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Westfield has a long history. Our neighbouring area from Beauport to Brede Woods and beyond was an iron-working zone in Roman times. The village was mentioned in the Domesday book as “Westewelle”. There was a Saxon settlement here before the Norman Conquest and very possibly a Saxon forerunner of our present church. In the period just before the conquest the area belonged to Harold Godwin, the English king defeated by William in 1066.

 

It was a tiny place. Back in the early years of Norman rule in1086 there were just eight households in the village, seven villagers and one cottager. The Lord in charge was a man called Wibert who owed allegiance to Robert the Count of Eu in Normandy. The whole place had a value of £3.6 pence. Later the monks of Battle Abbey came to own some of the land in the village and built what may have been a farm house opposite the church where Church Farm is today.

 

For hundreds of years the village people farmed the land and fished the streams and ponds and grazed their animals on the common land where Stablefields, the Playing Field and Downoak Farm now are. It was a small farming village for most of its existence, but in the late medieval period and especially the 16th and 17th centuries iron-working began to be important again as a source of labour and income. Most people know the stream called Forge Stream which flows under Cottage Lane towards Brede. It was here that a profitable iron forge and manufactury was built using the water power of the stream and a man-made pond with sluices to power the hammers for forging iron.

 

In the village still today there are a few houses and cottages which are medieval in origin and which presumably are evidence of relative prosperity in those times. There is also, of course, the later Workhouse in the lane of the same name which suggests the poverty existing alongside the prosperity. There were two windmills in the village, one near where Archers is today and one in Cottage Lane. Presumably there were fishponds in Fishponds Lane and some sort of industry took place in Wheel Lane.

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workhouse cottages  

Hunt at the Plough  Westfield 1813 small