Alfriston is an ancient village set amongst the South Downs, only four miles from the chalk cliffs of Seaford. It stands where an ancient ridgeway, used by prehistoric man, crossed the River Cuckmere, which today is part of the long distance walk, South Downs Way. It has a peaceful, timeless atmosphere, almost untouched by modern life.
The narrow high street winds south from the small square, which contains an old market cross, the only one to survive in East Sussex. Many of the buildings are medieval. The Star Inn is one of the oldest in England, dating from the 15th century. An outstanding feature is its magnificently carved woodwork. At one corner stands a large red lion, formerly the figurehead of a 17th century Dutch ship. In the 19th century, The Market Cross Inn was the headquarters of the Alfriston gang of smugglers led by Stanton Collins. He was eventually transported to Australia for sheep stealing.
If you drive straight through the village, you will miss the glory of the Tye (the village green) and the "Cathedral of the Downs" (St. Andrews Parish Church) which can be found down narrow lanes off the main street. St. Andrews stands on an ancient Anglo-Saxon mound and dates from the 14th century. It has a central shingle spire in the form of a Greek cross. The church's marriage register is probably the oldest in England, as it dates from 1504. On the edge of the Tye, stands the 14th century Priest's or Clergy's House. It was bought by the National Trust in 1896, the first building to be acquired by the Trust. It is a pre-Reformation vicarage. This half timbered and wattle and daub building has been restored, as far as possible, to its original state, including a clay floor and soot blackened timbers.
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