Almshouses, Newcastle Road, Seaforde, Co Down

Seaforde Almshouses before restorationCentral porch in 1978
Seaforde Almshouses after restoration
Almshouses from Newcastle Road

Seaforde village is clustered round the Parish Church of 1720 and the demesne walls of Seaforde House. The Almshouses were built in 1828 by Colonel Forde (as a red sand-stone plaque in the gable of the central house records), and were intended to house six elderly people and the village courthouse. They are built in a Regency Tudor style, of rendered rubble stone, with sturdy granite plinths, window labels, cills, and chimneys.

By 1970 much of the village was in a state of 'picturesque decay' with the courthouse (now houses 4 and 5) vacant, and the Almshouses mostly uninhabited. The Forde family agreed to sell the property to Hearth, which proposed to restore the houses for resale, and in 1977 the courthouse became two houses. However they were not sold on, but used to accommodate two of the remaining Almshouse residents, and the rest of the terrace was restored as rental housing. The original almshouses were tiny, each consisting of two small rooms and an outside toilet. Each pair of houses was combined to form one present house, one door in each porch being converted to a window, and new kitchen and bathroom extensions were added to the rear. A pyramidal sheeted ceiling in the former courthouse was retained in the living rooms of house nos. 4 and 5, and the granite fire surrounds of the original Almshouses were also kept.

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6-12, 16 and 18 Main Street, Seaforde, Co Down

Main Street Seaforde before restoration1979 Main Street Seaforde in 1984The former forge doors can still be seen

The estate worker's houses in Main Street appear to have been thatched cottages at one time, but were rebuilt by the Forde family about 1840 with slate roofs, tall Jacobethan chimney stacks and mullioned casement windows, as eight small houses, a smithy and a store. By 1970, the smithy was virtually roofless, and most of the houses vacant. The last tenants were rehoused in the Almshouses.

Although the front elevation was not altered substantially, the archways of the former smithy and store were adapted to accommodate conventional house doors, and since the old houses have been combined two-into-one, some door openings have been converted to windows. At the back, new gables were added to provide headroom over staircases, and the old windows were inward-opening casements which were altered to a better weathering outward-opening detail.

Hearth Housing Association
Architect: Edward Bell, Lisburn.
Main Contractor: Hugh J O'Boyle, Downpatrick
QS: McCarthy Lilburn & Partners (Almshouses); Roe Stevenson & Sons (Main Street)
Restored: 1979-80 (Almshouses); 1983-84 (Main Street)
Note: The courthouse was earlier converted by the National Trust, with loans from the Pilgrim Trust.

Funded by Housing Association Grant
Accommodation: Five two-bedroom houses; six three-bedroom houses.

Read all about a Victorian murder in Seaforde

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