Visiting the Town Hall, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England: a pleasing, Victorian design by William Tadman Foulkes
Designed by an architect who lost a public competition but won the commission
Some history and features
The land on which the building stands was sold to the town by the 7th Duke of Devonshire (1). In 1884 Lord Edward Cavendish laid the foundation stone in 1884, and in 1886 the building was complete, inaugurated by the Mayor, Alderman George Boulton.
The interior of the building is noted for marble floors and oak window casings, and a Grand Staircase. A clock for the tower, already built by 1886, was installed in 1891.
The Town Hall is situated in Grove Road, Eastbourne, close to The Saffrons sports ground, where Sussex County Cricket Club played regularly for over a century.
For many years, some of the Town Hall's rooms have been available for public hire.
19th century controversy, settled by the Duke of Devonshire
The design of the new Town Hall had been subject to a competition in 1880. So, the reader may be thinking, the afore-named Mr Foulkes must have won the competition?
Well, actually no. William Tadman Foulkes's design did not win the competition, in which local architects also competed. However, local architects' plans suffered from excess costing. When Architect Foulkes's design was adopted, despite not having won the competition, some considerable local controversy ensued. However, the issue was settled practically by the good offices of the Duke of Devonshire, when the Duke's personal architect caused Architect Foulkes's plans to move forward.
(1) The Dukes of Devonshire are important, local landowners. In the 19th century, the Dukes were responsible for a significant amount of the town's development as a resort.
Also worth seeing
In Eastbourne itself, the breathtaking Beachy Head consists of tall cliffs along the English Channel. The Pier and a the Martello Wish Tower are also significant landmarks.
Lewes (distance: 30 kilometres) has a Norman castle, which dominates the town from a mound.
How to get there: Continental Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Eastbourne : 146 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Eastbourne from London Victoria railroad station. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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