The Hermitage

The Hermitage stands in Manor Gardens.

It is a Listed Building of

Special Architectural and Historic Interest.

The exact date of constructions has never been

discovered. However the materials and detailing

suggest the last half of the 18th century.



Please click below for further history of Oldtown, Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park

It was the Reverend Henry Lushington who in 1770 purchased “pleasure grounds” and “garden” from Mr Mortimer and Mr Thomas Smith respectively, to build himself a mansion house (now the Towner Art Gallery and Local History Museum). The house was built shortly before 1777. It is possible that The Hermitage existed before Reverend Lushington purchased the holdings, however it is more probable that he had The Hermitage constructed at the same time as his mansion house.


Reverend Lushington died in 1779 and the house passed to his third son, Stephen. It was subsequently purchased by Charles Gilbert in 1792, who, five years later, inherited the Lordship for the sub-manor of Eastbourne-Gildredge. The house became The Manor House in 1845 when John Davies Gilbert became Lord of the Manor of Eastbourne and was converted to an art gallery to the house the bequest of pictures from Alderman Tower in 1923.


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The Hermitage is a typical product of the romantic trend in 18th century landscape garden design. A hermitage was a common feature of estate gardens – some were built as rocky caves, others as rustic huts made of irregular tree branches and thatched roofs and others were more formal compositions with historical architectural styles such as Gothic, Chinese, Indian and Classical. The larger estates often paid “hermits” to sit in the hermitages to add effect, while others of lesser means used dummies.

Usually hermitages were built on prominent positions within a designed naturalistic landscape setting often with a good view.


The Hermitage at Manor Gardens was constructed in a prominent position with views across Southfields, South Street and Sea Houses to the sea. The first visual record of the building appears in a series of early 19th century drawings (c1800-10) by T. Poppleton (a photograph of which can be seen in the Towner Art Gallery and Local History Museum).


Please click below for further history of Oldtown, Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park



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The Hermitage - Description


© Friends of Manor Gardens & Gildredge Park 2011 - 2013 Designed by Kirsten Hepburn


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