Across Sussex and Kent we are extremely fortunate to have numerous beautiful and historic villages. This week our spotlight village is Wadhurst in East Sussex. For more than 25 years Batcheller Monkhouse has let and sold a great number of houses and cottages in and around Wadhurst. If you are thinking of moving in the area, please see some interesting information below.
Wadhurst Village Sign
Wadhurst is a historic market town within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The landscape retains its mediaeval character of small irregular-shaped fields and scattered farmsteads, often grazed by sheep or Sussex cattle. Oak and sweet chestnut dominate the wooded rolling hills and streams run red from iron ore in the local rock.
The High Street follows the line of an ancient trackway connecting prehistoric and Roman ironworking sites and communities. This became the old drovers’ road and, in 1767, the turnpike around which the village grew. Henry III granted Wadhurst its charter in 1253, allowing Wadhurst to hold a market every Saturday and a fair on 29 June, the feast of St Peter and St Paul. Oak and iron formed the character of Wadhurst. It still has a working blacksmith and an old converted forge, grand ironmasters’ homes and the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul where can be seen the finest collection of iron memorial slabs in England, dating from 1617 to 1799. The Church also commemorates the fallen of the two World Wars. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries Wadhurst, as did many towns and villages in the Weald, had a thriving iron industry. Two of the large Georgian buildings in the High Street, Hill House and The Old Vicarage, were both ironmasters’ houses, along with a number of other large houses on the outskirts of Wadhurst. In the church of St. Peter and St. Paul there are several iron ledger-stone memorials of ironmasters, which are unique to this area. The village still has a working blacksmith.
Local oak was used to build great wooden warships at Chatham Dockyard. It is said that oak from the Whiligh estate in Wadhurst forms the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall, commissioned in 1393 by King Richard II; it was certainly used to rebuild it after its bombing in the 2nd World War.
Wadhurst was also the location of the Last Great Prize Fight on 10th December 1863, when Englishman, Tom King, beat the American, John Heenan.
The name Wadhurst (Wadeherst in early records) is Anglo-Saxon and most probably derives from Wada which is believed to be the name of a Saxon tribe which occupied the area and began the clearing of the forests in the 7th or 8th century. There is an Anglo-Saxon manor known as Bivelham which lay between the parishes of Wadhurst and Mayfield.