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Earliest meeting: Thursday 13th October 1785
Final meeting: Wednesday 21st April 1847
The small village of Alfriston, in the Wealden district of Sussex, lies in the valley of the River Cuckmere. It is located 6 kilometres north east of Seaford and has a population of about 800. Back in the late 1700s it had its own racecourse on Alfriston Downs which first staged races on Thursday 13th October 1785. Entries for the meeting had to be made with Stewards Thomas George Willard and James Hurdis at The George the day before, between 4 and 6 o’clock. Ordinaries were served at The Star and George Inn, with a Ball at the same venues in the evening. Two years later the meeting consisted of a Silver Bowl and a Subscription Purse of £50, both won by Mr Bird’s Highflyer. The meeting held on Wednesday 21st April 1847 was not one Mr Martin, a gentleman rider, remembered with any great affection. The saddle slipped on his horse and the horse ‘fell on his limbs with a great force’. A spectator offered his carriage to take the injured jockey to the neighbouring village for medical treatment. This proved to be the final meeting held in the village.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Thomas George Willard, James Hurdis
Principal Races Alfriston Silver Bowl, Alfriston Saddle & Bridle

The 1787 meeting consisted of a Silver Bowl and a Subscription Purse of £50. Mr Bird’s Highflyer won both events.

Friday 31st January 1840
A novel match between Mr Walter Woodham’s mare, ridden by Mr Sampson, and Mr Cave’s horse, ridden by Mr Monk, took place over a mile on Alfriston Downs Racecourse. The race consisted of 40 hurdles placed 40 yards apart and the mare took up the running early and was never troubled to win easily. It seems remarkable that the gap between each set of hurdles was only 3 hurdles wide.

The final meeting took place on Wednesday 21st April 1847.
Course today Alfriston Downs
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
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