A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1987.
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LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC SERVICES.
The parish was divided into the tithings of Oreham, Chestham, Buckwish, and Intithing, whose boundaries can be deduced from the names of farms included in each in 1751. Intithing, as its name suggests, was the home tithing, including the church, the rectory estate, Henfield park, and the village centre west of High Street; it extended north to include Little Betley, and south as far as Bineham bridge. The eastern side of High Street lay within Chestham tithing, which also included the north and north-east parts of the parish. The south end of the parish, including Stretham, lay within Oreham tithing, which extended as far north as Rye Farmhouse and possibly West End, while Buckwish tithing extended east from Buckwish and Pokerlee Farms along the south side of the village to Kentons near the Henfield-Woodmancote boundary. (fn. 1) There was a headborough for each tithing in the 1370s and later, and an aletaster for each in 1560. (fn. 2)
A court baron of Stretham manor was held thrice weekly in the later 14th century. (fn. 3) There are court rolls for many years between 1527 and 1640, (fn. 4) and for the period 1660 to 1935. (fn. 5) Between the 16th century and the early 18th the court was apparently usually held twice yearly, but in the later 17th, 18th, and earlier 19th centuries sometimes three or four times a year. The court was held in Henfield village in 1630, (fn. 6) as it had apparently also been in 1546. (fn. 7) In 1647 one court met first in the village, afterwards adjourning to Stretham. (fn. 8) Moustows manor house in High Street may, from its name, have been the village location. (fn. 9) In 1715-16 courts were held at New Hall. (fn. 10) Besides business concerning tenancies, the courts dealt with the repair of roads, fences, ditches, and buildings, including on one occasion the manor house, (fn. 11) and regulated common rights, making bylaws about them in the mid 16th century. (fn. 12) A plea of novel disseisin was heard in 1564. (fn. 13) Some business was treated out of court by 1735.
A hayward, a beadle, a reeve, and a swineherd were recorded at Stretham manor in 1374, the first two being chosen apparently in rotation according to the tenure of certain lands. The reeve and the hayward owed no labour services during their period of office, and received various perquisites. (fn. 14) Officers recorded between the 16th century and the 18th were: a bailiff or bailiffs, one of whom received a fee of 23s. 4d. in 1535; (fn. 15) a reeve or beadle; (fn. 16) a water bailiff, whose fee in 1595 was 13s. 4d.; (fn. 17) and a curimannus, of unknown function, mentioned in 1552. (fn. 18) In 1561, unusually, there were four reeves, two for each of the common meadows called Northbrook and Freshbrook. (fn. 19) Between 1675 and 1742 the copyholders of the manor in Cowfold supplied the reeve one year in three. (fn. 20)
A manor pound was mentioned in the 1370s (fn. 21) and in 1647, (fn. 22) and a pillory in the 14th century (fn. 23) and possibly in 1608. (fn. 24) The pillory may have stood on the west side of High Street; in the 19th century the pound, whipping post, and stocks were all together there, the stocks being removed c. 1867. (fn. 25)
Churchwardens, usually two in number, were recorded from 1521. There were three collectors for the poor in 1638-9, but afterwards apparently always two overseers. (fn. 28) Two waywardens were mentioned in the 1640s and in 1717. A parish constable was recorded between 1646 and 1717. The clerk received wages in 1685. (fn. 29) A rate for church repair was levied in 1627. (fn. 30)
Methods of poor relief used between the 17th century and the earlier 19th were apprenticing, (fn. 31) boarding out, (fn. 32) the payment of weekly doles and of rent, and the provision of clothing (fn. 33) and medical care; (fn. 34) a doctor received a salary of 5 guineas in 1782. (fn. 35) In addition a workhouse was built in 1736-7, perhaps replacing a previous one; the building, on the south side of Nep Town Road, partly survived in 1984 as cottages. (fn. 36) The poor were apparently usually farmed; (fn. 37) in 1794 the master could hire out the ablebodied. In 1742 there were 16 inmates of the workhouse, of whom only three were men. Spinning was apparently carried on in the later 18th century. (fn. 38) In 1833 there were usually between 30 and 40 inmates, all of them young, old, or infirm; the then governor, an ex-sergeant of artillery, enforced rigid discipline. (fn. 39) About 1831 there were generally 30 or 40 parishioners receiving relief, work on the roads sometimes being provided. In the following year the labour rate was introduced, to objections from small tradesmen and householders and from one marshland farmer whose farm was often flooded in winter. (fn. 40)
The parish joined Steyning union in 1835. (fn. 41) Two inspectors under the Lighting and Watching Act, 1833, were appointed between 1865 and 1911 for Henfield village, and further inspectors after 1889 for Nep Town. They received at first £75 a year from the overseers, their only important expenditure being on gas street lighting. (fn. 42) The parish council after 1894 also concerned itself with public services: street lighting, the fire brigade, and the cemetery. (fn. 43) In 1920 a committee was formed to watch over housing developments. (fn. 44) From the same date the council managed the assembly rooms in High Street, by 1935 open spaces in the parish, and by 1964 the museum. (fn. 45) The parish had passed in 1894 to Steyning West rural district; (fn. 46) in 1974 it joined Horsham district.
Water was drawn before the 20th century from wells, springs, and ponds, for instance those at Backsettown and Parsonage Farm. (fn. 47) By 1913 the Steyning and District Waterworks Co. was supplying the parish, (fn. 48) and in 1964 there was a piped supply in all residential areas. (fn. 49) There was a sewage disposal works south-west of the railway station in 1946, (fn. 50) and another north of the village by 1975, (fn. 51) main drainage having been installed between 1958 and 1964. (fn. 52)
The Henfield Gas and Coke Co. was formed in 1864 with gasworks south of the railway station, (fn. 55) and from 1866 supplied gas for street lighting, at first in the village only, and after 1889 also at Nep Town. (fn. 56) Between 1930 and 1934 the company was taken over by the Hassocks and District Gas Co., (fn. 57) which in 1936 was empowered to supply the whole parish. (fn. 58) The gasworks closed before 1946, (fn. 59) and in 1983 a dairy and a firm of contract packers occupied the site. Electricity was supplied from Steyning in 1938. (fn. 60) In 1964 all residential areas received both gas and electricity. (fn. 61)
A cemetery north of the village, approached by a lychgate from Church Street, was opened in 1885, under a burial board. (fn. 62) By 1905 it was managed by the parish council. It was extended in 1907. (fn. 63)
A voluntary fire brigade, under the parish council, was formed in 1904, with a horse-drawn fire engine which was replaced before 1937 by a motor vehicle. In 1948 the brigade was taken over by the county council; (fn. 64) c. 1981, when it was still part-time, it had 12 men. (fn. 65) The fire station in 1984 stood in Barrow Hill.
A health centre west of High Street existed by 1969. (fn. 66)