The Lawn, St Leonards in World War II

Volunteers at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery are transcribing details of typed reports about damage suffered in raids in World War II onto a spreadsheet. The reports consist of lists by street of houses damaged in each raid. I am one of those volunteers.

The information is intriguing, partly because of the details of the damage linked to a specific date, and partly because of the valuable information on owners as well as the residents of each house.

Take for example an ‘air attack’ on the 11 November 1940. Every one of the five pairs of semi-detached houses at The Lawn suffered some damage. 4 The Lawn was unoccupied – the resident was ‘away’ – and was owned by A.H. Addison. Its rateable value was £60. The damage consisted of ‘Many slates broken, large number of windows, frames etc. damaged.’ The information given on damage was usually even less.

Here are the details of the residents and the owners at The Lawn as given in that raid:

1 vacant, owner Lady Jackson

2 away, Lady G. Williams

3 away, Mrs Richardson

4 away, A.H. Addison

5 Miss Heathcote, Mrs Addison

6 away, Lt. Col. J. Curteis

7 away, Mrs Addison

8 away, T.E. Withington

9 away, Lt. Col. J. Curteis

10 vacant, Lt. Col. Curteis

The sole occupant, Eliza Paulina Heathcote, the daughter of a Church of England minister, died on the 8 December 1941 at 5 The Lawn, aged 79. One of the executors was next door Colonel Curteis, who was probably related, as the detailed account of her funeral, in the 13 December 1941 issue of the Hastings and St Leonards Observer gives Dorothy Curteis as a cousin while noting that the Colonel was unable to attend. As a result, perhaps the entire road was then empty.

Of the ten houses, six were owned by someone named Addison or by Colonel Curteis. At no. 4, A.H. Addison was Arthur Addison, a master confectioner and caterer, born in 1885 in St Leonards, who in 1939 was living at 7 Down Roads, Hastings. He died in 1961 at 15 Downs Road, leaving his widow Olive Mirihan Addison. Mrs Addison the owner of nos. 5 and 7 was probably the wife. It is interesting that all three houses — nos. 4, 5 and 7 — were said to have recently been sold by R.M. Silvester of 3 East Ascent (Observer, 24 November 1945).

The Lawn, St Leonards

We have a valuable source of information on the residents from what is normally called the ‘Register’, dated 30 September 1939, which is available on two subscription databases, Ancestry and Find My Past. All civilians were listed by address.

The road had 35 residents, only four of whom were men. 15 were servants. One female’s name is crossed out, presumably as she was incorrectly named. Some entries are blacked out, meaning that the person is thought to still be alive. M meant married, S meant single, and W meant widowed. Surnames in brackets are for future husbands of women. Relationships are never stated. Below I give the details for The Lawn.

  1. [One or more entries blacked out]
  2. Hilda E. Pritchard, born 4 July 1884, W, private means

Amy S. Durrant, born 19 May 1897, M, housekeeper

Michael J.A. Durrant, born 6 Sep 1934, S, at school

  1. Eliza A. Curteis, born 26 Sep 1854, S, private means

Mary A. Milliken, born 9 Feb 1873, W, nurse certificated

Minnie Weston, born 21 June 1876, S, companion

Winifred R. Jones, born 6 July 1917, S, domestic servant

Paulina Leslie, born 16 Mar 1853, W, private means

  1. Mildred E.C. Hind, born 8 May 1890, S, private means

Constance E. Good, born 16 Oct 1856, S, private means

Lorna E.H. Bennett, born 2 Mar 1904, S, nurse attendant

Rosa A. Bryant, born 9 July 1871, S, cook

Mabel L. Wells, born 16 Oct 1905, S, house parlour maid

  1. Eliza P. Heathcote, born 6 Jan 1862, S, private means

Mahala Hurst, born 20 Aug 1866, S, companion

Eleanor M. Willbe, born 27 Nov 1906, S, domestic servant – cook

Vera R. Reeves [Sunderland], born 19 July 1915, S, domestic servant, H.P. maid

  1. John Curteis, born 21 Apr 1864, S, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) HM Army

Mary Alice Gale, born 18 Aug 1885, S, cook-general

Gladys M. Williams, born 27 Jan 1879, S, house parlour-maid

  1. Kate Wontner, born 20 Jan 1847, W, private means
[crossed through] Cynthia D. Wontner, born 21 Apr 1888, S, private means

Annie G. Knapp, born 30 Jan 1888, S, cook general

Teresa McLoone, born 18 June 1913, S, nurse

  1. Maud C. Withington, born 6 Dec 1887, S, private means, poor eye sight

Dorothy G. Withington, born 5 May 1889, S, private means, incapacitated, epileptic

Edith U. Hunt, born 14 Oct 1884, S, nurse (untrained) to epileptic

Charlotte P. Palmer, born 16 Aug 1900, S, domestic servant

Jennie C.D. Daly [Ford], born 23 Mar 1919, S, domestic servant

  1. Frances C. Woodgate, born 18 Feb 1879, S, private means

Robert J. Routledge, born 28 Dec 1887, S, butler

  1. Primrose M. Kenward, born 10 Aug 1880, W, private means

Anne P. Wallace, born 13 May 1907, M, unpaid domestic duties

Hugh M. Wallace, born 2 Aug 1931, S, at school

[blacked out line]

Gladys J. Revill, born 1 June 1924, S, domestic help

Some comments. None of the household heads actually worked for a living, and only one was retired (Colonel Curteis).The Lady Jackson who owned no. 1 was Aline Jackson, who had married in 1904 Sir Frederick John Jackson, Governor of Uganda and a noted expert on East African birds. He retired in 1917, lived at North Lodge (succeeding the Haggards), and died in 1929. His widow then sold that house and in the 1939 Register was living at St Leonards Lodge, Maze Hill. She died in 1966 in Hastings. Besides the houses owned by the Colonel, there was Eliza Curteis at no. 3. No. 8 was lived in by two Withingtons, while a third one owned it. Kate Wontner of no. 7 died on the 28 February 1941 at a nursing home at East Grinstead, aged 94. Primrose Mary Kenward, of no. 10, was living in Devon in the 1921 census, born Edinburgh, with her farmer husband Frederick Charles Kenward, born Icklesham. She died in 1946 at Salisbury, Rhodesia.

There are several maps of where bombs fell during World War II in Hastings and St Leonards, such as that at the 1066 website.

One question might be, where did the occupants all go to ? For one at least we know. The 3 March 1945 issue of the Observer has an account of the funeral of Eliza Ann Curteis, daughter of Herbert Mascall Curteis, in her 90th year. We are told:

Miss Curteis evacuated from her home, 3, The Lawn, St Leonards, and for the last two years had been living with her nephew and niece, Captain and Mrs W. Wigham Richardson, at 4, Calverley-park, Tunbridge Wells, where she died on Friday last week. Miss Curteis had lived at St Leonards for over 20 years.

Perhaps the neice owned the property, as Mrs Richardson is listed as the owner of no. 3 in the bomb damage report.


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