Wolstonbury Hill

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Wolstonbury Hill
Site of Special Scientific Interest
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Wolstonbury Hill is located in West Sussex
Wolstonbury Hill
Shown within West Sussex
Area of Search West Sussex
Grid reference TQ282140
Coordinates 50°54′40″N 0°10′32″W / 50.911099°N 0.175532°W / 50.911099; -0.175532Coordinates: 50°54′40″N 0°10′32″W / 50.911099°N 0.175532°W / 50.911099; -0.175532
Interest Biological
Area 58.6 ha (145 acres)
Notification 1954 (1954)
Natural England website

Wolstonbury Hill is a chalk prominence in the South Downs National Park, approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) north of Brighton and 1.6 kilometres (0.99 mi) west of Clayton, in the parish of Pyecombe, West Sussex, England. It lies just to the south of Hurstpierpoint, a village mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1085.


Rising to a maximum height of 225 metres (738 ft), Wolstonbury projects into the Weald from the main ridge of the South Downs giving views of both the Downs and the Weald. Views across the Weald to the north are panoramic, to the east are the Clayton Windmills and Ditchling Beacon beyond. Hollingbury is prominent to the southeast. Looking west one can see Newtimber Hill, West Hill with Devils Dyke just beyond, further out Chanctonbury Ring is clearly visible.


Wolstonbury, owned and maintained by the National Trust,[1] is listed as a Scheduled Monument.


No roads or car parks lie close to the summit so visitors have to ascend on foot or by mountain bike.


South of Hurstpierpoint ridge, the clay vale lies beneath the jutting profile and complex scarp and foot of Wolstonbury Hill.

The approach from the north is characterised by a network of linked or closely spaced woodlands (some parts ancient) centred on the designed landscape at Danny House.

Flora and fauna[edit]

There is a great diversity of plants and insects that can be found on the hill, emphasising that chalk grassland, although it is a man-made habitat, it is also one of the rarest and most diverse habitats in the world. The area has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.[2] Present ground conditions consist of grassland/pasture with a minimal to dense covering of scrub.

The base of the hill is shrouded with beech woods.

Wolstonbury also has some rare (for Sussex) orchids [3] along with a profusion of more common varieties.

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Archeology and history[edit]


Small quantities of Neolithic and early Bronze Age flintwork have been discovered in and around Wolstonbury

Bronze Age enclosure[edit]

The main archaeological enclosure at Wolstonbury survives as an oval earthwork enclosing some 2.2 hectares (5.4 acre).

Iron Age fort[edit]

To the west of the hill is a clearly visible plateau thought to be the remains of an Iron Age fort.

'Romano-British' pottery, animal bone and hammerstones were recovered from the areas of 'shallow scoop' exposed within the enclosure.

One of the earliest references to the site was by Stephen Vine who notes that in 1765, during the course of flint digging at Wolstonbury Hill, a number of human skeletons were unearthed. His later description may indicate that the burials in question were of Saxon origin.

Danny House[edit]

Danny House

Danny House, which is at the northern foot of Wolstonbury Hill, is a large house set in extensive parkland.

The medieval Park of Danny was enclosed by the last Sir Simon de Pierpoint in 1343. The present house was built in 1593–95 by George Goring, slightly to the east of an older house.

In 1652 Danny Great Park was 54 hectares (135 acres) with arable land and meadow amounting to about 170 hectares (420 acres). The parkland still contains large, noble oaks of varying ages and growth patterns and is used today for a variety of recreational activities.

Danny House has two main fronts: the east (16th Century) and the south (early Georgian). The brick-built east frontage is monumental, and the south front stately. The building as a whole is prominent in views from the nearby downs.

There is a well-preserved ice house in the grounds, and a Roman pavement has also been unearthed there.

On 13 October 1918 Danny House was the scene of a meeting of the Imperial War Cabinet, including David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, and it was here that the decision was made to negotiate the armistice with Germany.


On Ascension Day, every member of the nearby Hurstpierpoint College climbs Wolstonbury Hill. Once the whole school is assembled on top of the hill the choir sings the 17th century Hymnus Eucharisticus. After singing the hymn the Headmaster hands out the Lowe's Dole - money left by the first Headmaster, Canon Lowe, for the choir and sacristans.


King Alfred is said[who?] to have fought on Wolstonbury Hill and the ten horseshoes which are on the Bull Hotel at Ditchling are said to have been cast by his ponies.


External links[edit]