What’s in a name?

The name of Selmeston is believed to derive from the Saxon period. ‘Tun’ is a common Saxon term for ‘settlement’, while ‘sige helm’ means ‘victory helmet’. This  suggests that the village was named after a warrior of some note, who may have been one of the followers of a Saxon leader called Aelle. Brighton was at one time known as Brighthelmstone and this has a similar derivation. Selmeston has seen a number of different spellings and, as noted by W. D. Parish, was pronounced in Sussex dialect as something sounding more like ‘Simpson’. Among the variants of the name over the years are the following:

Sielmestone : Selmestone                                1086         Domesday Book
Sylmestona                                                          1220         Bracton’s Notebook, published1887
Sihalmeston                                                         1252         Calendar of Charter Rolls
Silmeston                                                             1376         Inquisitiones Post Mortem
Symston                                                               1578         Index to the Chartered Rolls in the British Museum
Silmeston alias Sempson                                  1632         Recovery Rolls
Selmeston alias Simson                                     1765        T. W. Horsfield, History of Sussex, published1835

Source: The Place Names of Sussex Part 11 (Mawer and Stenton)

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