Hill Place Farm

Hill Place Farm

 

Hill Place

Hill Place is situated off Turners Hill Road, on the southwest side of East Grinstead near Heselden Crossroads.  The land holding formed part of the manor of Imberhorne, which was given to the Priory of St Pancras at Lewes in the early 12th century.

 

This document is based on a life-time project produced by Gwen Broad, a former resident of Hill Place, whose research notes on the property were given to the Felbridge and District History Group on her death in 2008.

 

Derivation of the name

Hill Place, is derived from OE hyll, which produced family names of atte Hulle or atte Helle – dweller by the hill, and is found in numerous places in Sussex.

 

Early History

Hill Place or Helle as it was known, was part of the tithing of Imberhorne and was probably part of the ‘half hide of land which is called Imberhorne with wood and all its appurtenances’ that was given in the hundred of East Grinstead by William Malfield to the Priory of St Pancras at Lewes around 1100.  Tithing, also known as frankpledge and later villat, was a group of ten or twelve adult members of the community who were responsible for each other’s lawful behaviour.  For this to be affective they needed to live close enough to be aware of one another’s activities and as such the tithing became known by the name of the head person, building or geographical feature in the neighbourhood.

 

Alongside tithings, people also lived within a manorial system that had arisen to regulate relationships between the Lord of the manor and his dependants and between the dependants themselves, in order that the general economy, farming practises and other activities could be carried out effectively.  The manor was always in the possession of one person to whom the members owed duties.  The customs that governed the relations and dues and services owed were set out in the Customs of the Manor and administered at the Manorial Court.  It is not known when the manor of Imberhorne was formed but it was probably formed by the Priory of St Pancras for the purposes of administration and revenue and there is mention of a Court at Imberhorne in connection with the Priory of St Pancras dating to 1270.  Various Court Officials eg: Bailiffs and Stewards are mentioned from at least 1273 and ‘suit of court’ or attendance at the manorial court every three weeks to conduct business, was being required of the tenants by 1288.  As a point of interest, later documents referring to the manor of Imberhorne give the courses or turns of the main tenancies to provide the Bailiff [court attendant entrusted with the duties of maintenance of order in the court] and Beadle [manorial official] and Hill Place was obliged to provide the Bailiff when Homewood was Beadle and the Beadle when Plawhatch provided the Bailiff.

 

Hill Place was held as copyhold of the manor of Imberhorne, whereby the tenant held a copy of the title deeds of his tenancy and could not be evicted or have his rents increased so long as he fulfilled his obligations to the Lord of the manor.  Most copyhold tenants, including those of Hill Place, had to pay a heriot [gift to the Lord of the manor and in the case of Imberhorne the best beast of the property] on the death of the tenant and a fine at the Lord’s will when a new tenant took over.  Timber on a copyhold property remained in the ownership of the Lord of the manor and permission had to be sort before any could be felled and usually the Lord of the manor took a third of the value unless it was to be used for repairs or building on the tenement itself.

 

The first person to be tentatively associated with Hill Place can be found in the Lay Subsidy for the Villat de Hynberhorne in the Hundred of Estgrenstede dating to 1296 when Willmo atte Helle [William at Hill] appears paying 3s 3½d, and again in 1332 as Willo atte Helle when his payment had risen to 4/-.   Unfortunately there are no surviving documents that mention atte Helle or any other derivation of Hill until the early 1500’s, all that is known is that the manor of Imberhorne and thus the site of Hill Place, remained under the lordship of the Priory of St Pancras until the Dissolution of the Monastery in 1538 when the manor was granted to Thomas Cromwell.

 

With regards to a structure associated with the atte Helle family there are no surviving documents that pinpoint exactly where it stood (if it stood at all) and the name atte Helle only indicates that their property, which may only have been land, was near or by a hill.  There are equally two other structures that could have carried their name in the vicinity, Courthouse and Butlers, but both have long since disappeared.  It has only been assumed that the atte Helle family was associated with Hill Place because there is a structure still standing but the surviving fabric would suggest the current building was not their dwelling house, despite a Jetton [a French reckoning counter dating to 15th century] having been found wedged in the bresummer of the drawing-room fireplace.

 

Development and Structure of the house

The main part of the house is aligned roughly east-west with the south wall facing the access road which passes across the front of the house.  There is one chimney stack centrally placed and a single storey outshot along the length of the north wall with a later second storey addition at the east end.  The exterior is brick to the first floor, tile hung on the upper west, south and east elevations and brick infill with lime mortar on the upper south elevation.  The east gable wall was exposed in the 1970’s and photographs show that behind the tile hanging the daub is decorated with a pattern created using a 5 prong comb.  The roof is clay tiles gabled at the west end and half hipped at the east.  The north east corner wall post has the peg holes and a cut off tenon for the upper rail visible on the south exterior indicating that the structure originally continued to the west.

 

On the ground floor there are three timber-framed Bays, the centre Bay contains the chimney stack which is located against the north wall.  The east Bay has a girder with a step stop chamfer, the joists are plain and relatively small.  The same step stop chamfer is found on the wall post below the east end of the girder and on the posts either side of the door in the north wall through to the outshot.  Immediately south of the girder are the mortices for 3 mullion bars of a window on the ground floor. The mid-rail in frame 1 has been cut back in two places probably for pieces of tall furniture.  The doorway through to the outshot has posts that are not flush to the mid-rail above and there is no evidence for an original door head immediately above the chamfer stops making it unlikely that this doorway was original to the construction.  The sill beam is visible along the north wall.  The current main entrance to the property is in the south west corner of this first Bay with a baffle internal wall has been constructed to screen the entrance from Bay 1.

 

The second Bay is occupied by a large chimney stack with back to back open hearths.  The hearth bressumers are both chamfered and the east hearth contains a blocked up bread oven.  The stack is constructed with very large sandstone blocks on the ground floor and appears to have been built in two phases.  The east hearth and stack is stone blocks up to the tiebeam and then thin bricks above with a later brick replacement of the upper stack.  The west hearth is stone blocks at the base but changes to the same thin brick half way up the first floor, also the two brick sections of the stack are not properly meshed together with many courses only butted together.  The stack contains 4 flues to provide hearths on the ground and first floors of Bays 1 and 3.  South of the stack is a passage between the first and third Bay and against the south wall is a small stair to the first floor.  Beneath the stairs is an access down to the cellar which is entirely beneath the western Bay.

 

The third Bay has an extraordinarily deep chamfer on the main girder with step stop and scroll, the chamfer is 4” wide.

 

The west wall of this Bay has a rail which has been extended at the south end which could have been the location of a door into the original Bay beyond.  Beneath the third Bay is the cellar, from within the cellar it is possible to see the original stone cut access steps which start in line with frame 2 against the south wall and descend to the west.  There are later brick infills to the south side of the cellar that are likely to have been locations for chutes.  There are a pair of stone corbels (now unused) which were designed to have taken a girder to support the floor above.  The lower half of the cellar is cut into the sandstone bedrock and exposes the foundations of the chimney which is built upon the bedrock.

 

There is a separately framed outshot on the north side of Bay 1 and 2.  A later addition has extended the outshot across Bay 3 and built over the east end at first floor level.

 

On the first floor, the east Bay has a girder identically chamfered to the one on the ground floor.  There are long cut back jowls on the wall posts.  Frame 1 has a straight tiebeam, whilst frame 2 is cambered, rising about a foot in the centre.  The framing is fully visible in this Bay with the east end wall divided into 6 even panels wide, the north and south walls are divided into 4 panels wide.  There is a rail on both sides and across the end to provide a lower sill for windows.  A 3 bar mullion window survives against frame 1 in the north wall, photographs taken in 1970’s show a mullion window was visible externally in this Bay located immediately south of the central girder.  In the south wall there is a current window in the second panel from the east and in the wall plate above this and in the rail below can be seen triangular mortices for a 3 bar window.  The quality of the timbers is mixed with a rough timber rail in the north wall compared to a better quality wall plate above it.

 

The central Bay is still dominated by the stack although it is starting to reduce in size from the first floor upwards.  Against the stack there are two ladders to access the roof space above Bay 1 and Bay 3. The south wall of the central Bay has a window at the top of the stairs, in the wallplate above and in the rail below can be seen a sequence of at least 2 mullion windows with the mullions in different positions.

 

The west Bay has evidence for curved braces up to the cambered tiebeam of frame 3.  The north and south walls are divided into 3 even panels. The south wall of this Bay has peg holes in the wall plate which could mark the position of a window in the centre panel of the south wall, this is mirrored on the external face of the north wall where there is a peg hole in the wall plate and in the rail below at the centre of the middle panel.  The tiebeams and wall plate joints are numbered in this Bay with frame 3 being marked  on the west face at the south end and frame 4 is marked  on the east face at the south end.  The north ends are similarly marked but the last strike being .  No similar marks could be found in Bay 1, nor was there any mark on the west face of the tiebeam in frame 3 at the south end.

 

The roof is made up of rafters with joints for halved collars that have been removed, there are a mixture of sooted rafters (7 pairs) and clean ones (5 pairs) all with collar joints.  The roof has been reordered and is now supported using side purlins which are unsooted.  The purlins are held by curved braces from the tiebeams although these braces are re-used as some are sooted and they are installed as sagging braces rather than in the normal orientation.  There is no apparent mortice for a crown post in the centre of the tiebeam of frame 3 and the upper surface of the frame 2 tiebeam is not visible.  The underside of frame 2 and frame 3 has soot within the mortices and stave holes suggesting that below the tiebeams was infilled when this sooting took place.  Frame 1 has a 3 bar mullion window to the south of the central post with the original square mullions in place.

 

The roof is floored with wide oak boards; there is also a platform to the south of the access ladders in Bay 2 and a smaller platform to the north of the stack.  The Bay divisions are infilled with clean daub above the tiebeams, whilst below the tiebeams there is evidence of sooting on the infill.

 

Discussion & suggested dating

The structure was probably built as 4 Bays with the centre two Bays forming the open hall.  The high end of the hall would have been the wider of the two central Bays, this is supported by the position of the hall window in the middle of Bay 3.  The Bay that has been lost would therefore have been the solar beyond the high end of the hall.  Map evidence suggests that this Bay was lost or removed between 1873 and 1897 and would have been about 14ft wide being similar to the size of Bay 1.  Considering the tiebeam numbering with frame 4 numbered as 3, it is possible there were originally a further two frames beyond frame 4 but no evidence survives to determine if this was the case.  The east end of the property was always a floored Bay as it has mullion windows at both ground floor and first floor level.

 

The original construction was probably a collar rafter roof although there is no evidence for a crown post above the tiebeam of frame 3.  The roof has been reordered probably with the construction of the chimney as the inserted purlins are unsooted.

 

The mortices and stave holes beneath the tiebeam on frame 3 (which had been the open frame of the hall) are most probably associated with the construction of a Smoke Bay in the narrow Bay to contain the smoke prior to the chimney insertion.  The chimney would appear to have been constructed in two very close phases as they use the same bricks in the upper stack.  The cellar under Bay 3 could be contemporary to the chimney as it would have been necessary to excavate down to the bedrock to lay the foundation blocks of the stack and the cellar excavation could have taken place at the same time.  The east hearth was used for cooking with the bread oven and the stones on the south side of the hearth used for sharpening knives.

 

The original construction most probably dates to about 1500.  The outshot was not built as part of the original construction; this is indicated by the separate framing and the doorway into it not being contemporary to the main structure.  The narrower Bay of the open hall (Bay 2) was later infilled beneath the tiebeam to form a Smoke Bay.  There have also been several re-fenestrations as indicated by the alternate positions of the mullion windows on the first floor of Bay 2 and the different shapes of the mullion mortices.

 

There appears to have been a massive reconfiguration in the early 1600’s when the chimney was inserted, the roof was reordered to form a side purlin roof and a window was placed in the east gable to light the roof space.  The east end was re-floored, as the original joists would have been much larger than those visible today.  The outshot was potentially added at this period as the doorposts into it from Bay 1 utilise the same chamfers as the girder inserted with the re-flooring.  The third Bay was floored using similar chamfers as the east Bay but with much greater depth and decoration.

 

People associated with the property

Up until the mid 1800’s past Hill Place had three layers of people associated with it.  The highest layer was the owner, and the earliest out-right owner of the property, according to the oldest surviving records dating to just after the Norman invasion, was William Malfield who gave it to the Priory of St Pancras at Lewes.  Shortly after gifting the property to the Priory it became part of the manor of Imberhorne and as such the Priory became Lord of the manor and thus the out-right owner of Hill Place.  By the 13th century it is believed that the atte Helle family had connections with Hill Place but would not have been Lords of the manor of Imberhorne, merely tenants of the manor or copyholders, the second layer of people to be associated with the property.

 

At the lordship level the Priory held the property until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 when it was granted to Thomas Crowmwell.  However, by 1540 Cromwell had fallen out of favour with Henry VIII and had been executed and the property was given to William FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel, in 1542.  In 1555 Hill Place reverted to the Crown and in 1567 was acquired by Thomas Sackville.  Hill Place was to remain with the ownership of the Sackville family and its descendents until 1855 when Lady Mary, Countess of Plymouth and Amherst, enfranchised the property to the then copyholders, Thomas Ellis and his eldest son Arthur Thomas Ellis and from 1857 forward Hill Place has been a freehold property.

 

During the ownership of the Sackvilles with their copyholders, Hill Place has frequently had a third layer of people associated with it, that of tenants.  Even after leaving the manorial system of copyhold the property was frequently tenanted out by the freehold owners until 1957 when the Broad family purchased it.

 

Based on the structural evidence the first family to be associated with the surviving structure was probably the Luxford family.

 

Luxford family

The first mention of a member of the Luxford family at Hill Place is found in the Court Rolls of the manor of Imberhorne for 1565 stating that John Luxford held the property by copy dated 1st July 1529, meaning that in 1565 John Luxford was the copyholder of the property but that the copyhold had been issued in 1529.  It is most likely that a member of the Luxford family held the copyhold of the property from 1529 as it could only be held by John Luxford if the Will copied into the Court Book in 1529 demonstrated that John Luxford was the rightful holder.

 

Unfortunately it has not yet been established when the John Luxford who held Hill Place in 1565 was born or who his parents were, but his wife was called Alice and they had at least four children including; John (date of birth not yet established), Henry born about 1550, Julian (date of birth not yet established) and Jane born after 1561.  Of their children, John married Clemance Payne in East Grinstead in 1563, the Payne family holding several properties in the vicinity including, Bealdings, Leame, Butlers and Tilkhurst, as well as Felde and Chapmans in East Grinstead and Monks Hill and Plawhatch near Forest Row.  Nothing is known about Julian or Jane but Henry took over the copyhold of Hill Place on the death of his father (see below).

 

John Luxford not only held Hill Place but several other properties in the vicinity and the extent of his holding is outlined in a rent roll of 1566 being described as:

‘Hill Place by estimation 46 acres by villain tenure a tenement called Corte House containing by estimation 30 acres of native land and one field called Rayscombe parcel of the tenement of Selherst containing by estimation 44 acres also 2½ acres parcel of the tenement of Baldings [later known as Bealings] lying with its appurtenances in East Grinstead to be held by himself and his heirs and assigns at the will of the Lord according to the custom of the said manor and rendering thence annually besides suit of court and herriot when it occurs vis xid [6s 11d] Meadow 11 acres Pasture lvii½ [52½] acres Arable xx [20] acres Rough ground xv [15] acres’.

 

The rent roll of 1566 also lists the neighbouring properties of Hill Place stating that John Heselden the younger holds land called part of Corte House and Rayscombe, which had formerly been held by Henry Luxford.  This could not have been John’s son so perhaps is evidence of an earlier generation of the Luxford family in the immediate area, possible even John’s father.

 

As established above, John Luxford died in 1582 and his Will gives a small insight into his possessions and what sort of farming was practiced at Hill Place.  John gave to his wife two of his best horses and best harrows, the second best harrows were to go to his son John.  Alice also got given two acres of wheat that was still growing, his corn ‘at home’ and ‘half of the other grain’ he’d saved, ‘one score’ [twenty] pigs, all his poultry, six sheep (three wethers [castrated male sheep] and three rams), and his black mare.  Although not recorded in the Will of John Luxford his son Henry took over the copyhold of Hill Place on his death, so perhaps Edward was the third generation of the family to hold Hill Place.

 

Henry Luxford married three times and had at least thirteen children.  In 1577 Henry married Alice Milles in East Grinstead, Alice having been born about 1557.  Henry and Alice had at least four children, John (date of birth not yet established) who died in June 1579, a second John born in 1580 who died in 1589, Mary born (date of birth not yet established but before 1585) and Harrie born about 1585.  Sadly Alice died in February 1587/88 and Edward married in East Grinstead for the second time on 19th June 1588, Margret Haselden, again probably from the local family of Heseldens that gave their name to Heselden Farm and the Crossroads at the end of Imberhorne Lane.

 

Henry and Margret had at least two children, Agnes who was born and died in November 1590 and Anne who was born about 1590 but who had sadly died by 1613.  It would seem that Margret may have also died around 1590 although there are no surviving records to confirm this, as Henry married Eleanor Awcock in Lingfield on 12th April 1591.

 

Henry and Eleanor had at least seven children including; Johanne born in 1592, Richard born between 1593 and 1597, Stephen born in 1597, Robert born in 1599, Alexander born in 1602, Thomas born in 1605/06 and Walter born in 1608/09.

 

The extent of Henry Luxford’s holding in 1597/8 is outlined in the Buckhurst Terrier and includes: Hill Place 46 acres, part of a tenement called Courthouse 21 acres and 2½ acres, part of Balding, Rent 6s 11d and it would seem likely that the Luxfords were occupiers as well as copyholders and that they lived in the house and worked the farm.  They were certainly well associated with the property for some time, strong enough for the property to known as Luxfords and for what is currently known as Haselden Crossroads to be known as Luxfords Cross on old maps of the area.

 

Henry Luxford died in 1613/14 and was buried at East Grinstead but unlike his father his Will only bequeathed money; there is no mention of any farm related items being left to anyone even though Henry lists himself as a yeoman.  From the records it would appear that John Luxford took over the copyhold of Hill Place but the relationship between Henry and John have not yet been established and by 1615 the copyhold of Hill Place was held by John Goodwyn (see below).

 

Goodwyn family

John Goodwyn/Goodwin was born in 1547 and married Margaret, daughter of Ninian Warde of Cuckfield in October 1571.  John and Margaret had two children, Edward (date of birth not yet established) and Elizabeth born in 1573.  Elizabeth married Richard Ottringham of Lewes and Edward married Susan the daughter of Richard Wallop of Northampton.  It is known from a memorial to John Goodwyn found at Horne church that he was a ‘gent of Horne’ and that Margret his wife died in East Grinstead in 1611/12 and he died in December 1618, the copyhold of Hill Place passing to his son Edward.

 

In the rental survey for Imberhorne manor dated 1615, John Goodwyn was recorded as the copyholder of Hill Place paying 6s 6d for 67a 3r 8p, an increase of twenty one acres to that which formed Hill Place in the 1566 rental held by John Luxford or as listed in the Buckhurst Terrier in 1597/8 held by Henry Luxford.  The 1615 rental details that John Goodwin also held Warelands consisting of 5a 2r 10 for which he paid 2s 10d, Felte Field consisting of 5a 2r 19p for which he paid 2s 3d and Batts Field consisting of 20a 2r 27p for which he paid 2s.  The extent of Hill Place was given as follows:

 

Description

Acreage

The house, close, Garden, Orchard and Barn

01. 02. 08

One field of arable on the north side of the house

03. 00. 00

One field of arable at the north end of the field aforesaid

03. 02. 10

One field of arable at the north end of the field aforesaid and adjoining the copyhold of John Kipping

02. 03. 15

One parcel of pasture and woody ground at the north end the same, the Lords demesne against the north

03. 02. 06

One parcel of pasture ground stretching down to the Mill pond and lying east from the parcel aforesaid

02. 01. 38

Two fields of arable called Hillfield and adjoining the pasture aforesaid

07. 00. 17

One field of pasture and wood ground lying along by the Mill pond

05. 01. 38

One field of arable sometime in two parcells called Barnefield and Bromyfield

14. 03. 10

One field now meadow lying against Lucksford Cross the way to Hill Place north

02. 02. 14

One field of arable called the Borrough lying weat from the meadow aforesaid

05. 03. 10

One other field of arable with a parcel of woodland Stream lying east from the Copyhold of Edward Payne therefore called Butlers

06. 03. 32

One field of arable called Crouch field lying against Lucksford Cross to the Copyhold of Edward Drew north and east

08. 00. 10

Total acreage

67. 03. 08

 

On the death of John Goodwin in 1618, his son Edward took over the copyhold of Hill Place, the property then known as Lucksfords.

 

Edward Goodwin married Susan (surname not yet established) and they had at least four children, Robert and Dorathie (dates of birth not yet established), Anne born in 1616/17 and Benjamin (date of birth not yet established).  On the death of Edward in 1627 he was listed as ‘gent of East Grinstead and Horne’ implying that the family still had strong links with Horne.  The Will of Edward Goodwin bequeathed the copyhold of Hill Place, still known as Lucksfords, to his son Benjamin.

 

There appears to have been a considerable delay between Benjamin Goodwin acquiring Hill Place in 1627 and his admittance to the property at the Court of the manor of Imberhorne in 1636.  Benjamin’s next appearance at court was on 28th August 1638 when he handed the copyhold of Hill Place back to the lord of the manor.  The entry reads:

It was reported at the Court that Benjamin Goodwin (gent) out of court since the last court on second day of the month of August surrendered to the Lord by the acceptance of the Steward Edward Lucas, Edward Paine gent, and Robert Bowyer (senior) forming a special court his messuage and holding called Hill Place with two barns and appurtenances belonging containing by estimation 60 acres, more or less etc. in East Grinstead once Lucksfords, now in the tenancy of Richard Maynard (senior) and paying annually vis xid [6s 11d] nothing coming as heriot to the Lord because the said Benjamin has no animal, to the court comes the said John Lee in his own person and seeks to be admitted to the premises aforesaid and pays a fine for this of xxv l [£25].

 

We can see from this see from this Court Book entry that John Lee (see below) was admitted to Hill Place after its surrender by Benjamin Goodwin.  It is also evident that after the acquisition of the copyhold by the Goodwin family the property ceased being known as Lucksfords assuming the name Hill Place, the name it has continued to use ever since.  It is also evident from the infrequent attendance of Court by Benjamin that the Goodwin family’s interested lay away from the area so one could assume that Hill Place was probably tenanted out for the duration of the Godwin copyhold and thus it is possible that Richard Maynard recorded in the Court Book entry had been in occupation of the property since the Goodwin family acquired the copyhold circa 1614.  Unfortunately with just a name it has not yet been possible to determine anything about Richard Maynard other than a potential marriage in East Grinstead to Anne Weller on 30th April 1607.

 

John Lee

At the time of John Lee’s admittance to Hill Place in 1638, the Court Book records that he had two sons (his heirs) and a wife called Thomasine/Timothy [best guess from hand writing].  Unfortunately there are few definitive records for John Lee except there is a John born of John Lee in 1629 and Elizabeth born of John and Thomazine Lee in 1632 but who sadly died in 1633, both children baptised in Worth.  No other children appear in the baptism records of John and Thomazine/Timothy in Worth or East Grinstead.  There is also a marriage between a John Lee and Timothy Jewel recorded in East Grinstead on 18th May 1626 which may be connected.

 

It is considered that the house at Hill Place was greatly altered in the early 1600’s which would mean that either the Goodwin family or John Lee instigated the major works that were carried out that included the insertion of the chimney stack and subsequent construction of the cellar (see above).  On this basis it would either have been John Goodwin who over saw the alteration circa 1615 or John Lee after 1638 as the Goodwins that followed John Goodwin appear to have had little interest in the property, particularly Benjamin Goodwin who was succeeded at the property by John Lee.

 

From the Court Records John Lee was succeeded at Hill Place in 1672  by William Ledger (see below) and there is a Will for a John Lee of Lingfield dated 1664, proved on his death in 1672, in which William Ledger is the overseer.  Although ‘of Lingfield’ John Lee requested that he be buried ‘in the churchyard of East Grinstead’ and left 20/- to the poor of the parish of East Grinstead.  It is obvious from the Will of the John Lee who died in 1672, that he held William Ledger of Lingfield in great esteem, calling him his ‘loving friend’.  It is also known, from the Court Books of the manor of Imberhorne, that William Ledger held Bealings [formerly known as Baldings], a property in the vicinity of Hill Place, what is unclear is how William Ledger came to hold the copyhold of Hill Place after the death of John Lee in 1672, but in 1673 it was cited in the Court Books for the manor of Imberhorne that William Ledger of Hill Place was Bailiff for the manor.

 

William Ledger

William Ledger was either William married to Joane and living at Felcourt in 1636, or the son of William and Joane.  Nothing more is known about William Ledger senior but William junior was born in Lingfield in 1627, one of at least eight children of William and Joanne Ledger.  William’s siblings include; Joanne born in 1625, Anne born in 1630, Elizabeth born after 1631, Marie born in 1632, a second Anne born in 1635 (presumably the first Anne had already died), Francesca born between 1635 and 1639 and Mercia born in 1643.  Of the surviving children, Joanne married Edward Plaw of Crowhurst, Surrey, and had at least seven children, Anne married Ephriam Peters, Elizabeth married Matthew Staunton, Marie married Francis Collins and Anne inherited lands in Horne from her father William in 1653.

 

In 1653 William Ledger junior also inherited lands from his father in Sussex and Surrey and it is possible that Hill Place was amongst this land holding.  However, the first reference found of William Ledger in the Court records of the manor of Imberhorne is in 1673 with the entry Bailiff William Ledger for Hill Place, followed in 1674 by a long entry where William Ledger surrendered Hill Place to the use of his Will, the entry stating:

To this court comes William ledger and in open court in the presence of the homage surrenders into the hand of the Lord of the Manor by the acceptance of his Steward a messuage called Hallplace (sic), two barns and various customary lands belonging to the same containing by estimation sixty acres with appurtenances in East Grinstead formerly Ledgers and by rendering each year vis vid [6s 6d].  Also all and singular the customary lands and hereditaments of which the said William holds of the manor aforesaid for the will and intention and provision of the said William in and for his Will and Testament whether written or notified, limited and declared provided always that the said William will ensure that any holding in his lifetime will do and perform concerning the premises aforesaid whether others have the use of them by any other means or form the same William himself will see the present surrender fulfilled whether anything is contained  in the same to the contrary notwithstanding.

 

William Ledger died in 1684 and his brother in law, Matthew Staunton was admitted to Hill Place on behalf of his wife Elizabeth who was left all of William’s copyhold land lying in East Grinstead, stating that it was to pass to her children should she have any during her lifetime.  If Elizabeth was not to have children then the holding was to be split equally between the children of his sister Joanne who had married Edward Plaw of Crowhurst, Surrey.

 

It would appear that Elizabeth Staunton died without children in 1886 and the terms of William Ledger’s Will were enacted and the copyhold of Hill Place passed to her nephews and nieces, Oliver, George, Richard, Anne Hawkins (formerly Plaw) and Elizabeth Plaw.  At the same Court, Hill Place was let for the term of seven years to John Tyler, thus expiring in 1693.  However, in 1687 the Plaw children surrendered the copyhold of Hill Place, by then containing by estimation seventy acres, to George Groombridge and it has not been possible to determine whether John Tyler remained in occupation for his full term or not.

 

Groombridge family

Sadly not much is known about the Groombridge family except that George Groombridge was married to Anna and they had at least two children born in East Grinstead; John born in 1679/80 and Elizabeth born in 1683.  It is known that George Groombridge was admitted to the copyhold of Hill Place in 1687 but in 1698 the Survey and Rentals for the manor of Imberhorne record that Hill Place was held by Anna the wife of Stephen Dungate, widow of George Groombridge.  Anna had married Stephen Dungate on 24th October 1697 so George must have died sometime between 1687 and 1697.

 

It has not yet been possible to determine how long Anna Dungate continued to hold the copyhold of Hill Place but it would appear to have transferred to Thomas Argles (date and circumstances not yet established).

 

Thomas Argles

Not much is known about Thomas Argles except that he and his wife Elizabeth had at least seven children including; Mary and Thomas born about 1709, Elizabeth born about 1713, John born about 1710, Esther born about 1714, Edward born about 1716 and Rebecca born about 1717, all baptised in Fletching.  This would imply that the family moved into the East Grinstead area as in 1767 Thomas listed that he was a yeoman of East Grinstead in his Will.  Thomas Argles was succeeded as copyholder of Hill Place by Anne Underhill (circumstances not yet established)

 

Anne Underhill

Little is known about Anne Underhill save that she was the daughter of John Underhill of East Grinstead who died in January 1735 and inherited some of her father’s property including the Ship Inn in East Grinstead, although it would appear that he did not have any connections with Hill Place.  Anne did not occupy Hill Place during her copyhold but leased the property firstly to Johns Nycolls (see below), then to John Payne (see below) and then Walter Burt (see below).

 

 

On Anne’s death in 1766, she was recorded as a spinster of East Grinstead, and willed to William Tooth (see below), hatter of East Grinstead, the copyhold of Hill Place which at the time was in the occupation of Widow Payne, although from the land tax records Widow Payne had been succeeded by Walter Burt in 1765.  Anne Underhill also left William Tooth the Ship Inn and to Robert Tooth his brother, Little Howletts and High Croft or Middle Field, with bequests also made to ‘Susan Tooth [later Mrs Peter of Petworth] the daughter of Edward Tooth the elder (deceased) [the father of William and Robert] and Susan [Susannah] his widow’.   Unfortunately it has not yet been established as to why Ann Underhill was so generous towards the Tooth family.

 

John Nycolls was in the occupation of Hill Place from at least 1750 until 1755.  John Nycolls was probably the son of Stephen and Elizabeth Nycolls of East Grinstead who was baptised on 2nd March 1676, one of at least seven children.  John’s probable siblings included; Ann born in 1662, Stephen born in 1664, Bridget born in 1666, Elizabeth born in 1668, Katherine born in 1671 and Mary born in 1674, all the children baptised in East Grinstead.  John married Sarah Bassett in East Grinstead on 25th December 1709 and they had at least three children, Mary born in 1710, Sarah born in 1716 and Benjamin born in 1720. 

 

In 1750 John’s widow Sara Nycolls, together with John Nycolls (possible a son whose birth date has not yet been established) were paying Land tax ‘for their farm £3 8s 3d, of them for Hill Place £3 8s 3d and of them for Reedens [Riddings]19s 6d’.  This entry would suggest that by 1750 John Nycolls senior had died and his widow continued to occupy Hill Place.  A year later Sara Nycolls is absent from the land tax records and John Payne was paying £2 5s 6d land tax for Hill Place so it is possible that Sarah had died by 1751.

 

John Payne or his widow were in the occupation of Hill Place from sometime between 1755 and 1760 until 1764.  Unfortunately the name John Payne is fairly common to the East Grinstead area around this date so it has proved impossible, without the name of his spouse, to determine which one he was.  What is known for certain is that in 1762 John Payne does not appear in the land tax records but his widow appears paying £4 11/- up until 1765, presumably they ceased paying the land tax at their respective deaths.  In 1766 the land tax was paid by Walter Burt, the same year that William Tooth (see below) acquired the copyhold of Hill Place from Anne Underhill.

 

Unfortunately no conclusive information has yet been established about Walter Burt except that he continued to pay the land tax for Hill Place up until 1769 when William Tooth took over the payment for one year before leasing Hill Place to John Hider (see below) who then paid the land tax until 1809.

 

Tooth family

William and Robert were the sons of Edward and Susannah Tooth, two of at least five children.  William was born in 1732 and Robert in 1735, the three other siblings were John born in 1737, Edward born in 1738 and Susan born in 1744, all born in East Grinstead.

 

From the Land Tax records it can be identified that Hill Place was in the copyhold ownership of Messers Edward and William Tooth between 1780 until 1800, the property occupied by John Hider (see below).  The Edward and William recorded in the Land Tax were the sons of Edward and Susannah.  It appears that Edward and William each held a moiety of Hill Place and on the death of Edward Tooth, feltmaker of Petworth, in 1795 his moiety of Hill Place passed to his son Edward.  In 1799 William Tooth, hatter of East Grinstead, died and his Will gave to his brother Robert Tooth for life the ‘undivided moiety of Hill Place now in the occupation of John Hider’ together with The Riddings in East Grinstead also in the occupation of John Hider.  William’s Will also requested that at the death of Robert his trustees were to sell his copyholds and divide the proceeds among all his nephews and nieces.

John Hider occupied Hill Place from at least 1780 until his death in 1809.  He was born about 1734, and his wife was called Sarah who was born about 1748.  John Hider died and was buried at St Swithun’s Church, East Grinstead, on 16th July 1809 and Sarah joined him on 12th March 1817.  John Hider was succeeded at Hill Place by Sawyer Goodwin who was recorded as occupying the property in the Land Tax records for 1810 and remained at Hill Place until 1845.

 

Sawyer Goodwin was born in Buxted in 1765, the son of Mary Goodwin.  Sawyer married Ann Hooker in Withyham on 22nd September 1788.  At the time of their marriage Sawyer was working as a cordwainer. Ann had been born in 1759 the daughter of Charles and Esther Hooker of Cullinghurst Farm between Hartfield and Cowden.  Sawyer and Ann had at least eight children including; Charles born in 1787, John born in 1790, Ann born in 1792, Thomas born in 1794, Elisabeth born in 1795, William born in 1797, Hannah born in 1799 and James born in 1804.  The first five children were born in Hartfield and the last three in Cowden.  Sawyer Goodwin remained at Hill Place until about 1845 when he moved to Tilkhurst from where he died on 19th November 1846, three months after his wife Ann.

 

Whilst Sawyer Goodwin was in occupation, Hill Place saw a great change in its landscape made by the felling of numerous trees; many required to complete repairs to the property.   Between 1826 and 1845 three licenses were granted for the removal of timber, the last was a retrospective license for thirty seven ash trees removed in 1844.  It was also during Sawyer’s occupation of Hill Place that the copyhold was put up for sale enacting the instruction of William Tooth’s will that it be held for the duration of his brother Robert’s life.

 

Robert Tooth, hatter of East Grinstead, died on 28th February 1827 and in March 1832 George Ellis (see below) purchased half the moiety of Hill Place from William Row (a trustee of the Tooth family) and in July 1833 he purchased the other half of the moiety from Mr Upton, trustee for Edward Tooth.

Ellis family

George Ellis was born in East Grinstead on 20th April 1790, the son of Thomas Ellis and his wife Elizabeth Parker Hudson née Jordan.  George was one of at least five children, his siblings included; Elizabeth born at 1779, Thomas born about 1781, John born about 1783 and Henry born about 1785.  Of the Ellis children, nothing more has been established on John and Henry but Elizabeth married a Mr Burfield (forename not yet established) and Thomas, who became a sadler of East Grinstead, married Mary (surname not yet established) and they had at least four children; Thomas born about 1810, William born about 1811, Mary Elizabeth born about 1814 and Henry born about 1816, all born in East Grinstead.  Of his children, Thomas junior had a son called Arthur Thomas who by 1851 was a miller living at Keston  in Kent before retiring to Page Heath, Bickley, Kent by 1873

 

George Ellis never married and in 1823 was listed as a grocer, linen draper and straw hat maker of East Grinstead.  Five years later he had dropped the straw hat making business and was trading as a grocer and linen draper.  By 1832 George had enough capital to begin investing in property buying the first moiety of Hill Place in 1832 and the second in 1833.  By 1841 George had given up the grocery and line drapery business altogether and was making enough capital from his investment in Hill Place to be classed as an Independent of East Grinstead.  By the mid 1850’s George had invested further in property having bought the copyholds of Tilkhurst, Butlers Bealings, Leame, Courthouse and The Rushetts amounting to sixty-five acres; his total holding including Hill Place amounting to 135 acres.

 

Despite the purchase of the copyhold of Hill Place by George Ellis, Sawyer Goodwin remained in occupation and the tithe of 1841 shows the extent of the property:

 

Field no.

Field name

Description

Acreage

1986

The Bullards

Arable

08. 03. 06

1987

Upper Coneyburry

Arable

04. 03. 26

1988

Lower Coneyburry

Arable

06. 02. 26

1989

Lime Kilnfield

Pasture

05. 02. 16

1999

Alder Shaw

Wood

01. 03. 30

1991

Alder Pasture

Pasture

02. 00. 25

1992

Shaw

Wood

00. 03. 15

1993

Shaw

Wood

03. 03. 00

1994

Furzefield

Arable

04. 00. 27

1995

Three and half acres & barn field

Arable

06. 01. 33

1996

House, yard, barn

01. 03. 08

1997

Oakfield

Arable

07. 01. 24

1998

Marl Pit Mead

Pasture

07. 03 .36

1999

Orchard

Arable

01. 03. 16

2000

House Mead

Meadow

02. 01. 09

2001

Four Acres

Meadow

04. 00. 00

2002

Rushets

Meadow

03. 00. 36

Total

73. 03. 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the tithe records of 1841 it is evident that the acreage of Hill Place had risen to just short of seventy-three acres.  The reason for this is that George Ellis held the copyholds of nearby properties of Butlers and Courthouse and thus could change the boundaries of each property.  No doubt the increased fifteen acres acquired since John Luxford held the property in the 1500’s was due to the amalgamation of land originally attached to these other properties.

 

George Ellis died on 1st October 1854 and left the copyhold of his East Grinstead property interests including Hill Place to his nephew Thomas Ellis and his eldest son Arthur.  On 13th March 1855 Lady Mary Sackville, Countess of Plymouth and Amherst enfranchised Hill Place to Thomas and Arthur Ellis, the copyholders, for the sum of £690 3s 3d, the transaction registered at the Imberhorne manorial Court Session on 22nd May 1857.  At the time of the enfranchisement Hill Place consisted of:

 

Name of field

Acreage

The Bewlands

06. 02. 01

The Rushetts

02. 00. 38

Shaw

06. 00. 18

Part of Eight Acres

02. 03. 20

Eight Acres

04. 02. 32

Four Acres

04. 02. 38

Thistly Field

06. 00. 00

The Mead

05. 00. 19

House and yard etc.

00. 00. 17

The Orchard

00. 02. 03

Part of The Orchard

00. 03. 02

Jacob’s Field

03. 02. 08

Pea Field

05. 03. 19

Nine Acres

10. 00. 29

Total

59. 02. 31

 

You will note that although Hill Place was considered to be 73a 3r13p in the tithe the enfranchisement was for the acreage of 59a 2r 31p as held in the manorial Court Books as the enfranchisement was only for the ‘Hill Place’ manorial holding rather than any other manorial lands it was farming.

 

As previously established John Hider was the farmer of Hill Place when George Ellis purchased the copyhold in 1832 being succeeded by Sawyer Goodwin in 1845.  Still under the copyhold ownership of the Ellis family, Sawyer Goodwin was succeeded by Humphrey Gardner (see below) in 1845 who in turn was succeeded Joseph Stafford, then by Henry Harding (see below) and then William Stanbridge (see below) who was still advertised in the local Directories as the farmer of Hill Place up until 1881, with the ownership of Hill Place by then having passed to Thomas Ball (see below).

 

The Ellis family do not appear to have had much involvement with Hill Place Farm under the occupations of Sawyer Goodwin, Humphrey Gardner, Joseph Stafford, Henry Harding and William Stanbridge, implying that the purchase of the copyhold and subsequent freehold of the property was for investment purposes only.  As established above, George Ellis had bought Hill Place from the Tooth’s in 1832 and 1833, and in 1853 bought Butlers, Tilkhurst Bealing and Leame from Robert Crawford of Sainthill, however George died in 1854 leaving his properties to his nephew Thomas and his eldest son Arthur.

 

In September 1873 Arthur Thomas Ellis, George Ellis’ heir, sold the freehold possession of the East Grinstead properties, including Hill Place, to Thomas Ball (see below) for £7,250.  At this date Hill Place was described as ‘all that messuage called Hill Place with Barns, Gardens, Orchards and land thereto adjoining containing by estimation 70 acres more or less with appurtenances in East Grinstead formerly known as Late Rows, and before Tooths’.

 

Humphrey Gardner, in the occupation of Hill Place under the copyhold of George Ellis, was born in West Hoathly in 1804, the son of John and Sarah Gardner, one of at least six children including; William born in 1806, Ann born 1810, Jane Constable born in 1808, Ann born in 1810, Thomas born in 1813 and Sarah Gilbert born in 1815.  Humphrey married Mary (surname not yet established) and they had at least one child, John Humphrey born in 1830 in East Grinstead.

 

In 1841 Humphrey Gardner was living and farming at Thomas’s Bank, High Gate, Forest Row, before moving to Hill Place by 1851 where Humphrey was listed as the ‘farmer of Hill Place occupying 94a 3r 0p, employing three men’.  Again Hill Place has grown in size acquiring a further twenty-one acres since 1841.  Sadly Humphrey Gardner died in 1854 and Joseph Stafford takes over the occupation of Hill Place.  Little is know about Joseph Stafford and he only appears in the Melville Directory in 1858 and had gone by 1861 being succeeded by Henry Harding (see below).

 

As established above, in 1853 George Ellis was admitted to copyholds of Tilkhurst, Butlers, Bealings and Leame containing fifty-four acres that had been surrendered by Robert Crawford esquire for the sum of £1,000.  However, in 1854 George Ellis died and the copyhold of Hill Place together with those of Butlers and Court House passed to his nephew Thomas Ellis of Keston and his son Arthur Thomas Ellis (then aged just fourteen), the pair being admitted to the properties on 30th March 1855.  Two years later on 22nd May 1857 Thomas Ellis and Arthur Ellis were granted the enfranchisement of the copyholds by Lady Amherst, turning them from copyhold to freehold properties.  Neither Thomas nor Arthur Ellis appear to have resided at Hill Place but tenanted out the dwelling and farm to Henry Harding.

 

Henry Harding is the next farmer recorded as occupying Hill Place in 1861 having succeeded Joseph Stafford.  Henry Tulett Harding had been born in Horsted Keynes in 1810, the son of Heber Harding and his second wife Hannah née Baker.  Henry’s siblings include; half brothers William born in 1785 and Heber born in 1787 by Heber and his first wife Mary née Bachelor, and full brother Timothy born in 1815 who shared Henry’s mother Hannah.  Henry Harding married Charlotte (surname not yet established ) and had at least three children; Emma born about 1843, Esther born about 1851 and Thomas born about 1855, the first in Maresfield and the last two in West Hoathly.  In 1851 Henry Harding was recorded as an agricultural labourer living at West Hoathly before moving to Hill Place as an agricultural labourer by 1861and then to Rock Cottages, London Road, East Grinstead, around 1865 being succeeded at Hill Place by William Stanbridge (see below) who appears as ‘farmer of Hill Place’ in the PO Directories until 1881.

 

William Stanbridge was born between 1807 or 1816 depending on which census record is used and unfortunately there is no conclusive birth or baptism record for him.  He was born the son of John Stanbridge and his wife Elizabeth née Gardner, one of at least seven children.  William’s siblings include: Mary born in 1800, Walter born in 1803, Thomas born in 1810, Elizabeth born in 1816 and James born in 1818, the first two and sixth child baptised in Ardingly and the remainder at West Hoathly.  By 1851 William’s father had died and William was living with his widowed mother who was farming Rough Beech Farm in West Hoathly, a 133 acre farm employing three labourers.  By 1861 William and his mother were living at East Park, Horne, both listed as fund holders.

 

By 1869 William Stanbridge was in a relationship with Esther Harbour who had three base children Henry William Harbour born in 1865, John Stanbridge Harbour born in 1867 and Clara Harbour born in 1869.  The first two children were baptised in Burstow but Clara was born at Hill Place.  For John to carry the name Stanbridge and for Clara to have been born at Hill Place would suggest that William was at least the father of these two children.  Also, for Clara to have been born at Hill Place would imply that William Stanbridge had moved there sometime between 1867 and 1869.  Certainly by 1871 William had moved from East Park and was living at Hill Place Farm being listed as a farmer of 123 acres.  William and Esther eventually married in 1870 and had at least a further five children including; Minnie born in 1871, Esther born in 1874, Frederick born in 1875, May born in 1877 and Harold born in 1880.  The first two children were baptised at East Grinstead and the last three at Nuthurst implying that the Stanbridge family had moved from Hill Place sometime around 1874/5.  The family’s move to Nuthurst coincides with the freehold purchase of Hill Place Farm by Thomas Ball (see below), so perhaps this was a contributing factor in the decision to move.  However, William Stanbridge was still advertised in the local Directories as the farmer of Hill Place up until 1881, although he had died in Horsham in August 1880.

 

Thomas Ball

Little is known about Thomas Ball except that he was a businessman from The Park, Nottingham, when he bought up land in the 1870’s to the south and west of East Grinstead as potential development sites, centred around Hill Place.  It is possible that Thomas Ball made his investment in the East Grinstead area as the railway was opening up the country making access to London and the coast quicker and easier.  East Grinstead’s first railway came in 1855 from Three Bridges and linked East Grinstead with the London to Brighton line.  This line was extended in 1866 in the opposite direction to Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells.  Plans were also started in 1875 to build a railway down to Lewes and eventually to link northwards with the south London railway.  It is known that the latter railway line was being discussed around the time of Thomas Ball’s purchase but this was delayed and not finished until after Thomas Ball had sold up, ironically the line ended up cutting through a large swath of the land he had purchased including Hill Place.

 

Apart from Hill Place, Thomas Ball also bought other property in the area around the same time that included, High Grove Cottages purchased for the sum of £400, Coombe Farm and surrounding area and Dunnings Mill and surrounding area.  The various properties amounted to just over 300 acres which Thomas Ball called Le Coombe Estate.  As is evident today, little of this area was actually developed and for some reason, Thomas Ball had sold all the properties by the end of 1875, Hill Place advertised in The Times on 20th May 1875 as:

A freehold farm of 129 acres, situate half a mile from the town of East Grinstead, 30 miles from London, near to Tunbridge Wells on the Brighton Railway and 75 minutes from London Bridge and Victoria Stations.  With immediate possession.

Mr Sainsbury Gilbert will sell by auction at the Mart, Tolsenhouse Yard, on Wednesday June 2nd at 2 o’clock precisely the valuable property known as Hill Place, situate on high ground commanding lovely and extensive views over a very undulating and picturesque country.  The model brick built farm buildings comprise fatting stalls, stabling, open and enclosed sheds and stockman’s house; also bailiffs house; four cottages and 129 acres of arable, pasture and woodland on a subsoil of sand and stone, with good supply of water.  Long frontage to the main roads and surrounded by residential properties.  There is an unsurpassed site for a residence, surrounded by large conifers and ornamental shrubs.  The whole forms from the proximity to a market town and railway, a very choice property whether for a farm or residence.  Particulars and plans may be obtained from Messers. Watson & Wadsworth, solicitors, Nottingham; at the Mart; end of Mr Sainsbury Gilbert, Land Agent & Auctioneer, Wool Exchange, Colemans Street, London, EC.

 

Coombe Farm, Butlers, Tilkhurst, Bealing and Leame were bought by Charles Chevall Tooke of Hurst-an-Clays, East Grinstead, and Hill Place and Butlers were purchased by William Vicessimus Knox Stenning and Frederick Stovell Stenning (see below) of East Grinstead, installing John Fowle (see below) as their bailiff.

 

Returning to the railway, perhaps the proposed extension was a contributing factor in Thomas Ball’s decision to sell up.  He had made a considerable investment in land for development in the area but much of what he had purchased was ear-marked for a railway cutting.  If that was not bad enough, this required a large number of navvies and their families, people that would need to be accommodated near to their work.  This would have had a huge impact on the prestigious homes that Thomas had envisaged building in the area, so perhaps it was just economics that forced him to sell so shortly after purchase.  Work on the Hill Place section of the line began in early 1879 and by then the rail track between Hazleden Crossroads and Mill Place was laid and viable, though not linked at either end.  The line from East Grinstead to West Hoathly was completed by the end of 1880 and finally opened in August 1882.

 

It is evident that a great many changes were instigated in the area in the second half of the 19th century, not only with the coming of the railway but also with the ownership and tenancies of the properties.  From the census records it is worth noting the close links between Hill Place and Butlers and the significant changes they underwent between 1861 and 1881.  In 1861 Butlers Farm consisted of sixty-seven acres and was being farmed independently by James Isted, whereas Hill Place was under the tenancy of agricultural labourer Henry Harding, possibly working for the trustees of the Ellis estate.  However, by 1871 Butlers was no longer called a farm but a house and there were two households living there, the Budgens and the Harbours.  Henry Budgen was a hoop maker and Henry Harbour was a farm labourer.  In contrast, William Stanbridge was living at Hill Place, described as a farmer of 123 acres suggesting that he was farming Hill Place with the land formerly held as Butlers Farm.  By 1881 Butlers dwelling had disappeared and Hill Place was in the ownership of William Vicessimus Knox Stenning and Frederick Stovell Stenning and in the occupation of John Fowle (see below) their farm bailiff.

 

William Vicessimus Knox Stenning and Frederick Stovell Stenning

William and Frederick Stenning were sons of William Stenning of who married Mary Child née Joyner.  William and Mary’s family consisted of eleven children including; Fanny Augusta born in 1837, John Cuthbert born in 1839, George Covey born in 1840, Katherine Mary born in 1842, William Vicessimus Knox born in 1844, Fredrick Stovell born in 1845, Charles Horace and Walter Kensden born in 1848, Isabella Lennox born in 1852, Alan Herbert born in 1856 and Adela Caroline born in 1859.  Their family home was Halsford House, built by William on land that his father owned on East Grinstead Common [for further information on the Stenning family see Handout, North End School, SJC 11/10].

 

William Vicessimus Knox Stenning and Frederick Stovell Stenning came from a long line of timber merchants and whilst in the ownership of Hill Place, William was living at the family home of Halsford whilst Frederick was initially living at Halsford before moving to Cranfield in Maypole Road, East Grinstead, sometime between 1891 and 1895.  Throughout their ownership of Hill Place they installed a series of farm bailiffs to run the farm for them.  Having bought Hill Place in 1875 William Stanbridge was in occupation of the dwelling succeeded by John Fowle as the Stennings farm bailiff, joined by associated farm workers Thomas Pattenden (see below), William Webb and Joseph Wilson by 1886.  Allen Hawkins (see below) was the last farm bailiff for the Stennings recorded at Hill Place in 1907 moving to Hackenden Farm, East Grinstead, when Hill Place was purchased by the Blount family (see below).

 

William Vicessimus Knox Stenning died a bachelor in 1911 and his estate was wound up and divided between his nephews.  Frederick Stovell Stenning died from Cranfield, East Grinstead, and was buried at St John’s Church, Felbridge on 25th March 1914.

 

John Fowle succeeded William Stanbridge and appears as bailiff of Hill Place Farm in 1881.  Little is known about John Fowle other than he was born in Egerton, Kent, in 1828, possibly the son of John and Jane Fowle.  In 1871 he was living as boarder in Charles Sibley’s household at Lynch Farm Cottage, Midhurst.  John was recorded as a farm bailiff and married in 1871 but his wife was not in the household but there was a thirteen year-old Charles Fowle boarding, perhaps his son.  As for John’s wife, her name was Sarah and her whereabouts have not yet been established in 1871 but she was at Hill Place in 1881 giving her age as forty-six implying she was born about 1835, her place of birth recorded as Sevenoaks, Kent.

 

John Fowle died in 1882 and by 1886 Hill Place was in the occupation of Thomas Pattenden (see below), William Webb and Joseph Wilson.  Nothing is known about William Webb and Joseph Wilson and by 1890 they had left Hill Place and the Stennings had installed William Tester (see below) as their farm bailiff.

 

Thomas Pattenden was the son of Henry Pattenden and his wife Jane née Wood, one of at least fourteen children.  Thomas’ siblings included; John born in 1820, Eliza born in 1822, Henry born in 1825, Jane born in 1829, Sarah born in 1831, George born in 1832, Harriet born in 1834, James born in 1836, Peter born in 1837, Edmund born in 1842, Amos born in 1843 and John (date of birth not yet established) [for full details on the Pattenden family see Handout, The Pattenden family of Felbridge, SJC 07/01].  Thomas Pattenden married Caroline Miles on 5th January 1876 and they had at least two children, Henry Byford born in 1877 and Alice Jane born in 1880.

 

In 1886 Thomas Pattenden was living at Hill Place, confirmed in the 1891 census as working as a sawyer and living at Hill Place Cottage.  At that time Hill Place was in the ownership of the Stennings, timber merchants, so as a sawyer Thomas was probably working directly for them.  By 1901 Thomas Pattenden and his family had moved to Old Mill Cottages, adjacent to Hill place, Thomas still working as a sawyer and the Pattenden family were still there in 1911.  Thomas Pattenden died in 1920.

 

By 1891 the afore mentioned William Webb and Joseph Wilson had moved on from Hill Place but William Tester and Thomas Pattenden were still in residence joined by a further two households, Thomas Creasey (see below) and his wife, and Francis Whitehurst (see below) and his family.

 

William Tester was the son of Mr Tester (first name not yet established) and his wife Hannah.  In the 1841 census Hannah Tester appears as the head of household with Eliza Jane born about 1826, William born about 1828, Henry born about 1832 and John born about 1837.  At the time of the census the Tester family were living at Quay? Common, Hartfield.  William Tester married Mary Jane (surname not yet established) and they had at least four children including; George William born in 1854, Eliza born in 1856, John born in 1857 and William born in 1859.  The first two children were born in Worth, the third in Godstone and the fourth in Bletchingley.  The birth places imply that William Tester and his family moved around quite a bit which is confirmed in the census records.  The Tester family is not obviously found in the 1851 census but in 1861 they are living at Underhills in Bletchingly where William was working as an agricultural labourer, in 1871 they had moved to Marden Green in Kent where William was a carter and in 1881 had moved to Priory Lodge, Forest Row where William was the farm bailiff for the farm attached to Priory House.  Sadly Mary Jane Tester died in 1884 and some time between 1881 and 1890 William Tester moved to Hill Place, taking up the appointment of farm bailiff for the Stennings.

 

Sadly William Tester’s  appointment as bailiff was short as he died in 1892 and was succeeded as bailiff at Hill Place by Allen Hawkins (see below), although William Tester still appeared as the bailiff in the local Directories until 1903.

 

Thomas Creasey, in residence at Hill Place at the same time as William Tester, Thomas Pattenden and Francis Whitehurst, was born in 1825, the son of Thomas Creasey and Mary Ann née Holland, one of at least nine children.  Thomas’ siblings included; Mary, born in 1823, George born in 1830, William born in 1832, James born in 1834, Edward born in1837, John born in 1840, Emily born in 1844 and Henry born in 1847.  Thomas married Martha Blackstone in 1845 who was born in 1822 and who came with a seven year old daughter called Martha.  Thomas and Martha had one son called John born in 1860.

 

Thomas Creasey lived most of his life in the East Grinstead/Felbridge area and in 1860 was recorded as a labourer of Hedgecourt.   In 1871 Thomas and his family were living at a cottage between Park Lodge and Keeper’s House in Felbridge but by 1881 the family had moved to Titsey in Surrey, Thomas working as an agricultural labourer from the last two addresses.  By 1891 Thomas and Martha had moved to Hill Place Farm, Thomas working as a farm labourer.  However, within four years Thomas had died and Martha had moved to her son John’s address at 206, Selsdon Road, Croydon.

 

By 1901 the dwelling house at Hill Place had been reduced to just two households, that of the farm bailiff Allen Hawkins and an agricultural labourer Francis Whitehurst (see below).

 

Francis Whitehurst, in residence at Hill Place at the same time as William Tester, Thomas Creasey and Thomas Pattenden, was born in Marden Green, Kent, in 1851 the son of Joseph and Mary Whitehurst.  Francis’ siblings include; Richard born in 1846, Ann born in 1847, Joseph born about 1850, Mary born about 1857 and Thomas born about 1859.  The first three children were born in Sevenoaks and the remainder in Edenbridge.  In 1871 Francis was working as a farm servant and living in the Laker household at Ware Mill, Lingfield.  In 1877 Francis married Susannah Maddox of Lingfield and they had at least five children; Mary Ann born in 1878, Frank born in 1879, Alfred born in 1881, Stanley Joseph born in 1884 and William Hugh born in 1889.  All the children’s births were registered at East Grinstead implying that the Whitehurst family had moved from the Lingfield area by 1878, although they are not found in the census records until 1891 when they are living at Hill Place Farm, along with William Tester, Thomas Creasey and Thomas Pattenden.  In 1891 Francis Whitehurst was working as an agricultural labourer a position he was still employed in at Hill Place in 1901, when the occupancy of the dwelling house had reduced to two households, that of the farm bailiff Allen Hawkins and his own.

 

Allen Hawkins succeeded William Tester as farm bailiff for the Stennings at Hill Place.  Allen was born in Dorney, Buckinghamshire, in about 1855, the son of George Hawkins and his second wife Happy Louisa née Tarrant.  Allen was one of at least five children, his siblings including; half sisters, Rebecca born in 1842 and Ann born in 1849 of George and his first wife Rebecca, and full sisters, Emma born about 1854 and Sarah born about 1856.  In 1877 Allen Hawkins married Isabell Waldron and they had two children, Kate born in 1885 and Allen born in 1889.

 

In 1881 Allen Hawkins was employed as farm bailiff on Pigeon Farm, Dorney, living with father George the farmer of Pigeon Farm.  By 1891 Allen and his wife had moved to Frimely in Surrey, Allen listed as the farmer of Aspen Farm.  Then by 1901 and possibly as early as 1892, Allen Hawkins had moved to Hill Place, employed by the Stennings as farm bailiff.  Allen Hawkins was to remain at Hill Place until 1909 when he moved to Hackenden Farm in East Grinstead, still as bailiff for the Stennings, and Hill Place was purchased by Edward Blount, who installed Jonathan Spanswick (see below) as a dairy farmer.

 

Blount family

The Blount family can trace their origins back to the Le Blounds’, Counts of Guisnes, in Picardy, France.  Count Raoul de Guisnes was head of the family when William of Normandy invaded England, and he and his three sons accompanied the Conqueror.  It is from this family that the Blounts of East Grinstead descend and in 1877 Sir Edward Charles Blount KCB leased (with option to purchase which he did in 1878) Imberhorne House, park and woodland in East Grinstead from speculative developer Dr T F Campbell [for further information see Handout, The Farm at Imberhorne, SJC 05/03].

Sir Edward C Blount was a banker and promoter of French Railways, and was born on 14th March 1809 at the family seat Bellamour near Rugeley, Staffordshire, the second son of Mr Edward Blount (1769-1843) by his wife Frances, daughter of Francis Wright of Fitzwalters, Essex.  Edward C married Gertrude Frances Jerningham on the 18th November 1834 and they had two sons Herbert Aston and Henry Edmund born at St Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, in 1844, and three daughters.

Henry Blount married Marguerite Marie de la Rochette on 5th July 1869 in the Romanesque Church of Notre-Dame, Melun, and they had three children, Louisa Gertrude Charlotte Marie, born 21st July 1870 in Paris, who died, unmarried on 29th April 1894 at Arachon, near Bordeaux, Eleonore Edwarda Hyacinthe Marie, born June 1872 in Paris, who died 9th May 1873 in Paris, and Edward Aston Charles Marie who was born on 2nd January 1874 in Paris and who married Clara Marianne Guislaine on 27th February 1897, in Paris.  Edward AC and Clara had two daughters, Clare Marie Guislaine in Brussels in 1898 and Marguerite Pauline Mary born at Imberhorne in 1908.

By 1896, it is believed that Sir Edward Blount had purchased the freeholds of the adjoining farms to Imberhorne which included Gullege, Tilkhurst and Hill Place, amassing over 1000 acres of arable, pasture and woodland [for further information see Handout, The Farm at Imberhorne, SJC 05/03].  However, there is now some debate as to when Sir Edward Blount actually purchased Hill Place.

 

On 16th March 1891 Sir Edward Blount purchased fifty-six acres of land lying north-west the Brighton -Lewes railway line from the Stenning brothers.  Then in 1899 he purchased Butlers and Courthouse from the Stennings and in 1904/5 he purchased Top Field from the trustees of William Pearless, all pieces of land that would eventually form part of Hill Place Farm as it is known today.  From the local Directories

Allen Hawkins is listed as farm bailiff for the Stennings, in the occupation of Hill Place until 1907 with subsequent appearances as their farm bailiff at Hackenden Farm.  In 1909 the local Directory lists Jonathan Spanswick (see below), farmer, in the occupation of Hill Place.  This would imply that Hill Place was not purchased by the Blount family until sometime around 1907/8.

 

In 1899, Henry’s son Edward CA Blount, grandson of Sir Edward, took over the responsibility of managing the farms and estates, which by then employed over fifty people, herdsmen, ploughmen, gamekeepers, blacksmiths, carpenters, carters and general hands, all managed by the experienced Head Bailiff who resided at Imberhorne Home Farm.  In 1905 Sir Edward Blount died and the Imberhorne estate including Hill Place passed to his son Henry but within six years Henry Blount had died and the estate passed to his son Edward AC Blount in 1911.  At the time of Henry’s death, Jonathan Spanswick was installed at Hill Place as a dairy farmer, assisted by John Percy Sturt as cowman, a bachelor of thirty-one originating from Rudgewick who boarded with the Spanswick family, and Alfred Buckland (see below) who was the carter on the farm.   However, by 1913 Hill Place Farm was under the occupation of Arthur Thompson (see below) who remained at Hill Place until 1919 when William Nanscawen Broad (see below) took over the tenancy of the farm, continuing to run it as a dairy farm until his death in 1965.

 

Jonathan Stephen Spanswick, tenant farmer of Hill Place Farm under the Blount family, was born in Berkshire in 1872, the son of Thomas and Sara Ann Spanswick.  Jonathan was one of at least six children, his siblings included; Ellen born in 1862, Henry born in 1864, Alice born in 1867 and Marie born in 1874.  In 1881 Jonathan had left home and was living with his sister Alice and her husband Edward Francome at 6, Station Road, Purton, Wiltshire, where he worked as a fitter’s labourer for the GWR.  Jonathan married Edith Eliza Mary Lambourn in Wokingham, Berkshire, in 1899 and they had three children, Thomas Samuel born in 1905, Doris Edith born in 1907 and a third child born (date of birth not yet established) who had died by 1911.

 

Jonathan Spanswick is only found twice in the census records, first in 1881 and then in 1911 when he and his family were living at Hill Place, listed as a dairy farmer.  Jonathan Spanswick appears in the local Directories from 1909 as Farmer of Hill Place.  However, Jonathan Spanswick did not stay long at Hill Place as by 1913 he had been succeeded by Arthur Robert Thompson (see below).  Residing alongside the Spanswick family in 1911 was just one other couple, newlyweds Alfred Buckland (see below) and his wife.

 

Alfred James Buckland was born in Bletchingley in 1885, the son of George and Fanny Buckland.  Alfred’s siblings included; Frederick born about 1881, George born about 1882, William born about 1884, Jane was born about 1888, Charles was born about 1890, Ernest was born about 1893, Kate was born about 1896 and Edwin born about 1897.  The first two children were born in Burstow, the next two (including Alfred) in Bletchingly and the remainder in East Grinstead.  In 1910 Alfred married Henrietta H Caufield of Sevenoaks and by 1911 they were living at Hill Place, Alfred working as a carter on the farm, having previously been living with his parents at Lower Glen Vue in East Grinstead.

 

Arthur Robert Thompson, who succeeded Jonathan Spanswick as tenant farmer at Hill Place Farm, was born in Five Oaks, Sussex, in 1881. Little else is known about his family except that in 1911 Arthur was living with his brother John Thompson at Meadow Cottage, Hookwood Farm, Horley, where Arthur was working as a dairyman.  By 1913, Arthur Thompson had moved to East Grinstead, being advertised as Farmer of Hill Place in the local Directories until 1918.  It would appear that Arthur did not marry and lived at Hill Place with his housekeeper Miss Mason.

 

The years of World War I had affected his farming but Arthur had struggled on, introducing a milk delivery business in the near-by town of East Grinstead to increase his income, his rounds man being Mr Crawley.  Eventually in 1919 Arthur Thompson cut his losses and was succeeded at Hill Place Farm by William Nanscawen Broad.

 

The Broad legacy

At the time that William Nanscawen Broad took over the tenancy of Hill Place Farm in 1919 it was made up of portions of five farms, Imberhorne Home Farm, Butler’s Farm, Courthouse Farm, Killick’s Farm and Hill Place, which historically had been separate properties but by 1919 formed part of the Blount’s Imberhorne estate.

 

William Nanscawen Broad (known as Nanscawen) was born in Liskeard in 1892 and married Gwendoline Millicent Michell in Penzance in 1918; Gwendoline having been born in 1889 at St Austell.  The Michell family came from the extreme west of Cornwall near Penzance and the Broads from a farming family from eastern Cornwall.  Before World War I William had spent some time in Canada but returned to join up during the war and saw active service in the trenches of Northern France with the Royal Fusiliers.  Later he and two of his brothers volunteered to train as pilots in the Royal Flying Corps.  Gwendoline had trained as an art teacher and during the war took up part time nursing with the Red Cross.  With World War I behind them they moved from Cornwall, taking the tenancy of Hill Place Farm in 1919.

 

On their arrival at Hill Place much had to be done to bring the fencing and building repairs up to standard, but it was a ‘very pretty farm’ with ‘attractive old buildings, a number of fruit tree around and well grown ornamental trees’.  It was here that William and Gwendoline settled and started their family, Hilda Nanscawen born in 1923, Gwendoline Nanscawen born in 1925 and Mary Elizabeth Nanscawen born in 1929.

 

William continued to run Hill Place Farm as a dairy farm so many of the fields were turned over to permanent pasture or meadow, providing grass and hay for the dairy herd, with just one field (called Coneybury) turned over to arable.  In one part potatoes were grown for sale to the customers on the milk round, and in another kale and cabbages or swedes and turnips were grown for winter feed for the cattle.  There was also a wide strip of maize or Indian corn, grown not for its cobs but for green feed for the cattle.

 

Outbuildings included an old Sussex Barn with a clay tiled roof and cladding of tarred boards below.  There was a hovel for older calves, a row of brick built pigsties, each with its own small yard and trough.  Close to the pigsties and attached to the barn was a cart lodge with a clay tiled roof and tarred clap boarded cladding.  Occupying the space between the yard and the side of the orchard was the stack yard.  Between the orchard and the Dutch Barn was a covered shed of corrugated iron in which young stock was over-wintered.  The remaining farm buildings formed a block that included the cowsheds, dairy, stables, loose boxes and an area used for storing and mixing cattle foods that had originally been built as a two storey cottage for the cowman and his family.

 

The house had few modern conveniences and one part was much older than the other.  Having been converted back to one dwelling under Arthur Thompson the accommodation comprised of a kitchen, scullery, coal house and breakfast room on the ground floor and two bedrooms above in the newer end.  The older end contained two fairly large downstairs rooms used as a dining room and drawing room with an area between them accommodating the huge chimney and the staircase.  Above these rooms were two good sized bedrooms.  Between the older and the newer parts was a space taken by three small rooms, a cupboard, a lobby and a dairy.  From the dairy a ladder led up to a small room above used as an apple loft.  The dairy was used as a larder as the farm dairy operations were carried on outside.  Shortly after their arrival the Broads dispensed with the apple loft converting it as a bathroom.  Above the bedrooms were two large attics either side of the chimney stack, each accessed by their own ladder.

 

In 1953 Edward AC Blount died, followed four months later by his wife and the Imberhorne estate passed to their two daughters Clare and Marguerite [for further information on the Blount family see Handout, Blounts of Imberhorne, JGS/SJC 01/06]. The two deaths in such quick succession placed a heavy burden on the two sisters who were faced with huge death duties being forced to break up the Imberhorne estate.  Clare and Marguerite had a new house built at Tilkhurst which was to be their home until their deaths in 1988 and 1992 respectively, and sold off the remainder of the Imberhorne estate as working farms or as land for development.  Thus in 1957 they offered Nanscawen Broad, as tenant farmer of Hill Place Farm, the opportunity to purchase the property which was to remain his home until his death in 1965.

 

At the death of Nanscawen the decision was made that the farm would be kept under a deed of family arrangement and tenanted out.  Gwendoline Broad continued to live in the farmhouse after the death of her husband until, through failing health she moved to a nursing home where she died in 1972.  After her death the house was initially occupied by family relations and the Hobbs family who had taken over the tenancy of the farm.  Eventually Nanscawen’s daughter Gwen succeeded as custodian of the property until her death in 2008.  During her time at Hill Place Gwen collected a mass of information, paperwork, pictures (many painted by her mother) and photographs which was given to the Felbridge History Group on her death, of which this document is but a small part.

 

In the research left by Gwen Broad she contemplated “At what stage did the ‘gentrification’ of Hill Place and its surroundings occur?  The house was remodelled and doubled in size, an orchard was laid out and Scots firs [Pines], rhododendrons, Wellingtonias, and about fifty Monkey Puzzles were planted.  The cowsheds, stables and dairy were rebuilt to the most up to date plans with a cottage above.  Was this the work of Thomas Ball or the Stennings or a later owner, perhaps Sir Edward Blount?”  To answer her enquiry about the outbuildings, they appear on the maps between 1873 and 1897 and therefore must have been the responsibility of the Stennings.

 

Speculation is that the dwelling was enlarged under the occupation of William Stanbridge as he had been listed as a ‘fundholder’ prior to his arrival at Hill Place that would suggest he had wealth and with a fairly large family and in the absence of interest shown by the Ellis family would give him the means and motivation to enlarge the house.  The dwelling was probably remodelled when it became multiple occupancy around 1890 with three households in residence.

 

The orchard could also have been laid out under William Stanbridge, and possibly the introduction of Wellingtonias and rhododendrons to beautify the grounds, but the introduction of the Scots Pine and fifty Monkey Puzzle trees would suggest this was done under the ownership of the Stennings being that they were timber merchants.  The Wellingtonia Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Redwood) was introduced to Britain in 1853 and named Wellingtonia gigantea in memory of the recently deceased Duke of Wellington.  After its introduction the Wellingtonia was a ‘must have’ tree for the estates and large gardens of Britain, quite often being a selling point for the property.

 

The Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris is a native British tree that occurs naturally in Scotland but has been cultivated across Britain for its wood for pulp and sawn timber products making it an ideal commodity for the Stennings as timber merchants.  The Monkey Puzzle Araucaria araucanas originated from Chile and was introduced to Britain in 1795, but to plant fifty is excessive for ornamental decoration.  Traditional grown for its long straight trunk yielding long straight timber again it would seem more likely that the Monkey Puzzles were planted under instruction of the Stennings.

 


Bibliography

The Story of Hill Place by Gwen Broad, FHA

Place names of Sussex by Judith Glover

Malfield /St Pancras gift, c1100, Lewes Chartulary

Sussex Lay Subsidy, 1296, SAC Vol. 20

Sussex Lay Subsidy, 1332, SAC Vol. XX

Court Rolls for the manor of Imberhorne, 1565, U269, CKS

Survey of the lands of the manor of Imberhorne, 1566, U269, CKS

Parish registers of St Swithun’s Church, FHA

Marriage index, FHA

Will of John Luxford, 1582, A7-287, ESRO

Buckhurst Terrier, 1597/8, FHA

Will of Henry Luxford, 1614, A28-54, ESRO

Rental survey of the manor of Imberhorne, 1615, AMS 5909/11, ESRO

Court Books for the manor of Imberhorne, 1636-39, AMS 5909/7, ESRO

Will of John Lee, 1664, PROB 11/340/487, TNA

Court Baron of Imberhorne, 1669 – 1687, AMS 5909/9, ESRO

Will of William Ledger, 1684, Prob/11/227/370 TNA

Survey and Rental of the manor of Imberhorne, 1698, U269 M31, CKS

Will of Anne Underhill, 1766, ACC7510/B/7, ESRO

East Grinstead Land Tax Records, 1750 – 1806. Ad Mss 18419, WSRO

East Grinstead Land Tax Records, 1780 - 1832. Add Mss 19752, WSRO

Court books for the manor of Imberhorne, 1794 – 1809, AMS 5910/3, ESRO

Will of William Tooth, 1799, PROB 11/1328/306, TNA

Court Books for the manor of Imberhorne, AMS 5910/4, ESRO

Census records, 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 1911

IGI index

Births, Marriage and Deaths index, www.ancestry.co.uk

Tithe apportionment and map for East Grinstead, 1841, WSRO

Court Books for the manor of Imberhorne, AMS 5910/5, ESRO

Melville Directory, 1858, FHA

PO Directories, 1862-81, FHA

Terry/Ball Conveyance, 1873, FHA

Ellis/Ball Conveyance, 1873, FHA

Le Coombe Estate Mortgage, 1874, FHA

Lewes and East Grinstead Railway, by Klaus Marx

The Times, 20/5/1875, FHA

Handout, North End School, SJC 11/10, FHWS

Handout, The Pattenden family of Felbridge, SJC 07/01, FHWS

Kelly’s Directories 1886 - 1928, FHA

Handout, Blounts of Imberhorne, JGS/SJC 01/06, FHWS

Handout, The Farm at Imberhorne, SJC 05/03

Texts of all Handouts referred to in this document can be found on FHG website: www.felbridge.org.uk

 

JIC/SJC 01/13

 

 

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