Warminghurst : Manors and other estates

Pages 52-54

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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In William I's reign WARMINGHURST was apparently held by the abbey of Fécamp. William de Braose then claimed a wine rent which he granted to Battle abbey, (fn. 1) but no more is known of the rent or any Braose overlordship. Warminghurst was not mentioned in Domesday Book, probably because it was included in Fécamp's manor of Steyning, (fn. 2) with which it descended until the Dissolution, passing successively to the Crown, to Sir John Cornwall, Lord Fownhope (d. 1443), and to Syon abbey (Mdx.). (fn. 3) Fécamp obtained a grant of free warren in 1252 (fn. 4) and established a park in 1254-5. (fn. 5)

In 1540 the Crown granted the manor to Anne Cobham for life, with reversion to Edward Shelley of Findon, (fn. 6) who had acquired a lease in 1539. (fn. 7) He died in 1554 leaving the manor in trust for his heir male, then uncertain. After the trust expired c. 1578 his second but eldest surviving son Richard Shelley obtained the manor, but after much litigation it fell to Henry Shelley, the posthumous son of Richard's elder brother, in 1581. (fn. 8) Henry had sold 40 a. by 1582, (fn. 9) and from 1605 he was selling other parts of the estate; (fn. 10) the manor house and 300 a. of land including the park were sold in 1619 to Elizabeth, widow of Sir Edward Apsley of Thakeham. (fn. 11) Shelley died in 1623 after settling the manor on his second son Henry, who sold it in 1637 to Henry Bridger. (fn. 12) Bridger settled it in 1652 on his son Richard (fn. 13) (d. 1699). It later passed to Richard's second son Richard, who held it in 1707 (fn. 14) and with his brother Henry sold it in 1721 to James Butler. (fn. 15)

Meanwhile Butler had acquired the park and manor house. Lady Apsley had sold them in 1626 to her son Edward Apsley, (fn. 16) later a colonel in the parliamentary army, (fn. 17) who died a bachelor in 1651. (fn. 18) His Warminghurst property seems to have passed to his brother-in-law George Fenwick (d. 1657), also a parliamentarian colonel and a former New England colonist, (fn. 19) and then to Fenwick's daughters Elizabeth and Dorothy; they later married respectively Sir Thomas Hesilrige and Sir Thomas Williamson. (fn. 20) In 1663 a formal partition among Edward Apsley's heirs assigned his Warminghurst estate to those couples. In 1665 they sold it to Henry Bigland, (fn. 21) who resold it to William Penn (1644-1718), the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, in 1676. (fn. 22) Penn was no doubt attracted to the estate by his connexions with John Fenwick, George's lessee, and by its exemption from tithe. (fn. 23) After numerous mortgages he sold it in 1707 to James Butler. (fn. 24)

From Butler (d. 1741), M.P. for Sussex 1715-21 and 1728-41, Warminghurst passed in the direct line to his son John (d. 1766), M.P. for East Grinstead 1742-7 and for the county 1747-66, (fn. 25) grandson James (d. 1775), and great-granddaughters Ann Jemima and Patty Butler. (fn. 26) In 1780 they married respectively Roger Clough of Glanywern (Denb.) and his brother Richard (d. 1784). On the partition of the Butler inheritance in 1789 Warminghurst was assigned to Roger and Ann Jemima, (fn. 27) who sold it in 1805 to Charles Howard, duke of Norfolk (d. 1815). (fn. 28) It then descended with Bramber rape. (fn. 29) The Norfolk estate sold part of the land between 1887 and 1921, (fn. 30) more in the latter year, (fn. 31) and the rest, including Warminghurst farm, in 1925, (fn. 32) apparently without the manorial rights. Warminghurst farm passed to a Mrs. Penfold, who sold it c. 1929 to William Hanbury Aggs of Little Thakeham; his son Mr. Daniel Aggs owned it in 1981. (fn. 33)

By c. 1210 (fn. 34) Fécamp abbey had a bailiff at Warminghurst who by the later 13th century administered all its Sussex estates (fn. 35) and who presumably lived in the manor house first mentioned in 1294. (fn. 36) The house was kept in use in the 14th and 15th centuries; the archives of Fécamp's Sussex estates were stored there, some being stolen by a burglar in 1400, (fn. 37) and in the 1470s the audit for Syon abbey's Sussex lands was held there. (fn. 38) Sir John Cornwall visited Warminghurst regularly between 1416 and 1437, (fn. 39) and the nuns of Syon stayed there in 1460. (fn. 40) The house does not seem to have been much enlarged between 1324 and the mid 16th century. It was timber-framed with a Horsham stone roof. The hall, aligned north-south, was flanked by a great chamber and attached chapel at the north end; there were twin service rooms by 1324, and a new chamber had been added by 1424. (fn. 41) In the later 16th or earlier 17th century the house was rebuilt as Warminghurst Place, so called by 1652 when it was occupied by John Fenwick (1618-83), later the first settler of New Jersey, (fn. 42) and it was taxed on 18 hearths in 1664. (fn. 43) In 1707 it was a brick house standing west of the church and south of the lane to Thakeham. It faced north and had tall chimneys and mullioned windows throughout, and an irregular plan apparently consisting of three parallel east-west ranges of two storeys with attics, though perhaps with a courtyard towards the west end. There was a polygonal three-storeyed entrance porch surmounted by a cupola. (fn. 44)

After 1707 James Butler demolished the house. (fn. 45) On an adjoining site to the south-east he had built by 1710 a double-pile house of three storeys above a basement. The north and south fronts were of 11 bays with a pediment over the middle three; there was an entrance court on the north side, and to the south terraces ran down to the great pond. (fn. 46) From 1780 the house was normally let, (fn. 47) although Roger Clough was living there in 1786. (fn. 48) It was demolished between c. 1806 and 1810. (fn. 49)

The home farmhouse, Park Farm, was probably built soon after Butler's new house, on the site of the previous manor house from which materials were re-used. It too was double-pile; the north side contained the coach houses and stables and the south domestic accommodation. By the late 18th century part of it had been demolished (fn. 50) and in 1981 it was used as farm buildings, two 19th-century cottages attached to the east end providing accommodation.

From 1324 or earlier the Wolf family held lands in Warminghurst as part of the West Wolves estate in Ashington. (fn. 51) In 1632 Nicholas Wolf sold some 30 a. of it in the north-east part of the parish, called Squinces and Knells, to George Woodman of Thakeham. In 1650 George's widow released the property to his son William, who sold it to Henry Bridger; it then descended with the manor. (fn. 52) The rest of Wolf's property, called Westlands in 1637, (fn. 53) descended with West Wolves. (fn. 54)

In 1479 John Bridger settled lands in Warminghurst which had passed by 1508 to John son of William Bridger. (fn. 55) John sold them in that year to Edward Slater and William White. In 1573 John Slater sold the land, known as BRIDGERS, to Richard Pollard of Washington, probably the Richard who in 1607 settled it on his second son Henry Pollard after his death. In 1614 Henry Pollard sold it to Henry Bridger, later lord of the manor, with which it descended from 1637. (fn. 56)

Several parcels alienated by Henry Shelley (d. 1623) were later reunited with the manor. The 40-a. estate known in the 18th century as NEWHOUSE FARM, which included 20 a. of former parkland, was sold by Shelley in 1605 to William Pratt, incumbent of Warminghurst, and his fiancée Susan Ward. Susan sold it in 1635 to her son William Bennett, who resold it next year to John Lee. He left it in 1654 to his daughter Susan, wife of Thomas Mellersh. It had passed by 1713 to their son John Mellersh, and by 1730 to another John, probably his great-nephew, who sold it to James Butler in 1738. (fn. 57) The farmhouse, timber-framed but later cased in stone, dates from the early 17th century.

In 1621 Henry Shelley settled property in Warminghurst on his daughter Mary. He revoked the settlement in 1623 with respect to five tenements, selling them instead to Richard Bridger (d. 1699). They later descended with the manor. (fn. 58) In 1623 more of Mary's property was sold to John Waterman with remainder to John Collins. Collins sold it to Henry Bridger in 1636. (fn. 59)

A further 177 a., including tenements in the north part of the parish, was conveyed in 1626 by Mary Shelley and her husband Thomas Warneford to her youngest sister Elizabeth Shelley, apparently under Henry Shelley's will. In 1629 Elizabeth settled the estate on her husband William Kete, who resettled it on his son Edward in 1636; Edward sold it to Henry Bridger in 1647. (fn. 60) The Warnefords had by 1631 conveyed further property in the south-east corner of the parish to Henry Goring; in that year he sold 8 a. to Richard Slater. That land was sold in 1662 by John Slater to John Humphrey or Adams of West Chiltington, passing by 1669 to his son John. He sold it in 1701 to George Prior, who immediately resold it to Nicholas and Thomas Skinner. In 1715 Nicholas sold it to James Butler (d. 1741). (fn. 61) In 1651 Henry Goring sold a further 20 a. and a house, called SLATER'S COPYHOLD after the Slater family who had occupied it from 1582 or earlier, to Edward Blaker, who conveyed it in 1653 to Joseph Hallant with remainder to Hallant's grandchild Frances Scrast. In 1679 she settled it on her husband Thomas Symonds, who sold it next year to William Symonds, a London vintner (d. 1699). It then passed to William's son (d. 1709) and grandson, both William Symonds. The youngest William sold it in 1720 to his sister Ann Hyde; she and her husband Robert resold it the same year to James Butler. (fn. 62) Slater's Copyhold is presumably identifiable with Jinkes farm, (fn. 63) so called after its occupier c. 1900 and sold off by the Norfolk estate in 1914. It was owned with c. 20 a. in 1981 by Mr. Peter Shepherd. (fn. 64) The farmhouse is a three-bayed late medieval structure with a two-bayed open hall, cased in stone in the 18th century and extended shortly before and after the Second World War. The crown-post roof incorporates much re-used timber, some of it with large notched-lap joints, which may imply that there was a house on the site by c. 1300.


  • 1. Chron. Mon. de Bello (Anglia Christiana Soc. 1846), 36.
  • 2. V.C.H. Suss. i. 392; ii. 124; vi (1), 224.
  • 3. Ibid. ii. 124; vi (1), 227; S.R.S. xxiii, pp. 257-8; P.R.O., SC 6/1033/18, rot. [4].
  • 4. Cal. Chart. R. 1226-57, 391.
  • 5. S.A.C. lxxxii. 30.
  • 6. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 347.
  • 7. P.R.O., C 54/416, no. 41.
  • 8. Cal. Assize Rec. Suss. Eliz. I, p. 150; Acts of P.C. 1577-8, 345, 356; 1581-2, 117; S.R.S. xxxiii, p. 14; Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 254; P.R.O., C 2/Eliz. I/S 7/53; Arundel Cast. MS. M 225. For Hen., cf. above, Sullington, manors and other estates.
  • 9. Arundel Cast. MS. MD 493, f. [2].
  • 10. P.R.O., C 142/436, no. 37; Arundel Cast. MSS. D 2357, ff. 65-9; D 2358, f. 91; D 2360, f. 108.
  • 11. Arundel Cast. MS. D 2356, ff. 16-20.
  • 12. Ibid. D 2357, ff. 59-64; M 227, rott. 2-4; S.R.S. xiv, p. 203; xx. 503; P.R.O., C 142/438, no. 121.
  • 13. Horsham Mus. MS. 1858 (MS. cat.).
  • 14. Ibid.; Visit. Suss. 1662 (Harl. Soc. lxxxix), 17; Arundel Cast. MS. M 227, rot. 1; B.L. Add. MS. 37420; W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 6497 (23), P.
  • 15. Arundel Cast. MS. D 2357, ff. 86-90.
  • 16. Ibid. D 2356, ff. 25-8; P.R.O., C 142/436, no. 37; cf. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1635, 65.
  • 17. Cal. Cttee. for Money, i. 496.
  • 18. E.S.R.O., SAS/D 310 (TS. cat.).
  • 19. Ibid.; D.N.B. and Dict. American Biog. s.v. Fenwick, Geo.; Visit. Northumb. 1615 and 1666, ed. Jos. Forster, 49; above, Thakeham, manors and other estates.
  • 20. G.E.C. Baronetage, i. 202; ii. 180.
  • 21. S.R.S. xx. 504; Arundel Cast. MS. D 2356, ff. 28-32.
  • 22. H. E. Wildes, Wm. Penn, 101.
  • 23. Ibid. 86; below; below, church; nonconf.
  • 24. C. O. Pearse, Wm. Penn, 398; S.R.S. xx. 504-5; Arundel Cast. MSS. D 2356, ff. 34-54; HC 238.
  • 25. Hist. Parl., Commons, 1715-54, i. 331, 334, 510-11; 1754-90, i. 388; iii. 166.
  • 26. Arundel Cast. MS. FC 188, abstract of title, ff. 13-18.
  • 27. Ibid. ff. 19-36; ibid. HC 135; Clough and Butler Archives, p. 39; W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 6497 (22), p. 8; Horsham Mus. MS. 260 (31).
  • 28. Arundel Cast. MS. HC 267, deeds of 10 and 31 July 1805.
  • 29. V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 5.
  • 30. W.S.R.O., SP 60, 173.
  • 31. Ibid. SP 60, pp. 12-13.
  • 32. Ibid. SP 61 and endorsements.
  • 33. Inf. from Mr. D. Aggs.
  • 34. S.R.S. lxvii. 105.
  • 35. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 124; D. J. A. Matthew, Norm. Monasteries and their Eng. Possessions, 52, 55, 95.
  • 36. P.R.O., E 106/2/9.
  • 37. Cal. Pat. 1401-5, 56.
  • 38. P.R.O., SC 6/1100/5; SC 6/1100/9.
  • 39. Ibid. SC 6/1036/5, rott. 7, 16; SC 6/1036/6, rot. 15; SC 6/1036/10-11; SC 6/1036/13; SC 6/1036/15; Arundel Cast. MS. A 430, rott. 8-9.
  • 40. P.R.O., SC 6/1037/13.
  • 41. Ibid. E 106/8/19, rot. 22; ibid. SC 6/1031/8-9; SC 6/1036/5, rot. 16; SC 6/1036/11-12, 14-16; SC 6/1037/6; SC 6/Hen. VIII/3499; Westm. Abbey Mun. 4013, m. 2; Arundel Cast. MS. A 430, rot. 12.
  • 42. A. Fletcher, County Community in Peace and War, 140.
  • 43. P.R.O., E 179/258/124, f. 8 and v.
  • 44. B.L. Add. MS. 37420.
  • 45. S.A.C. lv. 79 n.
  • 46. Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 256; Arundel Cast. MS. D 2357, f. 85; W.S.R.O., Clough and Butler MS. 236; B.L. Add. MS. 5673, f. 35; ibid. Lansd. MS. 918, ff. 21v., 34v.; below, pl. facing p. 96.
  • 47. W.S.R.O., Clough and Butler MS. 260, acct. for Lady Day 1781, acct. completed 30 June 1804; Horsham Mus. MSS. 260; 1929 (MS. cat.).
  • 48. Wiston Archives, i, p. 433.
  • 49. B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 92/2; Horsfield, Hist. Suss. ii. 240; Arundel Cast. MS. H 1/32.
  • 50. B.L. Add. MS. 5673, f. 35.
  • 51. S.R.S. xxiii, p. 53; P.R.O., SC 11/670; Arundel Cast. MSS. M 224, penult. rot.; MD 493, f. 2; below, Ashington, manors.
  • 52. Arundel Cast. MS. D 2357, ff. 62, 79-81.
  • 53. Ibid. f. 62.
  • 54. Below, Ashington, manors.
  • 55. W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 6497 (23), P.
  • 56. Arundel Cast. MS. D 2357, ff. 83-4.
  • 57. Ibid. D 2360.
  • 58. Ibid. D 2357, ff. 65-7.
  • 59. Ibid. ff. 69-72.
  • 60. Ibid. ff. 73-7. For the location cf. B.L. Add. MS. 37420.
  • 61. Arundel Cast. MS. D 2358, ff. 91-8. The date 1699 on f. 93 should be 1669 (20 Chas. II): ibid. f. 94. For the location, B.L. Add. MS. 37420.
  • 62. Arundel Cast. MS. D 2359; S.N.Q. xiv. 134. For the Slaters, Arundel Cast. MSS. D 2357, ff. 65-6; MD 493, f. 2; MD 503.
  • 63. The Symonds property is not shown on B.L. Add. MS. 37420, presumably because it was obscured by the map's decorative titling which adjoins Jinkes Fm. For the location cf. Arundel Cast. MS. D 2357, ff. 65-6.
  • 64. Inf. from Mr. Shepherd.