Summerfields House

From Historical Hastings

Summerfields House
General information
AddressBohemia Road

Bohemia House was constructed by Admiral Collingwood and eventually became the residence of Wastel Brisco. In the twelve weeks from the 6th of May 1830 to the 26th of July 1830[1], it was occupied by the Princess Sophia of Gloucester[2][3]. Part of the boundary wall was known to have been constructed by the local bricklayer John Jinks, who was, for a period, described as Wastel's right-hand man[3]. It was subsequently enlarged to become Summerfields House.[4]

The walled garden was especially noted during 1898 for the 'upside down' pear trees that adorned one of the walls, the roots being near the top of the wall in soil and the fruit growing some thirteen or fourteen feet below[5]. The same reference as that of the pear trees noted that the 'Roman Baths' located within the wooded grounds of the house as being of unknown antiquity - this is now known to be a falsehood and the baths and well were undoubtedly constructed as a folly by one of the occupants of the house. It is certainly documented in the same press report that one of the the 'features' of the baths (now lost) - that of the dressing room was constructed by Capt. Brisco in the 1850s when he used to bath daily in the spring waters. Much of the bath's structure has been lost to later decay and vandalism, so a verbatim description of the feature in 1898 is below:

...No one knows the history of this well and its surroundings. The trough through which the stream runs is of marble, but the constant wear of nineteen centuries has made it throughout the greater part of its length more than an inch thinner than in the time when the contemporaries of Caesar and Augustus first erected it. The background is also of marble and the drinking well is in a recess, supported by a massive rounded area, with a quant bead in the centre, similar to those in some of our own Saxon and Norman architecture. Below is the bath, seventeen feet long and nine feet in width, with steps of stone and concrete at either end. On each side of the arch are windows, more for ornament than use and there are traces of steps leading to the slope above, where fernery flourishes in abundance. It is supposed that the bath was built at the times of the Roman encampment on the East Hill, of which there are distinct remains, but however that may be, it is certainly of great age, and many generations of men must have taken advantage of its refreshing stream...In depth the bath is four or five feet and no water could be more its natural temperature, for year's end to year's end, little sunshine pierces the overhanging trees...The household use the stream for drinking purposes and a smack of it this hot weather surpasses all alcoholic or other refreshers.

Following the use of the property as a residence, the buildings were used as a preparatory school. The building for a short period in 1971 became the annex to Woodlands School for first-year pupils.

Being demolished in 1972, only the ice house, walled garden (which has been partially restored and restored to usage) ponds, boundary walls and the folly of the Roman baths exist on the site currently.


References & Notes