Corsica Hall

Walking down College Lane you’ll notice a green area with raised sides on your right and left, part of the bed of the old Seaford Port. Further on at the junction encounter the low-lying Martello Fields straight ahead and to the left. Continue along College Road and take the next right. You are making for the low Martello Tower on the seafront.

On the high ground to your left is Corsica Hall. It has a long and interesting history.

A stately home called “The Lodge”, originally built at Wellingham near Ringmer around 1740, was renamed Corsica Hall before 1760. The owner, John Whitfield, was involved in the illegal importation of Corsican Wine leading to his presenting the King (George II, 1727 – 1760) some of his finest wine to escape legal consequences. He was successful and The Lodge was rechristened Corsica Hall.

After Whitfield’s death before 1772 Corsica Hall was owned by Frances Scott, the 5th Lord Napier. In 1772 Napier’s son accidentally shot his tutor. Maybe as a result this the family left the Hall and it seems to have been vacant between 1773 and 1782.

Thomas Harben lived in the Hall from around 1782. He must have bought it, because he decided to move the whole building to Seaford between 1784 and 1786.

Harben sold it in 1812 to Hon. Thomas Bowes, brother of the Duke of Strathmore. He in turn sold it in 1823 to John Fitzgerald who later built the Almshouses in Croft Lane. He also demolished the original Corsica Hall in 1824, built a replacement and named it “Millburgh”.

1884 saw the inauguration of Seaford College, once again now renamed Corsica Hall, by Col. Frederick Savage who was its first Headmaster. One of its pupils between the two World Wars was Anthony Buckeridge, later author of the “Jennings” books which may have been partly based on Buckeridge’s experience at Seaford.

In 1940 Seaford College relocated to Worthing because of safety concerns and because the premises were requisitioned for the war effort. After a short stay there the College ended up near Petworth, where it still is.

Since then Corsica Hall has been a domestic science college, a PE college and (since about 2009), private apartments.

Next, turn right towards the sea onto Cricketfield Road, or cross the Martello Fileds and scramble up the bank, the consolidated shingle strip that was the southern arm of the old Port. Cross the road, turn left and head for the nearby cliffs.

"The Lodge" at Wellingham, Ringmer
... and at Seaford
As rebuilt in 1824, and as Seaford College