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 Nuthurst, (fn. 1) which includes Mannings Heath, lies c. 3 miles (4.8 km.) south-east of Horsham town, but was still remarkably rural, especially in its southern part, in 1981. The ancient parish, nearly 4 miles (6.4 km.) long by 2 miles (3.2 km.) wide at its widest point, comprised 3,305 a., including a detached portion of 121 a. further to the south-east containing High Hurst. (fn. 2) In 1877 it was augmented by the addition of the detached portion of Broadwater parish (205 a.), alternatively known as Little Broadwater, (fn. 3) which lay partly within it and which contained the site of Sedgewick castle. (fn. 4) In 1881 the parish covered 3,510 a. High Hurst was incorporated in Cowfold in 1933, leaving 3,389 a. (1,372 ha.). (fn. 5) In 1971-2 land in the east including Newells Farm House was exchanged with Lower Beeding parish for a small portion of land near Mannings Heath in the north and a larger one near Maplehurst in the south including Old Park farm. (fn. 6) In 1981 the parish comprised 1,466 ha. (3,623 a.). (fn. 7) The present article deals with the ancient parish except High Hurst, which is treated under Cowfold, and also with Little Broadwater.
Much of the northern, western, and southern boundaries of the ancient parish followed streams, while the northern and western boundaries of Little Broadwater followed roads. Part of the eastern boundary of the parish also followed a road. The eastern boundary was also related to the boundaries of St. Leonard's Forest and its bailiwicks: in the north-east Nuthurst formed a salient into Lower Beeding which perhaps represented the bailiwick of Horestock, (fn. 8) while in the south-east the bailiwick of New Park in Lower Beeding (fn. 9) formed a tongue of that parish which separated High Hurst from the rest of Nuthurst.
The parish lies (fn. 10) at the point where the Tunbridge Wells sandstone beds dip under the younger Weald clay beds to the west, the junction between the two formations being very irregular. The sandstone formerly supported open heathland in the north-east quarter of the parish, but it also provided the site of Nuthurst village. The Weald clay contains scattered outcrops of Horsham stone and other sandstones, one of the former providing the site of Sedgewick castle. The Horsham stone beds were quarried commercially in the past. (fn. 11) The soil of the parish has never been considered of high quality, (fn. 12) but was said in the 19th century to be good for wheat (fn. 13) and earlier to be especially good for oak timber. (fn. 14) The relief is very varied, the northern part being generally higher, and reaching c. 350 ft. north of Nuthurst village. From Maplehurst in the south and from the high ground of Sedgewick park there are views of the South Downs and sometimes the sea. (fn. 15) The extreme north end of the parish is drained by the river Arun, to which there is a steep fall from Mannings Heath, the river being dammed to form one hammerpond at Birchen bridge, (fn. 16) while Roosthole pond upstream on a tributary may be another. The soil in the Arun valley is alluvium. The rest of the parish drains southwards to the river Adur.
The north-eastern corner of the parish beyond the Horsham-Cowfold road remained uninclosed heathland in 1724, (fn. 17) but had been largely reclaimed before 1795. (fn. 18) Mannings heath, however, named by 1724 (fn. 19) apparently from lands called Mannings in 1650, (fn. 20) continued uninclosed until the later 19th century, though diminished in size by encroachments in the 18th century and later. By 1841 the heath had shrunk to 26 a. of waste land along the two roads which form the central crossroads of the modern settlement of Mannings Heath. (fn. 21) There was also roadside waste in the 18th century at Monk's Gate and at Maplehurst common south of Maplehurst hamlet. Encroachments were made at both places then and later. (fn. 22) Maplehurst common had presumably been inclosed by agreement before 1870-1, when Mannings heath and Monk's common, the latter comprising c. 9 a., were both inclosed, together with other roadside waste in the parish: after sales of land to defray costs and the allotment of 3 a. for recreation, the remainder was divided between R. H. Hurst as lord of Shortsfield and Nutham manors in Horsham, who received a twelfth, and the 13 surviving tenants in the parish of those manors. (fn. 23)
As the parish name and the name Maplehurst indicate, (fn. 24) the parish was well wooded in earlier centuries. The woodland which yielded 20 swine for Broadwater manor in 1086, for instance, was presumably at Sedgewick. (fn. 25)
Much of the parish in the later Middle Ages lay within St. Leonard's Forest. Sedgewick park in the 15th century formed one bailiwick of the forest. (fn. 26) The park had existed by 1248, (fn. 27) and in 1326 comprised 400 a., of which 300 a. was held of Fécamp abbey (Seine Maritime). (fn. 28) A parker was mentioned in 1450 and 1529, (fn. 29) and in 1502-3 the agistment was let at farm. (fn. 30) The late medieval extent of the park can be gauged from the location of the farms into which it was divided up in the late 16th century: on the north-west it extended into Horsham parish, on the east almost to Nuthurst village, and on the south perhaps as far as the Copsale-Maplehurst road. (fn. 31) A gate called Rocket gate on the north-west side, apparently in Little Broadwater, was mentioned in 1650. (fn. 32) In 1549 c. 100 deer and 10 porkers were kept in the park; the keeper then received £4 11s. 3d. a year and also had the right to pasture for himself there 8 oxen, 12 cows, 6 mares and geldings, and 16 pigs. (fn. 33) Before 1573, however, the park was disparked, (fn. 34) and by 1608 it lay mostly in small closes. (fn. 35) In 1643, nevertheless, Sir John Caryll in a lease of Sedgewick retained the right to hawk, hunt, fowl, or fish there. (fn. 36)
Rickfield in the north was also a bailiwick of St. Leonard's Forest in the 16th century. In 1529 it had a pale and contained deer which were managed by a forester. (fn. 37) Meanwhile the north-eastern corner of the parish may have been the bailiwick of Horestock mentioned in the 15th and 16th centuries, which lay near the house called Swallowfield; (fn. 38) parts of what may be its outer earthern bank survived in 1981. (fn. 39)
Fécamp abbey had other woodland in the parish. In 1086 it had disputed with William de Braose the ownership of a wood called Hamwood which may have lain in Nuthurst. The wood was then ordered to be divided between the two parties. (fn. 40) In 1229 the abbey laid claim to woods called Stonehurst and Rickfield, of which the latter at least lay in the parish; John de Braose, William's descendant, contested the claim, saying that the abbey owned only the inclosure within them called Hamwood, though it could take heybote and housebote in the rest. (fn. 41) The result is not clear, but before his death in 1232 John de Braose gave the abbey 5 bucks and 5 does a year in the forest, (fn. 42) perhaps in part settlement of the dispute. The lands described in 1229 provided pasture for game and apparently for cattle, besides timber and underwood. (fn. 43) It is not clear whether the abbey's woodland described as in St. Leonard's Forest in 1379 was the same. It was then managed by a forester; (fn. 44) underwood was ordered to be sold from it in 1424 by the abbey's successor Sir John Cornwall; (fn. 45) and later in the 15th century Cornwall's successor Syon abbey (Mdx.) was leasing both its herbage and its pannage there. (fn. 46)
Woodland has continued to be plentiful in the parish since medieval times. In 1561 Sedgewick manor apparently had timber described as suitable for fortifications or shipbuilding, (fn. 47) though it does not seem to have been carefully managed at that time, since in 1579 the trees were said to grow 'dispersedly'. (fn. 48) In 1650 there were over 2,500 trees on the farms in Nuthurst, Little Broadwater, and Horsham into which the former Sedgewick park had been divided, principally beech and oak, many of the latter being newly planted. (fn. 49) Sedgewick was still described as a 'woody tract' c. 1715. (fn. 50) In 1724 (fn. 51) and later there was much woodland east and north-east of Nuthurst village, and in 1795 many shaws, or wide strips of woodland between closes, in the same area. (fn. 52) By the 1840s about a quarter of the area of the parish was in woods, in addition to the shaws which at that time, together with rough ground, comprised more than a quarter of the area of some farms; (fn. 53) many shaws survived in 1981. In the 1870s the north part of the parish was markedly more wooded than the south, as was also the case a century later, when further afforestation had taken place north-east of Monk's Gate and east of Nuthurst village.
A new park at Sedgewick was created c. 1717 by Sir John Bennett, who cut straight rides through the woods around the house. (fn. 54) In the 1840s the park lay north and south of the house, (fn. 55) but by 1862 it had expanded to the west as well, comprising in all 186 a. (fn. 56) Over the next 80 years it was further greatly enlarged, reaching almost to Nuthurst village on the east. By 1981, however, much had been converted to pasture closes or to arable. From the later 19th century other new parks were created for more modern houses in the parish. In the north, the park of Coolhurst house in Horsham extended southwards into Nuthurst, in 1909 almost as far as Mannings Heath. There was a park at Swallowfield, south of Mannings Heath, in 1874, which was later enlarged. In the south Elliotts and Gaveston Hall each had attached parkland by 1896, and Copsale Court by 1909. Since 1945, however, the amount of parkland has been reduced.
A medieval hamlet at Sedgewick may be suggested by the existence of tenants of the manor possibly as early as 1222 (fn. 57) and certainly by 1326. (fn. 58) A person 'dwelling in Sedgewick' was mentioned in 1594, (fn. 59) perhaps indicating a hamlet rather than an area of jurisdiction.
At least two surviving farmhouses in the parish are medieval: Newells Farm House, (fn. 60) and Marelands north of Copsale, a 15th-century house of Wealden type. There was presumably much other scattered rural settlement in the Middle Ages, as in neighbouring parishes; Botting's Cooks, Golding's, and Woolmer's farms can all be linked with 14thcentury surnames recorded in the parish, (fn. 61) and may have existed by that time. Several surviving farmhouses are of the 16th or 17th centuries, for instance those of Copsale, Brook, Sheepwash, Great Steeds, and Elliotts farms. There was a house called Swallowfield near Mannings Heath by 1574. (fn. 62)
Nuthurst church existed before 1200, (fn. 63) but there need not have been a village there so early, though the site, on sloping land by a stream, was suitable. A village seems to be indicated by the mention of a trespass at (apud) Nuthurst in 1328. (fn. 64) The oldest surviving buildings are of the 17th century: nos. 1-2 Black Horse Cottages, which are timber-framed and partly faced in brick, and a house opposite faced with brick and hung tiles. There were several buildings in 1724, both north and south of the church, besides more scattered dwellings further south. (fn. 65) In 1841 there were c. 12 dwellings, including the rectory house and an inn, those north of the church being much closer together than any other groups of buildings in the parish. (fn. 66) Several new single houses were built in the village in the 20th century, and in the 1970s a close of houses south of the church.
The history of settlement elsewhere in the parish after 1700 is of the growth of hamlets, three of which occupied sites on the edges of commons. Maplehurst was named as a place where land was held in 1401-2. (fn. 67) Some existing houses there are 17thcentury or earlier, for instance Maplehurst Farm (fn. 68) and Tudor Cottage. In 1724 there were a few houses grouped around Maplehurst common, (fn. 69) and encroachments on the waste were recorded there in the 18th century. (fn. 70) By 1841 there were c. 12 houses there, including an inn. (fn. 71) Most of the existing buildings, however, are 20th-century, including a red brick terrace of 1904, a small estate of council houses, and a large group of houses and bungalows to the east.
Two apparently 17th-century buildings, one of sandstone, and a few 18th-century buildings survive at Mannings Heath. (fn. 72) Encroachments were recorded during the 18th century on the common, (fn. 73) their outlines being clearly visible in 1841. (fn. 74) By 1794 there were c. 20 houses, (fn. 75) and more were built during the early 19th century, apparently accounting for much of the nearly twofold increase in the number of houses in the parish between 1801 and 1841. (fn. 76) At the latter date there were 35 to 40 houses loosely scattered round the edges of the common, most being along the modern Pound and Golding lanes, and including the inn, Methodist chapel, and post office. (fn. 77) Further buildings were added later in the 19th century, including a terrace and one or two larger houses in their own grounds. Land was being offered for building there in 1878 and later. (fn. 78) Most of the houses in the hamlet, however, date from the 20th century, many being bungalows. By 1938 there had been much infilling along the chief roads. After 1945 Mannings Heath expanded more rapidly as a dormitory hamlet, (fn. 79) new roads and closes of both privately owned and council houses being built with a variety of design that largely preserved the original character of the hamlet. By 1979 there were 350-400 houses. (fn. 80) In 1982 the community was in many ways separate from the rest of the parish. (fn. 81)
The name Monk's Gate was recorded as a farm name in the 17th century, (fn. 82) apparently deriving from a family named in 1450 (fn. 83) and alluding to a gate into St. Leonard's Forest. (fn. 84) Two or three 17th-century houses survive. An encroachment was recorded on the uninclosed common in 1756, (fn. 85) and by 1794 there were at least six houses there. (fn. 86) By 1841 there were c. 10, (fn. 87) all in the southern part, and in 1875 there was a police station. More houses were built before 1909, notably some large villas to the south-east, and others were built later in the 20th century, including a close of large detached houses in the centre c. 1975.
The place name Copsale is recorded from the late 15th century, (fn. 88) but the hamlet there did not develop until the late 18th. (fn. 89) In 1841 there were seven buildings including a mill, (fn. 90) and in 1859 Copsale was considered sufficiently important for a mission chapel to be built there to serve the south-west part of the parish. (fn. 91) The hamlet thereafter remained about the same size; in 1981 it had an inn and a general stores.
In the 19th and 20th centuries many houses, especially larger ones, have been built outside the nucleated settlements. A new house at Swallowfield near Mannings Heath was built of grey stone on the site of the one recorded in 1574, and in 1876 land in the parish was being offered for building similar houses. (fn. 92) Gaveston Hall and Copsale Court, occupying south-facing sites in the south end of the parish, were built, in the revived vernacular style, between 1876 and 1896, and the Grange, in similar style, by 1909. (fn. 93) The number of 'private residents' listed in the parish rose from 7, including the rector, in 1882, to 19 in 1895. In the 20th century it continued to increase, to 26 in 1909 and 37 in 1938. (fn. 94) The opening of the golf course at Mannings Heath before 1913 provided one stimulus, (fn. 95) and another may have been the proximity of St. Leonard's Forest with its sporting opportunities. (fn. 96) Smaller houses too were built in the 20th century outside the nucleated settlements of the parish, for instance north of Copsale and along the Nuthurst-Maplehurst road, where many bungalows were erected in the 1930s.
Nineteen taxpayers were recorded at Nuthurst tithing in 1327 and 21 at Sedgewick in 1332. (fn. 97) In 1378 there were 124 at Sedgewick, including 26 married couples. (fn. 98) Sedgewick had 35 persons assessed to the subsidy in 1524, (fn. 99) when other parishioners were presumably recorded elsewhere. (fn. 100) A hundred and four parishioners took the Protestation in 1642, (fn. 101) and in 1724 the parish was said to have c. 60 families. (fn. 102) In 1801 the population of Nuthurst was 465. After rising to 768 in 1841 and falling to 699 in 1871 it rose again to 811 in 1881, including 24 in Little Broadwater. During the next 50 years the population fluctuated between 750 and 855. From 777 in 1931 it increased more rapidly to 866 in 1951, 1,111 in 1961, 1,337 in 1971, and 1,515 in 1981. Mannings Heath, which had already had the largest concentration of population in the parish in 1841, had c. 60 per cent by 1981, since c. 900 people were said to live there in 1979. (fn. 103)
The road from Horsham to Mannings Heath evidently existed by 1538 when Birchen bridge in the north-west corner of the parish was mentioned. (fn. 104) The chief roads of the parish, however, trended northnorth-east and south-south-west. The road between Copsale and Sedgewick castle formed the northern end of the link between Broadwater parish and its detached portion; though apparently called Copsale Lane in 1692, (fn. 105) it was usually known as Broadwater Lane. The village street of Nuthurst formed part of the road between Horsham and Steyning, apparently in 1463 (fn. 106) and certainly in 1636 (fn. 107) and later. The road that followed the eastern boundary of the parish by Newells Farm House formed part of an important route in 1724 between Pulborough and Cuckfield, (fn. 108) as it had perhaps also done in 1648. (fn. 109)
A fourth parallel road led through Sedgewick park, apparently in 1469 (fn. 110) and certainly later. (fn. 111) In 1981 it survived only as a track, while the other three roads were all metalled. The Horsham-Steyning road through Nuthurst village, however, had been replaced as a main route after 1764, first by the turnpike road through West Grinstead, (fn. 112) and later by the present road through Mannings Heath and Crabtree in Lower Beeding, which was turnpiked under Acts of 1771 and 1792 and disturnpiked in 1877. (fn. 113)
East-west communication was less well provided in Nuthurst in the past, but the Copsale-Maplehurst road in the south is evidently old since 17th-century or earlier houses stand along it, (fn. 114) while the road eastwards from the Horsham-Steyning road at Mannings Heath, the modern Pound and Winterpit lanes, also existed by 1795, when an east-west track past Sedgewick Park house was also shown. (fn. 115)
There was a two-hourly bus service through Nuthurst village in 1982. (fn. 116)
The northern portion of the parish was served after 1848 by Horsham railway station. The Horsham-Shoreham railway line was opened in 1861 through the south-west corner, with stations nearby at Southwater and West Grinstead; (fn. 117) after closure in 1966 (fn. 118) the Nuthurst portion of the line had been converted by 1981 into a bridle way.
The Dun Horse inn at Mannings Heath was the White Horse in 1794 (fn. 119) but had its present name soon afterwards; (fn. 120) it was presumably the residence of the innkeeper John Chart recorded in the parish in 1819. (fn. 121) His successor in 1845, apparently his son, was also a butcher. (fn. 122) The Shortsfield and Nutham manor courts were held at the inn in 1853 and 1910. (fn. 123) In the early 20th century the old weatherboarded building (fn. 124) was rebuilt as a large brick and stucco roadhouse. The Black Horse at Nuthurst and the White Horse at Maplehurst both existed in 1845 (fn. 125) and survived in 1981. There was a beerhouse at Copsale called the Nuthurst Arms in 1896; before 1909 it was replaced by another public house, which by 1938 was called the Bridge House (fn. 126) and which also survived in 1981.
A Nuthurst band played in Horsham before the 1847 election. (fn. 127) By 1840 cricket was being played at Mannings Heath, (fn. 128) where the parish was awarded 3 a. for recreation at the inclosure of 1870-1. (fn. 129) The Nuthurst cricket team played there in 1965, when there was also a football team, (fn. 130) and in 1977 the ground was managed by the parish council. (fn. 131) A parish room was built near the recreation ground in 1901, (fn. 132) and was replaced by a new building in 1972. In 1977 Mannings Heath had several clubs and societies including a badminton club and a dramatic society. (fn. 133) In the south-west corner of the parish a club room was built at Copsale for local estate workers by 1909, and survived in more general use (fn. 134) in 1981. A community association formed for the parish in 1973 had 140 members in 1977. (fn. 135)
The golf course north-east of Mannings Heath, covering nearly 200 a. in Nuthurst and Lower Beeding, (fn. 136) originated as a private concern shortly before 1913, but was leased to the Horsham golf club (fn. 137) by c. 1921. (fn. 138) The club house was converted from three cottages on the north side of Mannings Heath recreation ground. In 1979 the club had 800 members. (fn. 139)
A spring north of Sedgewick castle, which presumably supplied the castle, was given a covering of large stone blocks at an unknown date; it was called the nuns' well in 1707 and later alternatively St. Mary's well. (fn. 140) Most of the parish had mains water by 1977. (fn. 141) Electricity was supplied to Mannings Heath, Monk's Gate, and Nuthurst village by the Horsham urban district council soon after 1930. (fn. 142)
The high number of 11 inhabitants of Nuthurst, including three yeomen and one tradesman, were implicated in Cade's rebellion in 1450. (fn. 143) In 1541 a Nuthurst man was hanged at Horsham for coining money. (fn. 144) During a skirmish in 1644 two soldiers were killed by the villagers. (fn. 145)
In 1939 Micklepage Farm south of the village became a country retreat of the Community of St. Hilda in Camberwell, London, the rector being its leader from 1940 to 1957. The community, which survived in 1982, ran a school at Gaveston Hall from 1945 to 1958; another school succeeded it there, (fn. 146) and in 1973 the building was used as an international youth holiday centre. (fn. 147) By c. 1957 (fn. 148) Forest House east of Mannings Heath was a children's home, as it remained in 1981.
Robert White, composer and master of the choristers at Westminster abbey, owned Swallowfield and other land in the parish at his death in 1574. (fn. 149) The so-called Sussex carol was collected by R. Vaughan Williams at Monk's Gate in 1904. (fn. 150)