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(Ropes and Napoleon)
Domesday Community

Name Derivation

General Details

St Marys church (Hailsham East Sussex)
The Domesday book records that William holds 2 hides from the Count of Mortain, that the land supports 6 ploughs, and 5 villeins. There were also 17 salt workings nearby. This area was badly affected by the Norman invasion, and was valued at 125 shillings before 1066 and 50 after.

In 1252, Henry III granted the right to hold a market. Some of the tolls taken during the Hundred Years War with France were used to pay for the garrison at Pevensey. This market continued until 1639, when it was discontinued, but re-started in the late 1700's. The market changed its focus to livestock and it is known that welsh farmers brought their cattle for selling at Hailsham.

The numbers of livestock in Hailsham together with the number of local oak trees(tannin from the bark is used in the process) provided tanners and leather workers with a great deal of wealth The population increased to the 300 mark by the mid 1600's but increased significantly from about 1000 in the early 1800's to 3500 by the 1890's. This was mostly due to the manufacture of rope which was started in 1780 by Thomas Burfield . The term rope walk comes from the spinning process used in rope manufacture, where by Spinners would walk down a straight path letting out hemp, which was spun by wheelboys turning a wheel.

In 1803 Hailsham Barracks were built to quarter troops intended to man the Martello towers which defend the Pevensey area from Napoleon. The Barracks were closed after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.

During the 1800's a wide range of rope related goods were manufactured in the vicinity, including Hop Pockets for the brewing industry, cloths, twine, mill sails and whip cord, and ropes for the navy.

One example of the work of Jonathan Harmer of Heathfield can be found in the churchyard, a large stone chest type grave with a terracotta plaque attached. This example of his craft comes from the early 1800's.

In 1849 a branch train line was built from Polegate to Hailsham, then extended on to Eridge via Heathfield in the 1880's, and was known as the Cuckoo Line from the legend . The line was closed in 1965, and is now the Cuckoo Trail , a footpath and bridleway running from Polegate to Heathfield .

Hailsham also used to produce Sussex Trugs, now only manufactured at nearby Herstmonceux .


Hailsham is one of those small towns with a wide range of shops, and is the centre for many villages surrounding.

The High Street is the main shopping area, with the precincts of Vicarage Field, and Quintins providing additional shops attached to the High Street.

Hailsham has its own Leisure Centre, the Lagoon with a swimming pool, and other facilities.

Major supermarkets are to be found in Eastbourne about 5 miles south. The nearest trains run from Westham to Hastings and Brighton .


The High Street has a natural charm, and if you walk down from the northern part of the town, the church, especially on a bright sunny day stands out in front of you.

If you carry on into the churchyard, carry on through, and turn left, then walk down Marshfoot Lane, you can see many views across the Pevensey Levels.

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