East Dean and Friston is a civil parish in the
Wealden District of East Sussex,
England. The two villages in the parish are in a dry valley on the South Downs - between Eastbourne three miles (4.8 km) to the east and Seaford an equal distance to the west. The main A259 road goes through both village centres. The coast and much of the land between it and the A259 from the east edge of Seaford to the west edge of Eastbourne is owned by the National Trust, and this has prevented further development to the area.
East Dean lies in the valley bottom: Friston is at the top of the hill to the west. Within both villages are a large number of buildings of historic interest.
The church in East Dean, dedicated to St Simon and St Jude, has a Saxon tower and an unusual Tapsel gate (preventing cattle from entering the churchyard); that at Friston is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. The churches have formed a united benefice since 1688. The latter contains Tudor monuments to the local family Selwyn and the grave of the composer Frank Bridge (1879–1941)
John Eric Bartholomew OBE, stage name Eric Morecambe, of Morecambe & Wise fame, can trace his descent from John Bartholomew c.1791-1854. John was a resident of Crowlink, Parish of Friston in the Census of 1841 and was living in the Parish of East Dean in the 1851 Census.
John's son Henry Bartholomew 1829-1908 moved to Overton, Lancashire, near Morecambe in the late 1840s and later into Morecambe itself. Henry's third child John Bartholomew 1860-1934 was the father of George Bartholomew 1898-1976, Eric's father.
GAP - Copyright © photograph 16 January 2018
Cleaner Ocean Foundation Ltd. By permission. All rights reserved.
Birling Gap is a coastal hamlet within the parish. It is situated on the Seven Sisters not far from
Beachy Head and is owned by the National Trust. Coastal erosion has already removed some of the row of coastguard cottages built in 1878, and those that remain are still
inhabited. There is a cafe, shop and visitor centre there, run by The National Trust, and a large metal staircase leading down to the enclosed pebble beach and the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. It is likely that soon the houses will no longer exist because the amount of erosion is so large that all the houses will have to be demolished before they fall into the sea, and because the houses are not worth enough, the Government will not place a sea defence in the way. If walkers are cut off at high tide, they can climb the ladder, which is replaced often, to Birling Gap.
The beach, which was awarded the Blue flag rural beach award in 2005, is advertised by Naturist UK. It has a large number of rockpools.
Noted artist Jean Cooke lived in two cottages at Birling Gap. She painted the seascape there and died in 2008 while looking at the sea.
In August 2017 hundreds of people suffered ill-effects after a chemical poisoning incident. The UK Government set up an enquiry into the event but as of December 2017 no official explanation exists.
FOREST AS A WALK LOCATION
Friston Forest is a lovely beech wood with plenty of way marked routes for walkers and mountain bikers as well as bridleways. It's a great place to visit, with lots of picnic tables and BBQs and a children's play area.
There are several places to park close to the A259.
Coming from the west, go over the bridge at Exceat and then take the next left. The car park is a few yards up on the
right. There is also a second car park half a mile further on, it has toilets.
The forest can also be accessed from the other side. Take the left turn at
Friston, then the car park is about a mile on the left. These are all Pay & Display.
You can see the amount of paths there are and I reckon that it is possible to walk for over 20 miles hardly using the same path twice. These are very clear on
Earth. The is a reasonable pub at Exceat, a chain, but with great views over
There is an area where you can bring a dog into. Walking though the forest to the North East you can get to
Jevington, where there is a great dog friendly pub with excellent food.
There are often horses in the open area North East of where Friston Hall is marked, they are privately owned gallops.
There are also a lot of bike trails in the forest, so watch out for high speed cyclists.
It's a good place to walk a dog.
TO OTHER WALKS
Abbots Wood 10 km
Great Wood 28 km
Ashdown Forest 38 km
Lodges Woods 55 km
Mereworth Woods 58 km
Joyden's Wood 73 km
Epping Forest 102 km
Hatfield Forest 121 km
Forest of Clairmarais 149 km
Tunstall Forest 178 km
BLUEBELLS - Hyacinthoides non-scripta is a bulbous perennial
plant found in Friston Forest and other Atlantic areas from north-western Spain to the British Isles, and also frequently used as a garden plant. It is known in English as the common bluebell or simply bluebell. This species is particularly associated with ancient woodland where it may dominate the understorey to produce carpets of violet–blue flowers in "bluebell woods", but also occurs in more open habitats in western regions.
The plant is protected under UK law.
Visit Birling Gap and enjoy a splendid coastal walk to the Belle Tout lighthouse. The area is run by the National Trust so there are great facilities with a good sized car park, cafe, shop and visitor centre on the cliff top. This walk starts from the Birling Gap car park just a mile south of East Dean at the end of Birling Gap Road. From here you can pick up the trails along the The South Downs Way to the lighthouse. Belle Tout has been used many times in films and tv because of the spectacular location. It has been called 'Britain's most famous inhabited lighthouse'. There's fantastic views along to the nearby Beachy Head and 500 acres of open chalk grassland with a wide variety of butterflies and wildflowers to look out for.
To extend your walk just head east along the The South Downs Way to Beachy Head. Here you can walk across the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain with fabulous views and Perigrin Falcons to look out for. Continuing east from the headland will take you into Eastbourne.
If you head west you will soon come to Seven Sisters Country Park where you can explore the beautiful Cuckmere Haven on foot or by bike.
The village of East Dean is also nearby so you could start the walk from here and follow bridleways south to the coast. Just beyond East Dean you will find Friston Forest which has miles of good mountain bike trails and footpaths. You can visit these locations on our splendid South Downs Circular Walk which starts at the Birling Gap car park and takes you on a tour of the surrounding area.
INDEX A - Z
SHOW and GYMKHANA
VALLEY - EXCEAT
AND BOROUGH COUNCILS
THINGS TO DO GUIDE
BATTLE OF HASTINGS
MILL, OLD HEATHFIELD