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Hailsham

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The market town of Hailsham, in the Wealden district of East Sussex, used to be an agricultural centre. The population in 2010 was just over 20,000.

Understand

The largest of the five towns of the Wealden district of East Sussex, Hailsham is a small but growing town which serves as the local hub for some of the more rural parts of the county. Historically, Hailsham was a rope manufacturing town, and produced the hangman's rope for use in Britain and her colonies.

Get in

The town is regularly served by buses from Eastbourne and the nearest railway station at Polegate.

Get around

The town centre is compact, with most of the shops within a three-street 'triangle' of the High Street, George Street and North Street. Parking within the town centre is free. For attractions in Herstmonceux, there is an hourly bus service (Stagecoach Service 98). A car may be useful if you wish to travel further afield.

Should you wish to travel to one of the housing estates outside of the town centre, Cuckmere Community Buses provide a limited service during daylight hours.

See

  • Herstmonceux Castle, Wartling Road Entrance, BN27 1RN (5 miles (8 km) from Hailsham; the Cuckmere Bus number 49 serves the Science Centre from Eastbourne), ☏ +44 1323 833816. Gardens & grounds: Mar & Oct 10AM–5PM; Apr–Sep 10AM-6PM (last admission one hour before closing). A 300 acres (120 hectares) estate including woodland, formal themed gardens and of course a 15th-century moated castle. Made from red brick it is one of the earliest examples of a brick built building in England. The castle operates as an international study centre for Queen's University in Canada. It is not freely open to the public and tours are scheduled around timetables and other uses including conferences and weddings. The tour lasts approximately one hour. The Observatory Science Centre a hands-on science experience set among the domes and telescopes of a world-famous astronomical observatory. It has regular events and open evenings throughout the season. Gardens & grounds: adult £6, child under 16 or student £5, senior or disabled £4. Castle tour: adult, senior or disabled £2.50, child under 16 £1. Gardens, grounds, and Science Centre: adult £13, child under 16 or student £8.50, senior or disabled £10.50. Children under 5 free. Family tickets available..
  • 2 Windmill Hill Windmill, Windmill Hill, BN27 4RT, ☏ +441323 833033. The oldest post mill in Sussex, restored during the 1990s and 2000s from a ruin. Guided tours, visitor centre. Open Sundays between Easter and October. By donation.
  • 3 Michelham Priory, Michelham Priory, Upper Dicker, BN27 3QS, ☏ +44 1323 844224. Medieval Manor House with the longest water filled moat in England. 7 acres of gardens, as well as Watermill, Children's play area, watermill and forge. Cafe and Gift Shop.
  • 4 Abbot's Wood, Abbots Wood, Arlington, Polegate, BN26 6SL, ☏ 0300 067 4880 (non-geographic number). A woodland owned by the Forestry Commission, with two walking routes, a play area, and barbeque facilities. There's usually an ice cream van open in the spring and summer.

Do

  • 1 Knockhatch Adventure Park, Hailsham Bypass, BN27 3GD, ☏ +44 1323 442051. 10AM–5:30PM. Set in 80 acres (32 hectares) of Sussex countryside, it offers a range of outdoor and indoor activities including a large adventure playground, a reptile house, go-karting, laser games and an indoor soft play area. Other attractions include the bungee trampolines, the Demon Drop Slide and the tractor rides which provide a great way to see all the many different animals around the park, from deer to llamas. Another popular attraction is the children’s farm and the Birds of Prey Centre, which offers the exciting chance to view these impressive creatures either up close or in their daily flying displays. There are also refreshments available on site, if you feel peckish.
  • 2 Arlington Stadium (Eastbourne Eagles Speedway), Arlington Rd W, BN27 3RE, ☏ +44 1323 841642. Features a raceway offering short circuit motor racing at its best. Hot rods, stock car and banger racing, as well as the home of Eastbourne Eagles Speedway. Great family entertainment. The stadium is situated in open countryside along with catering and licensed bar facilities. The season runs from Easter to September.
  • 3 Hailsham Town Football Club. They play at the Beaconsfield, just off the Recreation Ground in Western Road. Matches are played on Saturdays and, often, Tuesdays under floodlights during the season (August–April). Afternoon games kickoff at 3PM, and evening games at 7:30PM - the club website offers fixture information. Hot and cold drinks, including alcohol, are available at all games, with hot food (burgers, hot dogs, etc.) for First Team matches. Most locals stand, although the club have opened a 100-seater stand for those who prefer to sit. The four courts of Hailsham Tennis Club are visible from within the ground, and often, at the immediate start and end of the season, you can watch three sports at the same time, as the various teams of Hailsham Cricket Club play on the Recreation Ground. Adults £5, OAP/Concessions £2.50, under 16 free with paying adult. Under-23 matches (Midweek evenings) are half price.
  • 4 Cuckoo Trail. An acclaimed route through the Wealden countryside. It follows the route of the former railway line, the Cuckoo Line, linking Polegate, Hailsham, Horam and Heathfield. Excellent for walking, cycling, horse riding and people with disabilities. This 13 mi (21 km) surfaced path through the Sussex countryside is mostly traffic free and a safe route for walkers and cyclists of all ages, with bridle sections of the Cuckoo Trail accessible for horse-riders. There are benches and picnic tables en route providing visitors with places to rest.
  • 5 Hailsham Pavillion, George Street, BN27 1AE, ☏ +44 1323 841414. Independent arts space, with frequent regular films including major new releases, live music and theatre.
  • 6 England's Medieval Festival, Herstmonceux Castle, Wartling Rd., BN27 1RN, ☏ +44 20 8150 6767, ✉ tickets@mgel.com. Annual event at Herstmonceux Castle, held over the August bank holiday weekend. Great Britain’s largest celebration of the colourful Middle Ages – held annually over the three days of the August Bank Holiday Weekend (last weekend in August) since 1992. Dogs on leads are welcome. Adult £20, senior £19, student £19, child (5-12 yr) £10, child (under 5 yr) free, family (2 adults & 2 children) £58, small family (2 adults & 1 child) £41.

Buy

Hailsham has a wide range of shops and is the centre for many of the surrounding villages. Visit the High Street and the precincts of Vicarage Field and The Quintins, which provide all of Hailsham's needs. As well as the usual chains (Tesco, Waitrose, Boots, Poundland, etc.), there are a lot of independent shops. On Saturday mornings a weekly market is held in Vicarage Field, with several stalls offering a variety of foods and crafts from local producers, and at the Cattle Market site, at the bottom of the High Street, there are monthly Farmers' Markets.

This part of East Sussex is also well known for 'car boot' sales, where sellers get together, usually outside in a field, to sell secondhand, and sometimes new, goods of all types. Haggling is expected and encouraged, but there are often bargains to be had. There is a particularly large sale most Sundays between Easter and October at Cophall Farm, approximately two miles from Hailsham Town Centre. In the winter months boot fairs are smaller and less frequent, but can often be found in nearby village halls - the Friday-Ad, a local free paper, will have listings.

Eat

Hailsham offers plentiful options for eating, from sit-down to takeaway venues, whilst the town centre boasts several takeaways, coffee shops and bakeries.

  • 1 Diplocks Cafe (on the Diplocks Industrial estate), ☏ +44 1323 449090. M-F 7AM-2PM; Sa 7AM-noon. A true Hailsham institution, serving traditional fried breakfasts.
  • 2 Ribs & Co, ☏ +44 1323 848995. M-F 5-10:30PM, Sa noon-10:30PM,Su noon-3PM. Ribs, gourmet burgers, etc. Some vegetarian options.
  • 3 Eastern Promise, Gardner Street, Herstmonceux, BN27 4LB, ☏ +44 1323 832533. Su-Th 6-11PM, F Sa 5:30-11:30PM. Excellent curry house in Herstmonceux. Eat in or takeaway.
  • 4 Bucklers, St Mary's Walk, ☏ +44 1323 449100. M-Th 7:30AM-5PM, F Sa 7:30AM-11PM, closed Su. Cafe by day, gin and tapas bar by night. One of three establishments in town run by the same owners, the others being b12 (wine bar, see 'Drink') and a delicatessen, a few doors up from the cafe.
  • 5 Callenders, 80 High St, BN27 1AU, ☏ +44 1323 842400. A very highly regarded restaurant serving modern British food, often with locally sourced ingredients

Drink

Like many small towns, some of Hailsham's pubs have closed, but there is still a variety of options.

  • 1 The Grenadier ('The Grenny'), High Street. 11AM-11PM. Traditional Sussex pub, with a public bar and lounge bar. Owned by Sussex brewers Harvey's, known for their range of real ales. 'Sussex Best' is a perennial favourite.
  • 2 The George Hotel, George Street (opposite the Pavillion cinema). 8AM-11PM. Cheap drinks and adequate food. Part of the popular 'JD Wetherspoon' chain. Despite the hotel name, it has no bedrooms.
  • 3 The Corn Exchange (The Corn), High Street (opposite Costa Coffee), ☏ +44 1323 442290. Two bars in one - a relaxed, traditional back bar with a more stylish bar opening onto the high street. Offers accommodation.
  • 4 b12 (lower part of High Street). Open all day. Selection of bottled and draft beers, comprehensive wine and cocktail selection. Live and varied music weekend evenings. Food available
  • 5 The Railway Tavern (The Railway), Station Road. Traditional back street boozer. Not the best reputation but has been spruced up. Beer garden in summer.
  • 6 The Kings Head (on South Road). Another Harvey's Pub. Food served Friday, Saturday, Sunday afternoons.

Sleep

  • 1 Cleavers Lyng, Church Road, Herstmonceux (2 miles from Herstmonceux Village, 5-minute walk from Herstmonceux Castle.), ☏ +44 1323 833644. A dog-friendly bed and breakfast in a 16th-century Grade II listed country guesthouse of considerable charm and character. Set on a secluded and quiet country lane with panoramic views over the Pevensey Levels towards the South Downs. Private parking. All rooms en suite. Non-smoking. £75 upwards.
  • 2 Boship Lions Farm Hotel, Lower Dicker, BN27 4AT (just off the main A22 road), ☏ +44 1323 844826. Hotel, easily accessible by car.
  • 3 Longleys Farm Cottage, Harebeating Lane, Hailsham, BN27 1ER, ☏ +44 1323 841227, ✉ longleysfarmcottage@gmail.com. Small country bed & breakfast.

Stay safe

The town is generally very safe, but can be a little rowdy in the centre around pub closing time on Friday and Saturday evenings. This usually amounts to little more than some additional noise.

Connect

  • Hailsham FM. Local radio station for Hailsham and the surrounding villages. FM 95.9.

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