Victoria Seymour (1934-)
Victoria Seymour was born in Chislehurst Kent in 1934. An isolated childhood drew her to solitary amusements; writing short stories and poems and reading voraciously. The onset of WWII disrupted the start of Victoria's education, an effect that was to continue throughout the war. The close proximity of Chislehurst to London meant that the conflict on the home front overwhelmed everything. She said, “This left its mark on me, a feeling of always waiting for the next ‘bomb’”.
In 1948, Victoria's parents moved to a residential job on a farm at Fairlight, near Hastings, Victoria attended Rye Grammar School from the age of thirteen to seventeen and nurtured dreams of becoming a journalist. However, she married in 1954, aged 19, and her first child, a daughter, was born in July 1955; a second daughter arrived in January 1957 and in December 1969, a son. Victoria’s married life was one of domestic obscurity; she did clerical work from home for her husband's business and in addition to this, from 1962 onwards she was a host mother to hundreds of overseas students. Victoria was widowed aged 44, continuing to host students she also took up voluntary work; this was the start of her learning to know and love Hastings.
Her eldest daughter married an Italian in 1977 and moved to Milan, where she taught English; this developed into her own language and travel school, using Hastings as its destination. Victoria soon became involved in the administration work for the visiting students and, as a result of the organisation of the students' host family accommodation, study and leisure activities, Victoria’s knowledge of Hastings and its people was broadened, revealing to her the richness and diversity of the locality.
Victoria retired from the language school business in September 1999; when asked what would she do with her time she said, “Grow better flowers.” But a new interest soon consumed her. Her family encouraged her to get a computer and later suggested it might be fun if together they built a web site about Hastings, “just a few pages,” they said. The site eventually grew to over a thousand pages of local history and useful information, all researched and written by Victoria. One of the most popular sections on the family's website, (www.hastings.uk.net, now defunct) was the message board; April 2001 brought an unusual contact, from Wendy Johnson of Canada, concerning a collection of letters. These had been posted from Hastings to Canada between 1942 and 1955. Once seen they inspired Victoria Seymour to write the book , "Letters From Lavender Cottage - Hastings in WWII and Austerity". This was followed by a series of books including the Austerity Diary from Lavender Cottage 1947.
Since the publication of her first book Victoria has made a number of TV and radio appearances, met a few of the famous, advised on the TV series "Foyle's War", given scores of talks on local history 1930s to the 1950s , served for two years as the Hastings Observer's local history, weekly feature writer and organised many literary events to promote local authors . In 2014 she was presented with two community awards: Resident of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award.