Getting to know Billingshurst

14 November 2022 by Simon Drayson

Billinghurst Architecture

The village of Billingshurst might be relatively small in size, but it has a lot going on that is well worth an explore. Located in west Sussex, just 8 miles from Horsham and about 15 miles from our studio in Midhurst, the village is characteristic of the South Downs, with gentle undulating farmland and some stunning period architecture.

The village is thought to have evolved as a natural meeting point between two key routes, running east to west and north to south, with origins in the Anglo-Saxon period. The long history can be easily seen through the many surviving properties from across the eras, giving the village its unique character.

Billinghurst Church Architecture
Billinghurst dog walk


St Mary’s Parish Church is a strong visual landmark and central point of Billingshurst village. The south chapel dates from the 13th century, with much of the church largely rebuilt in 1866, but notably the church has a rare surviving, stone broach Norman 120 foot spire tower from c 1100.

Interestingly the village also has the oldest nonconformist place of worship in south east, The Unitarian and Free Christian Church which originates from 1756 and is quite an architectural contrast to the likes of St Mary’s. The modest one story brick building is almost ‘cottage like’ with a simple frontage with porch flanked by two windows and tiled roof.

Six Bells Billinghurst

Public Houses

With the long heritage of coaching industry, due to its location on key traveling routes, Billingshurst has a few interesting public houses in the village which happily still open. The Kings Arms, now a sports pub, is a mid-16th century coaching house, with a painted brick ground floor and the stunning scalloped tiles hung on the first floor.

The Six Bells is a pretty, 16th century timber-framed public house, set back from the high street with extensive gardens. A particular detail to look out for is the cast iron tombstone set behind the fireplace, adding to the rich history and aura of the building,

Knepp dog walking Sussex
Billinghurst east sussex

Knepp Castle

Just 10 minutes from Billingshurst is the Knepp Castle Estate, a private 3,500 acre estate set in the South Downs. The ruins of old Knepp Castle are now not much more than a single tower remaining which dates back to the 12th century (a full history can be found here), the area is open to the public and makes for a wonderful walk around the ruins. Additionally, there is up to 16 miles of public footpaths through the estate, through meadows and woods and their new re-wilding areas. The estate offers an array of opportunities for visitors, including camping, guide walks and safaris on their land - information can be found here.

Blue Idol Quaker Meeting Billinghurst

Blue Idol Quaker Meeting House

Between Billingshurst and Coolham you can find the Blue Idol Quaker Meeting House, a lovely 16th century timber framed building, originally built as a Farmhouse but later was used as a Quaker meeting place since 1691. The church is a beautiful architectural example, but also has strong historic links to William Penn (and even has a blue plaque in his honour) who used to worship here and helped purchase the building for the church, he is most famous as founder of Pennsylvania in the USA.

Interestingly within the church witches’ marks (inverted VV symbols) carvings have been found in the timbers, these marks were commonly used throughout the 16th century as a way to protect inhabitants from witchcraft and evil spirits.

Billinghurst East Sussex countryside

Loxwood Joust!

If you want to immerse yourself in the medieval period more deeply then you can always head to the Loxwood Joust, a medieval jousting festival just outside Billingshurst! The attraction has created a fully engrossing experience that celebrates the heritage from this period, which is so prominent across the area, including blacksmithing, crafting armour, music, feasting and of course jousting. Each year they host a Christmas banquet, which we think could be tempting to take the G&J team for our next team event & see who would have made the best Knight!

We really love to get your feedback from our blog posts about the local area, do keep sending in your thoughts and suggestions. If you haven't already read them, we have already written about Haslemere and Midhurst.  

Take the first small step.

Get in touch