Set in the district of Horsham in West Sussex, Henfield sits between London to the North and Brighton to the South. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, Henfield possesses a rich heritage of cultural and architectural treasures.
Evidence of early settlements date back to the Stone Age, but the name Henfield comes from the Anglo Saxon ‘Hamfield’ meaning a hamlet on high open ground. Situated on a sandy ridge and surrounded by Weald Clay, the soil is perfect for growing crops, and agriculture has remained at the heart of village life for hundreds of years.
At the centre stands St Peter’s Church. Constructed in 770 AD as a wooden building, it was said to be the first structure in the area. The village later appears in the Domesday Book as part of Stretham Manor, owned by the Bishop of Selsey.
The leather industry played an important role in the village’s commercial development. The field and pond are all that’s left however the name lingers on. You can walk to the Tanyard on our Hidden Henfield circular walk. Another famous landmark, Pinchnose Green is named after the smell that emanated from the tannery!
It wasn’t until the 18th century that Henfield really found itself on the map. As Brighton developed into a popular seaside resort, the village proved to be the perfect stopping off point en-route from London. Even the Prince Regent passed through! Two coaching inns that welcomed visitors - The White Hart and The George still provide food and refreshments to people today.
Fast forward to the 20th century, and Henfield played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. It also has one of the oldest surviving cricket clubs and the oldest existing Scout Troop in the world. Today, Henfield has a reputation for an art and culture following
Wooden Saxon church built on the current site of St Peter’s Church
Domesday Book references Henfield
Henfield granted a market
Stone church replaces wooden structure at St Peter’s
St Anthony’s Cottage built, one of the region’s oldest surviving hall houses
Cat House constructed
First Postmaster General, and Henfield resident, appointed by King Charles II
The George Inn first recorded
The White Hart established
Henfield Cricket Club founded
Henfield station opens on the Horsham to Shoreham branch line
Nathaniel Woodard moves into Martyn Lodge
1st Henfield Scout Group founded
Backsettown House used as a refuge for suffragettes
War Memorial established on Cagefoot Lane
Henfield station and the Horsham to Shoreham railway train line closed
Henfield’s Gardens and Arts Festival launched
Scouting centenary flame stops at Henfield before reaching Brownsea Island
Henfield Festival - supporting Horsham District year of culture