Stars came down for the weekend

IN the winter of 1852, Alfred Tennyson with his wife and little son came from their Thames-side home (which seemed too damp for the baby's health) to live in Seaford House, Crouch Lane.

The couple had courted for 13 years and only married in 1850, the same year that Alfred was created Poet Laureate.

They fared little better here, and soon moved on.

In those days, Tennyson was celebrated only for his poetry, but in later life he wrote some drama, and thus he qualifies for this piece! Best known was his play Becket (1893) which, though not too highly acclaimed by critics and audiences, was for leading Victorian actor-manager Sir Henry Irving one of the greatest triumphs at his Lyceum theatre.

It was indeed the last role played by Irving: he died in Bradford in 1905 after a performance of the play.

The Seaford House the Tennysons knew was demolished and replaced in 1878-79 and replaced again (by the present building) exactly a century later.

A link with the glory days of musical comedy theatre was Mr WH ('Billy') Dawes, described by London theatre historian W Macqueen-Pope as 'one of the Gaiety Theatre's best and most popular managers'.

Upon retirement he and Mrs Dawes came to live at Barn Cottages, Sutton Corner. He served for two years on Seaford Urban District Council and was golf captain in the 19308.

Their only daughter Kathleen Ethel, Dowager Duchess of Manchester, lived at Ferryden, Green Walk. Sometime president of Seaford Flower Club, she died in March 1966 and is buried in the Alfriston Road cemetery.

In Bishopstone, a respected resident for many years was Mr WA Darlington, author and drama critic for the Daily Telegraph. He thought of himself as a commuter-in-reverse, making his train journeys to London for evening shows when most travellers were leaving the capital. He was also the author of a once-famous book Alf's Button, about a soldier those uniform buttons were made from Aladdin's lamp: he polished them and summoned up the genie! The book was made into a play that ran for 111 performances at the Prince's Theatre (now the Shaftesbury). Mr Darlington also wrote affectionately of the village where he made his home.

Daughter of the house at Little Hallands, Norton, in the 1920s/30s was actress and impressionist Elizabeth Pollock (Betty McConnell), whose guests for country weekends included Gerald du Maurier, Noel Coward, Gracie Fields and Daphne du Maurier.

Son of Dr and Mrs Andrews of Belgrave Road, actor Harry Andrews was on the very brink of stardom with the Old Vic at the outbreak of the Second World War. The years when he would otherwise have taken leading Shakespearean roles were spent in military service, and in later life he became widely known for his film work, notably Ice Cold in Alex, The Hill, Charge of the Light Brigade and Nicholas and Alexandra.

He lived for a time in the family home in Seaford.

Maurice Denham, descendant of the Crook family whose members dominated Seaford life in the second half of the 19th century, entertained many radio fans with his comic characterisations in ITMA, Much Binding in the Marsh and other favourite series 50 years ago. He appeared in many movies and television plays, co-starring several times with Harry Andrews - Nicholas and Alexandra and All Passion Spent (with Wendy Hiller on television).

I have often wondered if the two gentlemen ever got together to reminisce about Seaford.