East Dean and Friston
|East Dean and Friston|
Seven Sisters from Birling Gap
East Dean and Friston shown within East Sussex
|Area||3.3 sq mi (8.5 km2) |
|- Density||475 /sq mi (183 /km2)|
|OS grid reference|
|- London||53 miles (85 km) NNW|
|Shire county||East Sussex|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
East Dean and Friston is a civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England.The two villages in the parish are in a dry valley on the South Downs - between Eastbourne three miles (4.8 km) to the east and Seaford an equal distance to the west. The main A259 road goes through both village centres. The coast and much of the land between it and the A259 from the east edge of Seaford to the west edge of Eastbourne is owned by the National Trust, and this has prevented further development to the area.
East Dean lies in the valley bottom: Friston is at the top of the hill to the west. Within both villages are a large number of buildings of historic interest.
The church in East Dean, dedicated to St Simon and St Jude, has a Saxon tower and an unusual Tapsel gate (preventing cattle from entering the churchyard); that at Friston is dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. The churches have formed a united benefice since 1688. The latter contains Tudor monuments to the local family Selwyn and the grave of the composer Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
Birling Gap is a coastal hamlet within the parish. It is situated on the Seven Sisters not far from Beachy Head and is owned by the National Trust. Coastal erosion has already removed some of the row of coastguard cottages built in 1878, and those that remain are still inhabited. There is a tea room run by The National Trust, and a large metal staircase leading down to the enclosed pebble beach and the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. It is likely that soon it will no longer exist because the amount of erosion is so large that all the houses will have to be demolished before they fall into the sea, and because the houses are not worth enough, the Government will not place a sea defence in the way. If walkers are cut off at high tide, they can climb the ladder, which is replaced often, to Birling Gap.
The main rock type at Birling Gap is chalk. Other rock types outcropping here include flint, loess and soil. The coastline is part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest Seaford to Beachy Head, which falls within the parish. The site is of biological and geological interest.
There is also extensive evidence and visible earthworks here for an Iron Age hillfort on the site - although nearly half of it has already been lost to the sea. Information boards at the site show how it would have originally looked; however, even more will be lost due to the geological nature of these chalk cliffs.
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