Chailey parish is one of the largest rural parishes in the country, extending for 9 km from north to south and for 6 km from east to west. It covers 2,491 hectares and includes numerous dispersed settlements including South Chailey, South Street, Chailey Green and North Chailey. The parish extends from Sheffield Bridge in the north, to Newick Point in the east, to Bevern Bridge in the south and to Pelling Bridge in the west. The parish shares boundaries with Fletching parish to the north, Newick and Barcombe parishes to the east, Hamsey, St John Without and East Chiltington parishes to the south and Plumpton, Wivelsfield and Lindfield Rural parishes to the west. The north-west parish boundary follows the county boundary between East and West Sussex. The yew tree adjacent to the Chailey Windmill on Red House Common is said to mark the centre of Sussex. Chailey is within the Chailey and Wivelsfield Ward and is in the Lewes Parliamentary Constituency.
Chailey's population in 2011 was estimated at 3088 living in 1,168 households (2011 Census quoted on East Sussex in Figures website). According to the boundary commission, in 2015 there were 2291 electors on the Chailey Electoral Roll.
Former Parish Council Chair Graham Johnson organised the introduction of a Village Sign on Chailey Green in 1996. The components of the sign were made into a working drawing by the late Marjorie Davies, illustrator of Enid Blyton's books and renowned local artist (see biographical note below). The metal work was carried out by G.W. Day of East Chiltington and bricks for the plinth were supplied by Ibbotson's Brickworks of South Chailey. The sign shows the white smock windmill which stands on Red House Common, North Chailey. The trees on either side of the mill relate to the Chailey Local Nature Reserve. The building with the crossed keys symbol of St Peter is the Reading Room which stands on Chailey Green next to the village sign. The sign is a memorial to Cecily Tucker who contributed much to Chailey village life.
Marjorie Davies lived in Chailey from 1954 until her death in 2007 at the age of 101 years. She is noted for her illustrations of many Enid Blyton short stories, magazines and annuals. Enid Blyton warned her not to submit samples of art work for review unless they were ‘first class’. However, upon receipt they were much admired and she later ruefully regretted the decision not to illustrate editions of ‘The Famous Five’ and ‘Noddy’.
Marjorie Davies trained at St Martin’s School of Art in London. Her various commissions included colour plates for Lewis Carol’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’, Arthur Mee’s ‘My Magazine’, numerous books and magazine covers and artwork for wallpaper. During World War II, she served in the Woman’s Land army at farms in Sussex and in 1954 she moved with her husband to a 16th century cottage at Coppard’s Bridge on Cinder Hill in Chailey. She was a keen gardener and sports follower. She designed the village sign and for many years provided much appreciated sketches of local scenes and buildings for the cover of Chailey’s monthly newsletter, Chailey News. In her later years, she achieved widespread recognition for her watercolour landscape paintings. She will be fondly remembered for what she called her ‘doodles’ of pictures featuring children, animals and scenes from nature.
Marjorie’s drawings continue to be available on the mugs, placemats and coasters produced and sold by the Chailey Heritage Enterprise Centre. Tel 01825 724376 to place an order.
The Meridian Stone was installed on Lane End Common in 1953 to mark the line of the Greenwich meridian where it crosses the Manor of Balneth (now known as Balneath). The monument was provided by Ivor Grantham Esq, Lord of the Manor of Balneth and the stonework was undertaken by Percival Bridgman of Eastgate Wharf, Lewes. The official unveiling was held on October 10th, 1953.