Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. II.] A Tour round Old East-Bourne.                    7
Counting the present young heir to the property, I have known five generations of Thomases at Ratton, reckoning from July, 1848, when I was taken there for a drive by Dr. Hall, who was paying a professional visit. That was in the time of Mr. Inigo Thomas who died not very long afterwards, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Freeman, who, dying in 1859, was succeeded by his second son, Frederick Freeman. This Squire died at San Remo in 1868, and was the father of the present Squire. Mr. Arthur Goring Thomas, the musical com­poser, was a brother of Mr. F. F. Thomas, and the present Sir C. I. Thomas, late of the Admiralty, is another brother. The present house at Ratton was built in 1895, on the site of an older and very ugly house burnt down in December, 1891. The original mansion house was lower .down the hill, nearer Willingdon, and some portion of it still remains, fitted up as a lounge for tea parties. There is a tale told to the effect that the property changed hands through the running of a greyhound in the reign of George I., the winner of the race and assignee of the property being a draper at Lewes named Durrant. I have not the least idea whether this story is authentic, •but Burke's General Armoury gives a greyhound's head as the crest of a family named Durrant, and the grey­hound portrayed in a painted window in Willingdon Church has been said to represent the aforesaid animal. After Mr. F. F. Thomas's death in 1868, Ratton was let for a short time to Colonel White, afterwards Lord Annaly. Then it was let to Sir J. W. H. Anson, killed in a railway accident at Wigan in August, 1873. Next came an American family named Heinemann who remained there for seven years, from 1874 till 1881, and wished to buy the property but it was not for sale. I dare not print any anecdotes of that period of the world's history, though I am sorely tempted to give one in particular.
On January 19, 1881, the day after a tremendous snowstorm, I walked over to Ratton to lunch. That snowstorm can never be forgotten by those who saw it. The cutting on the Willingdon Road adjacent to the
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