Place Names of Ardingly

by Mary Holgate

A collection of 44 articles first published in the Parish Magazine of St Peter’s, Ardingly. They were written by Mary Holgate over a period of eight years between 1926 and 1934. (See Afterword.) Mary contributed her research towards the Survey of English Place-Names and there are updated entries there for some places.

Place Name Index


The name of Ardingly itself has gone through many changes, at least 50 ways of spelling it being in existence. It does not appear with the initial “A” till 1521. Before that the first letter is either “E” or “H”. For instance, the first four spellings found in the Lewes Chartulary are “Herdingle”, “Erdinglega”, “Erdyngelega”, “Hardinglega”. These are copies of the earliest charters referring to the gift of the Church of Ardingly to Lewes Priory by the Earls of Warren, and date between 1088 and 1398.

The earliest original charter is dated between 1107-18, where the spelling is “Erdingelega”. A photograph of this charter hangs in the Church.

In other documents we get “Herdingelege”, 1241; “Erthelyngelegh”,1278; “Erthyngelithe”, 1542; “Erchyngleghe”, 1585-6; “Erthynglyghe”, 1411; “Estringleth”, l45#; “Hardyngleigh”, 1472; with many other variations.

To get at the meaning of the name we read it backwards. As far as present knowledge goes it is –

  • The LYE, or lying place for the cattle belonging
  • ING, to the people of
  • ERD, someone whose name began thus; the second syllable has dropped out.

Lye – is usually a clearing in a forest, in our case the forest of Worth.

Ing – “the people of”, not necessarily a tribe, nor only the sons and daughters, but the small body of people connected with the running of a holding as well as the family.

Erd – a common first syllable of Saxon names: for example Eardwulf.

Ardingly is a pure Saxon, or Old English name, and its pronunciation with three even syllables is a proof of its age and history, which has remained uncorrupted till now. Pronunciation is far older than spelling, and should be carefully preserved. There are other names in the parish which are probably also older than the parish itself, for example Hickpots, the earliest form of which at present found is Hykport, but which is derived, perhaps, from the Saxon name Hicca. Also Cobb Lane and Brook, which may be derived from Ceobba. Both these names are still under consideration. Hapstead is a Saxon name, but at present no early form has been found. It is possible that it is an important name due to Robt. de Hempsted holding a small piece of land here in the 14th century; but the earliest date which can be definitely given, as yet, is 1560-1, in the Registers, where it appears as Hapset.

Our most prized possession in local names is that of Street Lane, which connects Hapstead with Ardingly and its Church. It records the straight road or street of the Romans to which it led, and which passed Ardingly Church on its way north towards London.

Ardingly is in the Hundred of Street for all archaeological purposes, but the connection of the name of the Hundred with the Roman Street has not yet been accurately defined. A large portion of Ardingly also belongs to the manor of StreetLywood, Berry and Withylands. In Domesday this hundred is called Estreu. It is a curious coincidence that Richard Wakehurst, who presumably was better educated than most Ardingly people of his date, calls the parish Estringleth in his Will (1454). Was he thinking that the origin of the name was the Lye belonging to Street or Estreu Manor? Perhaps.


This series of notes, which has been running for eight years, has now covered almost all the names of places in the parish. During that time fresh information has come to light in some instances, but the greater part must stand without alteration, as an effort to preserve for the people that part of their history which lies behind these old names and which is so often thrown away and lost from ignorance of its meaning.

MARY S. HOLGATE, January 24th 1934