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(Only remaining Ciric in Sussex)

Name Derivation

General Details

Hellingly is a small village just off the A267, consisting only of the church and a few cottages.

The church started in 1190 has been built on the only remaining undamaged ciric in Sussex. A ciric is a circular Celtic burial ground, raised above ground level, to keep the dead dry. The circular form is believed to be the celtic symbol of immortality. The mound at Hellingly is not now circular, but oval as some more land was given to the church in the 12th century. The original wall surrounding the ciric was built during the 13th century, as the Bishops at the time required a churchyard to be surrounded by a wall, ditch or hedge. The wall has been replaced and the current wall was built fairly recently.

In 1541 an illegal deerhunt on the land of Sir Nicholas Pelham ended with a fight in which Lord Pelham's gamekeeper John Busbrig was killed. The hunting party was found guilty of murder, and Lord Thomas Fiennes of Herstmonceux , and three others were hung. It was the first time in English history that a man of noble birth was executed for the death of a commoner. The reason that Lord Thomas who was 23 at the time was killed is more than likely to have been due to greedy peers, who were after the lands owned by the Fiennes.

During the reign of Queen Mary in June 1557 Reverend John Mills was burned at the stake in Lewes for his Protestant beliefs, see also Warbleton .

1792 brought a proposal for a canal to run from Beddingham near Lewes on the River Ouse to Horsebridge Mill, but this was abandoned. The mill continued milling, suffering a major fire in 1908, and was closed in 1969.

The churchyard contains a number of Terracotta enhanced grave stones, created by Jonathan Harmer of Heathfield in the early 1800's. In 1897 400 acres of land were sold by the Earl of Chichester to Sussex Council, to be turned into Hellingly Asylum the East Sussex County Mental Hospital.


The village has very few services, except at the church on a Sunday.

The nearest shopping town is in Hailsham a few miles south. Major shopping centres can be found in Eastbourne further south.

The nearest trains are at Polegate about 6 miles south, providing services to Hastings , Eastbourne Lewes and Brighton .


Hellingly village is very attractive, with the church on the mound, providing the best views, from all angles.

The Cuckoo Trail passes through the village to Horam and Heathfield in the north and south to Hailsham , and Polegate .

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