Bohemia House and Summerfields
History and historic pictures
Message to our Town Councillors
Victorian Walled Garden (Bohemia Walled Garden)
DEMOLITION OF SUMMERFIELDS HOUSE
Hastings Borough eventually decided to demolish Summerfields House in 1972. They instructed Mainwaring Baines to inspect Summerfields House before demolition in order to establish items worth salvaging. He submitted the following list of items for possible salvage and conservation.
1. Lead rainwater head, west side dated 1824 - Metal rainwater head, east side dated 1927.
2. Four cast iron horse and coach pillars, two by front porch and two opposite main building.
3 Large bread oven - cast iron 8' tall x 4' wide built into kitchen wall. Marked F. Bryant (High Street 1824 -1828)
4. Two main entrance doors in sound mahogany described as excellent workmanship
5. Two small cast iron fireplaces in the attic.
6. Main staircases not to be destroyed This is a fine piece of seasoned pine showing very little signs of wear despite its age. Heavy paint each side has helped preservation. The ironwork of the balustrade is not outstanding but is a good piece of work. It is far too good to be chopped up by the demolition men and might be saved for re-use by corporation or sold to a developer
7. Plywood panel of boys names - no recommendation
There are thirty-two of these in the Southeast room on the ground floor. I cannot conceive that they can be of any possible use to Colonel Haig School at Oxford.Certainly not worth a place in any Summerfields room in the Town Hall
]Records of General Purpose Committee Hastings Borough Council. - 27 Sept 1972 On file at Hastings Museum - Summerfields File
Resolved to salvage items 1, 2, 3 and 5
1. Lead rainwater heads. Salvaged
2. Cast iron horse pillars. Salvaged
3. Large bread oven. Salvaged
4. Main entrance doors. Destroyed
5. Two small cast iron fireplaces. Salvaged
6. Main staircase. (NOT TO BE DESTROYED) Destroyed
7. 32 panels of boys names. Destroyed
NO ACTION ON ITEMS 4 AND 6 TO BE TAKEN
Finally I hope to record details of the well-preserved Ice House in the grounds of Summerfields House and have the well tested for possible finds.
From its position, which is rather awkward, as regards the domestic arrangements of the house. It may well prove to be the original farmhouse water supply. I also hope to watch the demolition and development in this area and look for traces remaining of the long lost Manor of Crotsley, one of the few to increase in value between the Conquest and the Doomsday Book.
By the 17th October 1972 when the Old Hastings Preservation Society had realised that the staircase was to be destroyed they wrote a letter requesting permission to salvage the Cast iron railing to Main Staircase Permission was given for R A Brimmell of the OHPS to remove them at their
R A Brimmell Esq.
Old Hastings Preservation Society
17th October 1972
The greatest tragedy of all, the pinnacle of the aspirations of the cultural pygmies running the council at that time, is that this building, magnificent in its own way, never needed to be demolished at all! Its site is now occupied by crass buildings, built with a projected 10 year lifespan marginally better than portacabins, structures which themselves are due for demolition! The plan ( above) shows the outline of Bohemia House in red and the new buildings in blue and below are the ghastly buildings now on the site, as seen from the Ice house. The building in the background (Pooh House) was the sanatorium
The local newspaper reported the demise of the house over the final year of its life. The Hastings & St Leonards Observer reported in March 72 " Summerfields Prep School is to pulled down from 1903 -1966 it was a boys school. Before that the residence of the Brisco family. In 1935 Prince Ranier was a pupil." HSLO March 25 1972 Page 1
An item in HSLO 19th August 1972 Described the Ice House as "A circular brick building originally used a cool house to store meat and provisions. Ice being delivered to a hatchway cut in the wall" HSLO 19th August 1972 Page 6
During its final weeks the captioned one of its pictures "Summerfields standing silent and resolute awaits the coming bulldozers Another photograph is captioned "A Handsome Staircase giving the entrance hall a sense of dignity." Hastings Library - Summerfields File
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