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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The parish of Henfield (fn. 1) lies north of the South Downs and chiefly on the east bank of the river Adur, c. 10 miles (16 km.) from Horsham and c. 7 miles (11 km.) from Shoreham. In 1881 it contained 4,518 a. A detached part of 79 a. within Upper Beeding to the south was transferred to that parish in 1883. The parish area was given as 4,439 a. in 1891, but in 1921 and later as 4,435 a. (1,795 ha.). (fn. 2) The western boundary partly follows the river Adur, and the northern boundary its eastern and western arms above their confluence; the south-western boundary, however, in two places follows an earlier course of the river east of the present one. Eatons Farm west of the river lies across the western boundary. The southern boundary partly follows two tributaries of the Adur, and the south-eastern boundary partly follows roads. (fn. 3)
The parish lies largely on Weald clay. (fn. 4) In the centre a tongue of Lower Greensand, capped in some places by thin spreads of plateau gravel, forms the parallel east-west ridges on one of which stands the church; the Greensand has been quarried for sand east and south of the village, and for stone on the west, and its soil and south-facing slopes favour market gardening. (fn. 5) The highest land, at just over 100 ft., is at Nep Town on the south edge of the village and in the south-east; both at Nep Town and elsewhere on the Greensand ridges the slopes are steep. In the Adur valley in the west the clay is overlain by alluvium, which south-west of the village forms a wide belt where Rye farm, mentioned from 1560, occupies, as its name indicates, a former island of the clay. (fn. 6) There is no direct access by land between Henfield village and the chief manorial site of the parish at Stretham in the south-west except for the 19th-century railway line. (fn. 7)
The parish drains towards the Adur. A tributary north of the village was called Chestham river in 1647 (fn. 8) and later the Chess brook; (fn. 9) in 1647 the chief tributary in the south was called Woodsmill river, and the Adur the great river. (fn. 10) A fishery belonging to the bishop, lord of Stretham manor, had been conveyed before 1086 to William de Braose, lord of Bramber rape. (fn. 11) In 1374 two weirs were held of Stretham. (fn. 12) The lord of Eatons manor in Ashurst had the right to fish in the Adur in 1656. (fn. 13) In 1647 the eastern arm of the river was navigable to Mock bridge on the northern boundary. (fn. 14) The section of the western arm of the river in the parish was navigable after 1807 and probably earlier. Under an Act of 1807 a new cut was made north-west of Stretham Manor. (fn. 15) Winter floods were frequent in the Adur valley in the past, (fn. 16) and still occurred in 1984. The moated site at Stretham was apparently abandoned on that account in the later Middle Ages. (fn. 17) In the later 19th and earlier 20th centuries the brookland in the valley was often under water for much of the winter; (fn. 18) in the mid 20th century the floods might form a broad lake south-west of the village for days or weeks. (fn. 19) In 1907 there were angling resorts at Mock bridge and elsewhere in the parish, (fn. 20) and the river remained popular with anglers in 1984. The eastern arm was tidal to just above Mock bridge in 1975, as also was the section of the western arm in the parish. (fn. 21)
Part at least of the woodland at Stretham manor which yielded three swine in 1086 may have lain outside the parish. (fn. 22) A wood called Wantley, apparently south of the Chess brook, was mentioned in 1376, and Wantley wood in 1518; (fn. 23) the north-east part of the parish was described as well wooded in 1632. (fn. 24) The timber at Wantley and Chestham was said in 1830 to be some of the finest in the county. (fn. 25) There were only 100 a. of woods in the parish, however, in the 1840s, (fn. 26) and though the acreage in the north-east increased between c. 1875 and 1909, (fn. 27) there was still very little woodland in 1984.
Open common land was conspicuous in 1984. The largest common was Henfield common of c. 46 a. (fn. 28) on the Greensand immediately east of the village; it was chiefly covered by grass, with some birch woodland on the north side. In the past it accommodated one of Henfield's two fairs; (fn. 29) military exercises were also held there, (fn. 30) and both in 1984 and earlier various sports. (fn. 31) South of the village on the Weald clay lie Broadmare and Oreham commons. Both had rough grass in 1984, with some trees at Broadmare common; part of the latter, representing pits from which clay had been dug for the nearby brickworks, was then regularly under water. (fn. 32)
Two chief parks have existed in the parish, the medieval Henfield park and the 19th-century Chestham park; only the latter survived in 1984.
A charter of free warren in Henfield granted to the bishop of Chichester by William II was confirmed in 1155 and later. (fn. 33) A park, with a pale, existed by the second quarter of the 13th century, when it included woodland pasture. (fn. 34) Deer were mentioned in 1315, (fn. 35) and a parker in 1331. (fn. 36) The park lay north-west of the village, on land which slopes northwards to the Chess brook. (fn. 37) The modern Parsonage Farm evidently occupies the site of a lodge. (fn. 38) In 1374 the park was in three parts: Westlaund comprising 80 a. of pasture; Eastlaund in two parcels comprising 15 a., said to be full of bracken; and at least 100 a. of woodland between them, described as level, and without many brambles or thorns. There were two fishponds, and the whole area was paled, one tenant of Stretham manor apparently owing fencing service. Deer were the chief livestock, but other animals of the bishop or of others could be agisted, both then (fn. 39) and later; in 1429-30 income was received from pannage of swine, and in 1535 the agistment of the park was farmed to the lessee. Other income was apparently sometimes provided in the earlier 15th century by underwood and rabbits. (fn. 40) In 1527 at least 84 deer were apparently kept; the bishop then let the park, retaining the right to hunt there himself and to kill up to two bucks in summer and two does in winter. (fn. 41) The park was said to be c. 100 a. in area in 1575 (fn. 42) and 150 a. in 1629 (fn. 43) and 1647; (fn. 44) the pale was still apparently complete in the later 16th century, (fn. 45) and a 'lawn gate' was mentioned in 1560. (fn. 46) By 1630, however, there were said to be neither deer nor rabbits there, as there apparently never were again; (fn. 47) after sequestration in the mid 1640s the pale was rapidly depleted, and by 1647 the buildings were said to be in great decay. (fn. 48) By 1780 much of the area was arable. (fn. 49) The pale on the west side was still traceable at its southern end in 1984.
The park at Chestham north of the village was formed apparently c. 1825, when the house called Chestham Park was built, and in 1844-5 comprised 46 a. between the house and the main road on the south. (fn. 50) Its oak trees were particularly mentioned in 1882 and 1910. (fn. 51) In 1983 the park remained open pasture with some isolated trees and a tree-lined avenue leading to the house.
The Roman Greensand Way passed through the south part of the parish by way of Oreham common, crossing the river south of Stretham Manor towards higher ground on the west; the crossing was apparently by ferry, (fn. 52) though a ford existed at Stretham in the later 19th century or earlier 20th. (fn. 53) Other east-west routes used the Lower Greensand outcrop. A road from Henfield to Hurstpierpoint apparently followed the modern Furners Lane by way of Blackstone in Woodmancote in 1469. (fn. 54) Church Street, its western continuation, so called by 1650, (fn. 55) is also old, since it forms a hollow-way north of the church; further west, as West End Lane, it led to what was presumably an early crossing of the river opposite Eatons Farm. Hollands Lane, south of West End Lane, led to another river crossing at Bineham, formerly Bredham or Bredman, bridge, mentioned from 1548. (fn. 56) The bridge, often referred to in the plural (fn. 57) evidently because it crossed two channels, was by the 1870s used for foot traffic only, (fn. 58) a new wooden bridge being built c. 1895. (fn. 59)
The north-south road followed by High Street and London Road seems also to be old. South of the village it evidently existed by 1331 when mention was made of Baldwins bridge, by which it crosses a tributary of the Adur on the southern boundary. (fn. 60) It may be the 'castleway' or road to Bramber castle named in 1374. (fn. 61) A parishioner left money for its repair in 1458. (fn. 62) The steep hill by which it descends the Nep Town ridge south of the village was called Barrow Hill in the 1870s (fn. 63) and apparently earlier; (fn. 64) on the crest of the ridge the road forms a deep hollow-way. It was presumably near Wantley Manor north of the village, on the northern continuation of the same road, that the prior of Lewes made an encroachment in or before 1275. (fn. 65) Mock bridge, by which that road crosses the eastern arm of the Adur, existed by 1296, evidently in succession to a ford, as the local surname Mockford indicates. (fn. 66) In 1301 Sir Thomas Peverel of Ewhurst in Shermanbury, the owner, charged an annual toll of 1d. a wagon and ½d. a cart; the prior and monks of Sele in that year were exempted from tolls though the prior's tenants remained liable. (fn. 67) A later lord of Ewhurst in 1567 charged tenants of the manor toll for each wagon once a year, but others then paid each time they crossed the bridge. (fn. 68) The bridge was destroyed during the Civil War to prevent royalist troops moving eastwards; it had been rebuilt by 1647, when quarter sessions decreed that the expense should fall on the whole rape as the beneficiary of its destruction. (fn. 69) The existing stone structure is of 17th-century character, and has four round arches with cutwaters and refuges on both sides. There is a short stone causeway at the north end. The bridge was rebuilt in 1794 and again, by the county council, in 1930. (fn. 70) Chess or Chestham bridge, by which the same road crosses the Chess brook, was mentioned from 1331. (fn. 71) A branch road from Crouch Hill north of Chess bridge to High Cross in Albourne existed by 1606; (fn. 72) the name Crouch Hill was recorded in 1771. (fn. 73) In 1984 Mock bridge was the only road bridge over the Adur in the entire parish, though there were footbridges at Eatons (fn. 74) and Bineham bridges and at Stretham, and another in the north leading to Shermanbury. Another ford besides that at Stretham was mentioned in the 19th century north of Bineham bridge, (fn. 75) apparently on the site of a previous ferry crossing. (fn. 76)
The road alongside the common from Henfield to Woodmancote existed by 1724, when it formed part of a route between Bramber and Lindfield by way of Upper Beeding. (fn. 77) Lucket or Ludgate Lane, for the mending of which a load of stone was devised in 1545, (fn. 78) has not been located. A road at (apud) Dropping Holms, apparently the same as the modern road in Nep Town called by that name, was mentioned in 1633. (fn. 79) A road following the line of Bramlands Lane in the south-east corner of the parish existed in 1646. (fn. 80) Grinstead Lane, south of the village, was mentioned in 1703. (fn. 81)
The road from Mock bridge to Henfield was a turnpike between 1771 and 1877, (fn. 82) the branch road from Crouch Hill to High Cross in Albourne between 1777 and 1868, (fn. 83) and the road from Henfield to Woodmancote between 1777 and 1876. (fn. 84) The village thus came to lie on one of the chief roads from London to Brighton. (fn. 85) About 1800 a post coach called on alternate days in either direction in summer. (fn. 86) In the 1830s coaches passed through from Brighton to London, Oxford, and Windsor; there were also then carriers five days a week to Brighton and once a week to Lewes. (fn. 87) In 1845 there were several carriers a week to London. By 1855 carriers plied only to Horsham and Brighton and by 1862 there was only one to Brighton. (fn. 88)
A motor coach service plied between Henfield and London on certain days in summer c. 1981. (fn. 89)
The Horsham-Shoreham railway line, with a station west of the village, was opened in 1861, (fn. 90) crossing the river Adur at Stretham near the site of the Roman crossing. The line was closed in 1966, (fn. 91) much of its route through the parish being a footpath in 1984.
There is evidence of Mesolithic and later activity north of Henfield common, where the east end of the Greensand ridge is marked off by a bank, (fn. 92) and perhaps of a Roman cemetery on Barrow Hill. (fn. 93) The modern Henfield village lies roughly in the centre of the parish, on the higher land provided by the Lower Greensand formation. The church, presumably on the same site as the building mentioned in 770, (fn. 94) occupies a knoll towards the north-west corner of the pre-19th-century settlement near the east-west road that links Eatons in Ashurst and Hurstpierpoint. The oldest buildings are to be found around the church and along High Street and London Road, the north-south route which became the centre of settlement. Apple Tree Cottage west of the church is in origin a single-aisled hall house of four bays, possibly of the 14th century; (fn. 95) its southernmost room, which is not aisled, seems to be slightly later in date, and always to have been two-storeyed. The central range of Henfield Place, (fn. 96) a little further west, was timber-framed and probably late 16th-century. A wing was added to the north end of the east side early in the 17th century; it bears a reset datestone for 1637. Another wing was added south of the main range on its west side, perhaps in the 18th century. There have been various periods of alteration since the 18th century. The south end of the George inn in High Street is a late 16th-century building with a dragon beam, and an original window at the rear. The L-shaped Backsettown, which occupies a lowlying site ¼ mile east of High Street, consists of a medieval hall range, which retains a smoke-blackened crown-post roof over the central area, and a 17thcentury cross wing with a large external sandstone chimneystack; the south and west fronts were later recased in brick and mathematical tiles, the south front being dated 1738. (fn. 97)
The surname Easton (de Estetun) recorded in 1296 (fn. 98) seems to refer to the east end of the village rather than to a separate settlement. The name East Henfield was used as an alternative name for Backsettown. (fn. 99)
Potwell, 300 yd. south of the church, has an east- west range probably of 16th-century origin with a 17th-century cross wing at the east end in which are many re-used medieval rafters. Other 16th- and 17th-century timber-framed buildings near the church include the Cat House to the north-east, a small 17th-century house of three-roomed plan with walls re-used perhaps from a 16th-century building. In High Street and London Road are several other timber-framed buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries, some with later fronts, and some set back from the modern building line; notable are Tudor House, the White Hart inn, and two buildings north of the White Hart which were perhaps once a single large house. At the junction of High Street, Brighton Road, and Barrow Hill are several lesser buildings of the same period, some of which were small-scale industrial premises. (fn. 100)
Several houses were given new brick fronts during the 18th century, including Backsettown, mentioned above. Of the same period are Seven Chimneys in Cagefoot Lane, and the three-storeyed Martyn Lodge in Church Street, which may be one of two houses described c. 1800 as 'neat', the other, adjoining the churchyard, possibly being Parsonage House. (fn. 101) Wantley Manor, on the northern outskirts of the village, was enlarged in the 18th century. (fn. 102) In 1795 there were buildings along most of the east, and part of the west, sides of High Street. (fn. 103) Several terraces were built in the village in the early 19th century, including a long one of c. 1820 in red brick on the west side of High Street, another north-east of the church, and three in Furners Lane off High Street to the east. In the 1830s, nevertheless, Henfield was said to consist chiefly of one street, most of whose inhabitants were tradespeople. (fn. 104)
A third of a mile south of Henfield church was the hamlet of Nep Town, recorded by 1647; (fn. 105) it occupies some of the highest land in the parish, as its name indicates. (fn. 106) Many buildings were shown in 1780 along the modern Nep Town Road and north and south of it. (fn. 107) Seventeenth- and 18th-century buildings surviving in 1984 included Wistaria Cottage and Old House at the west end and Patchings and Pendrells, both L-shaped, further east. A terrace of cottages was built in the early 19th century at the east end of the hamlet.
From the mid 19th century the village became favoured by moneyed people for retirement and residence. Eleven parishioners were described as gentry c. 1832, some living in the village itself and others outside. (fn. 108) By 1855 there were 15 listed as gentry, and the total numbers of those described either thus or as private residents thereafter increased to 24 in 1862, 31 in 1874, c. 46 in 1882, and c. 80 in 1895. (fn. 109) Red Oaks, south of the church, a stuccoed villa in classical style, was built by William Borrer shortly before 1839 as a wedding present for his daughter Fanny, wife of the Revd. Charles Dunlop, curate of Henfield. (fn. 110) South-east of Nep Town Borrer's own house, Barrow Hill, built before 1810, was similar in style; it was demolished after 1947. (fn. 111) Some older houses, for example Henfield Place, (fn. 112) were enlarged or restored as gentlemen's residences in the 19th century or early 20th. Backsettown, east of the village, was offered for sale in 1867 for conversion to a residence, (fn. 113) and by 1874 had attached parkland with lakes, an aviary, and an arboretum. In 1891 the pleasure grounds there were described as beautifully timbered; in 1906 there were evergreen oaks, acacias, walnut trees, and conifers. (fn. 114) In the 19th century and earlier 20th the owners or occupiers of those larger houses, and of Wantley Manor, Moustows Manor, and Chestham Park, dominated village society. (fn. 115)
There was much other building in the village after c. 1850, (fn. 116) the opening of the railway in 1861 encouraging development. Two or three large detached stuccoed classical-style houses were built before 1875 in Broomfield Road north of Nep Town, and similar houses, singly, in pairs, or in terraces, were put up beside the station and in Church Street, Barrow Hill, Nep Town Road, and Cagefoot Lane. Ros House and Magnolia House in High Street are further examples. Martyn Lodge in Church Street was rendered and extended at the same time. Also in Cagefoot Lane are later 19th- and earlier 20thcentury detached houses, including one in Gothic style. There are a mid 19th-century terrace in Brighton Road, and a terrace of c. 1900 in Park Road west of High Street; the stuccoed South View Terrace in Nep Town was built c. 1880, and another terrace east of it in 1878. (fn. 117) The west side of High Street was largely filled up between c. 1870 and 1910 with houses in revived vernacular style and large commercial buildings.
Further houses were built in and north of Nep Town Road in the earlier 20th century. The Backsettown estate east of the village was offered for sale abortively for building in 1891 (fn. 118) and 1906, the advantages of undulating, wooded land, good views, and salubrious and exhilarating air being claimed for the surroundings of the village. (fn. 119) An artist lived in the village in 1882. (fn. 120) Growth was rapid after the First World War, houses and bungalows being built in London Road and along Upper and Lower Station roads as far as the railway line. Forty-three council houses were built west of the railway in the 1920s, and 40 on the Wantley Hill estate north of the village in 1936. (fn. 121) After 1945 the building of new houses and bungalows continued in the centre of the village between High Street and the railway. Fiftysix more council houses were built on the Wantley Hill estate in the late 1940s, and 70 north of Upper Station Road in 1949; by 1958 there were 223 in all in the parish, and by 1981 there were 346. Houses and bungalows were also built at that period north and south of Furners Lane and south-east of the village in the grounds of Barrow Hill. (fn. 122) In 1965 the village was said to be on the way to becoming a town. (fn. 123) Between c. 1978 and 1983 c. 275 new houses were built. (fn. 124) In 1984, nevertheless, the centre of the village west of High Street had many trees, some open space, including the Tanyard field and the large gardens attached to Potwell and to Red Oaks, and numerous footpaths; meanwhile, east of the village, the open expanse of Henfield common approached very close. In 1965 there was an above average number of old people in the parish: a fifth of the population was 65 or over, three fifths of that number being women. (fn. 125)
There was scattered settlement throughout the parish in the Middle Ages and later. (fn. 126) Various modern farm names can be associated with surnames recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries, for instance Barrowhill, Betley, Buckwish, Catslands, Nymans, and Pokerlee. (fn. 127) Buckwish Farm south-west of the village is a small late medieval hall house into which an upper floor and chimneystack were inserted probably in the early 17th century; substantial additions were made in the mid 20th century. Surviving isolated buildings of the 16th and 17th centuries include Rye Farmhouse in the Adur floodplain, Catslands Farm in the south-east corner, and Nymans Farm and Little Betley in the north.
The western edge of the Lower Greensand outcrop, forming a bluff above the Adur floodplain, supported much scattered medieval and later settlement. The surname Weston (Auesteton) recorded in 1378 (fn. 128) may indicate an early inhabitant; the area was later known as West End. (fn. 129) The place names Bradeham (later Bredham or Bineham) and Lashmarshall, on the south-west and north-west corners of the area respectively, were both mentioned in the 14th century. (fn. 130) Surviving older buildings in the area include a group of 17th-century houses at Lashmarshall, and Lancasters further south. In 1780 there were 10 or 12 houses there. (fn. 131) Some houses in the Bineham bridge area were demolished in the later 19th century or earlier 20th. (fn. 132) In 1984 West End was a cul-de-sac for traffic with many private roads, and seemed remote from the rest of the parish.
Another similar area of scattered settlement was south-west of Nep Town, also on the edge of the floodplain. There were 5 or 6 buildings there in 1780, (fn. 133) including Springlands Cottage, a timberframed house apparently of c. 1600 with a threebayed main range and east cross wing, and Dunstalls, a small late 16th-century timber-framed range of high quality which may be a fragment of a larger building. The construction of the railway in 1861 bisected the group. (fn. 134)
There is no evidence of a nucleated settlement at Stretham in the Middle Ages or later; the second element of the name alludes to a meadow (hamm) rather than a settlement (ham). (fn. 135) Later, besides Nep Town, there were hamlets at Oreham and Chestham, near Mock bridge, and at Broadmare common. The place name Oreham seems similarly to refer to a meadow rather than to a settlement, (fn. 136) and persons described as of Oreham in the 14th century and later seem more likely to have been inhabitants of the tithing than of a hamlet. (fn. 137) Beside and to the south of Oreham common in 1984 were several 17th- and 18th-century houses. (fn. 138) Lands and houses described in the Middle Ages and later as at Chestham, similarly, were probably usually merely within the tithing of that name. (fn. 139) By 1795, however, there was a hamlet, comprising a few houses west of the site of the future Chestham Park house. (fn. 140) About six buildings survived in the 1840s, (fn. 141) but by the 1870s most had gone, (fn. 142) evidently as unsuited to the surroundings of the new house. In 1983 one timber-framed building probably of the later 16th century survived; others had remained as outbuildings in 1947, when yet others were still remembered. (fn. 143) Several houses stood near Mock bridge in 1795. (fn. 144) Old Bull Cottage, at one time the Bull inn, was a small singlebayed hall house with a combined solar and service bay attached; it was demolished c. 1965. (fn. 145) The central portion of the north range of Mockbridge House has a partly smoke-blackened roof of the later 16th century, suggesting an open hall. There were lower ranges at each end, both under a continuous roof in 1984, and a 17th-century rear wing. The house was remodelled in the late 18th century and early 19th, with a stuccoed north front. Malthouse nearby is a conversion from industrial buildings. More buildings were put up nearby in the 19th and 20th centuries, including estate houses to the east. At Broadmare common there were several buildings by 1845, chiefly around the eastern side, and including the 17th-century or earlier Honeysuckle Cottages. (fn. 146)
Scattered settlement had also begun by the 17th century around Henfield common. (fn. 147) At the northwest corner are two probably 17th-century houses and a row of three houses of the 17th and 18th centuries, besides later buildings including some villas of c. 1900. The house called Providence, of three bays, has mathematical tiles in its upper storey. (fn. 148) A few older buildings flank the south side of the common, including Holedean Farm probably of the 17th century and later. (fn. 149)
The turnpiking of roads through the parish presumably helped to cause the fifty-per-cent increase in the number of houses between 1811 and 1821. (fn. 150)
Isolated gentlemen's houses built during the 19th century included Terryscross Lodge and Kentons in the south-east, built before 1845, and the nearby Henfield Lodge, afterwards East Kentwyns, built by 1851 but later rebuilt in revived vernacular style. There was parkland attached to Terryscross Lodge and East Kentwyns in the later 19th century. (fn. 151) Building continued outside nucleated settlements in the 20th century, for instance along West End Lane west of the village, along the Upper Beeding road north and south-west of Woods mill, and along the road to New Hall in the south. Some isolated farmhouses, for example Pokerlee and Storwood Farms, (fn. 152) were destroyed in the later 19th century or the 20th.
Thirty-eight tenants of Stretham manor were enumerated in 1086, besides eleven tenants of the submanor which may later have become Oreham manor, and four of Wantley manor, where there were also two servi. (fn. 153) Fifty-five inhabitants of Henfield vill were taxed in 1327, 47 or 48 in 1332, (fn. 154) and 100 in 1378. (fn. 155) Seventy persons in the parish were assessed to the subsidy of 1524. (fn. 156) In 1642 the protestation was signed by 166 adult males. (fn. 157) There were said to be 400 adult parishioners in 1676, (fn. 158) and c. 100 families in 1724. (fn. 159) From 1,037 in 1801 the population of the parish fell to 976 in 1811, afterwards rising steadily, despite temporary falls in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1890s, from 1,404 in 1821 to 1,867 in 1901; growth was rapid in the 1830s and 1860s, attributed on the second occasion to the opening of the railway. During the 20th century the population continued to rise, in the 1960s by 30 per cent and in the 1970s by 16 per cent, to reach 4,381 in 1981. (fn. 160)
One or possibly two alehouses were recorded in 1538, (fn. 161) and six ale retailers in 1560. (fn. 162) A wine tavern was licensed in 1636 (fn. 163) and an alehouse in 1646. (fn. 164) There were at least two inns in the later 17th century; (fn. 165) in 1686 the inns of the parish could provide six beds and stabling for 12 horses. (fn. 166) The two chief inns of the village in the 18th and 19th centuries, both of which survived in 1984, were the George, recorded from 1729, (fn. 167) and the White Hart, recorded from 1764, (fn. 168) both in High Street. The George was a coaching stop c. 1800, when postchaises and saddle horses could be hired there; (fn. 169) the White Hart was the chief coaching inn in the 1830s. (fn. 170) Both inns were described as commercial in the mid 19th century. (fn. 171) The Plough inn, recorded by c. 1800, also in High Street and also surviving in 1984, may have succeeded the King of Prussia mentioned in 1764. (fn. 172) Other inns in the village and in Nep Town in 1984 were the former Station inn, opened c. 1861, (fn. 173) the Gardeners' Arms at Nep Town, opened before 1914, (fn. 174) and the Raven, formerly the Bell, (fn. 175) in High Street. In the rural part of the parish were two inns, the New inn at Bineham bridge, recorded between 1729 and 1916, which served river tradesmen, (fn. 176) and the Bull at Mock bridge, recorded from 1771, which survived in 1984, the original building having been replaced c. 1893 and later demolished. (fn. 177)
Cricket was played on Henfield common by 1764, and a Henfield cricket team, of local men and others, existed by the 1770s. Henfield cricket club was founded in 1837, also playing on the common, and was one of the chief clubs in Sussex in the mid 19th century. A pavilion was built in 1926. (fn. 178) The club still flourished in 1984. Other sports in the parish in the later 18th and earlier 19th centuries were foot racing on the common in 1784, cockfighting at the George inn in 1797, and bull baiting at the south end of High Street, where a maypole was also erected. (fn. 179)
Football was played in the parish before 1913, (fn. 180) possibly on the common as later; (fn. 181) there was a club by 1921, (fn. 182) and there were two clubs in 1981. (fn. 183) There were tennis courts in Station Road in 1912, when there was also a stoolball club; (fn. 184) both sports were played in the 1960s or 1970s. (fn. 185) There was a bowls club in 1929; (fn. 186) a new bowling green east of the village was laid out for the Henfield bowling club in 1975. (fn. 187) A village sports day was held on the common on August bank holiday in 1912 and for some years before. (fn. 188) Use of the common for recreation was the subject in 1893 of a provisional order under the Commons Act, 1876. (fn. 189) Shortly after 1945 four acres at the north-east corner were converted to playing fields for football, hockey, and other sports as the village war memorial. (fn. 190) Open spaces used for recreation besides the common were the George meadow in High Street in the mid 19th century, (fn. 191) the Kings field north of Upper Station Road, given to the parish by Miss M. M. Knowles of Henfield Place in 1935, (fn. 192) and the former Workhouse field in Nep Town Road, given to the parish before c. 1981. (fn. 193)
A mechanics' institute was established at Henfield by 1855, when it had a library with newspapers and periodicals, and over 80 members, occasional lectures being held; it survived in 1866. A coffee house existed in 1887 and 1895, and a coffee tavern, later a temperance hotel and coffee house, in 1903. (fn. 194) There were two reading circles in the village in 1891-2. (fn. 195) A working men's club was mentioned in 1913. (fn. 196) Assembly rooms in High Street were built in 1886 by a private company, and bought by the parish council in 1920. The red brick building, of three bays with a pediment, was sold in 1974 and afterwards converted into shops. (fn. 197) It was replaced by a new village hall opened in the same year with an auditorium that could seat 300. (fn. 198) A branch library was opened in the mid 1950s, (fn. 199) and in 1965 occupied a room behind the assembly rooms. (fn. 200) A new library was opened in 1970. (fn. 201) The parish council ran a small museum in 1964, (fn. 202) which moved to the village hall ten years later. (fn. 203) In 1984 it was open two or three days a week throughout the year. The Henfield Observer, Steyning Reporter, and Partridge Green Post appeared in only three issues in 1902. (fn. 204)
A 'town band' flourished between c. 1890 and 1914. (fn. 205) An annual competitive arts festival, founded in the 1970s, was still held in 1984. (fn. 206) In 1965 there were c. 40 clubs and societies, including a choral society founded in 1886. (fn. 207)
There was a station of the county police force in London Road c. 1875, which later moved to a site near the railway station. (fn. 208) It survived in 1986. Henfield Place was rented between 1889 and 1891 as the first seminary of the Roman Catholic diocese of Southwark, under the direction of the future Cardinal Bourne. (fn. 209) Three nursing homes were recorded in the parish between 1909 and 1938. (fn. 210) Backsettown became in 1927 a home of rest and recuperation for professional women. (fn. 211) Red Oaks, which in 1945 became a nursing home, was reopened in 1973 as a home of rest for retired gardeners which could accommodate 44. (fn. 212) Another old people's home accommodating 50 was opened in 1963. (fn. 213)
Thomas Stapleton, the Catholic controversialist, was born at Henfield in 1535. (fn. 214) William Borrer the botanist (1781-1862) lived at Barrow Hill south of the village from 1810, and used the sandy soil of the Lower Greensand ridge to cultivate all the hardy exotic plants obtainable, of which he had amassed a collection of 6,660 species by the time he died. The grounds of the house survived in 1947, though in decay, (fn. 215) but were later built over. Nathaniel Woodard, founder of the Woodard schools, lived at Martyn Lodge in Church Street from 1862 until his death in 1891. (fn. 216) 'Michael Fairless', author of The Roadmender, lodged at Mockbridge House and died there in 1901. (fn. 217) J. B. Morton ('Beachcomber') lived at Potwell in Henfield village in the 1930s and 1940s. (fn. 218)