A couple of days ago we visited the small Sussex town of Seaford; in its past the little town was more significant than now, in fact one of the Cinque Ports ( along with Sandwich, Dover, Romney and Hythe) However, what brought prosperity and influence to the town, the sea, also destroyed that same prosperity and influence, and now it is a small and utterly charming little seaside resort.
It is a fascinating place, I really felt I could live there and feel very at home; full of history, full of interesting buildings, shops, places and people, a lovely beach, the sea facing across the channel to France, and lots of other interesting places within reach!
With this part of the coast being so close to France, travel across the twenty odd miles to the continent must have happened ever since there was a sea between ‘us’ and ‘them’; this was good for travel and trade, but bad for war and raids. In those early times, and right through the thousands of years to the relatively near past, the River Ouse entered the channel here; however, silting and shingle gradually made it more difficult to operate out of the little place, and following a major inundation, there were works to divert the river which now comes into the channel at the bigger port of Newhaven.
St Leonard’s church, dating from the eleventh/twelfth century
There is an Iron Age fort, or its site, overlooking the town, and the Romans established themselves here. people must have lived here since those early times, but the first written comments on the place were by the Anglo-Saxons, when it was called Sefordt, and then Super-Fluvium- Saforda. Between then and now, as you might imagine, even for a small place, it is bulging with history, of smuggling, pirates, raids by the French, rotten boroughs, crooked elections, ordinary people trying to make a living for themselves and their families, trade, industry, war, wrecking… and now it is just an ordinary little town.
We only spent a few hours there, but I look forward to visiting again!