East Preston, Sussex

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Up to 1834

A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at Angmering (for up to 20 inmates), Littlehampton (20), Poleing (12), and Rustington (10).

On 22nd January, 1791, a union was formed under Gilbert's Act by the Sussex parishes of East Preston, Littlehampton, Ferring, Goring by Seas, and Burpham. Lyminster joined in 1793, followed by Amberley, Broadwater, Climping, Ford, Lancing, and Tortington in 1799. In 1803, Durrington, Houghton, West Tarring, and Wiggenholt were added, with Angmering, Poling, Rustington joining in 1806, bringing the total number to 19.

In 1792, a union workhouse was erected in East Preston at a cost of £1,059. The building was enlarged in 1806.

After 1834

Because of its Gilbert Union status, East Preston was largely immune from most of the provisions of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. The workhouse was enlarged in 1853 by the addition of a school-room and an infirmary. The Poor Law Commissioners made repeated efforts to bring about the dissolution of the union and to replace it by a Poor Law Union. However, this did not happen until 1869 when all remaining Gilbert Unions were finally abolished, including the nearby Sutton Incorporation. In the subsequent reorganisation of poor law administrative boundaries in the area, a new East Preston Poor Law Union was formally declared on 29th September 1869. It was administered by an elected Board of Guardians, 27 in number, representing its 23 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):

Sussex: Angmering, Arundel (2), Broadwater (3), Burpham, Clapham, Climping, Durrington, East Preston, Ferring, Ford, Goring, Heene, Houghton, Kingston, Leominster (2), Littlehampton, Patching, Poling, Rustington, South Stoke, Tortington, Warningcamp, West Tarring.
Later Additions: Wick (1901), Worthing (1894).

A new workhouse, with a T-shaped layout designed by GB Nichols, was built on the same site in 1872-3.

East Preston workhouse from the north, early 1900s.

The site location and layout can be seen on the 1910 map below.

East Preston workhouse site, 1910.

An infirmary and nurses' home were added at the south-east in 1906.

East Preston workhouse infirmary from the south-west, c.1910.
© Peter Higginbotham.

From 1904, to protect them from disadvantage in later life, the birth certificates for those born in the workhouse gave its address just as North View, East Preston.

In 1930, the workhouse site was taken over by Sussex County Council and subsequently the North View home. The building was demolished in 1969 and the site sold off for redevelopment. Soon afterwards, the Fairlands housing estate was erected.




Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

  • West Sussex Record Office, County Hall, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1RN. Holdings include: Guardians' minutes (1869-1930); Births (1792-1834, 1869-1951); Deaths (1870-1934); Relief lists (1820-48); etc.


  • Standing, R.W. (2000) East Preston Gilbert Union Workhouse 1791-1869


  • None.

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