High Weald

Location: Buxted Station

Grid Reference: TQ497234(OS Map)
OS Map: Explorer 18

Distance: 7 miles
Time: 5 hours
Information Available: Wealden District Council (01892 602461 or 602741)
Directions/Transport: 1. Following the Norman Conquest, William I granted the Archbishop of Canterbury a huge estate in Sussex, stretching from near Lewes to the Kent border at Wadhurst, and including the parishes of Framfield, Buxted and Mayfield. Administered by the church, the area nevertheless seems to have had its fair share of incident, perhaps appropriate for an area known as the Peculiar of South Malling.

2. Great Totease Farm, on the left, is a medieval survival. About 1300 the Archbishop's steward was able to record "Roger de Totehease holds 28 acres and renders 28d yearly namely at Easter 14d and at Michaelmas 14d". Such incomes from the huge number of tenants on the Archbishop's lands provided a boost to the church's coffers.

3. Almost all villages in this area are situated on the drier ridge tops and Framfield is no exception. Here too the villagers were taxed to support the church and had to pay to the canons of South Malling "all tithes (a tenth of the amount produced) of corn, hay, cheese, lambs, pigs, goats and all other titheable articles".

4. Perhaps the loss of tithes from Framfield contributed to the state of its own church. In 1509 "the church was now of late infortune of fyre clearly wasted burnt and consumed". A new tower was eventually built, but in 1667 it collapsed again, bringing down with it the west wall of the church and all six bells. Despite selling the largest bell to raise money, only the west wall was rebuilt and the tower was to remain unfinished with the other bells lying on the floor until 1779 when they were sold. The tower was replaced at the same time with "a small steeple which looks like a pigeon house". Eventually in 1891, the tower was rebuilt, although its completion was marred by the death of its prinicipal benefactor who went to view it on a very cold day and died of the resulting chill.

5. In 1722 a new owner, Thomas Medley, built himself a new manor house south of Buxted church and village and landscaped the grounds around it in the latest style. In 1828 the manor passed to another new owner - the Earl of Liverpool. Offended by the sight of villagers so close to his new property, he began to move the village. At first, householders were bribed with offers of new houses, then repairs to existing property ceased and finally strong-arm tactics succeeded in moving the whole village to its present location a mile away. Today, only the isolated house remains, now used as a conference centre.

6. In the 1540s the vicar of Buxted, Parson William Levett, had matters other than religion on his mind. Himself a skilled ironmaster and producer of arms and ammunition, he decided to employ one Ralph Hogge as his works manager. He was rewarded by posterity as Hogge went onto produce the first cannon in England to be cast in one piece (thus greatly reducing the danger of the gun exploding rather than firing) in 1543. Both men prospered greatly from this work and Hogge went on to build his own house on the road to Levett's church marked by an iron hog as a pun on his name.

Bus Information: 248, two hourly service between Uckfield and Heathfield via Buxted Post Office, Mondays to Fridays. Also a Saturday service. 249, Saturdays only, a bus between Hadlow Down and Uckfield via Buxted. Phone Traveline for info.
Train Information: Buxted Station on the Uckfield to London line. Regular trains - hourly. For further information phone 08457 484950.
Car Park Information: Car parking in Buxted
Guide: Wealden Walks - Twenty walks exploring the heritage of the rich and diverse Wealden landscape. £3.00-£3.50 depending on outlet.
Waymarking: Plastic Wealden Walks waymarking disc
Services: Pubs at Buxted and Framfield, Village shops at Buxted
Download: pdf The Canon and his Cannons (284.71 kB)