SEAFORD, an urban district and watering-place in the Eastbourne parliamentary division of Sussex, England, 58 m. S. by E. from London by the London, Brighton & South Coast railway. Pop. (1901) 3355. In recent years there has been a considerable increase in the number of visitors. The climate is bracing, and the town is sheltered by high cliffs. There are golf links on the neighbouring downs. The church of St Leonard is Norman of various dates, but received large additions in the Perpendicular period. In former days the river Ouse entered the English Channel here, and the natural harbour so formed accounts for the origin of Seaford (Sefford, Safford, Seford), probably in Roman times. In the " Domesday of Cinque Ports " (which existed in the reign of Edward III., but was lost before 1728), it stood first among the members of Hastings, and was doubtless of considerable importance until about the end of the 14th century, when its rapid decline began owing to the constant alteration of the sea-coast and the decay of the harbour. In the 16th century the town was finally deserted by the Ouse, which now runs into the sea at Newhaven, 2 m. westward, and no revival of its prosperity occurred until the early 19th century, when it began to be frequented as a watering-place. Fishing has always been the chief industry.
Seaford is not mentioned in Domesday Book, but evidently pertained to the lordship of the 1st Earl Warenne and his descendants, who were succeeded in 1347 by the earls of Arundel. It was probably a mesne borough in the 12th century, growing up under the protection of the earls of Warenne, and was certainly called a borough in 1236. Bailiffs are mentioned in the 14th century, but the town was not incorporated until 1544, when notwithstanding its decayed condition Henry VIII. annexed it to Hastings by charter, and incorporated it under the title of bailiff and commonalty, presumably as a reward for assisting the head port to provide its proportion of ships to the crown. The corporation was dissolved by an act of 1883. The town returned two representatives to parliament from 1298 to 1399, and again from 1640 until 1832, when it was disfranchised. In the 13th century the earls of Warenne held a market or fair, or both, apparently by prescriptive right. In 1792 the fairdays were Whit-Monday and the loth of August, and the marketdays Wednesdays and Saturdays, but no market or fair now exists.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)