Below the Giant is the village of Wilmington from which the giant takes his name. The village contains a very old (12th century) church and an alien priory. The priory was also built in the 12th century by Norman Benedictine monks and was dependant on the abbey of Grestein near Honfleur in the diocese of Lisieux before being suppressed several times during war with France, finally falling under English control for the last time in 1414 during the reign of Henry V. Rather strangely, the priory of Wilmington doesn't seem to have been affected by the seizures of alien priories as much as other priories. Nevertheless, the priory and its lands eventually fell under the control of the Dean and Chapter of Chichester who used the area for farming before it passed into secular hands in 1565. The building was used as a farm building until 1925 when it was given to the Sussex Archaeological Society along with the Long Man by the Duke of Devonshire. The village animal pound still sits outside the priory next to the road and the Tithe Barn for the priory was on the site of what is now the car park for the Long Man.

Wilmington's church is also 12th century, though built slightly later, and was constructed on a small hill above the sunken road which passes through Wilmington, giving the impression it was built on an old pagan site. The church is accessed today through the 14th century porch and north door rather than the south, an exception for an area where most north doors in churches were blocked up, though this is probably due to the fact that the south door was purely for use by the priory. The 13th century north chapel, now a vestry, contains a beautiful stained glass window known as the "Bee and Butterfly Window" which depicts an image of St. Peter surrounded by several different insects. The Long Man is seen by some as a guardian of a gateway, which makes the church dedication, to St. Mary and St. Peter quite interesting as St. Peter is the guardian of the gates of heaven. This Christianisation of themes is quite common, with a particular attribute of a place or date in pre-Christian times being replaced with an affiliation with a saint who has similar properties or attributes.

In October, 1976, when examining the plaster of the late 13th-century crypt, the writer found faint traces of wall painting on the early plaster remaining on the west wall, some four feet above floor level. The pattern covers an area of some two square feet and it is difficult to make out but seems to include part of a shield – possibly two; but time had made it hopeless to attempt further decipherment. The use of wall decoration in the crypt points to a use other than that of mere storage.

The village of Wilmington, a village that has changed little in centuries. Wilmington gets its name from a Saxon that settled and farmed the land called Wilma. The narrow village road is one of the most picturesque in Sussex. Although all the old traders of earlier years have long gone, the cottage names sometimes point to the trades that were carried out there. Bakers, blacksmiths, butchers and candlestick makers. The road still has its drainage ditch, running along side the houses, where you would slop out your undesirable waste each day. It is a real joy to walk along the shaded street looking at all the lovely country houses and cottages.

The beautiful flint church of St Mary and St Peter was built around the 12th century right next to a Benedictine priory known as Wilmington Priory. The priory was one of the casualties of Henry V's wrath. Although the priory survived from the 13th to the 15th century, it finally fell into ruin. Many priories suffered at the hands of our kings, especially Henry VIII. This was because they held tremendous lands and thus power over the common people. In the olden days, land was not just wealth but power. All wealth came from the land. For the Stock Market and white-collar workers in huge cities it would have been the stuff of dreams. He who controlled the land controlled the country. So Henry decided to gain control by the simple task of flattening all opposition. A ruthless but successful tactic. Hence, our poor Benedictine monks fled back to Normandy and the priory was destroyed. The few buildings and flint walls that remain are testament to those turbulent political times and to the quality of building techniques. The dilapidated walls that once resounded to the rejoicing of monks, now provide shelter for pigeons.
The villagers would have travelled, in their entire lives, no more distant than to the markets at Hailsham or Lewes. Those villagers knew little of the outside world but everything about the area in which they lived and died. They were in tune with the seasons and ran their lives by the daily rising and setting of the sun. Amongst all of this, in the centre of Wilmington village life, was this little church. In the church graveyard is a magnificent yew tree. Possibly the oldest in the country. It has stood there since well before King Harold was slain at Hastings in 1066. It stands with outstretched branches sagging.

The tree has known more than a thousand years of recorded history. I wonder what sights it has seen and what graves have been dug beneath. It keeps its secrets. Old and tired it stands, guarding the souls of the departed. It is part of our pagan heritage that has been allowed to continue into Christian times and legend has it the branch limbs help guide the spirits of the departed to the afterlife.

He is now called The Long Man of Wilmington. What his real name was has been lost through the folds of time.
What we know of our local giant is bitty to say the least. There are a hundred different theories that have come up over the years. The first documentation of him comes from an illustration from 1710 and what a different character he was, hair, eyes, armed with tools and a beard. So we ask ourselves is he older than that? Because of the regular maintenance of his outline over the years it is impossible to date him using traditional carbon dating. Also, in the summer of early 1870's the Archaeological Trust decided to enhance his outline with white painted bricks and re-cut his outline. Did they enhance or change it? Reading University have dated him to around 1545 but it is all really educated speculation? You could date finds from around the Giant to Bronze, Iron, Roman or just about any age. Because what we see is not original but inspired and built over the original, it is educated guess work.
When the stone blocks were put in they dug up a lot of Roman pottery and that gave some credence to the old legend that the giant was placed above the grave of a Roman general killed in battle. They say that his grave is covered with golden artefacts! If this even had an thread of truth the whole place would have been dug to nothing by the Victorians whole loved nothing more than a picnic and a dig, long before the protection of such ancient monuments.
There is one, rather rude, point worth mentioning. If you happen to see The Long Man early in the morning after a sharp frost, a rather impressive appendage appears, showing that his original form was far more revealing than his present one. It disappears quite quickly and has been rarely seen in the last 40 years. Over the years he has often been defaced or rather repainted by visitors in the night that have added his grand assets back. Are they subconsciously putting him back to how he really did look?
If he was originally a well-endowed fellow then he certainly would not have been carved in the prim and proper Victorian era when showing an ankle was deemed inappropriate, let alone his six-foot (2m) attribute! Also, to back this theory up, when the Australian and New Zealand troops were stationed at nearby Peacehaven. Peacehaven was formerly known as New ANZACS -because of the Australian and New Zealand troops. Many of the soldiers who helped clear local scrub and downland went back and told their families of the giant that, when properly cleared, included his full manhood. And why would old descriptions of him say He stands naked before the shires? Even Kipling used this phrase. No that his dingaling has been removed we can state that the Long Man had an early sex change?
During WWII our giant was camouflaged to avoid the enemy using him as a landmark but was soon sparkling again with a coat of white road paint. Before he was covered up a reconnaissance aircraft took a picture of him showing his large appendage in its full glory! So it is on record. In 1874 the Reverend William De St Croix marked out the Giants rough outline in yellow painted bricks but they were replaced in 1891 with white ones. You can get a picture of the amount of work going on here. Every few years there is someone renovating the old Giant. In 1969, just before earlier bricks were replaced with concrete blocks, archaeological digs by Reading University pronounced that the old man of the hill could be no more than early 1600's.
For every one of these opinions there is an opposite opinion, so the questions go on. The famous actor Dirk Bogarde spent several happy years around this area as a child as in his biography, Great Meadow, puts the Long Man of Wilmington as seventh century.