A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1986.
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In 1188 Warminghurst manor was in the hands of the Crown for 9 months; the income was 41s. 4d., a low figure. (fn. 1) By 1294 the net yearly value of the manor had apparently more than trebled in money terms, probably indicating a marked growth of agricultural production. The bulk of the manorial value in 1294 was provided by the tenants, free and servile, who owed rents, works and services, and hens. There was a small demesne estimated at 130 a. of arable and 80 a. in the park. (fn. 2) During the 14th century the demesne acreage apparently fluctuated: in 1324 it was given as 80 a. of arable, 40 a. of wood and pasture, and 6 a. of meadow, (fn. 3) and in 1378 as 100 a. of arable, 4 a. of meadow, and a small area of pasture; (fn. 4) in 1398-9, when the demesne was still in hand, at least 130 a. were sown. (fn. 5) There was no other wealthy landholder in the early 14th century: one inhabitant was assessed for subsidy in 1327 at 4s., three at from 2s. to 2s. 10d., and 11 at less than 1s. (fn. 6) The tenants owed money rents and services throughout the 14th century: both were higher in 1398-9 than in 1324, and rents were generally worth thrice the services. The latter had been commuted by 1398. Some lands were at farm by 1378; their rents were worth more than half of the assized rents, although their value had declined by 1398. The total exactions apparently represented a heavy burden on the tenantry, since in 1378 the tithes, from which the demesne was probably exempt, (fn. 7) were thought to be worth less than works and only a quarter of total rents. (fn. 8)
In the late 14th and early 15th century the terms of tenure were very variable. Leasing of tenements for terms of years had begun by 1393, (fn. 9) but in 1409-10 holdings of a virgate, of half a virgate and 40 a., and of 5 a. were let for two lives each, and another of 5 acres for three lives, while the tenant of another holding received it sibi et suis. From some of the life or hereditary tenants heriots in kind or money, entry fines, and suit of court were exacted. In 1410 all the tenants were ordered to show their copies of court roll to determine by which of the three tenures they held. On most of the smaller holdings leased the value of works greatly exceeded the rent. At least 10 tenements, mainly cottages, were vacant in 1410. (fn. 10)
The demesne had been let to farm by 1412 and most of the labour services were permanently commuted and consolidated into the assized rents. (fn. 11) In 1429-30 there were 25 tenants with 30 holdings. One tenant owed 16s. 8d. rent, two owed 13s. 4d. each, five between 6s. 8d. and 13s. 4d., five 6s. 8d., and ten less than 6s. 8d.; nine of the smaller holdings also owed small sums in lieu of boonworks, mowing, or both. (fn. 12)
References to tenements in disrepair, such as the 6 listed in 1426 (fn. 13) or the 9 houses, 2 cottages, and 3 barns listed in 1492, (fn. 14) and frequent licences to tenants to demolish some buildings to repair others, (fn. 15) imply that settlement and perhaps cultivation shrank in the 15th century, although by 1524 the population seems again to have been larger than in 1377. (fn. 16) By 1540 many tenements had been engrossed: of 16 tenants at least 6 had composite holdings. Two members of the Bridger family held 111 a. and 70 a. respectively, and there were also farms of 87 a. and of 2 virgates and 10 a., the latter inherited from a former demesne lessee. (fn. 17)
Open fields were mentioned in 1501, when a perambulation was ordered. (fn. 18) In the mid 16th century there was apparently only one, Townfield, (fn. 19) still open in 1615 (fn. 20) but inclosed and in severalty by 1707, when the name was used for a 7-a. field north of the church. (fn. 21) There was a common meadow, called Town mead in 1513 (fn. 22) and 1582, when it covered 9 a. Another common mead then mentioned (fn. 23) may have been Warminghurst meadow on the Ashington boundary, mentioned in 1629 and apparently still common in 1635. (fn. 24) Common pasture included Fulling common, mentioned in 1508, (fn. 25) comprising 15 a. in 1582, (fn. 26) divided into doles by the early 17th century, (fn. 27) and inclosed by 1707; (fn. 28) Bacons common, mentioned in 1601 (fn. 29) and probably at the north end of the parish, but inclosed by 1707; (fn. 30) the smaller Bowford common, still open in 1707; (fn. 31) and Warminghurst common on the sandy soil at the south end of the parish, part of Heath common. That was 75 a. in 1707 and (after minor 18th-century encroachments) 72 a. when inclosed in 1816 under an Act of 1813; 62 a. were allotted to the duke of Norfolk. (fn. 32) In 1594 the manor court recorded that free tenants had no common pasture rights. (fn. 33)
Crops grown on the demesne in 1324 included wheat, oats, barley, vetches, beans, and a little rye, (fn. 34) and in 1398-9 the first four listed and white and grey peas. (fn. 35) Demesne stock in 1324 included 16 oxen, a few other cattle, 20 sheep, and a large herd of pigs. (fn. 36) The arrest of 10 sacks of wool at Warminghurst manor in 1341 (fn. 37) may indicate sheep farming there, and in 1398-9 a large flying flock was kept on the demesne: there were 49 sheep and 69 lambs at the beginning of the year, 41 at the end; 293 sheep had been disposed of during the year. Many pigs and a few cattle and horses, besides c. 20 plough oxen, were also kept. (fn. 38) A cider mill probably existed on the manor farm in 1448; (fn. 39) it was repaired in 1460-1, (fn. 40) and in 1511 a tenant was ordered to build one. (fn. 41)
Merchet was still owed in 1530, (fn. 42) and personal serfdom survived as late as 1582 when two neifs were manumitted. (fn. 43) In 1581 most of the 15 copyhold tenements were held for one, two, or three lives, although one was held at will and three were held for one or three lives at will. (fn. 44) The manor court presented in 1597 that the lord could not grant copyholds in fee, but for up to three lives only. (fn. 45) In the late 16th and the early 17th century, as the copyholds fell in, Henry Shelley was evidently taking the tenements in hand, sometimes letting them to tenants at will at rack rents and selling off the freehold of others. In 1582 his demesne was recorded as 382 a., the copyholds 393 a., and the rack-rented land 62 a.; 40 a. had been sold. (fn. 46) In 1617, however, 290 a. were let to 9 tenants at rack rents, and only 163 a. were copyhold; besides the park estate Shelley had 50 a. in hand. (fn. 47) The piecemeal sale of the Shelley estates, (fn. 48) as a result of which the Bridger family owned most of the parish by 1652, (fn. 49) further reduced the copyholds. Some of those on the younger Henry Shelley's remaining estates had apparently been extinguished by 1637, (fn. 50) while two others, already held by the Bridgers in 1617, (fn. 51) were presumably merged with their freehold, and two which remained independent of them had been enfranchised. (fn. 52) Nevertheless there were apparently still 19 occupiers in 1671. (fn. 53) On the Bridgers' 639-a. estate in 1707, however, the 529 a. of farm land was let to four tenants, one of whom held four farms together totalling 206 a. All the farms were largely consolidated, although fields were small, averaging 4 a. (fn. 54)
Henry Shelley's demesne in 1582 was predominantly grass and woodland: there were 102 a. of arable, 68 a. of meadow, at least 99 a. of pasture, and up to 117 a. of wood. Those areas included the park, which had been divided into large closes. (fn. 55) In 1707 the farms on the Bridgers' estate also seem to have been mainly pastoral. (fn. 56) Farming in the parish in the 17th and early 18th centuries was mixed, though animal husbandry usually predominated. (fn. 57) Crops grown in order of importance were wheat and oats, barley, peas, rye, and tares. Hops (fn. 58) and apples were also apparently cultivated, and a new orchard at Warminghurst Place was mentioned in 1662. (fn. 59) Cattle were more often kept than sheep, and dairying and rearing were more important than fattening. In 1663 one farmer had 48 cattle and 106 sheep. Several farmers kept pigs. In the early 18th century one farm was experimenting with clover leys. In the early 17th Henry Shelley had reduced rents in return for requiring some tenants to marl their land. (fn. 60)
In the 18th century landownership became almost entirely concentrated in the hands of the Butlers and their successors as lords of the manor. (fn. 61) By 1812 there were besides the duke of Norfolk only two other owners, the rector of Crawley and the proprietor of West Wolves in Ashington; (fn. 62) in 1848 their successors held 18 a. and 60 a. respectively, the duke and his lessees the rest. (fn. 63) Farms remained correspondingly few. In 1798 those on the Clough estate (fn. 64) included the 220-a. Squinces farm, formed by amalgamation of two earlier farms before 1761; (fn. 65) the 204-a. Bowford farm, formed from two farms in 1788; (fn. 66) the 105-a. Warminghurst farm, and the 88-a. Newhouse farm. The park, then 174 a., was let with the manor house, and further land in Warminghurst was farmed from Thakeham Place in Thakeham. In 1810 the park was divided up; most was split between Thakeham Place and Warminghurst farms. (fn. 67) By 1839 (fn. 68) most of Squinces and the Park had been included in Warminghurst farm, sometimes called Town farm, (fn. 69) which in 1921 had 458 a., all but 6 a. in Warminghurst. (fn. 70) The other farms survived in 1918. (fn. 71) Two further holdings of between 5 and 50 a. and one under 5 a. were returned in 1905. In 1925 one farm of over 300 a. (presumably Warminghurst farm), one of 150-300 a. (presumably Bowford), and three of from 5 to 20 a. were returned. (fn. 72) Members of the Golds family farmed at Bowford from 1786 to 1918 or later, and at Squinces (later Warminghurst) farm from 1786 to 1882 or later; they also farmed the West Wolves estate in Warminghurst. (fn. 73)
In the 1760s and 1770s the Butlers were letting farms for 14- or 21-year terms or two lives at rents of from 6s. to 20s. an acre. (fn. 74) Rents were increased in the 1780s and 1790s, and had almost doubled by 1804. (fn. 75) Heriots were still claimed from some cottage holdings as late as 1857. (fn. 76)
From the late 18th to the 20th century mixed farming continued to predominate, with marked variations in the proportions of arable and pasture. The home farm at Warminghurst park in 1777 included at least 54 a. of arable; wheat, barley, peas, and clover were grown, and there was apparently a hopyard. Stock included 62 sheep and 14 or 15 dairy cattle. (fn. 77) Flax was grown at Bowford in 1787. (fn. 78) In the early 19th century cattle were more important than sheep in the parish as a whole. (fn. 79) In 1848 of the West Wolves estate 40 a. were arable, 20 a. grass. (fn. 80) Of 731 a. of land in the parish returned as cultivated in 1875, all but 150 a. was arable; of that, 78 a. were under rotation grass, and crops returned on the rest included, in order of importance, wheat, oats, roots, barley, vetches, peas, beans, and potatoes. Bowford farm was half arable; about half that was sown to leys, and the rest to corn (including rye) and roots, not apparently in a rigid rotation. (fn. 81) In the next fifty years there was a marked shift to animal husbandry; the acreage of permanent grass returned increased to 393 in 1905 and 547 in 1925, although in 1921 Bowford farm was still mostly arable. Cattle returned in the parish increased from 108 in 1875 to 156 in 1925, about a quarter of the herd being dairy cows and heifers. Sheep were moderately important; 389 were returned in 1875, 454 in 1905, and 211 in 1925. In 1921 Warminghurst farm was described as a dairy and stock farm. (fn. 82) In 1974, when it had 800 a., it supported 380 cattle. (fn. 83) It was later split into two, Park farm being managed separately. In 1981 Warminghurst farm was a mixed farm of 340 a.; Bowford farm, c. 220 a., was devoted to livestock, and Newhouse farm, c. 70 a., to arable, with a rotation of potatoes, winter wheat, and winter barley. (fn. 84)
From 1882 or earlier one, from 1905 to 1918 two, market gardeners lived in Warminghurst, (fn. 85) and a market garden and an orchard in the south part of the parish were advertised for sale c. 1925. (fn. 86) In 1905 small fruit occupied at least 5¼ a., and in 1925 sprouts, cauliflowers, carrots, and onions were grown. There were also 14¼ a. of orchards, mainly apples, pears, and plums. (fn. 87) In 1979 currants and strawberries, and in 1981 strawberries, were grown on Warminghurst farm.
There was a rhododendron nursery in the southeast corner of the parish in 1981.
Timber from Warminghurst was used to build an 80-tun ship apparently at Pende in Lancing in 1400, (fn. 88) and two large wagon-loads were sent to Kingston (Surr.) in 1446-7. (fn. 89) Wood from the park was being sold in the early 16th century. (fn. 90) A survey of wood on the tenants' lands in 1582 listed 1,074 trees (oak, elm, ash, and beech), amounting to 1,088 cartloads. (fn. 91) In 1617 there were 960 loads of timber and 3,200 loads of firewood growing on the manor, excluding most of the demesne. (fn. 92) William Penn was selling timber before 1694; (fn. 93) he was estimated to have cut £2,000 worth by 1707. (fn. 94) In 1788 the Cloughs' bailiff was selling timber, (fn. 95) and 125 trees on Town and Newhouse farms were auctioned in 1822. (fn. 96) Such sales were perhaps mainly of hedgerow trees, and by the late 19th century the woodland in the parish had been much reduced: there were between 30 and 55 a. in 1876, and in 1905 only 29 a. were returned. (fn. 97) That figure presumably consisted mainly of plantations in the south part of the parish. (fn. 98)
A smith lived in Warminghurst in 1602. (fn. 99) In 1617 there were said to be large reserves of iron ore on the manor; 6 a. had been mined by Richard Orevel. (fn. 100) The pit was probably on a site east of the lane from the church to Bowford, where a 7-a. field was called Mine Petts field in 1707. (fn. 101) Thomas Lance of Warminghurst (d. 1631) may have been a brickmaker. (fn. 102) There was a weaver in the parish in 1450 (fn. 103) and the name Fulling common (fn. 104) may reflect late medieval clothworking. Otherwise there is little evidence of non-agrarian occupations in the parish. In 1801 five families out of 25, in 1811 two out of 16, and in 1821 three out of 20 were recorded as occupied in trade, manufacture, or handicraft. (fn. 105) There were living at Heath common in 1851 a fruit and fish hawker, a ratcatcher, and a carpenter, the last still recorded in 1862. (fn. 106) Bowford, Warminghurst, and Newhouse farms in 1851 employed 37 labourers of whom 6 lived in, and 16 other households in the parish included farm labourers. (fn. 107) In 1903 two thirds of the parishioners were wage earners. (fn. 108) There were 17 farm labourers in 1925. (fn. 109)
There was a mill on the demesne in 1294. (fn. 110) It presumably stood then, as in 1707, on the brook just west of the lane to Bowford near New Barn. (fn. 111) By 1324 its value had more than doubled. (fn. 112) In 1399 it was not tenanted; (fn. 113) although repaired in 1438-9 (fn. 114) it was again derelict by 1443. (fn. 115) Its proximity to Fulling common may indicate that it was used as a fulling mill in the 15th or 16th century. It was evidently still in use in 1582, (fn. 116) 1637, and 1671. (fn. 117) It was mentioned as a corn mill in conveyances of the Warminghurst Place estate between 1619 and 1707, (fn. 118) and in 1805. (fn. 119) It had gone by c. 1806, as had the mill pond below it. (fn. 120)