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.
The manor of WOODMANCOTE was held in 1066 by Countess Guda, and in 1086 of William de Braose by William son of Rannulf, (fn. 1) who also held Southwick. (fn. 2) It continued thereafter to be held of Bramber rape, (fn. 3) the lordship apparently descending with Southwick until the earlier 15th century. (fn. 4)
Simon le Count seems to have held the manor in the 1220s. (fn. 5) William Hastentoft and his wife Isabel (fl. 1258-67) (fn. 6) were succeeded before 1291 by their son Thomas (fn. 7) (d. by 1298), (fn. 8) whose heirs were his sisters Nichole, Lucy, and Olive. After Lucy's death without issue her share seems to have passed to Nichole, who in 1298 acknowledged the third share in the estate to belong to Olive and her husband William of Northo. (fn. 9) By 1325, however, Nichole, then widow of John of Hartridge, had the entire manor herself. (fn. 10) John Percy, husband of her daughter Elizabeth, died seised of it in 1339, his heir being his son William. (fn. 11) Elizabeth and her second husband William Burton held the manor in 1341; Roland Daneys and John of Sittingbourne, described as lords of Woodmancote (fn. 12) in the same year, were perhaps trustees. Sir William Percy was taxed in Tipnoak hundred in 1378, (fn. 13) and at his death without issue in 1407 the manor passed to William Fillol (d. 1416), who was succeeded by his son John (d. 1467). John's son and heir Sir William died in 1527, (fn. 14) and under a partition of 1530-1 between his daughters and coheirs Woodmancote passed to Catherine, wife of Sir Edward Seymour, later duke of Somerset (attainted 1552); (fn. 15) he conveyed it in 1531 to Richard Bellingham (fn. 16) (d. 1550×1552). (fn. 17)
George Goring, husband of Richard's widow Mary, was described as lord c. 1560. (fn. 18) Mary's son Sir Edward Bellingham (fn. 19) (d. 1605) was succeeded by his son and namesake (fn. 20) (d. 1637), who was succeeded by his niece or cousin Cecily, wife of Thomas West. (fn. 21) West was in dispute with Thomas Bellingham over the demesne lands of the manor in 1638 (fn. 22) and died in the same year; (fn. 23) Cecily and her second husband Henry Rolt were dealing with the manor in 1657, (fn. 24) but though Cecily lived until 1669, it had passed by 1658 to her son Henry West (fn. 25) (d. 1674), whose heir was his son Jacob (fn. 26) (fl. 1680). (fn. 27)
In 1693 Walter West, a London merchant, sold the manor to Thomas Dennett (fn. 28) (d. 1705), from whom it passed in the direct line to Thomas (d. 1723), John (d. 1761), Charles (d. 1774), John (d. 1840), and John L. W. Dennett (fl. 1887). (fn. 29) The Dennetts seem always to have lived on the estate, (fn. 30) Thomas (d. 1723) and John (d. 1840) serving as high sheriff. (fn. 31) About 1840 the estate comprised 402 a., (fn. 32) and in 1862 J. L. W. Dennett was one of the chief landowners of the parish. (fn. 33) The estate later passed to Arthur Smith of Bilsborough (d. 1888×1892), whose executors had it in 1895 and 1918. (fn. 34) Between 1922 and 1938 Lt.-Col. R. W. McKergow was lord of the manor, (fn. 35) and in 1946-7 the estate belonged to Thomas Dennett, (fn. 36) possibly a relation of the former owners. The later history has not been traced.
A manor house at Woodmancote was mentioned in 1339 and 1434. (fn. 37) At the centre of the north side of the present building, called Woodmancote Place, (fn. 38) is a one-storeyed sandstone range with a cross passage entered by late medieval doorways. Early in the 17th century a timber-framed upper floor was added, and the house may then have had a conventional three-roomed plan, with the parlour at the south end. (fn. 39) About 1700 the parlour was rebuilt as part of a new five-bayed range running eastwards, with quoins, end chimneys, and dormer windows. (fn. 40) In 1723 there were a hall, two parlours, and at least four chambers, besides offices. (fn. 41) About 1920 the house was refaced and extended eastwards in matching style, and also extended to west and north in revived vernacular style, part timber-framed and part tilehung. On the north side of the house survives a walled court with early 18th-century entrance piers. A barn to the north-west has a late medieval crown-post roof.
There was a park c. 1875 and later, with two ponds north of the house. In the later 19th century the house was approached through the park from the south, (fn. 42) but by 1928 from the west. (fn. 43) The gardens round the house were laid out c. 1923 by J. Cheal and Sons of Crawley. (fn. 44)
The manor of MORLEY was held in 1066 by Alward from Azor. In 1086, when it was described as ½ hide, it was held of William de Braose, like Woodmancote, by William son of Rannulf. (fn. 45) Thereafter it descended with Woodmancote until 1672 or later. (fn. 46) There was a park by 1434. (fn. 47) James Hurst and Philip Gratwicke were taxed on parts of the Morley estate in 1678. (fn. 48)
In the 18th century and earlier 19th Morley farm and Park (or Morley Park) farm seem to have remained in one ownership. Morley Park farm, of 166 a., was settled in 1768 on the marriage of John Plumer and Eleanor, daughter of Richard Morton. (fn. 49) Thomas Coppard was described as lord of Morley Park manor in 1793, (fn. 50) and in 1818 he or a namesake was living at Park Farm. (fn. 51)
By c. 1840, however, the two estates had been separated. Thomas Coppard then had Morley farm, of 134 a., but Park farm, of 184 a., belonged to Mrs. Lucretia Wood of Chestham Park in Henfield, (fn. 52) passing by 1867 to Arthur Smith of Bilsborough (d. 1888×1892), whose executors had it in 1906. (fn. 53) R. W. McKergow was owner in 1910. In 1920 he sold it, (fn. 54) and by 1923 it had passed to A. M. Lamb, (fn. 55) one of the chief landowners in the parish in 1938, (fn. 56) who offered it for sale in 1947 when it comprised 196 a. in Woodmancote and 80 a. in Henfield. (fn. 57) Morley farm in 1910 apparently belonged to Lawrence Smith. (fn. 58) The later history of the two estates has not been traced.
A manor house at Morley was mentioned in 1434. (fn. 59) The present building is a mid 17th-century timber-framed house of three-roomed plan with a later rear outshut; it was encased in brick in the 19th century.
The timber framing of the main east-west range of Park Farm is probably early 17th-century. The short southern wing is probably of the 18th century, when the house was much repaired with brick and hung tiles. The date 1726 on the west side, with the initials EH for Edward Hill, occupier c. 1729, (fn. 60) may date some of the work. In 1729 there were at least four chambers and a garret. (fn. 61) Two large wings on the north side, forming an open courtyard, were added after the First World War in vernacular style by Fowlers of Cowfold. (fn. 62)
The manor of WICK was held of Lewes rape in 1279 and later. (fn. 63) William de la Mare held land at Wick before 1189. (fn. 64) In 1267 Stephen Marshal of Wick granted Wick manor to Robert Aguillon in exchange for a rent charge from Perching manor in Fulking, (fn. 65) and William Aguillon was dealing with lands in Woodmancote, possibly the same, in 1282. (fn. 66) In 1315 John de la Mare of Garsington (Oxon.) died seised of Sands manor, possibly Perching Sands in Fulking, together with the hamlet of Wick; (fn. 67) the de la Mare family in the 13th century had been lords of the manor of Sands. (fn. 68) After 1315 the two manors descended together, being known from the 16th century as the single manor of WICKENSANDS. (fn. 69)
John de la Mare's sister and heir Isabel, widow of Thomas of Maidenhatch, (fn. 70) died seised of both manors in 1318, leaving as heirs her daughters Joan, Sibyl, Isabel, and Margaret. (fn. 71) Margaret and her husband William of Tendring were dealing with the two manors in 1319-20, (fn. 72) but by 1339-40 her share and those of Sibyl and Isabel had evidently passed to Joan and her husband Richard Laxman. (fn. 73) William Laxman, perhaps Richard's son, died in 1374, devising the two manors to Lewes priory, (fn. 74) which, however, does not seem to have received them. William Percy, Robert Poynings, and Hugh Quecche were said in 1402 to have lately taken possession. (fn. 75) By 1434 the manors belonged to the same or another Robert Poynings (d. 1446), who was succeeded by his granddaughter Eleanor and her husband Henry Percy, (fn. 76) from 1455 earl of Northumberland (d. 1461). (fn. 77)
At Eleanor's death in 1484 she was succeeded by her son Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland (fn. 78) (d. 1489), whose son and namesake (fn. 79) (d. 1527) was succeeded by his son, another namesake, (fn. 80) who was dealing with the manors in 1532. (fn. 81) By 1547 John Sackville had Wickensands manor, so called; (fn. 82) at his death in 1557 he was succeeded by his son Sir Richard (fn. 83) (d. 1566), whose son (fn. 84) Sir Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, granted it in 1590 to the lessee Thomas Beard. (fn. 85) In 1558-9 the demesne lands had comprised 284 a. (fn. 86) Beard was succeeded in 1599 by his son and namesake, (fn. 87) who had the manor in 1615. (fn. 88)
The name Thomas Beard of Wick occurs frequently in the 17th century. (fn. 89) Thomas Beard, called the elder, was lord in 1685, (fn. 90) but it was presumably Thomas Beard the younger who sold the manor in 1700 to John Ellis, who in turn sold it in 1705 to Edward Burt. The latter in 1719 made it over to his son, also Edward, who was living at Wick Farmhouse in 1723, and who was succeeded by his son, another Edward, between 1737 and 1754. The last named Edward sold the manor in 1760 to Merrik Burrell, (fn. 91) after which it descended in the Burrell family until 1910 or later with West Grinstead. (fn. 92) In 1768 the estate comprised 363 a., (fn. 93) and in 1830 nearly 600 a. (fn. 94) Sir Percy Burrell in 1862 was one of the chief landowners in the parish. (fn. 95) In 1920 Wick farm comprised 321 a. including c. 55 a. in Albourne; (fn. 96) it was bought in that year by East Sussex county council, which divided it into small farms and holdings. In 1984 the land belonged to West Sussex county council. (fn. 97)
A house on Wick manor was described as ruinous in 1318, (fn. 98) but in 1374 evidently had a chapel. (fn. 99) Part of an early 17th-century farmhouse, presumably that at which Thomas Beard was taxed on five hearths in 1665, (fn. 100) survives within the south front of a doublepile red brick house of c. 1710. The house is of six bays and two storeys, a third storey depicted in 1768 (fn. 101) having been removed. There is a staircase of c. 1710 and an 18th-century front doorcase with fluted pilasters and a segmental pediment. Traces of terraced gardens survived to the north-west in 1984, but a lake depicted in 1768 north-west of the house (fn. 102) had gone by c. 1840. (fn. 103)
HOLMBUSH FARM in the south-east corner of the parish, originally part of the demesne lands of Wickensands manor, comprised 100 a. in 1680 and 110 a. in Woodmancote and Edburton in 1787. In 1698 Thomas Beard of Wick conveyed it to Elizabeth Stone (d. after 1704), whose daughter and heir Catherine, widow of Thomas Beard, was succeeded by her son Ralph (fl. 1740). In 1787 Ralph's four daughters and heirs sold it to Charles Goring, after which it descended with Wiston (fn. 104) until it was sold in 1944. (fn. 105)
Holmbush Farm is a four-bayed house of the later 16th century, the shorter central bay which now contains the brick chimneystack having probably been designed for a smoke bay.
The tithing of Blackstone belonged in 1316 to the bishop of Chichester. (fn. 106) John Beard was owner or occupier of lands called BLACKSTONE in the 1560s. (fn. 107) From the later 17th century what was apparently the same estate belonged to a junior branch of the Dennett family of Woodmancote manor, passing from father to son through John (d. 1686), John (fl. 1690-1705), John (fl. 1757), and John (fl. 1759). (fn. 108) Another John Dennett had part of the estate in 1830, part having passed before 1811 to William Borrer. (fn. 109) Borrer's part was conveyed in 1861 by John and Sarah Anne Borrer to Arthur Smith of Bilsborough, whose executors were dealing with it in 1893. (fn. 110) Lawrence Smith owned land at Blackstone in 1910. (fn. 111) In 1938 Capt. A. G. Miller of Blackstone was one of the chief landowners of the parish. (fn. 112)
A house at Blackstone which was empty and almost ruined in 1679 was then said to have been the manor house. (fn. 113)
Robert of Ardern was granted free warren at NUTKNOWLE in 1327, (fn. 114) and died seised of the lands in 1331-2. (fn. 115) Joan Gratwicke (fl. 1542) apparently owned the estate, (fn. 116) James Gratwicke had lands at Nutknowle in the early 1560s, (fn. 117) and in 1588 John Gratwicke conveyed the estate to John Bynwyne of Henfield. (fn. 118) In the 17th and earlier 18th centuries it belonged to members of the Hill or Hills family, including Edward (fl. 1626), John (d. c. 1643), Edward (fl. 1645, d. 1662), John (fl. 1669-71), John (fl. 1714, d. 1727), (fn. 119) and John (fl. 1732). (fn. 120) In the later 18th century it belonged to James Lloyd, who exchanged it with William Borrer of Pakyns in Hurstpierpoint. From him it passed before c. 1840 to his grandson John Hamlin Borrer (d. before 1873). About 1840 the estate comprised 165 a. (fn. 121) A Mrs. Blackburne owned it in 1910. (fn. 122) In 1923 and apparently in 1946 C. D. Tracey was owner. (fn. 123)
Nutknowle Farm includes a timber-framed house of the early 17th century with a main range and north cross wing. It was extended and partly cased in brick in the early 19th century. There is a sandstone external chimneystack on the north side. It was perhaps the house at which Peter Hill was taxed on seven hearths in 1664. (fn. 124)
In 1708 Thomas Dennett, lord of Woodmancote manor, conveyed lands called BILSBOROUGH to John Dennett of Bolney and his son John. By 1724, however, they were again descending with Woodmancote, as also in 1792. (fn. 125) A second estate, called Bilsborough farm, of 200 a., descended between 1768 and c. 1840 with Morley Park farm. (fn. 126) A third estate, called Bilsborough or Little Bilsborough, belonged in 1729 to Samuel Woolger (fn. 127) (d. by 1756), whose heir John Woolger left it in 1757 to his wife Mary for life; it was afterwards divided in two, but united again in 1785 when John's sons William and John conveyed a moiety to Catherine Becket, who already owned the other moiety. (fn. 128) About 1840 Thomas Becket owned the estate, when it comprised 89 a. (fn. 129)
Arthur Smith of Bilsborough was one of the chief landowners of the parish in 1862; after his death between 1888 and 1892 the estate apparently descended with Woodmancote manor. (fn. 130)
At the centre of the west front of the house called Bilsborough in 1985 is part of a large timber-framed building of the later 16th century. In the early 17th century it was extended southwards, and an original east range was removed and replaced by a large new block possibly designed as a kitchen. (fn. 131) The north end of the house was enlarged and extensively reconstructed c. 1923 by Fowlers of Cowfold, (fn. 132) and its original form is no longer clear.
An unidentified hide was held of Woodmancote manor by a knight in 1086. (fn. 133)
William of Edburton granted to Lewes priory c. 1190 all the land in Woodmancote which he had inherited from his uncle Gilbert of Pudenden. (fn. 134) No more is heard of it.