NOSTALGIA: Detective work on an old Eastbourne postcard

The group of holidaymakers outside 55 Cavendish Place, which was a boarding house called Hadlow House
The group of holidaymakers outside 55 Cavendish Place, which was a boarding house called Hadlow House

Reading the article regarding the mystery of the dapper Indians in the May edition of the Eastbourne Herald, was a remarkable coincidence for me, writes Lloyd Brunt of the East Dean & Friston Local History group.

The photograph of the Congregational Church also included three houses which were attached to the now demolished church.

Eastbourne Looking Back

Eastbourne Looking Back

In the article there was also a modern-day photograph showing one of the houses ending in a flint buttress - all that remains of the old church. By the way, although the caption says it is in Pevensey Road, in reality it is in Cavendish Place.

The reason I found the pictures so remarkable was that, only a few days earlier, I had bought an old postcard showing the guests of a boarding house, sitting outside one of these same houses.

Before the widespread ownership of cameras, it was common for local professional photographers to assemble hotel and boarding house guests in front of their accommodation and take a group photograph.

The photographer would then make copies, and turn them into postcards, in time to sell them to the guests.

These could then be sent to their friends or kept as mementos of their holiday.

Many of these group photographs still survive after nearly 100 years so they must have been treasured by friends and family for generations.

After a little investigation I found that number 55 Cavendish Place was a boarding house, called Hadlow House, run by Mrs Marsh.

The other two houses adjoining the Congregational Church, numbers 51 and 53, were also part of the same establishment.

The date of my postcard is uncertain but two of the guests appear to be wearing silver “war wound” badges on their lapels and this suggests that it was made during the First World War.

These badges were given to men who had been invalided out of the army, to show that they had served their country but were now unfit to fight. During the war any apparently able-bodied man not in uniform was likely to be given a white feather for cowardice or be subjected to abuse.

The badges were designed to acknowledge the “Services Rendered For King and Empire” and so avoid any public hostility.

Not only that but if you look carefully at the photograph, you will see that some of the men are wearing aprons and holding kitchen utensils. Also most of the guests are linking arms.

I have no idea why, so if any readers can throw any light on these unusual customs, I would be very pleased to hear from them.

I can be contacted at East Dean & Friston Local History Group, via email history1@fristondown.co.uk or by calling Eastbourne 423573.

Membership is not restricted to residents of the villages and is open to anyone interested in our events.

Visitors are also welcome but are charged an entrance fee of £3. Meetings are held most months at the Village Hall, Village Green Lane, just off Gilberts Drive (the road to Birling Gap).

The next meeting is on July 27 when Alan Wenham will talk about “The East Side of the Pier”.

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