Corsica Hall

From MA Lower, Memorials of Seaford 1854 as reproduced in "Treasure Chest - A Sussex Anthology by Diana Crook - available from Seaford Museum.

 

The House was originally built at Wellingham in the parish of Ringmer, by a man named Whitfield, who was largely connected with the contraband trade, and was an importer of Corsican wine.Having been outlawed for the offence, he was said to have got his outlawry reversed by the simple but somewhat impudent expedient of presenting the King (George II) with some of his choicest examples of his prohibited wine! On this account the mansion acquired the sobriquet of Corsica Hall. After Mr Whitfield's decease it was occupied by Francis, 5th Lord Napier, and during his tenancy became the scene of a domestic tragedy.

In the month of May 1772, one of his lordship's sons, a little boy, in a frolicsome humour took up a loaded pistol that had been inadvertantly left on the table at which the Rev Mr Loudon, his lordship's domestic chaplain, was sitting, and aiming at him said "shall I shot you?" to which the reverend gentleman laughing replied "shoot on!" The child pulled the trigger and Mr Loudon fell dead upon the floor. From the period of this tragical event Corsica Hall was invested by the ignorant and superstitious with an evil and unlucky character and after the death of Lord Napier no tenant could be found for it. It was therefore advertised for sale and the materials were purchased by a clock and watch maker of Lewes, named Harben, who according to popular rumour, had become suddenly rich in consequence of having purchased, as base metal, some of the golden spoils of the celebrated wreck of the Nympha Americana, which took place near Beachy Head, in 1747. Mr Harben moved Corisca Hall to it present site, and became a person of inflence in the town.

 

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