Hailsham is a town in Sussex, and a sizable town for that county's inland parts. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book, the town of Hailsham has had a long history of industry and agriculture. Whilst the town is undoubtedly moving with the times, it still retains its character as a market town.
The town is about 7 miles from the coast and between the well-wooded hills of the southern Forest Ridge and the undulating chalk countryside of the South Downs, Hailsham is surrounded by much attractive and unspoilt scenery.
The name 'Hailsham' is thought to come from the Old English 'Hægles Ham' ("Hail's home") The name of the town has changed through the ages to 'Hamelsham' (as it was referred to in the Domesday Book), Aylesham in the 13th century, to its present spelling in the late 1600s.
Little is known of the town of Hailsham before the 1086 Domesday Book, but evidence of a Roman road from Leap Cross across the Common, indicates some occupation before this. The manor of Hailsham is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.
There was some activity in this part of Sussex during the baronial wars and in the armed rivalry between Matilda and Stephen, the castle at Pevensey being garrisoned and held by opposing sides.
Henry III granted the town a Market Charter in 1252. Originally, the market was held in the High Street and in Market Square, only moving to its present location in 1868. Sheep and cattle were driven from miles around along the various ancient droves until the arrival of the railway station and motor lorries. Today, the weekly livestock markets, together with the monthly farmers' market and Friday stall markets continue to serve the town and the wider rural economy.
During the Civil war in the seventeenth-century, Hailsham and this part of Sussex declared against the royalist cause.
Hailsham Museum and Heritage Centre
Glimpses of the town's intriguing past are to be found in photographs and artefacts available for viewing at the Heritage Centre, Blackman's Yard, Market Street, which is run by members of the Hailsham Historical and Natural History Society. A small but interesting display is available to members of the public including period kitchen, farming and agriculture, local industry and wartime memorabilia. The centre is open May to September (Fridays and Saturdays from 10.30am-12.30pm).
- Church of England:
- St Mary the Virgin (the main parish church)
- Emmanuel Church, Hawkswood
- St Peter & St Paul, Hellingly
- Holy Trinity, Upper Dicker
- St John, Polegate
- St Wilfrid, Lower Willingdon
- Baptist: Hailsham Baptist Church
- St Peter & St Paul's Church
- Christ Church Hailsham - Newfrontiers
- Gordon Road Evangelical Church
- Hailsham Free Church
- Hailsham Gospel Mission
- Living Word Community Church
- Methodist: Hailsham Methodist Church
- Roman Catholic: St Wilfrid's
- The Hailsham Gazette
- The Sussex Express
- East Magazine
- BBC Sussex
- Heart Sussex
- Sovereign FM, which is based in St Mary's Walk.
Sport and recreation
- Football: Hailsham Town FC. The club, known as "The Stringers", had their biggest success in 1989 when they reached the fifth round of the FA Vase, losing to Hungerford Town
- Cricket: Hailsham Cricket Club, established in 1871
The Hailsham & District Sports Alliance was set up in 1995 with the objective to unite sports clubs and societies within the Hailsham district, provide support for member clubs, and to promote sport within the town as an essential activity for residents. The Alliance has an active committee which meets regularly to discuss local sporting issues.
- Fishing is permitted in season at the Hailsham Country Park lake, off Gleneagles Drive. Horse riding is popular in Hailsham and there are several livery stables in the area.
- For walkers and ramblers, there are numerous footpaths, woodlands, riverside and field walks in the Hailsham district. Information on suitable routes may be obtained from the Hailsham Town Council and Wealden District Council offices. There is an active branch of Ramblers (formerly known as the Ramblers' Association) in Hailsham, which organises a weekly series of walks.
- The local authorities promote cycling, and there is opportunity for safe cycling along the Cuckoo Trail, which runs through Hailsham and connects to Tunbridge Wells, Heathfield and Polegate.
Clubs and societies
- Hailsham Theatres
- Hailsham Bonfire Society]]
- Hailsham Old Pavilion Society (H.O.P.S.)
- Hailsham Historical & Natural History Society
- Hailsham In Bloom
- Hailsham Horticultural Society
- Hailsham & District Flower Club
- Hailsham & District Bird Club
- Hailsham Photographic Society
- Hailsham Choral Society
- Hailsham & District U3A
- Hailsham Trefoil Guild
- 249 Millennium Squadron (Air Training Corps)
Local traditions and festivals
A main event in the town's calendar is its celebration of Guy Fawkes Night, held annually in October. An average attendance of 3,000+ people descend upon the town centre to witness the event, organised by the Hailsham Bonfire Society. Additional town festivities include the Hailsham Carnival, held each summer and organised by the Lark In The Park Charitable Trust and partner organisations, an annual Charter Market and various Christmas activities, which have been coordinated by Hailsham Town Council, Hailsham & District Chamber of Commerce, Hailsham Lions Clubs International|Lions' Club, Hailsham Rotary Club and St Wilfrid's Hospice in recent years.
Sites of interest
Buildings and architecture
Many older parts of Hailsham have been lost to redevelopment before preservation orders were introduced. However, the present town retains a number of buildings which display evidence of antiquity. The houses are mainly Victorian in character with more modern residential developments around the original town centre.
- War memorial
- St Mary's Church, which dates back to the early 15th century, but substantially rebuilt in a Victorian restoration
- The Old Vicarage - Now 'The Grange', built 1701-1705 for the Reverend Thomas Hooper as a vicarage for the adjacent church.
- Fleur de Lys and Inglenook - The 'Fleur de Lys' and 'Inglenook' in Market Street – one building divided in two in the late 19th century, but now reinstated as one – was originally built in the reign of Elizabeth I (1542) as part of the original hostelry of the town. Later to become the Workhouse, after which it was converted to shops and residential dwellings, it is now the Hailsham Town Council's offices and meeting room.
- The Grenadier - In 1803, Hailsham Barracks were built to quarter troops intended to man the Martello towers duringthe Napoleonic Wars.
- The Old Court House - The Old Court House was erected in 1861.
- The Stone - A grade II listed building, 'The Stone' is probably the oldest house in Hailsham and possibly named after an old boundary stone in the grounds, and originally built around 1320 in the style of the Wealden Hall houses. Featuring inglenook fireplaces, a bread oven, a priest hide, and with evidence of early sliding shuttered windows, it was once owned by Cardinal Wolsley.
- Cortlandt - Originally called 'Newhouse', Cortlandt was renamed after one of its previous occupants, Philip van Courtlandt, an American who fought on the British side in the American War of Independence. The renaming was undertaken by William Strickland.
- The Old Court House - Erected in 1861 consisting of a Court Room together with an office and residence for the Police Superintendent, The Old Court House was, prior to 1861, the first Police Station in Hailsham.
- The Old Brewery - Built in 1827 by Thomas Gooch from Norfolk.
- Hamlin's Mill - The one mill believed to be the town's last surviving one was Hamlin's Mill.
- Harebeating Mill - Harebeating Mill, a post mill located at St Wilfrid's Green just off the top of Hailsham High Street, was previously known as Kenward's Mill. Only the lower floor of the mill remains and this, together with a more modern upper storey, has been converted into a private house.
- Michelham Priory - at Upper Dicker, founded for Augustinian Canons in 1229 and after the Reformation the heart of a Tudor grand house. It is surrounded by a great mediæval moat, with 7 acres of lawns and gardens.
Parks and gardens
- Hailsham Country Park (22 acres) incorporates woodland, an open field area, wildflower meadow, two ponds and a lake. A water course skirts the open field area and all-weather footpaths can be found throughout the park to encourage people of all ages to enjoy this precious open space area. The various woodland sites within the Country Park have a very good selection of tree species including birch, oak, ash, maple and wild cherry. Wildlife residing in the area includes voles, mice, lizards and weasels. The Hailsham Country Park received South & South East in Bloom Silver Awards in 2009 and 2010, in recognition of the efforts of volunteers to restore the park's wildflower meadow and the planting of additional trees in recent years.
- The Common Pond in Bellbanks Road has been a focal point in Hailsham for centuries and is considered to be the town's "Jewel In The Crown". The commons were largely enclosed in 1855, but the pond area was retained by the lord of the manor, Lord Sackville. It was finally bought by the Council in 1922 for £300, and became a public open space. Major improvement works to the 1.86 acre site began in 1996. The pond base was then excavated and surplus clay used to extend the existing central island, before the construction of a second island and a sloping marginal wetland area along and over a section of the south perimeter wall.
- The Dennis King Memorial Orchard and Sensory Garden, opened in 2010 to help reverse the trend in the loss of traditional orchards and create a fully accessible community garden for local residents. Advice and recommendations were received from the East Sussex Association of Blind and Partially Sighted People (ESAB) and Thrive, a national charity dedicated to enabling positive change in the lives of disabled and disadvantaged people through the use of gardening and horticulture.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- Introduction to the Town of Hailsham
- Endersby, P. Hailsham Heritage Trail (2011) Retrieved 2011-04-08.
- Information on the Cuckoo Trail: East Sussex County Council
- Introduction to the Hailsham Bonfire Society
- "Hailsham Excels In This Year's South & South East in Bloom Entry": Hailsham Town Council (2010-09-10)
- Hailsham Common Pond: Hailsham Town Council
- Dennis King Memorial Sensory Garden: Hailsham In Bloom (2010)