Gildredge Manor – Our History

Gildredge Manor in Eastbourne hasn’t always been used for Manor House weddings!
There is so much to the Manor’s wonderful history as we’ve been finding out about. Scroll down to see what we know …

Gildredge Manor is one of Eastbourne’s (and dare we say Sussex’s) most prestigious Grade II listed buildings. It is a privilege to own it and be its custodians for generations to come.

We took on the house in 2011 after it had sadly stood empty and neglected for six years. During this time, extensive lead theft from the roofs meant water ingress in many parts of the building and therefore a gradual rot, and in some places virtual collapse of some of the structures.

It is fair to say the place was a dim, depressing and derelict wreck. However, we could see the beauty within! After much spilled blood, sweat and tears (not least by our bank manager!), we’re very proud of what we have achieved – and in a relatively short space of time.

There is still some way to go and of course this house needs constant investment. By having your Manor house wedding, celebration, wake or corporate event at Gildredge Manor, you will be making a direct contribution to saving a nationally important historic building. Gildredge Manor is much-loved by locals and of great importance to the Eastbourne area.

We have recently produced a presentation with the before and after shots of the restoration, which you can view here.

The History of Gildredge Manor

Gildredge Manor (formerly known as The Manor House, the Gilbert/Gildredge Manor House and more recently the (old) Towner Art Gallery and Museum) was originally built by the Reverend Dr. Henry Lushington (the vicar of Eastbourne) in 1776 on the site of a former inn.

The original building is of the late Georgian period (during the reign of King George III). And although the architect is unknown, it has similarities with buildings designed by Sir Robert Taylor (1714–1788). It has a connection to the famous Adam brothers with some typical Adam features in the house as well as a Hermitage in the adjoining Manor Gardens known as the Adam House.

The view by S. Grimm shows the house in 1785. A description of 1787 stated that it was “the best house and gardens in this village and most delightfully situated, both for land and sea prospects”.

Reverend Lushington’s son Stephen sold it to a relation Charles Gilbert in 1792 and it remained in the family (later the Davies-Gilberts) until 1922. There was also a connection by marriage to a member of the Gildredge family, who were landowners of much of Eastbourne hence the link to Gildredge Park.

In 1922 the family decided to sell the house by auction and it was eventually bought by the town and turned into an art gallery (and later also a museum). It was under their ownership for over 80 years until the end of 2005, when the Council sold it on to a private developer. The building ended up standing empty for 6 years and fell into dereliction.

Mark and Emma (current owners) bought it in 2011 and set about restoring it to its former glory and opening it back up to visitors and the community for a wide range of uses including education, the arts, Manor house weddings and celebratory occasions.

The house includes some fine original features including the main staircase, door cases, panelled doors and ceiling cornices.

Historic Timeline


Henry Lushington buys grounds.


black and white drawing of gildredge manor

New house built for Henry Lushington (Vicar of Eastbourne 1734-1779 also Vicar of Bexhill 1757). Married twice – both wives called Mary. Second wife was the daughter of Nicholas Gilbert (married her in 1777).


Henry Lushington died and left house to third son, Stephen (Baronet 1791 – third son of first wife, Chairman of East India Company). His brother (also called Henry), survived the Black Hole of Calcutta but died in Patua in 1763.


Sir Stephen Lushington sells house to step-uncle, Charles Gilbert (1736- 1816), son of Nicholas Gilbert, whose eldest daughter was Dr. Lushington’s first wife (Mary).


Charles Gilbert becomes Lord of Manor when elder brother dies. Also inherits Old Gildredge Manor House. The Towner building becomes The Manor House.


Charles Gilbert dies childless. House left to his sister, Suzanna, who dies that year.


House passes to his niece, Mary Ann Giddy (nee Gilbert), (daughter of his brother, Thomas, d. 1782), who had married Davies Giddy, M.P. of Cornwall in 1808. Under terms of Charles Gilbert’s will they changed their surname to Gilbert.


Wing built on East Elevation by Davies Gilbert


Davies Gilbert dies – Estate passes to grandson, John Davies Gilbert.


John Davies Gilbert dies. Leaves house to son, Carew Davies Gilbert.


Carew Davies Gilbert sets out Gilbert Estate with Nicholas Whitley.


Billiard room built.


House sold to Eastbourne Council for £19,000 for use as an art gallery. Converted to The Towner Art Gallery with help of John Towner’s Bequest (£6,000).


The Towner Art Gallery exhibited many famous artists including David Hockney, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore and Eric Ravilious. Many famous visitors including a surprise visit by Queen Mary.


House used as an emergency canteen and air raid shelter during the War.


image of gildredge manor in disrepair

House sold by Eastbourne Borough Council to private developers who were unable to proceed with their plans.


image of room refurbishing

House bought by Mark Hellicar and Emma Chamberlain for the purposes of using it is as a home, language school and private hire venue. House renamed “Gildredge Manor”. Restoration begins.

Present Day

Present Day

Lovingly restored to it’s former glamour and luxury, making it one of the area’s most exclusive venues for weddings, celebrations and more!

We’d Love to Hear From You …

Please do get in touch with our friendly team to discuss your requirements. Whether you’re looking for the perfect wedding venue, or a classy and flexible space for a corporate event, celebration or wake, we’d love to help.


Gildredge Manor
11 Borough Lane,
East Sussex, BN20 8BB

Tel: 01323 438 944
Email: info@gildredgemanor.co.uk