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Hastings Bygones – vol. 6

Hastings Bygones by Heather Grief

Hastings Bygones

Bohemia & the Magdalen Charity Lands
by Heather Grief.
The latest volume of Hastings Bygones, published by Hastings Local History Group, contains a well-researched article by the group’s secretary, Heather Grief, chronicling the growth of Bohemia.

The first building in the area, apart perhaps from a few peasants’ huts, was the “Hospital” of St Mary Magdalen, catering for the impoverished elderly and/or infirm of the town. Early Norman, it stood where the junction of Bohemia Road and De Cham Road (named after an early benefactor) is now.

Because of this the area became known as Spittleman’s (i.e.“Hospital-man’s”) Down. “Over half of Bohemia was built on land belonging to the Magdalen Charity, the rest being on Eversfield estate land.” Bohemia apparently owes its genesis to sharp practices in the 1830s, when tenants sold land which did not belong to them. The true owner was the Magdalen Charity, from whom they rented on long leases passing down through generations. How Spittleman’s Down became the Bohemia we know today is just one of the many interesting themes in this volume.

Hastings Bygones vol 6, from Sussex Stationers, Tourist Info Centre & Bohemia Village Voice, £6.50

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