Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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160                 Old Memories of East-Bourne. [Chap. XIII.
quite unknown in those days, except to the select few, and difficulties arose in organising hospitality for strangers coming to the Conference. I was one of the Honorary Secretaries, and took a leading part in the arrangements. We sent out a circular to the principal householders, asking them to place at the disposal of the Reception Committee, offers of beds and " free meals 'r for the visitors. Great indignation was expressed by many of the recipients of these circulars. I, or my clerical Co-Secretary, the Rev. A. N. Obbard, were written to, or accosted in the streets, with remarks such as these :—" You surely do not expect me to invite a total stranger to my house and give him a bed and feed him for 2 or 3 days—a man I never heard of. It is very unreasonable : I really cannot. If any of those who are coming are men I know or of whom I know some­thing, perhaps I will comply with your request."
We had accordingly not a little difficulty in providing for the strangers who came, and there were not a few of them, for the total attendance, including the local members of the Conference, totted up to 241, to say nothing of some wives and daughters who also came. After it was all over, this remark was not unfrequently
made :—" So glad you sent us the Rev. Mr.-----and his
wife ; we found them such very nice people ; and were very glad to make their acquaintance." Varied by " We were very sorry we did not do what you asked us to do—take in somebody for the Conference : our friends
the------took in two parsons who proved most agreeable
guests." One widow lady, noted for her hospitality, took in two bachelor " Priests " with such satisfactory results, that shortly afterwards she took in one of them again by marrying him !
This system of billeting strangers on strangers for Congresses and Conferences has now become so universal that nobody thinks anything about the theory of the matter. Since 1881 the Chichester Conference has been, as already stated, 3 times to East-Bourne, and to other con­siderable towns in the Diocese more than once in most cases, namely:—Chichester (8 times); Worthing (once);
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