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Polegate mill.jpg
The windmill
Polegate is located in East Sussex
Area 7.3 km2 (2.8 sq mi)
Population 8,586 (2011)
• Density 2,853/sq mi (1,102/km2)
OS grid reference TQ587058
• London 49 miles (79 km) NNW
Civil parish
  • Polegate
  • Wealden
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town POLEGATE
Postcode district BN26
Dialling code 01323
Police Sussex
Fire East Sussex
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Lewes
List of places
East Sussex
50°49′18″N 0°14′39″E / 50.8216°N 0.2442°E / 50.8216; 0.2442

Polegate is a town and civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England, United Kingdom. It is located five miles (8 km) north of the seaside resort of Eastbourne and is part of the greater area of that town. Although once a railway settlement, its rail links were closed as part of the Beeching cuts. The 2011 census put the civil parish of Polegate at a population of 8,586, with 41.2% aged 65 and over.


Until the coming of the railways in the 1840s, Polegate was a small settlement within the parish of Hailsham. The Roman road from Pevensey to Lewes passed through here, and the turnpike between London and Eastbourne was developed in the 18th century; but it was the opening of the railway between Lewes and Hastings, with later branches to Eastbourne and Hailsham, that meant growth for Polegate. It became a significant junction, with a freight terminal serving both the nearby market town of Hailsham and the local brick making industry. The town grew partly to accommodate the railway employees.

In the 12th century, the Premonstratensian order of monks occupied Otham Abbey in the parish, before relocating around 1208 to Bayham Abbey, near Lamberhurst. Two buildings remain of that time, Otteham Court and its Chapel.

In 1851 a church school was established in Polegate.

St John's Church was opened on 10 November 1876. The site of the church and the parsonage was donated by Mr Fuller-Meyrick, owner of the Brightling Park Estate. The separate parish of St John's was formed on 26 October 1937, with the first vicar being Rev. John Catterall Salisbury (he had been curate since 1933). In 2013 the Parsonage building in Church Road was sold by the Diocese.

In the 21st century, with the closure of the line to Hailsham and the once direct route to Hastings, its importance as a railway hub has gone. It remains a road junction, with the erstwhile turnpike now being the A22 road; the junction with the A27 lies within the town boundary.

There are four streets in today's Polegate named for the Levett family (Levett Close, Levett Road, Levett Avenue and Levett Way). The Anglo-Norman family were early Sussex landowners, and held manors and lands across the county, including Firle, Bodiam, Hollington and elsewhere. The family's lands were carried into the families of Gildredge (and then to the Davies-Gilbert family of Eastbourne), the Eversfields of St. Leonards-on-Sea, the Ashburnhams, the Chaloners and others.


Polegate is located on a ridge in the gap between the Weald to the north and the South Downs. To the east lie the Pevensey Levels, the one time bay now converted into farmland with the buildup of the coastal shingle bank during the early Middle Ages. Both the roads and the railway use the gap.

The town is gradually becoming part of the greater Eastbourne conurbation, connecting with Willingdon to the south. Many of the town's working population work away: either in Eastbourne or Willingdon.


Climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).

Climate data for Polegate, UK
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.8
Average low °C (°F) 5
Avg. precipitation days 7 13 14 13 9 11 9 9 13 14 15 17 154
Source: Weatherbase


The tower windmill was built in 1817. It is now a working museum.

Old Polegate Station - - 210082
Old Polegate Station now a pub and restaurant
Polegate crossroads and carnival procession 2 - - 45066
Polegate crossroads, Horse and Groom pub and Polegate annual carnival procession

Sport and leisure


There are two recreation grounds in Polegate, The Brightling Road Recreation Ground to the east of the town and The War Memorial Recreation Ground so the south of the town in Wannock Road.

  • The Brightling Road Recreation Ground, also known as the William Daily Recreation Ground has a BMX Track, a Skate Park and a woodland area with open ground for sports.
  • The War Memorial Recreation Ground is an open field with a basketball hoop and a playground for children.

There are also two Sustrans Cycle paths on the National Cycle Network, route 2 between Dover and St Austell, also route 21 between Greenwich and Eastbourne.

Sports Clubs

The local football team, Polegate Town FC, currently plays each Saturday at the War Memorial Recreational Ground. The club currently has two teams, with the 1st team playing in the Mid Sussex League Championship Division, and the 2nd team in Division 5. The club reformed in 2006 after an absence of five years without a Polegate team. In 2008, the club moved back to the Rec, having played its first two seasons on Eastbourne Council pitches. The club have enjoyed various successes since reforming, most recently winning the Blacklands Finance Challenge Cup. In 2015, the club will celebrate its centenary, as the earliest known Polegate team was first established in 1915 (a photo of this team can be seen in the pavilion at the War Memorial Recreational Ground).

Polegate also have a successful Cricket team, Polegate and Stone Cross Cricket Club, who use the same pitch during the summer months.



High Street, Polegate - - 864059
High Street in Polegate

The railway arrived in Polegate in 1846, built by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway on the extension from Brighton to Hastings. In 1849 branches extended to Eastbourne and Hailsham (later to Eridge). The line to Hailsham was nicknamed the Cuckoo Line by railway workers. Both that and the direct link to Hastings are now closed. The present Polegate railway station is served by the Southern (train operating company) with regular train services to London, Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings.


Bus services are provided by

  • Stagecoach South East: Routes 6, 51, 52, 54, 54A and 98
  • Compass Travel: Route 125


Cuckoo Trail between Polegate and Hailsham - - 62562
Cuckoo Trail between Polegate and Hailsham

The long-distance footpath, the Cuckoo Trail passes through the parish, as does the cycleway route No. 2.


There are four churches in Polegate: the Church of England parish church, dedicated to St John; the Roman Catholic church of St George; a Seventh-day Adventist Church; and a United Reformed Church.Quakers also meet at the Bernard Baron Homes.


Polegate formed a twinning association in 1981 and is twinned with two towns

  • France Saintry-sur-Seine, France since 1991.
  • Germany Appen, Germany since 1981.


Chaucer Industrial Business Park Estate is located on Dittons Road where the major part of Polegate's industrial businesses are located. A number of small-town shops and businesses occupy the High Street, including a supermarket, hair salons, and convenience store, as well a Premier Inn hotel to the north of the town.


State primary education is served by Polegate County Primary School.

Notable residents

  • David Dimbleby, television commentator, who included the town as a destination in his 2007 television series How We Built Britain; Denis Healey, politician and writer, both have links with the town.
  • Tim Rice-Oxley, multi-instrumentalist. Composer, pianist and backing vocalist of British piano rock band Keane.
  • Trevor Geer, Speedway rider and Manager for the Eastbourne Eagles Speedway team.
  • Dan Gasser, radio presenter on Radio X.
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