It is thought that the village, originally known as Eorlscourt was founded in Saxon times as a fishing and salt producing village. Over the years the name changed to become West Dean. Alfred the Great had a palace in the village. After the Norman Conquest King William gave the village to his half brother, Earl Mortain who then gave the land and the nearby village of Exceat to the Monastery of Grestein who had a priory at Wilmington.
All Saints Church is the most ancient in the Cuckmere Valley dating back to Saxon times. During the 1100's the area was important and both West Dean and Except paid more taxes than Lewes. Both the Black Death and French raids affected the village badly and with the abandonment of nearby Exceat in the 1450's it became less important.
All Saints Church
This pretty church is said to be the oldest in the Cuckmere Valley dating back to Saxon times. Most of the present structure was constructed in the 11th century using flint and sandstone. Various work was carried out on the church during the 12th to 15th centuries and in the 19th century extensive restoration work was undertaken.