Almshouses, Newcastle Road, Seaforde, Co Down
Central porch in 1978
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
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.
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