From Historical Hastings

Possibly a derivative of 'Tar Field', the origin of this name is as yet, indeterminate. Brett in describing the escape of a prisoner from the gaol after the murder of the gaoler gives an alternate name of Torhill field[1]. This latter name also appears in a newspaper report of 1869 relating to an indecent assault whereby a constable - PC Love - was ascending 'Torhill Field' when he was approached by a man (Robert Atkins) who had witnessed a child being assaulted by Thomas Dawes[2].

In 1935, there was a plan to drive a new road through Torfield to the Old Town valley floor, however due in part to complaints against the scheme, this did not reach fruition; the land however being conveyed from Alfred Carlisle Sayer to Hastings Borough Council during 1934 with a covenant that the land was not to be used for erecting buildings. The land (other than a small rectangle being sold to Southern Gas Networks PLC for installation of a Gas Governor in 1987) remains in the ownership of the Borough Council[3]. The road would have bisected a number of footpaths; the deeds permitting this - East Sussex County Council having been granted easements over the land, however the proposed route would have involved the relocation of some burials in St Clements graveyard which presumably would have required negotiation with the Diocese and possibly led to some of the aforementioned complaints.

The lower portion of the field was utilised during WW2 for the construction of some part-buried Air Raid Shelters - the shelters still being extant, but largely inaccessible.


References & Notes

  1. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 6 Chap. 56
  2. British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 7 August 1869 Pg. 0003
  3. Land Registry - Title Deed ESX138251