History of Ninfield

“… Ninfield, unlike some of the larger towns in the area, does not boast of having famous people in its number, or even a Royal visit in years gone by, nor is there a railway station or civic centre. There is a village green, but unlike many picturesque places there are no olde-worlde houses surrounding it as the village is strung out along a mile or so of main road.

What it can boast about, however, and rightly so, is the typical Sussex village atmosphere where people know each other, whoever and wherever they may be. There is a neighbourly air about the place, which is evident when a visitor walks through and will be greeted by those he passes.”

Barry G Symes, Olde Ninfield, 1986.

Ninfield High Street showing the Post Office with Ashburnham Mill in the background, circa 1930.

The village of Ninfield sits along a ridge above the Pevensey marshes in East Sussex, United Kingdom. It covers an area of about one and a half miles north to south and two miles east to west. From Marlpits Lane to the north, Lower Street and Russells Green to the south. Boreham Bridge is on the west border and along the Bexhill Road to the east. Although this is a relatively large area, Ninfield is still very much a village.

There are many theories as to how its name evolved. Some say it was named after the nine fields originally thought to have comprised the village. There have been many different spellings over the years: in the 11th century it was “Nerewelle”. Then “Nymenfeld” in the 13th century. By the 14th century it was called “Nemenfeld” which became “Nenfield” by the 17th century. By the 19th century the village was called “Ninfield”.

Just how true the story of Ninfield’s connection is with William the Conqueror who reportedly planted his Standard in the village before the Battle of Hastings, no one knows. But the hill which became Standard Hill is only six miles south of the battle site and, being 600 feet above sea level, it is the nearest high ground affording wide views.

There were several prominent families in Ninfield, of which descendants still reside in the village. Robert de Crevequer (13th century) is the first recorded owner of the manor house then known as Morehale. This old house (subsequently known as Moor Hall) survived many changes over the years until it was demolished by developers in the 1990s.

The main road through the village after 1766 was a turnpike. A toll was charged to help pay for the upkeep of the road. The toll gate and Paygate cottage, now demolished, were located at the crossroads opposite the then “Commercial House” – an inn for stagecoaches (now the King’s Arms).

Like most rural villages, the inhabitants worked the land of the many farms. Before widespread transportation, goods and services had to be sought locally. During the Victorian period a number of shops and businesses had sprung up to support the self-sufficient community, having at one time over twenty.

High Street, Ninfield, from the top of the Mill (Ashburnham Mill) prior to 1937.

Today, Ninfield has a population of some 1,600 people. It lies within the area of Wealden District Council. Of the once many shops, it now has one village stores/post office and a service station.

St. Mary the Virgin, Ninfield.