If you were a kestrel, soaring over Wolstonbury Hill, or even a walker, pausing for breath after climbing 677 feet to the summit, what would you see? The shining sea to the south, the line of the South Downs beyond Newtimber hill to the west, and Clayton's Jack & Jill windmills to the east. Below you lies the Elizabethan manor, Danny, and just a miles and a half to the north, you can see the church spire of Hurstpierpoint, a lovely village mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Here, homes, pubs, restaurants and shops are mostly clustered along a ridge, surrounded by the green fields, paths and ancient woodlands of the Sussex Weald.
Imagine you have parked in the free cark park just north of the crossroads and are walking south out of the car park. You will first pass round the pretty Village Green with its sign remembering Simon de Pierpoint. Turn right and cross the top of the roundabout with the War Memorial on your left. The entrance to Holy Trinity Church is through the lych-gate. This church is a gothic-style church with a tall spire and contains a reclining statue of a knight. It was built between 1843 and 1845 by Charles Barry who also designed the Houses of Parliament. Beyond the church gate, a hundred metres will bring you to a sharp corner, with a turning into Policeman's Lane, where sits the grade II listed Cowdrays, former home of Thomas and Cordelia Cowdray who bought the two cottages in 1631. Follow the path round under the church for a view of the Downs, and then take care across the road to follow a footpath up to West Furlong Lane.
On reaching the lane to your right you can see a listed crenellated flint wall, together with the privately-owned, grade II listed, 19th century flint folly tower. Whether it was to see Napoleon coming - or whether the coast was clear for smugglers to get past the revenue is open to conjecture. Turn left down the lane to regain the High Street. On your left is Chichester House, another grade II listed house. In 1884 , the Honourable Mrs Campion of Danny House founded 64 High Street. She took girls from the workhouses and gave them training to earn their living as servants.
Turn right up the High Street to pass Wickham House. It is not as it seems! If you look closely you may detect that it is not built of solid brick, but is timber-framed, hung with mathematical tiles, hand made in Keymer. Inside there is an inglenook fireplace. Mansion House opposite is another puzzle. When is a window not a window? Look for it in the Mansion House, another grade II listed building. The early 18th century front and west sides conceal a 17th century timber-framed building.
The New Inn is not new at all. It presents a Georgian face to the world, but has a Tudor heart and 15th century oak beams. A weekly corn market was once held here, allowing farmers, millers, corn merchants and tradesmen to mix business with pleasure. Further along on your left is probably the oldest property in the High Street, - Hamilton Lodge - formerly Upper Trumpkins. Just beyond The Poacher, you should turn right to find the South Avenue Recreation Ground, with a children's playground and wonderful views of Wolstonbury Hill where traces of a Romano-British farm have been found.
Return to the High Street and turn right, just along the road you'll find St George's House, in the 1840s the former home of Charles Hannington. After a terrible argument with the rector of Hurstpierpoint he decided never to enter the parish church again, and built St. George's Church in his own grounds. In 1884 his son James became the first Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa - but was speared to death a year later on the orders of the King of Uganda. Take the next turn left and straight down the lane you will find St George's Church. Inside the churchyard there is the start of a footpath that leads round to St George's Millennium Garden. Through the garden and then follow the road to your right which will bring you past Little Park Farm House, one of Hurstpierpoint's loveliest farms, once the home of Thomas Marchant, the famous 18th century diarist. Your walk is nearly at an end as just past the farmhouse is the entrance to the car park where you started.
Click here to view a map of Hurstpierpoint in PDF format.