Dark deeds and a mystery on Bonfire Night. Westfield’s last
windmill went up in flames on 5 November 1908, on the evening when the village’s bonfire society was making its annual torchlight procession around the large houses of the village.
The finger of suspicion pointed naturally enough to the Bonfire Boys and they were openly accused of causing the destruction. But they pleaded their innocence and in time people came to the conclusion that they had not been guilty after all of the illegal addition to the pyrotechnic display. The true culprit was never discovered.
The bonfire society has gone, so too have the point-to-point meetings at Church Place Farm and Wheel Farm. The annual beating of the bounds is no longer practised, although some of the Westfield boundary stones are still there. Waiting, perhaps, for a return of the days when the choirboys were bumped on them to impress on their young minds the limits of their parish.
Choirboys were not the only victims of the tradition. There is a photograph of burly village blacksmith William Eaton being bumped by his Edwardian contemporaries which forms part of a pictorial record of old Westfield compiled and exhibited by Ruth Clements and her husband Don.
It shows the tremendous growth that has taken place in the past three decades, though the village is still far enough removed from Hastings to retain its own identity. Expansion is nothing new; the church, which has an oak door dated 1542, dates from Saxon times and had to be extended in 1251 to accommodate the growing numbers of the faithful.