All About Wadhurst
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The following pages cover Wadhurst's past -
and some of its present; most of the material is published
here by permission of the Wadhurst Trefoil Guild, from
whose excellent publication 'Wadhurst - Looking Back
on the 20th Century' it has been drawn. In turn that
publication drew heavily on 'Wadhurst: Town of the
High Weald' by Alan Savidge and Oliver Mason [now out of print]. Additional material is being added all the time.
|Charter of 1253 and Talk of 16 May 2003|
Extract from "Journey through the Weald" by Ben Darby: published by Robert Hale 1986.
The book is out of print but second hand copies can be found on the Internet
P 70-72 slightly north-east, three hursts are strung in line on a high ridge, west to east, Wadhurst, Ticehurst and Hawkhurst.
Wadhurst and Ticehurst were very deeply involved in the iron industry, Hawkhurst in a much more hazardous occupation, smuggling. Wadhurst is distinctly more town than village and was, in fact, granted a charter in 1253 by King Henry III, who conferred the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. A weekly market is still held on Monday. The name is pure Saxon, Wada's hyrst (wood). Wadhurst is probably the oldest of all the Wealden iron-smelting centres and one of the most important. The Celts mined iron ore at several centres here, and there is little doubt that the Romans encouraged them to carry on.
There was certainly a Roman ironworks between Wadhurst and Ticehurst, and a Roman trackway led east along the ridge down to Newenden, where iron could have been shipped. Westward the track led to Frant and then north to London. Exactly how important Wadhurst was as an iron centre can be assessed by a visit to the church, where you will find thirty-one fine cast-iron memorial floor slabs abnd one more in the churchyard. They span a period of over 180 years, from 1617 to 1799. Wadhurst gave up its iron industry with great reluctance and not without a struggle. Long after all the Wealden furnaces had closed, including its own, Wadhurst opened new mines in Snapes wood, about a mile from the little town. It was in August 1857. As all the furnaces in the neighbourhood had gone out, the ore was sent to Staffordshire for smelting. It was a gallant attempt but it stood little chance of success. The mines were closed almost exactly a year later, in September 1858, but they are still to be seen, in the wood.
Wadhurst is a place of character, a bright and sparkling place. Shops in pleasant variety line the long high street, and all sorts of architectural styles greet you, red tile, white weatherboards, grey stone and mellow sandstone, wavy roofs and straight roofs. Though it stands in a green and quiet recess, the church is nevertheless the most prominent building. A slender shingled spire rests on a Norman tower and rises 128 feet from the ground. The rest of the building grew from the thirteenth century to the sixteenth, replacing original twelfth-century work. The evening sun plays upon the spire when twilight has claimed the rest of the church and most of the town, and it gleams like illuminated silver.
THE RISE AND FALL OF MARKETS IN SOUTH-EAST ENGLAND
Mavis Mate - an interesting study
available through the Wadhurst History Society
Wadhurst - Then and Now : A Study in Pictures Stan Cosham and Michael Harte - Greenman Enterprise Paperback
The Education of Wadhurst Kenneth F. Ascott The Book Guild Ltd Hardcover
Pathfinder Map 1249: Wadhurst, Cranbrook and Bewl Water - TQ63/73 Ordnance Survey
Wadhurst: Town of the High Weald Alan Savidge and Oliver Mason Meresborough Books Paperback
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