New England Bank
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The 'New England Bank' was a public house, originally constructed around 1540 that later became known as the Bo Peep. It was also known as the 'Old England Tavern', and situated where the original West St Leonards railway station once stood, the foundations of the inn being discovered during excavations in the 1970s. By 1836, the inn together with surrounding land was sold at auction, being described as having a frontage of 1,400 feet to the Bexhill-Hastings high road and lying on excellent brick-earth. In the same month as the previous advertisement of the auction sale, an advertisement also appears for the lease of a wheelwright's yard in Brightling - prospective lessees being requested to apply to William Payne, the proprietor at the New England Bank.
Some six years later, there was a report into the inquest relating to the death of William Payne's niece, Sarah Edmunds, aged almost 4. The child had been visiting William at the inn for a number of months. On the morning of Wednesday, 19th January 1842, he was alerted by Sarah screaming in the parlour. Rushing into the room, he saw her cotton dress engulfed in flames. Putting the flames out as rapidly as he could, the doctor Mr. Smith was summoned. Unfortunately there was little that the physician could do and Sarah passed away two days later. At the inquest held at the public house, as was common at the time, the coroner recorded a verdict of Accidental Death .
1836-1842: William Payne