Rusper: Manors and other estates

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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A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland, 'Rusper: Manors and other estates', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town, ed. T P Hudson( London, 1987), British History Online [accessed 22 July 2024].

A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland, 'Rusper: Manors and other estates', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town. Edited by T P Hudson( London, 1987), British History Online, accessed July 22, 2024,

A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland. "Rusper: Manors and other estates". A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town. Ed. T P Hudson(London, 1987), , British History Online. Web. 22 July 2024.


Rusper priory (fn. 1) had estates in the parish which were called a manor in 1380 (fn. 2) and in 1532 included Peter's farm and Langhurst in the north-east, and Ashfolds south-west of the village. (fn. 3) Chowles in the northeast may also have belonged to the priory. (fn. 4) The priory's demesne apparently corresponded with what was later called the NUNNERY estate. At the Dissolution the reversion of that estate was granted to (Sir) Robert Southwell and his wife Margaret, (fn. 5) who resigned their rights in it to the Crown in 1546. (fn. 6) Robert Harris, the Southwells' lessee from 1545, made over his interest in 1551 to Robert Monk, whose son and heir John conveyed it in 1571 to Richard Heyburne of Capel (Surr.). (fn. 7)

In 1590 the Crown granted the fee simple to John Cowper, serjeant at law, who settled it in the same year on Heyburne for life, with remainder to Heyburne's daughter Elizabeth and her husband Robert Stone. (fn. 8) At Robert's death in 1615 he was succeeded by his son John, who died in 1626, his heir being his nephew, another John Stone. The last-named John was succeeded in 1635 by his son and namesake (d. 1685), whose son, also John, (fn. 9) sold the estate in 1717 to Sir Isaac Shard. (fn. 10) The Stones were apparently resident throughout the period they held the estate. (fn. 11)

Thereafter the Nunnery descended in the Shard family to William, who in 1784 leased it to John Stone, probably a descendant of its former owners, (fn. 12) and in 1791 sold it to William Clulow of London. From him it passed in 1802 to Edward Houlditch, also of London, who sold it c. 1820, by which time it comprised a large tract in the west end of the parish, to Thomas Sanctuary, high sheriff of Sussex. John Stone was still tenant between 1803 and 1806. (fn. 13) Sanctuary sold the estate in 1839 to Robert Hurst of Horsham Park, (fn. 14) whose son R. H. Hurst was living at the Nunnery in 1841. (fn. 15) The property then descended with Horsham Park; from R. H. Hurst's succession to the family estates in 1843, however, to the early 20th century the Nunnery was let. (fn. 16) In 1905, at the death of R. H. Hurst, the estate passed to his son Col. A. R. Hurst, who in 1916 sold the house and c. 800 a. to his brother (Sir) Cecil, who was living there in 1922. In 1958 the latter made over the house to his son Col. Richard Hurst, to whom he had previously made over his estate. Col. Richard Hurst's son R. A. Hurst succeeded his father in 1962 and was living at the Nunnery in 1981. (fn. 17)

The medieval priory buildings were presumably small, in proportion to the size of the community, and by the early 16th century were in bad condition. (fn. 18) Parts of the foundations survived in 1781 east (fn. 19) of the west-facing house then called the Nunnery, which seems to have been of the 16th century; it was timber-framed, with red brick or plaster infill, its entrance façade having four three-storeyed gabled bays asymmetrically arranged. (fn. 20) In 1635 the house had at least three living rooms, seven bedrooms besides garrets, and extensive service buildings. (fn. 21) Part was demolished in 1781, (fn. 22) and the rest was greatly altered c. 1840; (fn. 23) the north front, which has ogeearched windows in Gothick style, seems to be of the latter date. (fn. 24)

A park was created at the Nunnery between c. 1840 and the early 1870s, lying north, south, southeast, and west of the house. (fn. 25)

Four estates in the parish originated in lands held in the Middle Ages of Fécamp abbey (Seine Maritime). The estate called GOTWICK was held freehold in 1503 of Charlton manor in Steyning, (fn. 26) part of the former Fécamp estate, and in 1668 and 1751 of Shortsfield manor in Horsham, which represented its Wealden outlier. (fn. 27) The relation of Gotwick to Gatewick manor in Steyning is not clear. (fn. 28) It does not seem to be the same as the Gotwick recorded as a pasture place of Washington manor in 947, since Washington's other pasture places were later associated with the Braose family, as Gotwick in Rusper was not. (fn. 29) Various people surnamed of Gotwick were dealing with land in Rusper in the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 30) The first reference found to the property itself is of 1420, when Robert Newdigate of Carshalton (Surr.) granted it to feoffees; previously it had belonged to William Newdigate. (fn. 31) Another William Newdigate had been dealing with land in Rusper, possibly the same, in the 14th century, (fn. 32) and later members of the Newdigate family dealt with land at Gotwick: John in 1424 and Thomas c. 1497. (fn. 33)

Richard Gratwicke had the estate in 1503. (fn. 34) Thomas Bowyer died seised of it c. 1559, (fn. 35) Robert Onslow in 1574, when with other lands it comprised 140 a., (fn. 36) Richard Cowper in 1592, (fn. 37) and John Middleton in 1636. (fn. 38) Between 1668 and 1689 it belonged to John Steere. (fn. 39) Thereafter the descent is lost until 1803, when the lands were settled on Amos Strettell. At his death in 1855 they passed to his son John (d. 1857), whose widow Anna sold them in 1865 to George Trist. (fn. 40) They then descended until 1885 or later with Prestwood in Ifield. (fn. 41) Sydney J. Hack was owner in 1910. (fn. 42) The later history has not been traced.

A house called Gotwick House was mentioned in 1576. (fn. 43) The building which existed in 1981, called Keepers Mount, has a symmetrical plan of the later 18th century, and is partly of brick and partly timber-framed; a brick in the east wall is dated 1767. In the later 19th century an attic storey was removed. At that date the building seems to have been a gamekeeper's cottage. (fn. 44)

Another estate also called Gotwick in 1668, when it was held of Shortsfield by Thomas Arnold, (fn. 45) had passed by 1689 to Allen Wallis. (fn. 46) He or his son and namesake lived there c. 1700 and still held it c. 1710. (fn. 47) The estate was evidently the same as ORLTONS FARM in the north-east corner of the parish, which Hugh Orlton, apparently the lastnamed Allen Wallis's son-in-law, held of Shortsfield in 1751. (fn. 48) By c. 1840 the estate, comprising 122 a., had passed to Robert Piper, (fn. 49) and between 1885 and 1910 it apparently descended with Gotwick. (fn. 50)

Orltons, formerly Orltons Farm, has timber framing possibly of the 18th century on the north wall, but was much enlarged in the later 19th or earlier 20th century.

The reputed manor of AXSMITHS, which was also held of Shortsfield in 1668, (fn. 51) was the modern Axmas farm near Lambs Green. It evidently originated in 128 a. with which Richard Axsmith was dealing in 1439-40. (fn. 52) The manor of Axsmiths, called by that name, belonged before 1567 to William Bellowes or Belhouse, whose widow Anne and her husband Richard Hedley conveyed it in that year to John Cowper; he was dealing with it in 1572. (fn. 53) Henry Jenner of Ifield died seised of it in 1574; his widow Joan and her husband Robert Monk later held it, but c. 1608 it was enjoyed for a period, apparently illegally, by Sir Richard Cowper. (fn. 54) In 1628 Thomas Brett, apparently an associate of Joan Monk, died seised of it, (fn. 55) and in 1668 James Chapman had it. (fn. 56) Thomas Chapman was living at Axsmiths in 1689. (fn. 57) The later history of the estate is fragmentary. About 1840 Axmas farm, comprising 115 a., belonged to Sir Timothy Shelley, (fn. 58) and in 1910 it was owned by James Clifton Brown of Holmbush in Lower Beeding. (fn. 59) The later history has not been traced.

Axmas House, formerly Axmas Farm, is an L shaped timber-framed building apparently of the early 17th century. (fn. 60) It was mentioned in 1607. (fn. 61)

The estate called the manor of RUSPER from the late 16th or early 17th century, (fn. 62) which was also held of Shortsfield, (fn. 63) was the later CARYLLS FARM near Faygate, (fn. 64) and may also be the same as the lands in Rusper of which John Caryll of Warnham died seised in 1566. (fn. 65) Thomas Marryett died seised of Rusper manor in 1591 and was succeeded by his younger son Edmund (d. 1603), whose son John had it in 1622. (fn. 66) In 1689 Samuel Cowper was living at Carylls farm. (fn. 67) In 1699, when the estate comprised 120 a. besides woods, Thomas Mariott conveyed it to his son John, (fn. 68) and he or a relative had it in 1715. (fn. 69)

It was apparently the same estate which Charles Sergison (d. 1732) devised to his great-nephew Thomas Warden, who took the name Sergison. (fn. 70) In 1757 the latter sold the estate to Philippa Clitherow and Samuel and Sarah Blunt. (fn. 71) Philippa's son James Clitherow conveyed his share in 1791 to George Marshall, curate of Horsham. (fn. 72) In 1825 George C. Marshall, evidently George's heir, apparently sold that share to Thomas Broadwood (fn. 73) of Holmbush in Lower Beeding, who c. 1840 owned the whole estate, comprising 201 a. (fn. 74) It thereafter descended with Holmbush until 1910 or later. (fn. 75)

Carylls Farm, called Carylls in 1981, incorporates at its north-west corner a small 17th-century timberframed range. The house was greatly enlarged in several stages in the late 19th century and early 20th. In 1957 and 1971 it was used as a nursing home. (fn. 76)

The reputed manor of LE COURT, held freehold of Chesworth in Horsham, (fn. 77) presumably originated in the ¼ yardland in Rusper with which William de la Court was dealing in 1255. (fn. 78) A William at Court was dealing with land in Rusper in the mid 14th century. (fn. 79) John Styler, a member of a family recorded in the parish since 1450, (fn. 80) was dealing with the manor, first so described, in 1573 and 1580, and John Monk in 1580 and 1588. Thomas Greenfield held it possibly in 1593 (fn. 81) and certainly in 1608, when it comprised c. 100 a. (fn. 82) John Greenfield was dealing with it in 1629. (fn. 83) George Mills had the estate in 1689 (fn. 84) and died seised of it and apparently resident in 1707, being succeeded by his son Edmund, (fn. 85) possibly the same as the Edmund Mills who lived at Court House in 1770. (fn. 86) Samuel Blunt was said to hold the lands c. 1780, (fn. 87) and Mr. Tempest of Cranbrook (Kent) in 1805. (fn. 88) In 1842 the Court House estate comprised 333 a. and belonged to J. S. Broadwood of Lyne House in Newdigate (Surr.), who also owned other lands in the parish at that time, making a total of nearly 700 a. (fn. 89) His son and heir H. F. Broadwood remained one of the chief landowners in the parish in 1870. (fn. 90) In 1910 Cdr. E. K. Loring owned the Court House estate. (fn. 91) The later history has not been traced.

The old portion of Court House consists of a large medieval timber-framed range running east-west, which was perhaps originally a cross wing, and which has one surviving crown post in the roof. It was reconstructed in the 17th century, when the roof was rebuilt and external chimneys were added on south and east. In 1906 (fn. 92) the house was greatly extended to the north to form an open-sided court; the medieval range was refitted and partly cased in brick and hung tiles, a clock tower being added on the south side. (fn. 93)

GARDINERS FARM, of 46 a., south-west of Rusper village, which had once belonged to the Gardiner family, (fn. 94) was bought by the trustees of Henry Smith's charity soon after the death of its founder in 1628, and held in trust for the poor of Reigate (Surr.). In 1689 the lands were conveyed to the town of Reigate, (fn. 95) which still apparently held them in 1870. (fn. 96) Herbert A. Blake owned Gardiners farm in 1910. (fn. 97) The farmhouse, in 1981 called Quincefold, incorporates a late medieval cross wing.

In 1491 Nicholas French granted to William Pilfold lands in Rusper called HIGHAMS comprising 104 a. John Pilfold sold them to his son William in 1557, and in 1580 Richard Pilfold devised them to his son-in-law John Ingram, with remainder to John Pilfold. In 1581 the latter sold them to (Sir) Richard Cowper, who shortly before 1619 sold them to Nicholas Jordan, who sold them in that year to Anthony Board. In 1636 Herbert Board owned land in Rusper apparently including Highams. In 1688 John Board settled the farm on his son and namesake, presumably the John Board who in 1727 sold it to the trustees of John Bean's charity at Dorking (Surr.); it then comprised 128 a. From the mid 19th century the farm was let by the trustees to members of the Hurst family, who sublet it, and in 1934 they sold the freehold to Sir Cecil Hurst. (fn. 98) Mr. J. A. Kitchen owned it in 1981. (fn. 99) The house is 17thcentury or earlier, with a 19th-century porch.


  • 1. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 63.
  • 2. S.A.C. v. 238; cf. S.R.S. xx. 377-8.
  • 3. S.A.C. v. 259-60.
  • 4. Cal. Inq. p. m. xi, pp. 144, 523; cf. P.R.O., E 310/25/ 143, f. 22; Horsham Mus. MS. 1867 (MS. cat.).
  • 5. L. &. P. Hen. VIII, xii (2), pp. 467-8.
  • 6. S.R.S. xx. 377-8.
  • 7. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., deed, 1571.
  • 8. Ibid. deeds, 1590; Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 377.
  • 9. Comber, Suss. Geneal. Horsham, 331-3; P.R.O., C 142/437, no. 91; C 142/549, no. 51.
  • 10. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., deed 1717; cf. S.A.C. xxv. 182.
  • 11. S.R.S. xxi. 195; Cal. S.P. Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, 345; E.S.R.O., SAS/N 21 (TS. cat.); W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 4138 (TS. cat.); Wiston Archives, i, p. 3.
  • 12. S.A.C. lxix. 130.
  • 13. Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 378; Horsfield, Hist. Suss. ii. 274; W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 13853; Horsham Mus. MS. 408 (MS. cat.); S.R.S. li. 42, 70, 95, 128.
  • 14. Hurst, Horsham (1868), 173.
  • 15. Albery, Parl. Hist. 322; V.C.H. Suss. vi (2), 164.
  • 16. e.g. Albery, Parl. Hist. 332; Lower, Hist. Suss. ii. 132; Elwes & Robinson, W. Suss. 198; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1852 and later edns.).
  • 17. Inf. from Miss Hurst; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1922).
  • 18. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 64.
  • 19. B.L. Add. MS. 5698, f. 221.
  • 20. Above, pl. facing p. 112.
  • 21. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/29/163/11.
  • 22. B.L. Add. MS. 5698, f. 221.
  • 23. S.A.C. ix. 303-5.
  • 24. Access to the ho. was not permitted in 1981.
  • 25. O.S. Map 6", Suss. III (1874-9 edn.); the park is not shown in W.S.R.O., TD/W 104.
  • 26. B.L. Add. Roll 8906.
  • 27. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rentals, 1668, 1751.
  • 28. V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 227.
  • 29. Ibid. vi (2), 156; P.N. Suss. (E.P.N.S.), i. 233; S.A.C. lxxxviii. 67.
  • 30. Cur. Reg. R. xiv, p. 359; Cat. Anct. D. vi, C 3878 (2); B.L. Add. Ch. 17315 (MS. cal.); E.S.R.O., SAS/E 387 (TS. cat.).
  • 31. Surr. Arch. Collns. vi. 259-60.
  • 32. Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 374; B.L. Add. Ch. 24610 (MS. cal.).
  • 33. Surr. Arch. Collns. vi. 260.
  • 34. B.L. Add. Roll 8906.
  • 35. S.R.S. iii, p. 2.
  • 36. Ibid. xxxiii, p. 17.
  • 37. Ibid. xiv, p. 64.
  • 38. P.R.O., C 142/595, no. 103.
  • 39. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rental, 1668; ibid. Par. 163/12/1, f. 1.
  • 40. Ibid. Add. MS. 24890.
  • 41. B.L. Maps 137. b. 8. (5).
  • 42. W.S.R.O., IR 60, ff. [3, 6].
  • 43. Surr. Arch. Collns. vi. 263; cf. O.S. Map 6", Suss. III (1874-9 edn.).
  • 44. B.L. Maps 137. b. 8. (5).
  • 45. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rental, 1668.
  • 46. Ibid. Par. 163/12/1, f. 1.
  • 47. B.L. Add. MS. 5698, f. 221; Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 374-5; P.R.O., E 134/9 Anne Mich./ 14.
  • 48. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rental, 1751.
  • 49. W.S.R.O., TD/W 104.
  • 50. B.L. Maps 137. b. 8. (5); W.S.R.O., IR 60, f. [11].
  • 51. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rental, 1668.
  • 52. S.R.S. xxiii, p. 254.
  • 53. Ibid. xix. 16; E.S.R.O., SAS/C 241 (TS. cat.).
  • 54. P.R.O., C 2/Jas. I/B 9/9; C 2/Jas. I/M 17/69.
  • 55. S.R.S. xiv, pp. 37-8; cf. P.R.O., C 2/Jas. I/B 9/9.
  • 56. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rental, 1668.
  • 57. Ibid. Par. 163/12/1, f. 1.
  • 58. Ibid. TD/W 104.
  • 59. Ibid. IR 60, f. [2].
  • 60. Access to the ho. was not permitted.
  • 61. P.R.O., C 2/Jas. I/B 9/9.
  • 62. Ibid. C 2/Jas. I/M 9/26.
  • 63. e.g. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rentals, 1715, 1776; Horsham Mus. MS. SP 243.
  • 64. e.g. W.S.R.O., Par. 163/12/1, f. 1. For the man. of Rusper or Old Shoreham, V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 153.
  • 65. S.R.S. iii, pp. 33-4.
  • 66. P.R.O., C 2/Jas. I/M 9/26; C 142/282, no. 20.
  • 67. W.S.R.O., Par. 163/12/1, f. 1.
  • 68. Ibid. Add. MS. 4140 (TS. cat.).
  • 69. Ibid. Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rental, 1715.
  • 70. Ibid. Add. MSS. 10939-42 (TS. cat.); ibid. Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rental, 1751; V.C.H. Suss. vii. 156.
  • 71. Lytton MSS. pp. 38-9; cf. W.S.R.O., Hurst MSS., Shortsfield man. rentals, 1757, 1776; above, Upper Beeding, manors (King's Barns).
  • 72. W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 10962 (TS. cat.); V.C.H. Suss. vi (2), 192.
  • 73. W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 6622.
  • 74. Ibid. TD/W 104.
  • 75. Ibid. IR 60, f. [7]; above, Lower Beeding, manors.
  • 76. Kelly's Dir. Horsham (1957, 1971).
  • 77. e.g. P.R.O., LR 2/203, f. 155v.; Arundel Cast. MS. A 2139.
  • 78. S.R.S. vii, p. 15.
  • 79. Ibid. xxiii, pp. 146, 151.
  • 80. Cal. Pat. 1446-52, 368; S.R.S. xlv. 44; P.R.O., C 1/ 33/172.
  • 81. S.R.S. xix. 112-13.
  • 82. P.R.O., LR 2/203, f. 155v.
  • 83. S.R.S. xix. 113.
  • 84. W.S.R.O., Par. 163/12/1, f. 1.
  • 85. B.L. Add. MS. 5698, f. 221.
  • 86. Country Life, 17 Feb. 1955.
  • 87. Arundel Cast. MS. A 2139.
  • 88. Horsham Mus. MS. 1124.
  • 89. W.S.R.O., TD/W 104; Burke, Land. Gent. (1952), 261.
  • 90. Burke, Land. Gent. (1952), 261; Lower, Hist. Suss. ii. 132.
  • 91. W.S.R.O., IR 60, f. [9]; Suss. in 20th Cent. 184.
  • 92. Date on fireplace at W. end of S. range.
  • 93. Cf. Suss. in 20th Cent. 184.
  • 94. Cat. Anct. D. vi, C 4482; cf. S.R.S. xlv. 44; Comber, Suss. Geneal. Horsham, 113-14.
  • 95. W. Gray, Collns. relating to Hen. Smith, 16, 20, 25-6, 29; O. Manning and W. Bray, Hist. and Antiq. of Surr. i (1804), 327.
  • 96. S.A.C. xxii. 42.
  • 97. W.S.R.O., IR 60, f. [2].
  • 98. Ibid. Hurst MSS., deeds of Highams (inf. from Miss B. Hurst, Rusper); cf. ibid. Add. MS. 13853; ibid. IR 60, f. [10].
  • 99. Inf. from Mr. Kitchen.