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SLIDESHOW: Falmer - surrounded by beautiful views but split in two by the A27

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PERHAPS the most unusual building in Falmer is a 13th century thatched barn, tucked behind St Lawrence Church.

Apparently it is one of the oldest medieval barns in Sussex and was used by the monks of Lewes Priory for storing sheaves of corn.

The Priory met a sticky end following the dissolution of the monasteries and today is a ruin, but this striking building remains, nestled in the Turner style landscape of the South Downs.

Falmer traces its history back to Saxon times and interestingly its name derives from Old English for fallow (pale-coloured) pond or it may mean Fala’s Mere, a pond belonging to Fala who could have been a Saxon chieftain.

During the 11th century it was variously spelled Falemela, Falemere or Felesmere.

Since then it passed through the hands of some of the prime movers and shakers in Sussex, including Gundred, wife of William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, just after the Norman Conquest, Thomas Cromwell and Anne of Cleves owned Falmer for a couple of years and by 1630 the village belonged to the Craven family of Berkshire.

In the 1700s the Pelham family, who owned nearby Stanmer Park, bought the manor of Falmer.

The Pelhams also founded the Falmer Almshouses and rebuilt the church in 1817.

Fast forward to 1910 and the Pelham Family was beginning to sell off some its land in this area.

The War Department requisitioned land in 1942 and the City of Brighton Corporation bought more of it in 1947.

Falmer has been served by a train station since 1846 but the original station was built a mile east of its current location.

It was moved in 1865 and rebuilt in 1890.

A snoop around the south side of the village reveals a large pond, complete with ducks and geese, surrounded by beautiful flint cottages and the small but perfectly formed church of St Lawrence.

A post office and a school once operated in the village, but these are now private homes.

Glimpsed through the trees which fringe the village centre are downland scenes, in rich greens and yellows which take your breath away.

To the north, an inviting looking pub, more chocolate box flint stone cottages and jaw dropping scenery.

But Falmer’s character has been changed most drastically during the last 50 years: first during the 1960s when it became home to the University of Sussex, then during the 1970s when the A27 was widened, taking with it six cottages and dividing the village in two.

Today a footbridge connects the two halves, creating a link over a gaping chasm which houses the busy highway.

And in the 1990s, the former Brighton Polytechnic’s Falmer campus became a principal base of the University of Brighton.

Now the village controversially plays host to Brighton and Hove Albion’s space age football ground, the Amex.

The Swan pub, north of the A27, seems to be proving popular with the Seagulls: its beer garden appears to be swarming with blue and white t-shirt clad men whenever a game is on.

 

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