Our Church History
The church was built in 1895 , but not registered formally as a place of worship until 10 years later.
Peacehaven and Seaford Churches had yet to be built , so Sacred Heart was the main place of Catholic worship in the area. At that time, it was part of Southwark Diocese, as Arundel and Brighton Diocese did not exist until May 1965.
Mass was celebrated by a priest of the Augustinian Assumptionists who travelled down from Charlton in South East London each weekend. The convent on Church Hill was run by the sisters of The Immaculate Heart of Mary , which was also a girls boarding school .
Sacred Heart Church therefore , played a central and important role in the local community , with a healthy population of Catholics attending regularly . Although the convent had its own chapel , Sundays and holy days celebrations were always held at The Sacred Heart Parish. The Parish Archives have wonderful photographs of First Holy Communicants , and other well attended events processing down the street to fill the pews of Sacred Heart.
During World War 2, the town suffered from heavy bombing with many bulidings being damaged . This included both the church and the convent . The nuns were forced to evacuate along with the girls who were boarding at the time. They were not to return , and after the war , the chapel was used as a library for the town.
1904 saw the building of Annecy Catholic Primary School and chapel in Seaford.
In 1950 after much fundraising , a parish hall was finally built adjacent to the church . This was put to great use for social life, bazzars , dances and concerts contributing to the joy of parish life. It was also used temporarily for celebrating mass during the building of an extension to the church.
Sacred Heart Church now finally debt free , was consecrated on 6th June 1975 by Cardinal Heenan. Five priests and a deacon concelebrated with the Cardinal for this very special and sacred ceremony. The relics of two saint were placed in the altar as is the custom. The relics of Saint Victor and Saint Catherine of Sienna, had been recovered from Southwark Cathedral when it was blitzed in 1941.
Saint Victor 1 was by birth African. He became Pope in 189AD, and is principally remembered for imposing a unified date for Easter on the whole Church. His action is one of the earliest recorded exercises of the Papal Prerogative. He was martyred in 198AD
Saint Catherine was born at Sienna in 1347, and entered a Dominican convent while comparatively young. She brought peace and harmony between her fellow citizens, and fought for the rights and liberties of the Papacy. Her spiritual writings have made her one of the very few women “ Doctors of the Church “. She died in 1380.
During the First World War , a French ship the SS Maine, was sunk off the coast of Newhaven whilst carrying supplies between England and France. The Captain and crew were lost , with the exception of a single survivor. The drowned sailors were Catholics from Dieppe, and so it was appropriate that the memorial to this tragedy be associated with Sacred Heart Church.
In March 1918 a stone plaque bearing the names of the lost souls was dedicated and installed on the outside wall of the church facing the road where it can be clearly seen .
Time and weather took its toll, and in November 2017, marking the centenary of the disaster, the plaque was repaired , restored, and once again took centre stage in a rededication service attended by the Lord Leutenant , the Mayor and other local dignitaries.