TQ4605 : South Downs Way

taken 7 years ago, near to Firle, East Sussex, Great Britain

This is 1 of 5 images, with title South Downs Way in this square
South Downs Way
South Downs Way
Viewed from Firle Bostal and heading towards the radio transmitters on Beddingham Hill.
Firle Parish :: TQ4607
Firle is a parish that lies above and below the northern scarp slope of the South Downs between the River Ouse and Cuckmere River. It is bounded by Beddingham to the west, Glynde to the north west, Laughton to the north, Ripe to north east, Selmeston and Alciston to the east, and a small strip of South Heighton to the south. The parish is pretty much in control of the Gage family who reside at Firle Place and run the estate that includes the village of West Firle and the hamlet of Heighton Street. As a result the village has kept its local character and not succumbed to the problem of commuters and outsiders with second homes that can be found in other neighbouring small communities. Whilst West Firle is the official name of the village denoted on maps in general it is known as Firle.

The parish has Saxon origins and derives its name from 'Fierol' meaning a clearing amongst oak trees. The soil at the foot of the Downs is a mixture of greensand and gault ideal growing conditions for oak trees which gives some credence to this origin of the name. The soil is also very fertile and by the Domesday survey the value of the local manor was one of the highest in the area. Geologically the parish is split into three zones; in the south the chalk of the South Downs, in the middle the strip of gault and greensand, and to the north the reclaimed marshes that now makes up Laughton Level.

The main settlement in the parish is West Firle which lies along a village street to the south of Firle Park. There is no East Firle though there were references to it during the medieval period though no definite idea where it actually was, though both Charleston and Heighton Street have been put forward as possible sites. The latter lies along the east side of Firle Park and is the remnant of a settlement called Heighton St Clere, whose original manor was acquired by the Gages in the 15th century and then combined together with the old manor of Firle which resulted in the demolition of both medieval buildings and construction of the original Tudor Firle Place and the resulting park which displaced the rest of the old settlement. A couple of earthworks to the north east of the park along with a silted pond are the only reminders today.

Communication through the parish dates back to the Iron Age with the old east-west route following the brow of the South Downs. The Romans added a couple of minor routes, one running east-west which runs parallel to and between the current A27 and railway, whilst another ran south-north from the mouth of the River Ouse to the Roman Estate at Ripe. During the old medieval period a road ran along the foot of the Downs which was later turnpiked in 1752 as part of a route that linked Lewes to the developing resort of Eastbourne. That was superseded by a newer route in 1819 which bypassed the village to the north via Wick Street and Burgh Lane and became the A27 until that section was straightened in the 1960s. Other than the A27 the current lanes are either old sections of the former or quiet no through roads to the village or that climbing the Downs to a car park west of Firle Beacon. the latter owes its existence to the Second World War when it was laid to enable tanks to access the training grounds on the Downs. The lane to Ripe leaves the A27 at Stamford Pound.

The Lewes-Eastbourne railway runs through the parish to the north with the nearest station being at Glynde about a mile and a half from the village. During the medieval period a tributary of Glynde Reach provided water borne access for goods coming to and from the village and is remembered by The Dock' a name of road in the village. The watercourse was truncated when Firle Park was laid out ending at a series of old fish stews south of Decoy Pond.

The parish contains a number of attractions. Firle Place was extended from its Tudor base during the Georgian era and is now open to the public though not during 2012 as it is undergoing renovations. To the north east is Middle Farm lying next to the A27 which began as a farm shop but now is also open to all those who wish to view a working farm. To the south east is Charleston, the former home of artists Vanessa bell and Duncan Grant, and a meeting place of the interwar Bloomsbury Set. It has been open to the public since 1980.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Simon Carey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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Grid Square
TQ4605, 64 images   (more nearby )
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Saturday, 7 January, 2012   (more nearby)
Sunday, 8 January, 2012
Long Distance Footpath   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 4651 0590 [10m precision]
WGS84: 50:50.0457N 0:4.7516E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TQ 4676 0587
View Direction
WEST (about 270 degrees)
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Image classification(about): Geograph
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