By Caroline Ansell, Eastbourne MP
I was fortunate enough to be shown round the truly stunning Compton Place, Eastbourne’s only grade 1 listed building.
 
It’s truly spectacular and somewhat of a hidden gem. Very nearly 300 years old, it was commissioned by former Prime Minster Sir Spencer Compton in 1724 and has played host to a long list of royalty over the centuries. 
 
King George V spent several weeks convalescing here prior to his death, and I saw the room where Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth (our late Queen) stayed when they holidayed in Eastbourne in 1946.
 
Still owned by the Duke of Devonshire, it has been used since 1954 to host huge numbers of foreign language students coming to Eastbourne to learn England’s greatest export, the English language!
 
There was of course a serious side to this visit as I also had the opportunity to sit down with the Twin Language Schools operations team and speak with them about the challenges their business faces going forwards.
 
I have always championed our town’s tourism industry, which contributes hundreds of millions to the local economy and sustains nearly 30% of jobs and I recognize the crucial role that Language Schools play. Unfortunately, the pandemic had a significant impact on their business, as well as on the broader language student sector.
 
While it was heartening to hear from Twin that much of this trade has now resumed, the availability of host families in the area has yet to recover. So many people who once were willing hosts have repurposed that spare bedroom into a home office or very admirably offered it out to Ukrainian refugees.
 
However, if you have an interested in hosting an international student, Twin would be delighted to hear from you. Learn more here
 
Additionally, our meeting with Twin raised some important questions about government funding formulas, which I’ll be taking up with my colleagues in Westminster next week.