Sussex’s countryside is rich with heritage and cultural landmarks – and nowhere more so than in some of its historic villages.

Across the county and into the South Downs, it’s possible to find the remains of historic settlements dating back as far as the medieval period.

While many of these villages have now been largely forgotten and lost, if you delve into their history, you will find a treasure trove of Sussex heritage.


Many of these lost villages, like Balsdean, date back as far as the Roman era – but many have a wealth of history far more recent than that.

The settlement, sitting just east of Ovingdean, is thought to have previously consisted of two farms – one of which may have been used as a lunatic asylum in the 19th century.

Most recently, Balsdean was taken over for military use in the Second World War and many of the buildings were destroyed when they were used for target practice.

Now, the hamlet is deserted, save from a few partially destroyed barns.


Set just off the A27 near Chichester, Fishbourne is most famous as the largest roman home in the UK.

The surrounding village also has a storied history and was mentioned in the Doomsday Book in the 11th century.

Fishbourne used to be a port for Chichester, but now the village sits at one of the main junctions on the A27.


Another village nestled in the South Downs, the site where Perching once stood can be seen near Fulking and Devil’s Dyke.

The village only ever held a handful of residents, and dates back to the medieval era.

Nowadays, the site is accessible by foot over the South Downs Way, but nothing is left standing from the old forgotten village.

Upper Barpham

Upper Barpham is another lost village which dates back to the medieval era, with a church previously excavated on the site.

However, the village, like so many of the time, was a victim of the Black Death plague of the 14th century.

The people of the village were wiped out by the plague and the settlement collapsed shortly after.


Also ruined by the Black Death, Exceat served as a strategic naval base for King Alfred the Great.

The Argus: ExceatExceat

The remains of its buildings and church disintegrated and was entombed in the landscape for hundreds of years until a local boy spotted the outline of a building in a dry field, leading to archaeological excavation in 1913 that revealed the foundations of Exceat Church.

If you visit Seven Sisters Country Park today, in amongst the chalk grassland, you’ll find a large Portland stone block with the graving “Here formerly stood the Parish Church of Excete”.


Originally a small parish, Binderton sat near the River Lavant and had a church dating back to 1086 which was also mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

Nowadays the area is most recognisable for Binderton House, erected in the late 17th century.

The house has now been transformed into luxury flats.


Apuldram, like Fishbourne, served as a major port to medieval Chichester and now sits along a single road with a 13th century church.

In the 15th century the settlement had three main streets, two of which are now just footpath around the area.

The parish is also home to Rymans, a Grade I listed manor house.


Unlike many of the other villages, Isleham was lost due to the erosion of the coastline.

Originally situated near Climping, the village has since been lost to the sea.

Other villages such as Cudlow and old Bracklesham village have since suffered the same fate.

Tide Mills

More recently, Tide Mills served as a prosperous watermill in the 1800s - but the site was abandoned shortly before the Second World War.

The site was re-opened for public tours in 2004, having previously been the largest mill in the county.

In 1795, unpaid, starving soldiers mutinied and stole bags of flour from the mill. Two were later executed by firing squad in Brighton and four others were given 150 lashes.

The land, now owned by Newhaven Port Authority, once had a marine hospital on the beach and at one point was the Chailey Heritage Craft School for seriously disabled children.