Beauport Park

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Beauport Park is a house near Hastings, East Sussex, England. It is located at the western end of the ridge of hills sheltering Hastings from the north and east.

Roman occupation[edit]

In 1862[1] the Rector of Hollington Church found a huge slag heap on the site, evidence of probably the third largest iron works in the whole Roman empire.[2] In 1967 Gerald Brodribb, using divining rods,[3] and Dr Henry Cleere, an expert on ancient iron-working, began work that uncovered an impressively preserved bath house that was saved during the development of the golf course.[2] It was fully excavated in the early 1970s. Although it was scheduled as an Ancient Monument, at present it has no public access. Excavations in 1980 around the bath-house produced post-holes which seem to form part of a pre-Roman roundhouse.[4]

Early history[edit]

The first mention of Beauport Park is when General Sir James Murray is shown on local records as paying rates on some woodland.[5] He built the house between 1763 and 1766,[5] subsequently adding to the estate until it comprised about 5,000 acres (20 km2). Murray, who had served in Canada, named the estate after Beauport in Canada.[5] It was Murray who started the tradition of planting rare and unusual trees on the estate.[5]

Following Murray's death in 1794, Beauport Park was then purchased by James Bland Burgess who served as Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to William Pitt.[5] An obelisk which stands opposite the front of the hotel is in memory of James Burgess' second son, Ensign Wentworth Noel Burgess, who was killed in 1812 in the Peninsular War, aged 18, whilst leading an assault on the citadel of Burgos in Northern Spain. In 1821, James and his eldest son Charles changed their name to Lamb in honour of John Lamb, a benefactor of theirs.[5] An Ionic temple was built on the estate together with two life-size memorials which still remain.[5]

By 1860, the estate was owned by Sir Charles Lamb's son, Archibald, who leased the house to Thomas Brassey, a leading railway engineer of his day.[5] After Thomas Brassey died in 1870 the lease was inherited by his son who later became Lord Brassey.[5]

Recent history[edit]

In 1923 a fire broke out and despite efforts by firemen from Battle and Hastings taking water from nearby ponds, the fire spread rapidly and the entire building was gutted.[5] The house was rebuilt in 1926.[5]

Little is known about the house during the period that follows its reconstruction in 1926 up until the World War II but at the beginning of the war an underground citadel, consisting of tunnels and chambers, was built by the Canadians and was intended as a hiding place for a secret resistance army which would have fought behind the German lines following the expected invasion of Britain.[5] After the war, the house became a hotel.[5]

In 1983 the hotel was bought by Ken Melsom, David Robinson and Helena Melsom [6] and in 2005 Duncan Bannatyne opened a health club on the estate: Bannatyne went on to buy the hotel as well in 2007.[7]

The Beauport Park Archaeological Trust was formed in 1996.[1][2] In 1999 it was the subject of a Time Team dig. [8] In 2007 the baths, set in five acres, were put on the market at £300,000 by Colin Henshaw of "Wild England".[9] As of 2013 it is a Scheduled Monument at Risk and its condition was described by English Heritage as "Extensive significant problems" with "Deterioration - in need of management".[10]

The estate now comprises the hotel, the health club, a riding school, a caravan park, a 186-acre (0.75 km2) golf course and 164 acres (0.66 km2) of surrounding woodland.[5]


  1. ^ a b Brodribb, Gerald (1979). "A Survey of Tile from the Roman Bath House at Beauport Park, Battle, E. Sussex". Britannia. Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies / JSTOR. 10: 139–156. doi:10.2307/526050. JSTOR 526050.
  2. ^ a b c "Beauport Park, East Sussex". OpenLearn. Open University. 22 June 2006. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  3. ^ "Arthur Gerald Norcott Brodribb, M.A., Ph.D Obituary". Society of Antiquaries of London. Archived from the original on 11 August 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Beauport Park". Wealden Iron Research Group Data Site. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Beauport Park – General Description (archive, 2010), Wild England Project
  6. ^ Historic Sussex hotel carries £4m price tag Caterer search, 26 October 2006
  7. ^ Health club operator buys hotel next door in Sussex Caterer Search, 26 July 2007
  8. ^ "Beauport Park, East Sussex". Time Team. Channel 4. 14 February 1999. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Roman baths on sale for £300,000". BBC News. 27 Sep 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Romano-British iron working site in Beauport Park, Battle, Rother, East Sussex". English Heritage. Archived from the original on 11 August 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.

Coordinates: 50°53′37.1″N 0°32′32.1″E / 50.893639°N 0.542250°E / 50.893639; 0.542250