History of rotten borough of Seaford explored in talk

A LOCAL historian and parliamentary guide will tell the story of Rotten Seaford in celebration of Parliament Week (October 31 to November 6).

Kevin Gordon will reveal the politics of Seaford, including the Cinque Port Corporation, the town council, Geoffrey Cuckoo MP and Norman Baker MP.

The talk will be staged at Seaford Little Theatre on Friday November 4 and is being organised by Seaford Museum and Heritage Society.

Kevin, who is also a Sussex Express columnist, said: “The small seaside town of Seaford in Sussex sandwiched between Brighton and Eastbourne maybe something of a quiet backwater today, described in Private Eye in June 2011 as a “run-down seaside resort,” but it certainly had a lively political past.

“In the 13th Century, Seaford was a Cinque Port and thus entitled to return two Members of Parliament.

“By the eighteenth century this fact was exploited by local landowners such as the Pelham Family who used their influence to ensure that only their favoured candidates were elected. Seaford became a “Rotten Borough” where, to be elected, you simply needed enough money to bribe the electorate. In those days you were only entitled to vote if you paid local taxes so the local council assisted the gentry by declining to accept taxes from political opponents.

“This led to all manner of shenanigans and on more than one occasion their were even riots on election day. This did not prevent many interesting characters being elected, including a dwarf, a naval hero and no less than three Prime Ministers.”

Visit www.parliamentweek.org and visit www.seafordmuseum.co.uk.