Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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Chap. II.] A Tour round Old East-Bourne.                 23
He had a married sister living on the Grand Parade at the time this tragic affair took place.
Many years after the event, I heard that in 1868 or 1869 Lord Hobhouse and Mr. W. E. Forster, M.P., independently of one another, successfully climbed Beachy Head ; and since that date there have been many attempts, the majority I think unsuccessful, and not a few attended by fatal results.
Beachy Head has always been famed for the existence of certain chalk pillars sticking out in front of it and known as " The Charleses." Tradition, I believe, says that the number was originally 7, but I have never met with the slightest proof of the accuracy of this statement. A newspaper cutting given me by a friend many years ago which bears date of December 1810, written on it in pen and ink, runs as follows : "The pinnacle at Beachy Head, called the Charles or Churles, which has been for years the terror and the wonder of the numerous visitors at East-Bourne, has fallen ; but as the fall fortunately took place in the night, no damage was done. Its ancient inhabitants (the foxes) being on their prowl, suffered no other injury than the loss of their habitations. The chalk that fell is computed at more than a million of waggon loads."
I have in my possession a letter, undated, but written at a much later date, from the Rev. G. Stokes who was Curate at the Parish Church in 1853. He writes that on March 12 he walked to Beachy Head with Mr. E. Robinson " to see the great fall at the Cliff, and was told that the Charles Rock fell at 6.30 this morning." He adds " a noble pinnacle some 600 ft. high and the loss of which is greatly deplored. It was indeed a great loss to all lovers of coast scenery." The figure of 600 ft. is a most undoubted exaggeration. The portion of the pillar standing out as a pillar clear of the main cliff could not possibly have been anything approaching 600 ft. in height. I should think that even 200 ft. would be beyond the mark, judging by a collection of the various pictures which I have seen, taken at different times and by various people. The most authentic
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