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(Last bare fisted Prize-Fight in England)
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St Peter & St Paul church (Wadhurst East Sussex) 
Wadhurst lies 6 miles south east of Tunbridge Wells, at the crossroads of the B2100 and the B2099. It has a long High Street of tile-hung cottages. At one time it was of great importance as a hub of the Wealden iron industry .

The name Wadhurst means 'Wada's settlement in the clearing in a wood, and dates the parish to Anglo Saxon times. Until the 19th century, the parish was divided into six regions - Town, Bivelham, Faircrouch, Riseden, Weeke and Cousley Wood.

Many churches in this area have one or two iron slab memorials, however Wadhurst's church of St Peter and St Paul has thirty! Thus demonstrating the scale of the local iron industry . The iron slabs date from between 1617 and 1790, and are the most famous and interesting monuments in the church. Many of them commemorate the local Iron Master family of the Barhams. The oldest slabs have simple repetitive designs of shields, however, as the founder's expertise developed so did the complexity of their designs, such as the ornate slab dedicated to William Barham located in the chancel, dated 1701.

The church also contains some modern iron-work, the cast-iron cross and the altar candlesticks were made in 1967. There is also a wrought-iron and glass screen depicting flowers, hops and lambs which was given to the church in 1958.

The tall slender spire of the church is about 130ft high. Its great height has resulted in six lightning strikes over the years. The Norman west tower is the oldest part of the church, the rest of the building is early English and later. In the nave roof can be seen the kingposts and tie-beams.

There are several tablets to members of the Luck family in the church porch. One is decorated with a terracotta plaque by Jonathan Harmer who was the potter son of a Heathfield stonemason. There are two more of his plaques in the north transept, and in the sanctuary.

The area was affected by the Swing Riots in the autumn of 1830 with the land workers demanding reasonable wages, these were put down forcibly by the army on 15th November. A number of local workers were imprisoned or transported to the colonies.

Gate House, a fine 18th century Wealden timber-framed and tile hung house with overhanging first floor, stands next to the church. The 'Queen Anne Vicarage' dominates the High Street. It was built by the town's chief Iron Master , John Legas who ran the furnace at Waldron near Heathfield .

On December 8th, 1863, the last great bare-fisted prize fight in England took place in Wadhurst at Sparrows Green. The combatants were an Englishman, Tom King, and a giant American called John Heenan. Heenan weighed in at 15st 7lbs, King was a stone lighter, however youth and ability were on his side. The fight lasted a gruelling 36 rounds, and the Englishman eventually won the day! There was a public outcry over the brutality of the fight, and calls for reform.

Consequently public prize-fighting was made illegal.

An update has been received from Tracy Callis from Cyber Boxing Zone that the date may have been December 10th 1863 and the number of rounds were 24.

Please click on the following links for more detailed pages on Tom King and John Heenan.


Wadhurst has a good selection of shops, and is a centre for the surrounding small villages.

The frequent bus service from Hawkhurst to Tunbridge Wells passes through the village.

There is a station in Wadhurst but it is about 1 mile out of the village. This provides a 1 hour journey to London, every 30 minutes.

The nearest main shopping centre is in Tunbridge Wells about 6 miles to the north west.


The Ticehurst end of the high street has many fine cottages on the high bank.

From the fire station take the Lamberhurst road, and at Sparrows Green turn left towards Woods Green , follow the road down to the left and the scenery in this area is really pretty.

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