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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There was one ploughteam on the Woodmancote manor demesne farm in 1086. (fn. 1) The farm had 114 a. in 1339 (fn. 2) and 118 a. in 1434. (fn. 3) On the Morley manor demesne farm there was half a team in 1086; (fn. 4) the farm had 200 a. in 1434, including 80 a. of pasture in Morley park. (fn. 5) The demesne farm of Wick manor in 1318 had c. 160 a. (fn. 6) Those three demesne farms remained the largest farms in the parish between the 16th and 18th centuries. About 1639 Woodmancote Place farm had 149 a. and Morley manor farm 292 a.; (fn. 7) Morley Park farm had 166 a. in 1768. (fn. 8) The demesne lands of Wickensands manor totalled 284 a. in 1558-9, when they were let. (fn. 9) In 1768 Wick farm had 363 a. in Woodmancote and Albourne. (fn. 10) Morley Park farm was leased together with Woodhouse and Bilsborough farms in 1818, when they comprised 425 a. in Woodmancote and Henfield, including much of the north-west part of Woodmancote. (fn. 11)
There were 16 villani and 4 bordars at Woodmancote manor in 1086, 1 villanus at an unidentified submanor, and 2 bordars at Morley manor. (fn. 12) Fixed rents at Woodmancote manor were worth £3 in 1339, (fn. 13) when there were apparently c. 40 tenants, (fn. 14) and £8 in 1434. (fn. 15) Both free and copyhold tenements were recorded later; (fn. 16) at least one copyhold was enfranchised in the 17th century, (fn. 17) when two others seem to have been engrossed into the demesne estate. (fn. 18) In 1756 there were 27 tenements in all, including at least 5 in Shermanbury; (fn. 19) in 1826 there were 30, of which John Wood of Chestham in Henfield held six. The manor also included land in Cowfold, Henfield, and Bolney. (fn. 20) Fixed rents at Wick manor or at Wick and Sands manors together were worth £3 8s. in 1318. (fn. 21) Nine copyholds of Wickensands manor were listed in the parish in 1558-9, nearly all described as 30 a. in area, and there were then also three freeholds of the manor in Bolney and Hurstpierpoint; some other tenanted land had apparently been engrossed into the demesne. (fn. 22)
Other manors which had lands in the parish were Stretham in Henfield, (fn. 23) Twineham Benfield, (fn. 24) and Perching in Fulking, of which Bramlands in the south-west corner was held until enfranchisement in 1860. (fn. 25) Swains farm, on the Henfield border, was recorded in 1545, (fn. 26) and Woodhouse farm, northwest of Blackstone, comprised 60 a. in 1656. (fn. 27) Eaton Thorn on the northern border was mentioned in 1668. (fn. 28)
The place names Woodmancote and Morley indicate clearance from woodland, (fn. 29) as does the field or farm name Ryddens mentioned in 1604. (fn. 30) There was land for nine ploughteams at Woodmancote manor in 1086. (fn. 31) The arable on the demesne farms of each of Woodmancote, (fn. 32) Morley, (fn. 33) and Wick manors (fn. 34) was estimated at 100 a. in the 14th or 15th centuries. The tithe of sheaves produced c. 40 times as much as the tithe of lambs and fleeces in 1340. (fn. 35) Barley, wheat, and oats were apparently grown in 1374, (fn. 36) and wheat in the 18th century, when cows and sheep were kept; Woodmancote Place farm had a flock of 220 sheep in 1723. (fn. 37) In the later 18th century most of the parish seems to have been arable, (fn. 38) though over 100 cattle besides draught animals, and 922 sheep were recorded in 1801. (fn. 39) Hop gardens were mentioned c. 1639 and later. (fn. 40) In 1457 there were two campi, presumably common fields, on Wick manor called Stretlond, and another called Furzefield. (fn. 41) The field name Common field, however, recorded c. 1840 north-east of Park Farm and in the south-east part of the parish, seems likely to allude to adjacent common pasture. (fn. 42)
Demesne meadow was recorded in the Middle Ages on Woodmancote and Wick manors, (fn. 43) and several meadow was mentioned later. (fn. 44) Kingston mead and Town mead in the north were common meadow: parcels of each were mentioned in the 17th century. (fn. 45)
The chief area of common pasture in the parish was Bilsborough common in the west, mentioned from 1581, (fn. 46) which was contiguous with Henfield common. (fn. 47) Piecemeal inclosure was apparently taking place in the later 16th century. (fn. 48) About 1639 the common was depicted as 34 a. divided into nine closes apparently belonging to Woodmancote manor demesne farm. (fn. 49) Small parcels of land called Bilsborough common, mentioned in 1640 and 1648, (fn. 50) may be inclosures from the common, and other closes, one of 3½ a., were so described in 1670 and later. (fn. 51) Blackstone common, apparently lying south of Blackstone hamlet, was mentioned in 1605 and 1661. (fn. 52) There was common land of Wickensands manor on the Woodmancote-Shermanbury boundary in 1685, (fn. 53) a small common by the Holmbush inn in the south-east corner c. 1800, (fn. 54) and another small common at the junction of the road from Blackstone with the Crouch Hill to High Cross road c. 1840. (fn. 55)
About 1840 the largest estate in the parish was Woodmancote Place farm, of 402 a., which was in hand; also in hand were Morley farm of 134 a. and Nutknowle farm of 165 a. Other large farms were Wick farm of 301 a., Bilsborough and Park farms, of 200 a. and 184 a. respectively, Blackstone farm of 224 a., and Holmbush farm of 134 a. There was then roughly twice as much arable as pasture; (fn. 56) farming was chiefly on a four-course rotation, and wheat, oats, turnips, seeds, and peas were grown. (fn. 57)
Woodmancote Place farm remained in hand in the later 19th century. (fn. 58) In 1909 there were eight holdings under 50 a. in area, six others under 300 a., and one over 300 a.; nearly three times as much land was then rented as was in owner occupation. (fn. 59) Wick farm remained over 300 a. in 1920, (fn. 60) but in 1938 there were only three farms in the parish over 150 a. (fn. 61) Park farm had 276 a. in Woodmancote and Henfield in 1947, (fn. 62) and 265 a. in 1984. (fn. 63) At the latter date Wick farm was divided between three holdings of 65-75 a., while a farm at Blackstone had c. 500 a. (fn. 64)
In 1875 arable and permanent grassland were in the proportion of nearly three to two; 382 cattle were then listed and 1,695 sheep. By 1909 there were only 460 a. of arable but 1,176 a. of permanent pasture. (fn. 65) Mixed farming was practised at Wick farm in 1920 (fn. 66) and at Park farm in 1947, (fn. 67) dairying at Wick farm in 1930 and at Heatenthorn farm in 1938, (fn. 68) and dairying and stock raising at Holmbush farm in 1944. (fn. 69) Dairying was still carried on at Wick farm and also at Blackstone in 1984. (fn. 70) There were several poultry farmers in the 1920s and 1930s, (fn. 71) and 56,591 head of poultry were listed in 1975, nearly all hens for laying. (fn. 72) Allotments managed by the parish council existed in 1920 on Wick farm. (fn. 73)
A market gardener was recorded in 1866, (fn. 74) and in 1875 there were 2 a. of orchards. By 1909 there were 6 a. of orchards, growing apples and pears, and 3 a. of small fruit, all strawberries. (fn. 75) There was a nurseryman at Blackstone in 1918, and a market gardener in 1938. The west part of the parish belonged from the 1920s to the large orchards of E. Whittome of Henfield. (fn. 76) In 1975 there were 51 ha. of horticultural crops: 29 ha. of vegetables grown in the open, 0.2 ha. of glasshouses, and 22 ha. of fruit, chiefly apples. (fn. 77)
There may have been a water mill at Woodmancote manor in 1298, (fn. 78) and in 1647 there was apparently a mill on the stream which forms part of the southern boundary of the parish. (fn. 79) Sites of mills by Morley Farm and Park Farm are indicated by the field names Mill mead and Mill plot recorded in the earlier 19th century (fn. 80) and by the waterfall which existed beside Mill mead in 1984.
A carpenter was recorded in the parish in 1556, (fn. 81) a brewer and butcher in 1560, (fn. 82) and a weaver and a thatcher in the 1580s. (fn. 83) Between the 17th century and the earlier 19th there was often a carpenter; (fn. 84) other trades recorded then were those of shoemaker, (fn. 85) smith, (fn. 86) shopkeeper or mercer, (fn. 87) weaver, (fn. 88) tailor, (fn. 89) and joiner. (fn. 90) There was a woodbroker in 1679. (fn. 91) Tradesmen often resided, as later, (fn. 92) in Blackstone hamlet. Between 1811 and 1831 there were between five and sixteen times as many parishioners in agricultural as in non-agricultural occupations. (fn. 93) There was a corn and cattle dealer in 1852, and often a carpenter or a shopkeeper in the later 19th century and earlier 20th. A firm of builders flourished at Blackstone between 1895 or earlier and 1938. In the earlier 20th century other employment was provided by the big estates of the parish and by the growth of motoring on the main roads: there were tea rooms, for instance, at Little Holmbush Farm on the Brighton road in the 1930s. (fn. 94) There were a country club and a caravan park in the south-east in 1984. Dog kennels existed north of Morley Farm in the 1950s (fn. 95) and in 1984, and in 1980 Woodmancote Place had a stud farm. (fn. 96) In 1984 there was a furniture maker at Blackstone.