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 1086 the demesne farm of Beeding manor, which presumably then included Horton, had 4 ploughteams, and that of Tottington 1 team. At the same date the future King's Barns manor was included in the estate of William de Braose described as lying in Steyning, of which the demesne farm had 2 teams. (fn. 1) The demesne farms of the four manors named remained large in later centuries. In the 14th century the Beeding demesnes comprised c. 265 a., those of King's Barns c. 140 a., (fn. 2) those of Tottington 240 a., (fn. 3) and those of Horton apparently c. 215 a.; (fn. 4) between them they thus already comprised over a fifth of the land in the parish. By the mid 15th century the demesne lands of King's Barns, (fn. 5) Beeding, (fn. 6) and Sele manors (fn. 7) were being leased.
After c. 1500 the demesne farms gradually grew in size. By 1614 the King's Barns demesnes were said to comprise 470 a., and in 1640, when they were divided into two farms, they also included arable land in Steyning open fields and woodland grazing in Ashurst; (fn. 8) later, however, they were further divided between various owners. (fn. 9) Tottington Manor farm comprised 231 a. in 1652, presumably forming a long north-south strip as later; (fn. 10) in 1829 it had 554 a. including woods. (fn. 11) Beeding Court farm was said in 1715 to comprise 400 a., (fn. 12) and by 1733 had grown to 988 a. including 36 a. in Bramber and Botolphs and 845 a. of downland, 110 a. of which were arable. (fn. 13) In 1832 the farm had 1,032 a. (fn. 14) Meanwhile the Horton demesnes by 1773 comprised 255 a. (fn. 15) Between the late 16th and early 19th centuries the demesne or home farms presumably continued to be usually leased, (fn. 16) their owners often not being resident in the parish. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, for instance, Beeding Court farm was leased for periods of between 1 and 21 years. (fn. 17)
Tenants of all four chief manors of the parish and of Sele manor were recorded in the Middle Ages. (fn. 18) Those of Beeding and Horton manors evidently included many whose lands lay outside the parish, since in later centuries there were tenants of Beeding in Cowfold, Slaugham, and West Grinstead, (fn. 19) and tenants of Horton in Southwick and Kingston by Sea. (fn. 20) Similarly Sele manor in the early 19th century had tenants in many parishes. (fn. 21) Whether tenants of King's Barns and Tottington ever held land in the parish is unknown; certainly by 1600 the only tenements recorded at either manor lay elsewhere, those of King's Barns chiefly in Steyning and Ashurst, (fn. 22) and those of Tottington in Cowfold, Cuckfield, Woodmancote, and other places. (fn. 23)
The manumission of a neif of Sele manor was recorded in 1271. (fn. 24) Both at Beeding and at Horton customary services were still owed in the 14th century, (fn. 25) and a tenant of King's Barns still seems to have had a duty of carrying stone in 1530. (fn. 26) Tenants of Beeding in 1400 (fn. 27) and of King's Barns in 1530 (fn. 28) paid chevage for living outside the manor and the daughter of a neif of Beeding manor in 1524 needed the lord's licence to marry. (fn. 29)
There continued to be tenants of Beeding, Horton, and Sele manors in the parish until the late 19th century and even the early 20th. (fn. 30) Copyholders of both Beeding and Horton could demise their holdings, (fn. 31) and tenants of Horton could mortgage theirs. (fn. 32) The custom of borough English obtained on copyholds at Beeding in 1551, (fn. 33) and that of freebench at both manors. (fn. 34) Tenants, however, became progressively fewer through engrossing or enfranchisement. Thus the 13 freeholders and 8 copyholders who still held land of Beeding in the parish in 1718 were further reduced to 10 and 7 respectively by 1791, and to 9 and 4 by 1824. (fn. 35) Similarly the 2 freeholders and 4 copyholders who still held land of Horton in the parish in 1771 had become apparently 1 and 2 respectively by 1824. (fn. 36)
Some free and copyhold tenements developed by engrossing into larger farms. New House and Maines farms, both held as copyhold of Beeding manor by John Backshell in 1733, when they comprised respectively 59 a. and 91 a., (fn. 37) later passed to the Penfold family which by 1842 owned 28 a. in the parish. (fn. 38) A freehold estate of Beeding called Snelling's in 1733, when it comprised 96 a., (fn. 39) became the nucleus of the later Pond farm, of which the farmhouse lay on the south side of High Street. (fn. 40) Similarly White's and Fuller's copyholds of Horton manor, mentioned in the mid 18th century, (fn. 41) came with other lands to form Upper Horton farm, which in 1826 comprised 547 a. in Upper Beeding and Edburton; in that year it was leased on an 8-year lease, and in 1835 by the year. (fn. 42) Also mentioned in 1733 was Hobjohn's farm, which apparently comprised 67 a. held of Sele manor. (fn. 43)
About 1840 landholding was dominated by a few large estates, most of which were leased. The estates of the Bridgers, lords of Beeding and Horton, included two large farms, Beeding Court of 890 a. and Upper Horton of 503 a. The Horton manor demesnes proper, belonging to the Burrells, totalled 275 a., and Tottington Manor farm 407 a. In King's Barns tithing the former demesne lands included two farms belonging to the Clitherows and the Blunts, of 132 a. and 101 a. respectively. Other large estates included Pond farm and the Hyde in Upper Beeding village, of 92 a. and 108 a. respectively, but the only two which were owner-occupied were the Penfolds' New House farm of 277 a. and W. Gorringe's New Horton in the north of 98 a., (fn. 44) a farm created between 1795 and 1813. (fn. 45)
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries most land continued to belong to large estates, being leased (fn. 46) or managed by bailiffs. There were bailiffs at Tottington Manor, King's Barn, and New House farms, for instance, in 1895, (fn. 47) and in 1909 only 275 a. out of the 3,348 a. listed were owner-occupied; at the latter date out of 20 holdings 9 were over 50 a. and 4 over 300 a. (fn. 48)
The arable open-field land of the parish presumably occupied much the same area in the Middle Ages as later on the Chalk and Greensand soils below the downland scarp. (fn. 49) In 1733 forty-two furlongs divided into strips were depicted east and south-east of the village, evidently including the Mill furlong on Windmill Hill mentioned in 1535, (fn. 50) and Drove furlong and the East and West Billworth (later Bilward) south-east of the Henfield road, mentioned in 1384 and 1535 respectively. (fn. 51) In addition there were the Ham north of the modern village street and the Hyde and the Flaxlands east and north-east of Hyde Street, all three of which had been mentioned in the Middle Ages. (fn. 52) The fields around the village belonged largely to Beeding manor, though in 1733 some strips there were held of Horton or Sele manors. Further east were fields belonging partly or wholly to Horton, including in 1733 the Clays and the Golding. A field called Blackley in Horton had been mentioned in 1524. (fn. 53) There were also at one time possibly separate fields for Tottington, since a close of 24 a. lying south of Tottington Manor in 1652 and later was called the Laine. (fn. 54)
The surviving open fields were evidently still commonable in 1597 when the tenants of Beeding manor were restrained for the future from putting their cattle there between 1 May and the end of harvest. (fn. 55) In the early 18th century copyhold and freehold tenants of Beeding and Horton typically owned both inclosed and open-field arable: the freehold called Snelling's, for instance, in 1733 had 33 a. of open-field arable out of a total area of 96 a., and New House farm 23 a. out of 59 a. (fn. 56)
The fences which tenants of Beeding manor were ordered to make in the Flaxlands and the Clays in 1559 may have been for temporary not permanent inclosure. (fn. 57) The open fields of the parish were later inclosed by a gradual process of exchange and engrossing. By 1760 the 117 a. of the Horton open fields were already divided between only six owners, of whom Richard Arnold, the lord of the manor, had 28 a. and Harry Bridger 63 a., some furlongs already being in single ownership. Consolidation of holdings proceeded further in 1762 when Arnold exchanged land in the fields with both Bridger and one other owner. (fn. 58)
The Beeding open fields were inclosed similarly. Whereas in 1733 the strips had been divided between 16 owners, most being under 1 a. in area, (fn. 59) by 1842 practically all the surviving fields were divided between the owners of four farms: the Hyde, and Pond, New House, and Upper Horton farms. (fn. 60) Further consolidation evidently took place later, for no inclosure Act was ever sought.
There was severally held as well as open-field arable land in the Middle Ages; for instance, the Beeding manor demesne farm had 96 a. on the downs in 1326. (fn. 61) There are strip lynchets apparently of medieval date on Beeding Hill. (fn. 62) In 1384 the lord of Beeding had the right to fold 400 sheep between Christmas and Lady Day and 800 sheep during the rest of the year on his several arable lands, at a rate of 2 a. every 3 weeks. (fn. 63) There continued to be arable on the downs in later centuries. (fn. 64)
Farming in the Middle Ages was predominantly arable. In 1210 King's Barns manor received £11 5s. 1d. from surplus corn sold. (fn. 65) In 1340 the ninth of sheaves was valued at nine times those of fleeces and lambs, (fn. 66) and at about the same period the Horton demesne farm comprised mostly arable. (fn. 67) Barley was grown in 1285, (fn. 68) oats in 1398, (fn. 69) and possibly wheat and oats in 1280; (fn. 70) orchards and a vineyard belonging to the Braose family and apparently at Upper Beeding had been mentioned in the late 11th century. (fn. 71) Wheat, barley, oats, peas, and tares were grown at Tottington Manor farm in 1652, (fn. 72) and oats at Beeding manor in 1718. (fn. 73) About 1840 wheat, barley, oats, rape, seeds, and turnips were listed at Beeding tithing and wheat, seeds, and beans at King's Barns, but by that date pasture predominated in the parish over arable. (fn. 74)
The estuary of the river Adur provided brookland pasture. Common pasture in the marsh of Horton was claimed in 1225, apparently unsuccessfully, by the lord of Wyckham manor in Steyning. (fn. 75) The marshland pasture rights possessed by the demesne farm of Beeding manor (fn. 76) in the late 14th century, however, were presumably exercised in marshes nearer the village. (fn. 77)
With the inning of the river valley some former common pasture presumably became several, but common saltmarsh remained in later centuries outside the river wall which protected the inclosed lands; in 1614, for instance, there was pasture for pigs and sheep there. (fn. 78) There was common pasture belonging to Horton manor in 1704, which was commonable by both cows and horses. (fn. 79) In 1760, however, as a result of a dispute, the Horton common brooks comprising 41 a. were divided between the lord of the manor and the two surviving commoners, the lord receiving 17 a., Harry Bridger 19 a., and William Scardefield 5 a. (fn. 80) Other brookland pasture rights remained in the early 19th century: in 1828 an unnamed farm comprising copyholds of Beeding manor was said to be entitled to common pasture in the Court meads for 7 bullocks between 12 August and 2 February; in practice that land was divided by consent between the commoners and treated for the period concerned as if it were several. (fn. 81)
There had been brookland pasture held in severalty in the parish since the 14th century or earlier, evidently the result of inning. In 1349 that belonging to the Tottington demesne farm was said to be often unmowable because of flooding. (fn. 82) Beeding manor also had marshland in severalty in 1384, (fn. 83) as did Sele manor in the 15th century, (fn. 84) while in 1398 the 75 a. of meadow belonging to the King's Barns demesne farm was a high proportion of its lands. (fn. 85) In later centuries the amount of several brookland increased greatly. (fn. 86) By 1733 Beeding Court farm had 78 a., (fn. 87) for instance, while Horton farm in 1826 contained almost as much brookland as arable. (fn. 88) At King's Barns, meanwhile, the emphasis on pasture, noticeable already by 1398, (fn. 89) had become more pronounced by 1614 when only 73 a. out of 470 a. in the demesne farm were arable. (fn. 90) In 1761 one of the farms into which the King's Barns demesnes had been divided comprised 120 a. of marshland which was leased to a grazier for fattening; (fn. 91) it was perhaps the same estate which in 1811, as Marsh farm, comprised 99 a., and which was then said to be able to fatten on average 30 bullocks and to keep 40 to 50 breeding ewes each year, besides other stock. (fn. 92) In the late 18th century the Upper Beeding valley pasture was said to be as valuable as pasture in the Pevensey levels, though less so than that near Rye. (fn. 93) About 1840 the several brookland pasture on both sides of the river was highly regarded for fattening both cattle and sheep, and was divided between various owners. (fn. 94)
The downland meanwhile provided both common and several sheep pasture. The Beeding manor demesne farm had several sheepdown by 1291 (fn. 95) and in 1384 had pasture on the common downs for 1,100 sheep in summer and 400 in winter. (fn. 96) Another estate, of 40 a., belonging to Simon of Hazelholt, had pasture in 1344 for 200 sheep, presumably on the downs. (fn. 97) By 1733 much downland had become several, for Beeding Court farm then had 735 a., apparently all south-west of the road to Shoreham. The common down then lay in the south-east. (fn. 98) At least two copyhold tenements of Horton had sheep leazes there in 1704. (fn. 99) In 1760 the two remaining commoners of Horton exchanged their leazes to the lord, who agreed in future to fold his flock on their lands every year, manuring 1 a. for every 20 leazes which they had had. (fn. 100) By 1828 only 4 commoners were still entitled to common pasture on the remaining 300 or 400 a. of common down on Beeding Hill. (fn. 101) One copyholder of Beeding manor in 1886 still possessed 160 sheep leazes and the right of cutting furze on the hill, (fn. 102) but the land had probably long been divided by consent for practical purposes.
Since c. 1850 agriculture in the parish has been greatly influenced by the growth of the coastal towns. Two market gardeners were recorded in 1852. (fn. 103) In 1875 the chief crops were wheat (390 a.), oats (243 a.), rape (234 a.), and turnips or swedes (574 a.); in addition 1,810 a. were kept as permanent grass. At the same date 686 cattle, 3,946 sheep, and 59 pigs were kept. In 1909 stock was kept in much the same proportions; the acreage of permanent grass had risen to 2,168 a., while that of wheat had declined, but in addition 3¼ a. of apples were grown. (fn. 104) An unsuccessful rabbit farm was started at Freshcombe Lodge on the downs c. 1900, (fn. 105) and in 1913 there were two poultry farmers. (fn. 106) The brookland pasture of the parish continued to be highly valued, (fn. 107) a dairy farmer being recorded in 1938. (fn. 108) In 1975 there was pasture on the downland scarp and in the valley, but the southern and western slopes of the downs and the north-east quarter of the parish were cultivated. (fn. 109) Golding Barn farm in 1981 was used for fattening beef cattle. (fn. 110)
There may have been a mill in the parish in 1086 on the future King's Barns manor. (fn. 111) Mills were recorded on both King's Barns and Beeding manors in 1210 and 1326; they were presumably water mills. (fn. 112) Another water mill belonging to Sele priory in the 13th century (fn. 113) was apparently the same as the mill near the priory which later passed to Magdalen College, Oxford, but which is not heard of after 1578. (fn. 114)
The windmill recorded on Beeding manor in 1384 and 1500 (fn. 115) may well have been on Windmill Hill, where a mill was recorded from the mid 17th century. (fn. 116) A miller was mentioned in the parish in 1700, (fn. 117) and in the late 18th and early 19th centuries members of the Slaughter family worked the mill, doing good business in the absence of any local competition. (fn. 118) The mill was blown down between 1875 and 1896. (fn. 119)
A pedlary fair was held at an unknown site on 21 July in the late 18th century. (fn. 120)
Trade and industry.
The chief non-agricultural occupation at Upper Beeding in the Middle Ages was the extraction of salt from the tidal estuary of the river Adur. (fn. 121) Other trades possibly indicated by surnames in the 13th and early 14th centuries were those of smith, tailor, and baker. (fn. 122) Two brewers were mentioned in 1538. (fn. 123) In the 17th and 18th centuries many tradesmen were recorded as of Beeding, though sometimes it is not clear which of the two portions of the far-flung parish they inhabited: from time to time there were a carpenter (fn. 124) or wheelwright, (fn. 125) a tailor, (fn. 126) a weaver, (fn. 127) a shoemaker, (fn. 128) and a blacksmith, (fn. 129) and less frequently a butcher (fn. 130) and a maltster; (fn. 131) on one occasion a barber and wigmaker was mentioned. (fn. 132) In 1689 a parishioner was practising as a physician without a licence. (fn. 133)
In the Middle Ages the Adur estuary provided fish as well as salt. Sele priory presumably at its foundation in the late 11th century was granted the right of fishing in the Adur between 'Bedny' at the north end of the parish and Old Shoreham church. (fn. 134) Magdalen College, Sele's successor, leased the fishery to the vicar in 1624 and later as an augmentation to the income of the vicarage, (fn. 135) and either the college or the vicar presumably sublet it. (fn. 136) Horton and King's Barns manors also had fisheries in the Adur in the 14th century. (fn. 137) In 1730 the river was said to produce mullet, pike, plaice, eels, and other fish. (fn. 138) In the 17th century and presumably at other dates poor parishioners fished illegally there. (fn. 139) The river also later provided the means for smuggling. (fn. 140) More legal riparian activities were barging (fn. 141) and boatbuilding: a vessel is said to have been built at Beeding bridge c. 1682. (fn. 142)
In the early 19th century the proportion of those employed other than in agriculture rose from one in sixteen in the 1810s to two in seven in the 1830s. (fn. 143) Tradesmen recorded between 1813 and 1828 include a grocer, a farrier, and a butcher, besides two blacksmiths, two shoemakers, and three wheelwrights. (fn. 144) In 1845 (fn. 145) there was a marine stores dealer, and in 1862 a timber carrier. Other specialized tradesmen recorded in the late 19th and 20th centuries were a basket maker in 1882 and a men's outfitter in 1930. A land surveyor lived in the village in 1882. At Small Dole there were a wheelwright and blacksmith in 1874, a builder, decorator, and undertaker in 1903, and a farrier in 1930. By 1938 there were an antique dealer and a draper in the parish, a wood merchant and a plumber at Small Dole, and at least five tea rooms or tea gardens. Meanwhile the river continued to provide employment, (fn. 146) though in 1882 the complaint was made that commercial fishermen from Shoreham were 'sweeping' the river with small-mesh nets to the disadvantage of lesser operators. (fn. 147) In 1981 there were shops and an estate agent's office in High Street, a square of shops north-east of Hyde Lane, and others at Small Dole. At Small Dole there was also a small industrial estate, where seven firms had premises, including a large firm of civil engineering contractors which had moved there in 1967. (fn. 148) Many parishioners then worked elsewhere, in the coastal towns, in Horsham, or in London. (fn. 149)
The chief employer in the parish in the 20th century, however, has been the cement works in the south-west corner. A chalkpit at the same site existed c. 1732, (fn. 150) and in 1814 was said to have a considerable trade in lime. Water transport was then used, (fn. 151) presumably to take the lime up river for use on the land, as certainly happened later. (fn. 152) By 1882 the Beeding Cement Co. had been established, and in 1895 the firm of H. R. Lewis and Co. which then owned the cement works was also described as limeburners and coal merchants. (fn. 153) A year or two later the site was bought by the Sussex Portland Cement Co. of Newhaven, from whom it was taken over in 1912 by British Portland Cement Manufacturers. In the first decade of the 20th century the works expanded greatly, being the chief cause of the 50 per cent increase of population in the parish at that time. (fn. 154) Clay, which had previously been brought from outside the area by sea, was dug on a large scale after c. 1902 from a pit near Horton (fn. 155) and brought down at first by river and later by a pipeline. The cement works buildings were replaced c. 1950 by large new ones on the opposite, eastern, side of the main road; they could produce 250,000 tons a year, (fn. 156) and supplied cement for the construction of the oil refinery at Fawley (Hants) and for other large projects on the south coast. In 1968 there were 250 employees, most of whom presumably lived, as later, in Upper Beeding, Small Dole, Steyning, or Henfield. (fn. 157) Lime as well as cement was still being made in 1971. (fn. 158) The cement works continued to flourish in 1981, when there were c. 330 employees. (fn. 159)
In 1807 and 1842 there were two other chalk pits in the parish, at Horton and near Castle Town. (fn. 160) One or other had apparently existed in 1535 when a Chalkpits furlong was mentioned. (fn. 161) Both continued to be worked in the late 19th and 20th centuries, together with others. About 1947 the site at Horton was described as the Golding Barn limeworks. (fn. 162)