The hundred of Younsmere

Pages 221-222

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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Consisting of the parishes of Falmer; Ovingdean; Rottingdean; [Stanmer]

At the time of the Domesday Survey, of the lands which are now in Younsmere Hundred, (fn. 1) Rottingdean and Ovingdean with Balmer (now in Falmer parish) were in Welesmere Hundred, (fn. 2) while Falmer, with Bevendean and Moulston, were in the hundred of Falmer. (fn. 3) There were three divisions of the hundred of Younsmere in 1296, but the only one to be given a name was Balmer. (fn. 4) Rottingdean and Falmer appeared in 1316, (fn. 5) while the three divisions in 1327 and 1332 were Rottingdean; Ovingdean; Balsdean, Falmer, and Balmer. (fn. 6) By the end of the 16th century there were two 'boroughs' in the hundred, namely, Rottingdean, comprehending Ovingdean and Balsdean, and Falmer. (fn. 7) The single constable of the hundred was chosen annually in the following rotation, namely from Rottingdean, Falmer, Ovingdean, Rottingdean, Falmer, Balsdean, and so on. (fn. 8) Falmer paid no common fine, ex consuetudine, (fn. 9) but 13s. 4d. was due annually from Rottingdean. (fn. 10) Each married man in Rottingdean, Ovingdean, and Balsdean paid 2d. each half year and every bachelor who had lived there a year and a day 'and hauinge receaued the communion' 1½d. If any such bachelor refused to pay, then his master was to discharge the same out of his wages. (fn. 11) The headborough of Rottingdean, in order to make up the common fine and to help to repay his services, was allowed to pasture twenty wethers that should be freely kept for him among the flocks in Rottingdean, Balsdean, and Ovingdean. (fn. 12) Similarly the alderman had the right to pasture six wethers among the flocks of the tenant of Balmer without paying shepherd's wages 'or any other secular dutyes therefore'. (fn. 13)

For the subsidy of 1621 the hundred was divided under Falmer and Ovingdean, (fn. 14) but for the county rate of 1624, under Falmer, Ovingdean, and Rottingdean, (fn. 15) which divisions persisted (fn. 16) until Ovingdean and Rottingdean were both included in the borough of Brighton by the Brighton Corporation Act of 1927.

The courts of the hundred of Younsmere were held at Hunns Mere Pit in Rottingdean. This pit was described in a note-book of John Dudeney (1782–1863) as being about a quarter of a mile to the east of Woodingdean on the brow of a hill a few yards to the left of the road leading from Woodingdean to Balsdean. It had been ploughed over and was then a flat of a few rods in length with a bank on its south side, but the people still called it Hounds Mere Pit and said that the hundred court was held there. It is mentioned as the meetingplace of the hundred in a survey of Falmer Manor made in 1617. (fn. 17) The pit, which is just within the boundary which divided the old parishes of Rottingdean and Ovingdean, may still be traced beside the old road between Woodingdean and Balsdean. (fn. 18)


  • 1. Yonesmere (xiii cent.); Iwonesmere (xiii-xiv cent.); Wensmere alias Ewensmere, Yeonsmere (xvii cent.).
  • 2. V.C.H. Suss. i, 437b, 438a. Brighton was in this hundred also.
  • 3. Ibid. 436b, 438b 443a. Stanmer, now a detached portion of Ringmer Hundred (rape of Pevensey), was then in Falmer Hundred: ibid. 388b.
  • 4. Subs. (Suss. Rec. Soc. x), 43.
  • 5. Feud. Aids, v, 135.
  • 6. Subs. (Suss. Rec. Soc. x), 171–2, 285–6.
  • 7. Bk. of J. Rowe (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv), 145.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid. 146.
  • 10. Ibid. 145.
  • 11. Ibid. 145.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Ibid. 146.
  • 14. Suss. Arch. Coll. ix, 77–8.
  • 15. Horsfield, Sussex, i, 103.
  • 16. Ibid.; V.C.H. Suss, ii, 225.
  • 17. Treas. of Receipt, Misc. Bks. clvii, fol. 180.
  • 18. Suss. N. &. Q. iv, 155, quoting A. H. Allcroft, Downland Pathways.