Hailsham in old picture postcards

Hailsham in old picture postcards

:   Hailsham Historical and Natural History Society
:   Sussex, East
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3056-1
:   80
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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Hailsham in old picture postcards'

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The parish of Hailsham lies on the edge of Pevensey Marsh some 7 miles north of Eastbourne and 12 miles east of Lewes. At one time it contained the parish of Polegate, an erstwhile hamIet to the south which had grown round the railway junction which expanded so rapidly in the inter-war years that it was separated from its mother parish in 1937. Except for the alluvial marsh and a portion in the north-east on Tunbridge Wells sand Hailsham is on Weald clay, Until the 1939-1945 War the surrounding agriculture was mainly dairy farming but much land has gone under the plough since 1950 and several small dairy farms on the town's outskirts have disappeared under bricks and mortar.

Why a village should grow at a particular place is always an interesting question and in the case of Hailsham it is not easy to pinpoint why our early ancestors settled here. Although the Romans were in Pevensey Castle no Roman remains have been found in the parish.

Pevensey Marsh in Roman and Saxon times, if not actually under water, was at least a vast swamp. Nearly all the old lanes and tracks running north-west from Pevensey converge on Hailsham. The site of the church on its hill suggests an ancient place of pagan worship.

The name Hailsham is Saxon, derived from Haegels ham the homestead or clearing made by a Saxon called Haegel. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1087 the name had been corrupted to Hamelsham.

Domesday Book teils that a certain William held 1 * hides

(ab out 180 acres) from the Count of Mortain, that there was land for 4 ploughs and there were 4 smallholders with 1 ox. There were 13 salthouses or saltpans of which the Count had kept 11 for himself. Hailsham was assessed at l l รป shillings before 1066 but at only 20 shillings in 1087 so Hailsham had suffered as a result of the Norman invasion.

In the adjacent manor of Bowley in the eastern part of the parish William also held * hide from the Count. There was land for 2 ploughs, 2 villagers and 1 smallholder, 8 acres of meadow and 4 salthouses. lts value rose from 15 shillings in 1066 to 30 shillings in 1087.

By 1229 Hailsham had a church, Whether this was of wood or stone we do not know but it was rebuilt, together with its tower, by the mid-fifteenth century. In 1252 a market charter was granted so the village was beginning to assurne some importance.

There are 70 houses listed in the Hearth Tax Assessments of 1662 suggesting a population of about 320 at that date. It was during the nineteenth century that the town starred to grow, the population swelling from 897 in 1801 to 3,369 in 1891. Although the town itse1f was growing, it is generally recognised that the surrounding countryside was stagnating. The reasons for this are various, the chief ones being the employment given by the newly introduced rope and string industry and the appearance of the railway in 1849. The market in cattie and corn restarted in 1786 after being dormant for some 150 years and it quickly became one of

the largest in Sussex. The enelosure of the Common in 1855 opened up new land for building on the south side of the town.

The town has been fortunate in its chroniclers. In 1884 Thomas Geering, a currier by trade, published bis series of essays entitled 'Our Parish. A medley by one who has never lived out of it'. At the same period Edwin lsaac Baker lived at 21, High Street. He was a professional photographer of great skill and took many photographs of the town and surrounding area. In 1901 a young man called Louis F. Salzmann, who was staying with his aunt at Downford at the time, wrote his 'History of Hailsham' which is a mine of information to antiquarians and those interested in manorial history. Salzmann later made an international reputation as a historian.

Harking back to the days when Hailsham was dominated by the barracks, Geering wrote The history of our parisn in the present century may be summarised in two words, viz, the barrack yard and the brick yard. Then we were military and stagnant, now we are social and progressive. Then we were roused by the drum and trumpet; now by the ring of the trowel and the rattle of the saw. We venture to suggest that these words are as true now as the day upon which they were wntten.

The neighbouring parish of Hellingly includes Upper and Lower Horsebridge and Upper and Lower Dicker. Along much of the boundary with Hailsham it is so built up that it is difficult to separate the two parishes.

The chief glory of Helling1y can be said to be its church, churchyard and picturesque group of surrounding cottages. The circular churchyard indicates that it was almost certainly a pre-christian place of worship, The original church apparently was cruciforrn and is of great age, containing much Norman work, Horsefield records that it had 'a mean woeden spire and a good peal of six bells' but a battlemented tower was built in 1836 and the clock added in 1837 to comrnemorate the accession of Queen Victoria.

The stiff yellow clay upon which a goed deal of the parish stands gave rise to the local industries of pottery, brick and tile making but sadly these have now died out.

When the Dicker Common was enclosed early in the nineteenth century thousands of oaks, including 600 mature trees, were destroyed. The geometrie grid of fields along the A22 road at this point shows very clearly the effects of the enelosure award. The old road to London skirted the edge of the common but with enelosure also came the turnpike and the modern A22 road was forrned,

On this stretch of road may be seen the unique Bow Bells milestones embellished with representations ofthe Bow Bells and the number of miles to travel to reach them. Where the road runs through the former Pelham estates the Pelham buckle is added,

1. The fust recorded mention of a church at Hailsham is in 1229 but the present building is fifteenth century, substantially rebuilt and restored in Victorian times. Ahnost all the windows were destroyed by bomb blast in 1943. Five of the peal of eight beils date from 1663 - one being reeast in 1768 - and three from 1889. The earlier bells were cast by John Hodson - probab1y at the place now called Bellbanks, The beils were taken down in 1951, the four lighter ones being reeast and the four heavier ones retuned. The custom of ringing the curfew at eight o'clock each evening was maintained until the outbreak of the 1939-1945 War. The present clock was installed to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Until then, the tower had a single diamond shaped clock face with only one hand, the intervals between the numerals being divided into four quarters instead of five minutes,

2. Looking south along the High Street at the turn of the century, the large house on the right was known as The Acacias and at an earlier period was the home of Thomas Burlield who founded bis Rope Works in 1807. Next door was Headcorn House, the shop of Tassell, grocer and draper. The display of goods on the highway opposite, which would not be tolerated under modern traffic conditions, belonged to A.P. Smith, ironmonger, and next to it was the Brewers Arms, Both these buildings were badly damaged by fire in 1928. The properties backing on to the churchyard at one time belonged to Charles land were sold by Cromwell's Parliament in 1646. There exists a list of the properties, their tenants and the rents paid. One property is recorded as being tenanted as early as the reign of Riohard lIL There is evidence to show that these buildings were erected over the oid burial ground.

3. The Crown Hotel is reputed to be the oldest, and at one time the principal, inn of Hailsharn and this photograph shows its front wall carrying a number of posters for Cavendish and Dodson, the Liberal candidates at the 1868 parliarnentary election. Of interest is the man wearing a Sussex round frock. This garrnent is sometirnes incorrectly described as a smock but there is a vital difference in that the round frock was the same back and front with a small neck opening of about three inches whereas the coat-type smock opened further down the front. The Sussex agricultural or manual werker would wear a round frock made of heavy quality material for work and a garrnent of much finer quality material with smocking for Sundays and special occasions.

4. Progress in transport is weil illustrated in this view of the Crown Hotel showing the old 'penny-farthing' next to the new 'safety bicycle'. A typical price for a 'penny-farthing' between 1871 and 1880 was t8, with an extra t4 if it had gears, while a typtcal price for a 'safety bicycle" between 1881 and 1890 was t 7 .50; this was at a time when a labourer's weekly wage was less than tI. The story goes that a chailenge was made between the proud owner of a new 'safety bicycle' and the owner of a 'penny-farthing' for a race to Union Corner (at the bottom of Hawks Road) and back, the 'safety bicycle' of course winning easily. The fine wrought iron sign, which was in existence until the 1939-1945 War, was made in the early 1800's by a blacksmith called Eilis who had a shop in the High Street.


5. At a public meeting it was resolved to erect a monument in honour of those Hailsham residents who lost their lives in the service of their country during the 1914-1918 War, to erect a Memorial Hall and to provide an Institute in which the returned servicemen and inhabitants of Hailsham could meet on common ground under happier social conditions. Mr. J.S.O. RobertsenLuxford donated part of the Vicarage Field as a site for the Monument and Hall while South View in Western Road was given by two donors for a Public Library and Institute. The Memorial Hall was demolished and replaced by the Hailsham Club building when the Vicarage Field shopping precinct was built in the 1960's. The War Memorial was unveiled on 28th November, 1920 by Lord Leconfield, the then Lord Lieutenant of the County.

6. In a deed of 1803, 'William Stevens of Betwiek and G. Woger of A1friston who are about to build a house in the field, now Mr. Benjamin Shelley's near the barracks on Hailsham Common - - - bind themselves to Mr. Isaac Clapson, gent, that Richard Wood, innkeeper, of Hailsham shall have a half share of the business.' This was the beginning of The Grenadier Hotel, built to supply beer to the soldiers stationed at the barracks which then stood on the western side of Eastwell Place. Thomas Geering records that after the barracks ceased to be used the Grenadier rapidly became the rendezvous for every tramp within ten miles. He said 'a merrier lot never existed.' This picture shows the Grenadier being refaced in 1910.

7. The buildings in this picture are virtually unchanged externally to this day. The one on the 1eft was erected in the rnidnineteenth century and was used for the manufacture of mineral water. They stand on North Street which originally was known as Back Lane, but a well-to-do resident objected to this name on his mail and it became Terminus Road. In 1894 the new1y formed Parish Council officially named the road North Street. Standing on the step at Kirby Croft is Mr. David Guy, Auctioneer, Supt. Registrar, Assistant Overseer to the Union, Secretary to the Gas Board Company and the Hailsham Building Society and a man of many parts. The brake in the foreground would hold fifteen passengers and a considerable amount of baggage and was in great demand between Hailsham and Heathfie1d, particularlyon market day.

8. Cortlandt, built in 1793 and previously known as New House, was the home of John Bristow who died in 1803. In that year a Barracks was built in Hailsham to accommodate troops stationed in the town ready for the threatened Napo1eonic invasion. The Barrack Master was Philip van Cortlandt, a former American Royalist Officer, who was accommodated at New House and who died in 1814 at about the same time as the Barracks ceased to exist, The house was bought in 1881 byWilliam Strickland who added two new wings and re-named it Cortlandt. When he died in 1918 he left the property to his widow on condition that she did not re-marry and that she continued to live there. Upon her death in 1932 the house was purchased by Hailsham R.D.C. for offices and they and Wea1den District Council continued to use it for this purpose until1982.

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