Lower Beeding: Local government

Pages 25-26

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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In the Middle Ages such jurisdiction as was exercised in Lower Beeding was that of St. Leonard's Forest, within which all the parish apparently lay. A master forester was mentioned in 1281, (fn. 1) and foresters in the plural in 1303. (fn. 2) There were bailiffs of the forest as well as foresters in 1311-12. (fn. 3) The master forester in 1383 had charge of all parks, chases, and warrens belonging to Bramber rape. (fn. 4) Probably by then, and certainly by the late 15th century, the post was a sinecure: in 1476 Thomas Hoo and Sir Henry Roos were the two master foresters, each with a salary of 5 marks a year. (fn. 5) The day to day administration of the forest in the mid 15th century was in the hands of a ranger, who was paid 4d. a day wages in 1460, and there were also keepers or foresters of the different bailiwicks: (fn. 6) the keeper of Horestock bailiwick in 1400 received 2d. a day wages, (fn. 7) and the foresters of Roffey and Shelley bailiwicks in 1476 had 1d. a day each. (fn. 8) In 1507 the ranger was alternatively known as the collector. (fn. 9) There are other 16th- and 17thcentury references to rangers, bailiffs, and keepers, (fn. 10) the last keeper being recorded in 1674. (fn. 11)

Courts were recorded for St. Leonard's Forest between 1438 (fn. 12) and 1631. (fn. 13) In 1459-60, in 1499, and in 1529, two 'woodplea' courts were held annually, court rolls surviving for the two latter years. (fn. 14) The court was then concerned solely with maintaining the deer in the forest, accounting for animals that had died, keeping in repair the pales of the various bailiwicks, and collecting stray beasts. In the earlier 17th century, after the mid 16th-century reclamation of part of the forest, there was a court baron for tenants of what was described as the manor of St. Leonard's Forest. (fn. 15)

No court rolls are known for Bewbush manor, though since the manor house was described as the 'court' in 1330, (fn. 16) it may then have been used for some administrative business. In 1650 the lord of Bewbush had the right to impound strays found in the former park. (fn. 17)

By 1646 the Wealden portion of Beeding parish was already maintaining its own poor separately from the downland portion, (fn. 18) as always happened later. (fn. 19) In 1791, however, the Wealden portion was still rated for the repair of Upper Beeding church, (fn. 20) and separate churchwardens were not appointed before 1838. (fn. 21) The Wealden portion joined Horsham union in 1835. (fn. 22) It was transferred from Horsham rural district to Horsham district in 1974.


  • 1. Magd. Coll. Oxf. Mun., Sele 81 (TS. cat.); cf. Cal. Close, 1288-96, 196.
  • 2. Hist. MSS. Com. 7, 8th Rep., D. & C. Cant. p. 349.
  • 3. Magd. Coll. Oxf. Mun., Buddington 5 (TS. cat.).
  • 4. Cal. Close, 1405-9, 323.
  • 5. Lambeth Boro. Archives Dept., VI/330; cf. Arundel Cast. MS. M 814.
  • 6. Arundel Cast. MSS. A 433, rot. 3; A 1859; A 1860, rot. 1; M 814-15.
  • 7. Cal. Pat. 1399-1401, 264.
  • 8. Lambeth Boro. Archives Dept., VI/330.
  • 9. Arundel Cast. MS. A 1868, rot. 4d.
  • 10. Horsfield, Hist. Suss. i. 243; Cal. Pat. 1553, 241; 1572-5, p. 104; P.R.O., E 134/19 Chas. II East./24, rot. 4; S.R.S. xxi. 374.
  • 11. P.R.O., E 126/12, f. 33.
  • 12. Arundel Cast. MS. A 1859; cf. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 308.
  • 13. K.A.O., U 269/T 276/1.
  • 14. Arundel Cast. MSS. A 1860, rot. 1; M 814-15.
  • 15. K.A.O., U 269/T 276/1; P.R.O., LR 2/227, f. 35; above, manors.
  • 16. Cal. Pat. 1327-30, 489.
  • 17. P.R.O., LR 2/299, f. 22.
  • 18. S.R.S. liv. 95.
  • 19. e.g. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 516; Census, 1841; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1866).
  • 20. W.S.R.O., Par. 16/9/1, f. 4v.
  • 21. 1 & 2 Vic. c. 55 (Local and Personal).
  • 22. Suss. Poor Law Rec. 39; cf. above, intro.