10 Oct 1830, Weekly Times:
FROM THE ALBUM OF ST LEONARD’S HOTEL, HASTINGS
TO J——– B——-, ESQ.
I slept – and a vision arose to my sight,
All was darkness around – the black mantle of night
Envelop’d each object that stood on the plain
Where the conqueror triumph’d when Harold was slain.
As I mused on the years long since parted, a ray
From a mystical lamp thro’ the gloom forced its way.
The wizard who bore it moved slowly along,
Whilst in tones, deep and hollow, he chaunted this song:
“Gloom and darkness hence, begone,
Days of brightness hurry on !
Here no more shall desert sand
Deform the beauty of the land;
The fisher’s hut shall disappear,
And lordly domes be founded here.
To work, my spirits ! be it done
Before the morning sees the sun.”
He ceased – and a light more effulgent than day,
Like a meteor’s blaze chased the darkness away;
When, lo ! a fair city, all gallant and trim,
Stood, by magic art rais’d, upon Ocean’s wide brim.
I awoke, and St Leonard’s burst full on my view !
The dream was prophetic ! the vision was true !
Majestic and lovely her head she uprears,
Nature, tho’ an infant, in all things but years,*
In her beauty she smiles on Old England’s own sea,
And Aladdin revives, my dear B ——, in thee. C.
*The first stone of this sea-paradise was laid the 1st of March, 1828.
[Addressed, of course, to James Burton. “C”, the author, was possibly Thomas Campbell, a well-known poet in his day, who is stated to have written a poem about the town in the Morning Chronicle, 6 June 1831]
31 Dec 1830, The Sun:
ST LEONARD’S. Among the many things of the day that occasion surprise, few are more likely to excite that feeling than the sudden appearance of the new town of St Leonard’s on the Sussex coast, little more than a mile west of Hastings, which, though not commenced above two years, already affords accommodation far superior to many that have long held a prominent station among our fashionable places of resort. St Leonard’s, built on a regular plan, already presents a splendid façade of buildings, exceeding half a mile in length, with an admirable parade fronting the sea, hotels with superior accommodation, that of St Leonard’s even of magnificent structure, shops, baths, libraries, assembly-rooms, with all the attendant conveniences… on Tuesday last the bachelors gave a splendid ball to the ladies, which was attended by upwards of two hundred persons, including all the principal residents, many of the leading families from Hastings, and the neighbouring country, and a numerous party of the Officers of the Guards, at present on duty at Brighton; the supper was served in the billiard-rooms, by HUDSON, of St Leonard’s Hotel, in his best style; quadrilles, waltzes, cotillons, and galoppades, were kept up till five in the morning, and previous to the departure of the company the gallantry of their entertainers provided a second supper, or dejeuné, for ladies.
January 1831, Gentleman’s Magazine:
SUSSEX. – Jan. 1. At St Leonard’s, near Hastings, by a fall from his horse, in returning from hunting, aged 17, George-James, only son of Thos. Wood, esq. of the Regent’s Park, and grandson of James Burton, esq. of St Leonard’s.
9 Jan 1831, The Age:
MIRACULOUS ESCAPE. – (Hastings, Jan 5.) – A workman passing along the road from this place to the New Town has this day experienced a miraculous escape from destruction. The revenue cutter, stationed off St Leonard’s, wishing to bring to a fishing boat, which was suspected to have contraband goods on board, fired a shotted six-pounder over her bow in the direction of the turnpike road by the side of the beach. The shot fell within two feet of the above individual, scattered the shingle all around him, and bruized him on the head, shoulders, and many parts of his body. The ball recouched, and fortunately rose so high in the air, that it fell without doing further mischief.
A meeting of the people of Hastings is to take place immediately, that a petition to the King may be agreed to, praying for an enquiry into the conduct of the party guilty of this wanton and careless endangering of the lives of his subjects.
27 June 1831, Sussex Advertiser:
HASTINGS. JUNE 24. – On Tuesday morning, a portion of the building intended for the Chapel at St Leonard’s New Town, fell to the ground, by which accident two men sustained considerable injury.
21 July 1831, Brighton Gazette:
The Public Garden at St Leonards is now open for the reception of visitors. The subscription list lies at the library.
The Undress Promenade and Quadrilles at St Leonard’s Rooms, every Thursday evening, under the management of Mr Huntly, will commence on the 28th inst.
St Leonard’s Hotel still remains very full.
[The St Leonards Gardens cost one guinea annually]
11 Aug 1831, Brighton Gazette:
MR MOLLARD having taken the Conqueror Hotel and fitted it up for the accommodation of Families and Gentleman, hopes to have the honor of speedily entertaining a number of his friends. Several Gentlemen having expressed a wish to dine together on Tuesday, the 16th, at five o’clock, Howard Elphinston, Esq., will take the Chair, supported by two Captains in His Majesty’s Service. Tickets, dinner and dessert included, 12s. each.
18 Aug 1831, Brighton Gazette:
The excavations for a Gothic Church are nearly completed, which is to accommodate 1200 persons, one half free sittings. Divine Service at present is conducted in the St Leonards’ Rooms – the officiating Minister, the Rev. Mr Molyneux.
[Also much detail on a new meeting house for the Congregationalists, built apparently by James Burton]
25 Aug 1831, Star and the Albion:
ST LEONARD’S. The beautiful weather and salubrious breezes which have at length visited us continue to draw great numbers of the gentry and nobility to see St. Leonard’s, many of whom had no conception what a magnificent watering place this coast could boast, but who having once seen it, promise themselves annually to survey its progress and growing beauty. The gardens are now become very inviting.
The dress ball on Friday evening was numerously attended, and under the management of W. Huntley, Esq., our new Master of the Ceremonies, gave great satisfaction.
We had only one day’s regatta, owing to the jealousy of the inhabitants of our neighbouring town, and the refusal of co-operation by the present members of the Cinque Ports to subscribe. The relative of one of our county members gave nearly the whole expense of the first day’s regatta himself, and he allowed its pleasures and profits to be expended on the old town.
Mr. H. Elphinstone leaves us this day for a short time, but returns to winter here.
Her Royal Highness the Princess Matilda Sophia of Gloucester, to our great satisfaction arrived amongst our sylvan scenes on Friday, and attended divine service twice on Sunday. We are glad to see her looking as well and as affable as when at Bohemia last spring.
Among many other arrivals there have been, during the last week, the Earl of Hardwicke, Lord and Lady Rosebery, Col. Frederick, and Mr. and Mrs. Gason and family, the Misses Waddington, Mr. Ramsden and family, W. Fraser, &c. &c.
Col. Forrester and family have taken 49, Marina.
The Conqueror hotel has been opened under favourable auspices. Fifty-five gentlemen sat down to an excellent dinner on the 16th. The viands and wines were of the best quality.– The dessert included some choice pines, melons, grapes, &c., from Covent-garden, and the company were treated with white bait from Greenwich. After the removal of the cloth, the “King and Queen and Royal Family,” were drank with four times four, and “God save our noble King” was sung with much feeling and applause. The toast, “May every kingdom be happy, and each have its Will,” much gratified the assembly. On the health of James Burton, Esq., being drank, be replied at some length, and expressed his pleasure at seeing his attempt to provide a new and select resort for the nobility and gentry so much approved, and no longer a speculation. He also stated that the different residences he had erected during a long and active life, had caused an expenditure of more than two millions, and that the government of the country derived more than 50,000l. per annum, as duties on the houses and windows of such residences. The Chairman, H. Elphinstone, Esq., and candidate for representing us in parliament, proposed the health of the sitting members; North, and Wane, Esqrs., expressing his esteem for them, but, at the same time, stating it to be his hope and intention to unseat one of those gentlemen on a future occasion.
[‘Each have its Will’ is a reference to the reigning monarch, William IV. The window tax referred to by James Burton was abolished in 1851. Sir Howard Elphinstone, 2nd Baronet, did indeed become an MP for Hastings, being elected for the Whigs in 1835; his wife Elizabeth lived at 4 The Lawn for many years]