Mid Sussex District Council
Tel Enquiries: 01444 458166
ALBOURNE, with a population of about 600, is
situated in the low Weald of Mid Sussex, just north of the South
Downs, and is an area of great natural beauty. The village gets
its name from an alder-lined stream, which runs through - ‘Al’
from alder and ‘bourne’ meaning a small stream. It is
rich in listed buildings dating from the 15th Century, with the
Norman church of St. Bartholomew in the heart of the village’s
Woodbine Cottage stands next to the site of James Starley’s house (which was demolished when the road was widened). James Starley was a pioneer maker and inventor of early bicycles, whose success brought prosperity to Coventry.
About one mile from the village is Albourne Place. This large mid-17th century former manor house, re-built by John Juxon, is where his brother, William Juxon, later Archbishop of Canterbury, is said to have escaped Cromwell’s men by posing as a builder.
The county primary school is host to children from Albourne and the surrounding villages. There is a large agricultural shop, an equestrian centre, and a well-maintained modern village hall available for community use. A thriving country club, Wickwoods, in Truslers Hill Lane exists in this part of the parish, and the popular Singing Hills Golf Club attracts players from far afield.
ANSTY is a small hamlet near Haywards Heath. The village sign, situated at the Ansty Cross, was painted by the renowned local artist James Forsyth. Ansty possesses its share of old houses, Leigh Manor was built in 1550 and The Ancient Farm dates from the 1400s. The Ansty Cross public house was built on the site of an old coaching inn.
ARDINGLY is a parish of attractive wooded scenery in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village sign was erected as a memorial to Viscountess Wolseley, and marks the site of the original tollgate. St Peter’s Church built around 1300, has a large tower and a well-timbered south porch. Inside there is an effigy of a priest in vestments, five good brasses and some ancient stairs.
The village has enjoyed success in the Village of the Year competition, and has been recognised for its diversity of community activities. There are three public houses, two of which date from the 17th century, and a number of village shops.
Ardingly is home to Wakehurst Place, which has been described as one of the most beautiful gardens in England and is known as ‘Kew in the country’. The Millennium Seed Bank, an international seed conservation project is also sited here.
The village is also home to the South of England Showground; Ardingly College, a public school noted for its academic and sporting achievements and Ardingly Reservoir with its water sports activity centre.
ASHURST WOOD is situated on a prominent ridge to the south east of East Grinstead and close to the East Sussex, Kent and Surrey boundaries. Boasting good views to the north, south and east across the High Weald, it has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village has largely developed since the mid 19th century, although there are some buildings that are much older.
It is well served with local shops, a post office, two public houses, village community centre, recreation ground with football and cricket pitches and play equipment. There is also an open space with pavilion, play area and two tennis courts.
BALCOMBE is noted for its beautiful woods, lake, millpond and reservoir. The farms, mainly dairy, are as well tended as the forested areas. A network of footpaths is dotted around the parish, which are particularly spectacular in spring and autumn.
There are fifty-five listed buildings in Balcombe, including the Parish Church of St Mary, with its 15th century tower and recent lych gate. Also worth a mention are the many timber-framed buildings, fine stone and later brick houses and the famous Balcombe Viaduct.
The village centre has a number of shops, tea rooms, a post office and a pub. The Village Hall has unique murals on the theme of War and Peace, painted just after the First World War in a fresco technique.
‘Balcombe Footpaths and Illustrated Walks’ and a book entitled ‘Balcombe, the story of a Sussex Village’, are available from village shops and tea rooms at a reasonable price.
BOLNEY has a population of some 1,200 and is just over six miles from Haywards Heath. The village was noted for its iron-smelting centre in medieval times and for its Cherry Fair. St. Mary Magdalene Church was built around 1100, with additions made in the 16th to 19th centuries. The Church is approached through a splendid lych gate and, the tower, erected in 1536, carries a peal of eight bells.
CLAYTON, a hamlet nestling under the Downs, is well known for its famous landmarks, the Jack and Jill windmills. A century ago there were almost a hundred windmills in Sussex, however, today very few remain. Their location, side by side on the Sussex Downs, makes them an outstanding landmark.
Jill, a wooden white-painted post mill built in 1821, was brought by oxen across the Downs from Dyke Road, Brighton in 1852. The Mill was last worked in 1907, however a Preservation Society formed in 1978, has restored Jill to full working condition. Jack, built in 1866, is privately owned and is not open to the public.
Nearby the Saxon Church of St. John the Baptist has a squat bell turret of shingles with a fine wrought iron weather vane dated 1781, and an 11th century wall painting showing the Last Judgement. These murals, unique in England for their date and extent, were first brought to light during repair work in 1893.
COPTHORNE was, until the latter half of the last century, regarded as an area rather than a particular village. Copthorne Common was one of several large stretches of open land along the borders of Sussex, Surrey and Kent.
The name, Copthorne, means ‘the place of the pollarded thorn tree’, and its history includes stories of smuggling, notoriety and prize fighting! Although the character of the village is derived mainly from its landscape rather than its architecture, it has several attractive buildings, in particular a 17th century farmhouse, now part of the Copthorne Hotel.
Copthorne is locally known to be divided into two - the Upper and Lower Commons. Copthorne Golf Club uses the Lower Common, south of the village, as a golf course. The Upper Common belongs to Copthorne School but remains open to the public.
CRAWLEY DOWN means ‘the hill near the pasture where the crows gather’. The village is located on a plateau on a broad ridge north of Turners Hill. In the Regency period, the area was allegedly well known for its prize fighting activities, and the pub in the centre of the village was once known as The Prize-fighter.
The village did not establish itself until the arrival of the railway in the late 19th century. The line between East Grinstead and Three Bridges was then completed, and a station opened at Grange Road, Crawley Down. Following the closure of the railway, West Sussex County Council created ‘Worth Way’, a linear park along the site of the former railway line. This forms a most pleasant country walk, especially where it passes the ponds on the eastern approaches to Crawley Down.
Crawley Down retains its pleasant semi-rural character and the original village green still provides a home for the popular annual Village Fair. The Haven Centre caters for other activities, including a thriving social club, and sport and theatre facilities are available for hire.
CUCKFIELD High Street is lined with attractive 16th century houses including a variety of shops selling specialist goods and several places to eat. There are many pubs associated with this old major coaching stop on the London to Brighton route.
Lych gates open the way to the handsome 11th Century Parish Church, which also has picturesque cottages in the churchyard. The old grammar school, one of the earliest in the country, dates back to the period of Henry VIII.
The Museum, situated in 19th Century Queen’s Hall, tells the story of Gideon Mantell’s 1822 discovery of the first dinosaur relics, an iguanodon in the Whiteman’s Green area of Cuckfield, as well as housing a collection of Sussex bygones’, ceramics and locally made clocks.
The local Apple Society at Brook Street, a small hamlet north-east of Cuckfield, is a well known maker of cider, which is distributed at the annual cider party.
FULKING lies at the foot of the South Downs, which rise steeply to 659 feet on the South side of the village. It has a population of about 250 people. Recorded as ‘Fockings’ in the Domesday Book, Fulking owes its existence to the spring at the end of the village street, which, it is reported, has never run dry! In the mid 1800s the spring was harnessed to provide the village with its own piped water supply and the main features of this unusual system, including the ram house, fountain-head and lever pumps, remain largely intact today.
Within the Conservation Area houses date from the 17th century, and include a number of attractive timber-framed dwellings, and thatched roofs. Old flint walls, cobbles, red brick dressings, eaves and cornices heighten the character of the village. The Shepherd and Dog public house, at the western end of the village, is a popular venue throughout the year for both locals and visitors.
HANDCROSS, is a Victorian village close to the A23 London to Brighton road. Nearby are the thirty acres of Nymans Gardens run by the National Trust, as well as twenty acres of woodland and water gardens at High Beeches Gardens, once owned by the Loder family, who now own Leonardslee Gardens at Lower Beeding. In the High Street is Verralls, a fascinating shop that specialises in veteran, vintage and classic motorcycles and early transport. You can also find a genuine hardware shop, which also sells craftware from across the world.
HASSOCKS, meaning rough tussocks of grass, developed around the railway station, Hassocks Gate, on the London to Brighton line. This station served the villages of Keymer and Clayton, and these two villages were combined in 2000 to form the Parish of Hassocks.
Over the years Hassocks has expanded and, while Clayton village still stands alone, Keymer village is in the built-up area on the east side. Hassocks has good shopping and community facilities, and there are a large number of local societies catering for many interests.
Adastra Park was donated by the late E.D. Stafford in memory of his son who was killed in World War I. The park consists of two recreational fields, tennis courts, a garden of remembrance, and Adastra Hall, which is available for hire.
A Roman cemetery was discovered on the north-west side of Hassocks along with fragments of pottery dating to the third century AD.
HICKSTEAD is a small hamlet but known throughout the world as the home of the All England Show Jumping Course, which holds sponsored fixtures from April to September.
HIGHBROOK is a picturesque hamlet situated on a ridge approximately one mile south of the village of West Hoathly. The village consists of about twenty buildings of various styles and ages. Five of them are listed buildings with the earliest dating back to at least the 17th century. This includes All Saints’ Church, a pleasant example of a Gothic revival church, set in attractive, well maintained grounds.
HORSTED KEYNES is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village was twinned in 1971 with Cahagnes in Normandy, from where the Keynes family had originated, and to whose ancestor the Saxon village of Horsted was given some 900 years earlier.
St Giles’ Church in the village is 13th century, though the tower is probably earlier, and former Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan and his family are buried in the churchyard.
The railway station, about a mile from the village, is part of the Bluebell Railway line.
HURSTPIERPOINT, extending from the South Downs to the Weald, is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and is overlooked by Wolstonbury Hill, an iron-age hill fort and haven for wildlife. The Parish also contains the smaller settlements of Sayers Common and Goddards Green.
The village name comes from ‘Hurst’, the Saxon word for a wood, and ‘Pierpoint’ after the de Pierpoint family who arrived with William the Conqueror in 1066. The centre of the village is designated as a Conservation Area, and the Parish has over ninety listed buildings that date from the 18th century or earlier. The southern part of the Parish is within the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a proposed National Park, and within it stands Danny, an Elizabethan brick mansion built in 1595.
Holy Trinity Church was built in the middle of the 19th century on the site of a much older building. With its 130ft spire, a landmark visible for miles around, the church was designed by Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament, and contains an altar tomb to a knight, believed to be Simon de Pierpoint.
In the village are shops, pubs and places to eat all clustered along a ridge overlooking Wolstonbury Hill. The Millennium Garden, which preserves the original garden of St. George’s House, provides a delightful walk between the west and east sides of the village.
One mile from the village is Hurstpierpoint College founded in the last century. Its Chapel is one of the finest in the county.
LINDFIELD to the north of Haywards Heath is famed for its rich historic and architectural heritage. The ancient High Street, lined with lime trees, is regarded as one of the finest in Sussex. It has over forty medieval and post medieval timber-framed houses, and many individual shops that are well worth exploring.
Amongst the oldest and most noteworthy are the Bower House, Humphrey’s, a bakery since 1796, The Tiger, now Church House, and Thatched Cottage, a fine example of an early 15th century Wealden hall house. Nearby is Old Place, built in 1590, and subsequently purchased by Charles Kempe, the renowned Victorian stained glass artist, to form the west wing of his grand 19th century house.
All Saints Church, dates mainly from the 13th to 15th centuries, and has a fine ceiling to the nave with two good examples of stained glass in the style of the Kempe studio. The distinguished architect, Sir Ninian Comper, designed the war memorial in the churchyard.
At the bottom of the High Street is the natural spring-fed pond with its varied wildlife, and King Edward Hall, which often hosts exhibitions and other events. Beyond lies the common, where cricket has been played since 1747. The Common is still central to village celebrations and leisure activities.
NEWTIMBER, a small, scattered village with a population of about 75, lies just off the London to Brighton road. The Church of St John the Evangelist, a small 13th century building with interesting memorials, has been considerably restored. Newtimber Place is a 17th century house with Etruscan style wall paintings, and is one of the few moated houses still occupied.
Newtimber Hill is National Trust land, with footpaths and bridleways leading up through woodland to open downland with ancient dewponds.
PEASE POTTAGE is located at the northern edge of the High Weald, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and stands some 500 feet above sea level. Bounded by Tilgate Forest to the east and St Leonards Forest to the west, the area affords some superb views of the Sussex countryside.
Tradition has it that it got its name from the prisoners on their way to Horsham gaol from East Grinstead, who were allowed to stop here for a bowl of pottage - a dish of mashed peas. Originally known as Pease Pottage Gate, the ‘Gate’ part of the name was dropped when the original Tollgate was taken down around 1877.
One of the two main pubs in the village, The Black Swan is a popular stopping off point, and The Grapes was named after the fine grapes that were grown in an adjoining greenhouse. This was also originally a tollhouse on the road to Brighton.
POYNINGS has a population of approximately 250 people. The 14th century Holy Trinity Church stands on a rise and has remained almost unaltered for 600 years. It has some precious 15th century stained glass, and the design of yellow, white and brown depicts angels, leaves, and The Annunciation. Next-door is the privately owned Georgian Rectory, with three bays and a Tuscan porch.
The Old School is now the village hall, and in the village centre nestles Glebe Cottage, constructed from flint, with a slate roof and tiny windows. Devil’s Dyke, a steep coombe, surmounted by an Iron Age fort provides superb views of the South Downs westwards across to Chanctonbury ring and northwards over the Weald.
PYECOMBE has been famous for some 200 years for its shepherd’s crooks. Wrought at one time by the village blacksmiths from gun barrels and also more conventional materials, they are particularly noted for their curly pattern.
The 12th century flint-walled Pilgrim Church was re-dedicated in 1973 to the Transfiguration of Our Lord. It appears that the original dedication was lost, the villagers having fled from the plague. The lead font is one of only five remaining in Sussex.
Tunnel House, a folly in the shape of a Tudor fortress, was built in 1841 by the London, Brighton and South-Coast Railway Company as a home for the keeper of Clayton Tunnel. The cottage is set 50 feet above the main line between two castellated turrets on either side of the tunnel arch, and can best be seen from the road bridge by the Jack and Jill pub.
The Plough Inn, once an old coaching house, can be reached by a short diversion from the South Downs Way, which can be joined at Pyecombe. Wolstonbury Hill, crowned by an Iron-Age camp, rises to some 677 feet and offers splendid views to those who enjoy walking. For more information visit the village’s website www.pyecombe.org.uk
SADDLESCOMBE is a hamlet in the parish of Newtimber. It has a 17th century wheelhouse with donkey wheel, and the 16th century Manor Farm building. An early Iron Age trackway runs to the Down, and the South Downs Way allows year round access through the farm. The farm is part of the National Trust’s Devil’s Dyke estate and is opened to the public twice a year, in April and September.
SAYERS COMMON has some very old cottages at its heart, and also contains a residential retreat known as The Priory of Our Lady. The Hickstead International Showground, known throughout the world as the home of the All England Show Jumping Course, is situated on the northern edge of the Parish where Sayers Common merges with Twineham.
SCAYNES HILL village is on the East boundary of Mid Sussex. With a population of around 1,800 people it is surrounded by open countryside and farmland with an abundance of public footpaths. The ancient Costells Woodland, owned by the Woodland Trust, has many paths to explore and provides a home to wildlife.
The Millennium Village Centre has two halls, a stage, changing room and a kitchen. Facilities for disabled persons are available plus the Parish Council Office. The village also has two Golf Courses - Haywards Heath and Paxhill Park; three Public Houses - The Sloop, The Farmers and The Snowdrop; two Churches, a Social Club, St. Augustines Primary School, and a Plant Nursery on the fringe.
SHARPTHORNE developed as a village and residential area after the railway opened in 1882. The name is derived from a farm on the north side of Top Road. The brickworks has been worked for 100 years and the quality of the bricks may be seen in the Victorian tile hung villas and modern housing which make up the village.
The Bluebell railway line runs through Sharpthorne and the railway tunnel was reopened in 1992. At a quarter of a mile long it is the longest, widest and wettest tunnel on a private railway in the country!
SLAUGHAM is a small village around an attractive green, and its large lake is one of the sources of the River Ouse. The Norman Church has a 13th century tower with a Victorian clock set in its north side. A ruin of interest is Slaugham Place, the former home of Sir Walter Covert, designed by John Thorpe and built sometime before 1579.
A rare and pleasant feature of Slaugham is the absence of overhead wires in the village. Many years ago Colonel Warren paid to have them buried underground. The village also boasts a white-painted telephone kiosk!
STAPLEFIELD is an attractive village three miles north-west of Cuckfield. The former local industry of tanning was carried out in Tanyard Lane, with the pits for soaking the hides at The Grange. The Jolly Tanners Inn reflects this industry. The tanning industry was replaced by parchment making.
One of Staplefield’s features is the attractive common where cricket has been played for some 150 years, and which is overlooked by The Victory Inn.
TURNERS HILL village stands on a steep ridge line at one of the highest points, (600 feet above sea level), of the Sussex Weald where two historically important routes, the B2110 and B2028, cross. There are impressive views from the centre of the village to both the North and South Downs. The Parish encompasses the village centre, Worth Abbey and Turners Hill Park.
The village centre has been designated as a conservation area, and here also lies the village green, which together with the shops and the Crown Hotel, forms the focal point. The older parts of the village have retained a character and charm of their own. Many buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries and a number are listed.
Although a compact village, it boasts four pubs: The Crown, Red Lion, Turners and The Cowdray Arms. The Church of St. Leonard’s stands on a ridge. Bell-ringers from all over the county visit St Leonard’s to ring its peal of eight bells.
The large recreation ground provides facilities for football, netball, five-a-side and tennis, and the cricket club has its own ground. The Ark community centre, home to the Parish Council, has function rooms available for hire.
TWINEHAM lies in the Adur valley with several attractive houses, including Twineham Place Farm dating from 1620. St Peter’s Church dates from 1516 and is constructed of mellow red brick with a Horsham slate roof. There is a box pew a gallery under the tower which has a peal of five bells, and a Jacobean pulpit.
WARNINGLID or Warninglyth, as it was known in the 1300s, has Saxon origins with medieval iron-industry connections. In the last twenty-five years it has won the Best Kept Village competition three times and been runner-up on six other occasions. Its centre was the first of six Conservation Areas that were established in Sussex.
The Church of St Andrew was built in 1932 and has some of the finest examples of modern stained glass in the south of England. On the outskirts, a number of old buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries have developed into charming houses.
WEST HOATHLY is an attractive village on the Forest Ridge with magnificent views, which are best seen at Finche Field. Here there is a millennium toposcope, a car park and picnic site. The centre of the village is a Conservation Area.
St. Margaret’s Church was built about 1090 and given to Lewes Priory. It has a rare terraced churchyard, which is thought to be a former vineyard. The 15th Century Priest House, with a museum of local history, old English garden and formal herb garden, is open to the public from March until October.
Gravetye Manor dates back to Elizabethan times and is now an exclusive hotel and restaurant. Set in thirty acres of gardens, it was once the home of William Robinson, the famous horticulturist. The area is surrounded by woodland owned by Forest Enterprise where visitors can walk.
WORTH ABBEY is sited in the beautiful surroundings of the woods and fields of the Weald. It is home to a community of Roman Catholic Benedictine monks and operates as a partnership of monks and lay people who work together to continue the Benedictine tradition of education in their school. The school is noted for its friendly atmosphere and excellent academic tradition.
Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this publication
and the statements contained herein are believed to be correct,
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format, without permission, is strictly forbidden. Photographs courtesy
of bdi-images.com South of England Showground, Wakehurst Place.