SEAFORD: Charles rescues artefacts from doomed house

Charles Brooking with ballustrade and letters found in the a pre-demolition search of his former prep school.
Charles Brooking with ballustrade and letters found in the a pre-demolition search of his former prep school.

POSTCARDS and letters that are decades old have been found at an historic Seaford property earmarked for development.

Abundant Grace House, which stands in Firle Road, was visited by architectural historian and museum curator Charles Brooking who was a pupil when the building was known as Normansal School in 1963.

When the 57-year-old heard the latest plans for the premises to be demolished and turned into a 66-bedroom residential nursing home he got in touch with South Coast Nursing Homes (SCNH) to look around and recover any historic items.

Amazingly his finds include a letter sent to him by his mother and a postcard from his father when he was a pupil was found underneath floorboards.

He also uncovered bullets from when Canadian troops occupied the building in the Second World War, exam papers and other letters dating back to as far as 1908.

Charles, who lives in Cranleigh, Surrey, said, “It’s been fascinating. I’m now very keen to find out about a builder called Wilkinson.”

Charles, who will be donating some of the items he uncovered to Seaford Museum, told the Gazette that the building was created in 1904/05 and was known as Lexden House and was run as a school until 1924.

It was then left empty for a few years before being taken over by someone else and becoming Normansal School in 1929.

In the Second World War Canadian troops occupied the building for a period of time and Charles recalls finding bits of plane in the field.

After the Canadians left the building the school, which had been evacuated to Puddlestone, returned and eventually closed years later in 1981.

Since then it has been run as Chalvington House School school which shut in the early 90s. After being named Abundant Grace House it was used by the Christian community which has now vacated the building.

The Surrey resident will now be displaying some of the items at his museums in Cranleigh and the university of Greenwich, also known as the Brooking Collection.

If anyone knows more about the builder Wilkinson, the architects involved in the original building or would like to find out more the Brooking Collection they can call 01483 274203 or email: charlesbrooking33@gmail.com

Charles would like to thank those at SCNH for allowing him to recover the items.