5 November 1829, Brighton Gazette:
ST LEONARD’S NEW TOWN, NEAR HASTINGS
OCT. 28. – The sports and pastimes at the opening of the Grand Hotel, in the entirely New Town of St Leonard’s, commenced this morning. Preparatory to the more substantial and elegant pastimes, a pack of hounds, the property of a private gentleman at Bexhill, was brought to St Leonard’s; and in order to indulge the ladies with a “touch of their quality”, an artificial scent was introduced through Mr Burton’s beautiful and picturesque garden and plantations, in the centre of the town, into which the hounds were turned, and here they displayed their activity by zig-zag movements in fine style for about twenty minutes, when they took to the hills. A fox having been provided for the occasion, was then turned out, which afforded excellent sport to a numerous field of horsemen consisting of some of the first Nimrods of the county of Sussex, and many gentlemen from London, who had come down purposely to join in the chase. After a severe run, in the course of which there were many tumbles, the fox was lost in the midst of a copse, which terminated the hunt for the day. The dinner was provided by Mr Hodgson, the master of the hotel, and given in the noble ball room opposite to and conveniently near the back front of the house; it consisted of every delicacy of the season, including a profusion of excellent well-dressed turtle; the wines were choice and in great variety. Between 200 and 300 ladies and gentlemen, many of them of distinction and opulence, sat down to dinner at seven o’clock. The room was lighted with infinite taste, and the scene, when the company had taken their places, which had been before admirably arranged by Mr Planta, M.P. for Hastings, and Mr North, and Mr Milward, two wealthy individuals belonging to that town, was the most lovely that can be imagined – we never witnessed so many beautiful and well dressed women. Mr North, either the Mayor of Hastings or his locum tenens, was in the Chair. After dinner, when the health of His Majesty, the Duke of Clarence, and the rest of the royal family had been drunk, the Chairman proposed the health of Mr Planta, who, in returning thanks, eloquently alluded to the bold and spirited individual, Mr Burton, who had originated, and to a certain extent perfected this magnificent undertaking – the building of an entire town, in a style of architecture superior to any watering place in the kingdom. Mr Planta considered its success as a happy omen, and indicative of the greatest advantage to the town and port of Hastings. On the health of Mr Burton, the proprietor and projector of St Leonard’s, being given, the universal bursts of enthusiasm and cheering lasted several minutes. When Mr Burton rose to return thanks, his feelings were so overpowered by the kindness of the company, that he spoke with difficulty. He modestlyreferred to his own merits, and stated that he had contemplated the present undertaking, gigantic as it undoubtedly was, from an early period of his life, and for its fortunate issue he depended upon public approbation. After various other toasts, including the Chairman and Mr Milward, the latter gentlemen concluded a neat speech, by stating that the leading inhabitants of the old town, laying aside all jealous and unworthy feelings, had that day cordially and affectionately assembled to welcome in the new. Songs and glees given with considerable taste by professors, continued until 10 o’clock, when, nearly the whole company departed to witness a beautiful exhibition of fire works, which were set off under the direction of Monsieur d’Ernst of Vauxhall; a stage had been erected on the top of the baths, which are commodiously built near the sea, and placed about the centre of the Marine Parade opposite the south front of the hotel – the evening being fine, and no moon, the fire-works were brilliant, various, and effective, and the gay appearance of the ladies and gentlemen who occupied all the windows and balconies, presented a coup d’oeil quite new and extraordinary. During the night a beacon, composed of a number of tar barrels and other combustible materials, which had been erected on the summit of the high cliff behind the house, burnt with great splendour, which must have been seen from Beachy Head to the west, and the cliffs of Dover on the east. Large pieces of ordnance were fired occasionally during the night, and when the fire-works had ended, about 100 gentlemen re-assembled in the dining room, and resumed their conviviality, which lasted until a late hour… the remainder of the company joined the ladies to tea, coffee, and conversazione in the various drawing rooms. It is impossible to give the names of so large a party, but we observed the Milward’s, the Micklethwait’s, the Curteis’s, the North’s, the Courthope’s, the Harman’s, Sir William Ball, hones Jack Fuller, the Randell’s, the Camac’s, the Hailey’s, Mr Collingwood, Mr Barton, the present occupant of Battle Abbey, the learned Doctor Harwood, Colonel O’Donnel, Doctor Batty, Captain Berkely, and Mr Planta; all of the county of Sussex. The learned and highly accomplished Mrs Orm, who, with her family are on a visit to Mr Planta, at Fairlight, Captain Grindley, Mr Mills, of the Woods and Forests, Mr Penn, of the Foreign Office, and a great number of other individuals, private friends of Mr Burton, who, together with a number of the members of his highly talented family were likewise present.
On Thursday a grand ball was given in the great room, for which preparations had been making for some time; upwards of 300 persons were present, and the whole went off with great eclat; all the nobility and gentry within the circuit of 20 miles were present. Mr Hart and his delightful band performed to the satisfaction of all present.
Arrivals from London multiplied during the whole of the two successive days. Hodgson lodged nearly 100 ladies and gentlemen in his capacious hotel, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. – The sailing match was deferred. – A Masquerade is talked off [sic]. – Mr Burton will give a dinner on Wednesday to all the workmen who have been employed a certain number of months. – Morning Chronicle.[Clearly the celebration was mainly in honour of the new town. Of course, the Grand Hotel is now the Royal Victoria Hotel, while the “noble ball room” where the feast occurred was the Assembly Rooms, now the Masonic Hall. The account omits to mention the inevitable hangovers !]
4 June 1830, Globe:
Hastings and St Leonard’s new coach, the Dispatch. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays at 11.30 am. From the Golden Cross, Charing Cross, and the Cross Keys, Wood Street, Cheapside. 8 hours.
15 June 1830, Morning Herald:
Kent and Sussex. – Valuable Freehold and Leasehold Estates, eligible for Residence or Investment. – By Mr H.L, COOPER, at the Auction Mart, Bartholomew Lane, 2 July, at 12… Also, in three lots, “three elegant Leasehold modern-built Marine Residences, situate at St Leonard’s, Sussex, being Nos. 29, 30, and 31, in the Marina, commanding an uninterrupted view of the ocean and surrounding country, with extensive esplanade in front bounded by the sea, on the high road leading from Hastings to Brighton, and adapted for the immediate reception of families of the first distinction, being erected on a magnificent scale, and tastefully fitted up with every requisite convenience, suitable domestic offices, and good supply of water. The situation is undeniable, being celebrated for the salubrity of the air, about one mile from Hastings, 16 from Eastbourne, 40 from Brighton, and 61 from London. Printed particulars may be had at the Castle and Swan Hotels, Hastings…
20 September 1830, London Courier:
The new houses in St Leonards are nearly all let, and some of them on very long leases. The inn, which is most capacious, most convenient, and the cheapest likewise, on that extensive coast, has been full of the most excellent company during the whole season. Mr Burton, the sole proprietor of the town, and the owner of most of the houses, especially those of the first class, is indefatigable in his encouragement of all that has a tendency to add to the comforts and amusements of the visitors. – Morning Paper.
27 September 1830, Morning Post:
This has been a busy week at this elegant and interesting place, which has risen up, as if by magic, on a part of the coast which two years ago was an unoccupied waste. The first day of the Hastings and St Leonard’s races was a remarkably fine one, the sport was good, and the ground was attended by much genteel company. The Hastings Theatre, on the first day, and the Ball on the second, were extremely crowded. There was to have been a regatta, and public breakfast at St Leonard’s this morning, but the state of the wind and sea prevented the former. The public breakfast, however, was attended by above three hundred of the most respectable visitors and residents of St Leonard’s and Hastings; after which fireworks were played off in the gardens, and the evening was concluded with quadrilles in the elegant and spacious rooms, which add so much to the ornament and pleasure of this delightful place. There can be no doubt that after this season, when the arrangements will be comparatively complete, that St Leonard’s will become one of the most, if not the most, attractive watering-place on the coast. Indeed the beauty of the situation; the fine unobstructed sea view from the broad and noble esplanade which forms the whole range of the elegant structures called the Marina, constituting the main part of the place; the quality of the houses, which, without being of a very expensive kind, are of a class which must tend to keep the visitors select; the excellence of the public rooms, baths, and library; the charming garden laid out for a sheltered and shady walk when the beach is not agreeable; and the many objects of interest in the neighbourhood, cannot fail to attract. Already HODGSON’s extensive hotel, with above one hundred beds, is daily obliged to refuse the visitors, many of whom are of the highest distinction, who apply for accommodation, while every house is caught up the moment it is announced for occupation, and even before it is ready to receive the inmates. Several families have taken houses for permanent residence.