Eastbourne (St. Mary)

EASTBOURNE (St. Mary), a post-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Eastbourne, rape of Pevensey, E. division of Sussex, 7 miles (S.) ing 3015 inhabitants. The parish comprises 4393a. 1r. 38p., whereof 2186 acres are waste or common. It is situated on the coast of the English Channel, which at this place was formerly remarkable for the loss of vessels; and is bounded on the south-west by the bold promontory of Beachy Head, the sides of which are worn into numerous hollows and caverns by the incessant violence of the sea. It is divided into four parts, called Eastbourne, Southbourne, Meads, and Sea-Houses. Eastbourne is pleasantly situated beneath the brow of a lofty hill, and consists chiefly of four streets; the bathing is excellent, the water clear and pellucid, the sands dry, and the cliffs lofty and picturesque. Assemblies are held occasionally in a suite of rooms at the Lamb inn. A strong circular fortification called the Redoubt, comprising barracks, storehouses, and a magazine surrounded by a deep intrenchment, has been erected on the beach, in connexion with a line of martello towers on the coast; and there are several coast-guard stations. In 1846 an act was passed for a branch, nearly 4½ miles long, from the Brighton and Hastings railway, to this place: the line was opened early in 1848. The market, on Saturday, is discontinued; but fairs are held on March 12th for pedlery, and October 11th for sheep. Very fine shell-fish are caught in great abundance.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £26. 1. 8.; patron, the Treasurer in the Cathedral of Chichester. The great tithes have been commuted for £879 to the impropriate rector, £33. 10. to other impropriators, and £36. 17. to the rector of Folkington: the vicarial tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £550; the glebe contains 3 acres. The church is a handsome edifice, chiefly in the early English style, with a fine tower at the west end. A chapel of ease, now a district church, was erected in 1838, on the road between Southbourne and Sea-Houses, in the lancet style, with a square embattled tower, surmounted by small pinnacles; it is dedicated to the Trinity, and contains 528 sittings, of which 260 are free. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyans. The poor law union of Eastbourne comprises 14 parishes or places, and contains a population of 7950: the workhouse was originally cavalry barracks, which, on the formation of the union, were converted to their present purpose. Coins and other Roman relics have been found at various times, and in 1717 a tessellated pavement and a bath were discovered; from which and other circumstances the town has strong claims to the disputed site of the Roman settlement Anderida Civitas. On the downs are several barrows; and on the road to the cliffs, contiguous to some chalk-pits, is the site of a chapel dedicated to St. Gregory. At Holywell, a mile west from the town, is a chalybeate spring, the water of which is similar to that of Clifton Wells. Eastbourne was the birthplace of Mortimer, the celebrated historical painter; and Davies Gilbert, LL.D., late president of the Royal Society, and author of several works, is buried here.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.