The Marina, St Leonard's
Photographer: Frith, Francis (1822-1898)
Medium: Photographic print
“Saint Leonard? I declare I don’t know who he was; but we must not forget that he presides nominally over a notable suburb of Hastings. I can fancy him to have been a somewhat select and stand-off kind of saint – a sort of young West End clergyman, serene, scented, sarcastic. What millions of court-miles there are betwixt Belgravia and Whitechapel; - between fishing-town Hastings, and lodging town St. Leonard’s-on-Sea! The impudent young hussey, born in the year 1828!...Decimus Burton, the Regent’s Park architect, five-and-thirty years ago, certainly ran his compasses boldly and freely over the mile-and-a-half of rough rocky beach that stretched between ‘Bo-peep’ and ‘Bohemia’…The Marina, and Warrior Square, and the church, and the Marina again – and more Marina – I will not attempt to describe. Let us go on to the beach, ankle-deep in stones ‘about the size of pieces of chalk,’ which have chattered in the surfs of a thousand years, till their teeth are all worn smooth.”
Descriptive letterpress by Francis Frith from his book 'The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings'
This view by Francis Frith (1822-1898) of the Marina at St Leonards, East Sussex, is one of sixteen photographs of views of Hastings, Winchelsea, Rye and St Leonards illustrating his book ‘The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings’, published in 1864. Frith was a pioneer in the field of travel photography, beginning his career with three trips to Egypt and the Holy Land between 1856 and 1860. In 1859 he founded his own publishing firm in Reigate, Surrey, which among a variety of photographic material issued albums and postcards of views throughout Britain. In his first album, ‘Egypt and Palestine Photographed and Described’, Frith wrote the text that accompanied his photographs and ‘The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings’ continues this dual authorship. Its text is notable for the gently satirical attitude which he adopts in his travelogue of the 19th-century seaside resort and its sister towns.