Seaford Town Cemetery
The Cemetery Chapel, c 1909 and in 2016 (Click).
The Seaford Cemetery Chapel is open for Funeral and Memorial services and is adaptable for all faiths or beliefs. The furniture remains the respectful, traditional English church-style pews, from the late 19th Century. The lighting is more modern but discreet, and there are wall-mounted heaters for services in cooler weather.
Parking around the chapel is limited to about 9 cars; additional spaces are available in the Northern and Eastern Extensions. Public conveniences are located near the entrance gate.
For details contact Lewes District Council or a Funeral Director such as our sponsors, below.
The Chapel for funeral services (complete with bell) was erected in the centre of the newly-walled and prepared 15½ acre site in the 1890s. The Chapel and Lodge were built by William Wilkinson, a builder in Seaford High Street (later buried in Section B). A map dated about 1900 shows the cemetery extent, with the initial burial area extending as far as the Chapel. It is also marked "Mortuary" because at that time bodies awaiting burial were kept wherever was most suitable; the Chapel's high roof keeps it relatively cool inside. They were probably stored in the Vestry at the back, which also operated as the Cemetery Superintendent's office and kept the records of burials and plots.
Thus it served the community - including, sadly, the soldiers stationed at Seaford's North and South Camps during the Great War - unchanged for many years. During World War II the Chapel escaped major damage, and a 1946 War Damage Commission return stated that there was: "Damage to leaded windows only. Bulged and some glasses missing." resulting from air raids in July 1940 and November 1944. At some stage the bell was removed and has since been lost.
Seaford was run from 1894 to 1974 by Seaford Urban District Council (SUDC). In the 1974 Local Government reorganisation it became part of the Lewes District Council remit. In May 1999 Seaford became a 'civil parish' within Lewes, with a Town Council. The Cemetery, along with some other services, was not devolved to Seaford Town Council and it continues to be owned and administered by Lewes District Council.
By mid-1991 the Chapel was in a sorry state, the Vicar of Seaford and others complaining that it was bleak, not very clean, had no electricity, just a plain scrubbed table and chair, and could not offer any music at services. Councillors added that the 1987 Great Storm damage had not been repaired, so there were holes in the roof and a window still boarded up. Within a month (this being before Councils everywhere were obliged to cut every possible penny of expenditure) Lewes District Council had started repairs, redecoration and the provision of electricity to enable recorded music to be played. Cllrs Baker, Collict and Stiles were photographed with tools in hand, and an altar cross donated by St Luke's Church was installed.
The external structure of the Chapel has remained sound. It was constructed like many buildings at the time with no damp course, and solid walls with an internal covering of traditional lath-and-plaster, which needs to 'breathe'. The Vestry floor suffered over time due to lack of proper drainage around the footings and the consequent effects of damp. Parts of the internal plaster started bulging inwards and began to fall away, so the Chapel was closed in 2015 for safety reasons.
Repairs began in February 2016, the entire rotten vestry floor and joists being first removed and replaced. The whole of the internal face of the West wall (which suffers the full force of winds coming in from Seaford Bay) was stripped of plaster, together with sections along other walls in the Chapel, vestry and porch. New wooden lathes were then fixed in position (with a waterproof membrane on the West wall) prior to replastering and redecorating, and exterior repointing. The guttering was also renewed and adjusted to reduce the amount of rain gathering around the footings, whose lack of damp course contributed to long-term damage to the main walls.
The pictures below show the scaffolding required, and part of the process of stripping the old plaster away and fixing fresh laths to the wall prior to replastering. Restoration was completed in March 2016.
|(Click for larger pictures)
|© Seaford MI Group 2013-2020