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For bohemians everywhere

Did Jenny Lind live in St Leonards?

Susan Thomson writes (Sep 2007)

Dear Sir, I am interested in Jenny Lind and the possibility that she lived in St Leonards.  A friend who has lived here for over 40 years told me that she lived at 11 Edward Road, the interior of which is lavishly decorated.  Even today it is obvious  that it must have belonged to a person of wealth and culture. Last week, my friend and I went to have a look at it again, to refresh our memories. A resident from a house opposite number 11 said, “A famous opera singer lived there – Jenny Lind.”

I was surprised and delighted that someone else also believed that she had lived there. He told us that his partner was very keen on local history and had been curious about this unusual house in their road.  Could you please tell me what you know about Jenny Lind’s connection with this grand house? I have been reading about Jenny Lind and her inspirational life, thanks to the Internet.  It seems such a shame that the people of Hastings and St. Leonards do not know that this exceptional woman  chose to live here, if this is true.

If it is indeed a fact, I would love to see a “blue plaque” on the house.  And more ambitiously, I would like to see an exhibit dedicated to her at our revamped Hastings Museum; it would be nice to add a lady to the list of gentlemen who found our town a nurturing environment. Can your readers help?

Susan Thomson (resident of Bohemia and avid reader of your magazine)



Patrick Vickers writes (Oct 2007)

Dear Sir, regarding the letter on Jenny Lind [letters page, issue 51], it may be that the Swedish songbird perhaps did stay a night or two  at No.11 [Edward Road] whilst in Hastings but so far as I know she never lived there. The poetess Fiona Pitt-Keithley and her mother did live there but left sometime in the 80s, I think because there was no money for the upkeep of this unusual building originally named Campanile. So perhaps if Miss Thompson were to contact F.P-K she may be able to find out more. Patrick Vickers (via email).

Helena Wojtczak writes (Nov 2007)
Dear Sir, as the author of Notable Women of Victorian Hastings, I am responding to Ms Thompson’s letter in September’s issue. Unfor-tunately, I cannot find a shred of evidence that Jenny Lind ever lived in Hastings. The nearest I can place her, in documentary rather than anecdotal terms, is in Brighton in 1881, where the Census tells us she was staying in lodgings at 12, Marine Parade with her son, a solicitor. Perhaps 11, Edward Road was one of the many places she stayed between her retirement in 1870 and her death in 1887, and I for one would be fascinated to see evidence of this. My personal feeling is that if she ever stayed in our town it would be in a very grand building, and probably on the seafront. Ms Thompson’s wish to have more ladies of our town honoured is about to be granted. In my forthcoming “Notable Sussex Women” I feature forty ladies from our area, of which twenty-one are in St Leonards. For your readers’ information, Jenny Lind was born in Sweden in 1820. She was a coloratura soprano who gained worldwide fame because of the extraordinary beauty and purity of her voice. Every concert hall she sang at was sold out. When her ship arrived in New York in 1850 it was met by 40,000 people, all trying to catch a glimpse of her! She married Otto Goldscmidt in 1852, had three children, and died in Malvern.
Helena Wojtczak, St Leo-nards.


1 Comment

  1. Thank you Helena… I viewed 11 Edward Road St Leonards on Sea before moving down here in 2013. A grand house indeed but to much restoration needed. A lovely insight into a wonderfully talented lady. Thanks again.

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