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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Fulking parish covers a long strip of land, threequarters of a mile in width and about 2½ miles in length, running northwards from its boundary with Portslade, a little south of the main ridge of the Downs. The highest part of the parish is called Fulking Hill, and is 659 ft. in height. Between this and Edburton Hill, which is just over 600 ft. high, is Perching Hill, about 50 ft. lower. The parish is entirely agricultural, with sheep pasture on the high Downs, and arable land on the clay and greensand below. There is a mission church, erected in 1925, but Fulking has always been ecclesiastically part of Edburton, in the rape of Bramber. Fulking was in 1894, however, made into a separate civil parish, with an area of 1,552 acres. The population in 1931 was 182.
On Tenant Hill, a spur of the Downs reaching the extreme south-western corner of the parish, are traces of ancient fields, and on the end of the spur itself was an Iron Age and Romano-British settlement. (fn. 1) On the summit of Edburton Hill, just within the parish, is the site of a motte-and-bailey castle, known as Castle Rings. It has a very small rectangular bailey, and an equally insignificant motte. (fn. 2) It is probably an outpost castle constructed soon after the landing in 1066. The boundary of the rape, and the division between East and West Sussex, passes immediately to the west of the motteditch.
The origin of the village seems to have been Fulking Spring, which may still be seen welling out of the foot of the Downs at the end of the village street. This curves away eastwards along the hill-side, and is lined on both sides with old cottages, many of them showing good half-timber work, especially noteworthy being 'Septima Cottage' and 'Kent House', the latter being at the extreme eastern end of the village. Septima Cottage has part of its outshut walling built in masonry, and may be medieval. Kent House is part of a very fine half-timbered house, dating from about 1600, only a bay and a half of which remains. It is a lofty structure raised over a basement, above which are two floors, and is constructed entirely of timber-framing in large braced panels. There remains over the cellar a parlour with its outshut and a large open fire-place with cambered and stop-chamfered chimney beam, and a half-bay, in different occupation, on the other side of the stack. The beams of the first floor are all stop-chamfered.
A large late-16th-century stone-built house, on the north side of the village street, now called 'The Old Farmhouse', was possibly the old manor-house. It is built of a very poor stone, very much decayed, and has brick quoins and a plinth. The original windows are brick-mullioned, and were clearly intended to be plastered. The whole resembles the manor-house of Meeching, Newhaven, which is, however, rather larger, the Fulking house having only a hall and one parlour with the chimney-stack between them. In the thickness of the stack is the newel stair and the entrance door. The hall occupies two bays and the parlour has one, and both have an outshut aisle on the north. There were two upper rooms, but the hall and the room over it have both been divided. The hall fire-place has a cambered and chamfered chimney-beam, as has also that of the room over, but the fire-places of the parlour and its upper room have been modernized. The oak newelstair beside the stack appears to be original. The beams of the first floor are all stop-chamfered. The east gable shows some of the original mullioned windows, but the south windows have all been modernized.
Near the east end of the village is an old house called Fulking Farmhouse. Its south front to the road is good Georgian work, but behind this is the original halftimber house of four bays, probably built about 1600. The interior has been completely modernized and covered with modern panelling.
About 300 yards west of the village is Perching Manor House. A large farm adjoins the house, which is not very old, but the kitchen fire-place has a chamfered four-centred chimney-beam from an earlier structure. The medieval manor-house or castle of Perching stood some 300 yards west of the existing farm-house, and its site is marked by a large square mound, with traces of a moat faintly visible. The castle stood in the middle of the large field adjoining the road, which is diverted on its way from Fulking to avoid the southeast angle of the moat. The hedge on the north side of the field is similarly diverted, and marks the northern limit of the site. The two diversions show the eastern limit of the moat, which cannot otherwise be detected. The western moat, however, has not been completely filled in, and may be clearly seen as a wide shallow depression crossing the field. In dry weather the view of the site from Edburton Hill gives a perfect impression of its formation, the moats themselves being of a darker green than the surrounding field, and the upcast which formed the ramparts turning the grass to brown. There are indications of there having been a counterscarp bank to the western moat. No masonry now remains above ground, but ruins are said to have been visible within the memory of a generation ago. (fn. 3)
The early history of the manor of Fulking is so closely intertwined with that of Perching, also in Edburton parish, that it seems impossible to disentangle it. In 1086 Fulking was held as 3 hides and 1 virgate by Tezelin, the cook, of Earl Warenne, and with it as one manor 2 hides in Perching. (fn. 4) William de Watevile held of Earl Warenne 5½ hides at Perching that were held by two men of Azor before the Conquest, (fn. 5) while Osward continued in occupation of the 3 hides at Perching that he had held of King Edward. (fn. 6)
The overlordship of half a knight's fee, variously ascribed to Fulking (fn. 7) and Perching, (fn. 8) descended with the rape (fn. 9) and was assigned in 1439 to Elizabeth, Lady Bergavenny. (fn. 10) In the 16th century the Crown resumed the overlordship. (fn. 11) This half-fee descended in the Say family, (fn. 12) at least until 1428, (fn. 13) and this connexion gives grounds for linking the half-fee with the 5½ hides in Perching of William de Watevile, (fn. 14) which probably came into the hands of the Chesney family (fn. 15) through the marriage of Ralph de Chesney, living in 1086, with Maud daughter of William de Watevile. (fn. 16) Possessions of the Chesney family subsequently descended by marriage to Geoffrey de Say, early in the 13th century. (fn. 17)
Soon after the Conquest, land in FULKING was held by Godfrey de Bellomonte, (fn. 18) and in 1286 Robert Aguilun died seised of a tenement in Perching, formerly of Sir William Beaumund, (fn. 19) held of Sir William de Say as half a knight's fee, rendering to Earl Warenne for William de Say 2 bushels of beans in lieu of fencing the earl's park of Ditchling. (fn. 20) This was probably the manor of Fulking held by John de Scalariisand his wife Alice. (fn. 21) They, in 1260, released to Robert Aguilun all their rights in two-thirds of the manor, with the reversion of the remaining third, held by John Pycot and his wife Lucy as her dower of the inheritance of Alice. (fn. 22) In 1261 Robert Aguilun's right in one-third of the manor was recognized by Robert de Castre and his wife Joan. (fn. 23)
The land represented by this half-fee then appears to have been merged in the manor of Perching (q.v.) until the death of Thomas de Poynings in 1375, when it possibly constituted the manor of LITTLE PERCHING, held by military service of Robert de Bayvill. (fn. 24) It had been settled on Thomas's wife Blanche (fn. 25) but was held, along with Poynings (q.v.), by his brother Richard who died in 1387. (fn. 26) It was then said to be held of Robert Bevyl. (fn. 27) Isabel, Richard's widow, held it of John Brokere in dower till her death in 1394. (fn. 28) After this the manor followed the descent of the main manor of Perching, while preserving its identity, (fn. 29) until the death of Henry, Earl of Northumberland, in 1489. (fn. 30)
There was a knight's fee in Perching which in 1242–3 was held of Earl Warenne as overlord, (fn. 31) and which descended with the rape, falling in 1439 to the inheritance of Edmund Lenthall. (fn. 32) All rights in that moiety of his knight's fees that descended to the Dukes of Norfolk after Lenthall's death were in 1476–7 surrendered to the Crown by the Duchess of Norfolk, (fn. 33) and the manor of PERCHING ceased to be held of the barony of Lewes. (fn. 34)
This knight's fee may be identified with the Domesday lands of Tezelin in Fulking and Perching. (fn. 35) William son of Tezelin was holding land at Perching at the end of the 11th century. (fn. 36) Tezelin's lands evidently followed the descent of his manor of Addington in Surrey, held by the kitchen serjeanty, coming by the beginning of the 13th century to Bartholomew de Chesney. (fn. 37) His daughter and heir Isabel married Peter eldest son of Henry Fitz Ailwin, Mayor of London. (fn. 38) They were holding land in Perching in 1199. (fn. 39) Their younger daughter Joan married William Aguillon as her second husband in 1212, (fn. 40) and in 1242–3 William was holding 1 knight's fee in Perching. (fn. 41) He died in 1244. (fn. 42) His son and heir Sir Robert was granted free-warren in his demesne lands in the manor in 1248, (fn. 43) and in 1264 he was allowed to inclose his manorhouse at Perching with a ditch and a stone wall, and to crenellate it. (fn. 44) In 1281 he acquired all the tenements of Philip de Percyng in Perching, (fn. 45) and in 1284 he was returned as holding the vill. (fn. 46) At his death in 1286 his manor of Perching with its member 'Homwode' was said to be held as 1 knight's fee, doing suit at Lewes, and paying 20½d for fencing the earl's park at Ditchling, together with 2 bushels of wheat, and paying to Roger Wasp 12d. yearly. (fn. 47) This was the main manor of Perching. Robert's heir was his daughter Isabel wife of Hugh Bardolf, to whom the manor descended. (fn. 48) Hugh died in 1304 (fn. 49) and in 1308–9 his widow settled a manor of Perching on herself and her second son William, with contingent remainders to her daughters Nichole and Margery. (fn. 50) Isabel was still holding Perching in 1316 (fn. 51) but was not seised of it at her death in 1323. (fn. 52)
The manor appears in the hands of Sir Robert de Arderne, who had land in Perching in 1327 (fn. 53) and who was given licence to crenellate his manor-house there in 1329. (fn. 54) His wife Nichole was presumably the elder daughter of Isabel Bardolf; she subsequently married Sir Thomas Wale, (fn. 55) who was the chief landowner in Perching in 1332 (fn. 56) and held the fee. (fn. 57) In 1338 John de Molyns appears as the owner of a manor of Perching, (fn. 58) and in 1346 Sir John de Molyns and Giles son of Robert de Arderne brought an assize of novel disseisin against William Botevilleyn and others concerning tenements in Perching and elsewhere. (fn. 59) When in 1349 William Botevilleyn conveyed the manor of Perching to Michael de Poynings, Thomas Wale and Nichole put in their claim. (fn. 60) Michael was holding at his death in 1369 a manor of Perching (fn. 61) which appears to correspond with PERCHING MAGNA held by his son Thomas, who died in 1375. (fn. 62) Thomas had settled this on his wife Blanche for her life. (fn. 63) She died in 1409 (fn. 64) and her nephew, Robert de Poynings, was holding the manor in 1412. (fn. 65) From that time it followed the descent of Poynings (q.v.), the two manors being held together as half a knight's fee by Sir Anthony Browne of the king in chief. (fn. 66)
The farm of the manor had been leased in 1523 to George Gyffard of Poynings for 21 years. (fn. 67) John Shelley held it in about 1558 and his daughter Mary entered into litigation concerning her right to succeed him. (fn. 68) In 1609 the site of the manor was leased for 21 years to John Cheele. (fn. 69)
The manor continued to descend in the Browne family and returned to the Crown in 1787 on the death of the 9th Viscount Montagu (cf. Poynings). It then passed by a beneficial lease to William Stephen Poyntz and his wife, formerly Elizabeth Mary Browne. (fn. 70) The Crown is still the overlord. (fn. 71)
Robert Aguilun at his death in 1286 was holding a tenement in Perching of Sir William Grandyn for ½ and 1/6 knight's fee, (fn. 72) and also another tenement there for which he paid to John de la Mare 5s., to Niel de Brok 2d., and to the Prior of Lewes 2s. and ¾d. for sheriff's aid.
At the time of the Domesday Survey there was half a mill attached to Osward's 3 hides in Perching and half a mill attached to Tezelin's 2 hides there. (fn. 73) In 1304 there was a water-mill in the manor of Perching. (fn. 74)
In 1086 Levenot held of William de Warenne PAYTHORNE, (fn. 75)as 1½ hides. He had held it before the Conquest, when it was assessed for 4 hides, the remainder subsequently being attached to the rape of Bramber. (fn. 76) The overlordship appears to have descended with the rape, and in 1579 the manor was held of Lord Abergavenny by rent of 4 bushels of wheat. (fn. 77) In 1631, however, 'certain lands called Pawthorne' were said to be held as 1/5 knight's fee as of the Lord Abergavenny's manor of Portslade. (fn. 78)
Juliana de Pauethorn was holding land in the hundred in 1296, (fn. 79)and William de Pauethorn and his wife Alice acquired land in Edburton in 1312–13, (fn. 80) and settled land there and in Perching on their son William and his wife Isabel in 1332; (fn. 81) but the manor is only mentioned in 1579, when Richard Covert of Slaugham (q.v.) died seised of the manor of Paythorne. (fn. 82) He was succeeded by his second son, Sir Walter Covert, who in 1631 was said to be holding 'certain lands called Pawthorne' as 1/5 knight's fee of the manor of Portslade, (fn. 83) and died the following year, seised of the farm of Paythorne. (fn. 84) His heir was his niece Ann wife of Sir Walter Covert of Maidstone. (fn. 85) Her son Thomas died seised of these lands in 1643, (fn. 86) and in 1653 his daughter, then aged 14, paid 8d. for relief. (fn. 87) In 1682 Thomas Barton died seised of these lands, and in 1683 his nephew and co-heir Thomas Colwell alienated a moiety. (fn. 88)
In 1834 Peathorne Farm was in the possession of Mrs. Baker. (fn. 89)