Curiosity on the Beach: Seaford Museum, The Martello Tower, East Sussex

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A few weeks ago my husband had to work on a Sunday. It was sort of sunny, but sort of cloudy and, by the time my sons and I reached Seaford beach, really really windy.

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I’ve given Seaford quite a bit of airtime lately, with is nice, child-friendly eating experiences at The Front Room and Frankie’s Beach Café. But there are great things out of sight here too.

We’ve been to this beach so many times and chased each other on bikes, scooters and foot around The Martello Tower. But did you that beneath this low-level disc, topped with a canon, is a winding staircase that leads to a treasure trove of curiosities?

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If you’ve read my post about Newhaven Fort, you’ll know how I love a mannequin, and beneath the Martello Tower are several. When you enter this totally unpressured environment, you’re handed – for the modest price of a £2 adult (and £1 child) ticket – an activity sheet, which encourages your kids to look for small toy owls ‘hidden’ all over the exhibits in the depths below.

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It’s a nice touch, but in truth there are enough talking points in Seaford Museum that you’ll hardly have to drag them around it. We looked at a room full of vintage gramophones, radios and record players (which my children literally did not comprehend); old computers; stacks of retro hoovers; a full ‘working’ general store, with dummy shopkeepers that ‘speak’ when you cross the threshold; an old toy shop; and even a cryptic little activity where they had to put plugs into sockets – not sure about this from a health and safety/encouraging play with electrics point of view, but I went with it anyway!

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There was an old cinema, a Victorian school room, a wartime kitchen, a cabinet of fine lace gloves, and a collection of old mugs celebrating various royals and their unions. A ship’s bust, an old waxwork fisherman, a miniature steam railway (of Seaford in 1926!), a penny-farthing and a big gypsy caravan. Yes really – all under that tower! (I really want to know how they got it all in there).

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The kids area – which also didn’t really need to exist – was a striplit walk-in cupboard housing a frightening looking doll up on a high shelf in some strange specs; a whole papiermaché town of pieces to set up; and a rail of odds and sods of dressing up stuff. We didn’t spend too long in there as my boys were happier just nosying around the collection.

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We passed probably an hour or more in the depths of the tower – with plenty to see and talk about. There were no interactive screens or activities laid on. And I really liked it for that. Everything’s so whizzy these days, I think museums like this, which can really start conversations and are perfect for a mooch, are precious.

I also love to combine the beach with some museum time – we’re so lucky with that on our coastline. There’s the De la Warr in Bexhill, the Towner in Eastbourne, the Jerwood in Hastings, aforementioned Newhaven Fort, and of course the museums in Brighton and Hove.

London, who needs it? 

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HISTORY

Seaford Museum is housed in Martello Tower number 74, at the eastern end of Seaford Beach. It is 5,000 square feet of space, and has a cannon on its roof and a covered dry moat.

The museum documents Seaford’s history from its days as a Cinque Port, as well as all the randomness I’ve described above. There’s also some information about shipwrecks in the area (so interesting!) and recent sea defence work.

Seaford’s Martello Tower, Newhaven Fort and The Redoubt Fortress in Eastbourne have joined forces and are now known as the Sussex Coastal Forts partnership.

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THE ESSENTIALS

Drive: 20 minutes
Train: Twice hourly, 18 mins
Address: The Esplanade, BN25 1JH
Website: seafordmuseum.co.uk
Tel no.: 01323 898 222
Open: Summer, Sun and Bank Hols: 11am-4pm; Wed and Sat 2-6pm. Winter, Sun and Bank Hols: 11am-4pm
Price: Adults, £2; Children, £1; Concessions, £1.50

Disclosure: My children and I visited the Seaford Museum independently. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or accepted for the writing of this post. 

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

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