English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Madehurst

Historical Forms

  • Medhurst 1255 FF 1262 Ass
  • Madhurst 1279 Ass 1291 Tax 1296 SR 1316 FA 1332 SR 1583 MarC 1599 Wills 1625 InstPRO
  • Madehurst 1327 SR 1423 IpmR
  • Maydhurst 1610 Norden
  • Meslirs t.Steph France
  • Medliers 1188 P 12th Lewes133b
  • Medleris 1279 Ass
  • Medlyers ib. (p)
  • Medlers 1535 VE
  • Melleriis 12th Lewes135
  • Meiers 1248 Ass


At first sight it seems impossible to reconcile these two sets of forms but it should be noted that the second set, which least resemble the modern name, are much the earlier, and that so far as the earliest of them are concerned, they are derived from documents strongly tinged with French influence. It may be suggested therefore that the true OE  form was mæþelhyrst , i.e. 'speech-wood.' (OE æ is often written e in French documents, cf. IPN 112.) For such an element in place-names cf. PN NRY 43s. n. Malton, Matlask (IPN 65) and Methwold (Nf), DBMethel -, Matelwalde . Such a name would not be unfitting here, for the north end of Madehurst parish abuts on that No Man's Land (supra 77) which we have seen above was a place for the holding of the moot of the two western rapes. OE  mæþel was a word which offered special difficulties to the AN  scribe, as did hyrst also, and the series of Medl (i )ers , Metiers forms are the result. At the same time there must have been a genuine English development whereby mæþelhyrst became Madelhurst and Madehurst . The short vowel of mæþel is interestingly preserved in the local pronunciation. Forms with Maid - are pure pieces of folk-etymologising.

Places in the same Parish

Early-attested site