Take a moment to walk from the car park into the recreation ground – can you see Chanctonbury Ring to the west, and Windmill Hill in the east with – beyond it – Truleigh Hill marked by its transmitters?
Walking back to the High Street with the Village Hall opposite, turn left.
This street lies along a causeway built in the late 11th century, and was part of the late 18 th century London to Brighton coach road. The original route south did not follow the valley but instead climbed steeply south east to Beeding Hill. You may still see the Beeding tollhouse today at the Weald & Downland Living Museum at Singleton.
At the first roundabout follow the main road to the right to The Rising Sun pub.
So called because of its east facing aspect, the pub has been known as The Rising Sun since at least 1851. It had previously been named the Star.
Turning left into Henfield Road, on the left is an eccentric “monument to Victorian extravagance”. Completed in 1883, it became home in 1903 to nuns who were escaping anti clerical laws in France. It later became the Towers Convent, an independent school, which closed in 2020.
Resembling a castle, this eccentric building was sold partly completed to a local architect, George Smith, becoming known locally as “Smith’s Folly”. It became a hunting lodge in 1897.
Opposite Towers Convent is Valerie Manor, originally a 17thC farmhouse and now a care home but named after the wife of a former owner, the jeweller H Samuel.
Continue and then turn left into Manor Road and then Hyde Street.
Hyde Street was one of Beeding’s historical centres.
The first building on your right was originally Mains Farm House, built in early Tudor times of wattle and daub and now beautifully restored.
Hyde Street, an ancient track at the foot of Windmill Hill, was partly a hollow-way on the way to Steyning.
Look out for the delightful 17th century thatched Oak Cottage – the home of Charles Budd, his wife Louisa and 14 children from 1820. Two of the children reportedly emigrated to Utah with their parents as Mormon pioneers around 1859.
A little further on the left is the timber framed South Cottage. Here in 1872 Susan Budd, a 30 year old spinster, concealed and buried her child and was sentenced to six months in prison.
At the end of Hyde Street turn right into Pound Lane.
On the right, Hyde Square is the modern shopping centre opened in 1965 on the site of Hyde Farm and its pond.
Continue straight on Pound Lane. This was the historic way to the village pound, near the brooks, where stray animals were held.
Look for Pound House Cottage on the right – built around 1500 and divided between two households until fairly recently.
To the right of Pound House Cottage is a track, once a drove road originally known as Gypsy Lane and only later when houses were built at the western end was the name Smugglers Lane adopted.
Continue as Pound Lane becomes a track and turn left at a kissing gate.
To your right now is an area of wild brooks. What wildlife can you spot here? Take your time – it’s a haven for all kinds of creatures, including several species of owl.
Continue until you reach the river crossing.
This footbridge is known as the White Bridge. Don’t cross, but follow the river to your left and take the path toward the steps to the parish church.
The church dates from Saxon times and takes its name from a priory of Benedictine monks who lived here from 1080. Look closely at the churchyard wall – can you see stones from the priory which itself is long gone? Take time to explore inside the church if it is open.
Walk back towards the river taking the path on the left before the steps which follows the edge of the flood plain.
Go through the gate into Saltings Way next to a Millennium Plaque about medieval salt making. The plaque features on a Horsham District Heritage Trail created to mark the Millennium.
Entering the main part of Saltings Way turn left, and make your way into Church Lane.
You will now pass the village school founded by Dr Bloxam in 1872.
The bridge as we see it today was rebuilt in brick in 1785 and crossed the river on the important route for travellers and pilgrims between Canterbury and Southampton.
For 35 years members of the local Round Table Club organised an annual charity ‘Bath-tub Race’ starting here and finishing at Shoreham. The last such race was held in 2006.
Wharves here were used for the transport of coal and other goods. In Victorian times the river was popular with tourists enjoying pleasure boats.
Returning now to your start point you will pass many old buildings.
On the north side of the High Street are Bridge House, Hope Cottage and Beam Ends. These may have been one building and date from the mid 15th century. In the late nineteenth century they were home to John Young, a carrier who also had use of a stable on the malthouse field behind. The brick-built Bridge House replaced the original flint building probably in the early 1900s.
At the entrance to Saltings Way we can see the gable ends of the current takeaway shop. Until 1965, a flint building occupied this site where the top floor served as the village hall.
The King’s Head pub is a 15th century construction.
Opposite The King’s Head, The Farmer’s House and Manor House were built as one residence dating from the early 1700s. The two-bay timber framed Manor Cottage next door was built in the mid-1600s.
The imposing Pond Farm house dates from late 17C – during renovations coins were found dated from 1743.
Why is the flint wall here so high?
Originally eight feet tall, another three feet were added in 1850 so that passengers on stage coaches could not see into the farmhouse garden.
Beyond Pond Farm House is the delightful Candytuft, dating from the mid 16th century and originally a half-floored house with a smoke bay at one end, subsequently divided into three cottages.
1725 and 1740 cottages were originally a malthouse. The neighbouring Cherry Tree Cottage, built about 1700, was the home of the malthouse-keeper.
Opposite is Holly Cottage dating from 1736. In 1841 this was the home of Philip Stoner, Upper Beeding’s first postmaster.
Now return to the car park to complete the trail.