EASTBOURNE is a rapidly increasing watering-place and railway town on the London, Brighton, and South Coast line, giving name to a hundred and union, in the Eastern division of the county, rape of Pevensey, Lewes county court district, 65 miles from London, 15 from Lewes, 18½ from Hastings, 23¼ from Brighton, at the extremity of the eastern side of the South Downs, adjoining the sea, 3½ miles east from Beachy Head, and to which a direct line of railway from London through Groombridge and Hailsham is in course of construction. It is highly probable that in ancient days it was a Roman station, as, early in the last century, a tesselated pavement, bath, and other Roman antiquities were discovered in a field between the Marine and Grand Parades: Roman coins of Vespasian, Domitian, Antoninus Pius, Constantine, and Gordian have been found, also several Cufic or Saracenic and ancient British coins. On the west of the field in which the bath, &c. were found, the foundations of a Roman villa were discovered a few years ago. The ruins of a domiciliary brotherhood of Black Friars, which existed prior to the reign of Henry VIII., are still in existence in the Old Town.
Eastbourne is divided into three townships or divisions: Eastbourne, or the Old Town, a mile and a half from the sea; Southbourne, situated midway between the Old Town and the sea; and the Sea Houses, or the modern and more fashionable portion of the place, on the coast. Besides these three divisions there is the hamlet of MEADS, about one mile from Southbourne. Here are both National and Infant schools for boys and girls; the former established by the late Dr. Brodie, and the latter built by Miss. L. Brodie. The Union Workhouse built, for and formerly used as cavalry barracks, is capable of accommodating 200 persons: there is a neat chapel for the inmates. The union comprises the following fourteen parishes, viz.:- Alfriston, Eastbourne, East Dean, Folkington, Friston, Jevington, Litlington, Lullington, Pevensey, Seaford, West Dean, Westham, Willingdon, and Wilmington.
The Duke of Devonshire and the Hon. Mrs. Gilbert are the principal landowners. The area comprises 5,512 acres. The population in 1861 was 5,795.
SOUTHBOURNE is a rapidly improving hamlet, reaching from the railway station to what are called the Sea Houses on the beach; these two places forming the most populous part of the parish, and the principal resort of the visitors for sea-bathing, &c. Here is the terminus of a branch line from the Brighton and South Coast Railway Company's junction at Polegate, 4 miles distant. A fair is held here on the 12th of March. Here is a National school, erected by the late Countess of Burlington; also chapels for Wesleyans, Baptists, and Calvinists.
MEADS is a hamlet, on the slope of the South Down hills, commanding fine views of both sea and land. On the South Downs, the bird called the ortolan, or wheatear, is caught. At Holywell, one mile to the west, is a spring; at Langney Point, 2 miles east, is a coast guard station, and two forts commanding Pevensey Bay.
Fuller description [Kelly's Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867.]
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