Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Along the Lane to America

April 10, 2018

Gravelye Lane for centuries was merely a track providing access to a couple of farmsteads and Northlands Wood;  then in the nineteenth century it became the route from Lindfield to America!  There are more points of historic interest along the lane than you might think.

Almost immediately after turning from Lewes Road into Gravelye Lane, on land now Grey Alder and Kidbrook, the Dowager Countess of Tankerville while living at The Welkin, opened a laundry in 1902.  It was run on charitable lines, to provide work and a home for women in difficult circumstances, struggling to regain their character through honest labour.  The laundry home called ‘Quinta’ provided accommodation for thirty female workers.  The laundry was taken over by the Salvation Army in 1912 until 1922, when it became a business trading as the Mid Sussex Steam Laundry.  A particular feature of the laundry was its 74ft high chimney.  Not only was this a local landmark it also housed the ‘start and stop work’ hooter.  Many villagers used to set their watches by the hooter such was the accuracy of the time signal.  On closing in 1972 the buildings were demolished and the houses built.

Further up Gravelye Lane on the left-hand side are small property sign bearing the name Criplands.  The first identified mention of the name is in the Will of William Neave dated 1625, in which he leaves lands and a house called Cripses, later known as Cripland, to his brother, John Neale.  On his death the land is inherited by his second son Nycholas Neale.  The Neale family had a lengthy connection with Lindfield as butchers and farmers.  Cripland farm passed through several generations before eventually leaving the family.

In 1742, it was purchased by Nicholas Tanner, a mariner from Brighton and his wife, a co heiress.  At this time the farm comprised a house, two barns, two gardens, an orchard and 30 acres of land and was rented by a Ralph Comber.  A series of complex transactions followed until October 1744, when Cripland was purchased by John Dutton and his wife.  At this point the Cripland story takes a twist.

In the eighteenth century there was no effective treatment for smallpox which often resulted in death.  At best an outbreak could be contained through isolating sufferers in a pest house.  In 1716 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, recently recovered from smallpox accompanied her husband to Constantinople, where she discovered that in Turkey healthy people were deliberately being infected with smallpox.  They were inoculated with a small amount of pus and then kept in isolation to avoid the risk of spreading the disease.  She introduced the concept of inoculation as protection against smallpox to Britain.  Gradually the procedure was adopted by a number of pioneering doctors.

One such doctor was John Dutton who practiced in Lindfield in the late 1720’s and is thought to have lived at Bower House.  He may have been using part of the premises as a Pest House.  In Easter 1741 ‘John Dutton, Churgeon’ (surgeon) had agreed with the Parish Overseers to ‘supply the Poor [of Lindfield) with physic and Chyrurgery’ for a year, and in May 1742 entered into a longer-term agreement to do the same for £4 4s per year, and £1 1s extra ‘in case small pox should happen to break out’.

In March 1744, John Dutton and his wife Elizabeth purchased Cripland and established it as a Pest House.  Around this time he started to inoculate people in the village with smallpox pus.  This caused great consternation with the inhabitants of Lindfield.  As a consequence, Dr Dutton was required to stop this practice and enter into a £600 bond with a term of 60 years payable should e recommence inoculations.

It is understood that Dr Dutton complied with the undertaking and subsequently sold the Pest House and accompanying land to John Verrall in February 1767.  However the property continued to be known as Pest House Farm until the late 1880s, when it reverted to Cripland Farm when sold by John Verrall.

In 1898, Henry and Ellen Howorth purchased part of the farm’s land on which they built Cripland Court in 1905, a spacious 12 bed roomed country house with colonial style balconies to the rear together with staff accommodation, a range of stables, and outbuildings.

Following the death of her husband in 1907, the property was put up for sale.  A tenancy agreement with option to purchase dated 15 November 1911 was entered into with Alexander Howden, a Ship Broker in the City of London.  The purchase was completed in 1913.  Following Alexander Howden’s death in 1914 and his widow eight years later, the property was sole in 1922 to Granville Bevan.  It remained in the ownership of Mr & Mrs Bevan for some thirty years.

Granville Bevan died in November 1950 and Cripland Court was placed on the market in 1952, being sold to Bishop & Sons Depositories Ltd in December 1953 who used it as a furniture store until the main house was demolished in the 1960s.

Almost opposite Cripland Court stood Gravelye Farm, continuing up the lane and shortly before the junction with Lyoth Lane stands Gravelye House.

In the early decades of the 1800s across the country there was much poverty amongst agricultural labourers, many were in fact paupers, placing great demand on a parish’s poor relief.  William Allen, an eminent chemist Quaker philanthropist and social reformer, thought it would be possible to reduce poverty by providing them with an independent means of support, thus reducing their reliance onto the parish.  His solution was to establish colonies of cottages with allotments.  In the late 1820s, Lindfield was chosen as a worthy for this experiment, as poverty was rife.  William Allen was helped by his friend, John Smith M.P. of Madehurst, who purchased 100 acres in the Gravelye area and placed some of this land at Allen’s disposal for creation of a trial colony.  Smith also built Gravelye House for William Allen’s use when visiting Lindfield.  At around the same time, Allen established the School of Industry to educate boys and girls from poor families on Blackhill.

The land selected by William Allen was down a track beside Gravelye House, close to today’s Hanbury Stadium, where he built 12 dwellings, six modest single storey thatched cottages each with an acre and a quarter of land, rented at 2s weekly.  Adjacent were six larger cottages with the same amount of land at 2s 6d weekly.  Additionally in Gravelye Lane he built three pairs of semi detached two storey houses with supporting land at 3s a week.

The cottages immediately became known by some as The Colony and by others as America, thought to have derived from the idea of a land of promise for settlers;  and as later Gravelye Cottages.  The America name endured for the area and appears on old Ordnance Survey maps and the track beside Gravelye House to the cottages took the name America Lane.  America is reflected in other road names today. Hanbury Stadium is named after William Allen’s business partner, the business growing into the pharmaceutical manufacturer Allan & Hanbury Ltd now absorbed with GlaxoSmithKline.

William Allen required tenants to be industrious men with large families.  Additional land could be rented if needed and guidance and small loans were provided for the purchase of seeds, fertiliser and a pig or cow.  The expectation was the labourer would cultivate his allotment in addition to working for a local farmer.  Locally in the short term it was a success, as no family went on parish relief after moving to The Colony.  However, the colony concept did not provide a feasible national solution.  After William Allen’s death in 1843 the Gravelye estate was sold and the colony concept ceased.  All the dwellings were condemned and demolished in 1940’s and 1950’s.

Contact Lindfield History Project Group on 01444 482136.  For a copy of William Allen Quaker Friend of Lindfield book £8.95 phone 01444 482685.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wickham Farm

March 7, 2018

Before 1894 the Lindfield Parish Boundary extended to the Balcombe Road and Wickham Farm held a significant amount of land in this area.

Wickham Farm was first mentioned in 1279.  Three centuries later in 1583 Thomas Newnham leased the farm with 100 acres of land to a Lindfield yeoman called John Payne.  a family of this name recorded as living at ‘Santhill’ died of the plague during August and September 1603.  Both parents and their six children died together with Jone Laby and Mary Gilham who may have been servants.

The Newnham family were considerable landowners in Lindfield, as evidenced in 1636 by being included amongst those responsible for the upkeep of the fencing around the churchyard [Register of Church Marks 1636].

On 31st July 1882 Wickham Farm estate of 459 acres, came up for auction.  It was offered in four lots, with two being described as building land. This set the scene for the coming century and the development of Lindfield and Haywards Heath.

Discovering West Common

March 1, 2018

Today nothing exists of the West Common and you would be forgiven for thinking the area completely lacks historical interest.  Less than two hundred years ago the unfenced common extended from Sunte Avenue down to the stream that runs close to Blackthorns and from Hickmans Lane south to Summerhill Lane and then east along Scrase Stream.  the southern part belonged to the Manor of Ditchling with the remainder by South Malling Lindfield and Framfield Manors.  The land is mainly flat and in parts sloping with good well drained soil.  In early medieval times, could this land have been the ‘west field’ of the Lindfield cultivated in strips by villagers in the open field system?  Perhaps we will never know.

What we do know is that in the 1820s the land was largely unenclosed and contained only a few dwellings.  In the north western corner, at the junction called Pickesgreen Cross, was a small old farmstead dating from at least 1600, part of Framfield Manor, called Wigsel’s Watering, that extended into the area now Oakfield Close. This was replaced by the Bricklayers Arms, now the Witch Inn.  In the 1870s the Bricklayers became a popular venue for ‘bean feasts’; annual works outings travelling by train from as far afield as London and Brighton.

following the arrival of the railway, the road running along the western edge was made up and named Station Road [Sunte Avenue] as it was the most direct route from Lindfield to the station.  The first housing built was Albert Cottages, typical small Victorian houses with shared wells and privies at the bottom of the garden.

Towards the southern end, near Oakbank, stood two cottages known as Golden Nob.  the 1851 Census listed four families, the Beard, Bish, Gorrange and Miles families, totalling 19 men, women and children living in the cottages.  All the adult men were agricultural labourers. the Gold Nob cottages were demolished around 1860, when Summer Hill was built by Charles Catt of the Bishopstone Tide Mills.  The Catt family lived in the house for many years and farmed nearby land.  From the late 1940s it became a school.

In 1835 three acres of unenclosed land held by the Manor of South Malling Lindfield was sold for £56 5s. of to John Elliott, a Lindfield blacksmith.  John Elliott operated the forge in the middle of the High Street [mentioned in last month’s article] and built the forge at Spongs in Brushes Lane.  Perhaps with an eye for a quick profit, John Elliott sold the land to Edward Humphreys in October 1838 for £153.  In today’s terms this is the land of Chestnut close across to the west side of Summerhilll Drive and north to Hickmans Lane.

For a couple of years Humphreys rented the newly enclosed land to James Harding of burnt House Farm, before taking back the land on which he built a house in 1844.  the Poor Rate Valuations in the late 1840s record this house as Westfield Lodge, owned and occupied by Edward Humphreys; no connection with the baker of that name.  It was approached by a long diagonal drive, and when Summer Hill was constructed the drive was extended to this house and entrance lodges built.

By the mid 1850s Humphreys was living at Pear Tree House [junction of High Street and Lewes Road], another fine house he built along with St Annes. Westfield Lodge was rented to tenants before being acquired by William Copeland in c1870 when the property was renamed The Chestnuts.

The Mid Sussex Times in May 1877 carried an advertisement for the letting ‘unfurnished, a well-built detached villa residence, most pleasantly situated, approached by a carriage drive from the high road, and within 15 minutes walk of Haywards Heath Station, and known as The Chestnuts.  There is a large drawing room and dining room, two other sitting rooms, six bedrooms, and a dressing room, kitchen, scullery, cellars etc., also a capital garden with greenhouse and vinery’.  Even in those days easy access to the station was a desirable feature and evidence of Lindfield becoming attractive to commuters.

During the 1880s, The Chestnuts was taken by a Mr Hartland and then by Mrs Gertrude Lysons, the widow of Rev Canon Samuel Lysons, rural dean of Gloucester, a noted antiquarian and an early proponent of British Israelism.  this was the belief that British people are ‘genetically, racially and linguistically the direct descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel’.

The Chestnuts was sole in 1895 for £2,000 and subsequently described as being ‘brick built and cement faced’, with grounds containing a good lean-to-vinery, stables, detached coach house with loft and a small cowshed.  A substantial property but unfortunately we have no photographs of the house and grounds.  {If any readers have a photograph, please do make contact}.  The new owner was Charles Catt of adjacent Summer Hill.

Following a succession of tenants, in 1909 William Lancelot Knowles J.P., a member of the Stock Exchange, and his wife took up residence, having previously lived at Pear Tree House.  A county cricketer, he had played for Kent, Sussex and Gentlemen of England and in 37 first class appearances as a right-handed batsman scored 1439 runs with a highest innings of 127.  He was unstinting in his community service being involved with many clubs and organisations in Lindfield, Cuckfield and Haywards Heath.

In 1933, The chestnuts became the new home for the Parents’ National Educational Union School [PNEU] started 12 months earlier at Plumpton by Mrs Seymour and Mrs Morgan.  Called the Summerhill PNEU School it was the twentieth such school in Sussex and one of a family of about 800 scattered around the world. All the schools worked to a common ethos and curriculum. A notable local example, with its roots in PNEU system, in Burgess Hill Girls School which continues to thrive today.

After two years it ceased being a PNEU school and changed its name to Lindfield Preparatory School under the headship of Miss Arnold.  Education was provided on the ‘Froebel and other modern methods’ for children aged 6 to 12 years, with a kindergarten for younger children.  It advertised ‘Bright, colourful classrooms, Small Classes, Individual attention’ and ‘All general subjects taught’ with a large garden for games, tennis and cricket.  A limited number of places were available for boarders.  The school was short lived and closed in about 1937, the building reverting to a private residence.  There was no connection between this school and the school later established at summer Hill.  The house continued to be occupied as a private residence until being demolished in about 1960 and shortly after replaced by Nos. 1 – 8 The Chestnuts.

Returning to the 19th century, the Common was divided by a section of the New Chapel to Brighton turnpike road, now West Common.  By the 1840s, the Common on both sides of this road had been enclosed with fields, except for an area around Appledore Gardens but this soon became enclosed.  In 1852, at the Red Lion, four acres were auctioned as four building plots fetching £138, £145, £82 and £82.  The first two lots restricted the building of any dwelling of less value than £2900.  None of the plots were built upon at that time.

It was not until the interwar years that the area started to be developed with the building of Haywards Heath Senior School and housing at Oakbank and along West Common and Sunte Avenue plus the creation of a market garden, French Gardens.  Houses started to appear along Summerhill Drive, and although Chestnut Close was constructed by 1937 houses were not built until a few years later.  The remainder of the houses on West common land are predominantly post war.

 

Published in Lindfield life February 2018

 

 

Lindfield National School

February 10, 2018

From 1833, Parliament made grants available to build schools for the education of the poor.  The Church of England through its National Society for Promoting Religious Education was anxious to extend its influence and was active in setting up National Schools

Reflecting the perilous state of the parish there is no evidence that a National School existed in Lindfield during the 1830s.

At that time the village had one proper school, founded in 1825 by William Allen, a Quaker philanthropist.  This was the School for Industry on Black Hill for the children from families of the labouring classes living in the parish and nearby villages.  The school was open to all and had separate rooms for boys, girls and infants.  Although there were daily Bible readings, teaching was non-denominational and the children were expected to attend every Sunday the place of worship to which their parents belonged.  Following Allen’s death in 1843, the school continued on the principles of the British and Foreign Schools Society supported by the Congregational Chapel, and so it would have been regarded as a dissenter’s school.

According to Gregory in his book, Mid Sussex Through the Ages, in 1849 a National School was being ‘conducted in the old disused Workhouse at the top of the village’.  Perhaps this had been established a few years earlier by Sewell as part of his work to re-establish the influence of the parish church.  There was undoubted rivalry between the two Lindfield schools, as Gregory notes, ‘The British Schools continued to flourish in spite of every effort made to depreciate and lessen their popularity by the National School’s Committee’.  Some 175 children were attending the British School in 1851.

In that year, a new National School was built on the Common adjacent to Lewes Road.  The Earl of Chichester, by Deed of Trust dated 25 August 1851, gave the land ‘to the Minister and Churchwardens of the parish upon trust to permit the erection of buildings for the education of children and adults or children only, of the labouring, manufacturing and other poor classes of the parish of Lindfield’.  The managers named in the deed were ‘the incumbent ex officio, his curate, if appointed by him and four other persons’, these were the Earl of Chichester, Messrs Jollands, Noyes [junior] and Compton.  The ‘incumbent ex officio’ presumably was intended to refer to Sewell and the words ‘if appointed by him’ would indicate Sewell wished to have a controlling influence despite living in Cockerham, Lancashire.  He was described, in an 1854 newspaper article, as ‘the founder of this valuable institution’.

In 1854 newspaper article also reported the school’s annual fete held in the grounds of Lindfield House, saying ‘the pupils mustered in strong numbers and proceeded forthwith through the town from the School to a meadow, where a spacious marquee was erected to receive’.  They were met at the gate by Rev Sewell, who had travelled to Lindfield by train, and Rev Lloyd, afterwards ‘the rev gentlemen proceeded to distribute ……. cricket bats and balls, trap-bats, kites, air-pops, books, etc.’  A plentiful meal was provided for about 140 children and later for 40 visitors and teachers.  A brass band performed and at seven o’clock ‘a splendid balloon rose in majestic style’ signalling the end of the event.  This school treat was presumably mainly funded by Sewell as he journeyed to Lindfield to spend time with the children.

Another similar school treat was held in 1855, and the events indicate the National School was thriving.  The teachers at this time were a Mr & Mrs Sanders.

However by 1856, Sewell was describing the National School Room as objectionable: ‘1st, in respect of site, being on a low level.  2ndly, As to locality, being at a great distance from the Church.  3rdly, In respect of internal accommodation, there being no class-room exclusively for Infants, no means of separating the Boys and Girls for specially distinct exercises, no lavatory, no master’s residence, &c@.  To address these problems he announced the building of a new school opposite the church.  Having been involved in establishing the school on the Common only five years previous, he was now the school’s fiercest critic.

When Sewell’s new St John’s Parish School opened in October 1856 the pupils transferred from the National School Room on the Common to the new building.  The National School on the Common closed.  After his death in 1862, St John’s School closed and the recently constructed building put up for sale.  Unfortunately it was not possible for the school to revert to the original National School premises on the Common as this ‘had been given up to the Dissenters for the use of their Sunday Schools’.  Repossession was obtained in 1863 by Rev F Mills, the new incumbent, and following repairs the school reopened in January 1865.  Unfortunately, it did not thrive and with fewer than 30 children, plus an atmosphere of great dissatisfaction and refusal by contributors to provide funds, the school closed finally in March 1865.

Rev Mills and his family became homeless in mid 1866 and unable to find any accommodation, moved into the empty school building but within months were forced to vacate the premises.

Wickham Farm

February 9, 2018

Before 1894 the Lindfield Parish Boundary extended to the Balcombe Road and Wickham Farm held a significant amount of land in this area.

Wickham Farm was first mentioned in 1279.  Three centuries later in 1583 Thomas Newnham leased the farm with 100 acres of land to a Lindfield yeoman called John Payne.  a family of this name recorded as living at ‘Santhill’ died of the plague during August and September 1603.  Both parents and their six children died together with Jone Laby and Mary Gilham who may have been servants.

The Newnham family were considerable landowners in Lindfield, as evidenced in 1636 by being included amongst those responsible for the upkeep of the fencing around the churchyard [Register of Church Marks 1636].

On 31st July 1882 Wickham Farm estate of 459 acres, came up for auction.  It was offered in four lots, with two being described as building land. This set the scene for the coming century and the development of Lindfield and Haywards Heath.

St Augustine of Canterbury Church, Scaynes Hill

February 9, 2018

Until 1930, Scaynes Hill was part of the ecclesiastical parish of Lindfield.

Between 1858 the building comprised the present nave built in the Gothic style to a design by G Habershon, a notable Victorian architect.  It served as a chapel of ease on Sundays and a school during the week.

In 1880, Frederic Willett inherited Bedales and became the voluntary priest in charge of St Augustine’s from 1881 until 1905.  On arrival he used his money to pay for the building of the tower, north aisle, south porch and chancel in a matching style by the same architect.  The school moving to new premises built further down the road.

The church has on a number of occasions been embellished by benefactors, including in 1902 the provision of a stained glass window designed by Charles Eamer Kempe of Old Place, Lindfield.

The Chapel of Sothenbury, Scaynes Hill

February 9, 2018

The 1848 Tithe Map and Apportionment describes plot 1534 as Chapel Lands.  This was the site of the Chapel of Sothenbury held by the Canons of South Malling.  It was a chapel of ease, dedicated to St Peter, as the parish church in Lindfield was a considerable distance away.

The date of the building is unknown but it was in existence during the eleventh century.  By this time a number of farms existed in the area and the chapel served this community for some 500 years.

Perhaps it is most noted for a long running dispute, in the 13th century, over rent and ownership between the Canons of South Malling and the Prior of Lewes Priory.  The dispute reached the Vatican with a decision being made by Pope Honorius II, which was subsequently confirmed by Gregory IX.

After closure the chapel was demolished and tradition says the stone was used in the construction of Massett’s Chapel in the parish church at Lindfield but this is unproven.

Mid Sussex Steam Laundry

February 9, 2018

Throughout her long life the dowager Countess of Tankerville was engaged in charitable works.  Born Lady Olivia Montagu daughter of the 6th Duke of Manchester, she married the 6th Earl of Tankerville in 1850.

One charitable venture was the establishment of laundries to provide work and a home for women in difficult circumstances including unmarried mothers.  She opened a number of laundries across the country.

The Countess of Tankerville while living at The Welkin, Lindfield built such a laundry on land adjoining Gravelye Lane.

The laundry opened in 1902 and was run on charitable lines by a local committee.  It was taken over by the Salvation Army in 1912.  Their aim remained to provide help to women struggling to regain their character by means of honest labour.  The laundry home called ‘Quinta’ provided accommodation for thirty female workers.

The Salvation Army ended its connection with the laundry in 1922.

The laundry became a business and continued trading as the Mid Sussex Steam Laundry.

After WWII the business was taken over by Mr J Carter, a Quaker, who ran it until closure in 1972.

After closure the buildings were demolished and the land used for the Grey Alder and Kidbrook housing development.

Deans Mill Railway

February 9, 2018

Deans Mill had been disused since the early years of the 20th century, then in 1935 it was bought by George Horsefield.  He set about repairing the mill and soon started producing wholemeal flour for sale locally.

Additionally, the Horsefields converted the Elizabethan barn into tearooms and to attract visitors, boats were offered for hire on the Ouse and a 15 inch-gauge railway constructed.  The railway ran for some 300 yards, in a loop around the grounds with a tunnel, sidings and station.

The line opened in 1937 and initially a steam tank engine was used to pull the passenger wagons but this was soon replaced and in 1939 a petrol driven locomotive was acquired.  The railway was suspended during the war years although the tearoom continued for a time as a restaurant aimed at officers stationed in Lindfield.

After WWII the tearooms and railway were again opened for business until 1957 when Deans Mill was sole to new owners

The Mill is now a private residence.

Lindfield Fire Brigade

February 9, 2018

The Lindfield Fire Brigade was formed by the Parish Council in 1899.  A new horse drawn Merryweather Greenwich Gem steam fire engine was purchased by the Council at a total cost of £276-15s-0d in March 1910.  This resulted in a search to find a suitable building in which to house the new engine.

The redundant former stables of Pear Tree House, at the rear of the King Edward Hall site, were offered by the Hall Committee to the Council for use as a fire station.  Following an inspection in July 1910, the Council agreed to lease the building at an annual rent of £5-0s-0d.

The interior of the building was fitted out with match-boarding to a height of seven feet with shelf above, which remains in place to this day.  The doors were duly painted bright red and Lindfield became the proud owners of a new fire station.

The Lindfield Fire Brigade continued to serve the village until the mid 1930s when it was disbanded upon fire cover being provided by the Fire Service from stations in South Road and New England Road, Haywards Heath.

Auxiliary Fire Service

With the advent of World War Two additional wartime cover was required for Lindfield and the old fire station was pressed into service again as an Auxiliary Fire Station.  Electric light and a heater were installed and the building fitted out with sleeping quarters.

The firemen rather quaintly named it ‘Ye Olde’ Lyndfielde Firemen’s Dugout’.  The names of the WWII firemen were painted above their uniform hooks on the original 1910 match-board lined walls and remain to this day.

Lindfield AFS was equipped with a 1932 Chevrolet 30cwt truck and two new trailer pumps.  The air raid warning siren for the village was mounted above the building.  The Fire Station was again closed at the end of the war.