An Eastbourne Gilbert Union was formed in about 1794. Eastbourne Poor Law Union was formed on 25th March 1835.
The master and his assistant resided in Twyne House and Twyne Cottage, while the inmates lived in a long building in the yard behind, now occupied by St James' Trust. The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 7,823 — with parishes ranging in size from Lullington (population 49) to Eastbourne itself (2,726).
The building, which was designed by SO Foden and Henman, cost £6,800 to construct and could accommodate 330 inmates.
Little Horkesley's parish workhouse was in an isolated location at the north side of what is still called Workhouse Lane, about a mile to the south of the village. The new workhouse was built in 1836 at the south side of the London Road in Stanway.
In 1775, the master received one shilling per week to feed and clothe each inmate. This layout was also employed by William Thorold for the Norfolk workhouses at Depwade and Walsingham.
An inventory taken in the same year included a workroom containing twenty spinning-wheels and four looms. However, the administration block at Lexden and Winstree was located between two of the radial wings, rather than being at the end of one.