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MARKET TOWNS OF SUSSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Eastbourne in 1842

Eastbourne is a pleasant bathing-place. It is situated at the foot of the eastern extremity of the Downs, at a distance of 61 miles from London, and about two miles to the eastward of Beachy Head, on the shores of what is known as Pevensey Bay.

The antiquity of Eastbourne is beyond a doubt. It was a station of the Romans, and in 1717 a Roman pavement of white and brown tesserae, 17 feet 4 inches by 11 feet, and a bath, 16 feet long, 5 feet 9 inches broad, and 2 feet 9 inches deep, were discovered. From the existence of these remains and from its situation it was supposed by Dr. Tabor to be the site of the ancient town of Anderida Portus, a station founded by the Romans on the southern coast to check the predatory Saxons ; and which has been placed by Camden at Newenden in Kent, by Mr. Elliott at Seaford, and by other antiquaries at Pevensey. It was at Anderida that Ella, after having defeated the Britons at Mercreadesburne, massacred every man, woman, and child, and destroyed the town, which, we are told, was never afterwards rebuilt.

Towards the close of the last century Eastbourne attracted notice as a watering-place. The bathing is excellent, the water clear and pellucid, and the sands are dry and extensive. At Holywell, near Eastbourne, there are chalybeate springs, where the water does not materially differ from that at Clifton.

The ruins of a domiciliary of a brotherhood of Black Friars are still standing.

The church is a spacious building, consisting of a nave with side aisles, a large chancel, and lofty antique tower. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Lewes, of the annual commuted value of £550.

The population in 1831 was 2,726.

The South Downs abound with that delicate bird the ortolan, or wheat-ear, and large numbers are caught near this town.

Beachy Head, which has been before noticed, has been the scene of two unfortunate encounters to the English : one in 1690, between the combined fleets of England and Holland, under Herbert, earl of Torrington, against the French, an engagement from which Lord Torrington was forced to retire ; and the other, in 1706, between three line-of-battle ships - the Royal Oak, the Grafton, and the Hampton Court, which were convoying several merchantmen, and a fleet of nine ships and several privateers, under the command of the famous corsair Du Guay Tronin. The Grafton and the Hampton Court were taken, and the third vessel only saved by being run on shore. The official account, hitherto unpublished, of the disastrous retirement of Lord Torrington from the action in 1690, is preserved among the Ellesmere MSS. at Bridgewater House.