West Dean, (East Sussex)

OPC for West Dean is : Christine Ellis

Email: Christine Ellis.

Parish picture

West Dean is well hidden just off the Seaford to Eastbourne coast road and is almost too good to be true. To get to the village you need to take a side road, which returns upon itself. The road to the village can be flooded when the Cuckmere river breaks its banks, and there is little room to manoeuvre or park in this delightful place.

West Dean was originally known as Eorlscourt, later to be Earlscourt then Dene and finally West Dean.

The village was probably founded in Saxon times as a fishing and salt producing village hidden away from the weather by the valleys. It is known that Alfred the Great had a palace in the village, and it is possible that this was one of his naval main bases, in his war with the Vikings.

Parish picture

After the Norman Conquest in 1066 the village was given to Earl Mortain , King Williams half brother. He gave the land together with nearby Exceat to the Monastery of Grestein, and their nearby priory at Wilmington.

During the 1100's the area was important as West Dean and Exceat paid more in taxes than nearby Lewes, the villages were probably associated with Seaford in their ties with the Cinque Ports.

In 1305 King Edward I who was at nearby Lewes visited the villages implying a still great importance in the history of the Realm, again probably naval power.

The Black Death and subsequent French raids affected the village quite badly and nearby Exceat was abandoned by the 1450's.

The area was used by the smugglers in the 1800's, as the Alfriston gang led by Stanton Collins roamed the local villages, this ended in 1831 when he was arrested and deported for 7 years.

Places of worship:

Church details, together with baptism, marriage, monumental inscription & burial records can be accessed by clicking on the church name.

All Saints

Exceat Church

Census returns:

The OPC Database has no census returns for people residing in this parish yet.

People born in this parish but residing elsewhere:

1 individual in the OPC Database for the 1851 census.

3 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1871 census.

1 individual in the OPC Database for the 1891 census.

1 individual in the OPC Database for the 1901 census.


Grid reference: 552500, 99700 ~ View on: Google Maps, Open Street Map, Streetmap, National Library of Scotland Map or Oldmaps.

Poll Registers:

The OPC database contains 23 poll register entries for people entitled to vote in this parish.

1641 Protestation Returns:

There are no protestation returns for this parish in the OPC database.


The OPC database contains 14 entries for people associated with this parish mentioned in Gazettes.


There are 9 images depicting this parish in the OPC database.

Postal directories:

The OPC database contains no postal directory entries for this parish.

1851 Post Office Directory for West Dean


There are no books about this parish in the Sussex OPC Bibliography.

There are 6 articles about this parish in the OPC Sussex Archeaological Collections Index.

There are 3 people from this parish in the OPC Sussex Archeaological Society Members Index.


The OPC database contains no wills of people who lived in this parish.

The OPC database contains no wills that mention this parish.

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