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Historic Hastings
This article first appeared in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer 13th March  2015  Hastings & St Leonards Observer
Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings
Kidd's St.Leonards

This volume is one of Kidd’s series of Pocket Companion guides, it’s undated but the 1834 edition of “The Athenaeum” carries an advertisement for the series stating “the only correct guides extant are now ready corrected to 1834” and lists more than a couple of dozen towns for which these guides are available. Measuring 3 ½” x 5 ½ inches (90mm by 140 mm) these were indeed pocket editions. My copy was produced by James Gilbert, described as successor to W Kidd and was published by George Wooll in High Street. The engravings are by G W Bonner and include one full-page engraving with the remaining engravings as vignettes within the text. This guide, as well as being published singly was also advertised bound together with guides to other towns as Kidd’s Picturesque Companion to the Watering Places of Great Britain.

There’s no map in this pocket sized guide which introduces the reader to the battle of Hastings and also covers contemporary accounts of Hastings Castle, the major hotels including the Castle, Albion, Swan, Royal Oak, and Marine Hotel whilst rather unkindly describing the Crown (which, as a coaching inn was much larger then) as….”a third-rate establishment. A beautiful view of the sea however in some measure compensates for the want of other qualifications”.

There’s a brief description of the churches, markets, fishing and pleasure boats,all the usual diversions and the ever popular libraries. There’s a mention that Wooll (who was the publisher for this volume) had lately published some very pretty views of Hastings and its vicinity. The guide comments that “so many (lodging houses) have been lately erected it would be a difficult task to enumerate them. Those, most pleasantly situated are in the Priory, and are known by the name of Meadow Cottages. Wellington Square is also a very desirable situation.” Meadow Cottages are at the lower end of Queens Road and a couple are still identifiable next to the Halifax.

Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings

"Bohemia” an early view of Bohemia House purchased by Wastel Brisco in 1831, later to be known as Summerfields and demolished in the 1970s by Hastings Borough Council

Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings
“Castle Cliff” still not cut away for the building of Breeds Place and Pelham Crescent.

Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings
"Castle” showing that some houses are now appearing on Wellington Square.

Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings

“Chapel Barn” was part of the Magdalen Charity and located near the top of the De Cham road, the barn was to be demolished when the area was redeveloped by the Victorians.

Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings"Ore Church” 30 years before its replacement and partial demolition


Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings

“Entrance to Hastings” All Saints church is on the left and the “wilderness” straight ahead

Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings
"Priory” Priory farm house was still standing to the west of the Priory stream which was forming the western boundary to Hastings..

Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings
“Theatre” became a Chapel and was rebuilt just before the last war and is now private housing

Reproduction copies of Kidd’s Picturesque Pocket Companion to Hastings can be obtained from Ion @£5.99 + p&p or high quality prints of these images can also be obtained from Ion - use email address below

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