Laughton Manor was originally built between 1760-1780. It is not known how much of the original building remains. During the 1840s, it was purchased by Sir James Duke Bart, Lord Mayor and Sheriff of London and High Sheriff for the County of Sussex. Sir James Duke was a close friend of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He was particularly fond of one of their residences know as Osbourne House (where Queen Victoria died) and he discussed it with Prince Albert and arranged his home to be built with great similarity. The exterior was built in Italian style with rendered external elevations and an impressive Italianate tower, with the top room being quadruple aspect giving wide ranging views of the countryside. One of the reasons Sir James had purchased Laughton was that a railway station had just been built in Lewes, but mostly for its beauty. The Duke's family remained at Laughton for nearly seventy years and some are buried at Laughton parish church. It was sold in 1911 by Sir James Duke Second. It was privately owned until 1930 when it was later purchased by the Ministry of Health to be used as offices until its sale in the 1990s when it was completely modernised and restored almost to its former glory.
Below is an an extract from the nearby Laughton parish:
Sir James Duke Baronet who was born at Montrose, 1792, and died at Laughton, May 28th 1873. In early life, he served in the Civil Department of the Royal Navy, under Lord Exmouth, in the Mediterranean, and was Secretary to Sir John Gore. From the year 1819, he was closely connected with the City of London. In 1836, he was Sheriff of London and Middlesex. In 1848-9, he was Lord Mayor of London, and from 1837-1849, until his retirement in 1865, he represented London in Parliament. He was deputy Lieutenant for Middlesex and Lincolnshire, and a Magistrate for Sussex. President of the Hon. Artillery comp. and a Chevalier of the Region of Honour. He was High Sheriff of Sussex in 1872. From his high honour and zeal in the performance of his various public duties, he was universally beloved and respected; and in his home he was a most devoted husband and loving father.