Spotlight on Hailsham
Hailsham is one of East Sussex’s best kept secrets. Beautiful, scenic and brimming with modern amenities, the town has its own distinct personality. Just eight miles from Eastbourne, charming Hailsham is the place to go when you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of bigger towns. It is a calming, picturesque kind of place with an energetic community feel, but where life seems that little bit slower.
History in Brief
Although it was first thought that the original settlers in Hailsham were the Romans when they invaded in AD 43, it was later discovered that the area was inhabited as far back as the Neolithic period: 10,200 to 4,500 BC.
Hailsham was an integral part of the Anglo Saxon invasion in AD 477; this is where the fighting hordes took refuge, and was one of the first areas to become part of the new South Saxon (now Sussex) kingdom. Hailsham might, therefore, be the very oldest area of Sussex altogether.
In 1252, Henry III granted Hailsham a market charter, which meant that the town could legally run a market. It has done ever since, and the markets today (held on Saturdays and Thursdays, along with a monthly farmers’ market) are very popular.
Things to Do
- Knockhatch Adventure Park
If you’re looking for a fun family day out, Knockhatch Adventure Park is the place to go. There is a petting farm, an owl sanctuary, a massive soft play centre, loads of outdoor adventure playgrounds, picnic areas and a boating lake. Every time you visit there will be something new to see; attractions are being added all the time. Knockhatch is a boredom-busting day out.
- Herstmonceux Castle
Herstmonceux Castle has over 300 acres of formal themed gardens, grounds and woodland to explore, all with the stunning 15th-century moated castle in the midst of it. The castle itself is one of the earliest examples of a brick-built building in England, and it is well worth a visit to admire the sheer architectural effort that must have gone into building such an imposing structure. With a tea room, a visitor centre and lots of events put on throughout the year, it’s a must.
- The Observatory Science Centre
Found within the Herstmonceux Castle estate, the Observatory Science Centre is operated by Science Projects Ltd, a charity that focuses on promoting science for everyone. The Observatory Science Centre is an interactive, completely hands-on experience where both adults and children can learn about our amazing universe.
- Bebbles Langos
Hungarian food with a British twist, Bebbles Langos could well be a one off. Langos are traditional Hungarian flatbreads filled with delicious ingredients and you can choose to make your own with different combinations of fillings. Eat in and relish your food in the restaurant, or take your food home and feast with friends and family. Fillings include goat cheese, frankfurters, cucumber, olives, bacon, chicken and ham. You can even order Hungarian goulash if the mood strikes!
- The Cottage Restaurant
This small, independent restaurant nestles in the heart of Hailsham. Every dish is prepared by experts in the kitchen, and wherever possible the produce is locally sourced. The menu includes dishes such as avocado and smoked salmon; a variety of excellent pizzas; cannelloni ricotta spinaci – cannelloni tubes filled with ricotta and spinach); risotto with smoked salmon, prawns, mixed peppers, peas and mussels; and chicken pepe verde, chicken breast cooked in cream sauce with fresh green peppercorns, a hint of Dijon mustard, white wine and brandy sauce.
- The Plough Inn
The Plough Inn is a lovely 17th-century pub with a great atmosphere and fantastic food. You can order real ales here including Spitfire and Harveys Best, and during the winter months there are well-stocked log fires to snuggle up beside. Food includes salt and pepper squid, confit cherry tomatoes and a dressed rocket salad; pan-seared fillet of salmon with lobster, pea and parmesan risotto; pork and leek sausages with creamy mash, caramelised onion puree and red wine jus; and the chef’s Bakewell tart served with custard.
This modern bistro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with aplomb. It’s informal and relaxed, and ideal for a night out with friends. You can choose from dishes such as filo-wrapped king prawns, roast duck breast, minted lamb shank with a garlic and rosemary mash, and raspberry crème brulee.
Upcoming Annual Events
- Chiddfest // Jul
Chiddfest is a jazz, blues, rock and beer festival, so there’s something to amuse everyone. Held each summer, you will be able to enjoy loads of music, two stages, the International Battle of the Bands, face painting, side stalls, hog roast (and plenty of other food), camping, ‘posh loos’, and a busker booth.
- Hailsham Festival of Arts & Culture // Sep
This festival encompasses all art forms including literature, music, performance and the visual arts. It’s a chance for everyone to come together to explore what Hailsham – and further afield – has in terms of artistic enterprise and excitement. There is an art trail to follow, as well as workshops and displays.
- Hailsham Carol Concert // Dec
With mulled wine and mince pies in the interval, this carol concert heralds the start of Christmas for Hailsham locals. There is a different theme each year, which the carols reflect and the funds from sold tickets goes to a local charity.
Hailsham Pavilion is a cinema, live music venue and theatre that has been refurbished to look elegant and opulent. Despite its ‘golden age’ look, the venue is packed full of state-of-the-art equipment, making every outing here a vibrant experience.
Did You Know?
Hailsham’s rope making industry was started in 1807 by Thomas Burfield. Eerily, the ropemakers of Hailsham were famous for making ropes used by hangmen.