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Our Villages


Fairlight consists of a few old coastguard cottages, two churches and a suburban type collection of houses making up what is now a large village.  The name Fairlight means ‘Bracken Clearing’ and has been known as Farleg, Fairlea, Fernlega, Farleigh, Fayrleigh and Farnleigh.  St Andrew’s church on the hill was built in 1845 and has a tall tower that serves as a landmark from the countryside inland, as well as from the sea.  Amongst the tombs in the churchyard are those of Richard D’Oyly Carte, the founder of the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company and Thomas Attwood Walmisley (1814 – 1856), who became Professor of Music at Cambridge at the age of 22 and who was a great friend of Mendelssohn.  The lane from the church leads to the Hastings Country Park, known as the Firehills.  Its unspoilt sandstone cliffs tumble down to the sea, broken only by gorse and tree-covered glens.  Fairlight has some of the most magnificent views in the area.


On a clear day, the view from the tower ia glorious


Guestling village has no proper centre and is spread out over a wide area.  The main court for the Western Towns in the Cinque Ports was held at Guestling, and bricks were hand made in Fourteen Acre Lane for many years. They were in great demand for restoring churches and other old buildings: customers including Camber Castle, Hampton Court and Buckingham Palace.  The church of St Laurence was founded in Saxon times and still has some Norman and Early English arches. Olive Brockwell, the most famous of all nannies, who was immortalised as ‘Alice’ by A.A. Milne (Changing guards at Buckingham Palace, Christopher Robin went down with Alice) is buried in the churchyard.  It is believed that the village moved away from the churchyard because of the number of Black Death sufferers buried somewhere in the churchyard.  A very pretty area with some lovely lanes.


Pett is a long village that consists of houses and bungalows that wend their way along about 1½ miles of road which swings steeply down at its east end to Pett Level.  This is a wide expanse of land, close to the sea, which is a haven for wildlife.  A church of St. Mary & St Peter has stood on its present site since 1285, but the existing place of worship was built in 1864 and among its noteworthy features are its tall octagonal belfry and spire, and the large gargoyles that peer down from it.  On the north side of the nave is a modern stained glass window depicting St Nicholas (whose chapel is at Pett Level) with a lifeboat man: this was designed by Lawrence Lee.  In 1690 a British frigate, the ‘Anne’, was beached on the shore and burnt by her captain after the Battle of Beachy Head.  The Royal Military Canal runs from Shorecliffe in Kent to Cliff End at Pett Level and was built to keep out Napoleon’s Army, but was never required for that purpose.

The three villages are situated in the most glorious countryside and many famous artists and writers have either visited or lived in the area for a time.  In the 21st Century, fewer than half of the pupils at Guestling Bradshaw come from these villages, but the link between Fairlight, Guestling and Pett is very strong and will always remain so.

John Taylor

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