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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MANORS AND OTHER ESTATES
ST. LEONARD'S FOREST, called a manor in 1553, (fn. 1) presumably included the 3,000 a. of woodland described as belonging to Bramber rape in 1316- 17. (fn. 2) Until the mid 16th century it generally descended with the rape. (fn. 3) In 1234-5 Peter de Rivaux, Robert le Savage, and Richard, earl of Cornwall, successively had the keeping of it. (fn. 4) Mary de Braose received dower there in 1290, but resigned it to her son William in 1291 with the exception of a third of the pannage together with housebote and haybote. (fn. 5)
In 1553 the forest was granted by the Crown to Sir Thomas Wrothe. (fn. 6) By 1561 it had passed to Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, (fn. 7) who conveyed it to the Crown in the following year. (fn. 8) In 1570 the duke received a 21-year lease from the Crown, (fn. 9) but after his attainder two years later a similar lease was made by the Crown to John Blenerhassett and William Dix in 1573. (fn. 10) By 1588 and perhaps by 1577 they had apparently sublet the forest to Roger Gratwicke; Walter Covert also had an interest by 1585 and seems to have contested Gratwicke's title. (fn. 11) Sir John Caryll of Warnham had acquired an interest by 1591, (fn. 12) and in 1602 he obtained a 60-year lease from the Crown; (fn. 13) he was succeeded in 1613 by his son, also Sir John, (fn. 14) of whom the Walter Covert mentioned above or a namesake is said to have held the south part of the forest c. 1617. (fn. 15) In 1631 the Crown granted the reversion of the forest in trust for Sir William Russell, Bt., at an annual rent of £63. (fn. 16) Russell conveyed his interest in 1634 to Sir Richard Weston of Sutton (Surr.), who was lord in 1638 and perhaps later. (fn. 17) John and George Weston were dealing with the manor in 1659. (fn. 18)
Between 1660 and 1672 King Charles II granted the forest to his physician, Sir Edward Greaves, Bt. (d. 1680). (fn. 19) In 1681 his daughter Mary and her husband Peter Calfe were dealing with it. (fn. 20) Peter had died by 1689, (fn. 21) and at her death Mary Calfe left the forest to her nephew Capt. William Powlett, who devised it at his death in 1746 to Abel Aldridge of Uxbridge (Mdx.). Abel's son John, M.P. for New Shoreham, succeeded in 1782 and died in 1795; his son, also John, died in 1803, being succeeded by his son Robert. In 1868 Robert was said to own a considerable part of St. Leonard's Forest. At his death in 1871 his lands passed to his son Col. John Aldridge, (fn. 22) M.P. for Horsham (fn. 23) (d. 1888), whose son Robert died in 1892. (fn. 24) During the 19th century the estate was the largest in the parish; (fn. 25) most of the land was sold, however, between 1878 and 1889, (fn. 26) and Robert's brother and heir Maj. Charles Powlett Aldridge sold the rest in 1906. (fn. 27) In 1900 Edmund Molyneux owned the St. Leonard's house estate, described as over 1,700 a.; (fn. 28) part at least still belonged to him in 1910, when St. Leonard's house was owned and occupied by H. E. Dennis, a pioneer of motoring in England. (fn. 29) The later history of the estate has not been traced.
The present St. Leonard's house dates in part from the mid 18th century, but may stand on the site of the house of the same name recorded in 1593. (fn. 30) It may also be the 'new lodge' mentioned in 1720, (fn. 31) since it was usually called New Lodge between 1787 (fn. 32) and 1859; (fn. 33) the name St. Leonard's (alternatively St. Leonard's Forest) was recorded from 1825. (fn. 34) In 1787 the building had a three-bayed entrance front of two storeys with a central Venetian window on the upper storey, and a side facade of five bays with a three-bayed pediment. (fn. 35) Large additions were made in an Italianate style c. 1840, (fn. 36) including a partial third storey, a porte cochere on the east side, and a five-bayed two-storeyed wing on the north. (fn. 37) In 1981 the house was used as a rest home for the elderly.
The park of the modern St. Leonard's house, similarly, may occupy the site of the medieval St. Leonard's park mentioned in 1310, which contained deer in 1333, and which was perhaps the same as the chase described in 1342 as newly created. (fn. 38) The park was mentioned again in 1476, (fn. 39) and it may have been there that the Crown enjoined, in leases of 1570 and 1573, that 500 deer should be kept for its use by the tenant. (fn. 40) There were pleasure grounds at the house in 1795 (fn. 41) and a park of 250 a. in 1876. (fn. 42) The south avenue of Spanish chestnuts, leading from the Horsham-Slaugham road, existed by 1874. (fn. 43) The large Sun oak, near the south lodge, is evidently older, and from its spreading character evidently grew in parkland conditions. (fn. 44) There were deer in the park in 1896 and wild animals from various parts of the world in 1910. (fn. 45) In 1962 there were still deer, and also wallabies. (fn. 46)
About 1803 a thousand acres in the south of the parish were sold from the St. Leonard's Forest estate to Charles George Beauclerk, (fn. 47) being known after c. 1870 as the LEONARDSLEE estate. (fn. 48) Beauclerk still had it in 1842, (fn. 49) but c. 1852 the estate passed to W. Egerton Hubbard, a city Russia merchant (fn. 50) (d. 1883); he sold it to his future son-inlaw Sir Edmund Loder, Bt., (fn. 51) after whose death in 1920 over 900 a. west of the Lower Beeding to Cowfold road were offered for sale. Sir Edmund's heir was his grandson Sir Giles, (fn. 52) who still owned the estate in 1981.
A house was built at Leonardslee before 1808 (fn. 53) to the designs of John Johnson. (fn. 54) Of stone, (fn. 55) it was first known as St. Leonard's Lodge, (fn. 56) the modern name being acquired by 1874. (fn. 57) The present house was built in 1853 to the designs of T. L. Donaldson; of local sandstone it is in Italianate style externally, with a rusticated Tuscan entrance porch on the north-west, and has a two-storeyed central hall with Greek Ionic columns. (fn. 58)
Before 1852 Beauclerk had begun to lay out around the house an 'American' garden, containing magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas, and other flowering shrubs. The wellingtonias which survived in 1981 were evidently also planted then. In 1852 the pleasure grounds and park totalled perhaps 40 a. (fn. 59) They were greatly expanded after 1888 (fn. 60) by Sir Edmund Loder, especially along the valley east of the house whose mild, humid climate favoured the growth of shrubs, especially rhododendrons, which Sir Edmund bred from c. 1895, and camellias. (fn. 61) The three upper lakes in the valley which survived in 1981 were created at that time. (fn. 62) Sir Edmund also collected a wide variety of rare animals; in 1892 Indian antelopes, kangaroos, and unusual species of deer were mentioned there, and later also gazelles, ibex, springboks, coypus, capybara, prairie dogs, wallabies, and emu, besides a colony of beavers. (fn. 63) Most of the animals were sold after Sir Edmund's death in 1920. (fn. 64) Thereafter, though the gardens were opened to the public during the 1920s, they declined progressively, to become almost completely derelict by 1946. Within four years of Sir Giles's taking over the management of the estate in that year, however, they had been restored. In the 1970s, when they comprised c. 80 a., they were at their maturity and were much visited, being described as one of the finest woodland gardens in the world; besides rhododendrons, azaleas, and conifers, there was then a large camellia grove. (fn. 65) There were still wallabies in the grounds of the house in 1959 and 1981. (fn. 66)
The manor of BEWBUSH in the north part of the parish apparently corresponded with the bailiwick of Bewbush in St. Leonard's Forest, and with what was later Bewbush tithing. (fn. 67) It descended with the forest until the late 15th century, and was called a manor by 1316-17. (fn. 68) At the division of the Norfolk inheritance c. 1484 it passed, with the reversion of Findon manor, to William Berkeley, earl of Nottingham (d. 1492), (fn. 69) whose brother and heir Maurice, Lord Berkeley (d. 1506), was succeeded as lord by his son, also Maurice. (fn. 70) He was said to die seised of it in 1523, (fn. 71) but in 1511 Bewbush had been settled, with St. Leonard's Forest, on Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey, and his wife Agnes. (fn. 72) From 1542 or earlier (fn. 73) it again descended with the forest, until in 1552 the Crown granted Bewbush park, together with Shelley park in Crawley detached, to Richard Chetwood. (fn. 74) Like the forest it was restored before 1561 to Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk, who in the following year delivered it, with the forest, to the Crown. (fn. 75)
In 1581 Sir Thomas Shirley received a 21-year lease of the former Bewbush park from the Crown, which he conveyed in 1583 to Arthur Middleton. (fn. 76) Middleton received another 21-year lease in 1588, and was succeeded before 1608 by his son John. (fn. 77) Thomas Middleton was confirmed as Crown lessee of the former park for three lives in 1624, (fn. 78) and his son John still owned lands in Lower Beeding in 1651. (fn. 79) Another John Middleton had lands in Beeding parish in 1705, (fn. 80) and it was presumably the same John, described as of Dorking (Surr.), who died seised of Bewbush park in 1745, when it passed to his five coheirs as coparceners. (fn. 81)
John Baird was described as lord of Bewbush in 1783. (fn. 82) After 1787 the estate was usually known as the HOLMBUSH estate, (fn. 83) being described in 1818-19 as the manor of Holmbush. (fn. 84) It was apparrently sold by Baird in 1787, when it comprised over 2,500 a., (fn. 85) to William Manners, who was described as lord of Bewbush manor between 1788 and 1806. (fn. 86) He or a relative sold it in 1807, together with Shelley farm in Crawley detached, to Thomas Erskine, Lord Erskine, then Lord Chancellor, after whose death in 1823 (fn. 87) it was sold in 1824 or 1825 to Thomas Broadwood, (fn. 88) recorded as lord of Bewbush c. 1841. (fn. 89) In 1835 Broadwood's estate comprised 3,033 a. (fn. 90) At his death in 1861 Thomas was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 91) who before 1876 and apparently before 1871 sold Holmbush (fn. 92) to Col. James Clifton Brown, M.P. for Horsham (d. 1917). Col. Brown's son Brig.-Gen. Howard Clifton Brown, M.P., apparently had the Holmbush estate until his death in 1946. (fn. 93) In 1979 Holmbush house at least still belonged to the family. (fn. 94)
A manor house at Bewbush was mentioned in 1326 and 1330. (fn. 97) The present house is an L-shaped timber-framed building of the 17th century; in 1650 it had a hall, parlour, kitchen, and offices downstairs, besides several chambers upstairs. (fn. 98) Part of an early 18th-century staircase survives in the south wing. About 1850 gables were added on the south and east fronts and the house was cased in brick, which by 1981 was painted. Part of the medieval moat and a six-bayed barn of c. 1600 with a queen-post roof truss also survived in 1981, when the manor house belonged to Crawley borough council and had been divided into flats.
A park at Bewbush manor was mentioned from 1295, (fn. 99) its site presumably being on the less fertile lands in the south part of Bewbush tithing around the modern Holmbush house. (fn. 100) In 1326 it comprised 500 a. (fn. 101) and in 1368 it contained deer. (fn. 102) A parker was mentioned in 1405, (fn. 103) and a keeper in 1549. (fn. 104) At the last date there were perhaps 50 deer, (fn. 105) but within the next three years the park was disparked. (fn. 106) In 1650, when the outer pale still survived, much of the land was used as a rabbit warren and only c. 12 deer remained. (fn. 107)
A lodge in Bewbush park evidently existed before 1498, when it was undergoing repair. (fn. 108) Possibly it was the same building which served as the lodge of the rabbit warren in 1650, and which was of timber, with three rooms below and two above; (fn. 109) possibly too it survived until the early 19th century, since the Holmbush house recorded in the occupation of a gentleman's family in 1776 (fn. 110) was depicted as an old rambling building in 1787, (fn. 111) and in 1824, when it was called Holmbush Lodge, had low rooms. (fn. 112) In 1787 there were at least eight bedrooms; a new kitchen and brewhouse were then being built, at least partly of brick. (fn. 113) In the early 19th century the building was apparently used as a hunting box. (fn. 114) A large new house, asymmetrical and in a castellated Gothic style, was built in 1826 on an adjacent site to the designs of Francis Edwards. Built of stone quarried on the estate it stands on a platform sited for the view northwards; it is of two storeys with a big three-storeyed corner tower. The plan of the rooms is said to have been made by the owner, Thomas Broadwood. (fn. 115) In 1965 the house was used as a private school, and by 1979 it had been converted into flats. (fn. 116)
Pleasure grounds at Holmbush were mentioned in 1787. (fn. 117) They were greatly improved after c. 1824 by Thomas Broadwood, and by 1835 plants grown in the gardens, especially dehlias, won prizes at horticultural shows. (fn. 118) There were 56 a. of parkland north and north-east of the house by c. 1841. (fn. 119) Broadwood also planted and landscaped much of the estate, creating a lake of c. 50 a. and several smaller lakes. (fn. 120) The former parkland lay in pasture closes in 1981.
The estate called BUCHAN HILL in the northeast was apparently the northern part (fn. 121) of the medieval Shelley park in Crawley detached, (fn. 122) which sometimes descended with Bewbush. (fn. 123) In the early 19th century it belonged with Bewbush to Thomas Erskine, Lord Erskine, who built a house there and named it from his father's title. (fn. 124) It thereafter descended with Holmbush until c. 1880, (fn. 125) when Col. James Clifton Brown sold it to P.F.R. Saillard, an ostrich-feather merchant. In 1907 the estate comprised over 1,000 a. (fn. 126) After Saillard's death in 1915 his daughter Mrs. Pratt lived at Buchan Hill until 1925. (fn. 127) More than half the estate, c. 1,500 a., was put up for sale in 1928, and the remaining 1,000 a. in 1937. (fn. 128)
The house built by Lord Erskine had begun to decay by 1824, soon after it was built. (fn. 129) It was evidently repaired before 1862 when John Jervis Broadwood lived there. (fn. 130) A large new house to the north-east was built by P. F. R. Saillard to the designs of Ernest George and Peto in 1882-3. It is of red brick with stone dressings in a Northern Renaissance style, with a six-storeyed tower, asymmetrically placed, tall chimneys, and a deep porte cochere. (fn. 131) In 1946 it was bought by Cottesmore School, (fn. 132) which still had it in 1985. The former farm buildings, consisting of four large brick ranges round a courtyard with corner towers, were used by the Cottesmore golf and country club in 1981.
A chain of ponds running from south to north was created west of Buchan Hill house between 1874 and 1895; at the latter date three of them supplied fish. Under P. F. R. Saillard (d. 1915) at least seven garden staff were employed and there was an aviary for pheasants. (fn. 133)
The estate called NEW PARK, like Bewbush a bailiwick of St. Leonard's Forest, (fn. 134) was the later Park farm in the south-west corner of the parish. It apparently existed by 1398, (fn. 135) and certainly by 1441, when there was a lodge. (fn. 136) Thereafter it descended with St. Leonard's Forest until 1553 when, as newly disparked, it was granted by the Crown to Edward Lewknor, who granted it later in the same year to the tenant John Michell of Stammerham in Horsham. (fn. 137) By 1569 it had been resumed by the duke of Norfolk, (fn. 138) of whom Roger Gratwicke (d. 1570) and his son, also Roger, were successive lessees. (fn. 139) In 1588 Philip Howard, earl of Arundel, was dealing with the estate, described as comprising 600 a.; his son Thomas, earl of Arundel, sold it in 1611 to Sir George Snelling. (fn. 140) At Snelling's death in 1617 it passed to his son Shirley, (fn. 141) who conveyed it in 1633 to William Gratwicke of Cowfold, (fn. 142) who was succeeded in 1636 by his son, also William (d. 1670). Thereafter it presumably passed to William's brother John (d. 1696), since John's son, also John (d. 1720 or 1721), devised it to his sister Elizabeth Batten. (fn. 143) By 1795 it belonged to John Blagrave, (fn. 144) and by 1852, when it comprised 563 a., it was part of the Leonardslee estate. (fn. 145) It thereafter descended with Leonardslee until 1920 (fn. 146) or later.
Old Park, a three-roomed house of 17th-century type with a lobby entrance, perhaps occupies the site of the lodge in New park mentioned in 1441, (fn. 147) and seems likely to date from the time of its reclamation for arable. (fn. 148)