Whilst there is no mention of the village of Fairwarp (Fayre Wharp) until 1519 there are significant Roman connections in the area.
At Duddleswell there is a preserved section of a road that ran across the Ashdown Forest and onto London from Lewes. This is part of Ermine Street. The road was built around 100 AD and made of slag and cinders, probably from the iron industry of the area.
There is evidence that the Romans produced iron as a bloomery (early furnace) has been found in the Fairwarp area. The name Oldlands is suggested comes from “old ironworking lands”. Here a number of Roman Coins have been found.
Local heresay claims that there was a Roman posting station at Duddleswell. The origin of the name Duddleswell comes from a chapel, St Dudeneys – Dudeney’s well.
Fairwarp is a delightful small village situated within the six and a half thousand acres of the enchanting Ashdown Forest.
Please see the below history posts of information that has been handed to us so far. If you have more information, photos, or anything about Fairwarp history please contact us so that we can add this information to the website so that it is never lost or forgotten.
Fayre Wharp is mentioned in 1519 and the main occupation in the area, being charcoal burning, providing the source of heat to melt the iron produced at nearby Oldlands Farm.
Also on the other side of the village towards Nutley, cannons were finished off, with the centres being bored at Boringwheel Mill farm.
From 1793 regiments from the army were stationed at nearby Duddleswell, during the build up to the Napoleonic Wars.
The church was built in 1881 as the village became large enough to host its own parish, prior to that the village was in the parish of Maresfield.
During the 1930’s the radio station at Duddleswell was built to provide long distance communication to the British Embassies and Forces overseas.
Farming and Community Growth
In 1777, the village consisted of a single farmhouse on a track across the Forest. This dwelling does not appear on the 1805 Ordance Survey Map but may be the dwelling at the bottom of The Street in the main part of the village.
By the late 19th Century Fairwarp has become a thriving community boasting the church (consecrated in 1881), school (opened in 1873), post office and pub. The 1878 Ordnance Survey Map shows the extent of the growth during most of the last century, the community was able to support a Silver Band and Cricket team.
Sadly these, the school, post office etc. have all disappeared.
Postcard courtesy of Peter Mcleod of www.theweald.org
Fairwarp Christ Church - WW1 War Memorials
As part of the Fairwarp Remembers initiative, the WW1 Committee have been arranging to renovate and improve the war memorials to The Great War both in the churchyard and inside the church.
The inside memorial has been renovated, cleaned and the gold paint updated. This lists all the men of Fairwarp who fought in World War One.
The war memorial in the churchyard currently commemorates the fallen with 25 names of the Fairwarp soldiers engraved on it. As part of the renovations, - new steps and railings have been erected. Money is being raised to add the name of the 26 soldier fallen which was missed from the original carving.
Fairwarp Remembers - Wall Hanging
On Sunday 3 November 2019 a wall hanging was accepted into Christ Church which commemorates the 26 Fairwarp men who gave their lives in WWI.
The hanging is made up of individual squares that have been embroidered, knitted, felted and appliquéd by several villagers.
You can download the explanatory poster below which explains the meanings behind each square, how they were made and who made them.
During “Wings for Victory” Week villages were asked to raise money for planes and in return had a plane named after it.
Sir Bernard Eckstein handed Mrs Shorthouse (who was secretary of the War Savings Group) a cheque for a quarter of a million pounds (£250,000). This was combined with the Oldands Hall Group and a total amount of £730,000 was sent from Fairwarp, making a record contribution as the best village in England.
Fairwarp has two sites of interest relating to the Second World War; The Airmen’s Grave and The Italian POW camp.
Italian Prisoner of War Camp
Just leaving the main village, heading east on The Street, tucked away in among trees is two dilapidated buildings that formed the POW camp. There is little information about the camp and it is slowly returning to nature.
The structure which is on private land is unsafe and contains asbestos. Therefore please do not go exploring.
The Airmen's Grave
On the night of the July 31st 1941, a Wellington bomber was returning from a raid on Cologne. One of its two engines had stopped and the pilot was attempting to reach an airfield close to the English Coast.
The weather that night was poor and the pilot was unable to identify a suitable landing place and crashed on the southern slopes of the forest. All six crew members were killed. They were all in their early to mid-twenties.
Capt. and 1st. Pilot - Harry Vidler
Sergeant and 2nd. Pilot - Vic Sutton
Air Gunner - Stan Hathaway
Rear Gunner - Len Saunders
Sergeant and Observer - Wilf Brooks
Wireless Operator - Arthur Cave
It was the mother of Vic Sutton that first erected a wooden cross at the site of the crash. She was living at Nutley at the time. In 1954 a stone cross was erected and a fence put round the area to keep the sheep out. Then in 1971 the wall of local stone was erected by the Forest Rangers. The site is really a memorial to the men and not their grave.
The memorial can be found just west of the village off the B2026. On Remembrance Sunday there is a special open air service held at the grave. The service is very moving and many people attend.
Oldlands Hall is the big house on the hill for Fairwarp. The history of the estate and house is extremely interesting, especially in the context of the development of the village.
Much of the 19th-century ornamental gardens have been lost in late-20th-century development of the site and what remains are probably features created during Bernard Eckstein’s ownership in the 1930s and 1940s. Features include an azalea walk, stone lions, and ornamental lily pool and an arboretum.
HistoryFrom 1870, gardens and a park of some 12 hectares were developed to the south of the new house under the direction of the head gardener, Edward Luckhurst, `one of
the most able and accomplished gardeners of the day’. The estate was extended after 1920, but was then broken up after 1948, and the house was converted into apartments. The house and gardens, now with additional residences, remain in private multiple ownership as Oldlands Estate Ltd.
Much of the 19th-century ornamental gardens have been lost in late-20th-century development of the site and what remains are probably features created during Bernard Eckstein’s ownership in the 1930s and 1940s. Forty metres north-west from the west side of Oldlands Hall there is an entrance to the Azalea Walk guarded by two stone lions, two further entrances up stone steps being found some 50m and 60m along the drive to the west. The Azalea Walk, an extensive area with rhododendron and azalea glades leading to woodland (now in separate ownership), also features a Japanese-style pavilion (now, 2005, dilapidated) and a pet cemetery dating to the 1920s, enclosed within a yew hedge.
Approximately 10m from the south-east side of the house there are the remains of a rock garden adjoining an ornamental lily pool and, beyond, an arboretum which led along grassy slopes to a chain of lakes (now, 2005, neglected and in separate ownership) some 200m to the east and south-east. On the south side of the house formal stone terraces give views across a ha-ha and surrounding pasture and woodland to Oldlands Farm and beyond. A semi-circular flight of steps lead from the stone terrace to the lower stone-paved walks in terraces with a succession of six lily pools (now, 2005 with little water) to an ornamental pool (now without the deer and fawn fountain described in 1949 Sales Particulars).
Sources Park & Gardens - https://www.parksandgardens.org/ Article:”Alexander Nesbitt, a Sussex Antiquarian, and the Oldlands estate.” by Janet H. Stevenson.
Within Fairwarp there is a meadow nature reserve managed by the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
The Meadow “boasts” traditional Wealden meadow flowers and grasses including betony, musk mallow and dyer’s greenweed. In addition, the meadow has an ancient hornbeam hedge.
The area is known as Brickfield Meadow and is now a nature reserve. During Spring and Summer there is a wide range of butterflies and moths attracted to the wild flowers.