Walk along Croft Lane with the terrace of 18th C cottages to your left. The imposing chimneys and castellated tower on the long building on the right are the Fitzgerald Almshouses. Interestingly the wall along the road is built of field flint whilst the building itself is of knapped flint; for more details about flint as a building material, click here.
The Fitzgerald Charity was founded by John Purcell Fitzgerald in 1858 to care for the labouring poor of good character over 60 years age and living within 9 miles of Seaford. The almshouses were built in 1864 and the charity continues to provide housing to individuals in need of low cost housing in Seaford.
Fitzgerald (1803-1879) was the owner of Corsica Hall, then known as Millberg. Originally a Suffolk family, John Purcell (John’s father) had moved with his family to Seaford to further his parliamentary ambitions as Seaford was a “pocket or rotten borough”. Purcell had two children, John and Edward, (the poet and translator of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Beneficiaries of the charity had to be certified by a medical practitioner as “being a proper object of it” and any resident who proved to be guilty of drunkenness, profane swearing or other act of immorality or of habitual gross misconduct could not remain.
Further information about the Fitzgeralds and the Almshouses can be obtained from Seaford Museum’s publication: “Seaford Almshouses and the Fitzgeralds”. Kevin Gordon has written about the Fitzgeralds here.
Continue along Croft Lane to the junction and turn right onto East Street. Follow it down to the next junction – High Street, and pause.