|Our Whats On|
Guides to the Area
Where to Stay
Bed & Breakfast
On this Page
(Last bare fisted Prize-Fight in England)
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.