History - St. Thomas More

Up to 1939


At the turn of the century, Seaford was a rural part of England and as the church records tell us there were less than six Catholics in Seaford. It must have seemed an answer to their prayers when Bishop Francis Bourne, of the Diocese of Southwark, built a holiday home which he named Annecy after the home of his patron St.Francis de Sales. A Chapel was added shortly afterwards, dedicated to St.Francis. When the Bishop was transferred to Westminster, the Sisters of Providence bought the house and in 1903 established a Convent, and there the seed was sown for future generations of Catholics in Seaford.

To begin with, the French Augustinian fathers of Newhaven became chaplains to the sisters and offered daily Mass in the Chapel. Mass was also celebrated, at the time of the First World War, in another part of Seaford where the Seven Sisters pub is now. A wooden hut stood on this site which was used by off duty soldiers from the camps established in Seaford as a type of social club. On Sundays part of the hut was cordoned off and Mass was celebrated. Many of the troops were Canadian and during their stay in Seaford there was a flu epidemic and as a result many of them died. There is a large memorial cross and there are many war graves at Seaford cemetery. It is quite sad when you read how young some of them were so far from their homeland.

In 1927 Fr. Berchmans, who came by train from Newhaven each day, died suddenly in Seaford and is buried in Seaford cemetery near the Annecy sisters' community grave. The Bishop appointed as first parish priest of Seaford Fr. Reginald Webb who had been a curate at Brighton. By now the Catholic population was about 100 and becoming too big for the Convent Chapel, so it was necessary to transfer to the larger hall at Annecy School which the sisters had established. This was another historical event in our parish history, and, in time, proved invaluable.