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(Alfred the Great and Guns !)
Ten miles to the north of Hastings on the B2088 lies the village
of Beckley , referred to in the will of King Alfred the Great as
'The manor of Beccanleah' which he left to his kinsman Osferthe.
It is believed that Sir Reginald Fitz-Urse, one of the murderers
of Sir Thomas a Beckett, galloped from Canterbury to Beckley to
seek sanctuary. However killing the Arch Bishop of Canterbury,
made this an ill informed decision, as sanctary was not given.
Iron was processed at Beckley from 1578 when the iron furnace
was built. From the mid 1600's guns and cannons were produced,
probably for the shipbuilding carried out at Rye or Smallhythe .
The furnace bellows were water powered, and it is known that
in 1743 (a dry season) there was insufficient water to provide
a blast, and the workers had to 'tread the mill' to keep the
iron in production. The iron works were closed in 1770, due
to competition from the coal fired iron industry in Shropshire.
Manufacturing of glass was carried out in the middle ages in the
At the western end of the village stands All Saints church, its
stumpy tower topped by a fine spire dates from the 11th century.
The great east window is from the 15th century. Below two of the
aisle arches can be found carved stone 'Jack in the green' corbels,
these are grotesque heads with leaves sprouting out of their mouths.
In the north aisle is a large chest, made from a dug-out tree trunk
and banded with iron, it is believed to be more than 800 years old.
The church is some distance from the main village, possibly linking
the village relocation away from the church to the Black Death .
| Beckley is a small village, with a few village shops.
The nearest train service is from Rye with an hourly service to
Hastings and Ashford .
The nearest supermarket is in Peasmarsh a few miles south east, with
Rye being the nearest shopping centre.
| Beckley church has some very pretty aspects with dormer windows
built into the roof.
The churchyard contains some graves of Plague sufferers with the skull and
crossbones visible on the stones