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Discovering Mayfield: History and Festivities

Mayfield, the heartier of the two, is a village that resonates with the echoes of its past. Each September, the air is thick with the anticipation of the annual carnival, a fiery tribute to a sombre history. This event is not merely a festivity; it is a poignant remembrance of the Protestants who, on the 23rd of September 1556, faced martyrdom by flame. Their memory is honoured not only in Mayfield but also in Lewes, as part of the Sussex bonfire tradition that solemnly recalls the persecution under Queen Mary and the later Gunpowder Plot.

As the third Saturday of September dawns, the Mayfield Bonfire Society orchestrates a procession that weaves through the village, a river of torchlight that culminates in a communal bonfire and a sky painted with fireworks. This spectacle is more than just a display; it's a fundraiser, with proceeds nurturing various charities, symbolising the village's enduring spirit of generosity.

The governance of this close-knit parish is encapsulated within the electoral ward of Mayfield, home to 2,614 souls as per the 2011 Census. The origins of Mayfield's name itself are a tapestry of linguistic evolution, with the Domesday Book of 1086 recording it as Mesewelle. Over time, the name has morphed from possible Norman roots, through various spellings, to the present-day Mayfield, a name that conjures images of mayweed fields or perhaps a nod to the maid depicted on the village sign.

Mayfield's legacy is further enriched by its historical ties to the manor of Malling and the Kings of Wessex, with lands gifted to Canterbury Cathedral and serving as an Archbishop's peculiar. The Archbishop's palace, a testament to the village's ecclesiastical significance, once stood proudly within its bounds.

Today, Mayfield and Five Ashes stand as beacons of heritage and community, where history is not just remembered but vibrantly alive in the hearts of its residents.


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