People have lived around Bishopstone for thousands of years, evidenced by Neolithic finds, Bronze Age Bowl barrows, Romans remains, a Saxon cemetery and later Medieval buildings . The name means “lands of the Bishop”, in this case the Bishops of Chichester who owned the area from the 8th -16th century. The Parish falls conveniently into 3 separate areas- the village proper clustered around the Church of St Andrew, The Buckle on the coast and Tide Mill Village about a mile west of the Buckle.
The road to the village was formally the drive to Bishopstone Place, which passed from the Bishops of Chichester to the Pelham family in the 16th century who rebuilt it, and then demolished it in 1831; the walled gardens and cellars still survive. The road to the village originally ran across the downs to Blatchington. Other old tracks lead across to Denton, Firle and Alfriston. As late as the early 19th century the sea came up the now nearly dry watercourse between the village and Rookery Hill and as late as 1940 there was reputed to be the remains of a barge, that had been storm driven up the creek 100 years earlier, still visible.
The Church of St Andrew dates back to Saxon times and is probably the oldest surviving church in Sussex. Nearby are the Almshouses built by George Catt in 1856 in memory of Mary Anne Catt. They face onto the village green know as “The Egg” a corruption of the old English Hagg – an enclosed space.
Bronze age barrows exist on Rookery Hill and a substantial Saxon burial ground was discovered during house building in the 1970s. Some 120 Saxon burials have been found during summer digs by the University of Kent near the walled garden of Bishopstone Place in the last few years including a hoard of various tools and objects such as locks & hinges.
In 1934 most of Bishopstone Farm was sold to Guildhall Property Co and plans were put in place to fill the area with houses to create a new town. A start was made with a new Railway Station and a scattering of bungalows and some houses built on Hawth Hill, Marine Drive, Rookery Way and Bishopstone Rd along with a spine road – Grand Avenue. All building stopped in 1939 and before it could recommence after the war the Town & Country Planning Act was brought in. Most of the land was listed as agricultural and sold back to the farm in the early 1950s. Development was allowed to continue though on Hawth & Rookery Hills in 1956 and again in 1965, the village proper being deemed a Conservation Area.
Until the Buckle Bypass was built in 1963, the main road from Newhaven ran under the Rail bridge and past the Buckle Pub into Seaford. In the winter it was often closed due to high seas. Early maps show the River Ouse entering the sea here, and even in the late eighteenth century the creek was open to Newhaven with a wharf near where the Rail bridge now is.
In 1545 a French fleet attacked the South Coast and a landing party of 1500 put ashore at the site of The Buckle Pub ( rebuilt as a private house in 1963) where they burned a number of cottages. Sir Nicholas Pelham raised a party of locals and drove the French back in his honour the area was named after the Pelham insignia a Buckled belt. Later a gun battery was installed and also a Coastguard Station on the Bishopstone/Blatchington parish border.
Building of the long gone Tide Mill Village started in 1761, older maps show that the creek and millponds are one of the old courses of the River Ouse. A tidemill operates by water from the rising tide turning water wheels and filling the pond behind, as the tide later drops the water in the pond flows out and turns the wheels the other way. In this way around 20 hours of operation out of 24 hours were obtained. At its peak and when run by William Catt from 1801 onwards it had 16 pairs of stones grinding and was thought to be the largest in the world. Catt became an authority on the system and built and advised on building several in France. Originally grain and flour came and went via the creek with its entrance into Newhaven harbour, but the closure of the creek to improve the quays stopped this traffic although the railway built a spur line in from Bishopstone Station (now derelict) right down to the mill. This raised costs and started the decline and led to eventual closure in 1883. The mill itself straddled the creek by the existing bridge. It became a bonded warehouse for and was finally demolished in 1900.The village continued and was declared unfit for habitation in 1934, the last family was forcibly moved in 1940 and the site was partially cleared to give open fields of fire and also used as a street fighting training area by the Canadians although RAF aerial photographs show a number of buildings standing intact as late as 1947. The Railway station was replaced in 1939 by the current Bishopstone station on Hawth Hill (note the gun emplacements on the roof) , the old one renamed Bishopstone Beach Halt and finally closed to service in 1942. The railway was single track until 1904 then double until 1975 when one track was closed and lifted. There was a signal box at the crossing which was demolished in 1922.
Church details, together with baptism, marriage, monumental inscription & burial records can be accessed by clicking on the church name.
288 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1841 census.
328 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1851 census.
304 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1861 census.
239 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1871 census.
303 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1891 census.
301 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1901 census.
7 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1851 census.
2 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1861 census.
9 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1871 census.
3 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1891 census.
1 individual in the OPC Database for the 1901 census.
1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 census returns - look up service offered.
Roll of Honour have a transcription of the war memorial together with biographical information concerning the individuals listed.
The OPC database contains 10 poll register entries for people entitled to vote in this parish.
There are no protestation returns for this parish in the OPC database.
The OPC database contains 19 entries for people associated with this parish mentioned in Gazettes.
There are 29 images depicting this parish in the OPC database.
New Roughwood Churches Album has 5 images of churches in this parish.
The OPC database contains 241 postal directory entries for this parish, (breakdown below).
71 entries from the 1914 Lewes & District Blue Book.
81 entries from the 1936 Lewes & District Blue Book.
89 entries from the 1938 Lewes & District Blue Book.
The OPC database contains the following directory sections which cover this parish.
1914 Lewes & District Blue Book for Bishopstone.
1936 Lewes & District Blue Book for Bishopstone.
1938 Lewes & District Blue Book for Bishopstone.
There is 1 book about this parish in the Sussex OPC Bibliography.
There are 21 articles about this parish in the OPC Sussex Archeaological Collections Index.
There is 1 person 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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