Warrior Square

From Historical Hastings
Warrior Square
Other Names
Former name(s)Belgravia
Named AfterWarehouse (corruption)
Construction start1833
LandmarksStatue of Queen Victoria

According to Baines, the name Warrior is most likely a corruption of 'Warehouse' - smugglers being known to secrete goods in the vicinity.


With construction commencing on what was previously known as the Warrior Field[1] in 1833 with a single dwelling owned by a Mr. Troup near the middle of the square (no longer standing)[2]. The square itself was dedicated in 1849[3], albeit incomplete at this stage. Construction of numbers 18 to 24 Warrior Square was started on the 13th of September, 1854 under the denomination of 'Belgravia'; the four houses being constructed by Mr. John Kenwood, a builder and Mr. Joseph Sidney Cooper, who had retired from running the East Parade library. Inside the first stone laid was concealed a medal containing the Lord's Prayer on one side, and the Apostles' Creed on the other[4].

The Warrior Square Estate, comprising what became the Edinburgh Hotel and 15 acres of building land, was sold on the 3rd of May 1855 for a mortgaged price of £11,000 with a lease of 99 years as a result of the insolvency of Mr. Jas. Troup. Mr. Moreing acquired or purchased the site and coompletedthe construction[5]

The final buildings in Warrior Square were constructed by 1865[6], with the buildings at the northern end being the last to be completed, and contemporary guide books described it with an alternative name ‘Belgravia’. Whiteman’s Guide to Hastings, St Leonards and the Neighbourhood, 1869, noted “Warrior Square, At once the abode of quiet and elegance, being composed of the finest houses in the borough. The extensive gardens in the centre are very tastefully laid out. The Hastings and St. Leonards Horticultural Society holds its annual meetings in these gardens”. The gardens in the centre were completed over a decade earlier in 1852.

Until 1931, the upper portion of the gardens was not open to the public, being subscription gardens prior to this[7]; see below for details of the transfer to public ownership.

Captioned: "A flag stoned tunnel of great age which runs under the main road and from Warrior Square Putting Green and Gardens. Roman coins of the year of the Emperor Commodius found in the square in 1855 in Jan; Used by the coaches; Charlie Eldridge Parks & Gardens Foreman"

Permission for housing

An act of Parliament, dated June 14th 1827, empowered trustees to deal with the lands of the Eversfield Estate, and enacted that it shall be lawful for the trustees to set out part of the lands for square, lawns, etc “for the use and convenience of the occupiers of the houses and other buildings” and this provided for the setting-out of Warrior Square Gardens which opened to the public in 1852 with a band playing three times a week.

Proposal for new town hall

In 1936, there was a proposal to re-locate the town hall to the upper portion of Warrior Square reported in the local press. Due to the open area in which it was due to have been constructed having been given to the public by Major H. C. Holman after purchasing the land in 1930 and entering into a covenant with the council on the 15th of June 1931. Major Holman wrote a lengthy letter to the council which was published in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer on the 17th of October 1936.[8] The letter went on to say

"In 1930 I was able to purchase the Upper Warrior-square gardens and give them to the borough, and on one of the conditions for the contract was that the use to which the Corporation put the gardens should not interfere unduly with the existing rights of those people who are at present entitled to use them. And in the conveyance, dated June 15th, 1931, the Corporation covenant with South Coast Residences, Limited, and myself to maintain same as a pleasure ground. How can the recommendation adopted by the Town Council last Friday, to obtain statutory powers for compulsory acquisition of the lands and “rights” of the upper terrace gardens to build thereon be reconciled with the terms of the conveyance? We must have unlimited confidence in the integrity of our Corporation. For the Hastings Town Hall to be in Warrior-square Gardens is in no respect a necessity. Many other desirable sites exist, most magnificent of all the Oval of White Rock Gardens, which has always been recognised as reserved for the purpose, and available without additional expense to the ratepayers. The Borough Engineer, when to give his views upon the different sites mentioned. was unable to submit any serious objections, or was he momentarily disconcerted by the flattering remarks upon his genius made by one of the lady members? Other objections voiced at the meeting were without weight. Wellington Square “was on a cross slope,” no difficulty in this when erecting a new building. Station-road would be surrounded by buildings. The Oval or Summer Fields would dominate the whole town from the civic consciousness point of view. but it would always be inaccessible. Why inaccessible? Such as objection was not raised when acquiring the Museum site, or even later when adding to that building.[8]

The Major went on to say:

The trustees conveyed land in Warrior-square to the north of Norman Road to James Troup, dated October 23rd and 24th, 1834, and this conveyance recites “That the piece of land marked No. 4 (the upper gardens) should be for-ever kept as a pleasure ground and not be built upon except any ornamental low lodge or building for the better preservation or convenience of such pleasure ground,” and further that no building shall be erected thereon to interrupt the view from the windows of the houses to be erected. To cover the upper terrace gardens with a Town Hall will interrupt the view of the houses of the upper part of the square. The conveyances from James Troup and his successors also grant use and enjoyment of these gardens to the owners and occupiers of the houses to be built[8].


"A flag stoned tunnel of great antiquity which runs under warrior square gardens and the main seafront road. Roman coins of the reign of emperor commodius found in the vicinity in 1855 during construction of the square." Then scribbled underneath " Charlie Eldridge, parks and gardens foreman"

A now-sealed tunnel lined with flag-stones was cut under the road from the lower gardens under the main road. Brett describes a tunnel that was constructed from the first house built in the square, connecting both parts of the gardens to the house[2]. This tunnel again gains a mention in 1862, when the annual Hastings and St Leonards Horticultural Exhibition was held in the gardens - the tunnel providing access between both portions of the gardens, being "illuminated by gas-jets and other devices". Brett confirms that this was constructed by James Troup[9]. Steps down to a doorway opening under the road transecting the gardens certainly survived in the southern-most portion of the gardens into the nineteen seventies which may have been the southern portal of Troup's tunnel. This would appear to have been back-filled following the Storm Drain project re-instatement of the gardens and is no longer visible.

A photograph of a tunnel under Warrior Square has come to light (shown to right) which may either be this tunnel, or, alternatively, that of the culvert which was known to exist under the gardens, carrying a stream under the gardens out to sea. Taking the caption on the obverse of the photograph, the culvert seems the most likely possibility - in which case it was partially intersected by the Southern Water Storm Drain project at the Warrior Square shaft and is now incorporated into that scheme.

Minutae, Trifles and Mentions from the News

Court of Chancery, May 12. Manser v Troup and Eversfield. Mr Eversfield a nominal defendant. Regarding the right of the defendant to preserve an uninterrupted view of the sea, and the right of access to the pleasure ground in the front of Warrior Square, by the use of a passage under the road[a]. In the year 1834, Mr Troup completed the purchase of the freehold land set out for a square, north of the building frontage then called East Norman Place, and West Norman Place, but now considered as forming part of Warrior Square… Manser’s involvement, growing poplar trees. Evidence for plaintiff by Mr Crouch, a green grocer, a labourer named John Brook who cut the trees, and Mr Voysey, the plaintiff’s agent. On the part of the defendants were Mr Barnett, architect, Mr Hughes, architect, Mr Macdonald, landscape gardener and garden architect, Mr Price, gardener to the defendant, and Mr Inskipp, surveyor. Bill dismissed with costs. Two other suits pending between Mr Troup and Mr Eversfield. [National Archives is a plan of Warrior Square used in the case] [10]

Tree v Manser. This action was brought by plaintiff, a builder at Hastings, for the recovery of an account for carpenter’s work to several houses at St Leonards, belonging to the defendant, a solicitor at Rye.- Mr Serjeant Channell and Mr Lush were for the plaintiff, and Mr Serjeant Shee and Mr Bramwell for the defendant. [Re bills for building in Seymour Place, 1 and 8 Grand Parade, 1 and 2 Warrior Square, 16 Undercliff, and 20 East Ascent in 1844-46. Many financial details. Verdict for plaintiff. HMU 3/2/5/4 at The Keep is sales particulars for sale, by order of mortgagees, of 1, 4, 9 and 10 Verulam Place, 1 and 2 Warrior Square, 5 and 6 Seymour Place, and 1 and 8 Grand Parade.[11]

Public Ownership

The lower gardens were opened to the general public when the land was acquired by the Borough Council in 1920 with the remaining, uppermost rose garden falling into public ownership in 1930.[12]



Features in Warrior Square

Name Street No From To

Listed Features

Name Street No From To

References & Notes

  1. This may refer to the tunnel above
  1. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 18 July 1844 pg. 3
  2. a b Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 1 Chap. 9
  3. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 3 Chap. 41
  4. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 6 Chap. 55
  5. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 5 Chap. 54
  6. Hastings of Bygone Days and the Present (Henry Cousins - 1911) pg.306 ISBN: 9789332862449 ESCC Library Google Books " Amazon
  7. Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 21 February 1931 p6
  8. a b c British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 17 October 1936 Pg. 0016
  9. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 10 Chap. 68 Pg. 39
  10. British Newspaper Archive Sussex Advertiser 16 May 1848 Pg. 0005
  11. Brighton Gazette 23 March 1848
  12. Wikipedia: St Leonards-on-Sea - Wikipedia, accessdate: 28 January 2020