The history of Eastbourne
In the Thai Terre blog we’ve talked a lot about our home in East Dean and our home in Thailand, but we are also residents of the Eastbourne area and we love living near this modern, up-and-coming town by the sea.
Most of Eastbourne is relatively new, less than 160 years old. However, there is evidence of humans living in this part of Britain in the stone age, and that the Romans had settlements here. The Domesday book and several historical charters, as well as the twelfth-century Church of St Mary, show that the area was under constant occupation, but it wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century and the arrival of the railway that the town we know today began to develop.
In 1859 William Cavendish, the Earl of Burlington, hired the architect Henry Currey to design a new resort town suitable for the Victorian gentleman. In fact, the new town was almost named Burlington after the earl. But instead Eastbourne was built almost from the ground up and the town’s population began to increase. Seaside resorts were at the height of their popularity at this time as a higher standard of living and the ease of access brought by the trains made it possible for more of the population to take a holiday or trip to the seaside, and Eastbourne was designed with this new group – tourists – in mind.
During the Second World War, Eastbourne performed a very different role. Positioned as it was, on Britain’s south coast, it was inevitable that it would be of great tactical importance. A lot of the town’s population left the area to go somewhere further from occupied France, but many of the empty buildings were taken over by the British and Allied forces: the Royal Air Force installed radar stations at Beachy Head, the Royal Navy established an underwater weapons school, and thousands of Canadian soldiers were stationed in Eastbourne and the surrounding area.
From a stone age settlement to a World War II base of operations, the town of Eastbourne has much to be proud of, and we’re very proud to call it our home.