My Favourite History Place - Sackville College, East Grinstead


By Caroline Metcalfe, published 12th April 2014

Sackville College almshouse in East Grinstead, Sussex, was founded in 1609, by Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl of Dorset, when he wrote his will. He died 17 days later without seeing one stone laid, yet the College still stands, providing affordable accommodation for local elderly people of limited means. It is a Grade I listed building and stands as an architectural jewel at the end of a High Street that  also boasts fifteenth-century and Tudor houses. The almshouse residents now have attractive flats with their own front door, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, which are a far cry from the daily bucket of well water and communal privy enjoyed by their predecessors.

The founder wanted his ‘hospital' or ‘college' to be called Sackville College, by which he meant a gathering of people for a common purpose, not a school. His son, Richard, 3rd Earl of Dorset, left vast debts, sold lands intended to endow the college and took ten years to build it, so its survival is remarkable...

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