East Dean, (East Sussex)

OPC for East Dean is : Christine Ellis

Email: Christine Ellis.

Parish picture

East Dean lies in a steep valley on the South Downs, it is split by the busy tourist coast road. The modern part of the village lies to the north of the road, and the old part of the village to the south.

The manor of Birling has very likely been in existance since Saxon times as a fishing and farming community, with the village protected by the surrounding Downs.

The flint church, dedicated to St Simon & St Jude has a Saxon tower, and was improved by the Normans after the conquest in 1066.

The 1300's brought the constant threat of French Raids, which destroyed the crops and killed the local people, it is believed that the locals hid in the church when raided.

The village is closely tied to the Bardolf family, who took over Birling Manor in 1257, when William married Juliana Gurney and gained the manor as part of her dowery.

Parish picture

In 1267 William was granted a licence to hold a weekly market and annual fair by King Henry III.

In the early 1400's Hugh Bardolf son of William and Juliana took part in the revolt against King Henry IV and was killed. The King seized the lands back from the family in 1406 due to Hughs treason. Later the King granted the lands back to the Bardolfs, unfortunately a later Lord William fought for the Lancastrians against King Edward IV and lost. The lands were forfeited again, and the family never again held power in the area.

The coastline in this area was treacherous for sailors, and many ships were driven ashore onto the rocks, the village quite often enjoyed the benefits of the sailors bad luck. The area on the edge of the cliffs at Birling Gap were perfect for smugglers and wreckers. Many ships were also deliberately wrecked by fake lights being hung on the cliffs so that unsuspecting seamen thought they were near Eastbourne or Newhaven.

Places of worship:

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

St Simon & St Jude

Census returns:

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

People born in this parish but residing elsewhere:

3 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1851 census.

7 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1861 census.

5 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1871 census.

8 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1891 census.

3 individuals in the OPC Database for the 1901 census.

1831, 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 - look up service offered


Grid reference: 555500, 97500 ~ View on: Google Maps, Open Street Map, Streetmap, National Library of Scotland Map or Oldmaps.

Other links relating to this parish:

East Dean and Friston Community Website

Poll Registers:

The OPC database contains 20 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 11 entries for people associated with this parish mentioned in Gazettes.


There are 30 images depicting this parish in the OPC database.

POWPics (The new Roughwood churches album) contains 4 photographs of churches in this parish. This album will also display any postcards or other images of churches which are in the Sussex OPC database.

Postal directories:

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

1867 Kelly's Directory is available on the GENUKI site

1851 Post Office Directory for East Dean


There are 3 books about this parish in the Sussex OPC Bibliography.

There are 4 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 1 will which mention this parish.

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