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Eastbourne – Description

From Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867


EASTBOURNE is a rapidly increasing watering-place and railway town on the London, Brighton, and South Coast line, giving name to a hundred and union, in the Eastern division of the county, rape of Pevensey, Lewes county court district, 65 miles from London, 15 from Lewes, 18½ from Hastings, 23¼ from Brighton, at the extremity of the eastern side of the South Downs, adjoining the sea, 3½ miles east from Beachy Head, and to which a direct line of railway from London through Groombridge and Hailsham is in course of construction. It is highly probable that in ancient days it was a Roman station, as, early in the last century, a tesselated pavement, bath, and other Roman antiquities were discovered in a field between the Marine and Grand Parades: Roman coins of Vespasian, Domitian, Antoninus Pius, Constantine, and Gordian have been found, also several Cufic or Saracenic and ancient British coins. On the west of the field in which the bath, &c. were found, the foundations of a Roman villa were discovered a few years ago. The ruins of a domiciliary brotherhood of Black Friars, which existed prior to the reign of Henry VIII., are still in existence in the Old Town.
Eastbourne is divided into three townships or divisions: Eastbourne, or the Old Town, a mile and a half from the sea; Southbourne, situated midway between the Old Town and the sea; and the Sea Houses, or the modern and more fashionable portion of the place, on the coast. Besides these three divisions there is the hamlet of MEADS, about one mile from Southbourne.
The Old Town is built in the form of a cross, in the centre of which stands the parish church of St. Mary, a very ancient building, chiefly in the Early Gothic style of architecture, consisting of a lofty nave, with two spacious aisles, a large chancel, and fine square tower, having a peal of 9 bells, recast from 6 in 1651: it contains some interesting monuments and tombs of the Burton and Wilson families; of Dr. Brodie, a former vicar; and a handsome one to the memory of Henry Lushington, who survived the horrible Black Hole of Calcutta, and was treacherously murdered at Patna in 1763; also a singular font, doubtless coeval with the church: in the churchyard is a sun-dial, a curious specimen of ancient ingenuity. The living is a vicarage, value £700 per annum, in the gift of the Treasurer of Chichester Cathedral, and held by the Rev. Thomas Pitman, M.A., of Wadham College, Oxford, surrogate and prebendary of Chichester; the curate is the Rev. Alfred
Matthew Preston, M.A., of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Here are both National and Infant schools for boys and girls; the former established by the late Dr. Brodie, and the latter built by Miss. L. Brodie.
The Union Workhouse built, for and formerly used as cavalry barracks, is capable of accommodating 200 persons: there is a neat chapel for the inmates. The union comprises the following fourteen parishes, viz.:- Alfriston, Eastbourne, East Dean, Folkington, Friston, Jevington, Litlington, Lullington, Pevensey, Seaford, West Dean, Westham, Willingdon, and Wilmington.
A fair is held annually on the 10th of October for cattle.
The New Town comprises South-street, and thence to the Archery tavern in the Pevensey-road, about 2 miles in extent. There are three churches: one, the Holy Trinity, erected of stone and shingle, with a square embattled tower, and which, owing to the increase of the town, has twice been enlarged, the last time at the east end, and now contains upwards of 800 sittings, more than a third of which are free. The living is a perpetual curacy in the gift of the vicar, and held by the Rev. Richard William Pierpoint, M.A.
Christ church, around which a little town has risen, is situated near the end of Sea-side. Trinity and Christ churches were built by subscription: the land for the former was given by the Duke of Devonshire, who liberally subscribed towards the erection and alterations. The land for the latter was given by the Hon. Mrs. Gibbon, who also contributed a handsome donation, which is devoted to an endowment for special purposes: the Duke of Devonshire was a donor to this also of £500. A new church is being erected in South-street: the foundation stone was laid in October, 1865: it is being built after a design by George E. Street, Esq., of London, and will present several remarkable features: it is to be of red brick, with Bath stone dressings: the nave being 90 feet long and 35 feet wide, receiving nearly all its light from the clerestory windows. which will he much larger than those in the side aisles: there are six bays, the last on either side standing diagonally, so as to meet the chancel arch, which will be much narrower than the nave: the organ chamber and vestry are arranged parallel with these, and thus adjoin the chancel: the apse will be lighted by four windows, and groined in brick, with stone ribs: a tower is intended to rise from the north-west corner of the north aisle, the building of which will be for the present deferred: this church is being erected at the cost of George Whelpton, Esq., of Hastings, the outlay upon the building alone being estimated at about £8,000, the site of which, nearly two acres, has been given by the Duke of Devonshire.
There is a National school for boys and girls in Seaside-road, and an Infant school near Christ church.
A new Congregational church has been recently opened: also a new Wesleyan chapel, both situate in the Pevensey-road; there is a Calvinist Independent chapel in North-street.
The Local Government Act has been adopted here. The New Town contains some fine buildings, and a beautiful esplanade has been constructed by the Duke of Devonshire. The town is lighted by gas, and well supplied with excellent water, from works recently constructed: the water is perfectly free from colour, and possesses an agreeable and refreshing taste, containing a remarkably small proportion of organic matter, and is in every respect a pure wholesome water, admirably adapted for all domestic and manufacturing purposes. Eastbourne is greatly indebted to J. Gordon, Esq., for giving the impetus to building speculations.
The town has lately increased most considerably by the formation of new streets and terraces, which are studded with mansions; the Grand Parade, facing the sea, from the Marine Parade on the east to the New Cavendish Hotel on the west, extending nearly half a mile, with the two Parades occupying a frontage of about a mile in a straight line, so that the whole range of terraced and other walks give a total length of nearly three miles; a road from the Grand Parade to Holywell, about one mile and a half further along the coast, is in the course of construction, A very extensive system of drainage has been carried out, with an outfall at Langney Point, two and a half miles from the town, constructed at the expense of the parish, aided by the munificent contribution of about £14,000 from the Duke of Devonshire. The first pile of a proposed pier, to extend 1,000 feet over the sea, from the end of Cavendish-place, has lately been fixed.
Attached to Diplock’s Family and Commercial Hotel are Assembly Room, where balls, concerts, musical entertainments. and lectures are frequently taking place.
A Workmen’s Hall has been erected on the Sea side: this noble institution, built at the sole expense of William Leaf, Esq., of the Old Change, London, at a cost of about £3,000 was opened as a club-house, 9th June, 1864, and presented by that gentleman for the use of the working men of the town: it contains a public and private bar for refreshments, lecture and reading rooms, and a library: in the tower there is an excellent illuminated quarter clock, purchased by public subscription, which was manufactured by Mr. Ciappessoni, of this town.
Attached to the Club Hotel, in the Pevensey-road, is a large room, called the Friendly Society’s Hall, where meetings of the different friendly societies belonging to the town are held: it is also used as a lecture room, and for concerts, musical entertainments, &c.
The Duke of Devonshire and the Hon. Mrs. Gilbert are the principal landowners. The area comprises 5,512 acres. The population in 1861 was 5,795.
SOUTHBOURNE is a rapidly improving hamlet, reaching from the railway station to what are called the Sea Houses on the beach; these two places forming the most populous part of the parish, and the principal resort of the visitors for sea-bathing, &c. Here is the terminus of a branch line from the Brighton and South Coast Railway Company’s junction at Polegate, 4 miles distant. A fair is held here on the 12th of March. Here is a National school, erected by the late Countess of Burlington; also chapels for Wesleyans, Baptists, and Calvinists.
MEADS is a hamlet, on the slope of the South Down hills, commanding fine views of both sea and land. On the South Downs, the bird called the ortolan, or wheatear, is caught. At Holywell, one mile to the west, is a spring; at Langney Point, 2 miles east, is a coast guard station, and two forts commanding Pevensey Bay.
COMPTON PLACE, formerly a seat of his Grace the Duke of Devonshire, is now the residence of Frederic John Howard, Esq., and the Lady Fanny Howard, sister to the Duke of Devonshire.
HORSEY is 2 miles north-east; RODMILL, one mile north.

Parish Clerk, John Marchant.