|Our Whats On|
Guides to the Area
Where to Stay
Bed & Breakfast
On this Page
(Fishing and Wrecking)
East Dean lies in a steep valley on the South Downs, it is split by the busy
tourist coast road. The modern part of the village lies to the north of the
road, and the old part of the village to the south.
The village was settled in early Saxon times initially by Aelle and his sons
then through the Kings of Wessex to Alfred the Great who had a manor here.
The manor of Birling has very likely been in existance since Saxon times
as a fishing and farming community, with the village protected by the
surrounding Downs .
The flint church has a Saxon tower, and was improved by the Normans after
the conquest in 1066 .
The 1300's brought the constant threat of French Raids, which destroyed
the crops and killed the local people, it is believed that the locals
hid in the church when raided.
The village is closely tied to the Bardolf family, who took over Birling
Manor in 1257, when William married Juliana Gurney and gained the manor
as part of her dowery.
In 1267 William was granted a licence to hold a weekly market and annual
fair by King Henry III .
In the early 1400's Hugh Bardolf son of William and Juliana took part in
the revolt against King Henry IV and was killed. The King seized the lands
back from the family in 1406 due to Hughs treason. Later the King granted
the lands back to the Bardolfs, unfortunately a later Lord William fought
for the Lancastrians against King Edward IV and lost. The lands were forfeited
again, and the family never again held power in the area.
The coastline in this area was treacherous for sailors, and many ships
were driven ashore onto the rocks, the village quite often enjoyed the
benefits of the sailors bad luck. The area on the edge of the cliffs at
Birling Gap were perfect for smugglers and wreckers . Many ships were
also deliberately wrecked by fake lights being hung on the cliffs
so that unsuspecting seamen thought they were near Eastbourne or Newhaven .
The local smuggler James Dippery who lived in the village gained an enormous
fortune from smuggling in the early 1800's. He was arrested by the Customs and
Excise and sent for trial, where in return for his freedom, he informed on his
collegues who were deported to Australia. He still had most of his fortune,
and retired a rich man. In the late 1800's the village had the first cable
office in Britain which provided electrical communication to the continent
via an undersea cable.
The churchyard contains an unusual Tapsell Gate , produced by a carpenter from
Mountfield in the mid 1700's. It rotates on a post, in a similar way to the
design of a Post Mill .
| East Dean has a few local village services, but the main shopping centre
lies about 5 miles to the east in Eastbourne , which is also where the
nearest train service starts.
| East Dean lies in a valley in the South Downs and is well hidden
the views from all around are downland farmland views which are
The area just up the hill from the church is a very pretty area, with
rows of small cottages and the village public house providing the sights.