Sedlescombe is a village and civil parish in the Rother District of East Sussex, England.The village is located seven miles (11 km) north of St. Leonards-on-Sea, on the A21 to London.
The parish lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The River Brede and its tributary the River Line flow through it; and Powdermill Reservoir is nearby, however difficult to access if you’re not fly-fishing. It has a population of approximately 1,500.
The village traces its roots back to Roman times. The oldest house in the village (Asselton House) was formerly called Asselton Bath and is reputed to be on the site of a Roman bathhouse. The surrounding area is rich in Roman remains, including the headquarters of the Roman navy in Britain just four miles (6 km) away at current day Beauport Park in St Leonards-on-Sea. This was the location where the Romans exported their local iron products from.
Sedlescombe grew up around the village green close to the river that had brought the earliest pre-Roman settlers here in search of the iron ore. The iron industry was expanded by the Romans who also built the road through the village still known as “The Street”. Many centuries later, at the end of the 15th century, the introduction of the blast furnace allowed cast iron items, including cannons and cannon balls, to be made in local forges and furnaces. By the 18th century, Sedlescombe was making gunpowder and was said to have produced “the best gunpowder in Europe”. Both iron and gunpowder production relied on good charcoal which was made locally in Petley Wood until the end of the 20th century. The only signs of the iron industry nowadays are waste slag that can be found in the fields, small ponds oozing soft black mud and the listing of a few archaeological sites on a map.
Fifty years ago the village boasted two pubs, a butcher, a bakery, a newsagent, a blacksmith, a garage, two eateries and two general stores. Only the village store remains, and then, to the joy of all of us, there is still the inn, the Queens Head.
The Queens Head, as it stands today, is an ancient pub that was built in the 14th century. Its location however, on the side of a Roman road, suggests that the pub might have a much longer history. It was also used by the notorious Hawkhurst Gang, and the Smuggler’s Tunnel can still be seen from the cellar.
Elizabeth I was once stayed at the Queens Head and in celebration, the villagers planted an oak tree on The Green that is still there today.
This is the way English Heritage describes the Queen’s Head Inn: “C15 timber-framed building, refaced with red brick on ground floor and tile-hung above with a slight bellcast between and trace of a bressummer beneath this. The south end and the centre portion project slightly with gables over. Tiled roof. Casement windows with small square panes. Brick chimney breast with shoulders on south wall. Two storeys. Five windows. Panelling inside.”
Sedlescombe is a pleasant place to live. Despite losing so many shops, arguably residents have never been so well provided.
The shop/post office/off-licence supplies most dayto-day needs. It sells and delivers newspapers, sells confectionery, cigarettes, groceries, greetings cards, bread and hot pies, stationery, household goods, videos, reading glasses, chemist sundries and lottery tickets. Dry cleaning, laundry, shoe repairs and photo developing can be left at the shop. Photocopying and send/receive fax facilities are available. Banking facilities are available and a cashpoint is expected to be available during shop hours soon. Milk is delivered throughout the village. There is a daily post collection including Sundays and post deliveries on Monday to Saturday.
The future of the Primary School seems to be secure with rising numbers of children coming from Sedlescombe and surrounding areas but shortage of space is a problem. If, however, numbers on the school roll were to fall below a certain level, funding would be withdrawn possibly resulting in reduction of staff. Secondary school pupils still attend Claverham and, increasingly, Robertsbridge. The price of houses locally and the natural urge to move away from home usually means that older teenagers do not stay in the Village for long. Sedlescombe’s population is increasingly elderly and very elderly and the shortage of warden care or care homes is a concern.