In the year 490 A.D. the Saxon invaders advanced along the coast from their original landing place at Selsey and, according to the Saxon Chronicle, attacked and took the British stronghold of Anderida which was the fort the Romans had built at what is now Pevensey, a few miles from Hailsham, thereby consolidating their conquest and forming the small kingdom of the South Saxons, or Sussex.

Hailsham now
Hailsham now

It was on the Pevensey Levels, which extend from Hailsham to the coast, that William of Normandy made his historic landing in 1066.

Hailsham High Street in the late 1870s - early 1880s.
Hailsham High Street in the late 1870s – early 1880s.

In those days, the seashore was some distance inland (about halfway between Hailsham and Pevensey Bay), and the ancient castle stood upon an island amongst the marshes of the River Ashburn. The manor of Hailsham is recorded in the Domesday Survey completed by the Normans twenty years later.

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.

Men of Hailsham may have taken part in the important battle of Lewes in 1264 when Simon de Montfort’s victory resulted in the establishment of the first principles of parliamentary representation. During the seventeenth-century civil war between Charles I and Parliament, Hailsham and this part of Sussex declared against the royalist cause.

Little is known of the town of Hailsham before the 1086 Doomsday Book, but evidence of a Roman road from Leap Cross across the Common, indicates some occupation prior to this.

References & Bibliography: Much of the foregoing is to be found in the following reference points or publications:

Hailsham And Its Environs (Charles Robertson: 1982)
Picture Postcards (Hailsham Historical Society: 1984)
Hailsham: Past Glimpses (Hailsham Historical Society)
Given Enough Roap To Haegels Ham (Eddy Powell: 1997)
Hailsham Collections/Recollections (Eddy Powell: 2000)


Gournay-en-Bray is a small town situated within the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute Normandie region in northern France. A town well-known for its farming and industry, Gournay-en-Bray is located some 30 miles (48 km) east of Rouen.

The town ’s territory includes three former parish hamlets and sees the confluence of the Epte with three other smaller rivers – the Morette, Auchy and Aulnaie.

Visit the Gournay-en-Bray Twinning Association Website.

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