Wilmington :: Shared Description

Wilmngton was a rural parish in East Sussex that lay between Arlington and Folkington. From 1990 the parish was amalgamated with fully with the latter and the portion south of the railway which includes Milton Street from the former. The new parish was named Long Man after the famous chalk figure on the South Downs. Geologically the old parish crossed three distinct areas, the chalk of the South Downs, the clay of the Low Weald and the strip of gault and greensand that separates them. However, unlike many other parishes along the northern scarp face Wilmington does not include a tract of Downland as its southern boundary is the scarp face slopes of Windover and Wilmington Hills. The northern part is wholly wooded and is now part of the reserve known as Abbot's Wood. A number of unnamed tributaries head west to the Cuckmere River.

There is just one main settlement within the parish that being the village of Wilmington itself. People began inhabiting the area from Neolithic times leaving behind the remains of a flint mine and a number of barrows on Wilmington Hill. The Saxons followed latter, one of whom Wilma, chose the site as the place for his farm. A church was believed to have been constructed around 1000 possibly though there are arguments that it and the parish may be dated to the building of the twelfth century priory, the ruins of which lies immediately to the south. The manor of Wilmington came into the ownership of the Benedictine order after the Norman Conquest who built a priory and then a new church to serve both it and the local village. The priory was never large and was suppressed in 1414. The village itself is a classic linear settlement located on a former drove linking the Downs to the woods of the Low Weald in the north. The church lies to the south of the village on a small rise of land whilst the northern end opens up into a large village green.

The A27 now splits the village from its green having been built as a turnpike in 1819 to replace a much older east-west route that dates from the Roman period, was known as Farne Street and linked Chichester to Pevensey Castle. It crossed the parish to the north following the course of Hayreed Lane and continued eastwards beyond an old crossroads at Thornwell. When the new turnpike was opened the latter course was closed and is now little more than a field boundary between the old crossroads and Hide Cottage. The only other road in the old parish runs north-south from Litlington through the centre of the village then continues northwards to the old crossroads at Thornwell. The current route uses Bayley's Lane to connect with the road to Arlington whilst the old route to Hailsham, Robins Post Lane, is now closed to traffic at the eaves of Abbot's Wood continuing only as a restricted byway. The Lewes to Eastbourne railway crosses the parish to the north of the village though there is no station.

Wilmington's main attraction is the 235 foot chalk figured etched into the side of Windover Hill. The earliest known record of the giant was sketched by a surveyor in 1710 but its age and origins are unknown with speculation regarding the Celts, Romans, Norse, nearby Monks of Wilmington Priory and even an 18th century folly all championed at various times. The figure was originally an indentation visible only in certain conditions and did not acquire its white outline until 1874 and since 1710 has lost his helmet and facial features. The giant has been owned by the Sussex Archaeological Society since 1926.

Bibliography

Books
P.Brandon - The South Downs (Phillimore, 1998)
M.Larkin - In the Footsteps of Time (Ulmus, 2006)
K.Leslie & B.Short (ed) - An Historical Atlas of Sussex (Phillimore, 1999)
P.Longstaff-Tyrell - Turnpike Territory - A Guide to the Old Coach Road (Eastbourne Local History Society, 2007)
A.Vincent - Roman Roads of Sussex (Middleton Press, 2000)

Websites
Listed Buildings in Wilmington LinkExternal link
Long Man of Wilmington LinkExternal link
St Mary and St Peter, Wilmington LinkExternal link
Wilmington Priory LinkExternal link

Maps
Wilmington Tithe Map, 1838-39 (East Sussex Record Office, TD/E 117/1-2 )
Yeakell & Gardner, 1778-83 2 inches to a mile - see LinkExternal link
Ordnance Survey, Eastbourne & Hastings 1813 (1:50,000 - Timeline Maps, 2005)
Ordnance Survey, 1874-1980 (1:2500 and 1:10000 - See LinkExternal link
Ordnance Survey, Brighton & the South Downs 1929 (1 inch to a mile)
Ordnance Survey, Eastbourne 1940 Revised Edition (1 inch to a mile)
Ordnance Survey, Eastbourne 1967 Revised Edition ( 1 inch to a mile)
Ordnance Survey, Pathfinder Series 1982 - Newhaven & Polegate (1:25000)
Ordnance Survey, Explorer Series 2009 - Eastbourne & Beachy Head (1:25000)
Lewes District Street Plan (Barnetts, circa 1972)
East Sussex Street Atlas (Geographers A to Z Company, 2004)
by Simon Carey
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TQ5404 : Place Barn by Simon Carey
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TQ5404 : The Old Yew Tree (2) by Simon Carey
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Created: Sun, 12 Jun 2011, Updated: Sun, 12 Jun 2011

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