Seaford presents as a thoroughly modern town so it may surprise some visitors to learn it has a long and rich past. Evidence has been found of Stone Age life in the area, and there was an Iron Age hill fort on Seaford Head, as well as a Roman burial ground on Seaford Head Golf Course. And the Saxons were known to be here too.
The shoreline in the Seaford area has changed a lot over the centuries as has the town’s fortunes. By the early 13th century Seaford was a prosperous Cinque Port as part of Hastings, although within a couple of centuries, the town was in decline. Its fortunes have fluctuated since but for a modern, 21st century coastal town, there’s a lot more going on under the surface than you might think!
And of course, one of the best things about Seaford is its fabulous position on the south coast just to the west of stunning Cuckmere Haven and Seaford Head and just south of the South Downs. So, if you’re in this part of the world, here is our list of things to do in Seaford.
The abandoned village of Tide Mills
Just to the west of the town, and a pleasant walk along the coastal path (also Vanguard Way) is the abandoned village of Tide Mills. As the name suggests, this was once a bustling mill village, with its own railway siding but the mill closed in 1883 and the last residents had to move out in 1939. It also saw race horses, scandal and children from Chailey Heritage!
You can find out more here: Tide Mills
Driftwood by Sea
If you’re in this part of the world in the summer months, then you really must cross the main road (the A259) and visit this incredible NGS garden, known as Driftwood by Sea and not far from Tide Mills. Visits are by appointment but you are assured of a warm welcome, a wealth of knowledge and coffee and cake as well as the most incredible and exotic garden!
You can find out more here: Driftwood by Sea
Before you head back into Seaford, you might also want to visit Newhaven Fort. You can walk along the coastal path, but it’s a bit of a hike, so you might just want to hop in the car. Perched on the cliff, this is a wonderful museum, filled with immersive displays of everything from Iron Age life to World War II shelters. It also has fabulous views, and some great architecture (and yes, also coffee and cake).
You can find out more here: Newhaven Fort
Seaford has a Martello tower (number 74) built in 1810. It’s had a chequered past and was sold by the War Office in 1880. In 1910 it was sold again and became a tea room and roller skating rink. The tower was restored in the 1970s and The Seaford Museum of Local History now The Seaford Museum and Heritage Society moved in 1979.
They hold various events and talks here but it’s also apparently packed with town memorabilia from different eras, and you will see anything from a collection of early gramophones, radios, and televisions to paintings, photographs and prints, Edwardian lace and fans, and a restored Victorian bathing machine. You can find out more here: Seaford Museum
Seaford Head Nature Reserve
There is some fabulous walking to be had in the Seaford area, and there is no better place to start than Seaford Head Nature Reserve and Cuckmere Haven. You have various options here which include walking the coastal path all the way to Hope Gap and on to Cuckmere Haven or parking on Seaford Head and walking down past the famous coastguard cottages with views of the Seven Sisters cliffs. From the mouth of the Cuckmere, you can walk along the river which is simply teeming with birdlife. As you approach Exceat Bridge, you also come to a section of route 2 of the National Cycle Network (which runs all the way from Dover to St Austell).
Golf and gentle water sports
If rambling isn’t for you, you could play a round of golf at the Seaford Head Golf Course or head to the visitor centre at Exceat Bridge (Seven Sisters Country Park). From here, you can try kayaking or canoeing along the stunning and curvaceous Cuckmere River. Or make your way east into the Seven Sisters Country Park.
It’s only a short (and very beautiful) drive from Seaford to the historic village of Alfriston where you’ll find The Clergy House (National Trust), smugglers, historic buildings, a wonderful bookshop and some great places to eat. Oh, and more fabulous walking as well!
The Seafood foodie experience
There are a number of great local producers. Just north of Seaford, Rathfinny Wine Estate is a large and prestigious local vineyard where they offer a number of different experiences as well as tastings. Long Man Brewery, north east of Seaford also offer tours and tastings whilst Harley House Distillery in the heart of Seaford, doesn’t offer tours yet but are a local brand to look out for with its range of craft spirits. There’s also a twice-monthly market in Seaford itself.
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