Shermanbury: Manors and other estates

Pages 192-195

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



In 1066 SHERMANBURY was part of the estate that centred on Kingston by Sea, being held then by Azor from Harold and in 1086 by Ralph de Buci from William de Braose. (fn. 1) The overlordship of the Braoses and their successors was recorded until 1387; (fn. 2) a reference to John Fillol as overlord in 1496 (fn. 3) is unexplained. From Ralph de Buci the undertenancy of Shermanbury descended with that of Kingston in the Buci family until the 14th century. (fn. 4) Hugh de Buci and his wife Agnes, having entailed their estates in 1313-14, were dead by 1348 when one of Hugh's daughters and coheirs was Joan, wife of William of Fyfield. William and Joan in that year received grants of Shermanbury manor from John de Lislebonne and his wife Sibyl, another daughter and coheir, and from Robert of Bulkmore and his wife Anstice, (fn. 5) probably a third daughter. The Lislebonnes' son John in 1341 and the Fyfields' son and heir William in 1342 were born at Shermanbury. The elder William of Fyfield (d. 1361) (fn. 6) was described as holding Shermanbury manor in 1349, (fn. 7) and received a grant, evidently as a quitclaim, of it and Kingston from another Hugh de Buci in 1356. (fn. 8) With Kingston, Shermanbury passed from the younger William Fyfield (d. 1387) to the Sandys family. (fn. 9) In 1542 Thomas Sandys, Lord Sandys, leased Shermanbury for 500 years (fn. 10) retaining there, as at Kingston, an interest which was sold in 1752 by John Walker and his wife Ellen to Harry Bridger. (fn. 11)

The lessee in 1542 was William Comber, who had already bought a 40-year lease of the manor made in 1512 to Thomas West, Lord de la Warr. (fn. 12) William was succeeded in 1561 or 1562 by his son John (d. 1608), whose son William (d. 1625) had by his wife Martha (d. 1635) four daughters. Of the daughters Elizabeth (d. 1678) married John Gratwicke (d. 1642) and Eleanor married William Heath (d. by 1647). (fn. 13) Gratwicke and Heath appear not to have divided their wives' inheritance, for Shermanbury manor court was held in 1659 in the names of Heath's grandson Robert Heath and Gratwicke's younger son Thomas (d. 1664). Thomas devised his moiety in trust to Robert Heath for his son John, and in 1668 the manor court was held in the names of Robert and John. By 1698 Shermanbury had been assigned to John Gratwicke, (fn. 14) who in 1724 was succeeded there by his elder daughter Anne (d. 1744), wife of John Lintott (d. 1730). Their daughter and heir Cassandra Gratwicke (d. 1755) married Henry Farncombe, who in 1753 acquired the freehold of the manor from Harry Bridger. Farncombe's daughter Cassandra Lintott succeeded him in 1757 and in 1762 married John Challen (d. 1794). Between 1795 and 1801 their son John Gratwicke Challen (d. 1835), rector of Shermanbury, assumed the lordship of the manor from his mother, who lived until 1829. His brother and heir Stephen Hasler Challen was succeeded in 1858 by his daughter Maria Harriet (d. 1873), wife of Henry Hunt (d. 1877), the manor being apparently held from 1845 or earlier by trustees. (fn. 15) Hunt sold it in 1874 to Sampson Copestake, (fn. 16) who had 516 a. in Shermanbury in 1910. (fn. 17) On his death in 1917 (fn. 18) Shermanbury was sold to Harold Warren Coleman, the owner in 1921. (fn. 19) In 1922 the estate with 550 a. in all was offered for sale; (fn. 20) Campbell Bernard Hausburg owned Shermanbury Place with 86 a. in 1925, and was living there in 1938, though Coleman was still described as lord of Shermanbury and Ewhurst manors. (fn. 21) In 1984 Shermanbury Place and some land belonged to Mr. William Greenwell.

A considerable part of Shermanbury manor lay in Cowfold parish, and other parts in Henfield and Slaugham. (fn. 22)

The manor house, recorded in 1361, (fn. 23) was rebuilt in the late 16th century or early 17th as a timberframed house of two storeys forming three sides of a square. That house was replaced apparently in 1779 by a buff brick building of two storeys with a basement, three bays wide, flanked by lower two-storeyed extensions. (fn. 24) The main building was enlarged to five bays in the mid 19th century, when a tower was added on the west. The house, usually known as Shermanbury Place, (fn. 25) was also sometimes called Shermanbury Park between the 1830s and the 1920s. (fn. 26)

In 1248 Robert le Pook was acknowledged to be Robert de Buci's free man, holding ½ ferling of land in Shermanbury which had earlier been held in villeinage by Adam of the Weald. The holding was presumably POOKS, and included the house and fractions of land which were at issue between William le Pook and Robert le Pook in 1280. (fn. 27) The minor taxpayers of Wyndham half-hundred included Richard le Pook and William Pook in 1296 and Robert Pook in 1327 and 1332, (fn. 28) and Robert Pook was a juror in Shermanbury in 1341. (fn. 29) Henry Pook and his wife Agnes in 1389 granted a small piece of land in reversion after their deaths which had evidently happened by 1399. (fn. 30) John Gratwicke (d. 1557) of Shermanbury may have held Pooks, an estate of 80 a. held of Shermanbury manor, which passed from his son John (d. 1630) of Pooks in the direct male line to John (d. 1665) and John (d. 1683) of Pooks and afterwards of Horsham. (fn. 31) In 1669 the last John sold Pooks, then 120 a., to Thomas Michell, from whom it passed to John Michell (fl. 1707), John's son John (d. by 1736) of Lewes who mortgaged Pooks in 1722 and 1730, that John's son William, Henry Michell (d. 1789), and Henry's son Henry C. (d. 1806) and widow Faith (d. 1809). In 1810 it was bought by trustees for Charles Marshall, (fn. 32) and c. 1840 Edward Marshall owned and farmed Pooks, then 47 a.; (fn. 33) in 1845 it belonged to William Stanford, (fn. 34) in 1874 to E. Stanford, (fn. 35) and by 1910 it had been added to the Shermanbury Place estate. The farmhouse, timber-framed and once partly tilehung, (fn. 36) has a late medieval three-roomed plan. It retains some features of its screens passage and, at the other end of the hall, a plank and muntin wall surmounted by a moulded dais beam; the original stair in the service end was replaced in the late 17th century, perhaps at the same time as an upper floor was put into the hall, by a stair with decorated newels and shaped balusters.

In 1086 SAKEHAM, which lay south of the Adur and had been held in 1066 by Brictuin from Azor, was held with Woodmancote, Morley, and part of Kingston by William son of Rannulf from William de Braose. (fn. 37) Later reference to the ownership of the estate has not been found before the 16th century, though Henry of Sakeham who was taxed in Wyndham tithing in 1327 (fn. 38) and Robert of Sakeham who was a juror in Shermanbury in 1341 (fn. 39) may have held the estate in fee. In 1524 and until 1595 Sakeham, amounting to c. 80 a., belonged to the Shelleys of Michelgrove, (fn. 40) but by 1622 it had passed to John Cheale (d. 1636), whose third son Richard devised it in 1651 to his son Capt. John Cheale (d. 1685). Capt. Cheale devised it to his cousin Philip, son of Philip Cheale of Shermanbury. (fn. 41) From the younger Philip (d. 1716 or 1717) it apparently descended with Shiprods in Henfield. (fn. 42) It belonged to the children of Robert Hoffman Faulconer c. 1835 (fn. 43) and to the trustees of William Faulconer c. 1840 when it amount to 121 a., (fn. 44) and passed to Col. Thomas Faulconer Wisden, the owner in 1874 (fn. 45) and one of the chief landowners in Shermanbury in the 1880s; Mrs. Wisden had succeeded him by 1905. (fn. 46) In 1910 Sakeham was owned by Col. Stephenson R. Clarke as part of an estate of c. 574 a. in Shermanbury, which also included Park and Frylands farms. (fn. 47) Clarke died in 1948, (fn. 48) and part of his estate north of the Adur, including Frylands, was acquired by Mr. Stephen Fowler. (fn. 49) Sakeham's land was farmed in 1984 from Fieldland Farm in Henfield. The former farmhouse at Sakeham has a tall timber-framed east end which probably once formed part of a larger house. By the early 19th century it had been cased in brick and a new brick west range had been added, possibly in 1807. (fn. 50)

Before 1189 EWHURST was part of an estate of 2½ knight's fees held from the honor of Bramber by William de Harcourt. It was disputed between William's daughters, of whom Agnes and her husband William of Wiston agreed in 1202 that Ewhurst should go to another daughter, Aline, late wife of Ellis son of Bernard. (fn. 51) The overlordship of Ewhurst was recorded in 1433. (fn. 52) The undertenancy by 1242 had passed with Sompting manor from one of William de Harcourt's daughters to Andrew Peverel (d. 1274), and descended thence to Andrew's son Thomas (d. 1306) and Thomas's son Andrew (d. 1328), who held it jointly with his wife Alice (d. 1336). Sir Andrew (d. 1375), son of Andrew and Alice, (fn. 53) held the manor jointly with his wife Catherine who survived him, (fn. 54) but she had evidently died by 1378 when the manor passed with Offington in Broadwater to Sir Edmund FitzHerbert (d. 1387) and thence to the Wests. (fn. 55) William West, Lord de la Warr, made a conveyance of Ewhurst in 1590 (fn. 56) but at his death in 1595 still held the manor. His son and heir Thomas (fn. 57) granted it in 1599 to Herbert Pelham (fn. 58) on Pelham's marriage with his daughter Elizabeth, and Pelham sold it the same year. By 1601 the manor had passed to William Comber (d. 1625), (fn. 59) who in 1608 inherited Shermanbury and whose daughters and sons-in-law, William and Eleanor Heath and John and Elizabeth Gratwicke, (fn. 60) were dealing jointly with Ewhurst in 1626. (fn. 61) Comber, however, had given Ewhurst by will to William Heath, (fn. 62) who alone owned Ewhurst park in 1628 (fn. 63) and was lord of the manor in 1631 and 1642. From William Heath (d. by 1647) the manor passed in the direct male line to four successive Roberts (d. respectively by 1668, in 1682, in 1708, and by 1736). From 1700 to 1731 courts were held in the name of Henry Pelham, who had married Frances, widow of the second Robert Heath, and whose son Thomas succeeded the last Robert. Thomas Pelham's son Thomas, later earl of Chichester (d. 1805), (fn. 64) sold the manor in or before 1785 to John Challen, (fn. 65) who thus reunited it with Shermanbury manor. Between 1910 and 1916 Ewhurst was sold to H. W. Coleman separately from Shermanbury, (fn. 66) which Coleman also bought in or after 1917. (fn. 67) Ewhurst was offered for sale in 1922 as a separate lot from Shermanbury Park, (fn. 68) and in 1925 was owned with 50 a. by W. H. Ellice; (fn. 69) he lived there in 1934, (fn. 70) and his widow in 1938. Coleman was then still described as lord of Ewhurst manor, (fn. 71) which later belonged to Lt.-Col. R. W. McKergow (fn. 72) (d. 1947) of Twineham Grange. (fn. 73) The house was owned in 1984 by Mr. Verner Wylie, who had bought it from the Ellice family.

Ewhurst manor extended into the parishes of Cowfold and Henfield. (fn. 74)

The medieval manor house stood within an oval moat, much of which survives; it is filled on the north where a stone gatehouse with a vaulted entrance passage survives from the earlier 14th century, (fn. 75) attached to a short contemporary range. In the early 16th century Thomas West, Lord de la Warr (d. 1525), lived at Ewhurst before settling at Offington, (fn. 76) and the house included a chapel in 1536. (fn. 77) Another Thomas West, Lord de la Warr, on his death in 1554 left furniture in the great chamber there, (fn. 78) but the house presumably did not remain much longer. In the late 16th century a timber-framed house, the mansion of William Comber recorded in 1625, (fn. 79) was built in the south-east quadrant of the moated area, and in 1727 it was L-shaped. (fn. 80) One range of that house survives as the main building and has a fourroomed plan with external stacks on the east side. It was enlarged in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The hospital of St. Edmund Rich at Wyndham, for infirm clergy and held to have been founded c. 1250 by St. Richard Wich, bishop of Chichester, (fn. 81) but possibly in existence by 1236, (fn. 82) had ½ hide of land in WYNDHAM (fn. 83) which may have included a yardland recorded in 1219. (fn. 84) On the suppression of the hospital c. 1520 the land passed to the prebend of Wyndham (or Windham) (fn. 85) and in the 19th century was incorporated in ABBEYLANDS farm (the warden of the hospital having been known locally as the abbot), which became part of the Goring family's estate. (fn. 86) In 1984 the land was farmed from Fieldland Farm in Henfield. The former farmhouse is a timberframed building, mostly cased in brick; the short 17th-century north range was probably built against an earlier building to the south, which was replaced by the existing main range in the 18th century.

The tithes which William de Braose gave to the church of St. Nicholas of Bramber may have included some from Ewhurst. (fn. 87) The estates of St. Nicholas's passed to Sele priory, (fn. 88) which c. 1230 had great and small tithes in Ewhurst (fn. 89) and other possessions in Shermanbury; (fn. 90) in 1291 the priory had 5s. a year from Shermanbury, (fn. 91) and in 1341 it had a portion of the great tithes worth 3s. 4d. At the last date the rector of Woodmancote had a similar portion worth 7s. (fn. 92) Later record of the Woodmancote portion has not been found. Sele priory's tithes were replaced in 1352 by 12s. a year from the rector of Shermanbury, (fn. 93) and its land may have been that called Priors which two men both called Richard Farnfold were disputing in 1574. (fn. 94)

The estate later called SHERMANBURY GRANGE seems to have derived from one called Perriers, which was apparently named from a family living in the parish in 1428 (fn. 95) and belonged to the family of Wood or Awood in the 17th century. (fn. 96) A building on the site of the later Shermanbury Grange belonged c. 1840 to John Borrer, (fn. 97) and in 1843 John Hoper had a large house, lately built on Perriers farm; (fn. 98) in 1867 Mrs. Hoper lived at Shermanbury Grange, which had a small park in 1875. (fn. 99) The estate belonged to Richard Hoper in 1874. (fn. 100) In 1887, the date when the surviving house is said to have been built, (fn. 101) it was occupied by Forrester Britten (d. 1903), and in 1905 by Mrs. Britten, (fn. 102) who owned the Grange and 511 a. in 1910; the purchase of Wymarks and other farms in 1890 and of Oatlands, Morley, and Green Tree farms in 1897 had enlarged the estate by c. 380 a. (fn. 103) The Grange was occupied in 1930 by Lieut.-Col. Forrester F. Colvin (d. 1936), and in 1938 by R. G. Heaton, who had a considerable estate. (fn. 104) After the Second World War the house was used by the county council as a girls' home. (fn. 105)

The manors of Slaugham, Twineham Benfield, and Woodmancote extended into Shermanbury parish. (fn. 106)


  • 1. V.C.H. Suss. i. 379, 447.
  • 2. e.g. Cal. Close, 1318-23, 185; Cal. Inq. p.m. xvi, p. 144.
  • 3. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, i, p. 556.
  • 4. V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 133-4; cf. e.g. S.R.S. vii, p. 59; xxxiii, p. 19.
  • 5. S.R.S. xxiii, p. 125; S.A.C. lxii. 136; cf. P.R.O., CP 40/243, rot. 274; the assumption in V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 133-4 that Hugh de Buci (fl. 1313-14) was the grantor of 1356 is wrong.
  • 6. Cal. Inq. p.m. xi, pp. 59, 419, 422.
  • 7. P.R.O., C 143/292, no. 19 (from List and Index, xxii, p. 442).
  • 8. S.R.S. xxiii, p. 140.
  • 9. V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 134; cf. e.g. Cal. Close, 1389-92, 505; 1435-41, 8.
  • 10. S.R.S. xx. 391; S.A.C. lxii. 141; W.S.R.O., Raper MSS., counterpart of lease.
  • 11. S.R.S. xx. 391; cf. ibid. xix. 254; xxxiii, p. 11.
  • 12. S.A.C. lxii. 141, which contains some inaccuracies.
  • 13. Comber, Suss. Geneal. Horsham, 62-6, 166, which does not allow for the year's beginning on 25 Mar.: for the date of Eliz.'s death, S.R.S. xxii. 196.
  • 14. S.A.C. lxii. 142-4, 152-3; W.S.R.O., Raper MSS., will of Thos. Gratwicke; cf. below.
  • 15. Comber, Suss. Geneal. Horsham, 52-3, 98, 119-23; W.S.R.O., Raper MSS., deed, 1753; the lords named in ct. rec. are given in S.A.C. lxii. 145-50.
  • 16. W.S.R.O., Ep. 1/6B/1/1.
  • 17. P.R.O., IR 58/94117.
  • 18. Alum. Cantab. 1752-1900.
  • 19. S.A.C. lxii. 134; cf. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1930, 1938), giving apparently out-of date inf.
  • 20. B.L. Maps 135. a. 42.
  • 21. P.R.O., IR 29/35/234, altered apportionment 1925; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1938).
  • 22. Above, Cowfold, manors; E.S.R.O., SAS/N 514.
  • 23. Cal. Inq. p.m. xi, p. 59.
  • 24. Both hos. depicted in B.L. Add. MS. 5677, f. 64; cf. e.g. Horsfield, Hist. Suss. ii. 259. The assertion, at W.S.R.O., MP 1297, f. 9, that the older ho. depicted was in fact Ewhurst seems unfounded.
  • 25. e.g. Gent. Mag. ci (1), 305; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1930).
  • 26. e.g. Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), facing p. 324; B.L. Maps 135. a. 42.
  • 27. S.R.S. ii, p. 132; vii, p. 114.
  • 28. Ibid. x. 60-1, 166-7, 281.
  • 29. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 391.
  • 30. Wiston Archives, i, p. 207.
  • 31. Comber, Suss. Geneal. Horsham, 139-42; for John (d. 1630), S.R.S. xxii. 182.
  • 32. E.S.R.O., SAS/EG 344-55 (TS. cat.).
  • 33. P.R.O., IR 29 and 30/35/234.
  • 34. Horsham Mus. MS. SP 71.
  • 35. B.L. Maps 137. b. 10. (14).
  • 36. P.R.O., IR 58/94117; cf. B.L. Maps 135. a. 42.
  • 37. V.C.H. Suss. i. 379, 447; cf. ibid. vi (1), 176.
  • 38. S.R.S. x. 166-7.
  • 39. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 391.
  • 40. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1595-7, 11; S.R.S. xiv, p. 201; xix. 127; xxxviii, p. 2; V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 13.
  • 41. Comber, Suss. Geneal. Horsham, 55-9.
  • 42. Above, Henfield, manors; cf. E.S.R.O., SAS/EG 314, 317, 324 (TS. cat.).
  • 43. Horsfield, Hist. Suss. ii. 256, 258.
  • 44. P.R.O., IR 29 and 30/35/234.
  • 45. B.L. Maps 137. b. 10. (14).
  • 46. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1887 and later edns.).
  • 47. P.R.O., IR 58/94117.
  • 48. Who Was Who, 1941-50.
  • 49. Docs. in possession of Mr. Fowler.
  • 50. The gdn. wall has a datestone of 1807.
  • 51. Rot. Cur. Reg. (Rec. Com.), ii. 44; Cur. Reg. R. ii. 112; S.R.S. ii, p. 19.
  • 52. Cal. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Com.), iv. 151; cf. e.g. Cal. Inq. p.m. xvi, p. 147; Cal. Pat. 1321-4, 432-3.
  • 53. V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 56, where the death of And. son of Thos. is wrongly dated: cf. Cal. Inq. p.m. vii, p. 121.
  • 54. Cal. Inq. p.m. xiv, p. 196.
  • 55. V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 71.
  • 56. S.R.S. xix. 159.
  • 57. Ibid. xxxiii, p. 42.
  • 58. Ibid. xx. 404.
  • 59. S.A.C. lxii. 152-3; for the sale of 1599, B.L. Add. Ch. 30701-2, and for the date 1601, ibid. 30182; cf. S.R.S. xxxiii, p. 70.
  • 60. Above.
  • 61. S.R.S. xix. 159.
  • 62. Ibid. xiv, pp. 56-7.
  • 63. P.R.O., E 125/4, ff. 261v.-262.
  • 64. Comber, Suss. Geneal. Horsham, 165-7; S.A.C. xlii. 152-3; W.S.R.O., Raper MSS., lease, 1668.
  • 65. S.R.S. xix. 159; li. 16.
  • 66. S.A.C. lxii. 154.
  • 67. Above.
  • 68. B.L. Maps 135. a. 42.
  • 69. P.R.O., IR 29/35/234, altered apportionment.
  • 70. S.C.M. viii. 596.
  • 71. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1938).
  • 72. N.R.A. Man. Doc. Reg.
  • 73. Who Was Who, 1941-50.
  • 74. Above; cf. E.S.R.O., SAS/A 590.
  • 75. V.C.H. Suss. i. 478; ii. 384; above, pl. facing p. 161.
  • 76. L. & P. Hen. VIII, i (1), p. 226.
  • 77. S.R.S. xlv. 105-6.
  • 78. B.L. Add. MS. 5702, f. 69.
  • 79. S.R.S. xiv, p. 56.
  • 80. Map at manor ho.
  • 81. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 108. To the list of wardens may be added: Wm. of Raddington, app. 1371: Cal. Pat. 1370-4, 67; Peter Hermodeworth, app. 1386: ibid. 1385-9, 249; Wm. Boddington, app. 1409-10: S.A.C. xxi. 72; Wm. Gyllyng, occ. 1431: Cal. Pat. 1429-36, 122; John Taverner, res. 1441, and Wm. Baneby, app. 1441: S.R.S. iv. 98, 124-5.
  • 82. S.N.Q. xvii. 100.
  • 83. S.R.S. xlvi, pp. 297-9.
  • 84. Ibid. ii, p. 37.
  • 85. Ibid. lii, p. 16; W.S.R.O., Cap. II/72/1.
  • 86. S.A.C. xliv. 10 n.
  • 87. Cal. Doc. France, ed. Round, p. 405, where 'Luvehest' seems to be Ewhurst.
  • 88. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 60.
  • 89. Sele Chartulary, p. 4.
  • 90. S.A.C. x. 115-16.
  • 91. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 141.
  • 92. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 391.
  • 93. Magd. Coll. Oxf. Mun., Grinstead and Stanford 6 (TS. cat.).
  • 94. P.R.O., C 2/Eliz. I/F 9/12.
  • 95. Feud. Aids, v. 165.
  • 96. P.R.O., PROB 11/239, ff. 99v.-100v.; Wiston Archives, i, p. 197.
  • 97. P.R.O., IR 29 and 30/35/234.
  • 98. W.S.R.O., Ep. II/27/52.
  • 99. O.S. Map 6", Suss. XXXVIII (1879 edn.).
  • 100. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/6B/1/1, map attached to copy deed.
  • 101. W. Suss. Gaz. 17 May 1979.
  • 102. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1887 and later edns.); inscr. in ch.
  • 103. P.R.O., IR 58/94117.
  • 104. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1930 and later edns.); for Colvin, W.S.R.O., Par. 9/7/5.
  • 105. W. Suss. Gaz. 17 May 1979.
  • 106. Wiston Archives, i, p. 201; S.R.S. xx. 400, 449-50, 500-1; xxiii, p. 284; W.S.R.O., Add. MSS. 3155-6.