Burwash Village sits on a ridge top entirely within the magnificent High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with panoramic views across the countryside.
The High Street has a rich and varied history dating back to Norman times. There are medieval properties and grand houses alongside more humble cottages and 88 of these buildings are “Listed” as having special historic interest making it one of the single most historic locations in East Sussex.
The main section of the High Street is also a Conservation Area which has pavements formed of brick pavers and 80 Lime Trees which line the High Street and are pollarded every year. Together these add to the charm of this historic place.
Commerce has always been a key feature of Burwash and in 1252 King John officially recognised this when he granted permission to hold a weekly market and an annual three-day Fair around 1st May. Following this Burwash continued to grow as an important local trading centre.
It is claimed that Napoleon described England as “a nation of shopkeepers” and there is certainly some merit in this in respect of Burwash as by the 1740’s there were over fifty shops, traders and craftsmen in the village. Although the number of shops has significantly reduced in recent years, the High Street today still provides a good range of shops which cover the everyday needs of residents and visitors.
The Blue Plaque project highlights the former commercial and historic use of some of the High Street properties, which are denoted by a Blue Plaque. Over 25 property owners have agreed to display a Blue Plaque to highlight the former, and in some instances, continued commercial use and the following section provides some historic background on these properties.
Starting at the northwest end of the High Street.
In Victorian times this was the White Hart public house. It was one of six in this village. art It remained a pub until 1968 when it closed and became a private residence. Cheriton is a Grade II Listed building.
Herbert Wrenn acquired these three adjoining buildings between 1881 to 1885. The first acquisition (which is now Chaplins Hairdressers) opened as a Grocers, then came the Drapers and finally in 1885 the Hardware store. His son Ernest took over the business upon his death and the business continued to be run by the Wrenn family until it was sold in 1950 when the family purchased land in Fontridge Lane and became farmers.
Charlie Waterhouse started C. Waterhouse and Sons as builders and undertakers in 1926 after he had served his carpenter’s apprenticeship with Finlayson of the Bear Inn. Waterhouse employed up to 20 people and the dead were laid out in their homes while he personally made and polished the cofﬁns in his yard. He only ceased making them himself in 1964. Charlie Waterhouse died in 1987 and his daughter Dorothy took over the business. C. Waterhouse conducted the funeral of Rudyard Kipling’s widow, Caroline, in December 1939. Charlton Cottage is a Grade II Listed Building
Comprising of Tudor House and Tudor Cottage these were certainly completed in the 16th century but could be older. They formed a four-bay building with a return overhang typical of Tudor buildings and are one of the few surviving examples in Burwash. Tudor House has been used by a number of different businesses uses over the years including a Restaurant in the 1990’s. From the 1930’s to the 1960’s it was a barber’s shop. Tudor House and Tudor Cottage are both Grade II Listed Buildings
The General Stores
In 1870 Bentham Fuller opened a Grocers and Drapers here and started to enlarge the premises and the services offered. In 1878 he became a Wine and Spirits Merchant. His son Fred took over in 1890 and continued to run the business until around 1920. It has remained a general store right through to the current day. The Stores are a Grade II Listed Building
Four generations of the Fleming family traded here as hairdressers and wigmakers between 1780 and 1878. John Fleming started this business in 1780 before his son took over in 1799. Two further generation continued this business until 1878. Later it became a Sweet Shop and then a Tea Shop before becoming a private residence. Rover Cottage and the adjoining Noakes Cottages were originally a barn converted into two houses in c.1724. Both properties are Grade II Listed Buildings.
John Blunden ran the Post Office here from 1840 until 1878 when he became a plumber and glazier. Following his death and the subsequent death of his wife, his daughters sold the property in 1920 for £700. Villiers is a Grade II* Listed Building
From 1875 to the early 1900’s, Martha Fleming ran a toy repository, stationers and bookshop here. In more recent years, this was a kitchen design shop before becoming a private residence. Floras is a Grade II* Listed Building
Dating from around 1380, Pelham Hall is reputed to be the oldest surviving building in Burwash High Street. It contains elements of an aisled medieval open hall house. It also has the remains of a detached kitchen at the rear. In buildings of this era cooking was on an open ﬁre so the kitchen was separate from the main timber-built home to protect it from ﬁre. Pelham Hall is a Grade II* Listed Building.
Thomas Stone traded here as a Grocer and Draper from 1840. In 1857, Traiton Rochester took over and continued with this business until he retired in 1873. William Ellis and his son expanded the business over the following years to also become an agent for Barclays Bank as well as becoming a Milliner. This business continued until 1935 when it became the offices of the Heathfield and District Water company until these closed in 1959. Chilston was built in c.1790 and is a Grade II Listed Building.
The Corn Stores and Farley’s
In 1878 these properties were purchased by Mr. Brook who sold seeds, corn, coal, cattle feed amongst other things. Buckley and Pettit then acquired it and continued with this business but added a furniture store. In 1952 Frank Farley acquired this business but closed the furniture store and opened a gardening section instead. This business closed in 2004 when the building was converted into private residences. The Corn Stores and Farley’s are both Grade II Listed Buildings
This was an Alehouse from the early 19th century until 1906 when the magistrates refused to renew the license because they felt there were too many licensed premises in Burwash. At that time there were 5 other public houses in Burwash along with several other unofficial drinking houses in the village. It then became a Post Office and telephone exchange and more recently an estate agent. In 2019 Burwash Community Interest Company acquired a lease of the ground floor and opened Blacksmith’s Tea and Coffee Shop funded entirely by community donations. Blacksmiths was built in c.1570.s and is a Grade II Listed Building
Jarvis the Butchers
The Jarvis family have been trading in Burwash in their current location since 1870. Fred Jarvis (the grandson of James, the original owner) took over the shop after returning from the First World War and continued to do so until his death in 1950. It is now run by the ﬁfth generation of the family. The Kipling’s were regular customers and some examples of their meat orders have been reproduced and are on display in the shop.
The Rose & Crown
The origins of this building are 16th century, although it has been changed and enlarged over the years, with the original timber structure refaced with bricks in the 18th century. The earliest recording of its use as a public house was in the early 18th century. The Rose & Crown is a Grade II Listed Building.
3 Everton Cottages
Harry Spears was a long-term resident of no.3 who traded as a Cordwainer (Shoemaker) from the early 1800’s until his death in 1880’s. Everton Cottages are all Grade II Listed buildings.
The Old Granary
Robert Busbridge opened a General Stores in the Old Granary in the 1730’s selling such wares as Salt, Silk, Soap, Sugar, Ivory combs and thread. This started a period of over 200 years when this property was used as a shop finally ending in 1972 when it became a private residence. The Old Granary and Yew Tree House are both Grade II Listed Buildings built around 1420.
Ivy House and Ivy Cottage
These properties have been used at various times through the 18th and 19th centuries as Doctors Surgeries and Solicitors offices. From the 1800’s to 1865, a Cordwainer traded from Ivy Cottage. Ivy House and Ivy Cottage are Grade II Listed Buildings
Charlie Farley opened a garage here in 1918 supplying petrol, oil and carrying out motor repairs. His son carried on this business until 1980. In 1985 Dave Hedges the former Village Policeman opened a Blacksmiths which traded here until the early 2000’s.
Thomas Abel Evans started to practice as a surgeon at Chaunt House from 1820 before moving to Mount House. In 1882 William Barton opened a surgery here and was succeeded in 1889 by Arthur Green and in 1899 by Joseph Cox both surgeons. In 1910 William Ballard opened his Chemist shop here and it remained a pharmacy until 1972. A mobile Dentist also used to visit with a drill driven by pedal power. Locals learnt to book the early appointments before the Dentist’s legs became tired! Chaunt House is a Grade II Listed Building
In 1845 Stephen Brown established a Saddlers and Harness makers business here and this continued to be run by further generations of his family until the property was sold in the early 1900’s. It then became the offices of the Burwash Gas Company until 1936 when the company closed. During the Second World War this was a café and later it became an estate agent before becoming a residence in 1997. Sadlers was built in c.1630’s and is a Grade II Listed Building.
In 1900, William Woodall started his bicycle repair and sales agency here. William died in the First World War, but his business was carried on by his wife and son until Kay Blundell became the owner. She was a talented artist and illustrator operating under her maiden name of Kay Nixon. She was a relative of President Richard Nixon. She illustrated many of Enid Blyton’s books. Popes Cottage was built in the early 1600’s and is a Grade II Listed Building
From 1885 Thomas Pagden lived and worked here as a tailor. In 1898 he was joined by his son and the business continued until the 1930’s. The Cottage is a Grade II Listed Building
In 1931 Daisy Templer moved from London and opened Daisy’s Tea Rooms. This business continued until 1962 when Daisy sold the property to Gordon White who opened a sweet shop and tobacconist.
The Bear Inn is a late 16th century timber framed building. There have been various expansions and by 1895 it included a hotel, stabling and a secure area for coaches. In 1970 the motel rooms were added. The ﬁrst mention of this property being a public house was in 1712 when it was owned by John Walker. The Bear Inn is a Grade II Listed Building.
This information and more is included in a delightful booklet in the Burwash Walks Series
There are eight separate walks in this series, including the village walk, which highlight the glorious High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the rich history of Burwash
The Walks are available from:
The Blacksmith’s Tea & Coffee Shop, Burwash
The Parish Office, Bear Public Car Park
Bistro@thestation, Etchingham station
The Walks are £2 each or as a complete gift set for £17 from www.burwashwalks.com