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Hailsham 11.JPG

Hailsham town centre
Hailsham is located in East Sussex
Location within East Sussex
Area19.4 km2 (7.5 sq mi) [1]
Population20,476 (2011 Census)[2]
• Density2,652/sq mi (1,024/km2)
OS grid referenceTQ589093
• London61.4 miles (98.8 km) NNW
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtBN27
Dialling code01323
FireEast Sussex
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
UK Parliament
List of places
East Sussex
50°51′53″N 0°15′28″E / 50.8647°N 0.2577°E / 50.8647; 0.2577Coordinates: 50°51′53″N 0°15′28″E / 50.8647°N 0.2577°E / 50.8647; 0.2577

Hailsham is a town, a civil parish and the administrative centre of the Wealden district of East Sussex, England.[3] It is mentioned in the Domesday Book, where it is called Hamelesham.[4] In one part yet, mentioned in other part of the same book as ‘’’Tilux’’’, the land of Ricard de Tunbrige. The town of Hailsham has a history of industry and agriculture.


The name "Hailsham" is thought to come from the Saxon "Haegels Ham",[5] meaning the clearing or settlement of Haegel, Hella or a similar name, possibly even "Aella's Ham", the clearing of Aella the Saxon. The name of the town has been spelt in various ways through the ages from ‘Hamelsham’ (as it was referred to in the Domesday Book), "Aylesham" in the 13th century, and later Haylesham, to its present spelling.


Hailsham, East Sussex
Hailsham, East Sussex

The site of Hailsham has been inhabited since at least the Neolithic age. It was an Ancient British settlement that existed before the Romans invaded Kent and Sussex in 43 AD. The Anglo Saxons invaded Sussex in the year 477 AD. The Saxons are thought to have invaded at an original landing place at Selsey. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in 491 AD they attacked and took the British stronghold of Anderida which was the fort that is believed to have been built by the Ancient British[6] and the Romans at what is now Pevensey, just a few miles from Hailsham, thereby consolidating their conquest and forming the small kingdom of the South Saxons, or Sussex.

In Roman and Saxon times, the lowland marsh area between Anderida and the site of Hailsham, today known as the Pevensey Levels, is presumed to be unreclaimed at that time, so that much of the levels would have been a saltmarsh and at high tide, a lagoon. The link between Hailsham and the levels is preserved in the name of the access routes such as Marshfoot Lane and Saltmarsh Lane.

The manor of Hailsham is recorded in the Domesday Survey completed by the Normans in 1086, 20 years after the conquest. There was some activity in this part of Sussex during the baronial wars and in the armed rivalry between Matilda and Stephen.[citation needed]

During the 17th century civil war between Charles I and Parliament, Hailsham and this part of Sussex declared against the royalist cause.

Little is known of the town of Hailsham before the 1086 Domesday Book, but evidence of a Roman road from Leap Cross across the Common indicates some occupation prior to this.[citation needed]

Market town status

Henry III granted the town a Market Charter in 1252.[7] Originally, the market was held in the High Street and in Market Square, only moving to its present location in 1868. Sheep and cattle were driven from miles around along the various ancient droves until the arrival of the railway station and motor lorries. Today, the weekly livestock markets, together with the monthly farmers’ market continue whilst stall markets are held weekly in the town centre on Saturdays or Thursdays.

Dates of significance

Hailsham Parish Church (formerly St Mary's Church), Hailsham, East Sussex
Hailsham Parish Church (formerly St Mary's Church), Hailsham, East Sussex
Common Pond, Hailsham
Common Pond, Hailsham
Market Square, Hailsham, East Sussex
Market Square, Hailsham, East Sussex

Hailsham Museum & Heritage Centre

Glimpses of the town's past are to be found in photographs and artefacts available for viewing at the Heritage Centre in Blackman's Yard, Market Street, which is run by members of the Hailsham Historical and Natural History Society. A small display is available to members of the public including period kitchen, farming and agriculture, local industry and wartime memorabilia.

The Parish of Hailsham

The civic parish of Hailsham is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) in breadth and 4 miles (6.4 km) from north to south between its extreme points. Its boundary (going in a clockwise direction) runs from its most northerly limit, near Carter's Corner Place, in a southerly direction around Magham Down, over the Herstmonceux road and crosses the low-lying farmlands, passing close to New Bridge and on across Horse Eye Level to Rickney.[9]

A271 from Hailsham, East Sussex
A271 from Hailsham, East Sussex

It then turns westwards taking an irregular course over the Glynleigh Level, across the Cuckoo Trail (former railway line) to the main Eastbourne road (A22), continuing northwards along this for about three-quarters of a mile until it goes west and north again to take in some of the woodlands around Cacklebury.

It runs on the west side of the A22 in a northerly direction between Hailsham and the River Cuckmere to Hempstead, where it turns east to meet the A22. It then runs northwards to the point where the Cuckmere crosses the A22 and follows the river eastwards to Horsebridge and the A271.

On an irregular course eastwards, sometimes following the A271 and sometimes to the north of it, until Amberstone where it completes its delineation by a final straight mile along the line of the road to Carter's Corner Place.

This includes the areas, which under the Wealden Parishes Order 1991, were transferred to Hailsham being a large area of Hellingly Parish (the residential areas around Anglesey Avenue, Upper Horsebridge and Lansdowne Drive) along with several smaller areas to the east, south and west (transferred from Arlington, Hellingly and Pevensey Parishes). A further area of Hellingly Parish (between the A22 and Anglesey Avenue) was transferred to Hailsham under the Wealden Parishes Order 1993.

Geography and climate

In the county of East Sussex, about 6 miles (10 km) from the coast, and between the well-wooded hills of the southern Forest Ridge and the undulating chalk countryside of the South Downs, Hailsham is surrounded by "much attractive and unspoilt scenery".[10] Hailsham is the largest settlement in the southern half of the Wealden district, and the largest inland town in East Sussex with around 8,500 homes and a population of just over 20,000.

Leap Cross, Hailsham, East Sussex
Leap Cross, Hailsham, East Sussex

Location and accessibility

Hailsham is 7 miles (11 km) north of Eastbourne; 19 miles (31 km) south of Tunbridge Wells; 14 miles (23 km) west of Hastings; and 11 miles (18 km) east of the County town of Lewes. London is some 48 miles (77 km) away.

Demography and statistics



Hailsham falls below the national average for reported robbery, burglaries and other criminal offences.

Local/regional crime figures (statistics are per 1,000 of the population within the local authority (Wealden) area (2008/09) [14]

Offence Locally National average
Robbery 0.1 1.6
Burglary 5.0 11.1
Criminal damage 9.7 17.4
Drug offences 1.4 4.5
Fraud and forgery 1.7 3.1
Offences against vehicles 5.3 11.1
Sexual offences 0.5 1.0
Violence against the person 5.8 16.8
Other offences 0.5 1.3

On Saturday 18 August 2018, a unit on Diplocks Way Industrial Estate was raided by the National Crime Agency where a large number of handguns and ammunition were discovered. Three men have appeared in court and all been charged with firearms offences. More than 30 handguns and a ‘significant’ amount of ammunition was seized in what the NCA describe as a 'sophisticated gun factory'.[15]

Governance and administration

Town Council Offices (Fleur de Lys and Inglenook), Hailsham, East Sussex
Town Council Offices (Fleur de Lys and Inglenook), Hailsham, East Sussex

In Hailsham, there are three tiers of local government which manage between them the majority of local community services and amenities.


At the local level, Hailsham is represented by Hailsham Town Council. The councillors are elected from seven wards: Hailsham Central Ward (3 seats); Hailsham East Ward (3 seats); Hailsham South Ward (2 seats); Hailsham North Ward (3 seats); Hailsham West Ward (3 seats); Hailsham North West Ward (3 seats) and Magham Down Ward (1 seat).

Paul Holbrook was elected as Town Mayor & Chairman in May 2022 and John Puttick is the current Deputy Town Mayor & Vice-Chairman. Both remain in post until May 2023.


Hailsham is the home of Wealden District Council. District Council Elections are held every four years. Fifty five Councillors in total are elected, six of these from the three wards that make up Hailsham. The May 2011 election returned 47 Conservative, 3 Liberal Democrat, 4 Independent Democrat and 1 No party allegiance/non-group.[16]


The next level of government is the East Sussex County Council with responsibility for Education, Libraries, Social Services, Civil Registration, Trading Standards and Transport. For these elections Hailsham is combined with Herstmonceux to return two seats.[17]


Hailsham is in the Wealden parliamentary constituency. Prior to Brexit in 2020, Hailsham was part of the South East England constituency in the European Parliament.


Many years ago it became the market town for the prosperous surrounding agricultural district. There are local light industrial undertakings.

Industry and commerce

Hailsham Livestock Market
Hailsham Livestock Market

Hailsham was granted a charter to hold a market in 1252 by King Henry III. From 1997 to 2012, there was much controversy over the sale of Hailsham Cattle Market and its redevelopment into a supermarket. The land freehold was, until being sold to market operator South East Marts in January 2012,[18] owned by supermarket chain Aldi[19] who planned to build a supermarket on the site, although the amended planning application was rejected by Wealden District Council in November 2007.[20] Should the market have closed as a result of development, the nearest alternatives would have been in Ashford, Kent or Salisbury, Wiltshire. Local MP Charles Hendry, the National Farmers Union among others spoke out against closure.[21][22] and the Public Inquiry lodged by Aldi against the District Council's decision to refuse planning permission commenced on 11 February 2009 and ended on 19 February 2009.

Hailsham's traditional industry was rope making,[23] which included supplying ropes for public hanging to Great Britain and the Colonies.[24] Currently, light industry survives in two large industrial estates to the west of the town, located in Diplocks Way and Station Road, and several smaller ones including those situated in Hackhurst Lane (Lower Dicker) and north of Old Swan Lane, all of which provide a source of employment for local residents.

Shopping and retail

Hailsham High Street
Hailsham High Street

Hailsham has a variety of local and national shops, restaurants and several supermarkets. The main shopping area has developed along the High Street and George Street. A parade of units at St Mary's Walk made a contribution to retail facilities in Hailsham.

The Quintins development, near the Vicarage Field precinct, was opened in the late 1980s, creating a focus for shopping in Hailsham. The shopping centre was named after Quintin Hogg, Baron Hailsham of St Marylebone.[25] At the heart of the centre was the Co-operative (supermarket) until its closure on 15 July 2011 following which it was replaced by an ASDA supermarket. There is a Waitrose supermarket nearby in Vicarage Field and in North Street there is a Tesco supermarket which opened on 3 November 2008.[26] Plans to redevelop the Quintins Centre car park[27] to include provision a new large food store, additional units to the North Street frontage and a new car park deck were submitted for public consultation but this development has not taken place.

Potential new retail developments

Station Road industrial estate, Hailsham
Station Road industrial estate, Hailsham

Hailsham competes with nearby towns such as Eastbourne for both convenience goods (day to day) shopping and higher order durable goods shopping. A retail study commissioned by Wealden District Council for the non-statutory local plan indicated that Hailsham town centre could support around 1,600 square metres net of additional convenience goods floorspace by 2014.[28] The study also indicated that there was scope in expenditure terms for 2,100 square metres net durable goods floor space in the town centre.

Within the main shopping area in Hailsham, as indicated in the Hailsham & Hellingly Masterplan,[29] the Council aims to improve the quality of shopping facilities.

Hailsham Forward

Following a government-commissioned report compiled by television's ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas, Hailsham Town Council and the local Chamber of Commerce took the decision in September 2012 to form a Town Team (Hailsham Forward), which was set up to take a closer look at ways to revitalise the town's High Street and surrounding urban environment, increase footfall and spend within the town.[30]

Hailsham Forward's key actions for the next five years include a pedestrian-friendly High Street, parking time restrictions, the creation of loading bays in the town centre, traffic wardens, a review of business rates and shop rents, improvements to shop frontages and signage, and the attraction and retention of a broader diversity of retail outlets (independent national/chain) to fill empty retail units in the town centre.[31]

Hailsham Street Market

One of the Hailsham Town Team's main initiatives since it was established in 2013 was the establishment of a regular town centre market. The market, which is based in Vicarage Field, is open between 8.30am and 1.30pm every Saturday.

Hailsham Farmers' Market

Established in 1998, Hailsham Farmers' Market operates on the second Saturday of each month in the Cattle Market, Market Street, from 9.00am to 12.30pm.[citation needed]

Chamber of Commerce

Hailsham & District Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1984 and exists to support and encourage growth and prosperity within the business community of Hailsham and its environs. The Chamber meets every first Thursday of the month.

Housing and development

Extensive development has taken place in Hailsham since 1945 by private developers, with the northern part of the town now largely developed right up to the boundary with Hellingly. Wealden planning policies may result in further development in and around Hailsham,[28] together with increased local infrastructure and services.

The Hailsham & Hellingly Masterplan,[29] submitted to Wealden District Council as supplementary planning guidance in 2009, planned a holistic approach to the town's infrastructure: roads; sewerage and drainage; transport; retail; employment land; housing; healthcare; education and training; leisure, recreation and the arts. Among the Masterplan's proposals were long-term visualisations for the town's roads, including two major (new) relief roads which would make the High Street and town centre more pedestrian-friendly, a community-based diagnostic and treatment centre with GP surgeries, and a community park/complex.

Hailsham town councillors have agreed to support plans for improved infrastructure, including roads, schools and healthcare provision, in light of proposed future new housing developments and will work with Wealden District council to develop an “Area Action Plan” to ensure the required infrastructure in advance of any development.[32]

The Hailsham Neighbourhood (Development) Plan, written and recently submitted by a group made up of members from the community and from Hailsham Town Council, proposes a number of policies relating to what infrastructure and development is needed to sustain future housing growth in Hailsham, taking into consideration local environment and sustainability, design, housing type, traffic and transport, economy, services and facilities.



Phoenix Academy, Hailsham
Phoenix Academy, Hailsham

Hailsham has several primary schools, including Hawkes Farm, Grovelands, Phoenix Academy (formerly Marshlands School), Burfield Academy (formerly Hailsham Academy) and White House Academy. Burfield Academy opened in September 2015, under the name of Hailsham Academy, in brand new buildings on its campus on Oaklands Way. Hailsham Community College Primary Academy (part of the Hailsham Community College Academy Trust) opened in September 2019.


The town has one secondary comprehensive school, Hailsham Community College, located in Battle Road, which achieved a specialist status of sports college.

The town also has an independent secondary school, Bede's School, formerly St Bede's School.

In literature, the novel Never Let Me Go uses the fictional Hailsham school as a background, although filming for the screen adaptation was done at Ham House, Surrey.[33]


Hailsham is served by five NHS doctors’ practices, one health centre, one physiotherapy unit and four NHS dental practices. Hospitals serving this area are located in Eastbourne, Hastings, Uckfield and Crowborough, and are managed by the East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust.



A22 near Hailsham
A22 near Hailsham

Hailsham is near the junction of two major roads, the A22 road to Eastbourne and the A27 South Coast Trunk Road. Hailsham is served by Stagecoach Buses on routes that serve the town, extending to Eastbourne, Bexhill and Uckfield). Cuckmere Buses, an independent charity run by volunteers, provides supplementary bus links into Hailsham to and from neighbouring villages. The Hailsham Bus Alliance was set up by Hailsham Town Council in January 2012 to drive forward improvements to the planning of bus routes and bus stop networks.[citation needed]


Hailsham used to have a railway station on the Cuckoo Line, running from Polegate to Tunbridge Wells. The line from Polegate was opened in May 1849 and finally closed as part of the Beeching cuts in 1968. The southern 12 miles (19 km) of disused line between Polegate and Heathfield is now a cycleway-footpath known as the Cuckoo Trail. Hailsham Railway station outlived the rest of the Cuckoo Line by three years, the section north of Hailsham closing to passenger traffic in 1965. The track was retained with a weekly freight service until April 1968, when a bridge at nearby hamlet Horsebridge was damaged by a road vehicle. With the whole line due for closure, the damaged railway infrastructure was never repaired.[34]

The closure of the section from Polegate to Hailsham was disputed — British Railways going so far as to admit that the town was growing at the time of closure and that the town would soon outgrow other public transport.[35] Despite this, passenger services finished on 9 September 1968 with the final train, composed of two Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) units, leaving Hailsham station to the sound of detonators on the line and the tune of Auld Lang Syne sung by a large crowd who had gathered. After 119 years of railway operation into Hailsham, the line was gone.[citation needed]



Local newspapers include the Hailsham Herald and the Sussex Express, both published by Johnston Publishing Ltd. The Hailsham music and social scene is also covered in the monthly East Magazine, an independent publication aimed principally at younger people. A similar publication is the more regional Magnet. Both are freely distributed throughout the town.

A new local monthly free newspaper, Hailsham News, was launched to the town of Hailsham and surrounding areas on 1 October 2021, and delivering door to door. The newspaper features news articles in and around the town, as well as promoting local businesses, with a particular emphasis on local shopping and reducing the impact of our carbon footprint on the planet. The newspaper is also distributed to many outlets across the town and in further satellite locations. The popular Facebook group, Hailsham New & Talk is also run by the creators of Hailsham News.


Hailsham is covered by BBC Sussex, as well as independent stations Heart Sussex (formerly Southern FM) and More Radio (formerly Sovereign FM).

Hailsham has its own online radio station, Hailsham FM (formerly Hailsham Festival FM), which broadcasts on a daily basis. After having received a broadcasting licence in 2018, it has transmitted on 95.9FM from 2 North Street, Hailsham since its official launch on Saturday, 26 May 2018.[36]

Live Entertainment

Hailsham Live, the first live music and family entertainment event the town has seen was brought to the town on 10 July 2021, the first local event since coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The whole-day event was originally scheduled for 8 May 2020 to coincide with the VE Day Celebrations (Victory in Europe Day) but the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns prevented it. Hailsham Live was organised by Hailsham News.

Sport and recreation

Notable teams

The main stand at The Beaconsfield
The main stand at The Beaconsfield

Hailsham Active

Hailsham Active (formerly Hailsham & District Sports Alliance) was set up in 1995 with the objective to unite sports clubs and societies within the Hailsham district, provide support for member clubs, and to promote sport within the town as an essential activity for residents.[citation needed]

Leisure facilities

Leisure activities

Cuckoo Trail, Hailsham
Cuckoo Trail, Hailsham

Additional sports facilities

As part of the planning requirements for the Welbury and Woodholm Farm development, an additional community sports hall has been constructed in north Hailsham. The James West Community Centre was named after the founder and Chairman of the Hailsham & District Sports Alliance, who died in November 2016.

Entertainment and culture

Hailsham is the home of Wealden Brass,[38] a brass band which rehearses at Union Corner Hall. The band was formed in February 1979 and held its first practice in the Church at Vines Cross on 6 March 1979.[39] The Hailsham Choral Society, founded in 1961, performs several concerts in Hailsham and neighbouring towns throughout the year.

Three pubs remain in the three streets that make up the triangle of Hailsham Town Centre, The Grenadier; The Corn Exchange; The third being "The George", closed in June 2008 due to financial pressures,[40] but reopened in December 2008 under the new ownership of pub chain Wetherspoons .[41] The Corn Exchange also operates as a nightclub on weekend nights. In addition, Hailsham has several members' clubs in the town centre including: Slate Base; the Hailsham Memorial Institute and The Hailsham Club (known locally as The Top Club). Local public houses and inns that have closed over the years include: Bricklayers Arms, The Good Intent; The Fox; The Black Horse Inn; The Swan Inn; The Market House; The Bridge; The Cow and The Brewers Arms (formerly the Railway Arms).

Hailsham is also home to the annual Hailsham Festival, described as a celebration of talent, creativity and imagination centred in Hailsham and its surrounding area. Hailsham Festival takes place over two or three weeks in different locations at the end of the summer.

Hailsham Pavilion

Live acts at the Hailsham Pavilion Theatre
Live acts at the Hailsham Pavilion Theatre

Hailsham Pavilion is a Grade II listed cinema and concert hall built in 1921. After remaining empty, it was refurbished in 1993 and reopened in 2000. Hailsham Pavilion was originally opened as a cinema on 28 November 1921 by local Justice A. K. Burtenshaw JP, with The Kid starring and directed by Charlie Chaplin as the first picture.[42]

Following many years of service, Hailsham Pavilion closed as a cinema in 1965. It served as a bingo hall until 1987, before being purchased by Wealden District Council using a Compulsory Purchase Order, after its owners fell into receivership. By 1999, the Hailsham Old Pavilion Society (H.O.P.S.) had raised enough money to restore the old cinema and signed a 31-year lease at a peppercorn rent. In 2012 the film The Moo Man had its first ever screening at the Pavilion.

Summerheath Hall

Summerheath Hall is a community hall. It is home to a group of amateur dramatic players, Hailsham Theatres, whose musical and drama performances have been presented since the early 1930s.[43]

Gallery North

Hailsham has an art gallery, Gallery North in North Street. Since the Gallery North project began in November 2004, they have showcased the work of over 200 artists, organised art workshops, courses and events (including the formation and promotion of Hailsham's first Arts Festival).

Although Gallery North is supported by Wealden District Council and Hailsham Town Council, they rely on donations, grants, bursaries and sponsorship from various organisations to manage the project. They are a not-for-profit organisation run by unpaid volunteers.

The town crest

The Hailsham Town Crest was designed by a parish councillor and adopted by Hailsham Town Council for use on all official documents. It was crafted by local resident P. V. Collings in the form of a shield, which was presented to the Council, and now hangs in the Town Council offices at The Inglenook in Market Street.

The shield is divided into four sectors.[44] The upper left of these shows the six gold martlets and crown of the armorial bearings of the County of East Sussex. The remaining three quadrants each depict a facet of the town's history or culture.

The upper right shows a sheaf of corn, crook and rake, to illustrate the agricultural and rural connections from which Hailsham derived its status as a market town. The lower right shows a mill, possibly the last surviving mill - Hamlin's Mill in Mill Road.

Finally, the lower left quadrant depicts a ball of twine and rope "dolly", representing Hailsham's entry into light industry, in the form of ropemaking, which supported factories and "ropewalks" within the town's boundaries.

Local traditions and festivals

One event in the town's calendar is its celebration of Guy Fawkes Night, held in October. The average attendance of 3,000+ people descend upon the town centre to witness the event, organised by the Hailsham Bonfire Society.[45] Additional town festivities include annual market events and various Christmas markets.

Sites of interest

Buildings and architecture

Many parts of Hailsham have been lost to redevelopment prior to preservation orders being introduced.[5] The town retains a number of buildings which display evidence of antiquity. The houses are mainly Victorian in character with more modern residential developments around the original town centre.

Hailsham Pavilion, George Street
Hailsham Pavilion, George Street
Hailsham Livestock Market
Hailsham Livestock Market
The Grenadier, High Street, Hailsham
The Grenadier, High Street, Hailsham

Parks and gardens

Hailsham Common Pond
Hailsham Common Pond

Other sites of interest

Amberstone Hospital, near Hailsham
Amberstone Hospital, near Hailsham

Places of worship

See also: List of current places of worship in Wealden

This article is in list format but may read better as prose. You can help by converting this article, if appropriate. Editing help is available. (May 2015)
Hailsham Baptist Church
Hailsham Baptist Church

International relations

Hailsham is twinned with Gournay-en-Bray in the Upper Normandy region of France. Although Gournay-en-Bray has a much smaller population (c. 6,500 compared to Hailsham's c.20,500), according to Hailsham Town Council, "the features and facilities of both towns are quite similar".[50] The Twinning Charter was signed in Hailsham in October 2000 and in Gournay-en-Bray in February 2001, and renewed in both towns on the tenth anniversary. Cultural and host family visits take place every year, in both directions.[51]

Notable residents

For a complete list of people born in Hailsham, see Category:People from Hailsham.


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