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( Chalk Pit and the Battle of Lewes )

Name Derivation

General Details

Offham was settled when the original settlement at Hamsey was abandoned during 1348 when the Black Death forced the inhabitants to move away from the church as did a number of other villages in the area. Offham lies on the main Lewes to East Grinstead road.

It is likely that the village was a farming community for many centuries, but that it also produced lime and chalk from the quarry further up the hill.

In 1264 Simon de Montfort passed through the village on the way to the Battle of Lewes , in which his men were the victors. However in 1769 remains of many people were found while the new road was being constructed, and they are believed to have been the troops killed by the Kings cavalry .

During the early 1800's the owner of the chalk pit decided to build a tramway to transport the lime and chalk from the quarry down to the barges on the river Ouse, as the steep slope was dangerous and costly in both horse and carts and men. In 1809 William Jessop opened the tramway which had a large wheel at the top with a brake, the weight of full trucks of lime and chalk travelling down pulled the empty ones back up the 60% sloped track. This method of transport was used until 1870 when the pit was closed.


The nearest main shopping centre is at Lewes a few miles to the south east.

The nearest trains run from Lewes about 3 miles to the south or Cooksbridge , 2 miles to the north west.


Offham has some very nice views down into the Ouse valley from the road by the church on the way to Hamsey .

The downs to the south are very attractive.

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