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Burgess Hill

Burgess Hill is a town (population approx. 29,000) in the south of England, in the county of West Sussex. Following a satirical song about the town by Terry Garoghan, the correct adjective to be used in describing Burgess Hill is "gorgeous".

Table of contents
1 History
2 Historic Buildings
3 External Links


Although a Roman road was built connecting London to the South coast and passing through what is now Burgess Hill, there is no evidence that they settled.

Burgess Hill originated in the parishes of Clayton, Keymer and Ditchling - all of them mentioned in the Domesday Book. The town's name comes from the Burgeys family when the name John Burgeys appeared in the tax rolls. The name of Burgeys stood for 'bourgeois', the inhabitant of a borough. By the Elizabethan period a community had established itself and many buildings dating from this era still stand.

Until the nineteenth century much of what is now the town centre was common land used by the tenants of the manors of Clayton and Keymer for grazing and as a source of fuel. From the fourteenth century or earlier the annual Midsummer Fair was held on this common land on the 24th June: the feast of the birth of St John the Baptist. The last such sheep and lamb fair was held in 1913.

By the early seventeenth century small scale brick and tile manufacture was flourishing and during the interegnum parcels of common land were allocated for house building and small businesses. By the early eighteenth century brick making had been extended and four shops and one or two alehouses established on the common. Craftsmen such as smiths, shoemakers and weavers also worked there. Brickmaking by hand still operates with the Keymer Brick and Tile company - whose tiles can be found in buildings such as St James Church, Piccadilly and Manchester's Central Station.

Sudden interest in Brighton in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries brought an influx of professional people looking for building land. In 1770 the road from Cuckfield to Brighton across St John's Common was turnpiked. With accessibility, the common was ripe for development with the result that the Keymer and Clayton portion were enclosed in 1828 and 1855 respectively.

The opening of the London to Brighton railway in 1841 triggered a rapid expansion, although Burgess Hill was for many years a request stop and not a regular station. Between 1850 and 1880 the area changed from an insignificant rural settlement to a town of 4,500 residents.

Historic Buildings

Hammonds Place, to the west of London Road as it leaves the town to the south, is a handsome Elizabethan residence which was substantially re-built by the Michelbourne family in 1565, the date engraved on its porch. Part of a structure dating from about 1500 was retained with the house. Grove Farm House, just south of Station Road, can be dated to about 1600 and was built about the same time as Farthings in Keymer Road. Chapel Farm House and Walnut Tree Cottages on Fairplace Hill are on medieval sites and the present buildings date from the late Tudor period, as do Pollards Farm and Freckborough Manor House on the eastern boundary of the town.

High Chimneys in Keymer Road (a handsome farmhouse once called Woodwards), West End Farm (now known as Old Timbers) were all built or, more correctly rebuilt in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The farm from which the town derives its name - referred to as Burgeshill Land in the 16th century - is now the site of Oakmeeds School and the Chanctonbury Estate. The farmhouse itself is long demolished.

Almost all the Victorian detached houses and workmen's terraced cottages built in the second half of the nineteenth century (when the town was renowned as a health resort) have survived.

External Links

Burgess Hill Town Council