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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No demesne ploughteams and only one tenants' team, belonging to 5 villani and 4 bordars, were recorded in 1086 on Ifield manor. (fn. 1) Assarting from waste land or woodland is presumably reflected in the parish name, and in farm names like Amberley, Langley, and Deerswood. (fn. 2) Future assarts were envisaged at the endowment of the vicarage in 1247. (fn. 3) There is no certain evidence for the existence of open fields in the parish. (fn. 4) The ninth of sheaves was worth sixteen times those of lambs and fleeces in 1340, but at that date the inhabitants were said to subsist only by great labour (multis laboribus). Hemp, flax, and fruit were then grown, cattle, pigs, and geese raised, and bees kept. (fn. 5) Goffs Park (fn. 6) and the 19th-century Bonnets (fn. 7) farm preserve medieval surnames recorded in the parish; the name Stumbleholm, recorded from 1448, may express contempt for a decrepit or inconsiderable holding. (fn. 8) Common pasture mentioned near Deerswood in the Middle Ages (fn. 9) was probably Ifield green; there may then have been other common pasture too, as later. There was demesne meadow on Ifield manor in 1086, (fn. 10) and on Rusper priory's land in 1341; (fn. 11) it lay presumably along the river Mole and its tributaries.
Between the 16th century and the mid 19th there were freehold tenements of Ifield (fn. 12) and Prestwood manors. (fn. 13) The former lay partly around the village (fn. 14) and partly in the south and south-west, and also included the George inn in Crawley. (fn. 15) In 1739 c. 25 tenants of the manor held c. 27 tenements. (fn. 16) At least one tenement granted from the waste in the earlier 19th century was copyhold. (fn. 17) Tenements of Prestwood lay in the north and west, (fn. 18) and extended into Charlwood and Newdigate in Surrey. (fn. 19) It is not clear whether the tenants of John Fenner, lord of Bonwicks manor, listed in 1566 (fn. 20) were manorial tenants or lessees of demesne land. Only one other reference has been found to land held of Bonwicks. (fn. 21) Land in the parish was also held of manors outside it, namely Horley (Surr.) or Wykeland in Charlwood (Surr.), (fn. 22) Shiremark in Charlwood, (fn. 23) Crawley, (fn. 24) Slaugham, of which land south of Crawley village was held, (fn. 25) Knepp in Shipley, (fn. 26) Southwick, of which Goffs farm was held by service of collecting rents of the manor, presumably in the Weald, (fn. 27) and Denne in Warnham, of which Stumbleholm farm, otherwise Sandfield, and other lands were held. (fn. 28) The Ifield manor demesne was mentioned in 1532; (fn. 29) about the same date the rectory was being leased, (fn. 30) as was the demesne of Prestwood in the 1570s and 1580s. (fn. 31) Bonwicks manor demesne in 1566 was said to comprise 320 a. in Ifield and Rusper. (fn. 32)
Buckswood farm, on the edge of the high uninclosed land of St. Leonard's Forest, existed by 1649, (fn. 33) and Ifield park on the northern edge of the parish had been divided into three farms by 1687. (fn. 34) Wheat and summer corn were grown in the earlier 18th century, (fn. 35) and c. 1800 it was said that 16 or 18 bu. of wheat, 24 bu. of oats, and 16 bu. of peas were raised to the acre. More oats than wheat were grown in 1801. (fn. 36) In 1841 the soil was described as cold and stiff, generally low-lying and wet; nevertheless 2,800 a. were then estimated to be under cultivation, as against 948 a. of meadow, pasture, and common land. There were 5 a. of hops in 1847. (fn. 37) A grazier was mentioned in the parish in 1666. (fn. 38) Another parishioner in 1670 had c. 100 sheep, and in 1701 the miller at Ifield water mill kept sheep, cattle, and pigs. (fn. 39) In 1801 there were listed in the parish 375 cattle, including draught oxen, 516 sheep, and 321 pigs. (fn. 40) Pastoral farming was little practised in 1841; few cattle were then bred in the parish, and very few sheep fattened, the only other livestock, besides working cattle, being lambs taken in for winter keep. (fn. 41)
Prestwood common on Prestwood manor was mentioned in 1636. (fn. 42) From c. 1661 John Fenner and three others were to have common rights there from Michaelmas to Martinmas (11 November) only. (fn. 43) By 1717 only one commoner, Richard Arnold, remained, with the right to pasture at least 12 beasts; in that year, however, the common was divided between him and the lord of the manor Thomas Arnold, Thomas having 90 a. on the south side, and Richard 60 a. on the north. (fn. 44) Ifield green, otherwise Church field, was commonable in 1636, (fn. 45) and Ifield wood was described as a common in 1687. (fn. 46) Mention was made in 1761 of the east and west commons of Ifield manor, (fn. 47) perhaps Ifield green and Ifield wood respectively, since the latter was later described as Westwood common. (fn. 48) Lowfield heath was also commonable in 1761 by the manor tenants, who together with the demesne lessees were forbidden at that date to put more animals in summer there and on Ifield green than they could keep on their holdings in winter. (fn. 49) About 1840 Ifield wood comprised 76 a., Ifield green 43 a., and the portion of Lowfield heath within the parish 14 a. (fn. 50) Other commons of the manor mentioned from the later 18th century were West, Goose, Soutons, Gossops, and Langley greens. (fn. 51)
Various encroachments on the commons were made in the later 18th century and early 19th, some illegally; (fn. 52) they included arable closes on the southern edges of Ifield green and Lowfield heath, cottages and a windmill built on Ifield green, and three island inclosures within Ifield wood. (fn. 53) Illegal encroachments were ordered to be thrown open in the 1840s. (fn. 54) In 1855 all the commons and roadside waste of Ifield manor, except for Ifield wood, were inclosed. After sales of land to pay expenses, the lords received 11 a. on Ifield green, to be used only as sheep pasture and for recreation, and 34 a. besides; 22 other tenants, including the vicar, received allotments of up to 10 a. The parish officers received 1 a. on Ifield green and the triangular site later occupied by St. Peter's church at West Green as allotments for the labouring poor. (fn. 55) A cottage with 7 a. at the north-west corner of Ifield wood had the right to pasture 16 bullocks or 8 horses there in 1864, (fn. 56) and pasture rights were still exercised in the later 19th or earlier 20th century. (fn. 57) Ifield wood was registered as a common in 1967 and 1969, but had ceased to be grazed by cattle before 1986. Ifield green was registered as a village green in 1980, when it belonged to Crawley borough council. (fn. 58)
In 1844 there were 27 farms over 40 a. in area, of which 16 were over 100 a. The largest landowner was the Rodney estate (1,364 a.), which had six large farms, all tenanted: Ifield Court farm of 411 a., and five others of between 140 a. and 240 a. The only other farm over 300 a. was the Bonwicks manor home farm. Only one farm over 40 a. was then in hand. (fn. 59) Landowning in the parish was consolidated between 1844 and 1867, when the Rodney estate had c. 1,700 a. and there were said to be only eight or nine other landowners; by then there were only c. 20 farms over 30 a. in area, including 'three or four' of between 300 a. and 500 a. (fn. 60) Nineteen holdings out of 82 listed in 1909 were over 50 a., more land being rented than in owner occupation. (fn. 61) There were five farms in the parish over 150 a. in area in 1938. (fn. 62) In 1943 the Ifield manor estate comprised 1,268 a., or most of the west half of the parish; its seven farms were all let, the largest being Ifield Court and Park House farms, of 261 a. and 173 a. respectively. (fn. 63)
Little Prestwood farm in 1864 was said to have been largely underdrained within the last few years, but was then offered for sale for sport as well as agriculture. (fn. 64) In 1867 the parish produced an average of 6 or 7 sacks of wheat an acre. (fn. 65) In 1875 there was more arable than pasture, the chief crops being wheat and oats, and sheep being more numerous than cattle. By 1909, however, more than half the parish was permanent pasture, chiefly for cattle. (fn. 66) Ifield Court farm was a dairy farm by 1904, (fn. 67) as was Ginhams farm south-east of Ifield village by 1910. (fn. 68) Ewhurst Place farm had a large dairy herd in 1932, (fn. 69) and in 1943 all seven farms on the Ifield manor estate were down to grass, chiefly for dairying. (fn. 70) A breeder of Jersey and Guernsey cattle and of horses was mentioned in 1938. (fn. 71) Pastoral farming remained predominant in the rural part of the parish in 1985.
Market gardening was also carried on from the later 19th century. There were 9 a. of orchards in 1875, and by 1909 there were 65 a. of orchards and 41 a. of small fruit. (fn. 72) Ifield Nursery, south-east of Ifield station, existed by 1903, growing cucumbers and tomatoes, and survived in 1960. Robert Neal of Bonnets Nursery on the Surrey border was described in 1905 as nurseryman, seedsman, florist, and landscape gardener; the nursery still existed in 1946. There were other nurseries at Langley Green and elsewhere in the parish on the outskirts of Crawley town; the biggest nursery in the area, however, that of J. Cheal and Sons, lay just over the Surrey border. (fn. 73) The Crawley Beauty apple was first grown at Martyr's Farm north of Crawley town in Ifield parish. (fn. 74) There were four poultry farmers in the parish in 1913. (fn. 75)
Ifield water mill, succeeding the ironworks in the south part of the parish, (fn. 79) was apparently built in 1683 by Thomas Middleton. (fn. 80) Members of the Quaker family of Garton were millers in the later 17th and earlier 18th centuries; William Garton (d. c. 1701) farmed both in Ifield and at Bewbush in Lower Beeding, and had a house with at least 12 rooms. (fn. 81) The present weatherboarded mill building is late 18th- or early 19th-century; there is no evidence for the traditional date of 1817, (fn. 82) and it is more likely to have been the new mill that could supply 16 sacks of flour a day in 1801. (fn. 83) A steam engine is said to have been installed by 1835; (fn. 84) steam as well as water power was used in the early 20th century, and in 1922 the occupiers were also corn, oilcake, and offal merchants, and dealers in hay and straw. The mill seems to have ceased working in the late 1920s. (fn. 85) It was bought in 1974 by Crawley borough council and afterwards restored, (fn. 86) machinery from a mill near Burgess Hill being inserted. (fn. 87) In 1983 it was leased to the Crawley museum society. (fn. 88)
Two other millers in the parish besides the occupant of the water mill were recorded in 1818 and 1821. (fn. 89) The field name Windmill field recorded c. 1840 north-west of Langley green (fn. 90) may indicate the site of the mill worked by one of them. A portion of Ifield green was granted before 1837 to James Bristow, miller and farmer, who by then had built a windmill on it. (fn. 91) A steam engine had been added by 1855. (fn. 92) The Wood family, at one time of Ifield Court farm, operated the mill in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (fn. 93) The upper part of the windmill was dismantled in 1898, (fn. 94) and in 1928 the steam engine was acquired by the Science Museum; (fn. 95) in 1985 it was on permanent loan in Berlin. (fn. 96) The mill building was converted before 1965 for a youth club. (fn. 97)
Markets and fairs.
The market at Crawley recorded from 1202, when it was on Wednesdays, and the fair recorded from 1279 (fn. 98) were evidently held in the wide High Street, like the two later fairs which flourished between the late 18th and early 20th centuries. (fn. 99) About 1900 cattle were sold at the south end of the town near the station, and horses north of the George hotel; there was also a pleasure fair, held at the north end of the town and in the adjacent Town mead. (fn. 100) As a result of the great increase in road traffic in the early 20th century the fair was removed to adjacent fields apparently in Ifield Road in the 1920s, (fn. 101) and was discontinued soon afterwards. By 1929 there was an auction market on alternate Fridays which occupied 650 sq. yd., mostly uncovered, apparently on the west side of High Street; dairy produce, fruit, vegetables, and poultry were sold. (fn. 102)
The site of a medieval bloomery north-east of Stumbleholm Farm is indicated by field names and by cinder of a primitive type found there. (fn. 103) Two ironworkers were living in Crawley vill, possibly in Ifield parish, in 1379. (fn. 104) Ironstone was dug in the south and west, for instance at Hyde Hill, in large quantities. (fn. 105) There were both a forge and a furnace at Ifield in the later 16th or early 17th century, but their history is problematical since the furnace at Bewbush in Lower Beeding 2/3 mile upstream was also called Ifield furnace. (fn. 106) The furnace leased by Thomas Ilman c. 1567, however, was certainly in Ifield; in 1568 he mortgaged it to Roger Gratwicke the elder (d. 1570), whose son and namesake claimed it in 1572–3. (fn. 107) The hammerpond bay is c. 150 yd. long. The ironworks later belonged to Sir Thomas Shirley and were leased to members of the Middleton family. (fn. 108) They are said to have been destroyed by Sir William Waller in 1643 and not restored. (fn. 109)
Other trade and industry.
The tanner and the one or more cloth weavers recorded in Crawley vill in 1380 (fn. 110) may have lived in Ifield parish. A clothworker of Ifield was named in 1609, (fn. 111) and other weavers later. (fn. 112) Other trades recorded in the parish in the 17th and 18th centuries were those of cooper, (fn. 113) mercer, (fn. 114) carpenter, butcher, (fn. 115) smith, (fn. 116) wheelwright, (fn. 117) bricklayer, (fn. 118) and glover. (fn. 119) Many tradesmen probably lived in Crawley village, but there was a shop next to Ifield churchyard in 1711, (fn. 120) and a smithy by Ifield green in 1761. (fn. 121) There was a surgeon in Crawley by 1722; (fn. 122) another surgeon who practised there in the 1790s lived in the Ifield part of the village. (fn. 123)
Many tradesmen were recorded in the rural part of Ifield in the 19th and earlier 20th centuries. In 1833 there were a wheelwright's shop, a shoemaker's, and a butcher's at the south-west corner of Ifield green; (fn. 124) there may have been a grocer there in 1855, and there was a grocer in Ifield Street in 1899. The lessee of Ifield Court farm was also a land and timber surveyor and agricultural appraiser in 1874. There was a builder in 1905. In 1934 other tradesmen in the rural part of Ifield included a tailor, a shopkeeper, and a chimneysweep, and there was also a midwife. (fn. 125)
A much greater variety of trades and services, however, was offered by Crawley village, later town, during the same period; already by 1793, besides the surgeon mentioned, there had been an apothecary, and specialized tradesmen such as a sackmaker and a horse-collar maker. (fn. 126) By c. 1832 there were a watch and clock maker, a glover and breeches maker, and a hairdresser. (fn. 127) The railway brought new kinds of business to Crawley, those in the part of the town within Ifield parish including the corn, coal, and lime merchant's mentioned from 1862, (fn. 128) the two breweries belonging to members of the Ockenden family which existed by the 1870s, (fn. 129) and the building firms of Richard Cook & Sons and James Longley, later James Longley & Co. Cooks, which existed by 1874, survived in 1951. (fn. 130) Longleys, which moved to a site beside Crawley station in 1881, became one of the chief building firms of south-east England, employing 700 men by 1898, and working on such projects as Christ's Hospital, Horsham, the King Edward VII Sanatorium at Midhurst, and, later, the development of the new town. (fn. 131) The revival of road transport in the 20th century brought further new kinds of employment, with the opening of motor engineers' businesses, garages, and tea shops. (fn. 132) The business of Ambrose Shaw, recorded from 1890, assembled cycles and later motor cars, (fn. 133) while Gadsdon's garage south of the railway level crossing, founded in 1905, survived in 1986. (fn. 134) The Albany temperance hotel in High Street was founded to serve cyclists c. 1895, and in 1921 had large pleasure grounds and tea gardens. (fn. 135) During the Second World War large R.E.M.E. workshops for repairing tanks were built on the west side of London Road north of the town. (fn. 136) Long-lived craft or retail businesses in the Ifield part of Crawley town during the period included those of Millers the saddlers, which flourished from the 1830s or earlier until the 1930s, Warrens' hardware business founded c. 1880 which survived as Crawley Timber in 1968, (fn. 137) and Smiths the drapers, founded by c. 1832 as a business of grocer and corn and coal dealer, which survived in 1986. (fn. 138) A Crawley and Ifield Co-operative Society was established in 1888, and had successive shops on the west side of High Street. (fn. 139) Department stores and branches of chain stores arrived in Crawley in the early 20th century. (fn. 140) By 1922 the town was said to be self-sufficient for all ordinary requirements. (fn. 141) West Green, the western suburb of Crawley in Ifield parish in the later 19th century, had a variety of tradesmen, for instance a cooper and an auctioneer in 1845, a grocer and glass and china dealer and a broom maker in 1874, a vet in 1878, and a toy dealer, a plumber, a coal merchant, and a fishmonger in 1882. (fn. 142) In the earlier 20th century the two chief businesses there were a laundry in Leopold Road and the factory of the Crawley Cake and Biscuit Co. in Ifield Road. (fn. 143)
The rapid growth of Crawley in the later 19th century caused the opening of several short-lived brickyards around the town, near Lowfield heath, at West Green, and in East Park south-east of the railway station. (fn. 144) In the late 19th century and earlier 20th much work was also provided by the large houses and estates in the rural part of the parish, for instance as farm bailiffs, gamekeepers, and gardeners. (fn. 145) There was a livery stables at Bonwycks Place in 1985. (fn. 146)