Twyn House and Twyn Cottage

These are located  over the mini-roundabout from the Station, and down the hill very slightly to the right.

Once the local workhouse, site of a gruesome murder in days long gone, this lovely house was saved from dereliction by George Jakens, the founder of Seaford Museum.  The workhouse was built on Spital Field, once the site of a leper hospital. The residents of the work house were moved to Eastbourne and the house became a  private residence in 1810 and remains so. Twyn House is a grade II listed building.

Extract from  The story of the St. James’ Trust Buildings and Site :

It was believed for some time that Seaford Workhouse was situated in Twyne House and Twyne Cottage.

Twyn House on the right, and the Cottage to the left

They were described in the Department of the Environment’s report of March 1990 as ‘a pair of 18th century houses on the site of the medieval Leper Hospital’.  This may well have been the case as parish workhouses were usually small establishments, often in rented properties rather than custom-built premises. This was probably the position up to 1723, when the Knatchbull Act made it compulsory for a pauper to be admitted to a workhouse to get ‘poor relief’.  As a result of this Act, demand for places would have increased considerably and the existing accommodation was obviously inadequate. Unlike today, poor people – sometimes whole families – would be expected to put in a hard day’s work for their bed and basic food. Husbands and wives would be parted to live in single sex accommodation.

We do not know exactly what kind of work was carried out at the Seaford Workhouse, but in other similar establishments on the south coast “rope picking” was a common workhouse job. Men, women and children as young as seven or eight would be used in various stages of the process. Old ropes from warships, stretched tight and to their limit, soaked in tar and seawater, some as thick as a man’s arm and up to three hundred feet long, were transported to the workhouses. The men would manhandle the ropes and cut them into manageable lengths, the women would soak the pieces of rope in boiling water to soften the fibres and finally men, women and children would pick apart the fibres and separate them;  the resulting fibres were used as caulking to seal the joints between the timbers of wooden ships. The task was called ‘picking oakum’.

This work would go on for 12  hours a day or more;  flogging or birching was not an uncommon punishment for idlers irrespective of age or gender, and when children reached an age where they could be of use the parish would hire out their services or even sell them to local tradesmen or householders as cheap labour.

 Return to the mini-roundabout and cross over into Church Street and go to St.Leonards Church