The origin of name of the village is uncertain, but the first element may derive from the Old English word mere meaning 'pool'; the second element is certainly feld meaning 'open land' (A. Mawer, The place-names of Sussex volume 2, page 349). Iron has also played an important role in the history of the area, during the time when the Wealden iron industry was flourishing. Within 2 miles (3 km) of Maresfield Church in the 16th century were five iron furnaces: Oldlands, Hendall, Old Forge, Lower Marshalls and Maresfield (powder mills). The Levett family owned and worked Oldlands, and it probably controlled Hendall as well, before it passed into the hands of Ralph Hogge, who formerly worked for the Levett family.
Among families long resident in the Maresfield area with historic ties to the old iron industry were the families of Levett, Pope and Chaloner, who had intermarried. William Levett of Buxted, a vicar who was a prime mover behind the iron industry in the Weald, had ties to the Maresfield area during his tenure as an ironmaster and supplier of armaments to Henry VIII. Eventually the vicar's former servant Ralph Hogge, who had become a major ironmaster after Levett's death, operated four furnaces and one or more forges within a couple of miles of Maresfield Church.
Maresfield is an old village (its church was founded in approx 1100; the present nave and tower were built between 1375 and 1415). Fairwarp and Nutley developed as offshoots from it.
There was a Roman settlement, including a bloomery, and later a Norman village grew up around the church. In the 15th and 16th centuries