A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Gatton is a small parish 2 miles north-east from Reigate. It is bounded on the north by Chipstead, on the east by Merstham, on the south by Reigate, and on the west by Kingswood in Ewell. It is on the crest and southern slope of the chalk downs, and extends southwards on to the Upper Green Sand and Gault. The church and such village as there is stand on the Green Sand. The parish measures about a mile from east to west, and a trifle more from north to south, and contains 1,200 acres of land and 32 of water. A tongue of the parish ran southwards, south of Merstham to the boundary of Nutfield, but was added to Merstham (q.v.) in 1899.
The situation of Gatton is highly picturesque. The upper part of the parish, on the chalk hills, is upwards of 700 ft. above the sea. A great part of the centre of the parish is taken up by Gatton Park, which covers 550 acres, nearly a half of the whole acreage. In it is the lake formed by damming up water from small springs which ultimately flow down to the Mole. There are two other ponds. The parish is very well wooded with various kinds of trees.
The village is represented by a small group of houses at the north-eastern gate of the park; but there is no shop, no public-house, and now no school. There are five gentlemen's houses, one vacant, besides Gatton Park and the rectory, and one farm. There were undoubtedly other houses in the ground now covered by the park, but though Gatton was a borough there is no evidence that it was ever a place of any importance or of any large population.
The so-called town hall is an open portico supported on pillars in the pseudo-classical style, and may date from the 18th century, when the proprietor was usually the only voter. In it now is an urn 'in memory of the deceased borough.'
The road which skirts the north-eastern side of Gatton Park is apparently part of the old line of communication along the chalk downs, and the Ordnance map marks it as called in Gatton, 'The Pilgrims' Way.' This does not appear to be justified. The old way left the present road at a point near the north-east corner of the park and crossed the park to the present lodge, whence it continues still eastward to Merstham. The old line of road is clearly visible in the park. In the northern part of the parish British coins have been found, some way north of the old road. Close to the former school, much nearer the road and lodge entrance to the park just mentioned, both British and Roman coins have been found. In the park, near Nutwood House, is an ancient well which has what is supposed to be Roman masonry round the upper part. Roman tiles have been picked up, and the late rector, Mr. Larken, had a bronze ring which he found in the park, which was said by the late Sir A. W. Franks of the British Museum to be part of Roman ornamental horse trappings, intended to hold two straps together. There is therefore reason to believe that Gatton was occupied during the Roman dominion in Britain.
Practically the whole of Gatton is the property of the lord of the manor. Upper Gatton, standing in a park, was formerly the capital mansion of a separate manor (see below). It is now the seat of Mr. Alfred Benson. Nutwood Lodge is the seat of Capt. Charles Francis Cracroft Jarvis. The house called Gatton Tower is used as the rectory. The old rectory near the church was pulled down by Sir James Colebrooke, owner 1751–61, who also turned most of the glebe into the lake which he made, and altered the interior of the church, destroying all the old monuments. The Tower was originally what its name indicates, and probably built as a summer-house for the view on an eminence in the park, but has had a house attached to it.
There is now no school. The late Lord Oxenbridge supported a national school of about twenty children. It was started as an infant school about fifty years ago and made a mixed school about ten years later. It was his private property and sold with the estate. After the Act of 1902 it was discontinued. The few children attend Merstham or Chipstead School.
So far as can be judged from somewhat scanty records there appear to be no traces of burgage tenure in Gatton before the middle of the 15th century, when it first sent two burgesses to Parliament, and subsequently there are no signs of a corporate community except in respect of the distinct Parliamentary representation of the 'borough.'
In 1086 the only tenants of the manor were 6 villeins and 3 bordars (fn. 1) and later extents do not show any peculiarity of tenure. The town inhabitants, numbering seventeen, were assessed in 1332 for a tenth as a town, instead of the fifteenth then levied from rural districts, (fn. 2) but the term 'borough' was not apparently applied to Gatton till 1450, when it returned two burgesses. (fn. 3) The returning officer was the constable, (fn. 4) who was at first appointed in the sheriff's tourn at Tandridge and afterwards in the quarter sessions. (fn. 5)
From 1450 until the Reform Act of 1832 Gatton returned two burgesses to Parliament. The first extant return, that of 1452–3, (fn. 6) was made by the constable 'with the assent of the whole borough.' (fn. 7) From the first it must have been a 'pocket' borough. In 1536 the Duke of Norfolk, then lord of the neighbouring borough of Reigate, noted Gatton, 'where Sir Roger Copley dwelleth,' among the towns for 'which in times past he could have made burgesses.' (fn. 8) In 1539 Sir Roger Copley found the privilege burdensome, for there was only one house to be any help in paying the members' wages. (fn. 9) In 1547 Sir Roger, as 'burgess and only inhabitant of the borough and town,' elected Richard Shelley and John Tyngelden, (fn. 10) and after his death his widow nominated the burgesses, one of them in 1558, her own son, then under age. (fn. 11) After the death of Sir Thomas Copley in 1584 his widow was not allowed to elect burgesses, since she was a recusant, but members were nominated in 1584 by Lord Burghley as chief officer of the Court of Wards. (fn. 12) In 1586 the lords of the Council recommended two members to the deputy-lieutenants of the county, but two others of similar loyal opinions were in fact returned. (fn. 13) The Copleys, who were always notorious recusants, never regained their right of nomination, though their influence must have been considerable, for in a dispute concerning the election of 1620 it was stated that six out of the seven houses in the 'town' were occupied by tenants of William Copley, although the right of election was decided in favour of the freeholders, (fn. 14) and in 1696 it was agreed that the franchise was in the freeholders of the borough not receiving alms and occupying their own freeholds. (fn. 15) In 1832 the borough was disfranchised as having, with its twenty-three houses, the unenviable position of fourth from the bottom of the list of 'rotten boroughs.'
One hide at Gatton was bequeathed by Alfred the Ealdorman to Ethelwald his son between the years 871 and 889. (fn. 16) In the time of Edward the Confessor Gatton was assessed at 10 hides. It was held by Earl Leofwine, brother of Earl Harold, who held the earldom of the county. (fn. 17) He fell at Hastings, and Gatton became the land of Bishop Odo of Bayeux, of whom it was held by a certain Herfrey. (fn. 18)
The bishop forfeited the overlordship of Gatton with his other English possessions through his complicity in the Norman rebellion of 1088. Probably it was then held of his manor of Ospringe, co. Kent, to which the lord of Gatton was said to owe suit of court from the 13th century onwards. (fn. 19) Both Ospringe and Gatton were members of the honour of Peverel in Dover. (fn. 20)
The actual tenant in 1086 was Herfrey. His son or grandson Hamon gave a moiety of the manor to Ralph de Dene in marriage with his elder daughter Joan, reserving to himself the other moiety for life, with remainder to Ralph. The agreement was confirmed by Henry II, (fn. 21) but Hamon's heir male, Robert de Gatton, (fn. 22) evidently took possession of his moiety, but was ousted c. 1190, by Geoffrey de Beauvale in right of his wife Idonea. She was mother of Robert de Dene, (fn. 23) and probably connected with Ralph de Dene, for in 1220 the heirs of Ralph de Dene, Geoffrey Sackville, Richard de Cumberland, his wife Sibyl, and Parnel de Beauvale, granddaughter of Geoffrey de Beauvale, impleaded Hamon son of Robert de Gatton for his failure to keep an agreement concerning a moiety of the manor with Robert de Dene. (fn. 24) The plea was postponed on account of the minority of Parnel, whose mother Margery had recovered seisin of one carucate at Gatton against Hamon before 1223. (fn. 25) In that year he recovered this carucate from Parnel, since her father Ralph son of Geoffrey de Beauvale, a spendthrift who hated his heirs, had restored it to Robert de Gatton for £28 in the time of King John. (fn. 26) In 1227 she joined with the other heirs of Ralph de Dene in a release of the whole manor to Hamon de Gatton. (fn. 27) He was appointed escheator of the Crown for Surrey in 1232, (fn. 28) but died in or before 1235, when his lands, saving the dower of his widow Beatrice, were given into the custody of William of York during the minority of his heir. (fn. 29) This heir was probably Robert de Gatton, (fn. 30) who died seised of the manor in or before 1264. (fn. 31) His son and heir Hamon, Sheriff of Kent in 1285, (fn. 32) was holding the manor at his death shortly before 1 February 1291–2. (fn. 33) He was succeeded by a son of the same name, whose infant son Edmund inherited Gatton upon his death, c. 1299. (fn. 34) The custody of all Hamon's lands with the exception of Gatton Park was granted in 1301 to the executors of Edmund Earl of Cornwall in part payment of the king's debt to him. (fn. 35) They conveyed it to Sir William Milksop, kt., who sold it to John Northwood. (fn. 36) Edmund de Gatton did not live to enjoy his inheritance, which was divided between his two sisters and co-heirs, Elizabeth wife of William de Dene, and Margaret wife of Simon Northwood, brother or son of John Northwood. (fn. 37) Gatton was evidently assigned to the latter, for her husband was holding the manor in 1327, (fn. 38) and her son Sir Robert Northwood, kt., was holding in 1344, (fn. 39) and was summoned to do homage for it in 1345. (fn. 40) He died in 1360, leaving a son and heir Thomas. (fn. 41) The latter's sisters and co-heirs, Agnes Northwood and Joan wife of John de Levedale, conveyed the manor to Richard, Earl of Arundel and Surrey, in 1364, (fn. 42) and Gatton was among the lands seized by the Crown on the attainder and execution of his son Richard in 1397. (fn. 43) His son Thomas, Earl of Arundel, was restored to his father's lands in 1399, (fn. 44) and so probably to Gatton, although no record mentions his tenure of it. At his death in 1415 his lands were divided among his three sisters and co-heirs, the eldest of whom, Elizabeth, married Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. Her great-grandson, John, Duke of Norfolk, probably granted Gatton about 1446 (fn. 45) to his retainer John Timperley, (fn. 46) who in 1449 had licence to inclose the manor. (fn. 47)
John Timperley conveyed the manor (fn. 48) to feoffees to the use of Roger Copley and his wife Anne and their heirs. (fn. 49) Roger Copley, son of the former Roger and Anne, in May 1537 entailed it on his son Thomas; after his death, which took place in 1548, (fn. 50) his widow Elizabeth nominated the burgesses, and Thomas Copley represented Gatton in 1554, 1557–8, and 1562–3. (fn. 51) Under Queen Mary he was committed to the custody of the Serjeant at Arms for indiscreet words in favour of the Lady Elizabeth in Parliament. (fn. 52) He had scruples about the oath of supremacy, left England without licence in 1569 and became a leader among the English fugitives, was created Baron Copley of Gatton by the King of Spain, and died in Flanders in 1584. (fn. 53) His son and heir William Copley settled the manor on his younger son William in 1615, but the latter died in 1623 in his lifetime, leaving two infant daughters, Mary and Anne. (fn. 54) His estate had been sequestered for his recusancy c. 1611, and an annuity of £160 from it granted to Sir William Lane, who had evidently procured the sequestration. (fn. 55)
Captain Henry Lane, son of Sir William, petitioned for a lease of Gatton Manor in 1630. (fn. 56) Apparently he was unsuccessful, for in 1632 William Copley the elder was pardoned his recusancy and permitted to hold Gatton for twenty-one years for an annual rent to the Crown. (fn. 57) Meanwhile his granddaughters Mary and Anne had been left under the guardianship of Sir Richard Weston, who married them to his two sons John and George, in spite of the protests of their grandfather. (fn. 58) Their estates were again sequestered for their recusancy, c. 1650. (fn. 59) John Weston's moiety was purchased from the Treason Trustees by John Carrill in 1653. (fn. 60) Finally, a partition of the lands of William Copley the younger assigned Gatton to John and Mary Weston, (fn. 61) who joined with John Carrill and others in a sale to Thomas Turgis in 1654. (fn. 62) He died in 1661 (fn. 63) leaving a son Thomas, who in 1669 obtained a release of the manor from Richard Weston. (fn. 64) By his will (fn. 65) dated 1703 he bequeathed it to his kinsman William, eldest son of George Newland of Smithfield. He left it to his brother Dr. George Newland for life, with remainder to the sons of his own daughters in tail male. The estate was sold after his death to James Colebrooke, (fn. 66) who was created baronet in 1759. His two daughters, Mary wife of John Aubrey and Emma wife of Charles, Earl of Tankerville, sold Gatton to their uncle Sir George Colebrooke, bart., from whom it was purchased in 1774 by Sir William Mayne, afterwards Baron Newhaven of Ireland. (fn. 67) It was then successively purchased by a Mr. Percy and a Mr. Graham. (fn. 68) Mary and George Graham sold to Robert Ladbrooke of Portland Place in 1789. (fn. 69) He sold the manor to John Petrie in February 1796, (fn. 70) and it was purchased in 1808 by Mark Wood, later Sir Mark Wood, bart. (fn. 71) After his death it was purchased by trustees for John, fifth Baron Monson. (fn. 72) It was sold in 1888 by the seventh Lord Monson, created Viscount Oxenbridge in 1886, to Mr. J. Colman, since created Sir J. Colman, bart., the present owner.
A house of considerable importance was attached to Gatton Manor in 1220, (fn. 73) and a deer-park existed in 1278. (fn. 74) The custody of the park was entrusted to John Berwick, a clerk of the king, from 1301 onwards during the minority of the heirs of Hamon de Gatton. (fn. 75) The hall was divided between the sisters of Thomas de Northwood in 1362. (fn. 76) Possibly John Timperley wished to enlarge the park in 1449 when he obtained licence to inclose the manor, 360 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow, and land at Merstham, together with a grant of free warren there. (fn. 77) It has already been stated that the Copleys lived for some time at Gatton. Aubrey, writing late in the 17th century, mentions a fine manor-house there, and states that it was built on the site of a former castle; but of this there is no proof. (fn. 78) The house, then known as Gatton Place, was the residence of Dr. George Newland. (fn. 79) The present Gatton Park is a very fine example of the Italian style of house. It seems to have been begun by Sir Mark Wood, owner in 1808, whose predecessor, Mr. Petrie, had pulled down part of the older house. (fn. 80) The house of Sir Mark Wood was a good deal reconstructed, if not quite rebuilt on a grander scale, by Lord Monson, for what are known as Sir Mark Wood's cellars are outside the wall of the present house. Lord Monson, who died in 1841, left it unfinished, and it was completed by his successor. The Marble Hall, entirely lined by Italian marbles, is very fine, and there was a good collection of pictures and statuary.
UPPER GATTON was the property of Samuel Owfield, afterwards Sir Samuel, who represented Gatton in every Parliament from 1623 till his death in 1644. (fn. 81) He acquired the neighbouring manor of Chipstead (q.v.), and Upper Gatton was the seat of the lords of that manor and descended with it till after the death of the Rev. James Tattersall in 1784, when Chipstead was sold to William Jolliffe, and Upper Gatton to Lord Newhaven, owner of Lower Gatton, with which it has remained united. The house of Upper Gatton is surrounded now by a park of 100 acres in the parishes of Gatton and Chipstead. (fn. 82)
The church of ST. ANDREW has a chancel 12 ft. 4 in. deep by 12 ft. wide, nave 48 ft. 6 in. by 40 ft., small north and south transepts, the latter containing the vestry, a north-west porch, and a west tower 8 ft. square. The general appearance is that of an early 19th-century Gothic building, almost every trace of antiquity being absent. There is, however, a piscina in the chancel which seems to be of late 13th-century date, and the east window of the north transept may be of 15th-century date, and a good part of the walling of the nave and chancel is probably ancient. The font at the west end under the tower has a band of good 13th-century foliage below the bowl, though it is otherwise much altered. The most noteworthy part of the building is the woodwork, which was brought together and presented to the church by the late Lord Monson in 1834.
The altar table and pulpit came from Nuremberg. The latter is carved with the Descent from the Cross, in three panels; it projects from a gallery over the vestry in the south transept, from which it is entered, and is finished with a pendant below. On the altar table is another part of the same scene, showing the women at the foot of the cross. The chancel is lined with oak panelling, the framing, cornice, &c. of which are modern, but the panels, for the most part old, of late French Gothic work: there are three ranges of twelve panels on each side, the lowest being plain linen panels, the middle ones also linen panels but of a much more elaborate character, while the top panels have very rich tracery of various designs, containing lilies, crowned Ω's, diaper pattern, passion emblems, &c.; two have AΩ and another IHS.
The nave is seated quirewise: there are three rows of seats on each side, the highest being a set of sixteen stalls backed by panelling and a canopy, and divided by arms carved with cherubs' heads; they are fitted with misericordes carved somewhat plainly in foliage and faces; the second row is divided into three blocks, the two western of which have stalls like those of the back row; and the front row has plain open benches. The panelling behind the stalls, brought from Belgium, has traceried heads of elaborate and delicate character; and the cornice has a moulded top member in which is an inscription in Gothic lettering bearing the date 1515. At the west end of the nave is a screen below the organ gallery; it is divided into five bays, the middle one with a pair of doors; each bay is subdivided into four openings with cinquefoiled heads and tracery.
The front of the organ gallery over is modern, but a high screen rising above it contains some old tracery of the same character as the rest. The north transept is used as a private pew to the hall adjoining, and contains some panelling with 17th-century strapwork carving; and the door of the vestry in the south transept space is made up with some elaborate linen panelling. Beside the altar table there are two chairs in the sanctuary, with carving like that of the surrounding panelling, and the altar rails are carved and traceried; they are said to have been brought from Tongres. The church also possesses some good early 16th-century glass, brought from a religious house at Aerschot near Louvain. There are two bells; the smaller only is rung, and was made by William Eldridge in 1665. The other is used as a clock bell and is hung high up in the wooden spire.
There is a clump of fir-trees in the churchyard screening the church from the hall adjoining. Part of the churchyard was destroyed by Sir George Colebrooke, brother and successor to Sir James Colebrooke, to improve the access to the house, close by which the church stands.
A church at Gatton is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 83) The advowson evidently belonged to Herfrey as lord of the manor, for he granted it to the priory of St. Pancras founded at Lewes by William de Warenne. (fn. 84) The gift was confirmed by the successive lords of Gatton in the 13th century. (fn. 85) In 1291 the church was valued at £10, (fn. 86) and a yearly pension of 30s. was due from it to the priory. (fn. 87)
The advowson apparently remained vested in the prior until the surrender of his house in November 1537, (fn. 88) and in February 1537–8 it was among the late possessions of Lewes granted with the site of the priory to Cromwell. (fn. 89) Nevertheless Michael Denys, who released the manor to Roger Copley in 1518, presented a rector in 1512. (fn. 90) It is clear that he had had a grant of the advowson for one turn only, for the priory presented in 1530. (fn. 91) Cromwell was attainted and executed in July 1540. Lord William Howard possibly had a grant or lease of the advowson, for he presented a rector in February 1550. (fn. 92) In 1551 a new royal grant of the advowson was made to Thomas Bill and his wife Agnes, (fn. 93) who immediately conveyed it to Elizabeth widow of Sir Roger Copley, (fn. 94) and she presented in 1552, (fn. 95) but it was not returned among her possessions at her death. (fn. 96) Thomas Copley presented in 1562, (fn. 97) but in 1571 the queen presented by reason of his recusancy. (fn. 98) In 1581 Michael Harris and his wife Margaret conveyed the advowson to Richard More, (fn. 99) and again in 1596 Michael and Margaret Harris conveyed to Richard More, (fn. 100) but in 1615 the Crown presented by lapse. (fn. 101) The Rev. Nehemiah Rogers, who was himself turned out by the Parliament from St. Botolph's Without Bishopsgate, petitioned for confirmation of his title in the advowson in 1635, stating that he had acquired it by conveyances and assurances in law, possibly from Michael and Margaret Harris. (fn. 102) He presented it to St. John's College, Oxford, at the instance of Archbishop Laud, who reserved to himself the nomination of the incumbent during his lifetime. (fn. 103) Presentation was made under the Great Seal in 1648, (fn. 104) but the college presented a rector in 1666. Thomas Turgis had acquired the advowson before 1668, (fn. 105) and since his time it has remained vested in the successive lords of the manor.