Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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180               Old Memories of East-Bourne. [Chap. XIII.
church when St. John's was consecrated on September 23, 1869, and there was no other provision for Divine Worship up there but Sunday services of sorts in a small and inconvenient schoolroom. Dr. Gilbert, Bishop of Chichester, was the consecrating Bishop ; and it was, I think, his last appearance in East-Bourne, for he died some months later. At any rate, it was the last occasion on which I saw him in East-Bourne. The Church when built occupied an open waste, and seemed nowhere. Strangers viewing it from afar might have been pardoned for criticising an expenditure of money of which the least that could be said was that it seemed premature. But how things have altered since ! Now it is the very centre of an immense expanse closely packed with large residential houses, and though twice enlarged is evidently not large enough for the demands put upon it.
Until the School-room Service was instituted, the inhabitants who wished for Church privileges, had either to tramp across the Links to the Old Town, or along the cliff to Trinity Church. If the Church of England did little for them in those days, Dissent did nothing at all.
The modern history of Meads may be said to commence with the opening of the All Saints* Convalescent Hospital in 1869, the same year that the Church was consecrated. Up till that time, Meads was a perfectly out-of-the-world sort of place, scarcely known except to passers-by such as tourists going to or from Beachy Head. Its few inhabitants were farm-labourers, lime-burners, fishermen, or Coastguards, or, probably (a generation earlier) smugglers. The fact that the great Convalescent Hospital had been put there, perhaps suggested to some people that Meads had a future, whilst others believed that the site of the Hospital was chosen because the locality was so entirely out of the way, that it never would have a future so far as the growth of East-Bourne as a fashionable watering-place was concerned. However, be that as it may, my aunt, Mrs. Grace (mentioned elsewhere under the name of Miss Emma Brodie), undertook the arduous task of collecting the money required for building a complete Church with
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