St Leonards-On-Sea is right next door to Hastings, but does not share the latter’s rich history, being relatively new. It was the developer-architect father-and-son team James and Decimus Burton who came up with the scheme for a new resort, and carried it through during the period 1928-34. This talented duo had already worked their magic in parts of London such as Marylebone and Belgravia, and looking at some of the grander terraces and squares in St Leonards one can see the similarity. A different style of architecture can be found on the seafront in the form of the Art Deco apartment block Marine Court, which was probably considered sleek and modern in its day but now lowers the tone set against the aforementioned elegance. Better to tear your eyes away from this behemoth and enjoy the stunning views towards Beachy Head. St Leonards has a nice bohemian air about it, with interesting, quirky shops and art galleries. The town used to have a posh school called Summerfields, and one of the pupils there was Prince Rainier of Monaco, but the school closed in 1966.
Probably the biggest issue facing Britain today is mass immigration and the flood of asylum seekers coming to Britain looking for a better life, and St Leonards has had its share of controversy over this issue. In 2005 during the Blair years, when immigration really started to become an inflammatory subject, there was a newspaper report about a building in St Leonards called the Adelphi Hotel which was housing over 200 asylum seekers, much to the disgust of the locals, who claimed to have seen some of them driving around in new cars and wearing expensive clothes. Immigration reared its head again in news reports about the town in 2010, when the vicar of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards was convicted of conducting hundreds of sham marriages between East Europeans and Africans, the former earning up to £3,000 each for their part in the sham.
Map of the area.
photo © 2010 Shane Global | more info (via: Wylio)