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Our History


Wadhurst is a historic market town, granted a royal charter in 1253 and within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The landscape retains its mediæval character of small irregular-shaped fields and scattered farmsteads, often grazed by sheep. Oak and sweet chestnut dominate the wooded rolling hills and streams run red in places from iron ore in the local rock. Close by, Bewl Water, the largest body of fresh water in the south-east, is an active water sports centre. Wadhurst was also the location of the Last Great Prize Fight on 10th December 1863, when Englishman, Tom King, beat the American, John Heenan.

Walk along the High Street and you follow the line of an ancient trackway connecting prehistoric and Roman ironworking sites and communities. This became the old drovers’ road and, in 1767, the turnpike around which the village grew. Wadhurst centre still has over 25 buildings dating from between 1500 and 1800, and 40 traditional shops that attract people from outside the village. Untouched by the advent of steam in 1851 (the station is a mile away), major changes followed an RAF aeroplane crash in 1956.

Oak and iron formed the character of Wadhurst. It still has a working blacksmith and old converted forges, grand ironmasters’ homes and the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul where can be seen the finest collection of iron memorial slabs in England, dating from 1617 to 1799. The Church also commemorates the fallen of the two World Wars.

Local oak was used to build great wooden warships at Chatham Dockyard. It is said that oak from the Whiligh estate in Wadhurst forms the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall, commissioned in 1393 by King Richard II; it was certainly used to rebuild it after its bombing in the 2nd World War.


Our current site was originally built before the 2nd World War as a secondary school, it became a primary school in 1963. The old milestone beside the hedge shows it is XLV (45) miles from London.


This mostly 13th/14th Century Parish Church is notable for having more iron memorial slabs than any other Church in England. Many of them are fascinating to read. To the left of the porch door as you enter is the list of past incumbents including the deeply unpopular vicar who was “intruded” (imposed on Wadhurst) during the period of the Commonwealth in order to preach in a Puritan style. To the right of the base of the tower, find the defaced coat of arms which may have been removed by unhappy residents who found out that the gentleman in question (Legas) had supplied cannon to the enemy, the French. The 11th Century tower is the oldest part of the Church; the metal screen with its symbolic emblems of Sussex was installed in 1957. Note the Victorian stained-glass window above the altar dedicated to John Foley, the vicar for 40 years, then look at the other windows around you in the chancel and see his family’s tragic history. Find also the Church’s connection with the actor, Benedict Cumberbatch.

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