The Star Inn Alfriston, East Sussex, UK.
Camera Details. Nikon D700 with 16-35mm Lense. ISO 200, 1/200th sec at f/8, 23mm.
Captured yesterday Sat 29th May 2010. It was a miserable overcast, grey day, but I ventured into the ancient village of Alfriston.
Alfriston has the feel of ancient times…
The Star Inn
This famous 14th Century inn was once a renowned meeting place for smugglers in times gone by. Oak beams and open fires offer mellow reminders of the past and create an intimate atmosphere in the bar. The Star Inn at Alfriston has 37 bedrooms, including 2 Feature Rooms, located in the original 14th century part of the hotel and a spacious Mini-Suite with a half-tester bed and additional sofa bed.. The Bar offers a selection of tasty hot and cold meals. The public rooms have great character offering a traditional and relaxing environment.
The Star Inn is set in the heart of the South Downs, where there are many fine walks, with the South Downs Way passing right by the door of the Inn. There is also easy access to both Eastbourne (approx 4 miles) and Brighton (approx 18 miles). Seaford 2 miles and Beachy Head and the famous Seven Sisters Cliffs.
You’ll really enjoy a visit to the South Downs and the Ancient Village of Alfristion.
Origin of the Village Name
Alfriston originally known as Aelfric tun the ‘farmstead of Alfric’ in Anglo Saxon times, was recorded in the Domesday Book as Alvriceston and had a range of other names including Alvericheston and Aveston.
There is a possibility that the name derives from Aella fyrst tun ( Aella the Saxon’s first settlement), but this is conjecture. (see our page on Aelle the Saxon )
The area around Alfriston must have been occupied from neolithic times as a number of barrows from this period have been found higher up the surrounding Downs .
Alfriston lies in the Cuckmere valley just off the main A27 Eastbourne to Lewes road.
The village was settled long before the Norman invasion of 1066 , as the mound that the church lies on was an old Saxon burial ground. St Lewinna a Saxon virgin Christian was killed by the Saxons in 690AD and her body was kept at the church, her relics were attributed to a number of miracles. They were stolen by a monk from Belgium and transported to the Priory of Bergue St Winox in 1058.
King Alfred was believed to have burnt the cakes at the Star Inn in the village, this is possible as he had his palace a few miles away at West Dean .
The majority of the church of St Andrews was built in the 1300’s and is known as The Cathedral of the Downs. The rectory was built in the 14th century and is of wattle and daub construction. This building is now owned by the National Trust, and is open to the public.
The Star Inn it is believed was built as a hostel by the Abbot of Battle. In the 1500’s it was turned into an Inn with numerous wooden figures looking down on passing travellers, these figures still remain watching. Outside the Inn is a red Lion, once the figurehead of a Dutch ship which was wrecked in the 1800’s and was raided by Stanton Collins and his smugglers. Many of the old buildings in the village are tiled in Horsham Tiles .
Towards the end of the 1700’s the son and heir of the Chowne family, who owned Place House Estate, went for a walk with his dog, and was attacked by thieves. He was killed by a blow to the head, and the thieves buried the young man. Seven years later, a couple were walking along the road, and saw a small white dog that walked into the bank of the read. Every seven years the phantom dog returned until the early 1800 when the skeleton of a young man was found while the road was being widened, his bones were moved to the church and the ghostly dog never reappeared.
During the Napoleonic Wars Alfriston was the home to a large number of troops, they were to have been there to repel the invaders should they have got past the Martello towers and the cliffs on the coast. The village gained from this friendly invasion by providing food drink and other services to the troops.
After the Napoleonic wars the village turned to smuggling, and the Alfriston gang, well known for their violence, used the Cuckmere river to bring the illegal goods in to the village. The gang was broken up when the leader Stanton Collins was caught for sheep rustling in the early 1830’s and transported to Australia.
Nowadays the village is a tourist attraction with its many old buildings and its feel of an ancient time.