Many of the houses in the village have names that tell something of their history, such as Church Farm (c. 1548), Wheelwrights (c. 1570), The Old Poor House (c. 1640) and East View (c. 1650) and The Green House (c. 1600) Learn more about the significance of some of these buildings through the ages below.
Church Farm is first recorded in 1288, with the present building (built c. 1548) located almost in the centre of the village. The farm was owned and run by the Marchant family from 1903. It provided milk from the dairy and work for the villagers, most of whom were employed in agriculture. Church Farm became a restaurant in the 1980s and was well known under the name of Corrin’s and then Sillett’s but is now residential.
There was a building here before Doomsday. The present structure has been added to in Tudor, Georgian and Edwardian periods.
The manor, or land, was given to William de Cahaignes after the Norman Conquest. Prior to this, the owner was a Saxon nobleman named Haiming, who also held lands at Exceat and Firle.
Once the village shop run by Mrs Potter, Fairland dates around 1450. The carved beam in the study indicates that this was the higher status room for receiving visitors. The fireplace in the sitting room indicates that this was the kitchen. The beam above the fireplace has marks revealing where a roasting spit was installed, and the indentations at the side of the fireplace are where knives were sharpened on the wall. Also carved into the beams are witches marks.
This is where William Harmer the wheelwright lived. Wheelwrights were craftsmen of the highest order, possessing a great knowledge of the properties of timber, and the acquired knowledge of their craft passed from father to son, and from master to apprentice.
In the1950’s this house had been divided into two separate cottages, but was fortunately rebuilt back as one house by 1978.
By 1800 there were 139 parishes in East Sussex, which had responsibility for poor relief, highways and in some instances policing. Poor houses were publicly maintained to house the needy or dependent people. By 1834 Selmeston was one of the eight parishes that comprised the West Firle Poor Law Union. At one time the West Firle Union Workhouse had 180 inmates. It was closed in 1898. It is now two private houses in Firle, called Stanford Buildings.
Some houses in the village bear the name of an adjacent field, hence, for example, the house called Twydown takes its name from the field of the same name (also known as Troy Town), located between the house and Manor Cottages. The field between Troy Town and Vicarage Field (around the vicarage!) is called Upper Field, and Barley Field, Fairlight and Coppice Field are beyond to the west. Culverake (where the house of the same name stands), is to the west of these, along with Picastes, Moat Field and Barn Field. The house called Chebbles is named after the field opposite, and Gilberts Field is to the south and extends right up to Church Farm.
Originally one house and thatched, Rose Cottage and East View are close to the centre of the village. There is a well still in existence adjacent to the front door of East View. East View also contains the original staircase and witches marks on the main inglenook beam along with Gullioche pattern on the main beam in the sitting room. Rose cottage is rumoured to have been the coal merchants and East View possibly the butchers shop and then as the Police House in 1840.
Originally thatched, The Old Cottage was also a grocery and the sweet shop for many years.
The Greenhouse was originally a thirteenth-century Wealden hall house (typically built by wealthy yeoman farmers from the late 1300s). It was also used as a priest’s ‘safe house’ at the time of the Reformation (a tell-tale stone is set in the wall near the front door).
The Old Vicarage in Selmeston stands on or close to the site occupied by a clergy house for many centuries. The first recorded vicar, John Bontynge, is known to have been here by 1350, which was the twenty-third year of the reign of King Edward III and a year when the country was ravaged by the Black Death.
The Flint house was the original school house. In 1866 there were forty-seven. By 1873, the number had risen to sixty-three
Then known as the Railway House. The line from Brighton through Lewes and on to Hastings ( The London Brighton and South Coast Railway). The line eventually came through Selmeston in 1846 and provided an outlet for local agricultural products. The village did not have a station as such, but it did have a halt, evidence for which can still be seen.
Twydown and Grey Cottage (centre), built in the 1840s as one house, known then as Thatched Cottage. Fairland is shown to the right of the image.
By 1933 electricity had been installed throughout the parish. During this time, as well as the odd motor car seen driving through the lanes, a new form of transport could be seen flying overhead. The Eastbourne Flying Club was located in a field off the A27 by Sherman Bridge and the turning to Milton Street, and the two aircraft used by members (an Avro 504 and a De Havilland Re8) would often fly over Selmeston.