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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Most of the land in Rusper was evidently assarted piecemeal from woodland, since no indication of any open fields has been found. The greater part of the parish, apart from the Nunnery estate, was held of manors lying outside it, notably Shortsfield, (fn. 1) Chesworth, (fn. 2) and Roffey, (fn. 3) all in Horsham, and Denne in Warnham: (fn. 4) besides estates mentioned above, Baldhorns and Stammerham farms were held of Shortsfield. (fn. 5) In addition Porter's farm near Friday Street was a freehold of Marlpost in Horsham. (fn. 6) Several houses or farms which survived in 1981 were recorded before 1600, including Venters, (fn. 7) Baldhorns, (fn. 8) Peter's, (fn. 9) Chowles, (fn. 10) Porter's, (fn. 11) and Wimland; (fn. 12) Venters and Baldhorns commemorate families mentioned in the parish even earlier. (fn. 13) Similarly, though Langhurst farm was not so named until the late 17th century, (fn. 14) a Langhurst family had been recorded from 1238. (fn. 15) By 1689 most of the farms listed in the later 19th century already existed. (fn. 16)
The priory demesnes were managed by a bailiff c. 1350 (fn. 17) but in the early 16th century were leased. (fn. 18) In the 16th and 17th centuries farms in the parish were mostly small: Venters had 40 a. in 1574, (fn. 19) Peter's 50 a. in 1591, (fn. 20) Stammerham 50 a. in 1662, (fn. 21) and Porter's 60 a. in 1659. (fn. 22) Larger farms were Highams, which had 140 a. in 1636, when it was leased for 21 years, (fn. 23) Carylls farm, which had c. 200 a. in 1603, (fn. 24) and Langhurst and Nunnery farms which comprised c. 200 a. and 300 a. respectively in the 1690s. (fn. 25) In the late 18th century Weston's farm had 96 a.; (fn. 26) at the same date and later Nunnery farm was leased for 21 years. (fn. 27)
In the 19th and 20th centuries farms generally remained small. (fn. 28) About 1840 most were between 40 a. and 200 a., and only Court House farm had over 300 a., almost all the farms being leased. (fn. 29) In 1867 the average size of farms was said to be under 100 a. (fn. 30) At both dates most landlords were absentees, though for instance the Hursts and the Broadwoods lived in adjoining parishes. In 1909 of 62 holdings returned only 11 had more than 50 a.; of the 2,100 a. which they comprised, however, the proportion in owner occupation had risen to two fifths. (fn. 31) Several estates at that period were managed by bailiffs, including the Nunnery, Normans, and Culross at Faygate in 1903. (fn. 32) By 1975 the number of holdings returned had fallen to 33, of which 23 were of less than 50 ha. and 16 were worked part-time. By then more than three fifths of the land was in owner occupation. (fn. 33)
In 1340 arable farming apparently predominated in the parish and there were few sheep. (fn. 34) In the 17th and 18th centuries sheep, cows, and pigs were kept, and crops grown included wheat, oats, peas, and tares, besides flax and hemp on the Nunnery estate c. 1690. (fn. 35) At the end of the 18th century wheat was said to yield 14, oats 16, and peas 12 bu. an acre. (fn. 36) No barley at all was returned in 1801, when wheat and oats were of almost equal importance, and peas, beans, and turnips or rape were also grown. (fn. 37) The amount of barley grown was to remain low until the 20th century. (fn. 38) Also in 1801 the parish contained 191 cattle, 164 sheep, and as many as 179 pigs. (fn. 39) Hops were evidently grown in Rusper too at some time to judge from a field name recorded south-east of the village c. 1840. (fn. 40) In 1841 there was about five times as much arable land as meadow and pasture in the tithable area of the parish; a few Sussex cattle were then bred, but again few sheep were kept. (fn. 41) Farming in 1867 was said to be backward, with many men going elsewhere to work in the hay season, at turnip hoeing, and at the harvest. (fn. 42)
Arable farming continued to predominate in the later 19th century; (fn. 43) in 1875, for instance, 456 a. of wheat and 360 a. of oats were returned, while permanent grass comprised only 511 a., 251 cattle, 74 sheep, and 121 pigs being listed. (fn. 44) During the next 30 years there was a shift to pasture farming, evidently partly in response to the rising demand for milk from neighbouring towns. Baldhorns farm had a fine Jersey herd, (fn. 45) and Carylls farm by 1899 comprised mostly pasture, with a model farmyard for dairy farming. (fn. 46) By 1909 there were 1,731 a. of permanent grass, and a much reduced acreage of arable; 381 cattle were then kept, besides 115 sheep and 198 pigs. Meanwhile orchards and market gardens grew up, again presumably to supply nearby towns. There were 4 a. of orchards and 2 a. of market gardens in 1875, and 5 a. of small fruit and 13¼ a. of orchards in 1909. (fn. 47) A firm of grape growers existed by 1887 near Lambs Green, the Rusper Vale Vineries, which continued in 1909 and later as a general nursery. In 1913 there was also a poultry farmer in the parish. (fn. 48)
In 1957 there were a dairy farmer, a nurseryman, and a market gardener, and in 1971 a turkey farm. (fn. 49) Grassland remained dominant in 1975, 1,389 cattle being recorded and seven farmers specializing in dairying; at the same date there were 573 pigs, a very high number, but only 69 sheep. Of 833 poultry listed half were kept for egg production, most of the rest being turkeys. The previous proportion of wheat to barley had been reversed, 291 ha. of barley being returned and 66 ha. of wheat. (fn. 50)
A water mill north of Rusper priory existed in 1537 and 1590, (fn. 51) but is not heard of later. A mill was mentioned at Normans in 1719, (fn. 52) and a windmill south of the village was recorded from 1795. (fn. 53) Millers were recorded in the early 19th century; (fn. 54) Charles Read, who held the mill in 1851, also farmed 120 a., employing 6 labourers, and was lessee of the Star inn. (fn. 55) The windmill was destroyed by fire between the early 1870s and 1896. (fn. 56) A steam miller was recorded in the parish in 1903. (fn. 57)
Two inhabitants surnamed Taylor were recorded in the earlier 14th century. (fn. 58) In 1450 no tradesmen were listed among the 16 parishioners implicated in Cade's rebellion, unusually in comparison with other places. (fn. 59)
A bodice maker was recorded in 1587 (fn. 60) and a tanner in 1591. (fn. 61) Between the 17th and early 19th centuries the parish apparently had all the tradesmen usual to a place of its size. (fn. 62) One notable family, which produced at least four tradesmen, were the Muttons of Normans, recorded from 1689. (fn. 63) Two were a tailor (fn. 64) and a cooper; a third, Thomas Mutton (d. 1755) was a butcher, (fn. 65) while William Mutton (d. c. 1708), described as a salesman, was evidently a middleman dealing in cloth. (fn. 66)
In 1811 more than one family in four of those in employment was supported chiefly by nonagricultural activities, a high proportion which had declined by 1831 to about one in five. (fn. 67) During the 19th century, besides the more common trades, there were at various times shopkeepers, grocers, and drapers in the parish: (fn. 68) the business of grocer, baker, and draper belonging to Mr. Picton, with premises in the village street, was described in 1898 as thriving and old-established. (fn. 69) The woods of the parish were said in 1867 to provide plenty of spring and winter employment; (fn. 70) in 1845 there had been at least three carpenters and three wheelwrights in the parish, (fn. 71) and in 1912 one small business made carts, vans, and waggons. (fn. 72)
Other work, for servants, gardeners, or gamekeepers, was provided by the landed estates of the parish, especially after c. 1850. (fn. 73) A gamekeeper had been recorded in 1826, (fn. 74) and the number of parishioners employed in such activities later evidently grew. (fn. 75) In 1908 the increase in building in the parish, particularly of larger houses, enabled a small builder to describe himself as also a hot and cold water and sanitary engineer. (fn. 76) In 1938 there were a firm of builders and a coal merchant.
Tradesmen were also to be found at some of the hamlets: at Friday Street a carpenter in 1845 and a blacksmith in 1938, (fn. 77) and at Faygate a confectioner, a shopkeeper, and a beer retailer in 1909 and a tea room in 1938. (fn. 78) There was a blacksmith in the village until c. 1960 (fn. 79) and a butcher until the early 1970s. (fn. 80) A long-lived forge at Faygate survived till c. 1970, (fn. 81) its site being occupied in 1981 by a motor workshop. The firm of J. & S. Agate of Horsham moved its main sawmill for home-grown timber to Faygate in 1961, where it remained in 1981. (fn. 82) At the same date there were a general stores, a garage, and a hotel and restaurant in the village, and a general stores, a garage, a roadside café, and a firm of fencing contractors employing 14 people at Faygate. (fn. 83)
A small brickworks north of the railway at Faygate was recorded in the early 1870s. By 1896 it had been replaced by another south of the railway, which itself had gone by 1909. In 1938 two firms were recorded; one, the Rusper Clay Works at Lambs Green, survived in 1957, (fn. 84) but its site was soon afterwards occupied by a plant hire firm which in 1981 employed c. 45 people. (fn. 85)