BUXTED, East Sussex.

Buxted, in the Wealden district, is a very old village.

Its name developed from the Saxon words Bochs stede, meaning Place of the Beeches and was known as variations of that name for centuries.

Buxted’s Medieval church, St Margaret the Queen was built in 1250 and named after St Margaret of Scotland.

It’s Grade 1 listed, and original except for the tower.

There are eight bells in the tower, rung regularly.

St George’s Chapel is dedicated to the commemoration of the dead in two World Wars, including Fergus Bowes-Lyon, a brother of the Queen Mother.

He married there in 1914 and the late Queen Mother was a bridesmaid.

12 months later, he died in the war.

In the grounds is a huge yew tree, which is over 2,000 years old; older than Christ! Some of the massive branches are propped up to support their weight.

There’s a certificate of authentication behind the entrance door, and it’s mentioned on www.ancient-yew.com

Does everything have a website?!

On the East side of the graveyard is the grave of Christopher Wordsworth, the Rector from 1820-1846. He was the youngest brother of the poet William Wordsworth.

Also there is the grave of the author Winston Graham. He lived in Buxted until 2003, and wrote over 40 novels, including the Poldark series.

Go through the churchyard and turn right. Buxted Park house is in front of you.

The Earl of Liverpool, who was the Prime Minister, bought Buxted Park in the early 19th Century.

He wanted to move the whole village and build it further away, so that he could enlarge the Park and make it more secluded. So he offered to build new houses for the inhabitants anywhere in the parish they wished, if they would move, but the people refused, and they stayed where they were.

So Lord Liverpool refused to do any repairs to the properties, and the houses gradually fell into decay and became uninhabitable. The tenants had to move then, and the remains of the old village were completely demolished in about 1836. Apparently the Earl wished to remove the church as well, but local public opinion was far too strong for that vandalism, and the church [St Margaret’s] stands to-day on its own, away from the main village.

Buxted village is now a mile away from Buxted Park.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed at Buxted Place as guests of the Earl of Liverpool about 1845.

It really is a beautiful house, with views over the park from every window.

Now it’s a hotel, but the grounds are still open to the public.

Walk down the hill with the house on the right, and there are three lakes at the bottom, with some huge fish in them. They were obviously used for food for the house.

A natural spring flows over the pathway.

The Park has 312 acres, with fallow deer wandering around.

Buxted has a very interesting history for such a small village.

In 1248 a terrible murder took place. Aldith of Bokestede and her daughter Alice were murdered in the night. Gilbert de la Hethe and Simon Alry were accused of the murders and they fled to the Church of St Margaret to claim sanctuary. Gilbert confessed in front of the coroner, but Simon was found not guilty.

The Wealden Iron Industry started there in 1491. And it became famous for cannon making in 1543.

Some time in the 17th century, Nan Tuck was accused of poisoning her husband. It is said that she was being chased by a mob, and then she just disappeared!

Opposite the station, about a mile along the lane, is Nan Tuck Lane. It has a very creepy atmosphere and rumours persist that Nan Tuck has been spotted there through the centuries.

There is also an area there where nothing will grow.

In 1742 a sad incident occurred. James Atkinson of London was going to marry Mary Relfe of Buxted on December 19th, but Mary fell ill and died shortly before the ceremony.

James Atkinson, although apparently perfectly healthy, took to his bed and no medical treatment helped him. He died of a broken heart a week after his beloved Mary. They were buried side by side in Maresfield churchyard. James was buried on what was supposed to be his wedding day.

Born in Buxted in 1783, George Dan Watson was a simple uneducated farm labourer who couldn’t read or write. But he had the most amazing powers. He had a gifted memory and he was a mathematical genius. He could say where he had been and who he had met, up to 30 years ago, plus what day it was and what the weather was like.

He knew the name of every town and village in Sussex, even though he had probably never visited most of them. He knew the size of every church, the weight of its bells, the number of pubs and the size and population of each parish in Sussex.

Watson was taken on a tour around Hampshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset, showing off his powers. He died in Maresfield in July, 1838. He was never able to explain how he worked anything out.

The railway from Lewes through Buxted was opened in 1858. The trains of that date had open carriages with “gridiron” seats, and a journey by rail must have been very uncomfortable, especially with some of the women’s fashions of the time!

Buxted still has a station, on the Uckfield/London Bridge line. It also has two pubs within walking distance of the station, the White Hart and the Buxted Inn.

It’s amazing what’s right on your doorstep that you don’t know about until you take the time to go out and investigate.



  • Lyn Funnell

    Lyn is the co-owner of Unknown Kent and Sussex. She lives in Sussex. Lyn has been writing for most of her life, both Fiction & Non-Fiction. She loves cookery & creating original recipes. She's won a lot of prizes, including Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu & on BBC The One Show as a runner-up, making her Britain's Spag Bol Queen! She has had nine books published so far. History, Travel & Restaurant Reviews are her main interests.

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