Sullington: Economic history

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1986.

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A P Baggs. C R J Currie. C R Elrington. S M Keeling. A M Rowland, 'Sullington: Economic history', A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham, (London, 1986), pp. 24-27. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

A P Baggs. C R J Currie. C R Elrington. S M Keeling. A M Rowland. "Sullington: Economic history", in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham, (London, 1986) 24-27. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

Baggs, A P. Currie, C R J. Elrington, C R. Keeling, S M. Rowland, A M. "Sullington: Economic history", A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham, (London, 1986). 24-27. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,


In 1086 William de Braose's manor of Sullington was assessed for 4 hides, a reduction of 5 hides since 1066. The valuation had been reduced from £9 to £8. There were in 1086 three ploughteams on the demesne, and 20 villani and 14 bordars had six teams. The yardland in West Easwrith hundred had a villanus and half a team. (fn. 1) There had probably been little expansion in the demesne arable by 1298, when Roger Covert had 112 a. at Sullington and 50 a. at Broadbridge. (fn. 2) The earl of Arundel's demesne arable at Sullington was assessed at 120 a. in the late 14th century and 140 a. c. 1404. (fn. 3) There is no evidence of open fields in Sullington, although in the 17th century the rector held two isolated strips in the arable fields of Sullington farm. (fn. 4) In the Clayton area, however, there seem to have been up to ten small open fields or furlongs in 1247, including Hookmare and Holehookmare. Common fields called Hookmare, Great Hookmare, and the Clays were recorded there in 1765. (fn. 5)

Only 6 a. of meadow were recorded in 1086, (fn. 6) but by 1298 there were 10 a. at Sullington and 27 a. at Broadbridge. (fn. 7) Sullington demesne farm included 16 a. of meadow in the late 14th century, (fn. 8) but 47 a. in 1582. (fn. 9) Common meadow at Broadmead in the centre of the parish, recorded in 1635, (fn. 10) remained divided into doles until 1842 (fn. 11) or later.

Rough pasture on Sullington Warren and on the downland further south was important by the late Middle Ages. Although pasture 'on the heath' on Roger Covert's demesne at Sullington was only worth 9s. in 1298, less than a quarter of the value of the arable, by the later 14th century the 200 a. of pasture recorded were valued at more than the arable. That importance of pasture was reflected in the stock kept, including 18 oxen and 20 cows, 300 wethers, and 150 ewes. (fn. 12)

Common waste in the parish included part of Furze and Heath commons in Thakeham manor, inclosed in 1812, (fn. 13) possibly Sullington Warren in the early 19th century when it was called Sullington common, (fn. 14) and part of Broadbridge Heath, which was shared with Drungewick manor in Wisborough Green and was inclosed in 1858; the lord of Broadbridge received 8 a. in respect of his Sullington lands, and three other Sullington owners had small allotments. (fn. 15)

Roger Covert made a park at Broadbridge c. 1272. (fn. 16) By 1298 he had one at Sullington also; (fn. 17) in the early 15th century its pasture was worth £1, (fn. 18) but the park had evidently been disparked by 1582. (fn. 19)

In 1298 the free tenants of Sullington manor owed 54s. 2½d. in rents, the bond tenants £4 4s. 3d. and works worth 60s. (fn. 20) Probably then as later many of their holdings were outside the parish. In the early 15th century there were 64 holdings, including one of land let at farm. Sheriff's aid and rents varying from 1d. to 16s. 4d. were paid by 23 tenants, presumably freeholders; 11 tenants owed boonworks in autumn, and of those 7 owed poultry rents and 5 owed ploughing or reaping services. One pair of joint tenants owed both boonworks and aid. There was little apparent relation between the burden of rents and services and the size of tenement. Two holdings were of 2 virgates each, though some whose size was unspecified may have been larger; 14 were of 1 virgate, 4 of half a virgate, 10 of between 12 and 20 a., and 19 of 10 a. or less. (fn. 21) On Broadbridge manor the only recorded tenants in 1298 were freeholders at Brambleden in Southwick. (fn. 22)

By the mid 16th century the customary tenures had been converted to copyholds let variously for lives or to the tenant and his heirs at will. (fn. 23) Apparently in 1582 there were 158 a. of copyhold and leasehold lands in Sullington manor. They were then outweighed in importance by the demesne farms of Sullington and Cobden; Sullington demesne had 146 a. of arable, 183 a. of pasture, and 47 a. of meadow, and Cobden had 169 a. of inclosed fields. Each farm had downland pasture for 400 sheep. The combined downland of both was 519 a. in 1604; Cobden's inclosed fields, probably then as in the early 19th century, were isolated in open downland. (fn. 24)

In the late 17th century those farms and Barns farm, also in the south, pursued a sheep and corn husbandry. Flocks of 100 to 400 sheep were kept and folded on the arable in preparation for substantial crops of wheat, barley, and peas, with some oats and tares. Clover and nonsuch were grown on Barns or Sullington farm c. 1734. There was also some dairying and fattening of cattle, and rabbits were kept on Sullington Warren and Cobden farm. (fn. 25) Elsewhere in the parish in the 17th and early 18th centuries farming was on a smaller scale and mixed. Thus East Wantley farm in 1707 included 114 a. in Sullington, of which only 28 a. was arable. Cattle keeping, especially dairying, was usually the most important enterprise. Pig keeping and bacon curing were common but herds were small. Several farmers kept flocks of 30-60 sheep. A few had bees or poultry. Arable crops grown, in order of importance, were wheat, barley, oats, peas, tares, beans, buckwheat, hemp and flax, and french wheat. In the earlier 17th century a little rye was grown. (fn. 26) Richard Haines of Wantley in 1672 obtained a monopoly for his invention of cleansing nonsuch to make it more productive. (fn. 27) Cider had evidently been an important product in the 14th century, (fn. 28) and in the later 17th century and early 18th at least three farms grew apples or made cider. (fn. 29) In or before 1683 Richard Haines also invented a method of distilling and fortifying cider and had apparently interested the Dutch, Danish, and Swedish governments before he entered in partnership with Henry Goring of Wappingthorn in Steyning to seek an English patent. (fn. 30) That was granted in 1684. (fn. 31)

The parish continued to be dominated by large farms from the late 18th century to the 20th. In 1788 altogether 19 occupiers of 25 holdings were assessed to the poor rate; nine tenths of the assessment, presumably reflecting land held, fell on six farmers occupying respectively Sullington farm and the parsonage, Barns and Clayton farms, Cobden and Muntham, East Wantley and Northlands, Broadbridge, and West Wantley farms. (fn. 32) In 1842, of 19 estates 7 were over 100 a., the largest being those of George Wyndham (719 a.) and G. J. Gibson (673 a.). There were 41 occupiers, of whom twenty held under 1 a., six from 1 to 9 a., six from 10 to 99 a., and seven over 100 a. The largest farms were still Sullington (697 a.), Cobden (444 a.), and Barns (312 a.). (fn. 33) They remained so in 1878; by then the acquisition of Barns farm had made G. C. Carew-Gibson the largest landowner. (fn. 34) In 1975 five holdings were returned: three under 30 ha., one between 50 and 100 ha., and one between 200 and 300 ha. (fn. 35)

Heriots in kind were still exacted from tenants on Sullington manor in 1732 (fn. 36) and from freeholders on Broadbridge manor in the early 19th century. (fn. 37) Sullington farm was let on lease before 1786, and later under an agreement, presumably from year to year, until 1837 or later. (fn. 38) At the same period, however, other landlords were granting 21-year leases. (fn. 39)

Flax was grown on one farm in 1788. (fn. 40) Stock kept in the parish in 1801 reflected the predominance of sheep farming and dairying: 879 sheep and lambs, 40 cows, 58 steers, heifers, and calves, 167 pigs, and only 8 fatting oxen. (fn. 41) Crops grown in order of importance were wheat, oats, turnips or rape, barley, peas, beans, and potatoes. (fn. 42) In 1840 the same principal crops were grown, in 3-, 4-, or 5-course rotations, on the 805 a. mainly on or just below the downs that were estimated as arable; 1,107 a. were meadow or pasture, mostly of poor quality. (fn. 43) Cropping in 1875 still resembled that of 1801, except that root crops included mangel-wurzels, that the area of vetches or tares exceeded that of peas, and that a little rye, cabbages, and carrots were grown, the last two no doubt by the market gardeners mentioned from 1855 to 1905. Sheep had increased in importance; 2,928 sheep and lambs were returned in 1875 as against 44 dairy animals and 103 other cattle. (fn. 44) An electric milking machine was installed on Sullington farm in 1921, and Cheddar cheese was made there. (fn. 45)

By 1950 the proportion under grass of the land returned (which by then excluded Broadbridge) had increased from 57 to 74 per cent, and cattle, especially dairy cows, had eclipsed sheep; 5,131 fowls were returned. The main crops returned were wheat and oats. (fn. 46) By 1968 there was more arable than grass, more barley was grown than wheat and oats together, and dairying had increased. (fn. 47) The two largest farms in 1975 grew mainly cereals; the other three farmers were part-time. (fn. 48) West Wantley was a poultry farm from c. 1921, and still in 1983. Lower Broadbridge was a dairy farm of 110 a. in 1980. (fn. 49) In the later 19th century G. C. Carew-Gibson maintained the Sandgate Thoroughbred Stud. It closed after an epidemic among the horses forced its sale in 1887. (fn. 50)

William de Braose's demesne included woodland for 30 swine in 1086. (fn. 51) The Sullington manor demesne in 1582 included Mill and Park woods, each of 43 a., which were used as pasture. (fn. 52) In 1735 there were £10 worth of coppice and hedges ready for cutting on the farm. (fn. 53) Broadbridge manor was heavily wooded in 1632. (fn. 54) Oak trees were sold from Sullington wood in 1768, (fn. 55) and in 1785 £225 worth of timber stood on East Wantley farm. (fn. 56) In 1840 there were 118 a. of woodland in the parish. Nearly half was plantations on the Sandgate and Muntham estates; apart from the 24-a. High wood in Broadbridge, the rest was in small coppices and shaws. (fn. 57) The Sandgate estate had in 1913 some 53 a. of woods and plantations in Sullington, besides the 77-a. park planted with forest trees. (fn. 58) Arthur Lloyd apparently planted 100 a. of wood in Sullington Warren after 1895; it was dedicated in 1952. (fn. 59) Woodland survived in the area in 1982.

There is little evidence of non-agricultural occupations until the 20th century. A saltern attached to Broadbridge manor in 1298 was at Upper Beeding; (fn. 60) the saltcot of Sullington manor in the early 15th century was probably at Southwick, where the manor had tenements. (fn. 61) A wool merchant was assessed to the subsidy in Sullington in 1296, and another in 1327 and 1332. (fn. 62) In 1341 one inhabitant was a craftsman or trader. (fn. 63) The ironmaster Roger Gratwicke lived there (presumably at Broadbridge) in 1574, (fn. 64) but his business was elsewhere. (fn. 65) A Sullington bricklayer, i.e. brickmaker, was recorded c. 1573. (fn. 66) A tailor of Sullington died in or before 1614. (fn. 67) Richard Haines patented a spinning engine for linen and worsted thread in 1678, (fn. 68) and there was a weaver's shop in the parish in 1736. (fn. 69) A Sullington cordwainer was recorded in 1738, (fn. 70) and a hosier in 1785. (fn. 71) Tradesmen in 1851 included two carpenters in Sullington, and a bricklayer at Clayton. (fn. 72)

From the 1920s, with the break-up of the Sandgate estate, sandworking (fn. 73) became the parish's principal industry. The Three Gates sandpit started working in 1924. A sandpit at Clayton, mainly within Washington, was acquired by Hall & Co. c. 1930, later passing to RMC Engineering (fn. 74) which was using part as a repair works in 1983; about a third of the pit had been filled in by then. West of it was Amey's pit, which was worked out c. 1980 and was used in 1983 as a storage depot. A larger pit, opened near the site of Sandgate House in 1947, was still working in 1983, when Hall Aggregates South Coast Ltd. and RMC Mortars Ltd. had offices in the western part. West of Water Lane was the Angel sandpit, worked from the 1930s and used until 1968 for manufacturing concrete blocks and related products and between 1968 and 1972 as a motor repair works. (fn. 75) In 1983 it was a storage depot. South of Washington Road and east of Chantry Lane another sandpit was opened by Frank Knight in the 1920s for making sand and cement blocks. It had passed by 1956 to Marley Tile Co. Ltd., who made concrete products. (fn. 76) Marley Trident Ltd. were the occupiers in 1983.

There was a mill on Sullington manor in 1086. (fn. 77) In 1298 two watermills and a windmill were recorded, valued at 40s. together, (fn. 78) but by c. 1404 only one watermill survived, then let to a tenant for 22s. (fn. 79) It was presumably the mill of which Richard Mill had a lease at his death in 1476, and which he settled in trust to pay his debts. (fn. 80) It was probably Chantry mill, on the western boundary, and appears to have descended with Mill's Cobden estate to John Apsley of Pulborough, who sold 'Chantry lands' to John Wase in 1556; Nicholas Wase sold it to Henry Shelley, and the site was mentioned as an old mill garden in 1582. (fn. 81) The name Chantry mill has been applied to two mills, one on the present site of Chantry Mill house, the other on the site of Waterfall Cottage upstream and to the south. At least one was working in the earlier 18th century (fn. 82) and in 1774. (fn. 83) About 1780 there were two watermills: Chantry mill on the site of the later Waterfall Cottage, and Park mill on the downstream site. (fn. 84) Chantry mill passed with Sullington farm from Sir John Shelley to George Wyndham, Lord Egremont, and may have been used before 1825 as a fulling mill. (fn. 85) By 1806 Park mill was apparently disused, although it was mentioned c. 1830. (fn. 86) Between 1806 and 1842 Chantry mill was transferred to the Park mill site and the old Chantry mill closed. (fn. 87) The mill on the northern site seems to have remained in continuous use as a corn mill until c. 1918. After two or three years' disuse, it served briefly to supply electricity. (fn. 88)

Waterfall Cottage is a building of c. 1700. Traces of the mill race, on the east side, survived in 1983. Chantry Mill house includes a two-bayed range of c. 1600 with a smoke bay into which a chimney was later inserted. It was extended northwards probably in the late 17th century, and a parallel west range was added in the 18th or early 19th. The mill itself stands to the south-east and is partly stone and partly timber-framed, dating probably from c. 1700. The machinery was removed in the early 1970s to the Open Air Museum at Singleton. (fn. 89) The mill pond, dam, and drained mill race survived in 1983.

A watermill stood at Broadbridge in 1298; (fn. 90) it was not mentioned again until 1695, when the Caffyn family occupied it. (fn. 91) The machinery was removed c. 1950 and the mill was demolished c. 1969. (fn. 92) The mill pond remained in 1979.

The windmill mentioned in 1298 had evidently disappeared by the late 14th century. (fn. 93) A post and trestle windmill was built on Sullington Warren in the late 18th century and let generally with Chantry mill until it ceased working in 1907. It was burnt down in 1911; the iron windshaft remained in 1980. (fn. 94) The firm of T. Gatley, corn millers, was grinding animal feed electrically on the former army camp north of Barns Farm in the 1980s. (fn. 95)


  • 1. V.C.H. Suss. i. 428, 445.
  • 2. S.A.C. xlvi. 174 (a version of P.R.O., C 133/83, no. 19, wrongly giving date as 1297 and with other errors).
  • 3. S.R.S. lxvii. 96. 134.
  • 4. W.S.R.O., Ep. 1/25/3 (1615, 1663); P. F. Brandon, 'The Com. Lands and Wastes of Suss.' (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1963), 351, assuming that the surrounding fields were common.
  • 5. Sele Chartulary, pp. 29-31; Horsham Mus. MS. 257A.
  • 6. V.C.H. Suss. i. 445.
  • 7. S.A.C. xlvi. 174.
  • 8. S.R.S. lxvii. 96.
  • 9. Arundel Cast. MS. MD 493, ff. [3-4].
  • 10. W.S.R.O., Ep. 1/25/3 (1635), Thakeham.
  • 11. Ibid. Add. MS. 7550; ibid. TD/W 122.
  • 12. P.R.O., C 133/83, no. 19; S.R.S. lxvii. 96.
  • 13. Below, Thakeham, econ. hist.
  • 14. B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 92/2.
  • 15. Below, Horsham, econ. hist. (agric.); W.S.R.O., QDD/6/W 28.
  • 16. S.A.C. lxxxii. 30.
  • 17. P.R.O., C 133/83, no. 19.
  • 18. S.R.S. lxvii. 134.
  • 19. It is not recorded in Arundel Cast. MS. MD 493, ff. [3-4].
  • 20. P.R.O., C 133/83, no. 19.
  • 21. S.R.S. lxvii. 134-6.
  • 22. S.A.C. xlvi. 174.
  • 23. W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 246.
  • 24. Arundel Cast. MS. MD 493, ff. [3-4]; B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 92/2.
  • 25. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/29/190/29, 39, 42-4. For identification cf. ibid. Add. MSS. 2302, f. 47v.; 2303, ff. 19-22.
  • 26. Ibid. Add. MS. 7550; ibid. Ep. I/29/190, passim.
  • 27. Cal. S.P.Dom. 1672, 509.
  • 28. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 388.
  • 29. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/29/190/28, 37, 44.
  • 30. Ibid. Wiston MS. 5951.
  • 31. Cal. S.P.Dom. 1683-4, 198, 212; V.C.H. Suss. ii. 264; Haines, Haines, 36-7, 78-9; The Times, 3 Feb. 1983, p. 13.
  • 32. W.S.R.O., WG 4/1, p. 4.
  • 33. P.R.O., IR 29/35/255.
  • 34. W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 13244, 'Sull. rect. 1856', 'Sull. land tax 1878'.
  • 35. M.A.F.F., agric. statistics, 1975.
  • 36. E.S.R.O., SAS/DN 120 (TS. cat.).
  • 37. Broadbridge man. ct. bk., in possession of Messrs. Cotching & Son, Horsham.
  • 38. W.S.R.O., PHA 3089, ff. 48, 58, 85.
  • 39. Ibid. Add. MSS. 1667; 8170-1 (TS. cat.); ibid. S.A.S. MS. MD 489.
  • 40. E.S.R.O., QDH/EW 1, f. 66.
  • 41. Ibid. LCG/3/EW 1, f. [49v.].
  • 42. P.R.O., HO 67/7, no. 152.
  • 43. Ibid. IR 18/10499.
  • 44. Ibid. MAF 68/433; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1855 and later edns.).
  • 45. Hayward, Yesterday in Sull. 26; Ham, Storrington in Living Memory, 110.
  • 46. P.R.O., MAF 68/4327. The coverage of the returns is very incomplete.
  • 47. Ibid. MAF 68/5104.
  • 48. M.A.F.F., agric. statistics, 1975.
  • 49. Local inf.
  • 50. Ham, Storrington in Living Memory, 99, 101.
  • 51. V.C.H. Suss. i. 445.
  • 52. Arundel Cast. MS. MD 493, ff. [3-4].
  • 53. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/29/190/44.
  • 54. E.S.R.O., SAS/FB 59.
  • 55. S.A.C. lxxi. 19.
  • 56. E.S.R.O., SAS/HA 642-3 (TS. cat.).
  • 57. W.S.R.O., TD/W 122.
  • 58. Ibid. SP 610, pp. 13-14.
  • 59. Sandgate Preservation Soc. Newsletter, iv. 3.
  • 60. Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, pp. 348-9.
  • 61. S.R.S. lxvii. 135; below, local govt. There were salterns at Southwick in 1086: V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 179.
  • 62. S.N.Q. iv. 69, 162.
  • 63. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 388.
  • 64. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1547-80, 475.
  • 65. V.C.H. Suss. vi (3), Lower Beeding (forthcoming); cf. Cal. Pat. 1553, 124-5.
  • 66. P.R.O., REQ 2/235/86, rot. 13.
  • 67. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/29/190/3.
  • 68. Haines, Haines, 63.
  • 69. E.S.R.O., SAS/FB 600 (TS. cat.).
  • 70. S.R.S. xxviii. 203.
  • 71. W.S.R.O., Add. MSS. 8791-2.
  • 72. P.R.O., HO 107/1650, ff. 180-3, 187-8.
  • 73. Para. based mainly on Sandgate Preservation Soc. Newsletter, xvii, maps; Ham, Storrington in Living Memory, 102; inf. from Mr. J. R. Armstrong; personal observation.
  • 74. Sandgate Preservation Soc. Newsletter, x. 3.
  • 75. Worthing Herald, 23 Nov. 1973.
  • 76. 7th Rep. Nat. Parks Com. H.C. 8, pp. 48-9 (1956-7), xvii; 9th Rep. H.C. 27, p. 57 (1958-9), xviii.
  • 77. V.C.H. Suss. i. 445.
  • 78. S.A.C. xlvi. 174.
  • 79. S.R.S. lxvii. 135.
  • 80. Ibid. xiv, p. 161; P.R.O., C 140/72, no. 1.
  • 81. Above, manors and other estates (Cobden); Hayward, Yesterday in Sull. 34; Arundel Cast. MS. MD 493, ff. [3-4].
  • 82. W.S.R.O., Add. MSS. 8156, 19170, 19173.
  • 83. Wiston Archives, i, p. 231.
  • 84. Gardner, Suss. Map (1778-83).
  • 85. W.S.R.O., PHA 3089, f. 102; Caldecott drawings (inf. from Mr. J. R. Armstrong).
  • 86. B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 92/2; Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 122.
  • 87. P.R.O., IR 29 and 30/35/255, nos. 35, 38-9, 129.
  • 88. Above, introduction; W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 13243, f. 29; ibid. PHA 1671; PHA 3089, ff. 50, 135; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1855 and later edns.).
  • 89. Inf. from the owner (1983).
  • 90. S.A.C. xlvi. 174.
  • 91. D.N.B. s.v. Caffyn; P.R.O., CP 43/449, rot. 57.
  • 92. Inf. from Mr. M. Dyas, Broadbridge Fm. (1979).
  • 93. S.A.C. xlvi. 174; S.R.S. lxvii. 96, 135.
  • 94. W.S.R.O., PHA 3089, ff. 50, 102, 135; M. Brunnarius, Windmills of Suss. 107; A. C. Smith, Windmills in Suss. (Stevenage, 1980), 21, 42.
  • 95. Local inf.; Ham, Storrington in Living Memory, 46.