The name ‘Brightling’ is said to derive from the settlement of Britas people. In common with many Wealden settlements, the main village has always been very small with many hamlets and scattered farms. There are no known prehistoric finds in the parish but early man certainly was in the area, clearing the land, farming and making iron. By the early middle ages, however, the area had reverted back to dense woodland. Much of the current settlement pattern dates back to the Saxon period, when the area was again cleared for agriculture. Families would clear an area of woodland or scrub, just enough for them to make a living but leaving some woodland in the form of thick hedges or spinneys between fields. They would build their farm in the centre of the land and link up with a rudimentary trackway system that eventually formed the pattern of narrow winding lanes that typify this area.

The most obvious ‘industry’ in the area is agriculture yet well hidden below ground is the Gypsum mine with a conveyor to the plasterboard processing plant at Mountfield.

Anne Holman has written a book about the history of Brightling:
Brightling 1700-1950 An Old & Ancient Place. Price £10+£2.50 p&p. Available from Anne at Hollingrove, Broad Hill Close, Broad Oak, Heathfield, TN21 8SG. Tel: 01435 862865 anneholman39@gmail.com.


Brightling Park (entrance next to the church) is the home of Di & Gardie Grissell, who have operated a racehorse training facility there since 1976. International Horse Trials are held there annually and various areas of the Park are hired out for weddings, parties and corporate events. An annual music festival has been held in the walled garden since 2015.

There has been a house on the site since the mid 16th century, when it was known as Rose Hill. The current Grade II house, stables and coach-house were built around 1755 by John Fuller. The Fuller family earned their fortune through the manufacture of Sussex iron in the 17th and 18th centuries and sugar plantations in Jamaica. Associated with the estate are a number of follies and an observatory, all designed by architect Sir Robert Smirke for John “Mad Jack” Fuller in the early 1800s.


  1. Margaret Simmons
    7th April 2019 @ 10:00 am


    I cannot find that you have a dedicated history group , although it looks as those in the village are interested in it

    In the past I have transcribed a lot of the 1841-1901 Census returns for East Sussex parishes and always printed a hard copy out for myself. I am now trying to reduce the items I have by giving away some of those for villages that I do not have a direct interest (although members of my father’s family did live in Brightling). Brightling is included in one of the books I did and I wondered if the village would like to have the copy. Does the Parish Clerk keep items of interest or is there another custodian?

    I know that subscription websites have Census details now and will quite understand if you do not want this book, but I like to think some local information is kept in the local villages


  2. Patricia Forse
    17th May 2020 @ 7:44 pm

    I have been looking for any information about two ladies I knew quite well in my childhood. In my research I found they were born in Scrag Oak, Brightling. I believe Scrag Oak was a farm which was sold to the water board in the1930s, I think it was situated next to the Pub. The family name was Hallett and the two children were part of a large family, their mother Harriett died when she was young and then their father died in 1901. I believe the two little girls were then sent to an orphanage in Broadstairs and later to a workhouse in Battle. Their names were Hetty May born 8 July 1893 and Florence born 26 September 1894, their father was Thomas.Has anyone any idea whether Thomas and Harriett were buried at St Thomas a Beckett church or maybe any history of Scrag Oak farm. I hope to be able to visit Brightling later this year but would appreciate any information


  3. Michael Cates
    3rd July 2020 @ 9:28 pm

    Good evening

    I’ve just discovered that an ancestor, John Atkins, lived in Brightling in the 17th/18th centuries.

    He appears in the Poll Book for the 1705 election, so presumably held some sort of property in the village.

    Are there any locally held records that might tell me more about him or where he lived please?


  4. Janice
    15th August 2020 @ 3:10 pm

    Hi, does anyone know what (if anything) was on the site of the village hall. Apparently there was a pub opposite the church and I’m looking for its location. Cheers


  5. Andrew Taylor
    14th November 2020 @ 5:36 pm

    I’m the great grandson of William and Ellen Chandler who brought up their family in “Old Hole” cottage, Brightling Road from about 1887 on.( The cottage is now Gardiner’s Cottage.). William was a gamekeeper, and his daughter, Ellen (my grandmother), was a housemaid in Queens Gate Kensington in 1911.
    I think they shared the same employer, with the Kensington address as the London residence.
    Brightling Park is the obvious estate for William, but the owners, the Tew family, seem to have stayed up in Yorkshire.
    I’m running out of ideas: can anyone help me?


  6. Guy Blythman
    9th June 2021 @ 5:16 pm

    Good evening. My name is Guy Blythman and I’m currently writing a really comprehensive book on Sussex windmills which will finally tie together all the information that can be gathered from the various sources. Some years ago I was egotistically googling myself and found what seemed to be a Brightling local history website where a group who seemed to be a local history society for your area stated that had tried to get in touch with me regarding the windmills of the district (they may have been prompted by a booklet I had produced called “Lost Windmills of Sussex”) but failed. There didn’t seem to be a link by which I could get in touch with them. This is just to say I’m here if anyone wants me…


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