Corsica Hall, Seaford


“Britain’s foreign relations formed a crucial component of the political nation during the eighteenth century. Foreign affairs were a key issue of state, and perceived failure within European power politics could cause the fall of government ministries. Britain’s foreign relations with the main European powers, and especially France and Spain, have been extensively recorded. Britain’s unique relationship with Corsica has been neglected. Corsica can appear to be insignificant compared to other European states. Many British writers, however, government officials, naval and military officers, considered Corsica to be of the highest importance within eighteenth-century foreign affairs. Corsica was especially important within the larger sphere of Anglo-French rivalry. Corsica was one of the few territories that was ruled by both nations during the eighteenth century. This thesis reveals that Britain’s relations with Corsica were far more significant than has been previously realised. Britain’s relations and interactions with Corsica remained relatively consistent throughout the period from 1728 up until 1796. The two main developments to occur between Britain and Corsica during the eighteenth century were, firstly, the ‘Corsican crisis’ (1768-1769) and, secondly, the establishment of an Anglo-Corsican Kingdom (1794-1796). These are discussed in chapter 2 and chapter 4 of the thesis respectively. Both of these ‘events’ have been studied as being separate from each other and as confined to their respective periods of time. This thesis aims to link and to compare these two key developments for the first time, and to show that the Corsican crisis directly influenced the Anglo-Corsican constitution in 1794.Corsica was the largest European territory to be ruled by Britain during the eighteenth century. The Anglo-Corsican Kingdom provides a unique insight into how Britain might rule conquered territories in Europe. The thesis charts and explains Britain’s relations with Corsica against the background of the second hundred years war against France.”


  • 1740s – “The Lodge” originally constructed at Wellingham for Mr John Whitfield
  • November 1747, Nympha Americana wrecks on the coastline. Thomas Harben ‘the original’, noted as being a clock maker of Lewes, is widely credited with making a significant fortune from this – there is no evidence to suggest that he did.
  • Before 1760 – Mr Whitfield’s involvement in the illegal importation of Corsican Wine leads to him presenting the King (George the 2nd) some of his finest wine to escape legal consequences. He is successful and “The Lodge” becomes known as Corsica Hall. George 2nd’s reign was from 1727 to 1760.
  • 1766, Thomas Harben, ‘the original’ dies. He is not a wealthy man nor does he have any connection to Corsica Hall.
  • Before 1772, After the death of Mr Whitfield, Francis Scott, the fifth Lord Napier, purchases Corsica Hall.
  • May 1772, Lord Napier’s son inadvertently shoots dead Rev. Lowden (the Lord Napier’s domestic chaplain and private tutor) at Corsica Hall (widely reported at the time).
  • April 1773, Lord Napier dies and afterwards the family vacates Corsica Hall. The building became known as being haunted – “was invested by the ignorant and superstitious with an evil and unlucky character”.
  • 1773 – 1782, While Land Tax is paid it appears that the building is not tenanted
  • 1782, Land Tax records show, Thomas Harben, rent £60 occupied by himself
  • 1784, Corsica Hall no longer appears on Land Tax records – presumbably the relocation has started.
  • September 1785, A significant quaintity of Lead, stolen from Corsica Hall, is uncovered buried near the old site. This indicates that no other part of the structure remains at Wellingham.
  • September 1786, the Sussex Advertiser and Lewes Journal reported that ‘Last Friday Mr. Harben of this place gave an elegant dinner at his new house in Seaford.”
  • 15 Oct 1792, Mr Harben of Corsica Hall (now in Seaford), is noted as helping eight French clergymen on the coast – as mentioned in “An Historical and descriptive account of the coast of Sussex” by J D Parry.
  • Around 1812, “Corsica Hall, a plain brick mansion westward of the town, was lately the residence of Thomas Harben, Esq. by whom it was sold prior to the general election in 1812 to the Hon. Thomas Bowes, brother of the Earl of Strathmore.” page 157 of ‘The Beauties of England and Wales: or Original Delineations’ – vol 14, 1813.
  • Before 1822, described as “Corsica Hall, the residence of the Hon. Thomas Bowes, brother to the Earl of Strathmore, stands to the westward of the town, and was previously occupied by Thomas Harben, Esq. who sold it to the present proprietor. It is a brick mansion; and its exterior appearance, being deficient in every pretension to ornament, is totally unprepossessing.” in the 1822 edition of ‘Excursions in the county of Sussex’ – by T K Cromwell. (page 82)
  • 1823, Corsica Hall was purchased by John Fitzgerald and by 1824 had been largely demolished. A new building, named “The Lodge” built in its place. It is this new building which currently referred to as Corsica Hall.

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