Information - About The Area
Around the Town
The Town has some sporting facilities with pitches for football,
cricket and stoolball on the well tended public recreation ground
in Wannock Road Here
also is a play area for younger children with slides, round-a-bouts
and swings. On the other side of town, next to the School in Oakleaf
Drive is another well equipped children’s play area.
Indoor activities are catered for in the Community Centre in
Windsor Way. There
is a fine hall with a stage where the local drama society presents
many productions and a well received pantomime each year. The
hall is also used for dancing and a variety of shows. The
Community Centre hosts many other organisations, including a Playgroup,
Table Tennis Club, Short Mat Bowls, Luncheon Club for the over
60’s etc. The Community Centre is also the
regular meeting place for many well supported societies. Contact
the Community Centre on 01323 482434.
Nearby, also in Windsor Way, is an excellent Branch Library with
a wide enough selection of books to satisfy every reader. Here
also you will find a list of nearly all the local clubs and societies.
Polegate also has a branch of the Royal British Legion Club in
Victoria Road which has one of the most successful snooker teams
in the locality.
In Park Croft stands a fine Tower Mill, built in 1817. A
detailed history is to be found further down this page.
Polegate’s parish church of St. John was built in 1874
and the separate parish was constituted in 1938. The church
is externally finished in flint and internally is brick faced with
windows reproduced in the style of the 13th and 14th century. Its
square tower above the main entrance is topped by a short spire
and a covered way leads to a fine, modern, church hall which has
been designed to blend in with older church buildings. Go to www.polegate.org.uk for
the church’s web site.
One of Polegate’s most modern buildings is the Station,
built adjacent to the main shopping centre. This station
is now on the site of Polegate’s
first station, built some 150 years ago. The spur lines to
Eastbourne and Hailsham were added in 1849 and the branch line
to Hastings in 1871, and to facilitate the services a new station
was built downline. When
Dr. Beeching started to axe the local branch lines in the nineteen-sixties
the branch line to Hailsham was closed and the station was eventually
moved back to its original site. The second station which
fell into dereliction has now been restored and houses a fine new
restaurant. The old
branch line has been redeveloped into a cycle, foot and bridle
path, known as the Cuckoo Trail which currently runs the 14 miles
to Heathfield in the north and south to Eastbourne with plans to
extend further northwards forming part of the National Cycle Network.
Polegate has many places to eat out in style and comfort, and
a good selection of take-away outlets, including Chinese and Indian,
and one of the finest Fish and Chips shops in the area. All
are in, or easily reached, from the Town Centre, except for one
Indian restaurant which is on the A22 north of Polegate.
Round and About Polegate
There is such a rich variety of rural and urban landscape to be
found around Polegate, that it would be difficult not to find
something to satisfy the local residents and visitors.
To the South is Eastbourne, perhaps the most aristocratic of the
Sussex resorts, with its air of Victorian opulence, the non commercialised
promenade and flower gardens, including the world famous “Carpet
Gardens” between the Bandstand and the Pier. Here can
be found theatres, cinemas, museums and an Art Gallery, and a fine
shopping centre, much of which (in the Arndale Centre) is under
Sandwiched between the two is Willingdon, made famous by George
Orwell in his controversial novel “Animal Farm”.
Polegate, however, is often referred to as “The Gateway to
Wealden” and the abundance of unspoilt countryside on its
doorstep would keep the dedicated walker going for many days.
There are delightful walks through wooded countryside between
Hailsham and the Cuckmere Valley, and many varied views from the
numerous walks on the Sussex Downland.
To the north of Polegate, and west of Hailsham stand the remains
of Michelham Priory, founded in 1229. It now belongs to the
Sussex Archaeological Trust with a museum and restored watermill.
It is well worth a visit and the Trust put on many craft fairs
and similar events throughout the Summer.
To the east is Pevensey where the Norman castle and the Roman
fort of Anderita is also worth a visit.
The chalk hills of the South Downs have a good deal of recreational
interest to offer. There is a national nature reserve at
nearby Lullington Heath and the Seven Sisters Country Park has
its interpretative centre located at Exceat at the southern end
of the Cuckmere valley. Friston Forest offers many walks
and Beachy Head is a well known beauty spot with its extensive
grassland footpaths, its sheer white cliffs and the lighthouse
All the hillside and valley villages are worth a visit and most
popular amongst them is Alfriston where visitors from all over
the world gather. The old inns keep their secrets of smuggling
days long gone (when the Cuckmere was navigable right up to the
village) whilst the Church across the green is neighbour to the
first property bought by the National Trust, the Alfriston Clergy
Nearby Wilmington has its old priory and museum, and for the
more energetic there is a path up the chalk slope to the
Long Man of Wilmington cut out of the chalk hillside back in the
mists of time. Across the valley Berwick Church has the attraction
of its wall paintings created by the Bloomsbury group who were
living in the nearby Charleston Farmhouse.
Nearer to Polegate is Filching Manor, a fine timber framed building
dating from the fifteenth century which can be reached via the
Wannock Road. This is also the home of a fine Motor Museum
and Go-Kart track for enthusiasts. Wannock Road then leads
on to the medieval Jevington Place and the village.
The Downs are topped by the South Downs Way beside which can
be seen many remains of the past, including tumuli, barrows, camps
and field systems. The Way divides at Alfriston and ramblers
can choose between the cliff-top route along the edge of the English
Channel or the Northern path via the Long Man, Jevington Place
and the numerous prehistoric earthworks. Both lead finally
to Eastbourne having traversed the eighty miles across West and
East Sussex from the Hampshire borders.
If you are looking for something a little more exciting there
is the Arlington Stadium which provides the thrills and spills
of Elite League Speedway and Hot Rod and Banger Racing throughout
Polegate’s Twin Towns
Polegate has been twinned with Appen in Germany
since May 1981 and with Saintry-sur-Seine in France from May 1991.
The aims of town twinning are to promote and develop international
communications and greater understanding between the people of
different countries and their ways of life. The success of
twinning at local level depends on personal contact with the people
of our twin towns and villages and this, of course, must be reciprocal.
Polegate Twinning Association is a very active group, and a very
enthusiastic committee. Exchange visits are arranged between
Appen and Saintry-sur-Seine every year. Each year there is
a visit to and a visit from either Appen or Saintry. Both
Towns provide accommodation with host families and an interesting
programme is arranged.
All members are kept up to date by a quarterly newsletter and
all the social functions are advertised on the notice board on
the wall of “The Dinkum” in the High Street and also in
the Library and local shops. To contact the Twinning Association,
call the Chairman, Joe O'Riordan, on 01323 486021. Click here to visit the Association's website.
Polegate Tower Mill was built in 1817 for local farmer and landowner
Joseph Seymour. Sixteen years later a watermill was built
nearby and the two worked side by side. By 1860 both were
owned by Matthias Mockett and they then passed into the Thomas
Ephraim Ovenden, father of the last Miller of Polegate, bought
them in 1918 and he, and his son Albert, worked them both. Ephraim
died in 1958 but Albert continued until he retired in 1964. By
this time the windmill had the benefit of electricity and wind
was no longer the driving force for the Mill. The mill was
then in danger of being lost but the Eastbourne and District Preservation
Society had just been formed and came to the rescue. Money
was raised by public appeal and the mill was purchased. Much
of the mill was complete and in good working order but the cap,
stocks, sweeps and fanstaging were all renewed. Unfortunately,
there was no saving of the watermill and it was eventually demolished
The windmill was officially reopened by the Duke of Devonshire
on 1st July 1967 and, with its museum of milling bygones, is visited
by thousands of people every year. Over the years the mill
has been open to the public, repairs and renewals have become necessary.
In July 1974 one of the stocks fell into the road, breaking one
sweep and damaging another. These were replaced by millwrights
at a cost of £1800. The nearby malthouse has a new
roof complete with an authentic cowl and new staging has been erected. The
iron curb has been repaired and the wooden seating has been replaced
so that the cap is now able to revolve on top of the tower. However
the Windmill is still not fully restored and work is continuing
as funds become available to complete it.
The Mill is owned by the Eastbourne and District Preservation Trust Ltd but much of
the fund raising is carried out by the Friends of Polegate Windmill.
The Mill is open to the public every Sunday from Easter to the
end of October from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (longer on Special Event Days)
and also Wednesday afternoons in August. Your interest and
support will make possible the continued existence and enjoyment
of the Windmill.
The William Daly Centre
The William Daly Centre, named after a local Councillor
who worked unfailingly for the welfare of Senior Citizens, offers
resources for the elderly and disabled living in Polegate, Wannock,
Willingdon and outlying villages.
There is an information service and a wide range of groups for
interest such as Bridge, Chess, German and Crafts. Social
activities such as lunch clubs, Swimming, Tea dances etc., as well
as those offering specialised help. These include the Stroke
Victims Groups, Diabetic and Cancer Support and one for Carers
of the Elderly.
Hearing Aid Batteries can be collected from the Centre once a
month and there is a Chiropody Service five days a week. The Centre
has a thriving Friends Group and is aided by over 100 volunteers,
particularly in respect of transporting users to and fro. For
up-to date information on services and facilities offered, visit
the Centre or telephone Polegate (01323) 484316.