Story brought back memories

Hastings Observer letters
Hastings Observer letters

From: Eric Waters, Ingleside Crescent, Lancing

The news that the long-neglected statue of Prince Albert had been installed outside Hastings Town Hall brought back many childhood memories for me, having been born in Hastings and educated at the town’s Grammar School.

I lived with my numerous siblings in a house that lacked virtually every amenity that today would be considered absolutely essential.

No bathroom or hot water; we used a tin bath that hung up in the back yard and which got filled manually once a week.

No kitchen, just a scullery which had a draining board, a stone sink with one cold tap, a gas-fired boiler which was used every Monday for the weekly wash and every Friday for bath night.

It also had a mangle.

A mangle? That was something that had two wooden rollers which squeezed out the water from the washing when we turned its very large, cast-iron wheel.

At first my mum only had a small cooking range in ‘the living room’ that she had use to feed the lot of us, and there were a lot of us, but the great day finally came when ‘the gas stove’ arrived and things got easier for her.

This was followed by a second ‘great day’ when we had a real fireplace installed in the ‘front basement room’.

However what we did have, apart from the luxury of an indoor toilet (no toilet paper, just torn-up newspapers!) – was The King’s Chair.

This stood in one corner of the front room, which was only used on high days and holidays, and was only ever sat in by my dad.

It had been made by one of my relatives for the Prince of Wales to sit in when he opened the Albert Memorial in 1864.

This was the only item in 69 Hughenden Road that was ever worth anything so you can imagine my surprise when I once came home on leave from the army to find that, where The Chair once stood, was an empty space.

When I asked what had happened to it my mum simply replied, “Dad burnt it”.

No explanation as to why, end of story!

Incidentally, this Prince of Wales later became King Edward VII and had a mistress by the name of Alice Kepple.

By quite a big coincidence Alice’s great granddaughter also met up with a Prince of Wales and is now Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.