The College has been a functioning almshouse for almost 400 years, built with a bequest from the will of Robert Sackville, Earl of Dorset. His will provided money to buy land and ‘build a convenient house of brick and stone’ to be used as an almshouse. For many years part of the house was also used to provide overnight accommodation for the Sackville family as they journeyed to and from their estates. The college which is a charitable foundation operating according to an Act of Parliament (1624) and a Royal Charter (1631) continues to provide accommodation for the elderly.
The College is a magnificent building built of Sussex sandstone around a beautiful quadrangle. Its chapel and communal rooms are still used by the residents for the purpose they were originally built. Inside, visitors can see many interesting artefacts including those in the study of Dr John Mason Neale, warden 1846 – 1866, where he wrote many books and the carols ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and ‘Jerusalem the Golden’.
In the main hall there is a famous wooden chair in which King Charles II sat as did Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (who famously said ‘and now a Queen has sat here’) – and in June 2014 HRH The Princess Royal while in East Grinstead to unveil the statue of Sir Archibald McIndoe, the world renowned pioneering plastic surgeon which stands outside the college, sat in the chair further extending its fame.
The College is open to the public from mid-June to mid-September between 1400 and 1700, last admission 16:15 from Wednesday to Sunday. Admission during 2015 is £4.00 for adults and £1.00 for children, which includes a personal guided tour. Groups can also make appointments throughout the year with refreshments if desired.
To arrange a group tour please telephone the Almoner weekday mornings on 01342 323414.
For further information go to: www.sackvillecollege.org.uk