Church in the Wood

From Historical Hastings

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Church in the Wood

Church in the Wood, is known officially as St. Leonard's Church. The church was originally known as St. Rumbold's Church. It is an Anglican church founded in the 13th century with a list of known vicars dating back to 1344, the successor to an earlier 11th-century chapel. Restoration work around 1860 gave the Early English Gothic-style ​building​ its present appearance, but some medieval portions remain. A number of legends have been associated with the church, and its secluded situation has been praised by many writers including Charles Lamb. The church is a Grade II Listed ​building​. The church bell is 14c.

Notable Graves

Adjacent to the entrance to the church is the tomb of John Turner. He was born in St. Clements parish and was a yeoman farmer in Hollington (possibly at Ashdown farm) for most of his adult life. He married a lady called 'Anne Laborn' in 1672 and he died in 1703. This is the oldest surviving gravestone in the graveyard.

Julian Clifford, the first conductor of the Hastings Municipal Orchestra which gained some fame leading up to the Second World War is another of the burials in the large graveyard. Mr Clifford reportedly conducted the orchestra in a performance on the afternoon of Thursday the 22nd December 1921, falling ill with influenza the following day. This subsequently developed into double pneumonia to which he succumbed at his home of 5 West Ascent some six days later at 6 am on Tuesday the 27th December aged 44[1].

A particularly prominent tomb is that of Sir Charles Montolieu Lamb (1785-1864), although the stone is truncated.

Removal to Beauport

In the mid-19th century, the rector (the Rev. Rush) proposed that due to the church having fallen into disrepair it should be removed to Sir Charles Lamb's home at Beauport to become a folly; this was opposed by Robert Deudney and the proposal subsequently rejected[2].

1933 Tower Renovation

Around 1933 the tower was found to be suffering from an infestation of Death Watch Beetle requiring all of the supporting woodwork to be replaced.


References & Notes

  1. 2012_FrancesWilliams.pdf: Julian Clifford Biography 130221 Final - 2012_FrancesWilliams.pdf, accessdate: 4 August 2021
  2. British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 3 March 1883 Pg. 0003