Selmeston lies 8 miles east of Lewes. The village with its single street (aptly named 'The Street') marks a route between the Ouse and the Cuckmere rivers.
The church existed at the time of its mention in the Domesday Book of 1086; it is dedicated to St Mary. The ecclesiastical parish is linked with the village of Alciston. The Domesday Book also has entries for the two large houses that lie in the Parish, Sherrington Manor (variously referred to as Elerintone, Serintone and Sirintone) and Tilton house (referred to as Telentone and Tilintone).
Evidence of Mesolithic settlements were discovered in old sandpits around the church in 1933 and subsequently more finds were unearthed including a Saxon cemetery behind Manor Cottages. This turned out to be one of the largest Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in the South of England, containing at least 200 graves and believed to date from the fifth to the seventh centuries AD.