Sackville College is now closed for the season. Groups can visit by appointment.
The College is built of Sussex sandstone around a quadrangle and contains large mullioned windows and four exquisite old doorways, the northern one of which bears the Dorset Coat of Arms. These almshouses are a splendid example of Jacobean architecture.
Visitors to Sackville College enter a building that is nearly 400 years old.
The College’s connection with the Sackville family goes back to the year 1609 and the will of Robert Sackville, Earl of Dorset. This provided a sum of money with which to buy land and “build a convenient house of brick and stone” to be used as an almshouse. For many years the College had a second use, too: providing overnight accommodation for the Sackville family as they journeyed to and from their estates in Sussex.
The heads of the Sackville family have been Patrons of the College through its history. The present Patron is the 11th Earl De La Warr .
The vistors are shown the Common room where residents used to cook meals, the Great Hall with its Minstrels’ Gallery and hammer beam roof, the Chapel with its carved door and the study. This is where the Victorian hymnologist, the Revd. Dr. John Mason Neale, Warden 1846-1866 wrote many well-known hymns and carols, including “Good King Wenceslas” and “Jerusalem the Golden”. Dr. Neale, who died here in 1866 after twenty years as Warden, also founded the first Anglican sisterhood, the Society of St. Margaret, and was one of the leading figures in the Oxford movement, which endeavoured to revitalise High Church institutions.
Today the College Warden lives in part of the wing that once served the Sackville family.The College still provides affordable accommodation, now modernized and comfortable, for elderly people. They each have their own flats and the use of the common room and the chapel behind the walls of a perfectly preserved quadrangle.
The College is a charitable foundation which operates according to an act of Parliament of 1624 and a Royal Charter of 1631.