Steep is located at the western edge of the Weald, at the foot of the Hangers, with the Downs to the south. The earliest buildings were amongst a sporadic pattern of farmsteads at the foot of the Hangers scarp.
William Whiteman suggested these were settled in Anglo Saxon times. The older settlements of Steep are mostly in the Steep Marsh, Dunhill and Ashford areas. All Saints’ church dates from 1125. ‘Restalls’, next to the church, is thought to have originated in early Tudor times. Whiteman believed that a ‘great rebuilding’ took place between about 1580 and 1620.
Previously wooden farmstead buildings were replaced with stone structures, such as at Steep, Tankerdale, Gardner’s and Soal Farms and the Harrow Inn. Growing prosperity from the mid 19thcentury saw the appearance of gentlemen’s residences and Victorian mansions.
The Church Road part of Steep was once only a track across the Common with a few squatters’ cottages. With some exceptions, many of the Church Road buildings date only from late nineteenth century onwards. The coming to Steep in 1900 of Bedales School saw the appearance of a number of buildings inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement. Modern buildings have appeared in late 20thand early 21stcenturies, including award winning designs at Bedales. The involvement of a wide range of distinguished architects and designers in Steep over the last 150 years reflects its unique heritage and landscape.
Precise details of many of the buildings can be found in the book: ‘Buildings, Gardens and Monuments in Steep updated 2018’ by Tony Struthers, Fran Box, Hugh Routh, and Celia Storey. Copies can be obtained from Steep History Group and One Tree Books, Petersfield.