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For bohemians everywhere

Gipsy teas and syllabub

This is the final part of five  excerpts from a February 1966 Hastings Observer article entitled ‘Bohemia For Gipsy Teas And Syllabub’, in which J. Mainwaring Baines, curator of Hastings Museum, explores the possible origins of the name ‘Bohemia’. In this last extract, he delves further back in time and concludes that the original name may not have been ‘Bohemia’ at all, but ‘Crotesley’. Read, also, how ‘Hornty’ was rented for 2 pence:
  
  One little field close by the modern drive to Summer Fields is just ‘Rough Land’, but a map of the estate dated 1795 shows it as ‘Tom-a-Corners’. This unusual name occurs in the Rental of the Manor of Yielding; for example, in 1729, Frances Weller, widow, paid 2d for Hornty and 6d for Tom-a-Corner.
  Here we remember that John Collier once held the land, so we turn to his papers, and find that, in 1741, he bought the farm ‘Coteley and Cheneys’, then farmed by Samuel Cramp, and that Hornty and Tom-a-Corner paid quitrents of 2d and 6d respectively. A little earlier it was described in a deed as ‘Coatesley and Cheyneys’.
  Finally, and this is where we come to the point of these researches, among the Priory deeds, in the muniment room attached to the Hastings Museum, is a deed dating from the 12th century, which is a grant of land by William, son of Urban Hastings, to ‘Robert of Crottelsleha’. This includes five acres ‘adjoining the lands of Crottelsleha’, one acre upon ‘hornegha’, and one acre lying to the east of the great way leading from Hastings to Battle.
  In other words, this is part of what is today the Summer Fields estate, formerly the Brisco estate, formerly Bohemia Mansion or Farmhouse, formerly Foster’s farm. ‘Coteley’ and ‘Coatesley’ are obvious corruptions of Crottesley, which is also known as Cortisley – a long, lost Hastings Manor.
  Crotesley was a scattered manor with lands in Hollington as well. In 1320, part of it was swallowed up by the sea. In Domesday Book it was spelled ‘Croteslei’, and owned by Lord Godwin. In the time of Edward the Confessor, it was worth 100 shillings but at the time of the survey, 1087, £6 7s. Which reminds one that Duke William did his utmost to prevent damage to property in the immediate Hastings area.
  Well, we have come a long way from the syllabub parties and elegant company of the 18th century to answer Miss Redmayne’s inquiry. We can only say that it is probable that Bohemia took its name colloquially from open-air parties in the gipsy fashion, but that going  back far enough, the real name of the property was Crotesley.
“ Further reading: Historic Hastings by J. Manwaring Baines, F.S.A, published by Cinque Ports Press, 1986.

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