What is a Hamlet?


In the United Kingdom, the word 'hamlet' has no defined legal meaning, although hamlets are recognised as part of land use planning policies and administration. A hamlet is traditionally defined ecclesiastically as a village or settlement that usually does not have its own church, belonging to a parish of another village or town.  In modern usage it generally refers to a secondary settlement in a civil parish, after the main settlement (if any).  Hamlets may have been formed around a single source of economic activity such as a farm, mill, mine or harbour that employed its working population.  Some hamlets, particularly those that have a medieval church, may be the result of the depopulation of a village.  The term hamlet was used in some parts of the country for a geographical subdivision of a parish (which might or might not contain a settlement).  Elsewhere, these subdivisions were called ‘townships’ or ‘tithings’.

Gay Street is situated in the county of West Sussex in southern England, just north of the South Downs National Park (see map above) in the parish of West Chiltington, which in turn is in the District Council of Horsham.