A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 7, the Rape of Lewes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1940.
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Wivelsfield (fn. 1) is a parish in the Weald with an area of 2,541 acres. In 1934 parts of it were transferred to the urban districts of Cuckfield and Burgess Hill. The soil is clay and mixed sand; the subsoil clay and sandstone. Carnation-growing is an industry of the parish. The elevation of the parish is highest in the north, where it reaches 280 ft.; the centre of the parish is little over 100 ft., but on the eastern side it rises at various points to 200 ft. The road from Ditchling to Haywards Heath runs north up the middle of the parish, with Great Ote Hall and Lunces Hall (a modern house) to the west of it. More House is on the roadside to the east, and opposite it a lane turns off to the church. Shortly before reaching Moat House and More House a road branches off to the east, with Ote Hall Congregational Chapel in the angle, leading to Wivelsfield Green and Chailey North Common. A little way along this road Berth Lane (retaining the Domesday name) turns north and eventually leads into the Scaynes Hill road. In Wivelsfield Green lanes branch in many directions. South of it a portion of the parish projects south between Westmeston and Streat parishes, and includes Coldharbour and Lashmar Wood. The main road, after passing More House, continues past Lunces Common and rises again towards Haywards Heath. A little north of Lunces Common a lane turns north-east from the main road leading to Haywards Heath and joins another main road running east from Haywards Heath to Scaynes Hill. Franklyns is situated along this road, to the east of the Asylum, and formerly marked the extreme north of the parish, but it is now in Cuckfield.
A stream coming from the north-west portion of Ditchling Common winds circuitously through the west side of the parish, in an S shape, round Great Ote Hall Wood and Lunces Hall. Another twisting stream runs down the eastern boundary of the parish. The western edge of the parish runs parallel to the railway line, Wivelsfield station being outside the parish. Besides Ote Hall Congregational Chapel, erected in 1778 by the Countess of Huntingdon, who lived at Ote Hall, where a room was fitted up as a chapel, there is a Baptist Chapel, built in 1780.
There are a few old houses near the church. The Post Office, east of it, has an external chimney-stack of the late 16th century; and a three-bayed brick and tiled house farther east has a stepped stack of slightly earlier type, serving a wide oak-lintelled fire-place.
Great Ote Hall, (fn. 2) standing in extensive grounds, is of two stories with attics; the walls are half-timbered on sandstone plinths or later brick renewals, and there are three massive brick chimney-stacks; the roofs are covered with Horsham slates. It is of T-shaped plan, with a modern south projection in similar style; the stem of the T is probably of c. 1550, while the head or east wing is dated 1600, and shows a symmetrical front. Of the older part, the south front has been greatly repaired, and a modern entrance annexe built, containing a 16th-century door; this and some of the overmantels and panelling were imported from destroyed houses at Guildford and Godalming. The original entrance was farther west, opposite another doorway in the north wall.
The north front has repaired half-timber work, including an oriel on the first floor, and a modern porch; the attic gables are original, with flatly moulded bargeboards and a slim turned pendant above the oriel. At the west are five chimney shafts set diagonally on a brick plinth and gable; they have cap and base fillets and are possibly renewals of the second period. In the brickwork at first-floor level is a window removed from the southern corner. (fn. 3) A sandstone plinth with rounded top extends from the junction with the modern wing and along the north front; (fn. 4) it ends against the east wing, on the west wall of which there is a higher plinth with narrower chamfer. Another bold brick chimney-stack projects off the west wall here, with three similar shafts, without base fillets. South of this projection is a window of two lights. The north front of the east wing was plastered over until after 1867, (fn. 5) it has a wide gable with original flatly carved barge-board and turned pendant.
The east front has a central porch and on either side a bay of shallower projection: all three are carried up into gables at attic level. Many of the studs have been renewed. In the porch a window replaces the roundheaded doorway seen in Grimm's drawing of c. 1780; (fn. 6) the window above is modern, as is the small gable in which has been inserted an original pediment with the initials G/TM and date 1600. (fn. 7) The flanking bays are similarly of three stories. The north bay has new and wider windows throughout; in the south bay an original five-light remains in the attic. Above the attic windows the beam is original in every case, and moulded, with stop-chamfers. A third large chimney-stack, projecting south, carries four shafts like the others, but with the base fillets carried round spirally.
Some of the gable pendants are original, others copies. Those of the east wing are smaller, more solid and less undercut than that of the 16th-century portion. The lozenge and fleur-de-lis occurs on both types, but the Jacobean pendants have dentils and the monogram [symbol JH]. (fn. 8) The moulded brackets are original.
In the hall can be seen a great post which continues up to attic level. The staircase, moved westwards from opposite the porch in the east wing, (fn. 9) is a fine example of c. 1600, with continuous newels and others with square turned finials and pendants, turned balusters, and roll-moulded handrail. The present dining-room was the kitchen in the first period of the house; in the west wall is a wide fire-place with oak lintel and bread oven; one of the moulded beams is original. The drawing-room ('Old Hall') (fn. 10) occupies the north half of the east wing and includes the former entrance porch; the moulded stone fire-place, with flat fourcentred arch, has an imported overmantel with caryatid figures; some of the woodwork is original, notably a beam with carved stop-chamfers. The rest of this wing is occupied by the 'Old Kitchen'; in the south wall is a wide lintelled fire-place flanked by cupboards. The flooring consists of elm baulks in both periods of the house. Over the dining-room is the so-called 'Queen Elizabeth's Room', with an oriel; the fire-place is chamfered four-centred of a somewhat earlier type, but there are re-used Jacobean panels above; a fine beam terminates with H leaf and daisy carvings. The 'Withdrawing-room' above the drawing-room has much of its original panelling and a fire-place with typical Jacobean composite panels divided by flutings. The 'State Bedroom' over the 'Old Kitchen' has a fire-place like that in the drawing-room, and the over-mantel has three scalloped arches separated by fluted pilasters, and anno G/TM 1609, for Thomas and Mary Godman; east of it is an original door. (fn. 11)
Antye lies in a lane off the road from Haywards Heath to Keymer. The house is of two stories; the walls are timber-framed in wide panels. It was built in the late 16th century and contains a two-bayed hall with a parlour at either end. The hall has a fine moulded beam, with a later partition under, and shares a central chimney-stack with the northern parlour; both have wide oak-lintelled fire-places, with a coved cornice over the hall one, and the lower parlour has another wide fire-place in the west wall. The timberframing is visible internally, and there are chamfered ceiling-beams exposed on both floors. The two eastern porches are apparently modern, but over one is said to be a board with 1626 studded in nails. Theobalds, farther south, has a doorway similarly dated 1627, but the house chiefly shows 18th-century brick and a roof of Horsham slates. There are traces of a moat, and stone foundations have been discovered, indicating a larger house originally. (fn. 12)
More Place is a moated site opposite the road to the church. The moat is especially good on the south and west and has a stone revetment in part. Above are walls in 16th-century brick, with a curved brick or sandstone coping; a square garden turret is probably contemporary, but is concealed by plaster. The house shows an L-shaped frontage to the road, with tilehanging over plastered brick; this part appears to have changed little since Grimm's drawing of 1780, (fn. 13) except for the transference of the entrance from the west wing, near the junction, to the centre of the front facing the road. The west wing is said to have been added in 1769–80. The south block is chiefly modernized internally, probably after a fire in the 18th century, and its floors are at a different level from those of the older work in the kitchens east of it; the south room shows inserted Elizabethan panelling in the mantelpiece, and a stop-chamfered beam. A loggia has been added at the south or garden end, and a 1595 datestone from the cellar has been inserted in a modern office farther east. (fn. 14) The kitchen seems of about 1600 with a wide fire-place on the east wall; a bread oven, the subject of a lurid legend, (fn. 15) shows in a small room off it on the south-east. There are exposed stop-chamfered ceiling-beams in the kitchen and the room above it. Farther east again is a contemporary or older block, containing a single-storied hall of two bays with a wide oak-lintelled fire-place on the outside wall, and at the north end a two-storied gabled wing projecting east. This wing is of three bays with thin bricks as filling between structural angle posts, tile-hanging above, and a chamfered sandstone plinth at the west end.
Pepper Hall, north of the road to Wivelsfield Green, is an early-17th-century house with three bays of two stories, and an attic over the south or parlour bay, which is roofed transversely. The timber-framing in square panels is exposed, partly brick-filled, over later brick. The fine central chimney-stack serves wide oak-lintelled fire-places to the hall and parlour, the latter having sandstone jambs. A moulded beam divides the hall into two bays.
Lockstrood, off the east side of the Ditchling road, is a small late-16th-century building of two bays with two stories and attics; there is an outshot to the south, probably added in the 18th century when the east end wall was rebuilt in brick, also the ground floor throughout. The original timber-framing in wide panels is exposed at first-floor level. An external chimney stack at the west end serves a wide lintelled fire-place on each floor.
There has never been a manor of Wivelsfield. Berth, now a farm in this parish, in 1086 was an estate of 1½ hides belonging to William de Warenne, and was probably part of the manor of Hurstpierpoint (q.v.). (fn. 16) Other lands in Wivelsfield are later found included in the manors of Ditchling (fn. 17) and Plumpton. (fn. 18)
The manor of OTEHALL [Ottehale (xiii and xiv cent.); Oatehole, Othale (xvi cent.)] was held in the 16th century of the manor of Withdean-Cayliffe (fn. 19) by fealty and rent of 15s. (fn. 20) In the 13th century the estate was held by Richard de Ottehale, who was succeeded by his daughter Maud; and her son Richard de la Donne at her request granted Otehall to his brother John, (fn. 21) whose descendants were probably known as de Ottehale. John de Ottehale senior and junior occur in 1292, (fn. 22) and a John de Ottehale in 1348 granted 'Ottehaleslond' to William de Ottehale. (fn. 23) Richard de Ottehale appears in 1370, and Thomas was lord of the manor in 1377 and 1381. (fn. 24) Soon after that date it came into the possession of Richard Kentish, who held courts there from 1395 to 1419. (fn. 25) It subsequently passed to the Attree family, John Attree's first court being held in February 1438, (fn. 26) and remained with his descendants for almost a century. There were, however, other claimants, perhaps representatives of a certain Walter de Otehale who is given as the former owner, and the dispute dragged on from 1439 to 1502, when William and Thomas Attree at length obtained a settlement with William and Richard Bust, by which the former retained the lands in Wivelsfield, Clayton, and Chiltington, and the latter received those in other parishes. (fn. 27) William Attree was succeeded by his son Thomas sometime before 1523, (fn. 28) and about this time the manor was alienated for a period to John Michell; he died in 1525 leaving it to his son John, who died in possession of it in 1546. (fn. 29) In the meantime Thomas Attree in 1537 conveyed Otehall to Thomas Godman, who was perhaps his son-in-law; (fn. 30) and John and Edmund Michell quitclaimed their rights to him in 1541. (fn. 31) Thomas Godman died in 1559 and the manor was held successively by his sons Richard, who died in 1562, and Thomas, who was succeeded by his son Thomas in 1612. Edward Godman, son of the latter, followed his father in 1624, but on the death of his son John in 1718 the male line became extinct, and Otehall was bequeathed to William Shirley, son of John's daughter Elizabeth. (fn. 32) He became Governor of the Bahamas, (fn. 33) and on account of his prolonged absences conveyed the manor to Francis Warden in 1749 in trust for his family. (fn. 34) The latter by his will in 1785 returned Otehall to the third son Thomas Shirley, then Governor of the Leeward Islands, (fn. 35) who later became a baronet and died in 1800. (fn. 36) His son Sir William Warden Shirley died unmarried in 1816, having sold the manor in 1803 to William Tanner of Moorhouse, who died in 1831. (fn. 37) His son William lived until 1870, (fn. 38) but, as a Miss Tanner was the owner of Otehall in 1867, (fn. 39) he evidently made over the property to his youngest daughter Jane Tanner, who held the manor until her death in 1881, after which it was sold to Major-Gen. Richard Temple Godman. (fn. 40) After his death in 1912 the house was bought by Mr. Herbert Woods, who sold it in 1923 to Mr. Ernest J. Enthoven. He died in 1936 and his son Mr. Roderick Eustace Enthoven sold Otehall to the Godman trustees, so that the manor is again held by the Godman family. (fn. 41)
The manor of FRANKLYNS or FRANKLANDS was perhaps connected with Dyrild Fraunkeleyn who is mentioned in the district in 1332. (fn. 42) Nothing is known of its history until 1529, when it is said to have been owned by Sir Edward Bray. (fn. 43) It was held of the manor of Streat by suit of court and yearly rent of 4d. (fn. 44)
In 1540 it was sold by John son of Richard Mascall of Wivelsfield (fn. 45) to Edmund Pope of Little Horsted, who died in 1550, leaving it to his son Nicholas. The latter was still holding Franklyns in 1592, (fn. 46) but was succeeded by his son Ralph before 1605. (fn. 47) Sackville Pope, son of the latter, sold the manor in 1626 to William Mongre, who conveyed it nine years later to Thomas Luxford, (fn. 48) and he sold it, in 1655, to Thomas Woodyer. (fn. 49) His son succeeded in 1711 and died in 1735 leaving Franklyns to his nephew the Rev. John Woodyer, rector of Lasham, who sold it to Francis Warden in 1754. (fn. 50) The latter dying thirty years later bequeathed the manor to Col. Francis Warden Sergison, who sold it sometime after 1790 to Anthony Tanner. (fn. 51) After the death of the latter in 1832 it was sold by trustees. (fn. 52) During the next fifty years the property was split up and the manorial rights lapsed.
The manor of LUNCES, of which the name survives in Lunce's Common, was held of the manor of Withdean Cayliffe for 15s. rent. (fn. 53) About 1296 Alice daughter and heir of Osbert le Luns granted certain of her villeins with their land and common of pasture to her neighbour John de Ottehale. (fn. 54) In 1478 Richard att Dene held 'Loncesland', and in 1547 Richard Adeane or Warren, doubtless his descendant, owned a house called Lunces, which passed to his widow Agnes in 1550. She made her will in 1557, and of her three sons Richard, John, and Henry, John seems to have inherited Lunces. He died in 1580 leaving the property to his younger son William, from whom it passed to his brother Robert in 1597. In 1624 Robert's son Edmund succeeded and in 1634 bequeathed his 'manor called Lunces' to his daughter Katharine, who married John Rowe of Hurstpierpoint. (fn. 55) Their daughter Katharine, the wife of Henry Rose, conveyed it in 1703 to Joseph Farncombe. (fn. 56) Several owners of the same name seem then to have held it in succession, for in 1730 Joseph Farncombe exchanged the pew belonging to Lunces in Wivelsfield church for that pertaining to Otehall; another Joseph died in 1775; and on the death of his son Joseph in 1812 the 'manor' was sold, apparently to Anthony Tanner, who conveyed it in 1833 to the Rev. Charles Tufnell. Charles Cheeseman purchased it from Mr. Tufnell but again sold it about 1867 to William Bacon, who was the owner in 1887. (fn. 57)
The parish church of ST. PETER AND ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST stands in a lane off the main Hayward's Heath-Ditchling road. The walls are of sandstone rubble and ashlar, with dressings of the same material, the south chapel is plastered; the roofs are tiled, except for the tower which has a shingled cap. Of the original late-11th-century church, only the north door from the nave remains, built into the modern north aisle. The chancel dates from the early 13th century but was lengthened in 1869, and its north wall refaced, while the original east window was moved to the north aisle. (fn. 58) A south aisle was added about the same time in the 13th century, and two bays remain of this arcade. The south chapel is an addition of c. 1300. In the 14th century the nave was lengthened by a west bay, and the previous west respond was enlarged into a second cylindrical pier. The latter was strengthened c. 1500 to support the south-west tower, and the present south aisle dates to the same period. The porch and north aisle were built in 1869. A vestry has recently been added on the north side of the chancel, and the south chapel cleared of the organ.
The chancel (22 ft. 1 in. & times 12 ft. 6 in.) has a modern east wall and window. The north wall is modern as far as the west jamb of its east window; farther west it is refaced, and has a 14th-century window of three trefoiled ogee lights with segmental rear-arches. Under this, but not central, is a more acute segmental-pointed rear-arch and small chamfered oblong window. This may be a 13th-century tomb recess, with window inserted later. The south wall is modern as far as a crack 6 ft. 6 in. from the east angle. The 13th-century piscina has a restored pointed head, drain, and shelf. West of it is a 14th-century chamfered arch leading to the south chapel: it was probably retooled in the 17th century, having boasted bordered masonry. The chancel arch has similar tooling, and is obtuse-pointed, of two chamfered orders; it may be re-tooled 14thcentury work.
The south chapel (12 ft. 9 in. × 11 ft. 6 in.) dates from c. 1300. Its east wall (fn. 59) is remarkable, having a small chamfered lancet above, not quite central and splayed to an equilateral rear-arch, and a wide altar recess below, with obtuse-pointed arch and traces of black and white lozenge pattern above a shelf at the springing line. North of it is an aumbrey with pointed trefoil rebated head. The north wall is cut back to give room for this aumbrey, which may be a later insertion. Farther west is the arch giving access to the chancel. The south wall has a chamfered plinth externally; to the east is a piscina with trefoil head similar to the aumbrey, circular drain, and shelf. The south window, west of the piscina, is a restored two-light, with pointed trefoil heads and segmental-pointed rear-arch. Sharpe's drawing (1805) (fn. 60) gives the window as it is now, but Grimm's (1787) (fn. 61) shows a pierced tympanum. The west wall has a chamfered arch the width of the south aisle and probably 15th-century, although it has boasted tooling similar to the chancel arches. There is a lancet looking over the south aisle—it is south of central to obtain greater length, and was shortened when the aisle was heightened.
The nave (40 ft. × 15 ft. 9 in.) has a modern north arcade of three bays, replacing a late-11th-century wall and 14th-century extension. The early-13th-century south arcade is of two bays with obtuse-pointed arches of two chamfered orders with wide jointing, springing from a massive low cylindrical pier and responds, all with roll-moulded capitals, and bases approximating to the hold-water type. The west respond has been transformed into a pier by the addition of a second halfcolumn of 14th-century date; the mouldings of the earlier capital are continued, with the addition of an intermediate roll to the abacus, giving it three rolls instead of two separated by a hollow. The corbel on the west wall is semi-hexagonal with a typical scrollmoulded and beaded abacus, tapering stem, and roll astragal, supporting an obtuse-pointed arch. Against the composite pier is a block strengthening the 15thcentury tower. The west wall is probably 14th-century work, with a chamfered plinth. The west doorway is contemporary, yet obviously inserted; it may have been the south door to the 14th-century church. It has an equilateral arch with chamfered head and jambs; the hood is ogee-scroll moulded and has returned ends; the rear-arch is restored. Above is a two-light window with 14th-century obtuse-pointed rear-arch and modern tracery. There is a modern buttress between the north aisle and nave, replacing one of 14th-century diagonal type.
The north aisle was added in 1869. In its east wall is the original east window to the chancel, with three chamfered lancets and a chamfered segmental-pointed rear-arch. In the middle of the north wall is the narrow reset north door of the late 11th century; it has projecting imposts with chamfered under-edge, and a semicircular arch of one order and a hood, both with shallow groove and roll mouldings. (fn. 62) The south aisle (27 ft. 8 in. X 7 ft. 6 in.) is of c. 1500. The south wall is built of large coursed blocks, like the tower. It has a cornice and chamfered plinth which continues over two low buttresses. Between the latter is a contemporary window of three delicate trefoil lights with a flat fourcentred lintel. The jambs have two sunk chamfers, and the mullions are hollow-chamfered. The south doorway has a four-centred outer arch; the label has an under-cut chamfer and terminal grotesques; there are leaf carvings in the spandrels. East of it is a contemporary stoup with four-centred arch, the bowl has a mutilated outer edge; the modern porch is cut away to reveal half of it.
The south-west tower (9 ft. × 9 ft. 6 in.) was added c. 1500 and replaced the 14th-century extension of the earlier south aisle; it is built in line with the west wall of the nave and projecting from the contemporary south aisle. It is of two stages divided by a chamfered string, and finished with a chamfered plinth and hollowchamfered cornice and pyramidal cap. There are contemporary buttresses at the free angles. The tower string-course passes over the top-most chamfer of the two southern, but is interrupted at the north-west buttress, which is slightly taller, of coarser construction, and built in four (instead of two) chamfered stages. It continues higher than the west gable of the nave, and is bonded in neither to the west nave wall, nor, as the other buttresses, to the lower stage of the tower, yet its masonry extends into the base of the top stage of the latter. This, with the strengthening of the west pier of the south arcade, suggests a preliminary step to the building of the tower, of which the north wall would otherwise depend for its support on the west bay of the south nave arcade. The east wall is divided from the south aisle by an equilateral arch of two chamfered orders, the north jamb forming part of the aforesaid reinforcement. In the south wall is a window similar to that in the south aisle, but of two lights; the hood is mutilated, with carved stops, an owl to west, a grotesque to east. The west wall retains masonry of the 14th-century aisle extension, the width of which is probably suggested by a step in the chamfered plinth (7 ft. 7 in. from north). A west doorway was blocked when the gallery was removed in 1869. In the second stage the contemporary walls have twolight windows with equilateral heads set in a square frame. Below each, on the south and west walls, is a modern clock face and narrow ogee-headed opening.
The roofs are modern throughout, except for two columnar king-posts of late-17th- or early-18th-century date. The floors are tiled. There is one step at the chancel arch. (fn. 63) The pulpit is partly of the 17th century.
There are five bells: (fn. 64) (1) and (2) 1766, Lester and Pack of London. (3) 1599, Edmund Giles of Lewes. (4) Probably 16th-century—'Wox Agustine Sonet in Aure Dei'—and two shields. (fn. 65) (5) 1714, Samuel Knight of London.
The church of Wivelsfield was given to the priory of St. Pancras at Lewes by the second William de Warenne about 1095. (fn. 66) It was attached as a chapelry to the church of Ditchling before the end of the 12th century (fn. 67) and remained so until the Dissolution. In 1535 the chapel, with the farm of Ditchling Rectory, was in the tenure of John More. (fn. 68) With the other possessions of Lewes Priory it was granted to Thomas Cromwell in 1538, and to Anne of Cleves in 1541, for her life. (fn. 69) The tithes were appropriated, and for some time the living was a perpetual curacy in the Archdeaconry of Lewes, in the patronage of the impropriator. (fn. 70) In the middle of the century the tithes were held by a Mr. Newdigate, and by his widow from 1559 to about 1563, and subsequently by John Chambers in 1565 and Henry Michell in 1570. (fn. 71) In 1585 the 'grange and tithes' were leased by William Webb to Richard Mascall. (fn. 72) The reversion is said to have been acquired by Francis More (of More Place) in 1600, and he died seised of them in 1617. (fn. 73) From Thomas More, the last of the line, who died in 1732, (fn. 74) the rectory and advowson passed to Thomas Middleton (son of his sister Elliott and John Middleton), and subsequently to Frances, sister of Thomas Middleton and wife of Robert Day, who was holding the rectory with her husband in 1743. (fn. 75) Frances Day left it to John Fuller, who conveyed it to Anthony Tanner in 1781. (fn. 76) It was held successively by William Tanner and his son Richard, who was the holder in 1835. (fn. 77) The advowson was devised by John Fuller in 1780 to his nephew William Tanner, and was sold before 1864 to Miss Jane Tanner (fn. 78) of Ote Hall, and after her death in 1881 was sold with the rectory to Charles Longley, (fn. 79) who was the owner until his death in April 1905. His daughter Mrs. Collard sold the advowson in 1927 to the Revs. R. Weston and P. E. Warrington, representing the Martyr's Memorial Trust from which body it was bought in 1935 for transfer to the Chichester Diocesan Board of Patronage. (fn. 80)
Frances More (otherwise Baldings) Charity. Frances More by will dated 12 Dec. 1723 gave a messuage and land situate at Wivelsfield, called 'Baldings', and directed that out of the rents thereof £2 should be paid to the poor of the parish. The endowment now consists of £80 Consols producing £2 a year in dividends.
Thomas Moore's Charity (otherwise More House). Thomas Moore by will dated 7 April 1731 gave a rentcharge of £5 issuing out of an estate in Wivelsfield and Chepsted known as More House Farm for the benefit of the poor of the parish. The rentcharge is regularly received.
Walter Lucas by will dated 27 April 1742 gave a rentcharge of £2 12s. issuing out of land situate in the parish of Ditchling to be distributed in bread to the poor of the parish. The rentcharge is regularly received.