12 January 2016

The Peace Statue, Hove

Judy Middleton (2003 revised 2014)

copyright © J.Middleton
The Angel of Peace surveys Brunswick Terrace. 

King Edward VII died at Buckingham Palace on 6 May 1910 aged 68. Within a few months Hove had come up with the idea of a memorial statue to commemorate the King and no doubt to emphasize the fact of his several visits to Hove both as Prince of Wales and King.

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This elaborate tribute to the late King Edward VII 

was put on display at Hove Town Hall. 

The Hove Gazette (26 February 1898) wrote about one visit as follows:

The front looked very bright and gay on Sunday and so evidently thought the Prince of Wales who had more than one drive from east to west. His Royal Highness looked in good health and his stay in King’s Gardens, Hove, was obviously a pleasure. Hove has many a distinguished visitor within her gates but none more welcome than the heir apparent…

The Prince of Wales came down from Victoria on Saturday morning, attended by Sir Stanley Clarke, on a private visit to Mr Arthur Sassoon. On driving up at number 8 King’s Gardens, the Prince was met by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Count Mensdorff, and Lord and Lady Wolverton. On Sunday His Royal Highness had a trip on the Rottingdean sea-going car…Mr Magnus Volk explained how it was done.

copyright © J.Middleton
The King enjoys a walk along Hove seafront.
Note the respectful crowd in the distance.

In 1910 King Edward VII made two private visits to see his friends Arthur and Louise Sassoon at 8 King’s Gardens. Arthur Davidson wrote a letter to Hove Police dated 15 January 1910 from this address:

I am commanded by the King to express to you His Majesty’s appreciation of the manner in which his wishes have been respected, that his visit here should be regarded as an entirely private one. It has pleased and gratified the King to find since his arrival, that wherever he has been, the same regard to his personal convenience has been observed by everyone. 

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King Edward VII enjoys the sun and sea air in his favourite seat at Hove at the foot of Grand Avenue. 

Hove had felt honoured by these royal visits and there was a general feeling that a suitable statue would be a fitting memorial.
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An afternoon glow lights the
Peace Statue in January 2009.
Note the Hove coat of arms. 

The small group of original subscribers to the scheme consisted of the following:

The Mayor of Hove
G.R. Burnett
Miss Cherry
Miss Ada Cutler
Captain H.A. Dowell
Colonel Carrington
Miss Grant
Colonel Hassell
General Marsland
Colonel G.E. Maule
Sir James H. Thornton
Mrs Wainde
H. Endacott, Town Clerk

After the Mayor of Hove launched his appeal, the Mayor of Brighton approached him because he was keen the two towns should have a joint memorial. But Brighton wanted the money raised to go to Queen’s Nurses. This placed Hove in a dilemma and the subscribers had to decide whether Hove should press on alone, join with Brighton or return the money already subscribed.

General Marsland and Colonel Maule were all in favour of going it alone but instead it was decided to create an enormous committee to decide upon the matter. The committee consisted of all Hove councillors plus twenty other eminent men including:

Deputy Inspector Y. Toms RN
Colonel Maule
General G.E. Erskine
Captain H.A. Dowell
Major General W.E. Marsland
Major General H. Chapman
H.W. Smithers
Revd Canon J.S. Flynn
Revd E.J. Morgan
Revd A.D. Spong
Bishop of Lewes

On 26 October 1910 the committee passed the resolution that a permanent memorial of suitable dimensions should be placed on the seafront boundary and that a house should be provided for Queen’s Nurses in Brighton. Any money left over should endow the local branch of Queen’s Nurses.

On 2 November 1910 there was a joint conference at the Royal Pavilion where representatives from Hove and Brighton decided to issue a joint public appeal. Soon there was a printed list of around 180 subscribers and by 26 January 1911 there were many more.

Some of the most notable subscribers were:
copyright © J.Middleton
In this photograph of the Peace Statue the 
dolphins of Brighton’s coat of arms can be seen.

Alderman J.W. Howlett £105 
Alderman J. Colman £100
Arthur Wagg JP £100
Arthur Sassoon £100
A.M. Singer £100
Marquis of Abergavenny £52-10s
Earl of Chichester £50
Mrs Stephen Ralli £25
H. Welsford Smithers £21
The Bevan family, prominent local bankers, also donated some money.

By 10 March 1911

Hove had collected £1,359-4-2d

Brighton had collected £1,290-2s

Therefore the grand total was £2,649-6-2d.
Unfortunately, it was somewhat short of the target of £5,000. 

On 13 March 1911 it was agreed that one-third of the total should be devoted to the memorial. But the home for Queen’s Nurses at Elm Grove really needed all the money and there would be nothing left for a similar home at Hove. In the event the home at Elm Grove received £1,813-8-9d and was opened in February 1913. The money spent on the statue amounted to £900.

The sub-committee was in correspondence with eighteen artists and firms and received eight models. The design chosen was by Newbury Trent (1885-1963) and it is generally regarded as his most important work. Since it was such a success it is not surprising to find that Newbury Trent replicated it later in life with the angel atop the Great War Memorial at New Barnet, North London, being virtually a twin sister to the Brighton and Hove angel. But the New Barnet angel holds a large feather in her left hand and her right hand merely gestures. 

Newbury Trent’s monument was erected on the seafront at the exact boundary between Hove and Brighton and rose to a impressive height of 30 feet. The wonderful female winged figure is seven feet tall. She stands facing north with huge curved wings behind her, holding an orb in her left hand and an olive branch in her right hand. If you compare the old postcards with the modern view, you can see that she has lost some of her olive leaves. Newbury Trent’s daughter later lived at Hove and it must have been a great consolation to see his work so close at hand.

copyright © J.Middleton
Photograph left:- The memorial statue to King Edward VII was unveiled on 12 October 1912. This photograph was
taken just as the drapes are falling away from the statue while a man standing on the plinth makes sure all is going
to plan. The notice on the left reads Cycling on the Sea Wall is prohibited after 10 a.m.

Photograph right:- This photograph was taken later on in the ceremony and reveals the dignitaries and soldiers
surrounding the statue. But who are those men busy writing away at their table? Perhaps they are newspaper
reporters. The bathing machine proclaiming Mixed Bathing strikes an incongruous note.

On the plinth facing the sea a plaque reads In the year 1912 the inhabitants of Brighton and Hove provided a home for the Queen’s Nurses and erected this monument in memory of King Edward VII and as a testimony of their enduring loyalty.

The Hove coat of arms is on the west side and the Brighton coat of arms is on the east side.

On 12 October 1912 the Duke of Norfolk unveiled the statue amongst a great throng of people.

In July 1913 Newbury Trent wrote to suggest that a railing should be erected around the memorial at a cost of £200 and the councils of both towns agreed.

The memorial soon became known as the Peace Statue. Some people have remarked on the irony of the statue being erected just two years before the First World War broke out and faced away from continental Europe. 

On 16 August 1945 the base of the Peace Statue acted as a saluting base for the grand parade marking VJ Day.

copyright © J.Middleton
The photographer captured a very crowded view of Hove Lawns not long after the statue was unveiled,
as the small railing has not yet been put in place. 

Notes on Some Donors 

The Bevan Family

The Bevan family was much involved with local banks. Silvanus Bevan was a banker in Lombard Street and his grandson Richard Alexander Bevan (1834-1918) joined the Union Bank at Brighton in 1859. Bevan’s second son Lancelor Polhill Bevan (1863-1919) became a partner in the bank in 1891. When the Union Bank eventually became Barclays, four of the directors shared the surname of Bevan and Francis Augustus Bevan remained a local director of Barclays until 1946. He also acted as treasurer to Brighton Corporation from 1900 to 1836 and at the same time fulfilled the identical post at Hove from 1904 to 1945.

copyright © J.Middleton
The plaque on 17 Brunswick Square
 where Bevan was born in his
 grandmother’s house.
Today the surname is chiefly remembered because of Robert Polhill Bevan (1865-1925) whose reputation as an artist has grown through the years. He was born on 5 August 1865 at 17 Brunswick Square, Hove, in his grandmother’s house which was the Polhill’s family home for over forty years and Edward Polhill was a Brunswick Square Commissioner from 1836 to 1859. Robert Bevan’s father was Richard Alexander Bevan, partner in the Union Bank. The family wealth meant that young Robert was able to follow his artistic bent because he received an allowance and in 1918 he inherited £10,000 on his father’s death. 

Bevan painted in oils, watercolour and crayon and his subject matter ranged from English landscapes to Polish scenes (his wife being Polish) and from market scenes to horses. When he died The Times penned the following tribute:

A member of the original group of enthusiasts who gathered round the late Spencer Gore and the late Harold Gilman in Camden Town, Bevan responded to the influences of the movement known as Post-Impressionism without prejudice to his personal delicacy, the influence working out in his case in a preoccupation with colour pattern. His earliest works which attracted attention were studies of the cab-rank and the show-ring.

Jeremiah Colman (1853-1939)

His father was Edward Colman, one of the original founders of the famous firm J. & J. Colman, mustard manufacturers of Norwich and London. Jeremiah Colman’s first connection with Hove went back to his childhood when he attended Mr Wyatt’s school in Victoria Terrace. 

Colman followed a career as a merchant in the City and later became chairman of several important companies, notably the Ashanti Goldfields Company.

Lt Col. L. M. Colman
from the
1908 Brighton Season Magazine
On 30 August 1882 he married Annie Maple and they had two sons and a daughter. One of their sons became Councillor Lieutenant Colonel L. M. Colman and in 1910 their daughter married Dr Douglas George Hall, consulting physician, of 31 The Drive, Hove.

In 1886 Jeremiah Colman retired from business and in 1895 the Colmans moved to Hove where they took up residence at 14 King’s Gardens. By 1904 Colman had leased Wick Hall and in 1907 he purchased the property for £12,000. Wick Hall was one of Hove’s most prestigious houses, having been designed by Decimus Burton, the architect of the two south facing wings of Adeldaide Crescent. The house was completed by 1840 for Isaac Lyon Goldsmid who had purchased the Wick Estate. Unhappily, Wick Hall was demolished in 1935. The Colman family’s last move was to 2 Grand Avenue. The former head parlour-maid Violet Raby remembered that there were fourteen members of staff at 2 Grand Avenue and when she left to be married she was presented with a canteen of cutlery.

In 1897 Jeremiah Colman was elected a Hove councillor. The year 1899 was a momentous one for him because in February he became an Alderman, having received twenty-eight more votes than his nearest rival, and in November he was elected Mayor of Hove and served for three years. By all accounts his mayoralty was one of the most brilliant Hove had known. In 1901 it fell to his wife to unveil the statue of Queen Victoria in Grand Avenue. Colman was also a County Magistrate and a Borough Magistrate.

Like the ‘mustard’ Colmans who were famous for their benevolence, Jeremiah Colman helped many causes, especially during the First World War. But as the Sussex Daily News wrote in July 1939 He was a man who was fond of doing good work by stealth and his benefactions in this respect will probably never be known. One deed we do know about was that he raised over £1,335 towards the Indian Famine Fund, which earned the special congratulations of the Lord Mayor of London because it was the first contribution from the provinces of more than £1,000. Another Colman trait was a passion for gardening. His cousin favoured orchids but Jeremiah liked flowers in general and was President of the Brighton & Sussex Horticultural Society for twenty-one years.

The Colmans celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1932. Mrs Colman died on 2 May 1935 while Jeremiah died in July 1939. 

Henry Endacott

In 1876 he was appointed assistant clerk at Hove with a salary of £150 a year. By 1881 he was assistant Town Clerk and accountant and his salary was raised to £250 a year. In 1892 he was appointed Town Clerk of Hove (and he was still the accountant) at £400 a year. His salary was to be increased annually by £20, provided he relinquished the office of Parish Clerk. Perhaps he enjoyed being Parish Clerk, at any rate he took no notice of the condition and carried on as before. But in 1897 a Government Inspector ordered him to resign. However, he managed to hold on to the office of Sexton, which meant that in 1897 the digging of graves could still be carried out by the council’s own men and he was allowed to retain the office of Vestry Clerk. He lived at 30 Goldstone Villas and when he died on 7 May 1914 he was still Town Clerk.

James Warnes Howlett (1828-1911)

He was brought up in a village near King’s Lynn and moved to Brighton in 1857, joining a local firm eventually known as Attree, Clarke and Howlett. Howlett became one of the original Hove Commissioners under the 1873 Act and was famous in the town for his part in keeping Hove independent of Brighton. As well as his professional duties, he attended committees and meetings galore, not just those connected with Hove Commissioners but also others to do with the work of the church. It was said of him that he was a gentleman who could do twice as much work as any other man in the same amount of time.

It was Lady Louise Loder, wife of G.W.E. Loder MP, who gave Howlett his unofficial title of ‘Father of Hove’. Howlett laid the foundation stone of Hove Town Hall as well as officially opening it and his name was inscribed on the hour bell that weighed 35 cwt. Also on the bell was Hove’s motto Floreat Hova that Howlett had devised.

When Howlett retired as Chairman of Hove Commissioners in March 1892, the occasion was marked by a public presentation. He was so well esteemed that 300 subscribers managed to raise £570. The money was spent on a portrait of Howlett by T. Blake Wirgram to hang in Hove Town Hall, and a handsome, silver candelabra with ivy-leaf decoration. It was engraved with Hove’s coat of arms and Howlett’s coat of arms plus his motto Vigilo. It was recorded that the gift was in recognition of his able and successful services in the years 1872 and 1873, in the originating and carrying out of the incorporation of the town for local Government purposes and of his indefatigable labours on behalf of the town from that time including especially his distinguished ability in the discharge of his onerous duties of Chairman of the Hove Commissioners for thirteen consecutive years. 

Unhappily for Howlett, the year 1892 ended in tragedy when his 29-year old daughter Edith Alexandria died suddenly. It appears that she had been involved in an accident in London while being driven in a cab. Although she seemed fine at the time, she began to complain of dizziness. At around 10 a.m. on Saturday 17 December 1892 she was observed falling from the third storey of her father’s residence at Brunswick Place. She struck the balcony on her way down and when she was lifted up it was seen that her head had been frightfully injured, the ‘bones of her skull being almost pulverised’.

According to A. Fraser Taylor, Howlett was a ‘tall, gaunt figure with one eye’. But he kept a fine cellar with a large number of excellent wines. In January 1911 he was created the first Honorary Freeman of Hove. He died on 23 August 1911 and his estate was valued at £121,037. 

Stephen and Marietta Ralli

The Ralli family were of Greek extraction and came from the island of Scios. In 1820 the five Ralli brothers established themselves as traders at London and gradually built up a flourishing trade with the eastern Mediterranean, especially in grain. 

By 1873 eleven Rallis were listed as members of the Baltic Exchange. In Norwood Cemetery, London, there is a splendid and large mortuary chapel built in the style of a Doric temple where some Rallis were buried. They were Augustus Ralli, who died in 1872, and his brothers John, Pandia and Eustrabio. Pandia Ralli was the Greek Consul in London.

Renton Ralli (1822-1895) was a railway stock-jobber and had residences at 39 Park Lane, London and 11 Queen’s Gardens, Hove. When he died he left £803,173.

Stephen Ralli made his fortune from grain and had residences at 32 Park Lane, London and St Catherine’s Lodge, Hove. He lived at his Hove address from around 1894 until 1902 and his widow continued to occupy the premises until her death in 1922. The stables were situated at 2 Medina Mews.

In 1893 when typhoid broke out at Worthing resulting in over 1,000 cases, Stephen Ralli donated £300 to the Sick Poor Fund. Mrs Marietta Ralli was keen to commemorate her husband and her ample inheritance meant she could afford to do it in style. The three east windows in All Saints Church, Hove were donated in 1904 in memory of Stephen Ralli and his two sons Augustus and Antonio. There is a memorial tablet to the memory of Mrs Marietta Ralli at the west end of All Saints Church. It features her coat of arms, which was described in Burke’s Visitation of Arms as azure a lion rampant argent, semy of lozenges, azure inchief a crescent between two crosses couped argent.

copyright © J.Middleton
The three east windows in All Saints Church were given in memory of Stephen Ralli and his two sons. 
In the Royal Sussex County Hospital, there is a marble plaque fixed to a wall on the first floor inscribed Mrs Stephen Ralli in memory of her late husband Stephen Augustus Ralli gave to the trustees by deed of settlement in 1904 and 1906 sums of money and stock amounting to £26,434-7-0d to endow and fit up a department of clinical research and bacteriology. In August 2000 it was reported that the Stephen Ralli building (pathology services) had recently been demolished as part of the site’s £64 million redevelopment. But it was decided the name should not be lost too and a former laboratory was renamed the Stephen Ralli Building and housed medical secretaries, surgeons and physicians.

copyright © J.Middleton
A considerable sum of money was donated to the Royal Sussex County Hospital by Mrs Marietta Ralli
in memory of her husband Stephen Ralli. 
The name of Mrs Stephen Ralli also appears on a brass tablet set in the wall opposite the entrance to the X-ray and MRI department at the same hospital. It states that some of her money was used to set up an orthopaedic wing in 1923 with other money coming from the Red Cross, the Order of St John of Jerusalem and two other ladies.

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The Ralli Hall was photographed on 21 February 2014.
At Hove the most visible reminder of the family is the Ralli Hall built on the north west corner of Denmark Villas. The indenture was dated 2 May 1913 and was between Right Revd L.H. Burrows, Bishop of Lewes and Vicar of Hove (first part) Mrs Marietta Ralli (second part) William Hunter Cockburn (solicitor of 1 Duke Street, Brighton) Arthur Desborough Clarke Esq (of 59 Norton Road) and Jeremiah Colman Esq JP (of Wick Hall).

copyright © J.Middleton
The Ralli Hall plaque has a very handsome border. 
The architects Read & Macdonald of London were responsible for the design of the building, which by general consent is reckoned to be a fine structure and moreover it was made a Grade II listed building on 2 November 1992. Chapman, Lowry & Puttock were the builders and red brick was used laid in English bond. There is plenty of lively detail including oriel bay windows supported on delightfully shaped brackets, mullioned and leaded-light windows, pilaster quoins, wooden dentil cornice, a balcony over a hexagonal porch and a garland feature enclosing the date 1913. 

Arthur Sassoon (1840-1912)

Sir Edward Sassoon M.P.
from the 1910 Brighton Season 
He was the son of David Sassoon of Bombay and was named Arthur Abraham David. Arthur Sassoon remained a director of David Sassoon & Co of Leadenhall Street until his death. But he was better known in society than in the City and his last thirty or forty years were devoted to social pleasure. He was a half-brother of Sir Albert Sassoon and an uncle of Sir Edward Sassoon MP. Arthur Sassoon was said to be of a kind-hearted and generous disposition. He was also very well read and knew Hebrew, Arabic and Hindustani.

In 1873 he married Eugénie Louise, daughter of Chevalier Achille Perugia of Trieste. She was blessed with a magnolia complexion and chestnut curls and wore magnificent diamonds. But she also had a social conscience and spent a great deal of time working amongst Jewish working-class girls. She was awarded a CBE for her work during the First World War. Her cousin Leopold Rothschild once declared he would never marry until he found a bride as beautiful as Mrs Arthur Sassoon; he married her sister Marie. 

Margot Asquith was of the opinion that Mrs Arthur Sassoon was one of the most delightful women she had ever known. King Edward VII also took a shine to her and she certainly knew just how to make him comfortable and to entertain him. No wonder he enjoyed making visits to ‘dear Arthur’ so much.

The 1881 census recorded Arthur and Louise living at 6 Queen’s Gardens, Hove, which was right next door to his brother Reuben Sassoon. Arthur Sassoon’s house on census night 1881 contained three visitors, Sir Charles and Lady Forbes, and James Daly. The domestic staff consisted of William Gibson, butler, an under-butler, three footmen, a male cook and seven maids. This made the Sassoons one of the largest employers of domestic staff at Hove.

copyright © J.Middleton
The second block east of Grand Avenue was Queen’s Gardens where Arthur Sassoon and his brother
 Reuben Sassoon lived in 1881. Later on the block became two hotels
In 1883 Arthur and Louise moved along the road to 8 King’s Gardens, a house they retained until his death. By 1891 the household was somewhat reduced as there were only nine servants but it is amusing to note that out of six female servants three were called Ellen and was one was called Edith.

copyright © J.Middleton
This postcard view of King’s Gardens was taken in 1905. Arthur and Louise Sassoon’s residence at number 8 was
the corner property. 
Courtney Horton Ledger (1896-1983) enjoyed telling the story of how he was bitten by the royal dog. He was passing by the house in King’s Gardens one day when the King’s bull terrier ran out and bit his leg.

David Reuben Sassoon
from the 1909 Brighton Season Magazine
The Sassoons also had a home at Tulchan Lodge in Scotland where they went for grouse shooting and entertained royalty too. King George V was there in 1911. When Arthur Sassoon died on 13 March 1912 the King sent a wreath of lilies-of-the-valley with the message as a token of friendship and in remembrance of many happy days spent at Tulchan. George R & I. 

Four stained glass windows were placed in Middle Street Synagogue in memory of Arthur Sassoon. He left over £650,000 not counting his real estate in China. Since he and Louise had no children of their own, their wealth went to the children of his brother Reuben Sassoon.

Henry du Pré Labouchere once made a famous remark that Brighton was a sea-coast town, three miles long and three yards broad with a Sassoon at each end and one in the middle. Presumably he was referring to Arthur at the west end, Sir Albert at the east and Reuben in the middle. 

Singer, Adam Mortimer

He donated the Hove Mace, which was formally presented to the town on 12 October 1899. For a description of it, please see under Hove Town Hall.

H.Welsford Smithers

In 1851 43-year old Henry Smithers, brewer and coal merchant, lived at 6 Upper Brunswick Place, Hove (later renumbered to 19 Brunswick Place). He lived with his wife Ella and their children, Henry W. Smithers aged 16, Eliza 19, Maria 10 and Mary aged two; four servants also lived in the house. The brew house was located in North Street, Brighton and one of his earliest outlets was the Spotted Cow in Portslade Old Village, acquired in 1863. This was followed by pubs in Hove, such as the Exchange in 1882, Rutland Hotel in 1896, Kendal Arms in 1900 and Neptune in 1906.

copyright © J.Middleton
Smithers Brewery acquired the Neptune in 1906. 
In 1906 the Smithers concern became a company when it merged with Bedford Brewery and property formerly owned jointly by Smithers & Sons and Ashby & Co were transferred to the new company. Smithers & Sons Ltd thus acquired the freehold of Aldrington Hotel and the leaseholds of Adur Hotel and Windmill Inn. The portfolio also included a bake-house, a slaughter-house, cottages, a stable and other buildings at Copperas Gap. In 1913 Smithers took over the old West Street Brewery in Brighton (Vallance & Catt) and in 1919 Smithers acquired Portslade Brewery, (formerly Dudney’s) plus the Stag’s Head, Windmill Inn, and five cottages in South Street, Portslade.

copyright © J.Middleton
This celebrated view of Portslade Old Village dates from around 1909. As can be seen from the sign, Stag’s Head

still displayed the old one belonging to Dudney's time. Smithers Brewery did not acquire the pub until 1919.
Henry Welsford Smithers had two sons, Herbert Welsford Smithers and Edward Allfree Smithers and they lived in a large house at Furze Hill, Hove called The Gable. The two brothers were unusually close to each other, being involved in running the family business and they were both keen Unionists and Freemasons. Herbert died in 1913 and Edward never got over his death and died in 1914, leaving their unfortunate father with only a daughter (Mrs C. Somers Clarke). Herbert’s son was killed in the Great War and Smithers & Sons went into voluntary liquidation on 20 March 1931. It was a sad end to a noted local business.

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A more recent view of the Stag’s Head was taken in June 2009. In 2013
a new pub sign was installed but fortunately the name stays the same.

Revd Ambrose Daniel Spong (1843-1912)

He was the son of a Congregational Church minister and he followed in his father’s footsteps. He served as Minister of the Congregational Church in Ventnor Villas from 1872 to 1908. He was Chairman of Hove Free Church Council and was the recognised representative of the Free Churches at all local functions.

Spong was active in public life too, especially in education. He was following another family tradition in this because his father-in-law Alderman Ireland was one of the founders of Brighton, Hove & Sussex Grammar School. After his death, the Spong family established an annual scholarship in his memory that was simply known as The Ireland. Spong became a member of Hove School Board when it was formed in 1873 and later on became Chairman of the Higher Education Committee. For some years Spong, together with Church of England clergymen, visited local schools to conduct examinations in Scripture. 

Spong was a staunch supporter of the Temperance Movement and he was often to be found at the Licensing Bench to oppose the granting of new licences.

Spong was one of the original members of the Hove Club and he was largely instrumental in establishing the annual Hove Flower Show and Industrial Exhibition.

Deputy Inspector Y. Toms

He qualified as a doctor in 1848 and joined the Royal Navy in the following year. In 1852 he was assistant surgeon aboard the cruiser HMS North Star as part of the Arctic Squadron consisting of HMS Assistance, HMS Resolute, HMS Intrepid and HMS Pioneer. The Arctic Squadron sailed in search of Sir John Franklin and the crews of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Toms remained with the squadron all through the expedition until 1853 and was duly awarded the Arctic medal. He also had the honour of a Cape being named after him.
Dr Toms RN
from the 1911 Brighton Season 

In fact the unfortunate Sir John Franklin died in 1847 in an attempt to discover the North West Passage and both crews also perished but this was not known when the rescue expedition set off.

In 1856 Toms joined the gunboat HMS Sparrowhawk and was present at the attack on forts in the China War, receiving a medal and clasp. In 1858 he served in the corvette HMS Scylla and by 1864 he was aboard HMS Princess Royal, the flagship of Admiral Sir Vincent King in the China Seas. There, thanks to his energy and foresight, a serious outbreak of smallpox was avoided and he received the grateful thanks of the Admiralty. 

He was put in charge of medical affairs at Devonport Dockyard from 1878 to 1880 and the following year joined HMS Invincible. The last ship he served aboard was HMS Minotaur.

In 1881 he retired to Hove with the rank of Deputy Inspector General. He was active in local affairs for many years and became one of the best-known men in Hove. Despite the rigours of an active service life he lived to a ripe old age and died in November 1922 aged 96. His widow Mrs Mary Anne Toms, lived at 99 Lansdowne Place, Hove where she died on Christmas Day 1934 in her 100th year. 


Census Returns
Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Stenlake, F from Cuckfield to Camden Town (1999)

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