentleman’s views were mostly right in themselves, but his method of expounding them was too often ill-timed and injudicious. Yet, for all that, he was a good man at heart, and upon the whole a real benefactor to the borough. To know in what way he conferred benefits on the community it may be needful to read the memoirs of the Rev. J. A. Hatchard, pages 1 to 20, vol lll Historico-biography of Local Worthies.
As the Benefit Societies were alluded to in the unfriendly letters between Mr. Hatchard and Mr. Montgomery when discussing the pros and cons of the proposed harbour, and as the latter (together with the Rev. W. W. Hume) was one of the gentlemen who interested themselves in an endeavour to get those societies placed on a safer basis; and, also, as two of those societies came to a dissolution even before the time anticipated by the would-be reformers, it is judged to be here appropriate to quote so much of the correspondence as may be useful to the managers of present and future institutions of a like description. Similar to all the public utterances of the late Mr. Hume, the following letter exhibits a flow of sound advice and practical suggestions:-
“Sir, - Will you allow me through the medium of your paper to address a few words to the working men in Hastings and the public generally on the important subject of Benefit Societies? In the spring of last year, Mr. Tidd Pratt delivered a lecture in this town explanatory of the principles upon which Friendly Societies ought to be formed if they are to secure to the members the benefits for which they pay. He told us that the number of enrolled and certified societies in England and Wales exceeded twenty Pg.129 thousand, embracing some two million of members, and possessing funds to the amount of more than nine millons(sic) of pounds. These figures are quite sufficient to show a strong desire on the part of the working classes to join such socities(sic), and their conviction of the value of the benefits which they are designed to supply. It is, however, a lamentable fact that unsound calculations, bad management and fraud cause many of these institutions to fail. In the last annual report of the Registrar of Friendly Societies it is stated that notices of dissolution have been received from 58 societies during the year 1858, and since that time the number has considerably increased; the causes of dissolution generally arising from the claims made on the funds of pensioners, the numbers of members being small and no increase of young members. Since the passing of the first Friendly Societies Act in 1793 to 1858 the number of enrolled and certified societies was 28,550, and of that number 6,850 had ceased to exist. Founded on incorrect principles they contained in themselves the elements of their own destruction, and when by the lapse of time the weight of their responsibilities began to press upon them, they were found unequal to the strain. The objects of Friendly Societies are the mutual relief and maintenance of members thereof, their wives and their children, or other relatives in sickness, infancy and old age, widowhood or any other natural contingency whereof the occurrence is susceptible of calculation by way of average. Now, in order to secure the permanent well-doing of any society formed for such purposes, it is essential that the contributions should be sufficient to provide the promised benefits. In too many instances, however, this all important rule is disregarded. Men who have a personal interest in the establishment of Benefit Societies too often accomplish their object by offering great advantages at a small cost; and the working man is easily caught by such a bait... The number of societies which have existed long enough to bring the sufficiency of their contributions to a test of experience bears a lamentably small proportion to the number which have become insolvent. In the early stages of such institutions the claims upon their funds are few. They usually start with the great mass of their members in the prime of life and robust health; so, that for awhile, all their receipts appear to be profits. It is only when advancing age, increased sickness or permanent infirmity, together with accelerated claims for funeral money press heavily on the funds that the inadequacy of the original contributions is discovered. The ruin which results from such a state of things falls most heavily on the old members – men, who for the best portion of Pg.130 their lives have been striving to make provision for old age and infirmity, and who have neither time nor strength to begin again. There is scarcely a town or a village in England which cannot furnish unfortunate instances of what is here asserted; and there is even great danger amongst ourselves. Mr. Tidd Pratt, in the lecture which I have referred to, sounded a loud note of warning. He told us that not only was the condition of Benefit Societies in general bad, but that some of our own in particular, were incapable, without most important alterations of answering the ends for which they were formed. I took the liberty on that occasion of recommending to members of such societies in Hastings an honest and manly examination of their own condition, and the unsparing application of such remedies as Mr. Tidd Pratt might propose. The suggestion was kindly received at the time, and I have waited patiently ever since to see if any good would come of it. It is too soon yet to ask what has been done? – Whether the old clubs have been so reformed and strengthend(sic) as to justify the entrance of young members who wish to ensure something better than a disappointment? There are people in this place who, though not in a position to become beneficial members, are yet deeply impressed with a sense of the importance of such institutions to the comfort and independence of working men, and most anxious to help either to repair existing societies or to form a new one for the borough upon sound principles. They have waited long and anxiously to see what would be done. At the time of Mr. Tidd Pratt’s lectures, the members and managers of existing societies seemed to be thoroughly awake to the dangers and difficulties of their position. There was a talk of meetings and consultations, but we have yet to learn what practical good resulted from them. I, for one, would much rather help to reform the old societies than to construct a new one. It is a cruel thing to turn adrift old members who have not only made their payments with laudable and sometimes painful regularity, but have also helped to support many a brother in the time of sickness, and to impart some comfort to the widow, the fatherless and the orphan. And yet it is whispered about that the old members make all the difficulty; that if these could be got rid of, the club would be strong again. But this is as if a tradesman should say he could keep his shop well stocked if his customers would pay for articles without having them. Of course he could; and so could Benefit Societies go on and prosper if they could throw all their troublesome customers overboard. But this ought not to be; the old members are worthy of all consideration. Pg.131 But can they be saved? Can they have what they have paid for? Are the old societies solvent? It is cruel to turn out old members, but it is also cruel to admit new ones into a society already condemned as unsound. It only shifts the burden to another generation. I venture then, after waiting nine months, that the managers of the old societies might have time for action, to ask what has been done to improve the condition of the Benfit(sic) Societies of Hastings, and whether they are now in such condition as to make it prudent for fresh members to join? I hope someone of the intelligent managers of these institutions will answer these questions, and most sincerely do I hope that the answer will be in the affirmative. Should it be otherwise the only wise course will be to form a new club for the borough founded on correct calculations and sound principles; and in support of which the rich and poor may stand together, and so fulfil one law of our holy religion by ‘bearing one another’s burdens’. I will venture to add, in conclusion, that no mere superficial reform will be sufficient to make the old clubs safe to new members. A Benefit Society based on a wrong principle or incorrect calculations must, sooner or later, be its own destroyer, just as a ship built with bad timber if freighted with its own weakness; there is in it ?(illegible) which paint may hide, but cannot cure – an original imperfection which, with a slow and silent process of consumption, eats out its strength. I shall rejoice to hear Mr. Tidd Pratt pronounce our old societies safe. But if this cannot be – if they are incapable of repair, then let us try if we cannot form another society which, being sound, shall secure to all its members the benefits for which they pay and thus help the working man to the wholesome pleasure of being independent. W. W. Hume” “Jan. 30, 1860”.
Mr. E. Vernon Harcourt was the next correspondent, and wrote as follows:- “Sir, - I observed in your paper a letter making remarks upon a circular to which my name among others, was attached and which invited attendance at a meeting to take into consideration the soundness of the constitution of Benefit Societies in Hastings. I am far from wishing to enter into a controversy on the subject, as we are, probably all agreed in wishing well to such societies. As to the wording of the circular I hold myself irresponsible, as I never saw it before it was issued. The first question then is, do the societies in Hastings meet the requirements laid down by Mr. Tidd Pratt as necessary to the constitution of really sound bodies? Some of them are free to confess that they are not; but at the same time assert that reform as impossible; and why? because, they say, we cannot persuade the members that it is better to pay a rather larger sum per annum, and Pg.132 to receive a rather smaller sum for it as a certainty, than to pay a smaller sum and receive a larger return for it as an uncertainty. We know, say they, that we cannot meet our engagements, but neither can we persuade our members to accept of reform. The second question is, if the existing societies should prove to be unsound in constitution and incapable of reform, would it be wrong to establish a model society on sound principles? The only grounds on which the answer ‘Yes’ can be returned to this question are that such a proceeding would prove injurious to existing societies, which would be an unwarrantable interference with the rights of property. The same objection might be taken to the formation of every fresh society. I know that I shall be told that there is a distinction between societies established by working men for their own benefit and others established by men in a different class of life. This seems plausible enough; but I assert that it is impossible to separate the interests of the different classes in this country; and nothing is more mischievous than an attempt to do so. ‘If one member suffers all the members suffer with it’. I do not believe that there is any natural jealousy between different classes; on the contrary, I believe that the more one class sees of another, the more the two learn to respect each other. As to bolstering up anything which we know to be wanting in efficiency, I have no sympathy with such a sentiment. I am not prepared to say that the existing Benefit Societies in Hastings are all unsound, but I think we have sufficient grounds for doubt on the subject to make an examination desirable. If, on competent enquiry they should prove to be unsound or fall short of their just requirements; and if, moreover, from internal or external causes they should prove to be incapable of reform, in justice to the rising generation, let us not hesitate to establish something better, merely from a morbid feeling of wishing to protect that which we know to be unworthy of protection. I am sir, your obedient servant. E. Vernon Harcourt, Mar. 26, 1860.”
The Rev. T. F. Crosse appears next upon the scene with views of a somewhat different character, which he expounds thus:- “It is a principle of true liberality and true conservatism that where existing institutions either do the work required or can be made to do it, we should not subject them to an injurious competition. Neither is it to be desired that time, money, influence, zeal, energy and kind intentions, all of which are powers for good, should be invested in new undertakings which can be little more than a reduplication of already existing machinery. In such towns as ours, pru Pg.133 dent and judicious men should be particularly cautious on these points. We have constantly among us a large body of strangers willing to assist in good works, and yet altogether unacquainted with our local circumstances. These two conditions render their charities not only a power for good, but a power also for harm, according as they may be directed by us who are residents in the place. Thus, for instance, by promiscuous alms-giving a system of mendicancy may be set up, and by the constant development of new associations with new objects – unobjectionable and laudable as they may be in themselves – the working of our established and necessary charities may be crippled. It is, therefore, not without anxiety that we may regard the new project for forming a fresh Friendly Society, leaning on that suspicious support so indicative of essential weakness – an overwhelming influential patronage. It is true that the names are those of gentlemen the majority of whom are permanently connected with the place; but as there is reason to suppose that a large proportion of these have not as yet compared the organization of the different local societies with each other and with the suggestions of the Government Officer, they have not so far availed themselves in this matter of their local opportunities as to render the remark above made with regard to visitors inapplicable to them also. If these gentlemen merely mean – as is probably the case – to declare publicly their conviction that we should have Friendly Societies sound in principle, and that they are ready to co-operate with such societies, they are asserting that which will be generally accepted as true, and for which the public will owe them thanks; but should any of them be bent on founding something new, then there may be respectfully suggested to them the following considerations, which should in justice be weighed by them before they embark in a course which may be attended with serious results to those classes whom they are volunteering to serve. For, it must be remembered that however much those projectors may banish from their minds the idea of competition, it is impossible but a new society should exercise the effects of competition on those already in existence. To the honour of the humbler classes it is to be remembered our benefit societies have been founded by them, worked by them, and supported by them; and as they are also intended for their use, it is only with the greatest hesitation and as a last extreme course that we should now admit an interference which could hardly be otherwise than aggressive on them, and which also seems not in accordance with the spirit of the laws on the subject. If the oldest of those societies exhibits some Pg.134 reluctance to give up, as unattainable benefits for which its members have been paying for nearly half a century, it is a reluctance which, being extremely natural, may claim to be met with our continued forbearance; especially as it has recently made changes in accordance with its advisers. Until those changes have been compared with the views of the Government officer; until this other important fact has had due weight given to it – viz. that there are at least four more friendly associations in the town in addition to the oldest, and to the one based on it, which four are well supported and are flourishing, and are in accordance with the registrar’s views on important points on which the others differ from them – until gentlemen have considered all these matters, and looked into the official and local documents, we must apprehend they are hardly in a position to act with security of advantage to those whom they desire to benefit. If at any time during the past half century the voice of warning had been raised the present difficulty might have been mitigated if not prevented; but as the discovery of danger has only been so tardy, it certainly may be claimed by those interested in the existing societies that there should be something of a corresponding tardiness in organising any new club which, by diverting the resources of those already in existence will tend to bring on their members those very difficulties which it professes to avert. I am &c. T. F. Crosse, March 20th, 1860.
A Private Meeting took place in the ante-room of the Music Hall on the 24th of March, at which about thirty persons were present, including the Revs. W. W. Hume, G. D. St. Quintin, T. Vores and Dr. Crosse; also E. V. Harcourt and J. Rock, Esqrs., and Messrs. Banister, Beazley, Barham, and Poole. The conference lasted about 3 hours, and resulted in a resolution moved by Mr. Rock to the effect that it was expedient to form a committee, with power to consult an actuary if considered desirable to enquire into and examine the positions of the various societies in the town, and that they should report before a public meeting was called upon the subject. J. Tidd Pratt, Esq., the Registrar of Friendly Societies, also attended the meeting, he having come expressly from London. As the meeting was a private one, the details were not made public, but the letters (already quoted) of the Rev. W. W. Hume, the Rev. Dr. Crosse and Mr. E. Vernon Harcourt, as well as some others which follow, will show the opinions entertained by those gentlemen.
Essential Weakness was the pseudonym of a gentleman who replied to the Rev. Dr. Crosse’s publised(sic) letter in the following words:- “I was one of the ‘naughty boys’ who signed a requisition for Pg.135 calling a meeting for the purpose of repairing existing Benefit Societies of this place or if necessary to create a new one I was therefore naturally attracted to a letter in your excellent paper [The Hastings News] signed by the Rev. Dr. Crosse. Poor, conceited mortal, that I was, instead of getting a gentle pat on the head, with a ‘Good boy, go on and prosper!’ I was rebuked. I could not understand why, but in the letter there was clearly stamped on me ‘Naughty boy.’ I took myself to task. I read over the requisition again and got courage to look at the letter once more. To the second paragraph I said – All right, that’s just what we are about; the Rev. Dr. I see is in our boat. Then in the next paragraph he talks of the doings of judicious men, of strangers coming to our delight(sic) town, of charities; all well, but wide of the subject; for, charities are just the antipodes of Benefit Societies. Well, sir, I read on to that which perplexed me greatly – ‘Therefore we regard not without anxiety the new project for forming a fresh Friendly Society which now comes before us, leaning on that suspicious support so indicative of essential weakness – an overwhelming influential patronage.’ How this patronage could spring out of a requisition calling a meeting was to me a puzzle; or how patronage is essential weakness is a mystery. The Rev. Dr. gives no proof, which is a pity – for our gracious Queen patronises many societies, and I take it, her patronage is more overwhelming than ours. But have those societies yet found out the essential weakness arising therefrom? To proceed, he says if we merely mean to co-operate with societies sound in principles and in management, the public will owe us thanks. Our proposal is if possible to repair existing societies or if necessary to form a new one. For that purpose was the meeting called – not merely meaning, but earnestly, honestly, openly meaning to get all classes to co-operate in this most desirable object – the formation of a Benefit Society as perfect and as safe as present knowledge and experience can make it. Well, sir, I cannot see in this the serious results anticipated; but I read on, and again the bugbear starts up. ‘The comparatively humbler classes’, he says (of course kicking out patronage) ‘founded, worked, supported these Benefit Clubs’. Is it so? Did not the other classes of society co-operate? Is there any society without honorary members, by whose help and advise it began and flourished? And I find such patronage – for such only finds in these most valuable institutions is as overwhelming an essential weakness – but as a co-operation deserving thanks?, yet to be used only with the greatest hesitation and as a last extreme; being an interference which can hardly be otherwise than aggressive, and not in accordance with Pg.136 the spirit of the laws on such subjects. Then, sir, time is demanded. A year has been already given. How much more is wanted? A warning should have been given before. By whom? Who had it to give? Failures lead to improvements in human affairs; so knowledge and experience have increased on this subject, and now the warning has been given. Well, sir, to make a long story short, our meeting took place on Saturday last. Mr. Tidd Pratt met us and gave us his views as to what such a society as we wanted should be. His opinion was that our existing societies could not be amalgamated because of their different interests, nor were they likely to make such changes as to reach what was needful. Some gentlemen came to our meeting from the old societies. Never did I see anything more fair, honest, straight-forward and manly than the way those gentlemen met us. I felt proud of my fellow-townsmen, and I thank them most heartily for so handsomely responding to our call. It was not their fault that their societies were not or could become such as those we would co-operate with. Other societies, I understood, were represented by the Rev. Dr. Crosse. Their plea was the great injury such a society as that which Mr. Tidd Pratt proposed would be to them.” “I am, sir, yours &c. Essential Weakness, St. Leonards, March 26, 1860.”
S. Leonardensis also contributed a letter, from which the following remarks are an extract. – “Sir, - As this subject is occupying public attention, I am desirous of making a few observations because the object of the circular to which my signature was attached seems to have been somewhat misapprehended. Indeed, if I had not known that in the circular it was proposed to repair existing societies or form a new one, I should almost have inferred from the letter of my excellent friend, Dr. Crosse, which appeared in your last, that it was proposed to set up some ‘Malevolent Society’ for the express purpose of exterminating certain ‘Benevolent Societies’ of the place which were perfectly fulfilling the objects – present and prospective, for which they were originally instituted. And, according to the opinions expressed by some parties at the Music Hall meeting, a person when invited to forward this provident and benevolent move, should have replied ‘Am I my brother’s keeper’? Social interference is as bad as political intervention. ‘Perish Benevolent Societies’ as well as ‘Perish Savoy’, rather than interfere; although it is true that they are perishing already, and at a fearful rate per cent. The tears of orphans and the wailing of widows accompany their funerals, but you mind your own business; you will only make bad matters worse by opening the eyes of people to the truth. Pg.137 No doubt the old established shop supplies at a very low price a very rotten garment; it is warranted to last the purchaser’s time, but when the winter of that time comes it turns out a mere rag, and leaves the purchaser naked in poverty, sickness and old age. The obvious remedy would be to establish a new shop which should supply a genuine article at full price, taking the old shop into partnership on equitable terms; but it is a ‘moral obligation’ not to interfere with the capital of the old shop; so let the young victims continue to swallow the bait, lest the old ones come to grief a little earlier in the day. Never mind the young capital being ingulphed in the common ruin, but protect the property of rags. This erroneous – or to use Mr. Tidd Pratt’s expression monstrous principle, with the usual flourish about ‘independence’ and ‘every man knowing best how to manage his own affairs’ (would that he did!) appeared to me to constitute the whole case against the movement. National independence is indeed a glorious possession, and long may it be ours and our children’s! – but individual independence – ‘Lord of the lion-heart and eagle-eye – is for lions and eagles; not for man. It has been wisely ordered that no man shall be independent of his brother-man; and when I hear anyone talk big about independence, I infer that it means some form of morbid pride or the setting up of some pet crochet in defiance of common sense and public opinion. Freedom of action is quite another thing, and is clearly increased by affording a man the choice of the genuine article dear or the spurious article, cheap. Our worthy chairman at the meeting stated that from what he had passed there he came to the conclusion that the societies could not amalgamate, but my inference was rather that they would not. Banks, railways, insurance offices, when they find they cannot go on upon their own resources alone, frequently amalgamate with other concerns, contenting themselves with a lower proportionate share of profits. Differences there are, but surely not insurmountable. For instance, why should not the older members, who by retiring from a club should enable it to amalgamate on more favourable terms, have some provision made for them by those who remain on and profit by the arrangement? It would, of course, require some sacrifice on both sides; but, on the other hand, they would both secure the certain instead of the uncertain. For an exceptional object like this, honorary subscriptions would, I think, be ligitimately(sic) available without trenching on the great principle of doing ones work oneself. In conclusion, I would address a few words of friendly appeal to the members of those institutions which accordingly as they are sound or unsound are a blessing or a curse to the community which supports them. Have Pg.138 faith, have confidence in them who wish you well; be assured that no gentleman would think of giving his time, his thought, his money for the purpose of injuring you. [Have ye faith in one another. When ye meet in friendship’s name; For the true friend is a brother, And his heart should beat the same. Though your paths in life may differ, Since the hours when first ye met; Yet have faith in one another; You may need that friendship yet.] Look the question boldly in the face and ask yourselves whether it be likely that such and such benefits can be purchased for such and such a price. Leave it not to chance or guess work, but employ a competent actuary to ascertain the real state of each society, and be guided by his advice, whether it be for amalgamation or for reconstruction, or even for breaking up altogether and dividing the funds in hand in order to join some new society founded on undeniable principles. Towards the expenses of this object I would willingly contribute £5, and others would, no doubt, be equally ready to assist. S. Leonardensis” St. Leonards-on-sea, March 28
The Friendly and the Unfriendly, or the Sensible and the Insensible are appellations that may be appropriately given respectively to two letters written on the same day (April 3rd) and published on the same day (Ap. 6th) in the Hastings and St. Leonards News. The first to be here reproduced was from the Rev. W. W. Hume, who, in a former letter of his employed by far the best arguments on the necessity of reforming the local benefit societies, coupled with reliable statistics and friendly advice. The other letter to be reproduced is one that was written in a most discourteous – not to say abusive – strain by Mr. Alfred Richardson, an officer of one of the societies. Mr. Hume’s second communication was worded as follows:- “Sir, - The letters which appeared in your paper last week on the subject of our local Benefit Societies were, I think, quite sufficient, and I am glad that in compliance with my request, you withheld the one I sent you. I should be well content to leave this matter in the hands of those who have shewn themselves so well able to defend the right, but for the remark in the letter signed ‘M.’, which is, I think likely to mislead the unwary, and upon which I must trouble you with a few words, lest otherwise it escape notice and correction. In the beginning of this letter our attention is directed to Benefit Societies found in connection with public-houses; and it would be difficult to overrate the evils resulting from such an arrangement. There can be little doubt that the foundation of habits of general intemperance is frequently laid in young men by their becoming members of such societies; and the positive waste of money is much greater than, without examination, will be believed. We know but too well the power and influence of beer at the present time, and that ‘John Barleycorn’ will soon be a better name for an Englishman than ‘John Bull’; but the common sense of the nation can hardly be so entirely washed out as to prevent men seeing and condemning the folly of making the repair of the Blue Boar or the Red Dragon one branch of a Pg.139 society formed for the benefit of its members in sickness, old age and death, and supported out of their hard-earned wages. But I will not dwell on this part of ‘M.’s’ letter, but pass on to the passage which I think requires correction. It is as follows;- ‘I have said to some of them’ i. e., to the members of one of these public houses and dividing societies, ‘suppose the money you have paid into these clubs and what you have spent in connection with them had been put into a Savings Bank or a Building Society, you would have had a good sum to call your own, and it would have accumulated every year. The answer is, but what should I do in sickness if my money was in a building society? They don’t generally allow small sums to be taken out. I have replied there is so and so has a share in a Building Society which will shortly be worth him fifty pounds. He had a long sickness some time since, and said he wanted some of the money. A member let him have some money on the strength of the amount due to him, and he has since repaid it without touching his share. He is a working mechanic, with a large family.’ And I am sure many will say a monstrously lucky fellow. Now this is a rather roundabout way of saying that Benefit Societies are all very well, but that Building Societies are better. Wrong as it is, this is only an old notion in a new form. There have always been men who have preferred individual savings to the formation of a common fund by contribution among working men. On the same ground, twenty-five years ago, Benefit Societies were opposed by the patrons of Savings Banks so decidedly as to attract the notice of a Committee of the House of Commons and to draw forth this remark in their report – ‘It has been observed that the hostility of Friendly Societies has been nowhere more strong or controversial than amongst the patrons of Savings Banks. Of these institutions, which are not referred to them for consideration, your Committee will only say that they are undeniably calculated for many useful purposes, some of which cannot possibly be secured by institutions of mutual insurance; but your Committee affirm, without hesitation as equally undeniable, that it is by contributions of the savings of many persons to one common fund that the most effectual provision can be made for casualties affecting or liable to affect all the contributors.’ This proposition, which is obviously true, has(sic) well illustrated by a writer on Friendly Societies, who asks whether the advocates of a separate and exclusive saving will be easily persuaded to save the annual premium instead of securing their houses against fire? Whenever there is a contingency, the cheapest way of providing against it is Pg.140 by uniting with others, so that each man may subject himself to a small deprivation in order that no man may be subjected to a great loss. The individual depositor, not the contributor to a common fund, is really the speculator. If no sickness attacks him during his years of strength and activity, and he dies before he is past labour, he has been successful in his speculation; but if he fall sick at an early period or if he live to old age, he is a great loser, for his savings, with their accumulations will support him but a short time in sickness; or even if he retain something in old age, after having provided for his occasional illness, the annuity which he can then purchase will be very inferior to that which he could have obtained if he had entitled himself to the benefit of the accumulated savings of all those who, having contributed for many years to a superannuation fund, had never reached an age to require it [Or, as was the case of some members, even when out of health, had no need to demand it. The present writer, himself a secretary to a Benefit Society, has known two or three cases of persons becoming ordinary members who, even in sickness, never demanded what was their due, but continued their contribution for the benefit of others]. I don’t know much about Building Societies (continued Mr. Hume) and I should be very sorry to depreciate Savings Banks, but of this I am quite sure, that for the particular purposes for which Friendly Societies are formed, the other two are entirely inefficient. I will only add, in conclusion that in the part which I have taken in the present movement, my object has been not to break up any existing society for the sake of forming a new one, but to find or to form a society in all respects calculated to secure to the members the benefits for which they pay, and in which other classes may be allowed to take a hearty and hopeful interest. But this is just what some gentlemen told us at the preliminary meeting we must not think of doing. We are not to take an interest in what concerns principally another class than our own. Caste is too strong in England to make this practicable. Something was said about English liberty and a noble spirit of independence which would make the working-men resist all our efforts and offers of help as impertinent and patronizing. We might give them a guinea a year if we liked and they would say ‘Thank you’; but if we offered them our friendship, they would reject it. The only possible point of contact was to be that of pecuniary advantage. We must be weighed by our payments and valued like the cus Pg.141 tomers in a tea garden as expressed in the waiter’s loud warning when he saw some escaping without settling the bill. ‘Master! Master! there are two teas and a brandy-and-water going over the wall!’ I don’t believe in all this. I should be sorry if I did. I believe the working men of England will value our friendship more than our money when we have taught them that we don’t carry hearts in our pockets. They know the difference between men and the things they possess – between gold and goodness. With them
‘The rank is but the guinea stamp,
The man’s the gold for a’that.’
If I have any connexion with a Benefit Society, I don’t mean to be a guinea but a man – not a patron, but a friend.
W. W. Hume St. Leonards, April 3rd, 1860” So much for Mr. Hume’s sensible and temperate letter, and now for
Mr. Richardson’s intemperate communication. This, as occupying 1½ columns of the Hastings News, was found fault with for its length; and here in the columns of Local History only extracts can find a place. The writer begins by complaining of four previous correspondents for not signing their real name, although two of them – Mr. Hume and Mr. Vernon Harcourt did so. He said “they bring charges against our societies which cannot be proved and keep themselves in the background”. He admitted, however, that Mr. Vernon Harcourt’s letter was a fair and open one, “and seems to wish to examine before it condemned; the birthright of every Englishman.” “Your next correspondent ‘M’ (says Mr. Richardson) “evidently knows nothing of the practical working of our societies. He tells us something about a few yearly societies, but what have his arguments against yearly societies to do with the permanent societies of Hastings? .... He finishes off with saying that the ‘permanent fund should not be spent in public-houses at their monthly meetings or at their breakings-up’ If ‘M’ intends that charge to apply to our societies, I hurl it back with the utmost contempt... If the members who are present for three or four hours like to have a glass they pay for it, and the permanent fund of the Old Friendly, which is £3,000, is not touched. Those who had the honour of wording the late circular seem to puff up their own article – a real Brummagem, I suppose - by decrying ours. The game won’t do. Your next correspondent – ‘Essential Weakness’ takes Dr. Crosse to task. I am one who thinks his letter a very sensible one, but of course ‘Essential Weakness’ don’t see or won’t see that the Old Friendly Society was worked or supported in any other way than by the humbler classes. Of course every society accepts donations from honorary mem Pg.142 bers if they can get them, but they are not sufficient to justify unwarrantable interference. He congratulates the members who were at the meeting at the Music Hall for the manner in which they stated their case; but I understand that one of them made it a little too warm even for Mr. Tidd Pratt.... Your last correspondent ‘S. Leonardensis’ indulges in wholesale charges against us. He winds up with asking us not to think that he and other gentlemen wish to injure. We never did. As to consulting ‘an actuary and acting on his advice either for amalgamation or reconstruction’ we who have the practical working of the societies, know quite as much and perhaps a little more than some of these actuaries, with their impracticable ideas.... A member of the Old Friendly is free in 18 months for sick pay, which is 12s. a week for the first six months, 8s. a week for the second six months, and 6s. a week for the remainder of his illness. If the member is too old for permanent hard work he will become a superannuated member, with 4s. a week for life. On the death of a member, if he had been in the society two years, his relatives will be entitled to £5, and an additional sum of 10s. for every year, exceeding two that he has been a member, till the aggregate sum amounts to £15. On the death of a member’s wife, if he has been in the society five years, he will be entitled to £4, and an additional sum of 5s. for every year, except five that he has been a member, till the agregate(sic) sum amounts to £6 5s. To secure these benefits the members are required to pay in one year, by four equal quarterly payments, the expenditure of the previous year, which is a guarantee for its stability; and after that year it will most likely be 6s. a quarter only. .....I mean to say – and the officers of the other societies will bear me out in it – that the principles and figures laid down by Mr. Tidd Pratt are utterly impracticable, mischievous and uncalled for. I dare say I shall be told that our subscriptions are not enough to keep the society on. I reply why should we demand 13s. 6d. from members when we have proved that less than half that amount is sufficient? As for the Government scale and what Mr. Tidd Pratt says they are absurd. [Mr. Richardson having complained of his opponents not giving their real names, and “S. Leonardensis” having assured him that he could get them at the newspaper office, the former replied that he knew perfectly well who S. Leonardensis was, and that he together with Mr. Hume had the character of being two persons who were everlastingly interfering in what did not concern them] “I think”, continued Richardson that if Mr. Hume has so much time to spare , it is Pg.143 a pity he does not devote it to his calling, and not trouble himself with things he knows nothing about. He says the object of these gentlemen has been mistaken. This I deny. Our members know perfectly well what their object is, and for that very reason they decline to hand over the management of our societies body and soul to parties who know nothing about them. Mr. Hume says he is willing to leave the members to overcome their difficulties and correct their evils as they best can. Kind, certainly! However, that is the most sensible part of his letter; but when difficulties do arise, there are enough competent persons in each society capable of providing a remedy, and who would never think of applying to Mr. Hume. Then Mr. Hume denies on behalf of himself and others that they have circulated vile and unfounded charges against us. It is also very kind of him to do that, for he it is that has led to all this noise. Now for the charges which are denied. At the commencement of this delightful circular there is a gentle hint that the officers of the Hastings societies were ignorant and dishonest [the statement was that of the many societies in England and Wales that had been disolved(sic) had done so through mismanagement and fraud] Of course it is not stated so in a manly way , but as in this affair all through, the charges are made indirectly, yet so worded as not to be misunderstood. Ignorant and dishonest indeed! Fine language to apply to us. If it is not intended for us, perhaps Mr. Hume(it is his work) will tell the public what it did have reference to. *(inserted page) As applying to Mr. Richardson’s strictures on Mr. Hume, on page 143 although as stated in brackets, Mr. Hume’s statement of some societies having failed through mismanagement and fraud was clearly not intended to apply to local societies. Yet even Mr. Richardson, with all his bumptiousness knew perfectly well that in July of the same year, at the Sussex Assizes a former treasurer of the “Old Friendly” – Richardson’s own society – was tried for having defrauded the society of £30, which was not discovered at the time (1853), but afterwards when the books came to be investigated, it was found that an alteration of figures of “a very gross character had been made” The defence set up was the Statute of Limitation, but which Justice Blackburn thought would not apply. The defendant’s advocate also admitted that notwithstanding the mystification of figures, the case was so clear that he would decline to address the jury. Here, then, was a case both of mismanagement and fraud in the very society that Mr. Richardson, as a steward, sought so bombastically to defend.
Another vile and unfounded charge (indirectly of course) that our permanent fund was spent in public houses. That was a splendid charge, too, against us of Mr. Hume’s, in a late lecture to the St. Leonards Mechanics Institution, when he dilated so admirably about the insecurity of our societies. [In the remarks of Mr. Hume if he had really made them on such an occasion he would have been perfectly justified, he having been rightly informed that but for the reforming energy of a few of its members, led by the present writer, as Permanent Secretary of the St. Leonards lodge of the Manchester Unity, that society must have inevitably broken up when it was only a few years old. After a hard struggle with the less intelligent members the advocates of reform effected great economy in the management and slightly raised the contribution, by which means the fund was in a short time raised from something less than £50 to about £360. The opponents of change said “Look at the Old Friendly, they have got so much money that they don’t know what to do with it!” The reply was “Such will not be the case in a few years time”.] Mr. Richardson’s letter continued thus:- The charges of Pg.144 insecurity are like a bankrupt’s stock, too numerous to mention. I say again that vile and unfounded charges have been made. ‘S. Leonardensis’ asks Why do so many societies fail? Why? One reason is because such as he and Mr. Hume won’t let them alone, but will set up others in opposition, and the young men of the place are not strong enough to support so many. [Strange logic, seeing that no societies in opposition had been set up, and that Mr. Hume and his friends disclaimed repeatedly their intention to start any new society if it could be prevented.]. If we are let alone we in Hastings shall do well enough. Societies in other places may have something inherent in them to cause them to fail, but we have nothing to do with them. Mr. Hume says our members have admitted the unsoudness(sic) of our society. Good! Why did he not tell the public they had remedied that unsoundness by their new rules and not go on preaching about the old ones, which do not apply”. “Alfred Richardson, Halton, Hastings, Ap. 16th 1860”
Another Correspondent wrote – “Sir, - I think Mr. Richardson is rather in the habit of taking people to talk to on matters he knows nothing about. He wants, as the sailors say, taking ‘in a reef or two’; for instance, about ridiculing Mr. Tidd Pratt and sundry other gentlemen – one because he gives a little good advice, the others because they don’t choose to sign their names, and some because they don’t happen to give their verdict according to his way of thinking. I, for one, beg of him to leave off that nasty habit , and thus oblige a great many who Wish him Well”
Mr. Richardson Climbing Down. Mr. Hume having repudiated the imputation in a lecture at the Mechanics’ Institution, Mr. Richardson replied – “I did not say one of Mr. Hume’s lecture, but at a late lecture. It was only last winter, and the charge of our being at the lowest ebb, &c was delivered at its close. Even this Mr. Hume denied, saying at the same time that he did not attend any lecture last winter. Mr. Richardson’s words, however in his published letter were “That was a splendid charge, too, against us of Mr. Hume’s in a late lecture at the St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institution when he dilated so admirably about the insecurity of our societies.” I am glad, with Mr. Hume, we have come to business at last... I think it will be unnecessary now for Mr. Hume to get an opinion, as one has lately been obtained. I could not say anything about it before, as I have only just got permission to publish it; but if Mr. Hume is not content with that, I shall be happy to give him any further information I possess, as my only desire in the matter is that the society should be put fairly before the public. If the opinion that has been taken is satisfactory, and as the avowed object was to form a sound society in default of finding one Pg.145 already existing, I presume that project will now be abandoned. Mr. Robertson, who has the interests of the different societies at heart, offered, sometime since, to procure a competent actuary’s opinion on our new rules without expense to the society, and for that purpose I sent them to him, and also furnished the actuary with similar information mentioned by Mr. Hume, and in addition the ages of our superannuate members. Mr. Robertson consulted Mr. Peter Hardy, the learned actuary of the London Assurance; so that perhaps his opinion will cause this somewhat prolonged discussion to be settled amicably at last. By the kind permission of the actuary and Mr. Robertson I enclose you a copy for publication. Alfred Richardson, May 1st, 1860”
The Actuary’s Opinion. Here follows Mr. Hardy’s opinion, which on examination, will be found not quite so rosy as Mr. Richardson would fain make it appear. It says “As the society is at present constituted, it is scarcely possible for it to absolutely break down so long as proper precautions are observed in limiting the number of members admitted to the sick-fund allowance, and so long as a sufficiency of new members can be obtained. The principal danger the society will have to encounter and to guard against are the following:- If the expenditure for death money and sick allowance, both temporary and permament(sic), should materially increase from year to year, as must reasonably be expected up to a certain point – as the ages and infirmities of the existing members increase, the quarterly contribution in that case will require to be so largely augmented that it will amount to a prohibition of new members joining the society, and will necessarily lead to the secession of a large body of the younger existing members. This will again have the effect of still further, and even of oppressingly augmenting the contribution to the remaining members, and lead to further secessions until all the members except those on the permanent sick fund will be compelled from the pressure of the heavy contribution to relinquish their memberships. If the £3,000, the amount at which the funds are to be for the future maintained will purchase or provide the requisite sick amount by way of annuity, in such case no injury beyond the breaking-up of the society and the consequent inconvenience will be sustaind(sic); but if too many members have been injudicially admitted to the permant(sic) sick fund, their interests, pro tanto, will be damaged by the breaking-up of the society. The number of members on the sick fund at the present time who may be regarded as permanent annuitants, Pg.146 are 29, and slightly in excess of what the reserve fund of £3,000 can bear. I have had a return made to me of their ages and the amount of their weekly allowances, and I find by a careful calculation that the society should have in hand to meet these annuities alone the sum of £3,625. In the present condition of the society, with so many young members on the books, I do not apprehend any danger from the above small deficiency; but the danger I have alluded to must be watchfully kept in view. I am pleased to find that the tendency of the new rules points towards increased caution; this shows that the managers are conducting its affairs in a wise and prudent spirit.”
“Peter Hardy, Actuary to the London Assurance.“
The Last Letter. The many “ifs” contained in the Actuary’s opinion and the dangers to the society in the non-fulfilment of the conditions to which those “ifs” applied were apparent to almost the meanest capacity, and could therefore not escape the criticism of so intelligent and astute reasoner as Mr. Hume, who could hardly fail to see in the said report the very elements of the society’s unsoundness which he had pointed out from the first. Hence, in this his last communication the reverend gentleman said – “I have read, with attention Mr. Hardy’s opinion, and am glad that so respectable an actuary has declared the Old Friendly Benefit Society to be in so good a condition. There are, however, two or three “ifs” in the opinion which make me doubt the fulness of the information on which it is founded; and I therefore venture to ask Mr. Richardson whether he gave Mr. Hardy the ages of all the members, or only those of the 29 permanent annuitants? I have good authority for saying that no actuary could form a correct opinion of this or any similar society without knowing the ages of all the members. We need hardly have gone to an actuary to tell us that a benefit society is safe from falling so long as “proper precautions are observed in limiting the number of members who shall be admitted to the permanent sick-fund allowance”... How can you honestly limit the number of members who shall find rest on the permanent sick-fund of a society formed for that purpose? It appears by Mr. Hardy’s own showing that there are already too many on this fund. What then, is to be done? Are the supernumeraries to be cast off? and all fresh comers to be denied until death has cleared the way? Mr. Hardy says admit new members, but I don’t see how you can honestly admit new members to a Benefit Society and then limit the number of the benefitted. They all pay alike, and all have an equal claim, Pg.147 and I should have thought that the only point at which a bar could be placed would be across the door of entrance. Again, Mr. Hardy says that “an increase of expenditure for death money and sick allowance must reasonably be expected up to a certain point.” I should like to ask where is that point? Surely if Mr. Hardy had known the ages of all the members he would have told us whether it was past or near at hand.... He also tells us that too many annuitants have been already admitted, and £625 are now wanted to meet their just claims. We might have concluded, then that the society was in iminent(sic) danger of breaking up, had not the same authority told us that “it is in a very good condition at the present time”. What, then, is to be done in this particular? Is the expenditure to be immediately reduced to £625, or are steps to be taken to add as much to the permanent fund? I may also remark that Mr. Hardy declares the sum of £3,625, even if the society had it, to be insufficient for the annuities alone. From what source, then are the payments on death to be derived? Of course, there is some way of explaining all this, and I hope Mr. Richardson will make it clear to ordinary readers.”
The Annual Dinner. The great festival of the year among the Hastings clubites was that of walking in grand procession on Whit Monday, and dining together – each society at its own headquarters. The Old Friendly’s rendezvous was the Swan Hotel, and there, after dinner had been partaken of, the chairman, Mr. J. H. Job, entered into a long explanation of the position and prospects of the society. At a later period of the afternoon, he also alluded to Mr. Hume in somewhat disparaging terms, notwithstanding that his own statement of the society’s affairs formed a fitting corollary to all that Mr. Hume had put forth in his arguments and proposals. In explaining what he called the balance-sheet, the Chairman said “I must speak to the young members in particular. You are all aware we have had a very expensive year, but perhaps not more so than perhaps some of the sister societies. When I occupied the same position last year as I do today, I told you the society’s rules were under revision. That revision has been completed and the new rules have been certified; but I am sorry that they have not pleased everyone. The Committee sat, I may say, for twelve months, and for six months they had an arduous task in consulting with the members and revising the rules. The expenses we had in the past year will show the necessity that existed for a change of laws. The sick-payments were £1022. Eight deaths cost us under the old laws £174, and there are three deaths which, under the new rules, are not yet paid. Four deaths of members wives cost £32, making altogether for funeral money £206. The salaries of Pg.148 officers and other working expenses were only £55 8s. 6d, with £32 7s. 9d. for miscellaneous items, making the total expenses £1346 3s. 5d. It has been said “You are too high in your payments; we can’t stand it”. But taking the number of members at 700 (although I am sorry to say it is only 690 now) your payments must have been 8/6 per quarter, instead of 7/6, according to the rate of expenditure. And here an alteration comes in. That the old members should not press too heavily on the young ones, we were obliged to reduce the annuities from 8s. to 6s. per week, and the funeral money has been reduced from £24 to £15. That has been done to curtail expenses and to bring the quarterly payments lower; although in comparison with the benefits of other societies the Old Friendly was a long way from paying too high. Many men, who could not go into figures could not understand this. Although 8/6 may seem to be a great sum, I must tell you that if an alteration had not been made, 10/6 or 12/- per quarter might have been wanted. Mr. Tidd Pratt said that a society might flourish for twenty years and then begin to go down hill; but we have prospered for 35 years [applause], although I am sorry to say we are going downhill now [no applause]. Not more so, however, than our sister societies will do in time to come, if they will go on in their low-payment [Hear, hear!] My experience on that revision committee has taught me something very different to the views I once had. Our members, when they revised the rules thirteen years ago, might have stopped all that “going down hill”; and had it been done only five years ago, it would have been much better for the society. I tell you that if you had done it thirteen years ago, we should have been about £1000 better, instead of a decrease, as at present [Hear, hear!] The thing is this – It seemed very hard to pull down old members who have been subscribing for years for a high scale of relief; but for the security of all it must be done. Next year the quarterly payments will be reduced to 7s. In doing that, some people may say we are wrong, but I hope we are right. Usually we have charged according to the expenses of the past year; this year we must go as the Government does – upon the estimates. Our estimate was formed when there were 700 members on the books. We calculate to have thirty members at 6s. a week, which will cost £468, and the sick, as last year £436. The deaths were taken at eight, the same as last year, and these will come under the new rule (£15 instead of £24), so that instead of being £174, they will be only £87 10s. For the members’ wives we allow £25, instead of £32 as last year. The salaries of officers will be £58 10s.; and then the printing of the new rules and other expenses connected with them will be about £30. Then there are the miscellaneous sums, which will bring up the whole to £1124. 16s. We are allowed to spend the interest of the stock, which is about £150; so that there will be £974 16s. to provide. Our payments Pg.149 at 7/- per quarter, is expected to leave a balance of about £5 in favour of the funds. We don’t wish to tax the members any heavier than we are obliged, nor do we wish to save money at present, although we hope that things will so improve that we may accumulate more than the £3,000 stock for which the rules provide. But I have also a bad list here which will not aid in making us prosper. This year we have only admitted five new members; it should be remembered, however, that societies rarely increase much whilst revision of rules is being made. Then, eleven were lost by deaths, one of whom was a good paying member, Chas. Valentine Levett, and another was one of the pensioners. Fifteen had resigned from various causes, and the exclusions made up a total loss of 54 members. Some of the young men who have resigned did so on the ground that the payments were too high. They have since joined another society in the town, but they will have very little less to pay than in the Old Friendly, after sacrificing their ten years’ membership. Some have gone abroad and some have resigned because they could not have their own way, whilst others have resigned because Mr. North told them two years ago that if they did not make alterations in the rules the society would become bankrupt. With all these exclusions and resignations, I tell you at once – for it is useless to conceal it – if we lose such a number every year, we cannot stand at 7s. a quarterly payment. I hope young members will think better of it, and not be led away by those who have told them “It is sure to fail; you had better join our society”. But from what I can understand, other societies are in no better position than our own. I believe their figures are all based on our own. One society [the Victoria Lodge of Oddfellows, the largest in the Unity] has admitted 100 members during the year, but although it has been established about twenty years, and has only paid out about £400 sick-pay, that society has only increased £33 during the year. I say that no society can go on like that without increasing its payments. Our object has been in the recent alterations to meet the wishes of the majority. There are many in the society who could afford to pay 1s. a week, but there is also a number of others who could not pay more than 6d., and those were the people we wished to bring in. It was the Committee’s object to give the working man as much as possible for 6d. a week; and if we go on increasing in numbers we can do, but if we decrease in the ratio of last year it is impossible. Now, there has been a great deal said and a great deal written about the society, but although I may presently say some things of a personal character, I don’t mean to go into a paper war. If any gentleman feels aggrieved by what I may say, I will give any explanation privately, but I decline, once for all, to go into a paper war. [The reader will probably think this pronouncement Pg.150 of the chairman’s was a wise one, seeing that in all his previous explanations and admissions he had completely played into the hands of those gentlemen whose professed desire was to see that and the other kindred societies placed on a safer foundation; seeing also that the said chairman had declared that the Old Friendly had been going down hill, and that the down-hill progress might have been stopped when the rules were revised thirteen years ago, or even five years ago. If that were to be taken as a fact, then the gentlemen who had been stigmatized as opponents and who had only commenced an agitation for reform a year before, were clearly not the first who considered a change necessary in the rules of the society. They were even twelve months behind the warning of Mr. North, the borough’s parliamentary representative, that if the members did not alter their rules, the society would become bankrupt. That gentleman, who was present at the dinner (and not the first time by a good many) in responding to a toast, said he continued to feel great interest in the working of the society, but he did not think it would be wise on his part just then to go fully into its position. As regarded the charge brought against him of saying two years ago “that if they did not make a change the society would become bankrupt”, he would confess that he had a habit of saying what was uppermost in his mind. There was, however, an “if” in the matter, and now as they had revised the rules, and could get an accession of young members, he did not mind eating his own words by saying they would not become bankrupt.
Other dinners than those of the Benefit Societies, of an annual or special character took place during the year as understated:-
The year came in with Judicial festivities, when the Recorder (W. W. Attree, Esq) entertained a large company at the Castle Hotel, including Esquires E. Hayles (Mayor), W. Ginner, G. Darby, P. F. Robertson, C. H. Frewen, A. Burton, G. Scrivens, T. Hickes, J. Grenside, F. Ticehurst, H. Elphinstone, T. Ross, J. Rock, G. Meadows and R. Growse; also Dr. MacCabe, Capt. Gough and Rev. T. Nightingale.
The Derwent Lodge of Freemasons had their annual meeting and dinner at the Swan hotel on the 9th of January, when the room was fitted up in true Masonic style, and in which the officers for the year were elected, including the instalment of Brother Edward Bowmer as Worshipful Master.
A Building-Society Dinner was also held at the Swan hotel on the 18th of January, to celebrate the successful winding up of the Rape of Hastings Benefit Building and Investment Society at the close of its thirteen years arrangement.
Pg.151 A Dinner to the Recorder, the Mayor, the Magistrates and other officials of the borough was given at the close of the Quarter Sessions in March by J. Grenside, Esq.
Another Dinner to the Recorder, the Magistrates and Borough officials was given at the Castle Hotel at the termination of the Quarter Sessions on the 13th of July, the entertainment being provided at the expense of the Mayor.
The Mayor’s Dinner took place, as a matter of course at eventide of the day when was elected the new civic chief, that honoured gentleman being F. Ticehurst, Esq., who accepted office for the 4th time. The dinner was served up in grand style in the highly decorated Swan Assembly-room, where scores – ay hundreds of similar festivals had taken place before. Between 60 and 70 gentlemen assembled on this occasion, and during the toasting and responsive proceedings, the principal speakers were, Messrs. E Hayles (chairman), J. Crosbie, Capt. Scrivens, F. Ticehurst, G. Scrivens, W. Ginner, J. Phillips T. Ross, S. Putland, R. Growse, J. R. Bromley and J. G. O’Neil.
A Dinner at the Castle Hotel on the 20th of December, said to be one of the best of its kind ever partaken of in Hastings, was provided by the liberality of George Clement Esq. for the entertainment of the Town Council and a few other friends
More Civic Hospitalities were engaged in on the 28th of December, when F. North Esq., M.P. (who had just returned from a tour in Switzerland, Sardinia and Naples) entertained at Hastings Lodge the Recorder, the Mayor, the Magistrates and other gentlemen.
The Farmers and Tradesmen’s Dinner took place on the 26th of December at the George Inn, Battle, and this annual affair is here noticed because Mr. James Lansdell, sen. of Hastings (originally a Battle man) occupied the chair, and had been present at fifty successive anniversaries of the said dinner.
Balls and other Diversions
Mrs Fletcher Norton opened her spacious residence on the 17th of January with a ball, the invitations to which included the élite of both towns and their vicinities.
A Soiree of the Victoria Lodge of Oddfellows was held in the Music Hall on the 18th of January, and proved to be most successful of any that had been before held. About 300 persons were present.
The Hastings Annual Borough Ball (under the patronage of the Mayor and the Borough representatives) came off at the Music Hall on the evening of Valentine’s Day, when about 120 persons were present, including Lord Harry Vane, M.P.
The Volunteer Ball, in aid of the funds, took place in the Music Hall on the 28th of March, at which 180 persons were present. The Pg.152 decorations of the rooms and their approaches were superior to anything before seen on the occasion of any previous ball. The staircase was lined with flags and evergreens, the orchestra had a canopied erection emblazoned with colored(sic) lamps and a star. At the opposite end was suspended a large emblematic banner, whilst the other walls were covered with mottoes, banners and suitable devices. A triumphal arch was erected at the entrance to the ante-room; and these, together with decorated union jacks, banners bannerets and inscriptions, presented a scene of gaiety of an almost startling character.
The two towns formed a united committee for providing public bands to play alternately at Hastings and St. Leonards, from 11 till one (or if the weather be wet from 2 till 4) and from 6 till 8, daily. Kluckner’s (the socalled Hastings) Band, commenced on the 28th of July, and Herr Limmer’s (St. Leonards) Band about three weeks later. The Band stands or places for playing were arranged and programmes issued, such being Marine parade and Marina; Robertson terrace and Eversfield place; Verulam place and Grand parade; White Rock and Marina; Marine Parade and Warrior-square Gardens; Wellington-square Gardens and Archery Ground – A diversified and far superior arrangement to that of the one only place on the White-rock Baths at the time of writing in 1899.
In aid of the Infirmary and Dispensary, an excellent concert was given in the Music Hall on the 31st of January, by the united Choral Society of St. Leonards and Amateur Glee singers of Hastings; thus benefitting the two medical institutions by about £12 each.
A Grand Concert, arranged by Messrs. Lockey and Lindridge took place in the Music Hall on the 16th of February, although under a maladventure the most discouraging. Sims Reeves, the great tenor, was announced as one of the vocalists, and the Hall was packed in every corner; but a notice, with a medical certificate, was posted at the door, that the gentleman was ill in bed. Mr. Lockey being in London and finding how matters stood, immediately engaged Madam Catherine Hayes to fill up the void. This lady sang so sweetly and so obligingly (being twice encored) as to recompense the audience for the disappointment.
A Concert of Sacred Music was given on the morning of March 21st in the schoolroom at Ore by the church choir of that district, assisted by professionals of Hastings and Rye.
The Cremona Union, a talented company, gave three concerts in the Music Hall on the 2nd and 3rd of April, to delighted audiences.
Pg.153 The Prince of Tenors, Mr. Sims Reeves made his appearance at a grand concert in the Music Hall on the 18th of April, and won for himself golden opinions, not only by his excellent singing but also by his courtesy in repeating two of his favourite songs, which with deafening shouts were again called for.
The Glee and Madrigal Society (of Hastings) gave an excellent concert of popular music at the Castle Assembly room on the 1st of May, conducted by Mr. E. F. Moore.
A Free Concert was given in the Market Hall on the 9th of June by Mr. S. Smithard and Professor Rippon, the former as a vocalist and Temprance(sic) lecturer, and the latter as a pianist.
On behalf of the Early-Closing Association, a concert by the Glee and Madrigal Association was given to a well-satisfied audience on the 10th of December, in the Castle Assembly Room.
Fetes and Flower Shows
The Horticultural Society spring show was held in the gardens of the Castle ruins on the 20th of June, amidst cold and showery weather, which entailed a loss of a good many pounds to the Society. The autumn show, as stated elsewhere, was successfully held in the St. Leonards Subscription Gardens.
The Foresters Fête, in which 600 Robin-Hood men from Brighton and 200 from elsewhere took part, set the town in commotion on the 2nd of July, as they perambulated the eastern part, in their Lincoln green, and marched to an enclosure on the West hill, where they engaged in amusements, after which, a considerable number were seen in the streets the worse for drink.
The Mechanics Institution Fête was a far more creditable affair than was that of the imported Foresters’. It was held in the pretty grounds of Mr. Robertson’s at Halton. About 1500 persons were present to enjoy the music, the singing, the fireworks and the other amusements, and a surplus of about £30 was added to the funds of the institution.
The Excursion Fête to and at the Swiss Gardens at Shoreham, under the management of the Messrs. Holman, on the 18th of June was engaged in by 280 persons; and, as usual, was well conducted and very enjoyable.
St. Clement’s Bells
A Vestry Meeting, on the 9th of August (says the St. Leonards Gazette ) “was held, at which a full and fair discussion for providing a new peal of bells for the church of St. Clement, took place and a resolution passed “That it is expedient to renew the attempt to obtain a new peal for the tower of the church, and that a committee be formed for the purpose.” It will be remembered by ma Pg.154 ny of our readers (continues the same journal) that the proposition for this new set of bells was first made in the spring of 1857, and that a considerable portion of the required fund was got together, but owing to troublous times and a fancied impossibility to raise the whole amount, the subscriptions were returned, and the project was abandoned. We were not among those who took a desponding view of the case, and we expressed regret that a death-blow should have been given to it so precipitately. It may therefore be conceived that we hail with pleasure the resuscitation of the scheme and that we hope to see it endowed with a more healthy existence. In many respects there is a similarity in the meeting recently convened and the one which took place three and a half years before, a report of which in impromptu verse appeared at the time. (This metrical report will be found on pages 214 and 215, Vol VI of “Local History”.
A Mayor’s Meeting, called by requisition, was held on the 29th of August, when speeches in favour of the movement were made by the Mayor; also by Messrs. Ross, Winter, Phillips (who promised to double his former promised subscription) and Bromley (who moved a resolution “That in the opinion of this meeting there ought to be in the borough one good peal of bells for use on suitable occasions and the tower of St. Clement’s church being the most central in which a peal of eight could be hung, resolves that endeavours shall be made to raise the necessary sum of money”) A committee was then formed, who met on the same evening to make further arrangements.
The Bells Committee met again on the 17th of October, and decided to accept the tender of Messrs. Naylor, Vickers & Co., of Sheffield, to supply the new peal of eight bells and bell-yokes for the sum of £400. The subscriptions, however, to the necessary fund were accumulating very slowly, and the bells were not obtained until the following year.
Explosions and Bombardments.
In Chapter two, Volume one, of Brett’s “Historico Biographies” is given an account of the numerous explosions (and loss of life) of the several powder-mills at Battle, Crowhurst, and other places, owned by Mr. Harvey, a Hastings banker. These calamities mostly occurred during the war, when great quantities of powder were in demand with which to supply the navy and privateers, as well as the army. Since then, however, the accidental explosions have been rare; but on the 16th of May, of the present year, an explosion occurred at Sedlescomb, by which two mills were blown up. Mr. Alfred Vidler, (at that time a Town Councillor) and his youngest son had a very Pg.155 narow(sic) escape. They were passing the spot, and had stopped to look at the mills, but providentially cut short their stay in consequence of the threatening appearance of the weather. They had not left the place more than a minute when they were startled by the explosion. Fortunately for the man who should have been looking after the mills, he was absent at the time, so that there was no loss of life.
The Bombardment of 49 Tower, about three miles on the western side of Bexhill, was commenced on Saturday, the 10th of November. The guns – two 68 pounders and two 32 pounders – had been in position for some days, and the artillerymen who were told off for the experiments had also been in the neighborhood(sic) several days. The object was to test the capabilities of the smooth bore guns, as against the Armstrongs that had been used in the demolition of a Martello tower at Eastbourne, the range of 1036 yards being the same in each case. The damage effected on Saturday was very slight, and on the open level near the battery, the air was so bleak and cold that a comparatively few persons ventured on the ground to witness the experiment. It was understood that the following Monday would be the principal day, when the Duke of Cambridge would be present and when the local volunteers would be invited or permitted to take part in the work. Thus the resumption of the firing took place on that day, and as the weather was milder, an immense crowd assembled from Bexhill, St. Leonards, Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton and other places. Carriages and other vehicles, were in so great a number as to remind one of the race-days of old. A special train also conveyed to the scene of action more than 500 persons, including 100 volunteers, in addition to those who traveled by the ordinary trams to Bexhill . The “special” landed its freight near the arranged battery between the Bexhill and Pevensey stations. The ground was fenced off, and, under the supervision of Col. Mackay and Supt. Jeffery, the police arrangements were perfect. Some forty or fifty of the Cinque Ports (Hastings and St. Leonards) Rifles, under the command of Lieut Crake and Ensign Rock were also present, and were engaged in keeping guard over the magazine in rear of the battery, where, in sub-divisions, alternately relieving each other, they formed in open lines to make a clear passage to the tent. The firing had already commenced when, soon after mid-day, the guns on the more westward towers were seen and heard saluting the Duke of Cambridge as the train bore him along to Bexhill. On alighting at that station the Commander-in-Chief and his suite took conveyances to Little Common, where he was first received by forty sailors of the Coast-Guard fleet, who formed a guard of honour Pg.156 under the command of Capt. Gough. A salvo from the battery announced the Duke’s arrival and the men-at-arms within the enclosure drew up to receive him. About 70 members of the 4th Cinque Ports Artillery Corps were present under the command of Capt-Commandant Harcourt, Capt. Scrivens and Lieut. Hales. In the course of the proceedings, Capt Harcourt accepted an invitation from Col. Mitchell to place some of the volunteers at the guns with the Royal Artillerymen, who received their volunteer brothers-in arms, literally with open hands and great cordiality, afterwards giving them the little instruction which a difference in the kind of gun and tackling was
necessary. The volunteers who assisted at the guns Sergeants Payne, Gant, Ayles, Starkey, How and Mackay; Corporals Murray and Tutt; Bombardiers Bonniwell, Polhill, Walter, and Addis; Gunners Davies, Wingfield, Thwaites, Smith, Bovis, Dowsett, Foukes, Brazier, Grady, Breach, Jones, Monk, J. B. Jones, Foord, Pickerden, Hilder, Morris, Tutt, Hutchings and Phillips. The way our local men did their work was praised by the Regulars, and greatly so by the London Press. They were also thanked at the close by Col. Cuppage for their services. Several of the Battle Rifles and some of the Ore Artillery were also present in uniforms. The Artillery Brass band and the Rifles fife-and-drum band played at intervals on the ground, and alternately during a march of seven or eight mules home. Booths were erected , and with as good a supply of food and drink as was thought to be required but such were the wants of the great crowd of sightseers that they had to return to their homes with their cravings unsatisfied.
As before stated, the main object of the experiment was to ascertain the different effects of the Armstrongs and Smooth-bores, the operations and results of which latter were watched with great apparent insterest(sic), especially by some Russian officers who were present, with keen eyes and many enquiries. The Saturday’s cannonading was little more than preliminary, but on Monday it went on vigorously until three o’clock, when his Royal Highness went to lunch. At that time 65 charges of shot and shell had been directed against the tower, of which number only 13 missed the object, and these comparatively few misses were attributed by the gunners to some intermittent breezes. The amount of destruction, however, was not at all commensurate with the continued flight of missiles and the loud reports at the cannon’s mouth and only a little less loud at the contact. The result of the bombardment clearly showed the inferior power of smooth-bore guns at long ranges as compared with the Armstrong pattern. At Eastbourne (see page 12) the tower was destroyed with less than 50 discharges from the 100lb. Armstrong, and presented at the termination of firing only a mass of ruins. But the injury to the tower near Bexhill was only
Pg.157 superficial, and at the close the building stood nearly as impregnable as before. In one place under the parapet, a mass of brickwork was detached, and in other parts some rather large holes had been made in the exterior wall, but nowhere was the interior pierced by either shot or shell. The most singular result of the day’s firing was that the shells penetrated farther than the round shot, marking a depth of about 24 inches, whilst the shot marked only 18 inches. The artillerists were much puzzled at this effect. When the order was given to cease firing, the Duke, with his staff and other officers, astonished the spectators by the agility with which he crossed ploughed fields, leaped the ditches and clambered over five-barred gates on his way to inspect the battered tower. The task of following his Royal Highness seemed to tell considerably on the lungs of some of those who followed him. He entered the tower and ascended to the top, and thoroughly examined the effects of the bombardment, after which he declared that the Smooth-bores were not at all equal to the Armstrongs. The same opinion was given by the Artillery officers, with the addition that the latter were also the easiest and safest to discharge. After lunch time the practice of single shots was discontinued and firing in salvos was adopted, yet no material additional damage could be perceived. The firing was resumed on Tuesday, and a few of the Hastings and St. Leonards Volunteer Artillerymen went over a second time. Again on Wednesday, the firing went on all day, leaving the tower very little breached, but very “shaky” from the vast number of concussions. After this the bombardment was not carried any farther, it being concluded that enough had been done to show, on the one hand that the Martello Towers are of great strength, and on the other hand that the old style of ordnance must give place to the new. It was considered, however, that where the former can be got sufficiently near to stone fortifications , it would do more conclusive mischief by its shaking effects than the conical projectile would by going right through. It was not deemed that the destruction of any more towers would be necessary, unless they were likely to be undermined by the inroads of the sea. These legacies of the years 1805 and ‘6 were judged by competent authorities to be still capable as a means of preventing a hostile landing if armed with an Armstrong gun on a traverse. Another plea for their preservation was that they formed habitations for many of the Coastguards, and that their original structure at a cost of £3,000 each should secure them from being pounded away in merely experimental firing.
“Gunpowder Plot”. As being appropriate to the foregoing accounts of a powder-mill explosion and the use of gunpowder in experimenting on a Martello tower, comes the notice of the Pg.158 annual celebration of “Gunpowder Plot”. The significant admonition of “’Member Old Guy” was repeated at sundry intervals from morning till night on the 5th of November, during which day the usual display of tag-rag and bob-tail was made; first in small detachments, and, lastly by a torchlight procession in the western part of the borough. This last was, of course, the grand spectacle, the procession being composed of about 40 masquerades in unusually gaudy costumes, accompanied by a monster effigy, and preceded by a fife-and-drum band, playing a medly(sic) of tunes in an equally variety of keys. A crowd of some two-hundred persons (male and female) brought up the rear, disporting itself with squibs and crackers to any amount. While this was going on at St. Leonards, a train was conveying over 200 persons to Battle, where the Guy Fawkes demonstration came off with unusual eclát(sic), a new feature in the shape of “Garibaldian Volunteers” being added to the usual torch-light procession, and the bonfire being of the dimension equalling those of “ancient days”. It having become known that a recent Act of Parliament of a very stringent nature would be put into force ere another anniversary came round, the promoters of this kind of sport seemed determined on this occasion to make the most of the opportunity.
Our Local Volunteers.
As preliminary to the movements of our brave volunteers in the present year, it may be well to recapitulate in a succinct form that which has before been told under consecutive dates, and, of course, in a less connective narrative.
From time immemorial Hastings, as the premier Cinque Port has always been patriotic; and on the 21st of January, 1799, a meeting of the Corps of Cinque Ports Volunteers was held in the Town Hall, when it was unanimously resolved “That although living in a district wholly exempt from compulsory military service, yet, being desirous on all occasions of showing our loyalty and attachment to King and Country, we do hereby again declare our readiness to march, in case of emergency, to any part of Great Britain wheresoever our services are required. Edward Milward, Commandant.” The said Volunteer Corps was formed at a Mayor’s public meeting on the 17th of April, 1794, the Mayor at that time being the said Edward Milward, who had been previously Captain of the Cinque Ports Militia. Towards the expense of such establishment he subscribed a sum of £50, whilst a hundred pounds were given by the Rt. Hon. Sir R. Pepper (one of the Hastings Pg.159 representatives in Parliament), and the same amount by the Hon. General Murray (an uncle of Edward Milward by marriage). The corps thus raised consisted of 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 3 sergeants, 3 corporals and 60 privates. As time when(sic) on a second company was formed, consisting of 46 members, whilst those of the first company were augmented to 83. The expenditure in 1798 was £434 14s. and in 1799, £420 9s. 11d. At a later date, with the above cited historical facts probably in rembrance(sic), and when it was known that Russia was preparing for a conflict with England and other European powers, the inhabitants again bestirred themselves. Thus, in 1852, on the 11th of February, a preliminary meeting was held in the Town Hall at Hastings, for the purpose of forming a Rifle Club, the meeting being presided over by the Mayor, as it had been 58 years before, for a similar purpose. A Committee was there formed to draw up a report on the best plan for the club’s formation. Seven days later (Feb.18th) a second meeting was held at the same place, when the report resulted in the formation of the “Hastings and St. Leonards Rifle Corps “ and rules were adopted. On the 6th of May the Rifle Corps held their first quarterly meeting, with Dr. Steavenson in the chair. The number of men that had been enrolled was 56, and the financial position showed a favourable balance of £6 after all expenses had been met. As time went on the movement slackened, there being no prospect of Government aid, and a considerable number of those who originally gave in their names having declined to bear their personal share of outfit and other expenses. But on the 6th of May, 1859, when it was thought that France was meditating a descent on England, a meeting was held to form a socalled Rifle Club for the two towns of Hastings and St. Leonards. Mr. Noth(sic), M.P. presided, and amongst the promoters were Messrs. Rock, Crake, Savery and Ransom, Dr. Hale, and about 50 other persons. It was resolved, on the motion of Mr. W. Ransom, seconded by Mr. J. Banks, “That a Rifle Club be formed of volunteers for national defences, who engage to fund themselves in arms, and that rules be adopted, subject to confirmation at a subsequent meeting.” A week later, a second meeting was held, with V. B. Crake, Esq. in the chair, when the following letter was received from Mr. North, M.P.:- “Dear Sir, - I have just had an interview with the authorities at the War Office on the subject of the Rifle Corps. A circular Pg.160 goes out this evening to Lord-Lieut. Of counties, empowering them to accept the services of Volunteers Corps; but it appears to me that it is much on the principle of offering ‘nothing a day, and find yourself’. I believe they intend to furnish accommodation, however, but certainly not arms. The proposed scheme appears to be only an enlargement (or contraction) of the Militia system, and will hardly apply to our proposed Rifle Corps at Hastings. What I should strongly recommend is that we at present confine our plans to rifle practice as a club and that we endeavour to make ourselves efficient shots with a view to the future. No more manly amusement could be devised, and it may be to the advantage of our country in the long run. Our fathers used the bow to some purpose, and it may be that their sons may get an equal efficiency in the arm of the 19th century. My heart is warmly in it.”
The chairman, in his remarks, said he thought the Government circular extinguished the hopes they had entertained. So far as the volunteer principle went, he feared there was an end to it. All the circular said was, you shall have 24 days drill in the year, and we will not find you any arms. It was hardly possible for trademen(sic) and others to leave their business for eight days three times a year. If a thousand men were to be found in Hastings to be equipped at £7 each, it would mean seven thousand pounds, and to raise such a sum by private effort was out of the question. He believed the whole arrangements of the Government were intended to suppress all voluntary effort; and he would suggest to go on with the club and move the local authorities. Their members, he believed, were both with them in the matter, and would forward the opinions of the meeting to the Government. They might organise the club and petition Government to modify the regulations. Mr. W. Ransom moved a provisional committee for the desired revision. As regarded the circular, his first impression was that the Government intended to insult them, but on thinking the matter over, it struck him that they had done all they could have done. The War Department could not give a new Act of Parliament, but they had conceded something by granting permission for the formation of a volunteer club, while they waited for the decision of Parlia Pg.161 ment on other points. It would be the meeting’s own fault if they did not besiege parliament with memorials and petitions. He could not see why the Mayor or the Magistrates, or the town Council should not be allowed to put the Rifle Corps in a position by which they could defend the lives and protect the property of the inhabitants of sea-coast towns in which they lived. Mr. Ransom’s proposition to appoint a provisional committee was then adopted. Sir R. V. Arbuthnot thought they might order twenty or thirty rifles at once, some of which might be purchased by members for private use. Mr. J. Rock advised the same, as the manufacturers were then very busy, and the orders might not get executed for some time. He therefore approved of the suggestion, and to forward the object he would be willing to provide one in addition to his own. He looked upon the circular as embodying the greatest concession that the Government could make, they being tied down by an Act of George III. The lists were then handed round, and nearly fifty enrolled their names. Subscriptions were also promised to the extent of £100, in ten guineas each from the Borough Members (F. North and Lord Harry Vane) and five guineas each from V. B. Crake, J. Rock, jun., W. B. Young, E. Vernon Harcourt, G. H. M. Wagner, and Edmund Field. – At a meeting on the 27th of May, in the same year, the rules were considered, patterns of uniforms submitted, and £120 subscribed towards the outfit for such as could not afford to purchase it. Communications were opened with the Lord Warden, mainly by Mr. W. Ransom, who performed the duties of Hon. Sec., and on the 22nd of July it was resolved at a special general meeting “That the Rifle Club offer itself through the Lord Warden for enrolment as a corps under the conditions named in the circular of the 13th of July”. The conditions included a drill in twenty-four days in the year, with liability to be called out during any invasion, and every member to take the oath of allegiance. Effective members were to be exempt from other military services, and when assembled for active service, two guineas to be allowed each man and pay, as in other forces. Non-commissioned officers and privates disabled in service to be elligible(sic) for Chelsea Hospital, and widows of officers killed to receive a pension for life. The movement soon spread to other places, and on the 12th of September, a meeting of deputies from the Cinque Ports Rifle Companies Pg.162 was held at the Saracen’s Head, Ashford, where Hastings was represented by F. de Brabant Cooper, J. C. Savery and W. Ransom. The other ports and their tributaries represented were Rye, Ramsgate, Tenterden, Deal, Walmer, Hythe and Faversham. The Hastings Rifles assembled for instruction under Sergt. Dabney, and also arranged to have built for them a six-oared galley, to be named the “Rifleman”. As temporary places for drill, Mr. Rock kindly lent his factory at Hastings, and Mr. Burton the Assembly-Room at St. Leonards. The Hastings and St. Leonards Rifle Corps having received the Royal sanction through the Marquis of Dalhousie, as Lord Warden, many of the members expressed a wish that the formal enrolment should take place during the mayoralty of Mr. W. Ginner, by whom some of the correspondence had been conducted. A meeting was therefore convened for Nov. 8th, 1859, at the Castle-hotel new Assembly-room. The Mayor attended in his official robes and administered the oath to the 61 members who were able to be present. The nominated officers were Lieut. V. B. Crake, Ensign J. Rock, Sergt. S. Stace, Sergt. G. Childs, Sergt. and Hon. Sec. W. Ransom, Corporal J. P. Shorter, Corpl J. T. Penhall, Corpl A. Emary and Corpl J. Ransom. The Rifle Corps having by this time filled up its allotted number, measures were at once taken to form a Volunteer Artillery Corps. Thus was established the 1st Cinque Ports Rifles, and with the Poet Laureate’s stirring appeal “Riflemen Arm”, the ball was further set rolling, and the movement became general. Thus is closed the story of the formation of the Rifle Corps as a preliminary to its movements in 1860, the year that is now under treatment.
A Grand Muster of the Corps took place on the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 3rd, in the Music Hall, for the purpose of administering the oath of allegiance to Capt. The Hon. George Waldegrave and such other members of the corps as had not yet taken it. The Hall was thrown open to the public. All the requirements of military etiquette were observed, even to the volunteers mounting guard in pairs at the doorways and on the stairs. The rest of the corps were marched into the Hall in double file. They were 85 in number, but with the twenty additional who were present for the purpose of being sworn, more than the prescribed hundred were thus enrolled. The ceremony commenced with the singing of the national anthem, the score of which, painted in large characters by Corporal Savery, was suspended in front of the platform. It was sung in solo and chorus, the former being performed by T. Mitchell, Esq., of the Chapel Royal and Sacred Pg.163 Harmonic Society, London, accompanied on the piano by Mr. Hoyden, a member of the corps. The Mayor, Town Clerk and Mace-bearers took their seats on the platform, where also were several clergymen and other gentlemen. The solemn portion of the ceremony being concluded, a copy of the new rules was handed to each volunteer. “Stand at ease” was then the command, and the Honourable Captain explained that the said new rules were founded on those issued from the War Office, and had been sanctioned by both the Secretary of State and the Lord Warden. He would next call attention to the occasion on which they were then assembled. It was the first public muster since they had been an enrolled Corps, the first meeting of the new year, and the first opportunity he had had of taking the oath. He was himself under authority, and had had to ask the sanction of higher powers to his enrolment as their captain. He must remind them that parliament would be meeting in a few weeks, and he would, consequently not be so often with them as he had hitherto been. Long before he joined their ranks the members had met and drilled and taken the greatest pains to improve, and he now hoped, shortly, to procure for them the services of an effective drill-sergeant. Many of them had been kept to the first rules of the class in their manuals, but he hoped to place them in a better position. In consequence of the great demand which had arisen for the services of drill sergeants, on account of the noble volunteer spirit throughout the country, it was very difficult to obtain one. He had asked General Hay to assist in procuring one, but the General told him he had had twenty other applications of the same nature. He would take every opportunity that the meetings of Parliament would permit of his coming down to drill with them. It was not fear which had called forth the volunteer spirit [Applause], but it was no use to shut the door after the steed was gone; therefore they had taken steps to place themselves in a defensive position. Most of them knew that in no foreign nation would such a volunteer corps be allowed. There was in France a National Guard, but it was kept entirely under military control. This country was rather the envy of countries where there were persons who knew what liberty was but did not choose to let their subject enjoy it.... During the year which had commenced, he hoped the spirit of unity and perseverance would prevail; and should any foe dare to approach our shores they would show themselves ready to place themselves in such a position as almost to laugh at the fear of invasion. The Rev. T. Vores, by request, also addressed the meeting, and in addition to his subscription offered £5 for a substi Pg.164 tute. Whilst thanking the Mayor, Mr. Vores, Mr. Hume and others for their attendance, Capt. Waldegrave expressed a hope that the proposed second company would not be long in filling up. He also wished success to the Artillery Corps. [Loud applause].
Ore Artillery Corps. On the 12th of January, after one or two preliminary meetings at Pett and Ore, a more general meeting was held at the latter place to organise an Artillery Corps, when a committee was appointed consisting of the Rev H. Stent, Rev. F. Young, Mr. John Cook Sir Anchitel Ashburnham, Mr. Chas Thorpe, Mr. A. Thorpe, R. B. Kaye, Esq., Mr. J. Skinner, G. Batty, Esq., W. T. Agar, Esq., and W. D. Lucas Shadwell, Esq. The last named gentleman promised £20, and R. P. Lippincott (a temporary resident) and Mr. R. Hunter £20 each. Smaller sums were promised by other persons, and Mr. J. Rock promised to equip a substitute.
The next Muster was on Friday evening, Jan. 20th, when there was a full attendance and when the Hon. Capt. Waldegrave again addressed the Rifle Corps, previously to leaving for his duties in Parliament. Addresses were also delivered by the Borough Members (Mr. North and Lord Harry Vane). The men were put through some of their elementary drill and the manual exercise by Sergt. Robinson, of the Grenadier Guards. They also drilled on the following Tuesday and Friday evenings, about 80 being present on each occasion, Lieut. Crake and Ensign Rock being in command. The first instalment of Government rifles had arrived. They were of the long Enfield pattern and quite new. Sergt. Stace was appointed to go to Hithe(sic) for musketry drill, where a class was formed for the purpose.
The Programme of Drill for the Rifles was every day, except Saturday, from 12 to 1, in the Market Hall; full company drill on Tuesday and Friday evenings, from 7.30, & squad drill on Thursday evenings; also at St. Leonards Assembly Rooms on Monday and Thursday evenings at 8. Lieut. Crake was receiving instruction at Hythe.
The Artillery Corps commenced its drills in February, which were on Mondays at the Market Hall at 2 and 7.30 p.m.; Tuesdays, 39th Martello Tower, at 2 p.m. Wednesday the same & Market Hall, 7.30; Thursday, Market Hall, at 2 and 7.30; Friday, Martello Tower at 2 p.m. The members were drilled by four non-commissioned officers of the Royal Artillery, and the local officers commissions had been signed by the Lord Warden. They were gazetted as follows:- Edward William Venables Vernon Harcourt, Captain; William Scrivens, Esq. 1st Lieutenant; John Gibbs, Esq., Second Lieutenant; Fredk. Ticehurst, Esq. Honorary Assistant Surgeon.
The Fairlight Artillery Corps had now submitted its officers’ names to the War Office as follows:- W. D. Lucas Shadwell, Esq. as Captain; Pg.165 W. T. Agar, Esq. as 1st Lieut.; and Rowland Lake, Esq. (of Winchelsea) as 2nd Lieutenant.
A Squad of “Lunatics”, as they dubbed themselves, consisting of 14 of the 1st Company of the Cinque Ports Rifles, started off on the 9th of March for a march of their own, under Luna’s rays, for Rye. The party was made up of Messrs. W., J., and F. Ransom (three brothers) Penhall, Ward, Langham, Stewart, Webbe, Balding, Harman, Cole, Edwards, French and Wingfield. They began the journey in a slight snowstorm, but soon traveled through it into bright weather. A detachment of the Rye Rifles marched out to meet them, and conducted them to their drill-room, where they (the Ryers) had provided refreshments for their visitors. The meeting was extremely cordial, and after a stay of about two hours, the self-stiled(sic) lunatics started for the return half of 24 miles, with a light heart over heavy and hilly roads. The entire march, out and home occupied six hours.
A Lot of Swearing (but without bad language) had still to be done by the 4th Cinque Ports and the 2nd Sussex Volunteer Artillery; and, to take the last first, it should be said that on the 22nd of March the Ore section of this company, and a few friends assembled in the school-room of that parish, for the purpose of being sworn in, and to hear from Capt. Lucas-Shadwell what had already been done and what it was proposed further to do. He stated that twenty out of twenty-three members of the Winchelsea section had been sworn in by the Mayor (Capt. Stileman) and as many of the Fairlight and Pett section had also undertaken the same obligation, the latter leaving five more to take the oath with those of the Ore section that evening. The Captain was then himself sworn, as were also Lieut. Agar and twenty-three other members. Capt. Shadwell next gave an extremely interesting address, in which was a minute detail of the origin and movements of the corps and the arrangements that were being made, under efficient instructors, at Ore, Fairlight and Winchelsea. He congratulated the members on their proud position as the 2nd Company of Sussex Artillery, and upon the fact that although they started with the hope of only 70 men, so great was the volunteer spirit that nearly 100 men had offered themselves. The cost of an outfit would be £3 12s., and Mr. Bevins, a Hastings tailor, had promised to have the whole of the uniforms ready by Easter, when it was proposed to have a grand muster. Capt. Shadwell also said that he had engaged to find quarters for the drill-sergeant, and he would present the corps with three bugles, at the same time hoping that they might not be long without a band. A letter was received from R. B. Kaye, Esq., of Guestling, suggesting that a reserve fund should be formed, and if such were done, he would add an 0 to his £5, thus Pg.166 making his subscription £50. This generous offer, was, of course received with applause.
More Allegiance. The 4th Cinque Ports Artillery had another full muster on the 26th of March for the purpose of administering the oath of allegiance to such members of the corps as had not theretofore taken it. About 80 of the company were present, and to show their friendliness and patriotism, the Rifle Corps to the number of nearly ninety mustered at the Market Hall and marched thence to the meeting of the Music Hall, to do honour to their brothers-in arms. After the swearing-in process, the “house”, which was inconveniently crowded, was addressed by the Mayor (in his robes), Capt Harcourt, Lieut. Crake, and the Rev. W. N. Tilson-Marsh.
A Church Parade by the 1st Cinque Ports Rifles was effected on Good Friday morning, when, at the old church of St. Clement’s, the Rev. T. Nightingale officiated both in the reading-desk and the pulpit. In the afternoon, the Hon. George Waldegrave, as Captain, marched with the men to a field near the Fish-ponds at Fairlight for a lesson in light infantry drill.
On Easter Monday, Capt. Waldegrave took about 50 of the Rifles, per railway, to Battle, accompanied by 30 of the Artillery Volunteers, under the command of Lieut Gibbs, of S Leonards.
On Easter Tuesday, the 2nd Sussex Artillery had their first grand day, when nearly seventy of the rank and file held a parade in the cricket-ground at Fairlight, most of them being dressed in the new uniform. The drill and inspection having been got through, Capt. Shadwell addressed the men under his command and concluded with presenting to each of the three divisions, a silk banner, the gift of Mrs. Shadwell, who, being unwell, was unable to present them herself. The banners bore the inscription “II Sussex Artillery Volunteers, 1860” “’Quit you like Men; be strong: for our Queen and Country; England expects every man to do his duty.” The Corps then proceeded to church, where an appropriate sermon was preached by the Rev. H. Stent. At the close of the service the men marched to their captain’s mansion, where they were treated to a substantial repast.
Volunteer Items. The “merry month of May” found the 14th Cinque Ports Artillery with 86 brass-hilted swords from Government. Capt. Harcourt had also arranged with the Corporation for big-gun practice at Rock-a-Nore; and two meetings had already been held, a committee formed and preliminaries settled for a Volunteer band in connection with the Artillery Corps. A second Artillery Corps was also in course of formation.
Offer of Prizes. F. M. Montgomery Esq. having offered an annual Pg.167 subscription of two guineas as a nucleus of a prize for the best served gun, and having heard that a second company was being formed, suggested that it be left to Capt. Harcourt to decide whether it would not be better to make two prizes – one of £8 for the best served gun, and one of £4 for the second best. Said this gentleman, as several ladies among his friends, together with his own household had given him contributions for that object, he would guarantee that the sum for the first year should not be less than £12.
Camping Out. On Tuesday, May 9th, nearly 70 of the Artillery Volunteers and about 50 of the Rifles marched to Bexhill, the former being accompanied by Capt. Harcourt and Lieuts. Scrivens and Gibbs, and the latter by Capt. Waldegrave, Lieut. Crake and Ensign Rock. On their arrival at Bexhill the artillerymen partook of a good supply of refreshments at the Bell Inn, while the Riflemen encamped in a field kindly lent by Arthur Brook, Esq. On entering the field the men were told off in sections, which were placed under their respective non-commissioned officers and left to shift for themselves. Camp kettles and pannikins were soon in requisition and small detachments were sent into the village to buy whatsoever was deemed necessary for an evening meal. Plenty of cold meat was obtained (principally due to the foresight of Sergt Stace) and the men were soon seated merrily around their four camp fires, enjoying the repast for which their march had given them an appetite. After this the two parties rejoined, and races and other amusements were engaged in, which were witnessed by a large number of the villagers. The two parties marched home, in good fellowship, and broke off on the Marine parade.
A Cricket Match between an eleven of the Rifles, and an equal team of the Artillerists, was played on the Bopeep ground on the 11th of June, the former winning by 21 runs. Most of the officers of each Corps were present. About 2 o’clock the cricketers and their friends sat down to a substantial dinner provided at the Terminus Hotel, the chair being filled by Lieut. Scrivens, and the vice-chair by Lieut. Crake.
Artillery Demonstration. The “Fourth Cinque Ports” having received from the Government stores two 18-pounder guns, heavily mounted with ammunition waggons and tackle complete, their arrival on the 3rd of July was made the occasion of a demonstration. An invitation to the Hastings & St. Leonards Rifles (1st Cinque Ports) and the Fairlight Artillery (2nd Sussex) to join in the procession, resulted in about 60 of the former and a detachment of the latter being present. The procession, headed by the Battle Band, proceeded from the Hastings station to St. Leonards as far as the Victoria Hotel, and then returned to Hastings as far as the Fishmarket and back through George street, Castle street, &c to Wal Pg.168 der’s shed in Havelock road, there to find a temporary resting place. The route was lined with sightseers, and one enthusiastic volunteer (Mr. Field of West street) had a gas illumination on the occasion.
Presentation. In the month of August, the 4th Cinque Ports Artillery presented Capt. McGillivray (late Lieut. of the Coast Artillery in this district) with a beautiful silver tankard, as a testimonial of their esteem for him, and as a mark of appreciation of his services to the Corps whilst he was stationed here. At this time Capt. Harcourt was Capt. Commandant; Lieut. Scrivens was promoted to the rank of Captain; Lieut. Gibbs was advanced from second to first Lieutenant; and E. Hayles, Esq. received a commission as Lieutenant in the second company.
The First Inspection of the 2nd Sussex Artillery Corps took place at Fairlight on the 14th of August, or, rather, in the adjoining parish of Pett. Upwards of fifty members assembled, and many visitors were present. The inspecting officer was Col. Morris, who put the men through a number of movements, previously to a gun drill on an 18 pounder. The Inspector expressed satisfaction with what was done, considering that the Corps was composed of three sections, living widely apart, and that the Ore division by itself was “very smart”. Refreshments at the close were kindly provided by Capt. Lucas-Shadwell.
An Extended Practice at the Ecclesbourne range was engaged in on the 4th of September by the 1st Cinque Port Rifles their captain (the Hon. George Waldegrave) being present, and the meeting being occasionally enlivened by the band of fifes and drums.
A Misunderstanding having arisen between the Commandant of the Artillery and their 1st Lieutenant, and such being afterwards amicably arranged so that the latter might continue in office, the men showed their pleasure by a meeting on the 4th of September to greet their favourite officer (Lieut Gibbs) and marching through the town with their excellent new brass band, composed mainly of those who had been members of the original band of that description for several years under the management of T. B. Brett.
A March to Beauport was accomplished on the 20th of the same month (September) by the 4th Cinque Ports Artillery, when and where they were banqueted by Capt. Scrivens, after which, they returned, together with their brass band to St. Leonards, where they were treated to a second repast by Lieut. Gibbs.
A Grand Rifle Fête took place at Ecclesbourne Valley on Monday the 8th of October, when from two to three thousand persons assembled to Pg.169 witness a series of rifle contests in which the volunteers of Hastings, St. Leonards, Rye and other places competed for honours and prizes. The brass band of the Artillery Volunteers and the fife-and-drum band of the Rifles were on the ground, and these, with other means of amusement, enlivened the scene. A large space was fenced off, within which, persons were admitted on payment of 6d, a fee which realised upwards of £40, and which sum it was proposed to keep as a prize fund for another year. The first match commenced at 8 o’clock in the morning and continued until noon. It was for the 1st company of Cinque Ports, (Hastings & St. Leonards) only, and in which three prizes were offered – namely, a ten guinea Lancaster rifle, a silver medal and a bronze medal. The ranges were 200 and 300 yards, five shots per man. The number of competing members was 53. The highest score made was by private Webb, of Fairlight, who made 15 points, and carried off the prize. The next highest scores were those of Lieut. Crake, Sergt. Penhall and private Hildred, each of whom made 14 points. These ties had to be shot off, when the second and third prizes fell, respectively, to Hildred and Penhall. The second match was a competitive one as a trial of skill between Hastings and Rye, twelve on each side, ten shots per man, and at the same 200 and 300 yards distances. The firing on each side was remarkably even, the Hastings twelve obtaining 119 points, and the Rye twelve, 114. Mr. Webb again secured the first position, having scored 16 points against the next highest of 14. The third match was for a silver cup, value £17, and a purse of five guineas, open to all rifle volunteers, four shots each at 300 yards and one shot at 400. Private Webb, of the Hastings Company, obtained 7 points, which number being equalled only by Mr. Scott, of the 3rd Middlesex Company, whose rifle being a Lancaster instead of an Enfield disqualified him, and Mr. Webb became the fortunate winner of the cup. This last success against 54 competitors from various parts of the country, was a crowning triumph, and called forth from the assembly a burst of applause. Lieut. Crake and Sergt. Penhall, of the Hastings Corps, with Private Brittenden, of Hythe, again tied each other, and in shooting off, the five guinea prize fell to the last-named gentleman. The Hastings Corp acquitted themselves admirably, both individually and collectively. The whole of the prizes were distributed on the ground by the Countess of Waldegrave, after which, the Artillery Volunteers, who had kept the ground during the day, mustered their forces, and, with their band, marched into the town, closely followed by the Rifles and their band. It was gratifying to know that the firing, which lasted the whole of the day, was unattended by the slightest mishap.
Presentation of Colours. There was a public demonstration at the Music Hall on the evening of Oct. 23rd, in connection with the 1st Company of Cinque Ports Rifles. The ladies of the borough united to procure a regi Pg.170 mental colour and two “battalion aids” for presentation to this company and solicited the Countess of Waldegrave to present them. The Hall was densely crowded, and the platform was filled by many of the clergy and gentry of both towns and neighbourhood. The banners were placed in front of the platform, and the Rifles were arranged in two sub-divisions, one on each side of the Hall, thus leaving the centre clear for the colour party and the ceremony of presentation. In the rear of the Rifles were arranged the 4th Cinque Ports Artillery also in sub-divisions, with the bands of both companies. At the lower end of the hall were seats, occupying about one half of the room, for the lookers-on, who were admitted by ticket only. These, irrespective of the men under arms, were nearly 500 in number, and as many more had to be refused admittance for want of space. On the arrival of the Company, under Lieut. Crake and Ensign Rock, the men were placed in “open order”, with swords fixed. The Artillery, under Capt. Scrivens and Lieut. Hayles took up position soon after, also in open order, with drawn swords. On the colour being placed in the hands of the Rev. J. Parkin (the late Earl Waldegrave’s private chaplain) for transference to a told-off party of reception, the Rev. gentleman spoke in substance as follows:- Lady Waldegrave, - It is my duty to-night to hand over to you this flag from the ladies of Hastings, who have selected you as their representative on this occasion to present it to the 1st Company of the Cinque Ports Volunteers. It will be my duty before I hand it to you to ask God’s blessing – not on the flag, as newspapers sometimes erroneously represent, which would be merely a superstitious ceremony – but to ask His blessing on the whole undertaking of the Cinque Ports Volunteers. It will be a great pleasure to me as well as privilege to do this. I have also a great wish if your ladyship will bear with me to tell you why I feel it to be a pleasure. I bow down to no authority but the Word of God, and I feel persuaded that our undertaking to-night in the establishment of this Company and the great Volunteer movement now progressing throughout the country is in accordance with that Word and will of God (notwithstanding what the peacemongers say to the contrary), and from which it might easily be proved. I will tell you how I ground this, because great misconception has prevailed on the subject. We ought ever to remember that we are fallen creatures, living in a fallen world and surrounded by fallen beings. The consequence is this – that to preserve peace – as has been shewn in the whole history of the world – the best means is to cultivate the art of war. The best method to preserve ourselves from insult and aggression is always to be ready with an armed force to resent Pg.171 and repel anything of the kind. Bear this in mind, for what I have further to say, which is that certain persons say we are living under the protection of Almighty God. I believe that as a people we are so. Great Britain is the great disseminator of Protestantism, of an open Bible – of missionary enterprise – and first in every good work. I echo the sentiment that we are living under the protection of Almighty God, and I think that if any foreign potentate were to attempt to set foot on our shores, with that protection he would be compelled to retire discomfited and beaten. But, mark! God works by means. He would not extend His blessing and protection over us unless we made use of the means. His protection would be shewn in blessing the means which we used. Of that there is an example in the Word of God which comes home to this case and which exactly tallies with our condition. Let me call your attention to Abraham, who was called the holy man of God, and who had close communication with Him. God conferred upon him distinguished privileges; he was called “the friend of God”. God came down to Abraham and told him “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Now, you know a shield protected the wearer from dangers, and if Abraham had God for his shield he would be thus protected. If there ever lived a man in the world who could say “I can leave all to God”, it would have been Abraham; but mark what he did. Abraham had 318 servants, and he armed and drilled them, and they became a Company just like the 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers [Applause]. And these armed servants were not for show, merely, but for use; because at the time when his brother Lot was taken away captive, Abraham, having armed his 318 men, followed the four kings and conquered them, while he recovered his brother and took part of the spoil which those kings had carried off. If the sacred historian had stopped at that point of the narrative we might have inferred that God had blessed him; but the historian tells us further that on his return from victory, he was met by Melchizedek, King of Salem, “the Priest of the Most High God,” who feasted him and blessed him, saying “Blessed be Abraham of the Most High God, the possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be the Most High God who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand”. The consequence was that God gave the victory, but He gave it because Abraham had used the means. From this example you will see why I believe God is blessing us, and that he will bless the Volunteer movement. But He will bless us only while we make a proper use of the means placed at our disposal. And now, having explained to you the ground on which I believe it to be a privilege and a duty to take part in this undertaking. I will ask you to join me Pg.172 in fervent prayer to Almighty God. The Rev. Chaplain, who had been frequently applauded, then engaged in an appropriate prayer to God for His blessing upon the Volunteers and their object in enrolling themselves. The colour was then handed to the Countess of Waldegrave for presentation, whereupon the Hon. and Rev. Samuel Waldegrave, Bishop of Carlisle, read the following address from the Countess, who was suffering from a severe cold:- “Gentlemen, for the second time I have been requested by the ladies of Hastings and St. Leonards to present to you a token of the great interest which they take in the Volunteer Corps of this borough; and again, I am happy to say the cost has been defrayed by a number of small subscriptions, thus enabling many to shew their goodwill to the Corps. We are all aware that such collections are not made without sacrifice of time; we must, therefore, first express our thanks to those ladies who so willingly undertook the work. To you, gentlemen, to whom this standard is to be entrusted, I need not say much, because I feel certain that no word of mine will enhance its value in your estimation. It is only a few months since I expressed the perfect confidence which we all felt that you would, as a body, do honour to the name by which you are distinguished – I was not mistaken. A very few weeks elapsed ere you passed before her Majesty the Queen in perfect order, and with as firm and even step as that of long trained soldiers. And here I must tell you that my noble friend Lord Hotham (himself a general officer) expressed to me his astonishment at the precision and order of your march. You passed his house in Grosvenor street where he had a full opportunity of observing your movements, and he good-naturedly added that he believed Capt. Waldegrave was so proud of his men that he brought them miles out of the way to the station on purpose to show them off to him and other friends on the road. How well you have succeeded in the higher branches of your duty has been clearly shewn by the results of the shooting match on the East Hill, when, out of the five prizes given, I had the honour of presenting the four highest to the members of the 1st Cinque Ports Rifles. In reverting once more to your standard itself, I wish to draw your particular attention to the emblems by which it is emblazoned; those emblems are the red cross and the lion’s head. Well is the symbol of bodily strength coupled with that of spiritual might. The best Christian is the best soldier, and why? because he goes into the field with a mind elevated by the conviction that duty to his country is duty to his God; and is fearless of death because he fights under His Pg.173 banner, “who hath overcome the sharpness of death, and opened the Kingdom of heaven to all believers”. Rally, therefore round this standard, and be well assured that if in the hour of need female aid is required, the ladies who have taken so much pleasure in providing the banner, will be equally willing to sucour(sic) and comfort its manly defenders. I regret that Capt. Waldegrave has been unable to attend here, but he is endeavouring to make himself still more worthy of command by hard drilling at Plymouth in the 53 Regiment – one that is much endeared to him as that in which his elder and gallant brother distinguished himself in India. [Loud applause]. The noble lady then placed the flags into the hands of the Ensign and the sergeants of the escort who advanced to receive them. The whole of the Volunteers saluted the colours by presenting arms. The colour party retired a few paces and the men shouldered and took “close order”, the band playing the National Anthem. Lieut. Crake acknowledged the presentation in these words:- Lady Waldegrave and ladies of Hastings and St. Leonards – As senior officer present it is my duty to convey to you the thanks of our corps for the presentation you have just made to us. I assure you it is with pride and pleasure that we are again assembled for the purpose of receiving at your hands this renewed expression of the interest you take in our progress and welfare. If our efforts to become efficient Riflemen have obtained your approbation, we are fully recompensed. I will not affect to say that the time and attention required for instruction does not seriously curtail the leisure hours of many of our members already sufficiently limited; but cheered by your encouragement, I trust we shall persevere until we are qualified for the duties we have undertaken. Lady Waldegrave, you have kindly expressed your confidence in the conduct of those on whom you have bestowed that flag. It is not for me to enlarge on that subject; but I may be permitted to say that in accepting it, we feel that the honour of our country is intrusted(sic) to our charge, and I will venture to say there is not one member of our corps who for that honour should occasion require it, is not prepared to make the last sacrifice. Ladies, I again thank you. – Cheers were given for the Queen, the Countess of Waldegrave and the lady subscribers. – The Rifles marched to St. Leonards and deposited the large banner at Lieut. Crake’s residence, where they were refreshed, and then returned to Hastings. The banner was of white silk, with the St. George’s cross in red, and the Cinque ports arms in gold and silver. This was in conformity with what Mr. Ross discovered in the Cinque ports “Black book” in the Romney chest of Pg.174 Brotherhood Court and of which he made the following extract:- 5th of Henry Vlll (1513) “At this speciall Brotheryeld it is agreed that every man that goith in the Navy of the Portis shall have a cote of cotyn with a red cross and the Armys of the Portis untherneathe, that is to say, the halfe Lyon and the halfe Shippe.” It was singularly appropriate that the presentation should have been made by the Countess Waldegrave, whose first husband was Captain of the Rifle Volunteers in 1797, and whose second husband’s son was capt. of the new Corps of Rifles whose formation and progress has been here described.
Another Grand Contest. A sort of return match between the Hastings (1st Cinque Ports) and Rye (3rd Cinque Ports) Rifles was eventuated at the practice ground of the latter on Monday, Oct. 29th, in the presence of a large concourse of people interested in the proceedings. A detachment of the Hastings (4th Cinque Ports) Artillery, under the command of Capt. Scrivens and Lieut Hayles, assisted in keeping the ground, which, with other arrangements, appeared to be judiciously satisfactory. The Artillery band from Hastings and a drum-and-fife band from Tenterden were also in attendance to animate the scene. Refreshment and other tents were erected on the ground, and altogether the affair was regarded as quite a military spectacle for the people of Rye and its neighbourhood. The first match commenced at about 11 o’clock, and was intended as a trial of skill for the nominal honour of victory between twelve members of the Hastings and an equal number of the Rye Corps; the former including the St. Leonards members, and the latter those of Tenterden. The firing was said to be extremely good on both sides, but the laurels were carried off by the sharp-shooters of Hastings, they having made a score of 72 at 200 yards and 55 at 300 yards, whilst their rivals made 67 at 200, and 45 at 300 yards. The second match, for the Volunteers of Sussex, Surrey, Kent and the Cinque Ports – the prizes for which were a silver cup, of the value of £17, a silver medal and a bronze medal – was contested by no fewer than 120 shooters, of whom, after a spirited trial of skill, Sergt Penhall and Lieut. Crake (both members of the Hastings Corps) became respectively, the winners of the 1st and 3rd prizes. Five rounds were fired by each man at a distance of 300 yards, and the highest number of points obtained were as follows:-
Sergt. Penhall (Hastings) 9 Private Kennett (Folkestone) 8
Lieut Crake (Hastings) 8 Private Brittenden (Hythe) 8
On firing off for the 2nd and 3rd prizes, Kennett scored 2 points, Crake 1 and Brittenden 0. The silver medal therefore fell to Kennett and the bronze medal to Crake. On the termination of the contest, at Pg.175 about 4.30, p.m., the members of the several corps, with the two bands, formed in marching order, and moved off to the Cinque Ports Arms Hotel, where they satiated their appetites with the good things there provided. The repast being over, the remainder of the evening was devoted to patriotic speeches and sentiments and to the awarding of prizes. A spirit of honourable and friendly rivalry manifested itself from the commencement of the proceedings to their termination, and when the Hastings Volunteers took their departure, at about 9 o’clock, they were accompanied to the station by their “brothers-in-arms, and a large crowd of civilians.
A March to Bexhill by the Rifles, under the command of their Capt. the Hon. George Waldegrave, was undertaken on the 27th of November. Refreshments were partaken of at the Bell Inn, after which the return march was entered upon, and 12 miles was completed in good order, with the band playing merrily there and back.
The Artillery Corps (4th Cinque Ports) mustered at their battery on the 3rd of December for firing, Capt. Commandant Harcourt, Capt. Scrivens, and Lieut. Gibbs being with their men and taking part in the proceedings. The weather was very unfavourable; and, by some mistake, the target was moored at sea nearly a mile further than it ought to have been. About 40 rounds were fired in the presence of Lieut. Robinson, a Government officer, who highly complimented the men on their efficiency. When the practice was over, the men, headed by their band, tackled themselves to the two heavy guns and dragged them manfully from the battery through the town to their shed at the Priory.
Another Artillery Practice was engaged in on the 10th of December, and was very successful. Nearly every shot closely approached the small target that was placed on the water at a distance of twelve hundred yards.
Rifle-Band Concert. On the 18th of December a vocal and instrumental concert was given by members of the Rifle Band and other gentlemen, in aid of the funds of such bands, the concert being under the patronage of the Countess of Waldegrave, the Countess of Rothes, the Mayor of Hastings, the Borough Members and others. It was well attended and realised over £15 which was to be chiefly expended in paying for the new uniforms. The concert opened with an instrumental quartet, followed by the song “England’s Gallant Defenders” by Mr. Glenister. A beautifully executed duet (flute and piano) came next, by Messrs. Funnell and Hayden, and then a part-song “Praise of the Soldier”, by Messrs. Harman, Whiting, Jarrett and Parks. Another quar Pg.176 tet (one of Mozart’s) followed, and then “The Volunteers Song” by Mr. Parks. All these were applaudingly received; but the appeance(sic) of the Rifle Band at this stage (18 in number) with their fifes and flutes, big drum, side-drums symbals and triangle, created quite an excitement. They had been so well trained by Mr. Funnell – himself a superior flautist – as to produce harmony, as well as sound. They played one of their marches “Cheer up Sam”, and being lustily encored, they responded with “The Nightingale”, a march that had quite recently been put before them. The second part began with an overture, after which Mr. Whiting sang “Riflemen Form”. Then came another instrumental quartet, followed by a part-song “The Soldier’s Consolation”. Master Alfred Harman, quite a lad in the Rifle band, came on the stage, dressed in scarlet, and sweetly sang “May God Preserve Old England”, and so rapturously encored that he had to repeat it. The rest of the programme consisted of a flute and piano duet, a song “Our Rifles are Ready”, “The Young Recruit” march by the Rifle band, encored, and “God Save the Queen”, in which the audience joined.
The account here given of this concert, as well as of all the other Volunteer movements during the year should be regarded as mere skeleton reports extracted from the columns of the St. Leonards Gazette and the Hastings News; full details being inadmissible in a work like the present. At the same time so full of enthusiasm were the inhabitants of the borough and so thoroughly in earnest were the volunteers themselves, that a more restricted narrative than that which here appears would not only belittle one of the greatest features of the year, but would also be less than commensurate with the writer’s intention of historically coupling the volunteer institution of the 18th century with that of the 19th, and bringing the latter up to date.
Our Champion Galley Crew
Fresh Laurels crowned the efforts of the celebrated crew of the “Lord Warden” on the 11th of July, when at Southampton two heats were rowed for the Mayor’s silver goblet valued at £10, and two heats for the first regatta prize of £10, in both of which the Hastings crew were the winners. Both races were open to the coast, and amongst the vanquished was the “Widgeon”, of Newhaven, for which the “Champion of the South Coast” had been claimed.
At the Newhaven Regatta on the 26th of July, the Lord Warden, manned by her own crew carried off the watermen’s first prize; thus beating the Anne, of Brighton, the Widgeon, of Newhaven and the Arrow, of Ramsgate. Two of the crew (Wenman and Curtis) afterwards rowed in the Alarm, of Hastings, and won the first prize for pair-oared skiffs; the Bull-dog, another Hastings boat being second in the race. The winner of Pg.177 the first prize for first-class skiffs was also a young man from Hastings named Morton.
At the Eastbourne Regatta the only race that was open to the coast was for first-class four-oared galleys. The first boat was the Lord Warden, of Hastings, the second, the Widgeon of Newhaven, and the third, the Blink Bonny, of Southwick. See also opposite page.
Inserted page between 176 & 177 The crew of the Lord Warden (Wenman, Curtis, Buxted, Sinden and Thwaites) were beautifully photographed by Mr. T. Mann, jun., in their rowing garb, with the Hastings arms emblazoned on the breast of each.
At the Hastings Regatta on the 21st of August, the great race of the day was for 4-oared first-class galleys, the prizes of which were £15, £8 and £5. Ten boats competed, hailing variously from Brighton, Dover, Southampton, Margate, Newhaven, Ramsgate Folkestone and Hastings. It was a very exciting race, but the Lord Warden, manned by its redoubtable crew, scored another triumph, by reaching the goal several lengths in advance of the Anne, of Brighton, which came in second, whilst the Ariel, of Dover, was third. This regatta was to have come off on the 6th of August but was unavoidably postponed for a fortnight, in consequence of unfavourable weather as previously intimated by the meteorologist of the “St. Leonards Gazette”. This disappointment was, perhaps, more keenly felt by the Committee than by other persons; for, not only had they been unfortunate in the choice of day on that occasion, but the same thing had happened to them several years in succession, notwithstanding that the said journal had repeatedly pointed out the chosen periods of maximum spring tides as the least likely for a suitable sea. In its comments on the postponement for a fortnight when the same lunar influence on the tides would recur, the same journal said “Let us hope – and we do hope, rather than believe – that the postponement for a fortnight will prove judicious.” The day, however, came round, and for which the weather forecast was “Threatening for wind”. Not only was the wind too strong, but the sea was also too unquiet for skiffs and galleys to venture upon it. A couple of sailing matches were therefore all that could be attempted until the following day; when the rowing matches came off, and when, as before stated, the first prize for galleys was carried off by the crew of the Lord Warden. After the first postponement the following imaginary dialogue appeared in the Hastings News
“’Twas past 12, a.m., and all solemn and still,
I heard the chimes echo o’er valley and hill;
Now loudly and bold, then steal silent away,
To tell o’er the earth of the birth of the day.
Lo! from the south-west comes a loud rumbling sound,
And as it approaches the sea-waves rebound,
Till rides the white foam on the crest of each wave;
Pg.178 ‘Tis Boreas speaks in a yarn to Old Dave.
“Rouse Davey” says Boreas, “Rouse up” says he,
This day they defies us, old pal, don’t you see;
That blessed Committee will find it’s no joke,
Though all under weigh are they down at the Oak.
If weather permits, they, of course, should have said,
When their precious regatta arrangements were made.
“I’m ready, says Davey; yea ready, my boy.
And I hopes their amusement the lads will enjoy;
I am good for a row; for, old fellow, like you,
I’ve been getting ready, the last day or two.
To be walked down by them, why, it raises my bile;
So, pipe, up, old chum, and their fun we will spoil”
Then Boreas piped with his storm tuned song,
And wild grew old Davey – yea, furiously strong;
‘Twas vain to endeavour regatta to hold,
Exper’ence was bought, and committee were sold.
A Sculling Match. The young man Morton, who won a prize at the Newhaven regatta having been challenged by another oarsman, named Philcox to a sculling competition for £10 a side, the race came off on the 1st of September, as agreed upon. The course lay between the Fishmarket at Hastings and Warrior Square, St. Leonards. The sea was not in a condition to favour an aquatic contest in skiffs of so fragile a build, as proved by the all but capsizing of both boats and the extreme difficulty each man had in keeping his boat in proper trim. There was no lack of pluck, however, and after a hard struggle, Morton proved himself to be the best man.
Mr. James Rock. It was a little remarkable that during the year one of the officers of the 1st Cinque Ports Rifles took to himself a wife, and another entered into an engagement to do so. It was on Thursday the 19th of April that James Rock, Esq., of Fairlight, the highly intelligent and respected Ensign of the Corps, was married at the church of St. Stephen’s the Martyr, London, to Helen, third daughter of the late Joseph Reid, Esq., of Thornton Heath, Surrey. The men at Mr. Rock’s coach factory, White-rock place, had a supper given to them on that occasion to commemorate the happy event.
The Hon. George Waldegrave. At a later period of the year, the Captain of the same Corps of Rifle Volunteers, was announced as shortly to be married to the Countess of Rothes, of Leslie House, Pg.179 Fifeshire. The Countess was born in 1832, and succeeded her brother, the 12th Earl, in 1859. The Earldom was created in 1458. (The marriage took place Jan 22/61)
Inserted page between 178 and 179 At St. Clement’s Church on May 23rd, Dante Gabriel Rossetti was married to Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, daughter of a retired Sheffield tradesman.
Miss J. Williams. Whilst Mr. Rock was being married in London, on the same day (April 19th) the daughter of another repected(sic) townsman was being married at Hastings. It was at the church of All Saints where Miss J. Williams, daughter of Horatio Nelson Williams, Esq., was wedded to the Rev. George Godsell. The church was crowded on the occasion, and the service was what is known as full choral. On the entrance and departure of the wedding party, Mr.Giles, the organist, played the “Wedding March” and “Mozart’s Gloria”. The bride was attended by six bridesmaids. Shortly after the ceremony, the bride and bridegroom left for Canterbury, en route for the Continent. The breakfast was partaken of at High Wickham, the residence of the bride’s father; and in the evening, the church choir and others were entertained at supper, prepared at the Stag Inn.
On the afternoon and evening of January 23rd, no fewer than three persons appear to have been suddenly deprived of life. The first was George Kent, an old fisherman, who was found dead on some timber, near the East Well; the second was Mark Christian, a young man residing at Stonefield road; and the third was a bricklayer of the name of Sands, who had been employed by Messrs. Hughes and Hunter, of St. Leonards. Inquests held of the bodies revealed the facts that Kent died from apoplexy of the lungs, and Christian from a diseased heart. In the case of Sands, he had travelled to Rye where his lifeless body was found on the sands, near the harbour – a nominal coincidence – but with every appearance of having been murdered by some person or persons unknown.
Janes Head’s Suicide. On the 19th of March an inquest was held on the body of James Head, an elderly man of 60, who had been found suspended by the neck in a small room over a granary. He was an unmarried man, and had been looking after the cows for Mr. Edmund Chapman, dairyman at Hole farm. Food, money, watch and other things were found in his room, and no one could account for the act of self destruction.
Sir Charles Montolieu Lamb died at his seat at Beauport, near Hastings, on the 21st of March. The deceased baronet was Knight Marshal of the Royal Household, to which office he was appointed in 1825, and thus held the appointment during the reign of three sovereigns. He was born July 8th, 1785, and was therefore in his 75th year. He succeeded to the baron Pg.180 etcy on the demise of his father, Sir James, on the 13th of October, 1824. He was twice married, first to Lady Mary Montgomerie (daughter of Archibald, Earl of Eglington) who died in 1848, and secondly to Frances, the eldest daughter of the Rev. W. Margesson, of Oakhurst, in this county. The late Sir Charles was a D. C. L., Deputy Lieutenant of Sussex and of Ayrshire, and for some years Major of the Ayshire(sic) Yeomanry Cavalry. The grandson of the deceased succeeded to the baronetcy. Sir Charles had a rare collection of old armoury, which was shown at a grand exhibition at the St. Leonards Assembly Rooms arranged by the committee of the Mechanics’ Institution. Sir Charles’s second wife died at 3 Cadogan place, London, July 1st, 1884. A magnificent monument covers the vault in the grounds of old Hollington church. It consists of a square column of polished white marble with sculptured profile and crest.
Sudden Death of Mr. Menzies. On the 20th of April, Mr. Brunswick Menzies (youngest son of General Menzies, a Hastings magistrate) died in an epileptic fit. The deceased gentleman was chief officer of the Cliff-End coastguard station, and was 36 years of age. At the inquest, Lieut. Ferrar, R.N., the officer in command at 31 Tower, Bopeep, stated that deceased had told him that on one occasion when returning from Hastings about three months ago, his horse threw him and he received a blow on the head which rendered him insensible for some time. After that accident, it appeared, Mr. Menzies had had an occasional fit. The funeral took place on the 28th, at Fairlight Church, under Capt. Gough’s arrangements. All the flags at the stations were lowered to half mast, and bodies of coastguards lined the avenues of the church, resting on their carbines reversed. Three volleys were fired over the grave at the conclusion of the burial service. See also opposite page
Inserted text between 179-180. Arthur, the second son of Wastel Brisco, Esq., of Bohemia, near Hastings, and late a captain in the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own), died on the 24th of May at the age of 31 years. The deceased, who was a man of fine proportions, and endowed with superior intellectual qualities, drew his last breath at his London residence, the cause of death being disease of the heart. He was interred in the family vault at Hollington.
A Splintered Elbow Joint was the result of accident to a young gentleman of Mr. Hunt’s establishment for the cure of stammering. On the 2nd of January, the sufferer with some other young men of the establishment, while driving near the Ivy Cottage at Ore, turned the sharp angle too quickly and collided with a timber-tug, and the occupants being thrown out, this one’s arm was crushed under the wheel of the heavier vehicle.
A Fractured Leg resulted to Mr. Charles Dean Swain, a house decorator, on the evening of the 23rd of March (also at Ore). The night was dark and stormy, and Mr. Swain being unable to open a high gate which led into Ore Lane, opposite to the Cemetery, endeavoured to climb over the top and fell to the ground.
Pg.181 An Accident or an Intention resulted in a frightful wound across her skull and a lacerated hand to a woman named Madden, who had been maddened with drink, and was found on Sunday morning, March 24th in the back yard of No. 4 East Well, she having fallen a distance of 40 feet from the “Lower Look-out” at the south end of the Tackleway.
A Lad named Stickels, in the employ of Mr. Amoore, of Robertson street, while, jumping one of the water courses in the Priory meadow, on the 16th of April, fell and severely fractured his thigh.
A Son of F. Ticehurst, Esq., whilst driving in an open carriage on the following day (Ap. 17th) was thrown out by the upsetting of the same, but was not seriously hurt, although the carriage was much damaged.
Duncan Munro, a tailor and day-visitor from Tunbridge Wells, amused himself with others of his calling, on June 18th, by jumping off the parade on to the loose shingle of the beach, but, against all advise(sic), Munro, afterwards, took a desperate leap over the protecting iron to the hard ground below at the east end of Carlisle parade, and suffered from a compound fracture of one leg as the effect of his foolhardiness.
The Rev. E. Hensley, of Ore, and some ladies sustained considerable injuries on the 5th of July, through that gentleman’s (?) colliding with one belonging to Capt. Foley, of Beaulieu. One of the latter’s horses was also injured.
Mrs. Watson and daughter, of Guestling, were, on Sunday, Sept. 23rd, thrown out of a pony carriage, on their way to Hastings, by which they were considerably hurt.
Four Days’ Accidents. On Saturday, Oct. 6th, Mr. Barham, a painter at Spring terrace, fractured a thigh by jumping out of a cart drawn by a restless horse. On the same day a gentleman and three ladies were thrown out of a four-wheeled chaise, and of the ladies one was much hurt. Also, on the same day, a lad named Thorne fell off the Chalk-road groyne into deep water, and was rescued by William Mann in an insensible condition. On the following Monday (Oct. 8th) the carriage of C. H. Frewen, Esq., collided with another carriage at the junction of High street and Courthouse street, and both carriages were considerably damaged. On Thursday , the 9th a serious injury was inflicted on Messrs. Burfield’s dray horse, which collided with a van. On Wednesday, the 10th, a tramp named Coleman, while intoxicated, stood in the middle of the street near the Hastings Arms and was run over by a carriage and rendered insensible - Insensibly drunk and insensibly hurt.
During a violent gale on the 18th of October, a lady named Wilkinson was blown across the road from the south to the north side of Robertson with such force as to break the thick plate-glass window of Mr. Pg.182 Diplocks new library near Claremont. The lady herself was not much hurt.
Another plate-glass smash happened on the 29th of October, at Mr. Gask’s shop in Wellington place by the driver of a light spring cart accidently back(sic) his horse and cart into the window.
John Campbell, a bricklayer’s labourer, accidently fell from the second floor of a newly erected house in Havelock road on the 2nd of November, by which he sustained internal injuries.
John Gullen, a fisherman from Ramsgate, while putting off at Hastings in a small boat, was, through his want of soberness, thrown into the sea, and but for being rescued by Benjamin Haddow, would probably have been drowned.
(For St. Leonards accidents see chapter LXlll)
Six men and a boy were landed at Hastings on the 25th of September, they having been rescued from a French schooner in the Channel that was in imminent danger of going to pieces
A Gentleman of unsound mind, unperceivedly got into the sea in front of Caroline place on the 23rd of October, and must certainly have been drowned had he not been rescued by a boatman named Tutt, who being near the spot heard a splashing, and rushed in with all his clothes on and brought the apparently lifeless body to the shore. Medical and other aid were procured and resuscitation was accomplished.
An inquest was held at the Town Hall on the 7th of April on the body of a supposed American, trawled up by the crew of the fishing boat Mayflower. The body was heavily dressed and quite fresh. Evidence was given by the crew of another fishing-boat that they saw a large ship, (apparently an American) on the previous Saturday afternoon, going westward, suddenly hove-to and put off a boat, with five men, who appeared to be searching for something, nearly or quite a quarter of an hour, without success. – Verdict, “Found Drowned”.
An inquest was held on the 19th of April by a Corononer’s(sic) jury, of which T. B. Brett was foreman, on the body of a male infant that had been discovered in a carpet bag. The mother of the infant was a cook in service, but as the medical evidence was that the child had never breathed, a verdict of still-born was recorded. As soon as the mother had recovered her strength sufficiently, she would have had to appear before the magistrates on a charge of concealment, but the unfortunate woman died in the meantime.
Another inquest was held, the same day at the Town Hall on the body of Agnes Wright, the wife of a tradesman at Islington, who came to Hastings about three weeks previously. At eight o’clock on the 17th of April a servant of the deceased’s went to her mistress’s bedroom to take one of the Pg.183 children and found her mistress dead, partially lying on her side, with blood flowing from her mouth which was under the clothes. On the previous evening the servant had fetched a quartern and a half of gin and a pint of beer, which was partly partaken of by a friend who had come in. Medical testimony after a post mortem was to the effect that the deceased had been seized with a fit while under the influence of ardent spirits, and became asphyxiated. Verdict – “Suffocated”
Sussex Archaeological Society
Says the Hastings News of Friday, August 10th – “The annual meeting of this valuable society took place at Pevensey on Wednesday last, and, unfortunately for everybody concerned, amid a continuous downpour of that element which has excited so much ill will, evil forebodings &c., in the minds of every true-born grumbling John Bull, during the present season. That preparatory note is enough to intimate that the generally pleasant meeting of this society did not partake so much of the joyous characteristics of an annual meeting and country excursion as usual; and, in consequence the number attending was not so large nor the festivities so gay as might have been desired, or as, indeed would sure to have been the case had the probabilities of the day betokened sunshine instead of rain. The official programme had intimated that the archaeologists would proceed from Pevensey station to Herstmonceux Castle (which H. M. Curteis, Esq. had kindly opened for the inspection of the society), thence returning to Pevensey Castle, where it was proposed to spend some time in the examination of this ancient Anderida, terminating the business by a dinner within its walls. Among the excursionists present were the Lord Bishop of Chichester, the Ven. Archdeacon Otter, R. W. Blencowe, Esq (hon. sec.) M. A. Lower, Esq., W. H. Bluaw, Esq., W. Durrant Cooper, Esq. and a large contingent of clergymen and gentry connected with the midland and more western parts of the county. [Among those who were present from Hastings and St. Leonards were Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Miss. Stent, Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Staines, J. Phillips, Esq., Miss. Burton, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Burton, T. Ross, Esq. (local sec. for Hastings) and Mrs. Ross, and Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter. Having ensconsed(sic) themselves inside of various carriages the party (numbering 200-300) proceeded on the appointed route, many of them paying a visit to Westham church – a fine specimen of old architecture, having many of its beauties spoiled by the “improving” hands of a long race of discerning churchwardens.
The ruins of Herstmonceux Castle were favoured with only a most cursory examination – a circumstance that will excite no wonder in view of the damper which certainly had a very visible effect Pg.184 on everyone of the party. The castle is an early specimen of the revival of brick-building, and is said to have been built about 400 years ago by an officer of the court of Henry VI. The interior was dismantled in 1777; the ruins, however, indicate its former greatness. The south front 500 feet long, and the sides 214 feet. Several towers are in a good state of preservation, as well as the remains of a port-cullis. The ruins will amply repay a special visit on any occasion when the visitants can promise themselves anything like a favourable day. The church close by is also worthy of inspection.
On the return to Pevensey Castle, the members of the society were to have been conducted over these splendid ruins by Mr. A. Lower, Esq. who, by his previous researches in the building was well qualified to act as cicerone. Here again the rain prevented the carrying out of this arrangement, and very few, indeed, were found willing to make the circuit of the walls. The area enclosed is about seven acres, and the buildings show clear tracings of two classes of buildings – the Roman fortress and the mediaeval castle. In some places the walls are 30ft. high. Several circular towers still remain; the most northern (supposed to have been the watch tower) commands an extensive view, and forms the most picturesque portion of the outer works.
The next item of the programme was the dinner, which took place under the friendly shelter of a large tent supplied by Mr. Edgington, of London, and neatly decorated for the occasion. The cusine(sic) arrangements were made by Mr. Geer of Southover, and Mr. Payne, of the Bopeep hotel St. Leonards, and were of such a character as to give general satisfaction. Arrangements were made for about 450 persons, but this number was at least deficient to the extent of a third. The Right Rev. Dr. Gilbert, the Bishop of the Diocese presided. The Ven. Archdeacon Otter proposed the toast of the “Success to the Archaeological Society”. This was followed by “The Health of the hon. sec; Mr. Blencowe and the Committee”, proposed by W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq. of Fairlight and Hastings. Mr. Blencowe, in responding, said it had been arranged that no papers were to be read at that meeting, and conclued(sic) by proposing a number of ladies and gentlemen as new members, among whom was F. W. Staines, Esq. of St. Leonards. The next toast was “The Health of C. R. Smith and M. A. Lower Esqs”, by whose exertions, in 1852, the Roman and other remains in that noble castle were explored and beneficially opened to the world. In acknowledging the toast, Mr. Lower stated that the society had been inaugurated within those walls in July, 1846, but both then and on the intervening occasion the god of rain had been unpropitious. A number of other toasts followed, and the meeting was closed in time to allow the company to return Pg.185 to their homes at an early hour.
Pevensey Castle may be regarded as one of the lions of Hastings; as more or less all the year round, but particularly during the summer months, excursion and pic-nic parties thither go for a day’s enjoyment, and few are the visitors to Hastings who take their departure without seeing Pevensey. Had the weather on the occasion of the Archaeological Society’s visit been of a less wretched character the number of persons from Hastings and St. Leonards would have been very much greater; not only because such meetings are usually of an agreeable and social nature as affording a pleasant jaunt and a source of information, but also because Pevensey in particular being a limb or member of the premier Cinque Port, it would have for the people of Hastings a special associative interest. This speciality would include the now established fact that its site (or thereabout) was that of the ancient Anderida; that it was the landing-place of William the Conqueror; that it supplied a few of the Hastings contingent of “shippes” that helped to defeat the Spanish Armada; that it contributed a portion of the money that formed a free gift to Richard Lyffe, the Hastings Bailiff, who represented Hastings so many years in Parliament and so many times at the Yarmouth Herring-fair; and that the inhabitants of Pevensey Sluice have still the privilege of voting for a Hastings Member of Parliament. Our local Guide-books usually contain a view of Pevensey Castle as it now appears; but the compiler of this history, thinking that some older views would be equally interesting to antiquarians, has here found a place for them.
Pg.187 The subjoined more modern views and descriptive letter-press are taken from a “Hastings and St. Leonards Guide” printed for, and published by T. B. Brett and a few other local booksellers.
West Ham – a west hamlet of Pevensey, hence its name – is not so much dovetailed with the premier Cinque Port as Pevensey itself; but the revenue for the maintenance of an obit in the church of Westham (from whatsoever source it might have been obtained) was given over to the Corporation of Hastings by means of the Elizabethan Charter. Another associative circumstance is that of the interment and monument in the Westham Church of John Thatcher, a correlative member of the Hastings Thatchers, whose pedigree will be found in Vol 1, chapter XLI of Historico-Biographies. It was stated at the meeting of the Archaeological Society heretofore described, that no papers would be read on that occasion; but the following short paper on the Westham Church was prepared by Mr. W. Durrant Pg.188 Cooper. “The south wall of the Church is Norman, having three of the original windows remaining, and the frame of the fourth quite visible on the outside. They are placed unusually high and are rebated for glass externally. The rest of the church, except a portion of the north wall and part of the original transept, appears to be principally or entirely perpendicular. There is some good carved screenwork, and part of the roodloft occupies its original position. The stairs exist in the wall, though the entrance and outlet are blocked up. The Norman south transept, formerly a chantry, remains, and was till recently, converted into a schoolroom, which from the appearance of the foundations, seems to have terminated in an apse. By the side of the west door, under the tower, is a nintilated stoup. The chancel arch is of the late decorated period and of fine proportions. The east window of the chancel contains the remains of some well designed but indifferently burnt painted glass. Originally, it represented the Saviour and the Twelve Apostles. Those of St. Thomas, St. Matthew and St. Peter still remain. Under the window on the outside is a cross of faced flint, with Caen stone sides. The font, of the Eastbourne green sand is of the period of Henry V. The interior work is of good preservation, and is of the same or next reign. It not only forms the screen between the nave and the chancel, but also between the nave and the south transept. In this transept is a monument to John Thatcher Esq., who died 3rd September, 1649, without issue, and was the last of the once ‘noble family’ as the inscription states, who were allied by marriage with the families of Chablenor, Lewknor, Oscenbridge, Sackville, Pelham, Colepeper, Stapely, Tresham, and Audley. They were originally of the Broyle, Ringmer, and then of Priesthawes, in Westham. This John Thatcher is mentioned in a note to the notice of the Oxenbridges, of Brede, in the twelfth volume of the Sussex Arch. Coll. as being with Cardinal Allen at Rome in 1596.” “W. D. Cooper”
The present writer had an exterior view of this church, which he intended to have placed here, but has lost or mislaid it.
The President of the Archaeological Society was the Right Honourable the Earl of Chichester, who on the 23rd of November, was sworn in as Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, before her Majesty the Queen in Council, at Windsor Castle,, in lieu of the late Duke of Richmond.
More Particular Deaths
A death worthy to have been noticed with those on pages 179 and 180 was that of Mr. Douglas Hazle, a native of Hastings, and the son of Robert Hazle, a tailor, of 18 George street, who was referred to in the “Postman’s” Rhymed Reminiscences as follows:-
“Of Ives I have treated, of Glanfield I’ve told,
And if I go back to an epoch more old,
R. Hazle, a tailor, appears to my view,
From erst ‘Eighteen – eighteen to post ‘Thirty-two.
And if it now needed your postman to seek
Dame Nature when being in mood for a freak,
He’d find it just here, in R. Hazle and wife,
Who seemed to exhibit reversal of life.
The fair-looking Robert had beard very thin,
While Robert’s tall wife had a rough bearded chin;
And thus appeared Nature to alter her plan
To masculine woman and feminine man.
They moved to White-rock, there a living to get,
In not making clothes, but in lodgings to let;
And there they remained from about ‘Thirty-eight
Till ‘Fifty-and-three, or a few years more late.”
The son, George Douglas - an acquaintance and occasional companion of my own – was a well proportioned good-looking man, who left home after he had passed his manhood’s estate and took service in the South-Eastern Railway Company. The following paragraph from the Reading Mercury will tell the rest:- “It is our painful duty to record the almost sudden demise of the much respected Superintendent of the South-Eastern Railway in this town. In the midst of life and apparently in the possession of a hale and vigorous constitution, this lamented individual, suddenly smitten with cold, which induced that formidable form of disease, erysipilus(sic), rapidly sank under its painful influence, the brain becoming the ultimate seat of the complaint. After great suffering, he was released on Thursday [Nov. 8th] from his earthly trials; and, passing thus away in the full strength of manhood, has given another awful instance of the frail tenure upon which even the strongest life is held – the vapour which so suddenly dissolves; “so soon passeth it away, and we are gone”. The great respect in which Mr. Hazle was so generally held, his quiet and assiduous attention to his peculiar duties, his affable bearing towards all with whom he was in con Pg.190 tact are facts well known to all around. His death is the general theme of sincerely expressed regret, but his loss is great indeed to those who alone looked to him for support and protection. The public will hear, with commiserating pity that a wife and five children are left without resource; suddenly deprived of the one great stay, their only refuge from the struggle with the world – the light of the dwelling is darkened. We hasten to add that some zealous friends are taking steps to organise a subscription list in their behalf, and now announce that any sums will be at once thankfully received at the offices of this journal and other journals of the town.” In the following week, the same paper said:- “The ready and liberal response to the appeal in our last impression on behalf of the widow and family of the late Mr. Hazle, for several years superintendent of the South-Eastern Railway station of this town, shows how high he was held in the estimation of our fellow-townsmen, and the willingness to lend a helping hand in the time of need to those who had suddenly been deprived of one on whom they were dependant for support. The remains of the above respected individual were taken to the Cemetery on Thursday afternoon, followed by a number of the officials of the South-Eastern Railway and also by members of the Reading Philanthropic Institution, of which he was an active and useful member. At the weekly meeting of that institution, held on Thursday evening a letter of condolence to Mrs. Hazle was adopted and a general feeling of regret pervaded the meeting. Subscriptions amounting to upwards of £100 have been collected at Reading and its neighbourhood, and the lists are still open.”
‘Another Sudden Death’. A well-known and much respected inhabitant of Hastings died suddenly on Monday afternoon, Nov. 26th. Mrs Sarah Enefer (residing at 11 The Croft), a person who had attained the age of 73 years, was passing along Hill street about four o’clock, when, feeling herself unwell, she was assisted into the shop of Mr. John Heathfield, greengrocer, and immediately after, expired, while sitting in a chair. Mr. Ticehurst was quickly in attendance, but his services were of no avail. An inquest was not considered to be necessary.
Notes and Queries
The residence of Mrs. Enefer who, as above stated died so suddenly, being No. 11 The Croft, is a reminder that in the same month of November, the Rev. Edward Marshall – a frequent visitor to Hastings and St. Leonards, removed, with his Pg.191 family, to No. 5 The Croft. This gentleman, who has died while these lines are being written, is a further reminder that he always took an interest in the borough of Hastings, and contributed not a little to the elucidation of historic facts. To him has been attributed the chronological table in the appendix of the Handbook for Hastings and St. Leonards, published by Diplock, in 1864. But before that time the reverend gentleman contributed to the Hastings News a number of Notes and Queries, among which were the following:-
Note. – “I have not seen it noticed in any Guide-book that Bulverhythe Bay affords a greater variety and greater quantity of shells than any other part of the coast within an easy walk of Hastings. – E. M.”
Query. – “Are there any old ballads relating to Hastings or the neighbourhood besides the one in Holloway’s History of Rye, and the one touching the cowardice of the Admiral at the battle of Beachy Head? – E. M.” To this query a correspondent with the signature of “G” replied “The desired information may be found in the Sussex Garland, a collection of ballads, sonnets, tales, epitaphs, &c., illustrative of the county of Sussex.”
Reply. – “Let me thank “G” for the reference to the Sussex Garland. It is an interesting work, and has supplied some of the interesting pieces in Hastings Past and Present, but it by no means exhausts the subject. – E. M.”
Query. – “Is it true that nothing definite is known of the All Saints Church? – Junius”. To this, Mr. Marshall replied “It is not unfrequently, though erroneously, supposed that this church is one of great antiquity. The dedication of All Saints has been said to indicate that there was a church, where it occurs, even in Saxon times; but this would prove nothing as to the building existing at the present. There is no notice of a church here in Doomsday Book; but this, again, is not to be taken as proof that there was not one at the time of the survey. The earliest notice of a church in All Saints at Hastings is in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas, circ. A.D. 1291; but this cannot be the present building. The cross and arches, however, which with the figures now lost formed the composition of the rood and which are built in over the outer doorway of the south porch, may have been part of it, for they are, probably, work of the latter part of the 12th century. The present church is evidently of perpendicular date, most probably of the 15th century; and the following extract from Richard Mechynge’s will, dated Nov., 1436, very well agrees with this: corpus quoque meum sepeliendum in Pg.192 nova eclesia omnium sanctorum de Hastynges. The stoup in the porch, the font, the picina and sedelia are of the same period. The circular doorway arch of the porch is also perpendicular work. The tracery of the windows has been taken out, with the exception of that of the east window of the north aisle, which remains in its original state, and has some fragments also of the old stained glass. The way in which the arches of the nave rise from the capitals deserves notice. They do not spring immediately from the capitals, but the piers are continued above these a little, only increased in thickness, and the arches spring from them. At the east end of the south aisle there is an opening into a stone staircase, which is contained within a butress(sic) of unusual width, and which formerly led to a rood loft. The tower has a groined roof, with remains of painting on it. The bell opening has figures of animals intermixed with foliage running round it. The groins spring from ornamented corbels. This is altogether in the most perfect state of any part of the church. A general restoration of the whole is needed, and the removal of the present pews and galleries. [This was more recently done].
The above reply to “Junius” by “E. M.” [Edward Marshall] appeared in the Hastings News in 1856, and to which was subjoined a translation of the probate of Mechynges’s will to which he referred, and which also appeared in the 2nd vol. of the British Arch. Journal. It was as follows:- “In the name of God, Amen. In the twenty-fourth day of the month of November, in the year of Our Lord one thousand four hundred and thirty six, I, Richard Mechynge, of sound mind and good memory, make my will in this manner. First, I bequeath my soul to the omnipotent God and the blessed Mary, his mother, and all the saints; my body to be buried in the new [nona or nova] church of All Saintes of Hastinges. Also I leave to the shrine of St. Richard, of Chichester, sixpence. Also, I bequeath to the construction of a certain window situated in the south side (fabrice cujusd? fenestre existent) of the said church of All Saints twenty-six shillings and eight-pence. Also I leave to the Sacristan and others my trumpeters twelve pence (aliis pulsant classicum meum duodecem denar). Also, I leave (to the clerk) to the parish of All Saints twelve pence. Also I leave to William White, to pray for me and my benefactors twenty shillings. Also I leave to Thomas Vere thirteen shillings and fourpence. Also I leave to each of my children twelve pence. Of this will I appoint my executors – Jan, my wife, Robert Woller and Thomas Vere, that they Pg.193 have God before their eyes, shall well and faithfully execute and fulfil effectually this present will. The residue of all my moveable goods not above bequeathed I give to Joan, my wife, that she may so order and dispose of in such manner for the health of my soul and the souls of all my benefactors as it shall seem most expedient to her. In testimony of which I have affixed my seal. Dated the day and year above written”
The subjoined small views represent the church before and after its restoration.
Another Query by “E. M.” [Edward Marshall] was “Will anyone oblige me with a statement of Mr. Lower’s opinion respecting the enclosure on the East Hill called the “Encampment”, at greater length than in Hastings Past and Present. When was it fenced in and planted as a garden? What is the exact site of St. George’s Burial Ground, mentioned pp 46-7 of the same work? “One of the groynes is called ‘Rock-a-Nore groyne’. What is the meaning of the name and whence is it derived?” “In the Catalogue of Battle Abbey Charters, &c., mention is made of lands called ‘Park-gate Hill, in the parish of St. Mary within the Castle of Hastings’. It occurs in a Rental of the College of Hastings’, date 1594. Is the exact site of the lands called Park-gate Hill known and the name still in use? E. M.”
No replies. There appears to have been - at that time - no replies to the last-named queries; but several years later, one of the questions was put to the editor of the St. Leonards Gazette, who gave the following:-
Pg.194 Query. Another of “E. M’s” questions was “Are there any plans known to be in existence of the earth-works and the fortifications which were made on the Salts between Hastings and Bexhill, during the last war, and of which the remains are still apparent? Is there also any print of the barracks at Halton?
Reply. “It is hardly likely that the military authorities would allow of any plans to be published of the said earthworks at Bopeep and Bulverhithe. The Martello Towers were probably the main or only defence for the artillery arm, whilst the earth mounds thrown up in making the trenches - all of them landward of the haven, and between that and the wooden barracks – were for the use of the military. The same question might have been asked respecting the ridges and shallow trenches still to be seen on the high ground at Fairlight, which were formed when the camp there existed. As to the barracks at Halton (commenced in 1803 and sold in 1823), I believe some of the officers made sketches (not for publication) of a few of the buildings, such as the canteen, the hospital and the cemetery. T. B. B.”
Query. “In The Lost Brooch, Vol 1, p. 118, London, 1841, a story is related to Hastings Castle and Priory. At the time when Hastings Castle began to fall into ruins, one Simon Sykes is said to have employed his nephew Albert, first in taking down part of the Castle by night, then when this failed to cause his death, in the building of a house, in which occupation he perished during a storm. He was found with a large stone clasped in his arms, which Sykes fastened to his body, and deposited with it in the large piece of water which remained a few years ago in the Priory Farm. Afterwards, the house on which he was employed was said to be haunted; no one would live in it, and the Lord Simon was left the sole inhabitant. He was haunted through every apartment, till at last he was left without a shelter, and what became of him was never known. When the water was drawn off, some small and delicate vases were found. The book then goes on – “Whether this is mere report or not, I cannot say; but what follows is certain – viz. the discovery of a large deep hole, with the remains of a sluice. I would ask whether this is derived from any local tradition, as would seem possible, from the way in which it is inserted, but which I have never met with elsewhere? or whether it is due to the fertile brain of the writer? E. M.” [The query in connection with this story in The Lost Brooch, was, of course that of Sykes and his nephew, the other part, the finding of the remains of Pg.195 a sluice-gate when the “Black Hole” was cleared out and filled up being a well established fact. The site of the same was at about where is now the junction of Trinity street and Robertson street. T. B. B.]
Note. The Etymology of Winchelsea has excited interest in a contemporary publication, and I would hazard a notice of that of Hastings. Somnerus writes “Haesting and Haesting-aceaster, Sus., derives it of haeste, heat, because of the bubbling or boiling of the sea; but Camden surmises that it was so-called from one Hasting, a Dane, a great robber, who either seized, built or fortified it”. The surmise of Camden is shown to be erroneous in Hastings Past and Present. [That work states that in a charter of Offa, 755-794, 100 years before the time of Hasting, the havens of Pevensey and Hastings are named as settled on the Abbey of St Dennis at Paris,] As to Hastings, see Histoire des Expeditions Maritimes des Normands, par G. B. Depping. In the year 840 – After the death of Louis le Debonaire, it speaks of a troup of Normans, composed of Danes and Swedes, conducted by one of the most famous chiefs in the history of the Pirates, called ‘Hasting, Hadding or Hastern. He was compared to a devastating torrent of the North. Some say he was the son of a countryman of the environs of Troyes, in Champagne, and that he quitted his religion and his country to join the pirates of the North. In his retreat from Touraine he ravaged the Monastery of St. Saens, near Rouens. Next year he was near Staples, where a Monastery was pillaged. Hasting and Bicern prepared a grand expedition against the Francs. One part of the fleet entered the Seine. The other part made a memorable expedition. It consisted of 60 long-vessels, which sailed for La Bretayne’. In 845 another expedition went up the Seine, consisting of 120 vessels, when Charles Le Chauve was at Paris. They then levied half a million of francs (or equal to that in silver). After the above, Hasting sailed for Italy, and mistook a small town, ‘Luna’, in the gulph of Spezzea for Rome. Here he was nearly made prisoner. He pretended death and was carried to the grave, when he arose and struck down the officiating priest. His fellow mourners drew their concealed arms and became masters of the place. Some time after, it appears Hasting returned to the coast of Normandy, with a fleet from England. “E. M.”
[Although in the charter of Offa the havens of Hasting and Pevensea are mentioned nearly a century before the exploits of the Viking Hasting, thus showing the surmise of Camden to be erroneous, Mr. Durrant Cooper, in Sussex Archaeological Collections, was Pg.196 of opinion that there was a Danish settlement in Hastings, and that it was the only one in Sussex. The etymology of Hastings, therefore, still remains to be discovered. T. B. B.]
Query. “What is the meaning and derivation of the Sussex word ‘Trug’?” It is the Danish “Trug” and Saxon “Trog”, and means a trough or tray scooped out of a piece of wood for domestic or other purposes. The Hastings fishermen, pronouncing the word trough as trow, call the wooden troughs with which they ease their boats up and down the beach as trows or troes. T. B. B.]
Note. “On one occasion when Lady Hester Stanhope was at Hastings (when she was at most only eight years old) her curiosity being greatly excited by the bows and feathers of Compte d’Adheimer, the French Ambassador and his train she resolved to go and see the country which could produce such marvelous specimens of humanity. A visit which her family some time after to Hastings, gave her, as she imagined, an admirable opportunity of carrying this scheme into execution. One day, as she was amusing herself on the beach, she observed a boat floating close to the shore, and, getting into it, she pushed off, with the full intention of going to the French coast, but she had the good fortune to be brought back again before she had time to run into any serious danger.” “E. M.”, Oxford, July 1, 1856.
Extracts from the Browne Willis MSS in the Bodleian Library, and contributed by “E. M.” [Rev E. Marshall] to the Hastings News. – “Hastings is a timber built town, situate between two hills. The bottom of the town borders on the sea. It has two streets parallel to each other, joined by means of lanes or alleys. Some few sea houses are built of brick. There about 300 houses in the town. The Town Hall is supported by wooden pillars and is of brick. Here is a Mayor, Town Clerk and 12 Jurats; also two churches – viz. St. Clement’s which has three lited(?) aisles, an embattled tower, a clock and six bells; and All Saints, which has three aisles and five bells. At one end of the town an old ruined castle.
From accounts sent me by Brian Fairfax, Esq. in April 1738, Hastings is the premier Cinque Port, and was in incorporated by the style of Bailiffs, Jurates and Commonality, till Queen Elizabeth by charter, dated Feb. 14 an. regini, 31, made it a mayor town. It consists of a Mayor, 12 Jurates, and an indefinite number of Freemen or combarons(?). The Mayor is elected out of the Jurates by the Freemen on the third Sunday after Easter. The Mayor and Jurates are Justices of the Peace for the town and liberty. The Mayor is of Pg.197 the quorum, and so is his deputy in the Mayor’s absence. There is a Recorder, but no mention of such office in the charter. There are upwards of sixty freemen, who have voices at public meetings in making bye-laws for the town [some of whom abstained from voting on some occasions – in 1735 to wit, three years before the above account was written, when 43 voted for the usual scot for the Mayor’s expenses, and 3 against, whilst some did not vote either way]. There are two Serjeants-at-Mace, who attend the Mayor in liveries on public occasions and carry large silver maces on their shoulders, which maces were a present to the Corporation by the late Earl of Ashburnham. The Mayor and Jurats have every Saturday fortnight , a Court of Record, where they hold pleas for any sums, and have power to try felons for capital offences. (The old way of executing felons was by tying them hand and foot and throwing them off a high cliff and dash them to pieces on the rocks, before Edward IV gave liberty to erect a gallows.
Note by Browne Willis. – The town consists of two streets, both reaching to the sea-side or beach, from south-west to north-east. These streets are about half a mile long, and are couched between two hills. there runs through [between] each street a little canal of excellent water, called the Bourne; but for the want of pipes and being covered over, and with the filth of the town running into the same, the lower part is but indifferently supplied.
There are 420 houses in the town [120 more than before stated] and 1700 inhabitants; no meeting-house, and only two Dissenters – one a Presbyterian and the other a quaker, and both poor. There are no manufacturers [except he should have said, the industries of ship-building, rope-making, mast and block-making, lime-burning, net braiding, osier-growing, basket-making, pipe-making, corn-grinding and iron-casting], the support of the town being the fishery. Here are about 30 fishing vessels which trade to Yarmouth, and bring herrings up and down the coast. There are also a few merchant vessels, which carry corn [hops] and iron to London, and bring back grozery(sic) and other goods. There is no harbour for the safeguard of ships, though as there is a rivulet [the Priory water] about half a mile west of the town, a very great expense might make one. There was at the west-end of the town a large wooden pier, but it is quite ruined. [The west end of the town at this time was the west end of George street; known as Suburb Street and Pump street] A brief was granted in Queen Elizabeth’s time when it [the pier] was destroyed by a violent hurricane, and some repairs Pg.198 done, but these have been demolished again; so that the fishermen have been obliged to wind up their vessels, and barks by large capstans fixed down to the shore, which costs them considerably. There are two large lights built [one in the Fishmarket and one at the south end of Hill street] carefully looked after and constantly lighted up in the winter season to direct the fishing vessels. On a high cliff, west of the town, are the remains of a pretty large castle, said to have been built by William the Conqueror, who, when he invaded the kingdom landed at Bulverhythe [Pevensey] in the liberty of Hastings, about three or four miles west of the town, and came next day to Hastings, which surrendered to him, and he stayed there several days, and made some additions to a wooden fort, where he afterwards built his castle, and left a small garrison there; and after his conquest, created a chapel and dedicated to the blessed Virgin, in Bulverhythe [?] the walls of which still remain in ruins. The inhabitants have a tradition that King John resided some time in Hastings Castle. There are two forts on the east and west parts of the town; one has 13 large iron guns, and the other 7. These were of service in the wars with France, but as there is no allowance of stores, the carriages are decayed and the cannon rendered useless. There are two parish churches viz., St. Clement’s and All Saints, both of which are rectories in the gift of Sir Thomas Webster, but being both but poorly endowed, are usually held by one minister. The land tithes of St. Clement’s are about £10 per annum; and All Saints, with St. Mary-in-the-Castle annexed, about £18, as the houses pay no tithes. The rectors receive tithes from the fishing vessels, which are computed to be worth about £50 per annum. Communibus annis. In 1723 St. Clement’s rectory was augmented with £200 of Queen Anne’s bounty. These churches are large, well built and on good repair. St. Clement’s, which is the largest, has three aisles and a handsome Chancel, under which is a vault for a burying place. The whole is covered with slate stones and tiles, and at the west end is an embattled tower, with six bells and a clock. All Saints has likewise three aisles, covered partly with slate stones and tile. The middle aisle roof is lofty and well built, and there is a very curious arch in the belfrey. At the west end is an embattled tower with five bells. This is one of the rural deaneries, and here are rents of about £13 per annum, There were formerly several chapels near the town, which were dedicated to St Andrew, St Michael, St Pg.199 Mary Magdalen and St. Mary-in-the-Castle; but they are all defunct. And to the west of the town about half a mile appear the ruins of a Priory, dedicated to the Holy Trinity; and beyond this was a hospital, of which the Bailiffs and Jurats were visitors before the dissolution. They have now [the revenues] of the land, which they give to the poor. The site of the Priory was presented to Sir John Baker, of Sissenhurst, in Kent, and his descendants enjoy it, except a fourth part, valued at £15 per annum, which came by marriage of one of the Bakers to Ellsworth, and was given by the last will of Richard Ellsworth, of Wickham, county of Somerset, dated July 11th, 1719, to teach poor children to read and say the catechism, and buy them Common-prayer books; and the donor is likewise said to have given away all his abbey lands to charitable uses, declaring it sacrilege to enjoy the same. The Priory, before its dissolution, was removed to Warbleton in this county, about 18 miles distant. There were two free schools in the town for teaching townsmen’s boys, but they were incorporated into one, and endowed with about £60 per annum. There are also two charity schools – one in each parish, endowed with about £10 per annum for instructing poor children. [These were the so-called Dame schools provided for in the other charities, Saunders and Parkers]. The Corporation have no land to support their dignity, and so maintain their Court Hall, prison and other public buildings, bridges, &c by an assessment on the inhabitants and on lands, &c in the liberty. The bridges comprise several wooden plankings, some with hand-rails, across the Bourne, to connect High street with All Saints street and intermediate lanes or alleys, [such as the Creek, Lower-lane, Upper-lane, &c]. then follows a list of the Barons in Parliament from the 45th of Edward III, to the twelfth of Queen Anne.
Extract from Patent Rolls:-
Pat.c 2, Fol. 1 To Sir Thomas Pelham, Hastings, Rape and Hundred
Test. 29 Oct.
pat. 1. Rich. III. To Rob. Brokenbury and the male heirs of his body.
Hasting, Late poss. Of Rob. And Humphrey Cheyne. Test. 28 Mai.
pat. 14. Henry IV. To John Pelham, his heirs and assigns, Hasting’s Rape. Test. 21 Nov. m.13
pat. 23, Henry VI., to Thos. Hare, knt., Hastings Castle, lordship, Barony and house. Test. 29 July. m.19
Thos. Pelham, of Laughton, Bart. Died 2nd December, 1624, seised of the Castle, Honour, Barony and Rape of Hasting, which he held Pg.200 of the King by the service of 2 Knights’ fees and a half, having by the same, Mary, his wife, Thomas Pelham, Bart., his son and heir, then 27 years old.
There are now standing two churches, viz., St. Clement and All Hallows [qy. All Saints]. There were formerly St. Leonards, St. Margaret’s, St Nicholas [qy. St Michael’s], St. Peters, St. Andrews-sub-Castro, i.e., in all, seven churches. The five last named were destroyed when the French burnt the town. After its rebuilding it was divided into two parishes as it now remains. It has had charters from Edward the Confessor, William I., William II., Rich’d I., Henry III., Edward I., and Chas. II, by the style of Mayor, Jurats and Commonalty. There are similar accounts of Rye and Winchelsea. Bodleian Library. E. M.”
Thus did the late Rev. E. Marshall render considerable service to Hastings by his “Notes and Queries” and by his antiquarian contributions to the local press; and how fitting it is that his son Mr. E. H. Marshall, a scholarly M.A. of Oxford, should be the librarian at the Brassey Institute, being as it were “to the manner born” for such an important post.
Burton versus Robertson.
A local case was heard in the Vice-Chancellor’s Court, on the 7th of May, of which the following is a summary:- The plaintiff was the creditors’ assignee of a bankrupt contractor, named Phillip Barnes, who, in 1849, took a lease for 99 years of some land at Hastings, from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, on which land he was to erect houses and to construct roads. The defendant, Mr. P. F. Robertson, became Barnes’s surety to the Commissioners for the execution of the work. In January, 1850, an agreement was entered into between Barnes and Robertson, that the latter should complete the work, and instead of interest for any money which he might advance for that purpose, he was to be paid double the amount of his advances. Mr. Robertson, accordingly, proceeded with the work and made several advances of money. The plaintiff as the representative of Barnes’s creditors, instituted this suit to set aside the agreement and to discover what was properly due from Barnes to Mr. Robertson. The bill was demurred to on the ground that it failed to show that the agreement was usurious; for, although Mr. Robertson was to receive double the amount of his advances, yet he was not merely to lend the money, but also to construct the works. Sir H. Cairns and Mr Turner supported the demurrer. Mr. Rolt and Mr. Southgate appeared on the other side. His Honour allowed the demurrer, but gave the plaintiff liberty to amend, and reserved the question of costs.
A dividend of 2/4 in the pound was announced in Tuesday’s London Gazette, July 24th, on the bankruptcy of Tilden Smith, James Hilder, George Scrivens and Frances Smith, bankers, of Hastings. This was the 5th dividend of the joint estate of the Hastings Old Bank, and with the sums previously paid, amounted to 19s. 4d. in the pound. See next volume for the final dividend.
Consecration and Installation.
At the presentation of colours to the Hastings Rifle Volunteers, the Hon. and Rev. Samuel Waldegrave read the somewhat lengthy address prepared by the Countess of Waldegrave, after which date he was appointed to the see of Carlisle, in the room of the Hon. and Rev. Dr. Villiers, who had been translated to the see of Durham. He was consecrated in York Minster on Sunday the 18th of November by the Archbishop of the province. The Bishop elect, vested in his rochet was presented to the Archbishop by the Bishops of Durham and Ripon. The Archbishop then demanded the Queen’s mandate for the consecration, which was produced, and the usual oaths having been administered, the Bishop was admitted to his high office by the imposition of hands. The new Bishop was the second son of the late Earl Waldegrave, and being born on the 13th of Sept., 1817, was, consequently, 43 years of age. He married, on the 23rd of Jan., 1845, Jane Anne, the eldest daughter of Mr. Frances Pym and Lady Jane Elizabeth Leslie Melville. He would have episcopal jurisdiction over Cumberland, Westmoreland and parts of Lancashire. On the following Tuesday the new Bishop had an audience of her Majesty at Windsor Castle and did homage. The installation took place in the Cathedral Church of Carlisle on the 17th of November in the presence of a large congregation, and on the following morning his lordship preached his first sermon. In consequence of the demise of the Bishop of Worcester, the new Bishop of Carlisle took his seat in the House of Lords as junior bishop and officiated in that capacity as reader of the daily prayers during the session.
Proposed Workingmen’s Reading-room
On the 18th of October, a new building was opened in the rear of the angle formed by Stone street and Stonefield road for the St. Mary’s Boys’ Evening School, where the boys reassembled for the winter course. This usually went by the name of Mr. Rock’s school, he having chiefly established and supported it. In noticing this event, the News stated – “A new building has been Pg.202 erected by the munificence of J. Rock, Esq., for the purpose of carrying on what we believe is pretty correctly denominated his school”. In the following week, Mr. Rock explained the part he had taken in the matter and also suggested the formation of a Workingmen’s Reading-room, in a communication to the News, as follows:-
“Mr. Editor, - In the remarks you made in your last week’s publication on St. Mary’s Boys’ Evening School, you gave me credit for more than is my due.... For the last ten years or more I have taken an interest in the above school, considering it to be a matter of great importance thus to endeavour to supply one link in the chain of education connecting boyhood with manhood. The Day School brings them up to a certain point – say from ten to twelve years of age; they then leave for various occupations – errand-boys, &c. which in our town are very numerous; and unless some such means as the Evening School affords is provided, they lose what they have already learnt in the Day School, and get what may be termed a ‘street education’, the baneful effects of which are well-known in our town by the large number of juvenile offenders. The Evening School takes them from twelve to twenty or older, and leaves them prepared to enter the Mechanics’ Institution, become teachers in Sunday Schools and other religious and profitable pursuits, and so fits them for useful life. The Bible is the only school-book. The exercises are commenced by singing a hymn, then reading, spelling, writing and arthmetic(sic), and the boys are occasionally visited by kind ministers and friends, who give them a word of advice. This is the object for which the schoolroom has been built, it having been so difficult to find a place to carry it on. I mentioned this to two kind friends and that I knew of a piece of ground that would do to build a room on if I could get some friends to help me. They immediately said if divided into four, they would take two shares. I then named it to the Rev. T. Vores, who as readily agreed to take the other share, thus leaving me with only one share, instead of the whole. I trust that, through the blessing of God, it may be a spiritual and temporal blessing to very many. I ought also to say that I am indebted to other friends for their kind subscriptions.”
“Now, sir, there is another effort I should very much like to make if I could meet with some friends to join me; that is to build a large room to be used as a reading-room and for religious purposes, where the working-classes might assemble to edify themselves in the reading of religious and moral periodicals and books, and where they might spend an hour or so in improvement, instead of wandering Pg.203 about the streets or visiting public houses. It might be made free or by admission at a penny a week subscription. There is a spot of ground near the Music Hall which I think would do extremely well, and I should be most happy to communicate with any friends and would join with me in £50, £100, or £200 shares. It has been tried in several places and found to answer well. To this might be added a house, the rent of which would nearly pay, if not quite, the interest of the whole outlay, and might be depôts for the British and Foreign Bible Society and the Religious Tract Society.”
“James Rock, Bedford place, Oct. 29, 1860”.
The proposal was quickly taken up by other gentlemen, but with divergent views, as will be seen in the (abreviated(sic)) letters which follow. “A Friend” wrote – “I am thankful to observe that Mr. Rock has brought this question to a practical issue, because I am convinced that it is not only highly important, but a positive duty to provide a fitting place for labouring men to meet after the toil of the day, where they can pass a portion of their leisure hours apart from those debasing influences by which they are now so constantly beset. The higher and middle classes have clubs and reading-rooms, to which they constantly resort. Mechanics and artizans have their institutes of various kinds, but the poor man, till lately, had nothing save the beer-shop, the gin-palace or the public-house. I say till lately, because in many places already a better spirit has arisen, and working-men’s reading-rooms are established. Is it not a reproach to us that in such a town as this, no suitable place is yet found for them to spend their evenings in scenes free from temptation and vice? If, therefore, Mr. Rock’s proposition cannot be carried out at present, I venture to suggest that a room should be procured without delay in a central position and a committee of management formed consisting chiefly, if not entirely of steady, intelligent working-men. The rules should be as simple as possible and the charge for membership about 1d. per week. The room should be open every evening till ten o’clock, and perhaps in the earlier part of the day, especially in bad weather, when labour is slack. It will, of course, be kept clean and well lighted, and will be provided with illustrated and other papers, popular periodicals, chess, draughs(sic), dominoes, &c. If a smoking-room could be added I doubt not it would prove an additional attraction. On Sundays I think the room should be open at certain hours (not during Divine Service) and suitable books and periodicals supplied.” “A Friend, Nov. 7, 1860”
Mr. G. E. Moulton wrote:- I should be most happy to join other gentlemen in our town to promote the proposed room, should any committee be formed and a unit be required.
Pg.204 The Rev. J. A. Hatchard would go farther in the matter than Mr. Rock; and, like “A Friend” would like the room to be supplied with the means of amusement as well as those of instruction. Dating his letter from France the reverend gentleman says – “I am much pleased to find that the subject of a club and reading-room for working-men in Hastings is thought desirable. If I am not mistaken, I invited attention to this same subject a year or two since. Mr. Rock’s proposal is an admirable one. Perhaps there may be difficulties in commencing on the scale proposed by Mr. Rock, but I hope that the suggestion of “A Friend” will be acted upon at once... I, for one, shall be most happy to contribute towards the opening of a well-lighted, and comfortable room, supplied with newspapers, books, chess, draughts, dominoes, solitaire, for the amusement and instruction of the labouring classes. If, a contribution of a few pounds and one or two of the games enumerated will help to start this useful institution, it will give me great pleasure to promise them. I am returning to St. Leonards in a few weeks. For the present a letter addressed to me, Hotel Bristol, Place Vendome, Paris, will find yours faithfully, J. A. Hatchard”
W. D. Lucas-Shadwell, Esq., who was also from home, wrote – “I am much pleased to hear that there is some intention of establishing a reading-room for working-men. In order to lose no more time, as well as to test its probability of success, I would suggest that it be set on foot as soon as possible on a limited scale. With this object in view, I shall most gladly contribute two guineas towards the expenses of the current year, and will undertake to furnish such popular periodicals as the British Workman, Sunday-at-Home and Illustrated Times, during the remainder of the winter season, on condition that a room be opened for the purpose in a convenient situation before Christmas. I am &c. W. D. Lucas-Shadwell” Tunbridge Wells, Nov 14, 1860.
Another Correspondent wrote as follows:- “Fully believing in the desirability of inducing our labouring population to frequent a reading-room in preference to a public-house, I cannot persuade myself that our respected townsman, Mr. Rock, is going the right way to accomplish his object... One difficulty is that any room built with a view to suit all the working population must be a compromise in point of locality, and thus be far from the homes of the majority. Another is in the sturdy independence of the class appealed to, and their jealousy of control and restraint after working hours. My own plan would be to go to no expense about the building; hire a house in a working-man’s neighborhood; fit it up comfortably as a coffee-house; let it on fair terms to a man of good character, who would supply a good article at a fair price; and as part of the fittings include a well-selected library, and provide Pg.205 two or three daily papers of different politics.... To ensure success, those who are to use it must have considerable control in it; and I believe it would be a great advantage if the promoters could obtain the opinions of some of the working-men themselves on the subject.” “A Well-Wisher, Nov. 23, 1860”
A Similar View to that of the Rev. J. A. Hatchard and “A Well-Wisher” was expressed by a correspondent signing himself “M. A.”, who said – “I cannot but think that your worthy correspondent, Mr. Rock is unwise in desiring to exclude from the proposed reading-room such amusements as chess, draughts and dominoes. These amusements are in themselves innocent, and consequently preferable to such resources as gambling and the public-house, from which, I presume, it is wished to attract the future frequenters of the reading-room. The reading of the Bible and good books, though the highest means that could be employed, would probably not prove attractive to so large a number as it is desirable to draw; and surely if there is any doubt of their success, it is better in the first instance to include other attractions than afterwards by stooping to lower means to admit that too lofty aspirations have produced a failure. These amusements are just the attractions for a class alluded to in Mr. Rock’s letter – the illiterate who are to be ‘read to’, and who would be very likely to come to play, and remain to listen and learn, whereas many if invited to listen only would probably never come at all. If I am not mistaken the suggestion which seems to have alarmed Mr. Rock was thrown out by a clergyman, and I believe that the experience of most clergymen would lead them not to despise the secular element in an undertaking of this nature. Recreation of mind as well as of body is good for all, and even if a minority of those for whom the reading-room is intended would not at first be likely to find recreation in the higher resources to which it is proposed to confine the undertaking, surely it is a good thing to attract them by innocent amusements in the hope that they may eventually appreciate the higher means of enjoyment offered them, and so be led to become better scholars, better citizens, and better Christians.” – “M. A.”, Nov. 27, 1860.
In the same strain is the following:- “Mr. Rock mentioned in the News last week that the various amusements, draughts, chess, &c., formed no part of his plan. This I regret to hear, for I do not believe that his idea (however valuable in theory) of supplying the working-man with reading of a purely religious nature, would prove, when applied practically, at all available. The hypothesis that either chess or draughts would prove demoralizing Pg.206 is, I think, too weak to call for any argument to refute it; I will therefore at once proceed to the other point. Mr. Rock proposes that the room should be supplied with the Bible and a few other religious works. Now, without wishing to deny the value of reading of this description, I think it would be highly injudicious to attempt to carry such a proposition into execution. The daily papers and the same sort of literature used by the Mechanics’ and other institutions would prove far more attractive to the working-man, and would offer him more inducement to visit the room. He would thus find relaxation for the mind and the body; would be given an opportunity of becoming acquainted with and discussing the important events, personages, writings and general topics of the day; and in short, would be able to pass away his leisure hours profitably and agreeably. To implant religion in the minds of the lower classes, is, no doubt, a serious and important matter; but religion I venture to submit, is not the chief object aimed at by those who desire the formation of a Working-man’s Reading-room. It is, I believe, intended to form an institution for their amusement, instruction and recreation; let it be confined to this, and by stimulating their intellect and raising them higher in the scale of civilization it will more effectually advance the cause of religion than it would do if simply devoted to religious and theological subjects, which I regret to say, by their very solemnity would keep away many a one who would not appreciate them.” “W. B.”
A Suggestion. “H. B.” writes – “in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom. Let me suggest to those friends of the working-men who are advocating a new reading-room to supply what they consider a want, that the end they propose would be equally, indeed, more effectually obtained by an arrangement with the existing Mechanics’ Institution, by which employers and others could, by an annual payment have the power of nominating a certain number of men who would have all the privileges of membership. Some arrangement of the kind might work well. A ticket for a twelve-month would be a graceful acknowledgement to a good workman from his employer.”
A Similar Suggestion had been made by “A Member of the Mechanics’ Institution”, but, evidently from the tone of the letter, in a spirit of rival jealousy. It assumed that all the writers had overlooked the fact that the Mechanics’ Institution had already such a room in existence and that it had been diffusing these sought-for advantages for the past thirty years. Pg.207 The expressed belief of the writer was that the proposed room would draw away many of the members from the existing institution, which, after many struggles, was just then in a position to pay its way. The writer was, however, forgetful that his own institution had been recently placed in its better position by profits derived from fêtes, which were only another kind of amusement. The said writer also referred inviduously to the position of the St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institution in these words:- “The last report of the institution of our sister town contains much which should cause us to pause before we throw our energies into establishing a fourth reading-room for the mechanics of the borough.” Now, what, in truth did the last report of the St. Leonards Mechanics’ Institution show? It showed a loss of three members only during the quarter, whilst the Hastings Institution had a further reduction of 19 members after a loss of 14 members during the preceding quarter. The latter, however, had a cash balance of £2. 10s., whilst the former had only a balance of a few shillings, with £30 outstanding liabilities. But, as against such liabilities it possessed nearly or quite twenty times its worth of property, whilst the institution at Hastings had no building of its own. It was also shown that the funds of the St. Leonards society had suffered from the upper part of the building not producing its usual rent-money in consequence of being unoccupied, whilst a considerably(sic) loss had been sustained by the cost of paid lectures, and in one case where there was an audience of only ten persons. Another cause for a decrease of members was the spirited volunteer movement, which, of course would effect both institutions; and, as regards the St. Leonards society, there was the recently established Working-men’s Institute immediately opposite in the same Norman Road. But now, mark the difference of treatment. Instead of opposing this new reading-room, as “A Member of the Hastings Mechanics’ Institution” did the proposed reading-room for Hastings, several of the members of the St. Leonards Institution assisted it in the several ways of concerts, lectures, readings and other amusements, believing as they did that there was still a class of workmen and their families whose educational status unfitted them for members of the Mechanics Institution, but for which the preparatory nature of the new association might, at least in some cases act as a training school. Hence, whilst such men as Messrs. Butler, Skinner Brett and others, rendered considerable assistance to the Work Pg.208 ingmen’s Institute, they still continued members of the older institution; and thus the two institutions – differing in several respects in their aims and objects – went on successfully together for many years. It will be seen, therefore, that the reference to the position of the “institution of the sister town of St. Leonards” by “A Member of the Hastings Mechanics’ Institution” was not a happy one. But to return more directly to the newspaper correspondence in favour of the projected new readin(sic)-room the next letter is perhaps the best and the most liberal that was written on the proposed scheme. Those persons who have read pages 1 to 19 vol III Historico Biographies will not want to be told that besides being always in the fore-front of sanitary and other means of Improvement, Mr. Hatchard, was equally an advocate for means whereby the condition of the so-called working classes might be made more pleasurable. He seemed, indeed the impersonation of “Mr. Irvine” as against “Mr. Ryde” as portrayed in a popular novel – “Mr. Irvine was like a good meal o’victuals, you were the better for it without thinking on it, and Mr. Ryde was like a dose o’physic, he griped you and worrited you, and after all he left you much the same.”
The Rev. J. A. Hatchard, writing from Paris, said – “From what I remember from the contents of Mr. Rock’s letter, his plan was to establish a depôt for the sale of the publications of the Bible Society and Christian Knowledge Society. Such an establishment may be much called for in Hastings, but it does not appear to me that such an institution as a working-man’s reading-room can well be united with it. The basis is not broad enough for the popular working of such an institution. These are distinct institutions, and, as it appears to me, there is no reason why the friends to such a plan as the establishment of a reading-room for youths and working men should give up their scheme because there are those who desire to establish another Institution altogether dissimilar, although, perhaps, quite equally useful. At any rate, let us not mix up two distinct institutions. Not having seen Mr. Rock’s letter, I do not know how his objections to the innocent games of chess, draughts, dominoes and solitaire have been put. I gather, however, from more than one writer in the last number of your paper, that he has objections, and that one of them is founded upon the hypothesis that such games have a demoralizing effect. Now, if such games as those specified are demoralizing influence, all games must be the same. What, then, Pg.209 does the argument amount to? It amounts to this, that you must deprive our labouring population – whether old or young – of all games and amusements whatsoever, in order to increase their morality. Nothing more or less can be made of the argument than this; and although I am aware the sentiment will sound heterodox in the ears of many, I hesitate not to express my deliberate conviction that much of the demoralization amongst all classes is to be traced to the denunciation of every recreation, however innocent, as wicked. I do not accuse those who widely differ from me on this subject of any wilful intention to produce the injurious result to which I allude. I believe their intentions to be good, but I also believe that experience in all ranks of life proves their theory to be founded on a fatally false estimate of human character. Everything is pronounced wicked, and the consequence is that really innocent amusements such as chess, draughts, &c., are abandoned for really demoralizing pleasures – “the pleasures of sin”. To stigmatize as wicked every innocent pleasure on earth is to drive the youth of our land in sheer disgust away from the path of virtue, and is, moreover, an exhibition of spirit answering precisely – though it may be under a directly opposite name – to that odious spirit of domineering over the conscience of the people so long practised by the Church of Rome. The exhibition of this spirit is the exhibition in essence, of the Papacy itself in its worse form. Many who have been the victims of the evil of this austere system have been less to blame than those, their seniors, who have by their untruthful and unamiable interpretation of scripture weakened the influence of religion upon the sensitive minds of youth who have come under their control. Men and women – old and young – may be ‘illiterate’ but the most illiterate have wit enough to recede with instinctive aversion from instructors who begin with their first lesson to teach them that religion is gloomy and morose, and forbids every earthly amusement, except, perhaps, a few privileged games that no one cares to play at. Any attempt to get people to go across the street to hear such people as these read the Bible to them will surely prove a failure. If they doubt it, let them try the experiment. You must get a man’s heart and secure his favour before he will sit down and listen to the Bible from your lips with any profit to himself. Men and women – young people especially – have many of them not a chance under the system that too commonly prevails amongst us. My wonder is, not that they are too often bad, but that they are not worse. There are many who differ from me, I know, in all this, but I am happy to know that there are Pg.210 many also – and some of them the most distinguished for enlightenment – who agree with me in these views; and I am pleased to know that the number increases daily, and that popular working-men’s reading-rooms are becoming common everywhere. There is one established at Dover, which (D. V.) I intend inspecting on my return home, next week. We can’t expect men who have been toiling all day to sit down and listen to some prosy-reader who, probably, would send his audience to sleep in ten minutes. We must coax the labouring population into our reading-rooms, and lead them by degrees till they attain to that love of truth – particularly Christian truth, without which it had been better for us that we had never been born. I have written hurriedly today, but the subject of amusements for the people is not new to me. Our people require more recognised amusements. I have been requested by the London Mechanics’ Institute to lecture on this subject, and this I have promised to do shortly. As I am also under an engagement to lecture on the same subject, shortly, in Hastings, I shall conclude this hastily written letter, which I have not time to correct; but the sentiments expressed are the deep convictions of my mind.” – “J. Alton Hatchard. Hotel de Louvre Rue St. Honore, Paris, Dec. 4, 1860.”
The Room Established. At a meeting held on the 11th of December at Mr. Rock’s factory with Mr. Rock, sen. himself as chairman, it was decided to establish a “Working Man’s Reading-room and Leizure Association”, to which 1d per week would entitle to membership. The officers appointed were J. Rock, sen., Esq. president, Mr. G. A. Thorpe, treasurer, and H. Roberts, Esq. secretary. There was to be a committee of twelve, half of whom were to be working men. A room had been hired at 72 High street at a weekly rent of 6/6. Mr. Alderman Rock (son of the chairman) announced the receipt of £10 as a donation from a lady. The room was opened on the 17th of December, with a supply of daily and illustrated papers, some periodicals and a Bible, the last named being presented by the president. At the end of the first week it was reported that 25 working men had availed themselves of the privileges of spending their evenings there, of whom 6 had become members There are some other interesting items in connection with the new society, including an important letter from “Clericus”, which might with advange(sic) find a place here, but as they come at the end of the year and at the end of this volume, they are reserved for the next volume.
References & Notes
Transcriber: Sally Morris