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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The manor of ASHINGTON in 1786 included the whole of the main part of the parish together with an adjacent detached part of Thakeham containing Mutton's farm. (fn. 1) Before 1066 it was part of Washington manor. In 1066, when it was rated as 2½ hides, it was described as held of Earl Godwin by two allodial tenants, (fn. 2) but by 1073 it had been granted to William de Braose. (fn. 3) In 1086 it was held of him by Robert le Savage, (fn. 4) and thereafter the mesne tenancy descended with Broadwater manor until the later 15th century. (fn. 5) In 1580 Ashington was said to be held of Bramber rape, (fn. 6) and in 1622 and later of Knepp manor in Shipley. (fn. 7)
Ellis of Ashington (fl. c. 1140) (fn. 8) and John of Ashington (fl. c. 1230) (fn. 9) may have held the manor, and Sir Robert of Ashington (fl. c. 1190-1203) evidently did so, since he was the first holder of the advowson, which later descended with it. (fn. 10) Richard Covert, recorded locally in 1233, is said to have married a daughter of Sir John of Ashington. (fn. 11) The Covert family held the manor between that date and the later 17th century. William Covert was recorded between 1235 and 1266, (fn. 12) and Roger, perhaps his son, from 1274. Roger was dealing with the manor in 1288, and died in 1297, when it passed to his son John. (fn. 13) John had died by 1350, when the reversion was settled by Richard, possibly his son, on Roger Covert. (fn. 14) Another John Covert held 2 knight's fees in Ashington and elsewhere in 1361, (fn. 15) and may be the same as John Covert of Ashington mentioned in 1393. (fn. 16) Baldwin Covert was lord of the manor apparently at some time in the later 14th or earlier 15th century, (fn. 17) and in 1417 the advowson belonged to John, son and heir of Thomas Covert, then a minor. Between 1439 and 1443 John Covert held the advowson. Thomas Covert, apparently his son, presented between 1479 and 1486, (fn. 18) and at his death c. 1495 the manor passed to his son Richard (d. 1547). (fn. 19) Between 1503 and 1672 it descended with Twineham Benfield, (fn. 20) and in the latter year Sir John Covert (created Bt. 1660) (fn. 21) settled it on his daughter Ann and her husband Sir James Morton (fn. 22) (d. by 1700), (fn. 23) whose son John (fn. 24) sold the demesne lands, called Court farm, c. 1704 to Timothy Burrell of Cuckfield. (fn. 25) After John's death in 1719 or before (fn. 26) his brother and heir James sold the manor in 1722 to James Butler of Warminghurst. (fn. 27) Thereafter it descended with Warminghurst. (fn. 28) Court farm meanwhile was apparently settled in 1713 on Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Trevor, Lord Trevor; their daughter, Elizabeth Spencer, duchess of Marlborough (d. 1761), was succeeded in them by her son Lord Robert Spencer, who sold the lands in 1768 to Sir Merrik Burrell, Bt. Thereafter they descended with West Grinstead manor (fn. 29) until 1874 when Sir Percy Burrell sold them to the Revd. John Hurst. (fn. 30) G. J. Mills was owner or occupier in 1897, (fn. 31) and Mrs. G. J. Mills was owner in 1910. George Goacher was tenant at the latter date, (fn. 32) and in 1973 Church farm, so called, of 119 a., was sold by the trustees of George Goacher, deceased. (fn. 33)
The north range of the manor house, Church Farm House, contains a partly reconstructed late medieval open hall, with a service bay to the east; the hall is of fine workmanship and has a crown-post roof. Early in the 17th century an upper floor and chimneystack were inserted, the chimney occupying the site of a smoke bay; at the same time a short south wing was added. The house was extensively restored c. 1975.
The reputed manor of WEST WOLVES or WOLVES, called a manor by 1571, (fn. 34) was held of Ashington, (fn. 35) and presumably derives from the two yardlands in Ashington and Warminghurst held by Walter Wolf in 1323-4. (fn. 36) Other members of the family had been recorded locally during the previous fifty years. (fn. 37) The same or another Walter served as juror in 1341. (fn. 38) John Wolf, son of another John, held land in Ashington in the 1390s (fn. 39) and witnessed a local charter in 1402. (fn. 40) William and Robert Wolf of Ashington fought at Agincourt in 1415, (fn. 41) and John and Roger Wolf, gentlemen of Ashington, were pardoned in 1450 for their part in Cade's rebellion. (fn. 42) Another John Wolf occurs locally in 1475, (fn. 43) and the same or another John Wolf died seised of the manor in 1526 or earlier, being succeeded by his son Edward, (fn. 44) presumably the Edward Wolf of Ashington recorded in 1554 and 1557. (fn. 45) Another John Wolf died seised of the manor before 1571, and was succeeded by his son Nicholas. (fn. 46) At Nicholas's death in 1608 West Wolves passed to his namesake, son of Thomas Wolf. (fn. 47) He or a namesake apparently conveyed it in 1670 to Robert Leeves (fn. 48) (d. 1693), who was succeeded by a cousin of the same name. (fn. 49) The latter had died by 1700, when William Leeves was lord. (fn. 50) By 1720 another Robert Leeves held the manor; at his death c. 1743 he was succeeded by his son and namesake (d. c. 1747), who was succeeded by his brother Samuel. (fn. 51) Robert Lamport was lord by 1777; (fn. 52) at his death in or before 1795 the manor descended to his daughters and coheirs, Mary, wife of Charles Groome, and Jane Lamport. (fn. 53) By 1801, Mary having died, Jane was sole owner, (fn. 54) and at her death in or before 1834 her nephew Thomas Groome was her heir. He was succeeded in or before 1861 by his son Charles. (fn. 55) The estate belonged to Mrs. Rhoda Steer in 1910. (fn. 56) G. S. Freeman bought it in 1924 and still owned it in 1929. (fn. 57) The later history has not been traced.
A house at West Wolves was mentioned in the later 16th century. (fn. 58) Parts of a timber-framed range of the later 16th or earlier 17th century, with a brick range to the north-east, survived in 1983. Both ranges had, however, been reduced in size, and in the earlier 19th century a block had been built in the angle between them. Panelling and a staircase are said to have been removed in 1926. (fn. 59) The house was added to in the 20th century.
The manor of BUNCTON, comprising land in both the two larger detached parts of the parish, (fn. 60) was held by Lewin in 1066, and in 1086 was held of Bramber rape, like Ashington, by Robert le Savage. (fn. 61) Thereafter it too was held of Broadwater. (fn. 62) William of Lancing (d. by 1207) held it, and it passed to his daughter and coheir Alice, whose son Nicholas Malmeyns (fn. 63) (d. by 1220) was succeeded briefly by his son William, a leper. (fn. 64) The younger William's brother Maurice was seised of the estate when John de Braose (d. 1232) confirmed the mesne lordship to the lord of Broadwater. (fn. 65) In 1242 Ranulph de Brock held 2 knight's fees in Buncton and elsewhere. (fn. 66) Niel de Brock was dealing with the manor in 1278-9, (fn. 67) and Thurstan de Brock held land at Buncton in 1291. (fn. 68) Another Niel, Thurstan's son, was recorded as holding the manor in 1299. (fn. 69)
By 1303 the manor had evidently been divided, for a moiety descended from that date with Henry of Guildford's Chancton manor in Washington. (fn. 70) The other moiety was apparently never so called. Niel Brock, possibly the man recorded in 1299, held it in 1337 (fn. 71) and apparently in 1346-7, (fn. 72) and was succeeded by John Brock before 1366. (fn. 73) Another Niel Brock was apparently in possession between 1389 and 1411, when he held the advowson of Buncton church which then evidently descended with the manor. (fn. 74) Niel had apparently died by 1428, (fn. 75) and in 1463 John Brock conveyed Buncton to his son Richard; (fn. 76) another John held it in 1493-4. (fn. 77) The two moieties seem later to have been united in the possession of Sir Matthew Browne of Chancton (d. 1557), (fn. 78) whose kinsman Edward Browne appears to have sold Buncton in 1588 to Sir Thomas Shirley of Wiston. (fn. 79) From 1602 the manor certainly descended with Wiston (fn. 80) until conveyed in 1648 by John Tufton, earl of Thanet, to John Bishop, who still held it in 1685. (fn. 81) In 1689 Thomas Badmering of Buddington in Wiston was in possession; thereafter the manor evidently descended with Buddington to Joseph and Ann Chitty (fl. 1727-32), (fn. 82) of whom the latter devised it in 1743 to Thomas Smith. In 1764 it was settled on Smith's daughter Mary and her husband Philip Carteret Webb, who conveyed it in 1790 to Charles Goring. (fn. 83) Thereafter it descended again with Wiston. (fn. 84) Edward Luckins, descendant of a mortgagee of 1670, and the owner of adjacent lands, unsuccessfully claimed the manor c. 1820. (fn. 85)
Upper Buncton farm, which had perhaps once formed part of the manor, belonged to the Shelleys of Field Place in Warnham in the 18th century, but was sold in 1820 by Sir Timothy Shelley to Charles Goring, (fn. 86) thereafter descending with the manor.
Nothing survives of the medieval manor house of Buncton manor except the moat, of which more than half was water-filled in 1983. The three-storeyed north-east wing of the present Buncton Manor, with dressings of brick and ashlar in elaborate mid 17thcentury style, was presumably an addition to an older building on the south-west, which appears to have been rebuilt with ashlar walls in the later 18th century. There are cellars under both portions of the house, and a 17th-century staircase.