Alfriston, East Sussex
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: A plethora of historic buildings in a lovely village setting. 14th century Clergy House demands a visit.
The village boasts a pair of picturesque historic inns. The Market Cross was a famous smuggler's haunt during the 18th century, the headquarters of a gang headed by Stanton Collins. Author Rudyard Kipling used the exploits of Collins and his gang as inspiration for his poem, 'A Smuggler's Song'.
Another popular inn is the Star, an attractive building which may date to 1345. The Star (known as the Star of Bethlehem until the early 16th century) was built by the monks of Battle Abbey as a stopover place for pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St Richard at Chichester. In the bar is a 'sanctuary post' which offered the protection of sanctuary to fugitives friom the law.
Outside the entrance is a figurehead in the form of a red lion wearing a crown. This is thought to come from a Dutch warship that sank in the Channel and washed ashore at Cuckmere Haven.
Almost directly across the High Street from the Star is the George Inn, whose foundations date to around 1250. The building was first licensed as a pub in 1397. One of the George's guest rooms has wall paintings dating to the Tudor period, and smugglers' tunnels run from its cellars.
The Alfriston Clergy House
The most famous historic building in Alfriston is probably Clergy House, a thatched, half-timbered Wealden hall house built in the 14th century. Clergy House was the very first property acquired by the National Trust in 1896. Clergy House offers a wonderful glimpse into how our ancestors lived during the medieval period, and how their houses were built. The house is surrounded by a traditional cottage garden.
Also in Alfriston is the English Wine Centre, a museum of the vintner's craft in England, housed in a historic thatched building.
And while visiting Alfriston, pop into the parish church of St Andrews. This lovely old building has been called The Cathedral of the Downs. It was built around 1360 in a cruciform shape topped by a central tower and slender spire.
An interesting Alfriston custom which has only recently died out is to bury local shepherds with a clump of sheep wool in their hand. The wool was supposed to signify to gatekeepers in heaven that the dead man's poor record of church attendance was due to his obligation to his flock!
The South Downs Way National Trail runs directly through Alfriston on its way betwen Winchester and Eastbourne. Located on the trail, just west of the village, is Long Burgh Barrow, a Neolithic long barrow thought to have been erected between 3400 and 2400 BCE. At 56m, it is one of the longest prehistoric burial mounds in Sussex.
Alfriston is just signposted from the A27 about four miles west of Polegate. There is a paid parking area on North Street, on your left just as you enter the village, and a short-term free parking area a hundred yards further on, to your right.
Most photos are available for licensing, please contact Britain Express image library.
Address: Alfriston, East Sussex, England
Attraction Type: Village
Location: On a minor road off the A27 3 miles west of Polegate
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Alfriston, St Andrew's Church - 0.6 miles (Historic Church)
Alfriston Clergy House - 0.6 miles (Historic Building)
Long Burgh Barrow - 0.9 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Charleston - 2.5 miles (Historic House)
Westdean, All Saints Church - 2.6 miles (Historic Church)
Polegate Windmill - 3.6 miles (Historic Building)
Firle Place - 3.7 miles (Historic House)
Firle, St Peter's Church - 3.8 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Holiday Cottages to Alfriston: