A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Ashtead is a village 2 miles south-west from Epsom, a mile and a half north-east of Letherhead. The parish measures 3 miles from north-west to south-east, and rather under 2 miles from south-west to north-east, and contains 2,645 acres.
The parish lies in the normal way for parishes on the north side of the chalk downs, with one end upon the chalk, the village and church upon the narrow belt of the Woolwich and Thanet beds, and the other extremity reaching on to the London Clay, which rises in Ashtead Common to a height of 270 ft. On the common is a spring of the nature of the Epsom well. Here there is a large extent of open common and wood, but the open fields and open chalk land pastures at the south-eastern part of the parish have been inclosed.
The parish is mainly agricultural, but there are brickfields and special brick and tile manufactories at the Ashtead Brick Works in Barnett Lane. Messrs. Peto & Radford have electrical accumulator works, and Messrs. Cadett & Neall photographic dry-plate and paper works.
The road from Epsom to Letherhead passes through Ashtead, and the joint London and South Western Railway and London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Companies' line has a station at Ashtead opened by the London and South Western Railway Company in 1859.
On the top of Ashtead Common is a camp, or inclosure. Coarse hand-made pottery, calcined flints, and flint flakes occur in and near it. Round the church is a well-defined rectangular inclosure. In 1830, when the church was restored, a considerable number of Roman tiles and part of a hypocaust were found in the inclosure, with fragments of tile ornamented with a raised pattern, and in one case figures of animals. The last is figured by Brayley. (fn. 1) The trackway or road across the downs, described under Mickleham, is about half a mile to the north-east. The rectangular inclosure, with these Roman remains, is worth comparison with the rectangular inclosure at Pachevesham described under Letherhead. The fields immediately outside it are called the Upper and the Lower Bury Fields.
Samuel Pepys records in his diary a visit to Ashtead, his 'old place of delight,' where he was obliged to stay owing to Epsom being too full to accommodate any more visitors. He found a lodging with a Farmer Page in a little room in which he could not stand upright. The house of a cousin of his, who had formerly lived in Ashtead, was then occupied by Mr. Rouse, called the Queen's Tailor.
In a map of the late 18th century, (fn. 2) Ashtead Common Field is marked south of the church and southeast of the village. It was inclosed before the Tithe Commutation of 1836, but no Act or Award is known.
Near the station is an extensive recreation ground, which is a favourite resort of schools and other parties from London during six months of the year. There is an institute and a working-men's club in the village.
In 1725 Mr. David White, who had been a bricklayer of Ewell, left South Sea Annuities for the education of 8 poor children. A school was then started, the first in the parish. (fn. 3) The present school was built in 1853, at the cost of the Hon. Mrs. Howard, and enlarged in 1861, 1895, and 1900. Another school was built in 1906. They are both under the County Council.
A manor of ASHTEAD is mentioned in Domesday: it had been held by Turgis of Earl Harold, and after the Conquest it became the property of the Bishop of Bayeux, who granted it to his canons of Bayeux. (fn. 4)
If this was the manor of Great Ashtead, the canons must have lost it before the end of the 13th century, (fn. 5) for it is then found as part of the honour of Reigate, being held of the Earls of Surrey in socage by the service of 1 mark. (fn. 6) It so continued for a century, (fn. 7) until in 1397 Richard Earl of Surrey and Arundel, grandson of Edmund Earl of Arundel (who married Alice heiress of the Warennes Earls of Surrey), was attainted and beheaded, (fn. 8) and his estates passed to the Crown. (fn. 9) Thomas son of the Earl of Arundel was restored to the title, but dying in 1415 without issue, his Warenne estates passed to his sisters and co-heirs. One of these, Elizabeth, had married Thomas Mowbray, created first Duke of Norfolk. Ashtead ultimately remained with the Mowbray family, until John fourth Earl of Norfolk dying (1475) without male issue, his estates passed to his only daughter Anne: she died childless in 1481, and her co-heirs were the representatives of her two greataunts, the daughters of Thomas Mowbray, first Duke of Norfolk, and Elizabeth Arundel. (fn. 10) The estates were divided, and the chief rent payable by the manor of Ashtead came to the Howards, Dukes of Norfolk. (fn. 11) Thomas the eighth Duke of Norfolk was attainted in 1546, and although he was restored on the accession of Queen Mary, his moiety of the honour was retained by the Crown, and after this the manor was held of the Crown in chief.
At the beginning of the 13th century the manor was held in sub-fee by Henry de Mara, who, dying before 1260, left a daughter or granddaughter Matilda. (fn. 12) In 1260 Peter son of Peter de Montfort forcibly took possession, ejecting Walter de la Hyde and his wife Joan from a moiety of the same, which Walter and Joan held by virtue of the wardship of Matilda. Possibly Peter the younger was already at this date the husband of Matilda. (fn. 13) In 1286 Peter settled the manor on his son John and the heirs of John by his wife Alice de la Plaunche (fn. 14): this John obtained a grant of free warren in 1292. (fn. 15) He leased the manor to his brother William, and died in 1296, before the lease had expired, so that at his death the manor was in the hands of Robert Winchelsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the co-executors of William's wil. (fn. 16) His son John was five years old when he succeeded to the property: he joined in the murder of Piers de Gaveston, but was pardoned and summoned to Parliament, 1313. (fn. 17) The following year he was killed at Bannockburn, and, leaving no issue, was succeeded by his brother Peter, who was in holy orders, but who obtained a dispensation, and was knighted. (fn. 18) Peter's only son Guy married Margaret daughter of Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, (fn. 19) a marriage arranged to put an end to many suits which were constantly taking place between the two families, who were related, and whose estates in many places adjoined. (fn. 20) Peter settled the manor of Ashtead on Guy and Margaret in tail, with reversion to the Earl of Warwick. Guy died before his father, and his widow took the veil at Shouldham, co. Norfolk, (fn. 21) upon which the earl entered into possession, and obtained in 1352 a grant of free warren. (fn. 22) He died in 1369, and his son Thomas Beauchamp conveyed the estates to Sir Baldwin Freville and Sir Thomas Boteler, heirs of Peter de Montfort. (fn. 23) Freville was son of Peter's sister Elizabeth, who had married Sir Baldwin Freville, and Sir Thomas Boteler was husband of Joan granddaughter of Maud, the other sister, who had married Bartholomew de Sudeley. (fn. 24) These two made a partition of the Montfort estates, and the manor of Ashtead fell to the share of Sir Baldwin Freville (1382). (fn. 25) He was twice married, and left a son, who died in 1400, leaving a son (fn. 26) (two years old) and three daughters. The son died a minor and without issue, and the Freville estates were divided among the daughters, (fn. 27) Ashtead remaining ultimately with Joyce wife of Sir Roger Aston. (fn. 28) Their son Robert held a court as lord of the manor in 1442, (fn. 29) and died seised of the manor 1464–5 (fn. 30); he was succeeded by his son John, who died in 1483, (fn. 31) and whose son, John Aston, (fn. 32) was made a Knight of the Bath on the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales, 1501. (fn. 33) He died in 1522, leaving a son and heir Edward, (fn. 34) who granted the site of the manor to Thomas Frank and his wife Agnes for their lives, for a yearly payment of 23 marks: in this grant mention is made of the commons and warrens as belonging to the site. (fn. 35) In 1543 Aston granted to the king in exchange for other lands the manor of Ashtead: he discharged the king of all rents except 13s. 4d. yearly payable to the Duke of Norfolk as chief lord. (fn. 36)
The following year the king granted the reversion of the manor for 21 years after the death of Thomas Frank and his wife to William Tanner of Nonsuch, rendering yearly £15 9s. 4d. (fn. 37) In the same year the manor was augmented by the purchase of lands in Ashtead from Nicholas Leigh, 'the king's servant.' (fn. 38)
Philip and Mary (1556) granted to Anne widow of Edward, Duke of Somerset, in full satisfaction of her dower, the reversion of the site of the manor, and also the manor itself, which by an error is described as 'parcel of the lands and possessions lately purchased of the Abbot of Bermondsey.' (fn. 39) In 1563 Elizabeth granted to Henry, Earl of Arundel, for the sum of £725 8s., the reversion of the site and manor to hold by the service of one-fortieth of a knight's fee. (fn. 40) His son died before him, without issue, and he divided his estates between his two daughters—Joan wife of John. Lord Lumley, and Mary wife of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. He settled Ashtead on himself, with remainder to the Duke of Norfolk, (fn. 41) but the duke being attainted and beheaded in 1572 (fn. 42) the remainder escheated to the Crown. Philip, Earl of Arundel, son of the duke, prayed the queen to grant him the remainder that he might sell the manor to pay his debts; (fn. 43) she granted the site and demesne lands to William Dixe in trust for him, (fn. 44) and in 1582 Philip conveyed these to Lord Henry Seymour, second son of Edward, Duke of Somerset, for £1,390. (fn. 45) He sold them to John Ballett, (fn. 46) who, according to the plea of Edward Darcy in a suit which took place in 1601, conveyed them in 1593 to Edward Darcy and his wife Elizabeth. (fn. 47)
In 1601 Henry Newdigate laid claim to the site and demesnes of the manor on the ground that Philip, late Earl of Arundel, and William Dixe had sold them to Francis Newdigate, second husband of the late Duchess of Somerset. Francis dying without issue was succeeded by his nephew John; this John conveyed the premises to his son Henry, the plaintiff, and his heirs after him. He affirmed that the deed of conveyance had come into the hands of Edward Darcy, who took possession of the premises; (fn. 48) Edward Darcy evidently proved his title, for he still had the site of the manor in 1605. (fn. 49) In 1639 it was in the possession of Christopher Fitzgerald and his wife Mary, who in that year conveyed it to Henry, Lord Maltravers. (fn. 50)
Meanwhile the queen in 1595 granted the manor to Elizabeth Darcy and her sons Robert and Christopher for their lives, (fn. 51) but James I soon after his accession restored Thomas son of the attainted Philip, Earl of Arundel, to his blood and the title of Earl of Arundel and Surrey, (fn. 52) and granted the manor to him, (fn. 53) and he probably acquired the site and demesne lands. His mother and he exhibited their bill in Chancery against Richard Turner, Augustine Otway, and others, tenants of the manor, to ascertain the customs depending upon view of the Court Rolls of the manor of Ashtead; (fn. 54) the matter was referred to the Attorney-General Coventry, who settled it as follows:—
1. That the copyholders' estates should be reduced to be estates of inheritance in fee simple, and that in regard thereof the lord of the manor should have two years' value of the copyhold tenements according to a moderate valuation.
4. That copyholders might take timber upon their customary tenements (except the coppices of which the lords used to have the woods) for reparation of their houses, and for ploughbote, firebote, and other botes incident by law and custom, without assignment by the lord's officers, as long as they committed no waste or needless consumption of the timber and woods growing upon their lands.
This opinion was, by the consent of all parties, ratified and confirmed on 20 November 1622 by John, Lord Bishop of Lincoln, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, and by a decree in Chancery the defendants and their heirs and assigns were bound to carry out the decision. (fn. 55)
Thomas, who in 1644 was created Earl of Norfolk, was succeeded by his son Henry whose son Thomas (1652) settled the manor on Henry, Earl of Kingston, and others in trust for his wife. (fn. 56) Charles II restored this Thomas to the title of Duke of Norfolk; he died unmarried (1677), and was succeeded by his brother Henry. (fn. 57) In 1679 a bill was brought before the House of Lords for vesting this manor among other of his estates in trustees for the payment of certain mortgages and debts, with power to sell for that purpose. The bill appears to have dropped; (fn. 58) but in 1680 the duke sold Ashtead Manor to Sir Robert Howard, kt., (fn. 59) son of the first Earl of Berkshire, who the following year received licence to inclose a common-way leading from Epsom to Ashtead, and to hold the same so inclosed to himself and heirs on condition that he provided a similar road elsewhere or on his own land. (fn. 60) Sir Robert immediately built a new house, which Evelyn visited in 1684. (fn. 61) His only son and heir died in 1701, leaving the manor to his widow Diana, daughter of the Earl of Bradford; she married William Fielding, and after the death of the son of her first marriage, Thomas Howard, restored the manor, with the site, free fishery, and free warren, to the Howard family, settling it on Henry Bowes, Earl of Berkshire, (fn. 62) with remainder to his fifth son, Thomas Howard, in tail male. This Thomas, who eventually succeeded to the earldom of Berkshire, left no son, and the manor of Ashtead passed to the daughter of an elder brother; she married (1783) Richard Bagot, who assumed the name of Howard and held Ashtead in right of his wife. He rebuilt the manor-house almost completely in 1790. Their only daughter and heir married the Hon. Colonel Fulk Greville Upton, who also took the name of Howard. (fn. 63) She survived till 1877. The manor then passed to her cousin, Lieut.-Colonel Ponsonby Bagot. He sold it in 1880 to Mr., afterwards Sir Thomas, Lucas, who sold it in 1889 to Mr. Pantia Ralli, the present lord of the manor.
A park was inclosed before 1650, when it was included in a conveyance of the manor. (fn. 64) It is mentioned also in a settlement of 1693. (fn. 65) In a survey of Great Ashtead (fn. 66) of the reign of Edward VI it is mentioned that the farmers of the site of the manor rendered the equivalent of 12 couple of rabbits and 12 pairs of pigeons, probably in respect of the warren of Ashtead.
LITTLE ASHTEAD, or PRIOR'S FARM
LITTLE ASHTEAD, or PRIOR'S FARM, a reputed manor, was in the possession of the Prior and canons of Merton before 1291, as in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas they were rated 13s. 4d. in respect of it. (fn. 69) In the 14th century reference is found to the Prior of Merton's lands and tenements in Ashtead. (fn. 70) The Commissioners of Henry VIII valued the farm at £6 per annum. (fn. 71) At the dissolution of the monastery in 1538 it passed to the Crown, (fn. 72) and Queen Mary gave it to Anne Duchess of Somerset for life. (fn. 73)
In 1578 Elizabeth granted it to Robert Newdigate and Arthur Fountain, (fn. 74) who afterwards conveyed it to Francis Newdigate, husband of the late Duchess of Somerset. He died without issue, having devised it to Henry grandson of his eldest brother. Henry granted the manor to George Cole (1604), (fn. 75) who is mentioned as holding it of the king as of his manor of East Greenwich, and leaving it by will to his second son Thomas. (fn. 76) In 1650 Thomas conveyed it to John Wall in trust for Peter Evans, (fn. 77) who died 1661, leaving a son and heir Peter. This Peter conveyed the estate to Leonard Wessell, (fn. 78) and it was sold by him to Robert Knightley (afterwards knighted), whose grandson John (1713) suffered a recovery of the manor, and probably sold it to Aquila Wyke, (fn. 79) who settled it on his daughter on her marriage with Charles Brown; she died childless, and it descended to Aquila Dackambe as heir-at-law of Aquila Wyke. His grandson of the same name held it. It is now part of the Ashtead Park estate.
There was a customary messuage in Ashtead called 'le Howse' alias Talworth, and also a tenement called 'Dicks,' which were the subject of a lawsuit in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 80)
The church of ST. GILES has a chancel 29 ft. 3 in. by 13 ft. 4 in. inside, north vestry, north chapel (now organchamber); nave, 53 ft. 2 in. by 18 ft. 9 in.; north transept, 34 ft. 2 in. deep by 15 ft. 10 in. wide, and a short aisle, 17 ft. 9 in. wide, connecting it with the organ-chamber; south porch, and west tower 11 ft. 5 in. by 10 ft. 3 in.
A number of Roman bricks mixed with the flint and stone of the south wall of the nave, and a window on the north side with Roman bricks in the head (as at Fetcham), removed in 1862, suggest an early origin for the building, and there is a slight change in the walling west of the south doorway and porch, pointing to the lengthening of the nave before the tower was added. The chancel is not set square with the nave, but bends southward, and was probably rebuilt in the 13th century, a lancet window formerly in its walls having been removed, it is said, to the modern vestry.
The arch in the north wall of the chancel appears to be old, and probably opened into a 15th-century chapel; but Cracklow's plan (1829) shows the church as consisting only of chancel, nave, north porch, and west tower, the last having been built in the early part of the 16th century. The north transept dates from 1862, and in 1891 a general restoration took place, when the vestry was added, and all the windows which had not previously been modernized were replaced by new work.
The chancel has an east window of three trefoiled lights under a pointed segmental arch, a south-east window of two trefoiled lights, and a square-headed south-west window of three cinquefoiled lights, all the tracery being modern. The chancel arch is also modern, with square jambs and a pointed twochamfered arch, and the axial line of the chancel is to the south of that of the nave and also deflects to the south.
The nave retains no ancient features beyond the south wall already mentioned, and the south doorway, which is of the 15th century, with moulded jambs and two-centred arch. The jambs inside retain the old draw-bar holes.
The tower is of three stages, and is coated with cement; its two western angle-buttresses and the south-east stair-turret are of brick; the west doorway is of two hollow-chamfered orders, and has a threecentred arch in a square head with a modern label; the door is also old, and has vertical ribs studded with square-headed nails. The window over it is a modern one of three plain lights under a square head, and in the second stage are two modern lancets piercing the west wall. The third stage is lighted on each side by similar lancets, and the parapet is of flint and stone, and is embattled.
The cedarwood of the roofs came from Woodcote Park, and the design is intended to reproduce 15th-century work; the chancel has arched and foiled trusses and a panelled ceiling with moulded ribs and carved bosses. The nave has traceried trusses with angels at the wall-plates, and is likewise panelled, and the transept has a similar roof; the faint aromatic smell of the wood is exceedingly pleasant.
The 18th-century altar-table was brought from Woodcote Hall, and has shaped, curved legs, and the octagonal font is of the 15th century, with quatrefoiled panels on the bowl inclosing roses and shields; on the chamfer beneath are carved faces and shields alternately; the stem is also panelled and the base moulded, and over it is a tall, modern oak canopy.
The glass in the east window of the chancel comes from Herck near Maestricht, and appears to date from c. 1550; the main subject is the Crucifixion, with the figures of St. Mary and St. John; at the foot are panels with (1) St. George and the Dragon, (2) St Anne, the Virgin and Child, (3) an abbess kneeling, behind her a Cistercian abbot with a small dog by his side; and a shield charged quarterly (1) sable (?) a lion gules; (2) quarterly 1 and 4 argent a lion sable, 2 sable a lion or, 3 barry of six, over all a lion sable; (3) gules five fusils in fesse argent; (4) gules ten bezants, in dexter chief a canton argent with two embattled bars sable.
There are several 18th-century and later gravestones. On the north wall of the chancel is a brass plate to Dorothy wife of Robert Quennell, 'Pastor of this church,' 1640; and there are other monuments to Henry Newdigate, second son of John Newdigate of Harefield, Middlesex, 1629; William Duncomb, rector, 1698–9, and Philadelphia his wife, 1724–5; Lady Diana Fielding, daughter of the Earl of Bradford, 1733, and others.
None of the pieces of the Communion plate are of great age, the earliest being a standing paten of 1710; there are also a cup of 1847, a flagon of 1889, an almsdish of 1847, and a Victorian stand-paten with an illegible hallmark.
The first book of the registers contains baptisms from 1662 to 1698, and marriages and burials, 1662 to 1699; the second book has baptisms 1699 to 1784, marriages 1691 to 1754, and burials 1699 to 1783; the third contains the printed forms of marriages from 1754 to 1812; and the fourth continues the baptisms and burials from 1782 to 1812.
The church of Ashtead is mentioned in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas, where it is valued at £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 81) The advowson of the church belonged to the lord of the manor. From 1302, and probably before then, a vicar was presented by the rector, whose benefice in 1331 was endowed by the bishop with the small tithes. The last institution of a vicar appears to have taken place in 1482. (fn. 82) In 1291 the tithes were held by the executors of the will of William de Montfort, (fn. 83) to whom John de Montfort, his nephew and lord of the manor, had leased the manor of Ashtead. (fn. 84)
In 1543 Sir Edward Aston conveyed to the king the advowson of the church with the manor, (fn. 85) and in the various grants of the manor in this and the three following reigns the Crown always reserved the advowson; (fn. 86) but when James I granted to Thomas Earl of Arundel the manor of Ashtead he must have included the advowson, for the earl held it in 1624. (fn. 87)
In 1619 Peter Quennell presented and again in 1647, (fn. 88) the lord of the manor having the alternate presentation in 1639. (fn. 89) The MSS. of the House of Lords contain an application for an order for William King to be instituted and inducted to the rectory of Ashtead in 1647. (fn. 90) He was a Puritan minister ejected for nonconformity in 1662, (fn. 91) when Elkanah Downes was presented to the living by — Downes, merchant. (fn. 92) He died in 1683, and the next presentation was by Sir Robert Howard, kt., who had bought the advowson from Henry Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 93)
For nearly a century more it remained with the Howard family, as lords of the manor. In 1782 and 1826 the bishop presented, and in 1822 the Hon. F. Grenville. (fn. 94) The living is now in the gift of the Rev. F. G. L. Lucas, the present incumbent.
King Edward VI granted to Sir Anthony Archer one acre of land called 'Cotton Acre' in the common field, formerly applied to maintaining a lamp in Ashtead Church. (fn. 95)
There was in the parish church a perpetual chantry of the value of 5 marks. (fn. 96) This was evidently the chantry established in 1261, when the Prior of Newark undertook to maintain three chaplains in the 'chapel of Estede,' to pray for the soul of Henry de Mara, his ancestors and heirs. (fn. 97) The keeping up of the chantry was the occasion for continual litigation, which went on from 1364 till 1493, between the heirs of De Mara and successive Priors of Newark. The dispute began on account of the original endowment of a sum of 250 marks, which presumably the Prior of Newark spent, so that the endowment for chaplains was not forthcoming. (fn. 98) It would seem that before 1364 there had been continual irregularity in providing chantry priests, for Bishop Edington had to ordain two in 1346 and two in 1347, which looks as if his predecessor had neglected to fill up vacancies. (fn. 99) In 1493 the complainants, John Aston and others, obtained a writ compelling the prior to provide an endowment. (fn. 100) No chantry, however, seems to have existed in Ashtead Church at the time of the suppression of the chantries. (fn. 101)