Friday, March 21, 2008

Netherwood, Hastings

Artist: "Barbara"

Publisher: unknown

PM: none

I'm guessing this is from the 1920s but really don't know. Netherwood was a guest house, and apparently the last residence of occultist Aleister Crowley.

"Johnny had owned and run, with her husband Vernon, a large, gabled Victorian guest house named Netherwood. The property stood in its extensive 4-acre grounds, wherein were outbuildings, a lawn tennis court, a large garden, shrubbery and many trees, on The Ridge, a road running across the flank of the upland area behind Hastings, about 500 feet above sea level. Netherwood's situation afforded extensive views of the town, its Norman castle, Beachy Head and the sea, which were doubtless part of its albeit wind-blown attraction to visitors. "


Roger Moss said...

Netherwood was owned and run as an hotel by my aunt and uncle Rose and Joe Bennett during the late 1950s/early '60s. Their son, my cousin Brian Bennett, lived there too, working in Hastings before moving to London and elsewhere.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

In that case, Roger, is it possible that the postcard dates from this period, would you think? When the Symonds ran it (between 1935 and, I imagine, when your aunt and uncle took it over in the 1950s), they developed it from a wreck of a mansion into what they intended as a socialist utopia. They failed, of course, but I have a number of letters relating to Netherwood during the Symonds's regime: these were written by the novelist and playwright Lionel Britton, who spent a number of months working there in exchange for board and lodging.

My blog mentions Lionel Britton's reaction to working at Netherwood:

Anonymous said...

as a resident of hastings just off of the ridge, i wondered if netherwood is still there? i had allways assumed incorectly that mr crowley had lived in what i knew as a large gothic type house below the castle which has since been demolished. cant picture netherwood is/was it near the cemetary?

Dr Tony Shaw said...

When I rang up the library in Hastings a few years ago to see if they had any additional information about Netherwood, they told me that it had been demolished some years before.

Anonymous said...

I have this postcard in my collection and I remember staying at Netherwood in the late 1940s with my parents. There was a small auditorium and entertainment for guests.

Katie Smith said...

My father, Brian Bennett, lived there and I have a photograph postcard of the house. The house has definitely been demolished - the site was sold to Wimpey Homes and a new housing estate built. A friend of mine gre up there in the 1970s on a street called Netherwood Close. She remembers Netherwood House as a derelict building at the end of her road.

ashchurch said...

Does anyone know where I might get one of these postcards? Please drop me a line at

Euan MacKie said...

I and my brother were taken to Netherwood Guest House by my parents several times, during the late 1940's as I recall, when I was about 12. I realised that it was somewhere unusual when I noticed a picture of Stalin on the dining room wall; my father, though in business, was a keen admirer of the Soviet Union.

Alasteir Crowley lived there at that time but seemed to stay in his room; I caught a brief glimpse of him once. He was never in the dining room or common rooms.

In the following year we went back and I found two human skulls lying on a bench in the garden, one with traces of dried skin on it. A member of the staff (I think) told me that Crowley had died and left instructions that his head should be put in the garden. I don't know who the other skull had belonged to.

It seems now a rather bizarre set-up but to us boys it was a pleasant and rather exotic place to be. The post-card reminded me of my pleasant times there.