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    Burwash Common
(Roughest pub in the South East)

Name Derivation

General Details

Burwash Common Sussex - The village shop
Burwash Common is a village with an identity crisis, to the west when coming into the village from Heathfield it is signposted as Burwash Common , and when coming in from Burwash it is signposted as Burwash Weald . It is made up of the two hamlets, but because they overlap, the East Sussex County council decided not to put up two additional signs to define the hamlets.

Burwash Weald was originally the hamlet called Burwash Wheel after its first pub which was probably called the 'Catherine Wheel' after Catherine of Aragon, who was Henry VIII's first wife in 1509. The original building which became the first pub was built in the thirteenth century but was later converted to a poor house, when the present pub was built about 1760. At about the same time the hamlet was renamed Burwash Weald as the church commissioners did not feel it was appropriate to have their poorhouse in a location named after a pub.

An episode that is recorded at the Wheel in September 1788 when Mr Pudsey, a revenue officer, siezed 15 casks of foreign spirits and deposited them in the stables of the pub. The smugglers attempted to retake the contraband and Mr Pudsey was forced to shoot one of them in the arm before gaining assistance from a peace officer and securing his siezure.

In the 1830s the whole area was plagued with gangs of smugglers and criminals with the bulk of the inhabitants considered to be ignorant and lawless, although gradually the hamlet was becoming more a service area on a main route between the south east, south and south west. It is reported that around 1834 as far away as Portsmouth people spoke of the Wheel as the roughest public house they had ever been in. (Many thanks to Bob & Sylvia from The Wheel Inn for providing the above information) The Catherine Wheel depicted on the inn sign came from the coat of arms of the 11th Century Knights of St Catherine of Sinai, who aided travellers.

At the bottom of the Dudwell valley was the old forge, which from the late 1500's made implements from pig iron produced in the area. From the 1750's much of the iron came from the nearby Heathfield furnace which was owned by the Fuller family of Brightling . The forge stopped production in the early parts of the 1800's.

Because the area was in the centre of the Wealden Iron Industry, which declined in the early 19th century, due to competition from the North of England, and their coal fired furnaces, the local unemployed took to smuggling and highway robbery. In 1869 Mr Trower wrote that it was unsafe to travel along the Heathfield turnpike between 1820 and 1840 for fear of robbery from vagrants.

The church of St Philip's was built in 1867, in the area originally known as the Common. In 1877 the Common and Wheel were formed into a parish. Prior to this date, the area was in the parish of Burwash .


Burwash Common East Sussex - St Philips church
Burwash Common has limited services, however a public house is in Burwash Weald .

The main shopping centre for Burwash Common is the small town of Heathfield about 5 miles west. The nearest large town shopping centres are in Hastings about 13 miles South East, and Tunbridge Wells 14 miles to the North.

An infrequent bus service stops in the village and travels to Heathfield and Hurst Green for further connections.

The nearest train services are available from Etchingham 4 miles to the east, or Stonegate about 5 miles north.


Burwash Common East Sussex - View from the Stonegate road
Burwash Common has some very pretty views of the surrounding area.

To the north down the Stonegate road can be seen the Rother Valley.

From Burwash Weald, look south towards Brightling Needle.

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