A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
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The parish of Fernhurst consists of a main block, lying north of Easebourne, and two prolongations, projecting north and north-west on either side of Linchmere, the eastern of the two reaching the Surrey boundary just south of Haslemere and the western the Hampshire boundary below Bramshott. It was bounded by Hampshire also on the east, as the adjacent parish of North Ambersham was an outlying member of the parish of Steep in Hampshire; being, however, entirely surrounded by Sussex, the Ambershams were taken into this county (fn. 1) and North Ambersham has been united to Fernhurst since 1913. (fn. 2) An outlier of Woolavington parish, being part of Woolavington Common inclosed in 1815, lay near the village of Fernhurst and was annexed to this parish in 1869, as was a strip along the border of Linchmere in 1879. (fn. 3)
A large proportion of the parish is woodland, which during the 17th and 18th centuries furnished fuel for the ironworks. (fn. 4) Of these one is said to have been at Surney Hatch, on the northern edge of Verdley Wood and close to the winding stream which flows across the parish and may be identified with the 'woburnan' named in a charter of 973. (fn. 5) The second and more important was at North Park, on the borders of Fernhurst and Linchmere, where there are still remains of the stonework of sluices, and the works are commemorated by the names of Furnace Pond, Furnace Wood, and Minepits Wood. This was mentioned in 1664 as 'ruined' and apparently remained so for a century, as when John Butler revived the ironworks for casting cannon during the American and French wars of 1762–83 he had to import workmen from elsewhere. (fn. 6) These works closed in 1776 (fn. 7) and the others in 1790. (fn. 8) It is probable that the district known as 'The Cylinders' was the site of a manufacture of charcoal for gunpowder similar to that established farther east at North Chapel about 1800. (fn. 9)
The Cylinders lies on Friday Hill, on the main road from Midhurst to Haslemere. This road, which seems to have been constructed about 1765, (fn. 10) formerly came straight up Henley Hill, where its surface is paved with slabs of stone, (fn. 11) but about 1820 it was diverted to avoid the very steep gradient. Friday Hill leads to High Marley and Marley Common, which is held by the National Trust, and in this northern part of the parish there has been much building in recent years, so that the population, which was 919 in 1901, had risen in 1931 to 1,534.
Moses Hill Farm lies north of the village, and is reached from Kingsley Green. It is a disguised hallhouse of the 15th century, of four bays, the two central originally forming a hall open to the roof. The south bay, and possibly the north, was two-storied from the first. About 1600 a floor was inserted in the hall and a central stack with wide fire-places in chamfered brick. That in the sitting-room still retains its fourcentred head and seats. There is another in the room above. The exterior has been greatly modernized in the 19th and early 20th centuries when wings were added to the east. There had already been an addition in the 17th century: a western outshot, containing some timber-framing, has a door with latch and strap-hinge of that period. (fn. 12)
Inside cambered beams and braces are visible, some of great thickness. Between the south bays the partition has a double set of curved struts to the central post, and a beam 1 ft. 3 in. thick. (fn. 13) The corresponding north partition shows curved struts from tie to king-post and wide braces below. There are carpenter's marks on the timbers. The central stack has destroyed evidence of the original main truss except for a curved brace 1 ft. 8 in. wide on the west. (fn. 14) Stop-chamfered beams are exposed; old timber sills remain to the two-light windows on each floor of the south bay, and there is a blocked window in the northern at ground-floor level. A fragment of Jacobean panelling is re-used in a modern fire-place. There is a cellar under the northern central bay.
North of the house is a 17th-century barn of four bays, weather-boarded, with some tile-hanging, braced posts, and curved queen-post struts. East of it is a contemporary farm building of similar construction, converted into a studio by the late artist occupier, Mr. Meteyard.
Timberscombe lies farther south-east, off the west side of the road from Haslemere. It is of T-shaped plan with the cross-wing at the south-west end. The latter is timber-framed in wide panels and dates from c. 1600; it may be an addition to an earlier north-east block. This is now altered by later work, but in its north-east wall (concealed by a modern lean-to) there are large stones, probably from Shulbrede, and a cambered beam above. The central stack with coursed cap was inserted when the cross-wing was built, and the entrance is in line with it on the south-east side. The old strap-hinged door remains; and opposite in the stack is a wooden opening. The cross-wing contains two floors and attics. The south-east end is gabled, with all the timber-framing exposed; much of the brick-filling is old, some laid in herring-bone pattern. The south-west side is tile-hung over stone with brick dressings. The north-west end has tile-hanging in the gable with timber-framing and modern brick below; some stone filling replaces original wattle-anddaub. There is an 18th-century annexe to the northwest, joining up to a 17th-century farm building, now transformed into a recreation room. The south-west wing is of three bays, but has been subdivided. Some of the ground-floor partitions, however, are old; stopchamfered beams are exposed on both floors, and one in the ground-floor room of the north-east block. There are oak floors with wide baulks in both parts. South of Timberscombe is a disguised 17th-century cottage of three bays with central stack and later additions. A cambered beam and stop-chamfered joists are exposed internally.
Verdley Castle (fn. 15) is completely gone. Verdley Place is modern, but its home farm Oeborne dates from the 17th century. It is three bays long with a central stack, outshot to the east, and modern additions on the north side. The walls are timber-framed, with stone filling in wide panels and tile-hanging above. At the west end is a filleted-roll-moulded four-light window; and the recessed chimney is old, with cap and base courses. Stop-chamfered ceiling-beams are exposed internally, and flanking the stack at ground level is a small recess. An ogee-moulded cornice remains to a fire-place above. The chief feature is a twin-branched staircase with slender flame-topped newels and rollmoulded rail; this dates from the middle of the 17th century.
Bridgelands, on the same estate, is of four bays with a central stack. It may have been a hall-house, but is very much altered. Some 17th-century features remain, however. On the west front there is a chamfered plinth and a string-course with hollow under-side. The plinth turns down to form the sill of a chamfered two-light to the cellar, now filled in through the lowering of the ground floor. Another chamfered window remains at the south end, and two others on the east side, at higher levels.
The wide fire-place has internal cupboards, and above the upstairs fire-place is a small cupboard with butterfly hinges. Most of the ceiling-beams are cased, and one of the rooms has panelling of 18th-century type. Here again the staircase provides the greatest interest; it dates from the late 17th century, and has ball-topped stop-chamfered newels, ogee-moulded rail, and twisted balusters; the treads are renewed. It seems to belong to the period indicated by a stone inscribed T. M. 1695 reset in the modern porch, and apparently transferred from the wall behind. It may be that the whole frontage is of this period; the entrance doorway having a square chamfered head and not the earlier four-centred type.
Upperfold lies in the east of the parish, south of the Lurgashall road. It dates from the 16th and 17th centuries but has been very much restored. Original features include timber-framing in square and oblong panels, a moulded bressumer to the transverse gable, several external stacks (repaired) and one central, and brick fire-places with four-centred heads. There is a panelled overmantel with applied reel mouldings, dating from the first half of the 17th century, and a window on the east has a scroll catch of a somewhat later period.
North Park Farm is remotely situated at the end of a lane off the west side of the Midhurst road. It is stonebuilt, four bays long, with mullioned windows, which might be considered of 16th-century type, but the wall in which they are built has a chamfered plinth turning down on either side of the contemporary entrance. This has four-centred head almost rounded, thus rather late, and is in line and of one plan with the central stack, which cannot be earlier than c. 1600. The richly carved stop-chamfers of the ceiling-beams are similar to the details of the staircase turret, also in line with the stack, and apparently of one design. From existing evidence, therefore, it is difficult to place the house earlier than the 17th century, and the developed character of the mouldings suggests that the post dated 1664 in the hall may refer to most of the old work now visible.
Many of the chamfered windows remain. The west front shows a four-light on either floor of the north bay, and a five-light to the larger room (or hall) south of the entrance. The door is of 17th-century date, nailstudded, and bar and bar-hole remain. There is a modern door-hood, and above a blocked light. Another old window is concealed under the re-tiling of a gabled dormer of 17th-century type. There is more tilehanging at the ends of the building, and at the north original three-light windows remain to each floor. There is a cellar under the south end, and one-light and two-light windows to it show here below the plinth; unlike others they have hollow chamfers. On the east side a later outshot aisle lies beyond two tile-hung gables and stair turret. There is a small moulded two-light window to the stair, and near the south end of the main block a four-light in wood, partly blocked, with roll and hollow mouldings.
The ceiling-beams have elaborate ogee-moulded stops. In the central room (two bays in length) a carved post supports the end of the north-south beam. It is inscribed 1664 J. P. T. H. The room above is now partitioned along a central beam lying east-west. In the end bays the main beam runs north-south. The south bay is divided off on each floor by an old timberframed partition in wide panels, while the north bay is separated by the stack.
The hall fire-place is wide, with chimney-seats, and in the flank of its east jamb facing the stair is a small brick arch. In the room above the old brick jambs and roll-moulded cornice can be seen beyond a modern grate, but the north fire-place backing it shows a four-centred head as well as the moulded cornice. There is a 17th-century door with strap-hinges.
The fine 17th-century staircase is of short dog-leg type, housed in a turret east of the stack. The supporting beam and string are elaborately moulded with ogee, fillet, and cavetto. There is a wave-moulded rail, facetted terminals, and stop-chamfers on newels and balusters resembling those on some of the ceiling-beams.
Dawes Farm stands at a bend on the east side of the Midhurst road. It is a disguised hall-house dating from the 16th century, and consisting of four bays, of which the central formed a hall open to the roof, with a two-storied block, possibly jettied, at either end. In the late 16th or early 17th century the hall was divided by a floor, and the north front rebuilt, flush probably with the jetties. The central stack was inserted, somewhat later, as the ground-floor beam arrangement does not make proper provision for this. (fn. 16)
The north front, c. 1600, is of stone with a chamfered plinth turning down to allow for the contemporary doorway, with chamfered four-centred head, set in a slight projection and with an old chamfered light above. The ground-floor windows retain square brick labels with out-turned ends; the window east of the doorway is original, with three hollow-chamfered lights, and there is a leaf-and-scroll catch to a later 17th-century window in the west bay. The west end is of stone with a chamfered plinth on a higher level than that of the front. The south side was probably rebuilt in the 18th century or later, certainly the brick dressings are modern and there is no plinth. Original timberframing, however, shows in the east end; the groundlevel is of stone with brick quoins, but above great braces and posts are visible, under a gable-hipped roof similar to that at the west end.
The chimney-stack is recessed, with overhanging courses. The sitting-room fire-place (to the west) has a flat four-centred head set in a square frame with spandrels; the jambs have roll-and-ogee mouldings; the chimney-seats remain. The kitchen fire-place has a plainer four-centred head. Original cambered beams and curved braces can be seen upstairs; and stopchamfered beams and joists of the second period are visible below. Much of the oak flooring remains; and some wattle-and-daub in the west bay. In one of the central bays a moulded beam, set at an angle, runs along the internal north wall at eaves level. Near the entrance is a 17th-century staircase with square stopchamfered newel and turned finial.
The manor of FERNHURST seems always to have been small and unimportant. It is first mentioned in 1440, when it was among the manors dealt with under the will of John de Bohun. (fn. 17) It descended for some time in this family (fn. 18) but by the end of the 16th century seems to have been acquired by one of the Lewkenors, as their co-heirs were dealing with it in 1617. (fn. 19) Under the division made between these co-heirs Fernhurst passed to the family of Mill, in which it descended (fn. 20) with Didling (q.v.) until 1791, when Sir Charles Mill sold his West Sussex manors to Lord Robert Spencer, (fn. 21) who is named as lord of the Manor of Fernhurst in 1792. (fn. 22) He sold the manor, with other estates, to Lord Leconfield.
The manor of VERDLEY presumably belonged to the Dawtreys, as in 1317 it was settled on Eve (Dawtrey) and Edward St. John, her (third) husband, and her heirs. (fn. 23) At her death in 1354 it passed to John de Shelvestrode, her son by her first husband Roger de Shelvestrode. (fn. 24) His son Sir Roger made a conveyance of the manor, evidently for a settlement, in 1360, (fn. 25) and it passed by the marriage of Joan, daughter and heir of John de Shelvestrode, to John Aske, of Yorkshire, who died in 1397. (fn. 26) In this family it descended for 150 years, Sir Robert Aske dying seised thereof in 1531. (fn. 27) His son John conveyed his Sussex manors, including Verdley, to Henry VIII in 1542, (fn. 28) and in 1549 it was given by Edward VI to Sir Anthony Browne. (fn. 29) From this time it descended with Cowdray (q.v.). The Park of Verdley is mentioned in connexion with the grants in 1542 and 1547 and is shown as impaled, on the maps of Saxton (1575) and Speed (1616).
Several religious houses held land in the parish. Jocelin of Louvain, lord of Petworth, at the end of the 12th century gave lands here to the abbey of Reading, which formed part of their manor of Diddlesfold in Lurgashall. (fn. 30) About the same time Ralf Saunzaver gave to Durford Abbey the land of La Rude in Fernhurst, belonging to his manor of Buddington. (fn. 31) This was perhaps included in the grant of 1248 by which the abbey gave Stanley in Fernhurst to Shulbrede Priory in exchange for land in Harting, (fn. 32) as Kingsrode, late of Shulbrede, was granted by Edward VI to Sir Ralph Sadleir, who conveyed it to John Smyth of Godalming, clothier, in 1551. (fn. 33) Other land in La Rude was given to Boxgrove Priory by John de St. George; (fn. 34) it was leased by the priory in about 1220 to Herbert de Mershurst at 2s. 6d., (fn. 35) and at the Dissolution Boxgrove still received 2s. 6d. in rent from Fernhurst. (fn. 36) Moses Hill Farm belonged to the Knights Hospitallers, (fn. 37) but how they acquired it is not known. The nuns of Easebourne Priory, who held the tithes of Fernhurst, had some estates here, including Van Lands, which at the Dissolution passed to the Earl of Southampton. (fn. 38)
The manor of AMBERSHAM was, as noted above, an outlying portion of the Hampshire parish of Steep, under which its history has been traced in V.C.H. Hampshire. (fn. 39) From early in the 12th century until 1500 it was held by the family of Taillard. It was then sold to John Onley, and in 1537 Thomas Onley sold it to Lady Katherine Arundel, who sold it in 1541 to William Yonge of Petworth. By the marriage of Alice, sister of Anthony Yonge, it passed to Thomas Bonham, from whom it was bought in 1700 by Anthony Capron of Easebourne, whose namesake sold it about the end of the 18th century to William Stephen Poyntz. It thus became part of the Cowdray estate, with which it has descended.
The church of ST. MARGARET (fn. 40) stands in the middle of the village, east of the crossroads. It consists of chancel with south vestry, nave, south aisle and porch, and tower west of the aisle. The ancient walls are of rubble plastered, the modern of sandstone ashlar, the roofs are tiled.
To a chancel and nave of the 12th century were added a rather massive timber bell-cote and a very ample south porch, much like that at Lurgashall, both now destroyed. (fn. 41) The present aisle was built in 1859 and the tower and vestry in 1881. (fn. 42)
The east wall of the chancel (wholly modern) has two shallow buttresses to the east and a two-light window with traceried head in 14th-century style. In the north wall is one small round-arched window of the 12th century having no provision for glazing. The south wall, on which the vestry now abuts, is blank, but probably still contains the 13th-century windows, a double lancet to the east and a single to the west, shown in Grimm's drawing. The chancel arch is pointed, of two chamfered orders with hood-mould; the responds are square with attached shafts resting on corbels, all modern in 13th-century style. The roof has one truss with a moulded tie-beam resting on moulded plates, a king-post, two curved braces, and a collar purlin, ancient but much restored; the roof is ceiled with plaster in waggon form.
At the north-east corner of the nave is a modern buttress. The south arcade of four bays is modern, having pointed arches of two orders and cylindrical piers with moulded capitals and bases and square abaci, in a nondescript Gothic style; the responds have the form of half-piers. In the north wall are two two-light windows with pointed trefoil heads, perhaps originally late-13th-century, but now almost entirely modern. West of these are a shallow 12th-century buttress, and a modern one immediately under a 12th-century window like that in the chancel; the wall west of this is modern. In the west wall is a doorway with pointed arch of two moulded orders; (fn. 43) over this are two single-light trefoil-headed windows, over them a quatrefoiled opening, all modern. There are five roof trusses, the second and third have ancient tie-beams and curved braces, the first, fourth, and fifth have hammerbeams, and are entirely modern; the roof is ceiled in plaster in waggon form.
The south aisle (1859) has a doorway to the vestry in the east wall and a diagonal buttress at the northeast corner. In the south wall are three one-light windows with pointed trefoil heads. West of these is the south doorway of two orders, the outer moulded, in 13th-century style. Outside this is a wooden porch resting on a stone base. In the west wall of the aisle is a segmental-pointed arch leading to the tower (1881), the ground floor of which is used as a choir vestry. In the south wall is a window like those of the aisle; in the west a similar window, but of two lights. A newel stair on the north side, with exterior door, leads to the upper stages. The first floor has a lancet window on each of the south and west sides; the second has over them pairs of trefoil-headed windows; there is a moulded cornice under the low shingled spire.
The font is a squat cylinder, of perhaps the 12th century, on a modern base. In the tower are the remains of, apparently, two holy water stoups. The other fittings are modern. There are two bells, dated 1717. (fn. 44) The only ancient piece of communion plate is a silver chalice of 1590. (fn. 45) The registers begin in 1547, and a transcript of them (for baptisms and burials to 1789 and marriages to 1752) is in the Bodleian Library.
Fernhurst was one of the chapels attached to Easebourne Church in 1291; (fn. 46) it retained that status in 1535, (fn. 47) and after the dissolution of Easebourne Priory and the grant of its estates to the Earl of Southampton, who died in 1542 seised of the chapel of Fernhurst, (fn. 48) the appointment to this perpetual curacy descended with the Cowdray estate (q.v.). In 1656, however, the appointment of Thomas Abercombie was made by the parishioners. (fn. 49) Under an arrangement made in 1774 the sum of £20 was assured to the incumbent and a further £30 was given yearly, of grace, from the Cowdray estate; parliamentary grants of £1,200, made about 1829, brought the value up to £98 11s. 4d. (fn. 50) The present value of the living, now ranking as a vicarage, is about £300.
In 1440 the parishioners, led by Thomas Field, refused to allow the servants of Easebourne Priory to collect the tithes, on the ground that the priory ought to provide and pay a parish clerk to serve the chaplain in the church. The dispute was referred to Bishop Praty, who decided against the parishioners and ordered that they should pay 10s. damages to the prioress, and that Thomas Field should do public penance in Fernhurst Church. (fn. 51)