18 George Street, Hailsham, East Sussex

Built in 1793, for John Bristow (1718-1803) when it was known as the "New House/Newhouse". In the same year that Bristow died a barracks was built in Hailsham to place troops on standby lest Napoleon invade. From 1804, the house was leased by the Barrack Master, Lt.-Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt (1739-1814) who took up residence here with his wife Catherine Ogden (1746-1828). The Colonel was a member of one of the most prominent landowning families in New York who had sided with the British during the American Revolution and made his way to Hailsham via Nova Scotia....

This house is best associated with...

Philip Van Cortlandt

Lt.-Colonel Philip Van Cortlandt, of Cortlandt House, Hailsham, Sussex


Catherine (Ogden) Van Cortlandt

Mrs Catherine (Ogden) Van Cortlandt


Colonel Van Cortlandt died here on the 1st May, 1814, and his widow, Catherine, promptly moved to Guernsey where she took up residence with her younger daughter, Gertrude, who was then married to Sir Edward Buller, an officer in the Royal Navy. The Van Cortlandt's elder child, Catherine, was the mother-in-law of Clement Clarke Moore of Chelsea House in Manhattan who is commonly believed to have been the author of the yuletide classic, "Twas' the Night Before Christmas". After the Colonel died the remaining contents of the house were disposed of at auction on 2nd June and the house itself was presumably sold at about the same time or after Buller's death in 1825 when Catherine and Gertrude moved to Torquay. Either way, by 1828 it was home to William Slye (1791-1865) who was blind and lived here with the assistance of his three unmarried sisters. 

After Slye died in 1865 the contents of the house were put up for auction. An art dealer from Eastbourne bought a miscellaneous lot for a few shillings which included "a dull little picture" that was sold on for a small profit to another gentleman. The gentleman in question had the picture cleaned revealing an old Dutch painting (almost certainly a relic from the Colonel's possessions) estimated to be worth in excess of £150.

It continued to be known as "New House/Newhouse" until it was purchased after the death of the longest-living Slye spinster in 1881 by William Strickland (1837-1918) J.P., a partner in Strickland Brothers (founded by his grandfather), coal, seed and coal merchants. He added two new wings and renamed it "Cortlandt" in honour of the Loyalist Colonel. Strickland lived here until his death in 1918 when he willed the house to his widow on the condition that she did not remarry. She remained here alone until her death in 1932 when "Cortlandt" was purchased by the Hailsham Rural District Council and converted into offices. It was listed Grade II in 1966 and Hailsham continued to share the offices with Wealden District Council up until 1982. It's now home to Elsbys Solicitors.

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 03/04/2019 and last updated on 14/09/2022.


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Alice Rees's ancestor, Philip Van Cortlandt, owned Cortlandt