I am writing to answer the letter entitled ‘Can anyone help solve myths?’
The Green, also known as Gingerbread Green or St Leonards Green, was named after the annual Gingerbread Fair, held at the junction of Springfield Road, Gillsmans Hill and The Green, on Good Friday.
The name comes from the gilded gingerbread that was an attraction, whether sold by traders or given as fairings - prizes for the winners of games. Donkey rides were another feature of the fairs, which survived down to c.1901. The earliest written reference to the name was in 1746, but the fair probably goes back to medieval times.
Further information about The Green’s history will appear in an article in the next edition of Hastings Bygones, which Hastings Local History Group will be publishing later in the year.
The Wishing Tree seems to be a creation of the Eversfield family. They owned much land in the area, and lived at nearby Grove House, the site of The Grove School.
At some date in the 19th century, an old tree at the north end of Harley Shute Road died and when the family chose to replace it, they told the children that it was a wishing tree, to amuse them. The name has stuck, and when the tree was cut down to make way for the roundabout at the new junction with Ironlatch Avenue after it was joined up with Blackman Avenue, the name transferred to the roundabout.
The ‘curse of Hastings’ nonsense does seem to be an Aleister Crowley myth, of 20th century origin. In my opinion, the curse should be the other way round. It is the town that has suffered for many years from a ‘brain drain’, as most of the brighter young locals are forced to leave to find a decent job.
Hastings Local History Group