Parishes: Plumpton

Pages 109-113

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 7, the Rape of Lewes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1940.

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In this section


Pluntune, Plumtona (xi cent.); Plompton (xv and xvi cent.).

Plumpton has an area of 2,450 acres, and is the strip of country lying to the east of Streat. At the southern end of the parish the Downs rise steeply to Plumpton Plain, with a height of 665 ft. The altitude in the north of the parish is about 130 ft. The road to Lewes runs along the foot of the Downs, and another road branches from it and runs north, straight up to the north end of the parish, where it branches in four directions.

The road running north is crossed after about a mile and a half by the lane from Streat to East Chiltington. North of this is the Steeplechase Course and the railway station, on the line from Haywards Heath to Lewes. Beyond this the village of Plumpton Green straggles along the road, with All Saints chapel of ease, built in 1893, and a Congregational chapel built in 1880. At Sedgebrook in the extreme north of the parish is the County Smallpox Hospital.

The soil is mixed, with a chalky subsoil in the south; large quantities of bricks are made in the north. The chief crops are wheat, oats, and mangolds.

Plumpton Place lies to the east of the church and the County Agricultural College. Two cottages designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens form an entrance, with Palladian porch, leading to his modern bridge over the moat. The house and rose-garden occupy a square inclosure surrounded by water, the moat to west and south and a lake to north and east. To Sir Edwin Lutyens and the late owner, Mr. Edward Hudson, (fn. 1) is due the transformation of the lake into a water-garden of great beauty. Before this, Plumpton Place had deteriorated into shabby cottage property.

The house is of mixed material, marking at least four building periods. The north wing seems the earliest, and a date-stone of 1568 with the initials I.M. (John Mascall) (fn. 2) which has been found may refer to this portion, for the west wing is apparently later, probably c. 1600. In the 18th century there was some rebuilding in brick, notably in the south-west, and extensive additions have been made under Sir Edwin Lutyens. The windows are all Georgian or modern. The north front includes some original timber framing, partly filled with Georgian brick at ground-level, and with wide plastered panels above. The gabled west front (fn. 3) is of two stories with cellars and attics. The walls are a medley of flint with red brick, restored at various times. This part was probably added c. 1600 to an older building, for the projecting central porch and the shallower flanking bays are certainly askew, also the north at least of the boldly projecting wings which complete an elaborated E-plan. The porch is gabled, with two stories and attics; its four-centred arch is of chamfered brick, without rebates. The entrance door within is original.

The early-17th-century screen dividing the hall and entry has one opening to the hall. The opposite wall of the entry is half-timbered, and has an original opening to what was either the buttery or dining parlour. East of this is a passage to the kitchen, which has a wide lintelled fire-place in the east wall. East of the kitchen a large music-room, built by Sir Edwin Lutyens on the site of some old sheds, incorporates in its south wall an original brick fire-place. From the hall a door opens into a large room which forms the south wing, containing a stone fire-place with flat fourcentred arch. Another door opens to the staircase, which ends at attic level in a Jacobean turned newel. The room above the kitchen has typical panelling of c. 1600 with small-moulded rails, and a cornice. The fire-place has a four-centred arch with ogee- and roll-moulded stone jambs. The stair in this part has 18th-century newels and balusters. The fire-place over the hall is of similar type to the above, and has blank shields in the spandrels. Stop-chamfered ceiling beams are exposed on both floors. The brick cellars in the north part are of the late-16th or 17th century; the south cellars are chiefly of the 18th century.


The manor of PLUMPTON in Saxon times belonged to the church of Bosham, and was held of Earl Godwin by Godwin the priest for 32 hides. After the Conquest it was given with the rest of the Rape of Lewes to William de Warenne, and was held of him by Hugh son of Rannulf for 30 hides. (fn. 4) There were then two mills (fn. 5) on the manor.

It continued to be held of the lord of the rape for 1 knight's fee, (fn. 6) passing to Edmund Lenthall (fn. 7) and subsequently to the Dukes of Norfolk. (fn. 8) Hugh had a daughter Fredesend, who perhaps succeeded to the manor, since she was able to make a gift of tithes, (fn. 9) but Plumpton passed early in the 12th century to Rainald de Warenne and his wife Alice de Wormegay, who were living from about 1118 to 1178. (fn. 10) Their son William de Warenne left an only daughter Beatrice, who married as her first husband Doun Bardolf, (fn. 11) and Plumpton remained with the Bardolfs for about two hundred years. Beatrice died before 12 December 1214 and her son William had livery of his lands on 28 August 1215. (fn. 12) He received a grant of free warren in Plumpton in 1254 and died in 1275, when he was succeeded by his son William. (fn. 13) Hugh, first Lord Bardolf, son of this William died in 1304, (fn. 14) and his widow Isabel about 1323. (fn. 15) Their son Thomas owned Plumpton for only five years, and was then succeeded by his son John. (fn. 16) William son of John held the manor from 1363 to 1385–6, and his wife Agnes, who afterwards married Sir Thomas Mortimer, survived him, (fn. 17) but their son Thomas, Lord Bardolf, was concerned in the rebellion of 1405 in favour of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, and his estates were forfeited. (fn. 18) He died shortly afterwards of wounds received at Bramham Moor, and Plumpton Manor, after being retained for a time by Thomas, Earl of Arundel and Surrey, the overlord, (fn. 19) was in 1408 granted for life to Sir William Bardolf, with remainder to the two daughters and heiresses of his brother Thomas, Lord Bardolf, Anne wife of Sir William Clifford, and Joan wife of Sir William Phelip. (fn. 20) Sir William Bardolf died in 1423 and the manor was delivered to his nieces, Anne having in the meantime married Sir Reynold Cobham. (fn. 21) In 1438, however, the reversion of Anne's moiety was granted to Joan and her husband. (fn. 22) Sir William Phelip died in 1441, and Joan in 1447, (fn. 23) and their property passed to William Beaumont son of their daughter Elizabeth and John, Lord Beaumont, the other part of Plumpton falling to him at the death of Anne Cobham in 1453. (fn. 24) William, Lord Beaumont, being a supporter of Henry VI, also experienced a period of eclipse, and in 1462 Plumpton was granted for a time to Sir William Hastings, and in 1472 to Sir John Fogge. (fn. 25) Eventually Lord Beaumont recovered his estates, but died without issue in 1507, leaving a widow Elizabeth who immediately married John, Earl of Oxford. (fn. 26) She obtained a grant of Plumpton Manor as part of her dower in 1509, (fn. 27) but in 1514 the King granted the reversion to Nicholas Carew and his heirs, the direct heir, Francis, Lord Lovell, nephew of William Beaumont, being attainted. (fn. 28) Nicholas himself, however, shared that fate in 1536 and Plumpton once more escheated to the Crown, (fn. 29) but was returned to his widow Elizabeth in 1539, with remainder to his son Francis, the site of the manor with the demesne lands being leased in the same year to John Mascall for 21 years. (fn. 30) Francis Carew in 1555 converted this lease into a sale, (fn. 31) and the manor-house (known as Plumpton Place) and the demesne land remained in the Mascall family for 65 years. The rest of the property, with the manorial rights, was sold by

Francis Carew in 1593 to Richard Leache, (fn. 32) who died seised of them in 1596. (fn. 33) His widow Charity subsequently married Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, and died in 1618, after which the Earl married Mary, daughter of Sir William Cokayne and sister of Charles Cokayne, first Viscount Cullen. (fn. 34) The Earl died childless in 1642, (fn. 35) and Plumpton Manor was conveyed by the Hon. Charles Cokayne and Benjamin Scarlett to Anthony youngest son of Sir Thomas Springett in 1656. (fn. 36) Meanwhile the mansion-house and demesnes, after passing from John Mascall to his grandson Edward in 1571, (fn. 37) were sold by Edward's son Richard Mascall (fn. 38) in 1620–1 to Sir Thomas Springett, (fn. 39) who is recorded about that time as the holder of one knight's fee in Plumpton. (fn. 40) At his death in 1639 the mansion-house and demesne passed to his eldest son Sir Herbert, (fn. 41) who is said to have sold it to his brother Thomas. (fn. 42) As Anthony, the third brother, acquired the manor itself in 1656 (as already stated) and lived until 1695 the whole estate came into his hands on the death of his brothers without male heirs, and passed to his cousin and heir the Rev. Anthony Springett, (fn. 43) at whose death in 1735 Plumpton Manor was divided among the descendants of the four grand-daughters of his cousin Sir Herbert, viz. Barbara wife of William Campion, Elizabeth Briggs, William Dobell, and William Hay. (fn. 44) In 1736 the three remaining heirs conveyed the manor to James Pelham, (fn. 45) from whom it passed to his son Thomas, Lord Pelham, (fn. 46) and descended in that family to the present owner the Earl of Chichester. (fn. 47)

Bardolf. Azure three cinqfoils or.

Mascall. Sable six fleurs de lis or and a border engrailed argent.

Springett. Party fessewise and wavy argent and gules a fesse between three crescents counter changed.

PLUMPTON BOSCAGE [Buskegage (xvi cent.)], which is first mentioned in 1507, (fn. 48) was a part of the manor of Plumpton, and remained with it (fn. 49) until 1657, when it was alienated by Charles Cokayne, Viscount Cullen, to Robert Frere. (fn. 50) It appears to have come soon after into the possession of Sir John Smith, who held his first court there in 1661 but died in the following year. (fn. 51) His widow Catherine and her second husband Sir William Courtney, bart., held the manor until 1672, after which it passed to Catherine's son John Smith, who held courts there until 1697. (fn. 52) About 1702 it was acquired by John Wakeman, (fn. 53) who sold it to Leonard Gale in 1717. (fn. 54) After the death of the latter in 1750 Plumpton Boscage was divided between his three daughters and their husbands, Sarah and Samuel Blunt, Philippa and James Clitherow, and Elizabeth and Henry Humphrey. (fn. 55) Eventually, however, the whole manor came to Henry Humphrey about 1765, and he was holding courts there up to 1791. (fn. 56) From 1794 to 1840 William Bryant was lord of the manor, in which year it passed to Charles Innis and remained in his family until 1868, Thomas Innis, M.D., holding courts from 1848 to 1860, and a second Thomas Innis after that. About 1877 it was acquired by Charles Hubert Husey, who was still holding it in 1887. (fn. 57)

Plumpton Church


The parish church is of unknown dedication but associated by tradition with St. Michael. It stands isolated in a field, and is reached by a lane and field path from the Lewes-Ditchling road. The walls are of flint and some Sussex marble with sandstone dressings; the roofs are tiled except for some Horsham slates on the porch. The nave dates from the early 12th century. The west tower was built c. 1200 and has 14th-century additions; the chancel was rebuilt rather later in the 13th century, but the east wall is modern. The porch probably dates from the 17th century, and the vestry is 19th-century work.

The chancel (25 ft. 4 in. × 18 ft. 8 in.) has an east wall rebuilt before 1854 (fn. 58) with buttresses and lancet windows; Sharpe's drawing of 1802 (fn. 59) shows an east window of three oblong lights and a rough south buttress. The north wall is of 13th-century date and has a good chamfered lancet with splayed jambs, sill, and segmental-pointed rear-arch. West of it is a modern lintelled opening to the vestry, built in 1886. The south wall is 13th-century but refaced, with two restored lancets, having flatter rear-arches than the north one; the west lancet has been prolonged to form a low-side window. The present chancel arch was built in 1932 replacing one of 1867; in 1851 Nibbs describes three romanesque arches as dividing nave and chancel.


The nave (38 ft. (N.); 38 ft. 10 in. (S.) × 23 ft. 4. in. (E.); 22 ft. 3 in. (W.)), is of early-12th-century build and wide for its length; the north wall slopes back considerably. There is a modern buttress at the north-east angle, another of one long slope, in tile and brick, between the two westernmost windows, and one of three stages which is in line with the west nave wall, but 10 in. thicker (3 ft. 7 in.) than the wall. Nibbs' drawing of 1851 shows three 17th-century two-light transomed windows with flat heads. The present traceried windows replaced these in 1867, but the rear-arches may be older. Just west of the easternmost window there is a narrow blocked 12th-century window, of which the round head and west jamb are visible externally. The south wall is contemporary and has a similar west buttress; that in line with the chancel arch has restored quoins incorporating two worked stones; on the south face a floriated shield bearing a chief, flanked by cinquefoils, in an engrailed border, upside down; and on the west a floriated cross in a circle. (fn. 60) It has a straight joint to the chancel but is bonded in to 6 in. of the nave wall. West of this is modern or refaced walling including a square modern window of two ogee-headed lights. Behind and west of the porch is the 12th-century wall; the south doorway has a plain semi-circular head and slightly projecting imposts with groove and chamfered under-edge; there is a modern rear-arch and a brick jamb, to west of which is a recent thickening of the wall internally. The west buttress has two off-sets, the top slope being long and tiled, and continuing up to the tower; it is contemporary with the north-west buttress, and like it was probably thickened when the tower was built.

The south porch is a rough erection of flint, cement, and brick, dating probably from the 16th century.

The west tower (11 ft. 3 in. × 12 ft.) bears strong affinities to those at Barcombe and East Chiltington. It dates c. 1200 and is of two stages undivided externally, finished with a shingled broach spire. The east wall has an equilateral doorway to the nave, and above the roof of the latter can be seen a brick-lined opening blocked with wood. In the west wall is a late-14thcentury equilateral doorway with widely chamfered head and jambs, and segmental rear-arch. Above it, under a pointed relieving arch, is a contemporary window, of two ogee-trefoiled lights with chamfered label. The west wall seems to have been nearly rebuilt at the same time and buttresses were added projecting west almost to roof level at each angle; these are of three chamfered stages with plinth. The north wall has a small round-headed window in the top stage, but there are no openings in the south wall.

The roofs are modern, except for three old ties, chamfered king-posts, and four struts re-used in the nave, and one tie-beam in the chancel. The floors are of brick, tiles, and wood, with some stone in the tower; there is one step from the tower to nave, one at the chancel arch, and another to the sanctuary.

The font has a square bowl, marked 1710, with a late-12th- or 13th-century base; it has a central octagonal pedestal and angle shafts with roll capitals and bases. There are 18th-century Commandment Tables on the west wall of the nave. There are no traces of the wall-paintings discovered in 1867; these were on the east wall of nave: east face, the Flight into Egypt: west face, Doom and Company of Angels. On the soffit of the chancel arch, Agnus Dei—12th-century and later. (fn. 61)

There is one bell, by Bryan Eldridge, 1639. (fn. 62)

The plate is modern.

The registers date from 1558.

There are several fine yews in the churchyard.

ALL SAINTS' (fn. 63) church at Plumpton Green was founded in 1893, and built of flint with dressings of stone and brick. It consists of chancel and sanctuary, shingled spire, south transept, (fn. 64) nave, and baptistery. The font is said to have come from St. John-sub-Castro, Lewes.


The church of Plumpton is mentioned in Domesday, and was granted by Rainald de Warenne to the priory of St. Mary, Southwark, in the 12th century. (fn. 65) But in 1275 the prior released it to William Bardolf, (fn. 66) and it remained thereafter with the manor (fn. 67) until the end of the 16th century. Richard Leache was holding it at his death in 1596, when it passed to his widow Charity with the manor. (fn. 68) In 1635 the advowson was conveyed by the Earl of Nottingham and Mary his wife to William Hampton, then rector. (fn. 69) It remained in the possession of the Hampton family for about 150 years. The last member of this family, Charity Hampton, married Richard Weekes, and sold the advowson between 1771 and 1786 to John Woodward. (fn. 70) The Woodwards retained it until 1931, when it was conveyed by Mr. W. A. Woodward to the Bishop of Chichester.


Thomas Travers by will dated 26 Sept. 1710 gave his messuage with the land and garden in Plumpton to the churchwardens and overseers to be inhabited by two poor families of the parish. The property was sold in 1866 under the authority of the Charity Commissioners, and the proceeds of sale as invested produce £5 9s. per annum, which is distributed in groceries to the poor.


  • 1. Editor of Country Life.
  • 2. Another stone, found in digging the terraces on the island, is inscribed I.M.—E.M.—probably John and Edward Mascall: Country Life, lxxiii, 522–8.
  • 3. For its appearance c. 1780 see Grimm's drawing: Add. MS. 5672, fol. 8.
  • 4. V.C.H. Suss. i, 441, 392 n.
  • 5. A watermill is mentioned in 1304: Chan. Inq. p.m. 32 Edw. I, 64.
  • 6. Chan. Inq. p.m. 18 Hen. VI, 28; 1 Edw. IV, 46; 4 Edw. IV, 72.
  • 7. Bk. of John Rowe (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv), 187.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1405–8, pp. 25, 442, 449.
  • 9. Lewes Chart. (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxviii), 13.
  • 10. Farrer, Honors and Knights' Fees, iii, 323, 324; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 171.
  • 11. Farrer, loc. cit.
  • 12. G.E.C. Complete Peerage (2nd ed.), vii, 141.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1247–58, p. 313; Cal. Inq. p.m. ii, 190, 772.
  • 14. Ibid. iv, 236; Plac. Abbrev. (Rec. Com.), 200.
  • 15. Cal. Inq. p.m. vi, 454.
  • 16. Ibid. vii, 243.
  • 17. G.E.C. Complete Peerage; Cal. Close, 1389–92, p. 346.
  • 18. Cal. Pat. 1405–8, p. 25.
  • 19. Ibid. The grant included Barcombe.
  • 20. Ibid., pp. 442, 449.
  • 21. Chan. Inq. p.m. 2 Hen. VI, 34; Cal. Close, 1422–9, 87.
  • 22. Cal. Pat. 1436–41, p. 135.
  • 23. Chan. Inq. p.m. 19 Hen. VI, 30; ibid 25 Hen. VI, 29, 30.
  • 24. Ibid. 32 Hen. VI, 26.
  • 25. Cal. Pat. 1461–7, pp. 103–4, 354; ibid. 1467–77, p. 363.
  • 26. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xxiv, 79.
  • 27. L. and P. Hen. VIII, i, g. 289 (13).
  • 28. Ibid., g. 2863 (10).
  • 29. Exch. Inq. p.m. 1088 (2).
  • 30. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (i), g. 1354 (16); ibid. (ii), g. 113 (5).
  • 31. Cal. Deeds A. Lewes, no. 16.
  • 32. Feet of F. Suss. East. 35 Eliz.
  • 33. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxlix, 71.
  • 34. G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 35. Chan. Inq. p.m. Misc. 17 (2).
  • 36. Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 354; Close R. 1656, pt. xxv, m. 10; Comber, Suss. Gen. (Lewes), 279–81.
  • 37. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cxci, 108.
  • 38. Ibid. ccxlvii, 47.
  • 39. Feet of F. Suss. Hil. 18 Jas. I; Suss. Arch. Coll. xxxvii, 47.
  • 40. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 196.
  • 41. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dxxii, 6.
  • 42. Comber, op. cit. 279.
  • 43. Ibid. 281; Feet of F. Suss. Mich. 6 Geo. II; Coll. Deeds N. Lewes, 220, 236.
  • 44. Suss. Arch. Coll. xxii, 222.
  • 45. Ibid. xx, 354.
  • 46. Add. MS. 5684, fol. 64; Coll. Deeds N. Lewes, 225.
  • 47. Suss. Arch. Coll. xxxvii, 88; Recov. R. Mich. 9 Geo. IV, no. 299; Lower, Hist. of Suss. ii, 100.
  • 48. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xxiv, 79.
  • 49. Pat. R. 31 Hen. VIII, pt. i; Feet of F. Suss. East. 35 Eliz.
  • 50. Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 354; Close R. 1657, pt. xii, m. 35.
  • 51. Add. MS. 5684, fol. 68; Suss. Arch. Coll. xxxv, 20.
  • 52. Ibid.
  • 53. Ibid.
  • 54. Feet of F. Suss. Trin. 3 Geo. I. From 1690 to 1729 a manor of this name appears in the possession of Anthony Springett, but this seems to have been a confusion with the mansion-house or with Plumpton Piddinghoe.
  • 55. Suss. Arch. Coll. xxxv, 20; Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 55; Recov. R. Mich. 24 Geo. II, ro. 472; ibid. ro. 406; ibid. Mich. 30 Geo. II, ro. 393.
  • 56. Add. MS. 5684, fol. 68; Suss. Arch. Coll. xxxix, 189; ibid. xxxv, 20.
  • 57. Ibid.
  • 58. See water-colour in Rectory at Plumpton Green.
  • 59. In the Library of the Society of Antiquaries. See also drawings by Lambert (1777), Add. MS. 5672, fol. 8, and Nibbs (1851) in Churches of Sussex.
  • 60. W. E. Meads: Articles on Plumpton Church in Sussex Express, 26 April, 3 and 10 May, 1935.
  • 61. Suss. Arch. Coll. xx, 198–202 (illustrated); xliii, 240.
  • 62. Ibid. xvi, 220.
  • 63. Information from the Rev. J. C. Poole.
  • 64. The plan is cruciform, but the north transept has never been built.
  • 65. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 171.
  • 66. Suss. Rec. Soc. ii, 837.
  • 67. Cal. Pat. 1405–8, pp. 25, 442, 449; ibid. 1461–7, p. 354; L. and P. Hen. VIII, i, g. 289 (13); ibid. g. 2863 (10); Feet of F. Suss. East. 35 Eliz.
  • 68. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxlix, 71.
  • 69. Add. MS. 39343, fol. 232.
  • 70. Horsfield, Hist. of Suss. i, 232; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).