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Name Derivation

General Details

Robertsbridge is an old settlement probably founded about 1176, when the only Cistercian Abbey in Sussex was built on the site of the current War Memorial . Remnants of the old chapel cellar from the monastry can still be seen in the basement of one of the houses in the high street .

The village remained when the abbey was moved about 1 mile to the East to the village of Salehurst in 1210.

It is believed that the name of the village was derived from the bridge built by the 1st abbot - Robert de St Martin, abbey records show it as 'Pons Roberti' which translates from the Latin to The Bridge of Robert.

In 1193 Richard the Lionheart was returning from the 3rd Crusade across Europe, when he was captured by Duke Leopold of Austria, and handed over to the Holy Roman Emperor who imprisoned him. Abbot William of Robertsbridge Abbey was commisioned by Parliament to find the King. He was located in the Castle of Derstein in Bavaria, and William successfully negotiated his release for 150,000 marks.

The main business of the village was as a stopping and resting place for travellers from Hastings to London. The large numbers of late 14th and 15th Century Wealden Hall Houses show a period of wealth possibly due to the weekly market that was granted the village by Henry III in 1254.

Henry III visited the Abbey in 1225 and 1264, and Edward II in 1295 and 1297, staying in the village.

Robertsbridge Abbey was an important place as the body of Sir John Pelham and his wife were buried here and also Sir Edward Dalyngrigge ( builder of Bodiam Castle ) together with his wife.

In 1541 a forge was built by the Churchill family on the old Abbey grounds at Salehurst , this was supplemented by a furnace in 1754. The manufactured goods were despatched from Bodiam bridge, the furthest navigable point up the river Rother. The main production of the furnace was of cannons manufactured by melting down other guns rejected by the navy or from pig iron.

The use of pre manufactured iron as a raw material ensured the quality of the castings were better.

In 1740, at Silver Hill between Hurst Green and Robertsbridge a Revenue Officer Thomas Carswell was shot and killed while trying to apprehend some of the smugglers from the Hawkhurst Gang .

During the 1700 and 1800's women's stays were manufactured in the area, and flour milling was carried out, together with the manufacture of guns for the navy. The area was also well known for smuggling , and the robbing of travellers.

In the late 1800's cricket bats and equipment were manufactured by Gray Nichols, whose factory is still in the village.

Finally the very first Cub Scout Pack was started in Robertsbridge by Baden Powell.

This village is associated with the Sussex Bonfire Societies , who provide noisy processions, unbelievable outfits and fantastic firework displays throughout the month of November - a spectacle not to be missed.


Robertsbridge has quite a few local services, for transport the main A21 London to Hastings road provides reasonable links to Hastings(10 miles South), and Tunbridge Wells (15 miles North West), the main local Towns.

The main London to Hastings Train Line stops in the village providing a 1 hour 15 minute journey to Cannon Street and Charing Cross. This service runs approximately every 20 minutes in the rush hour, and hourly in between.

The main Hawkhurst to Battle bus service stops in the village providing a frequent service.

A number of Public Houses, and Various shops are available in the village.

The main shopping centres are in Hastings and Tunbridge Wells , with a minor one in Battle .


Robertsbridge has a beautiful main high street containing many Wealden Hall Houses, and older dwellings.

If you walk up Fair Lane, to the left of the Seven Stars Public House, and onto the footbridge over the A21, a wide vista of the Rother valley leading to the Church at Salehurst is visible.

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