Parishes: Chailey

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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'Parishes: Chailey', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 7, the Rape of Lewes, ed. L F Salzman( London, 1940), British History Online [accessed 16 July 2024].

'Parishes: Chailey', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 7, the Rape of Lewes. Edited by L F Salzman( London, 1940), British History Online, accessed July 16, 2024,

"Parishes: Chailey". A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 7, the Rape of Lewes. Ed. L F Salzman(London, 1940), , British History Online. Web. 16 July 2024.

In this section


Chaglegh, Cheagele (xi cent.); Chagelegh (xiii cent.); Cheyleigh, Chaley (xvi and xvii cent.).

Chailey is a large Wealden parish of 5,451 acres. By the East Sussex Review Order of 1934 detached parts of the parish, including Allington House and Warningore, were transferred to East Chiltington (q.v.). The soil is strong clay and there are potteries in the southeast of the parish. The railway station (Newick and Chailey) is 1½ miles north of the village on the East Grinstead and Lewes branch of the Southern Railway, which runs through the eastern part of the parish. Chailey is the head of a rural district.

The elevation of the parish is low in the south, only in places reaching 100 ft., the lowest part being along the Longford Stream, which runs into the Ouse. Farther north the ground rises somewhat, and the upper part of North Common attains a height of just over 200 ft. Here the parish extends north-east and slopes down to the Ouse Valley, and in this projection are situated Wapsbourne Farm and Wood, Sheffield Park station (on the same railway line), and St. Agnes Mission Church (erected in 1908). South of Wapsbourne Farm the Blackbrook crosses the parish and runs into the Ouse. On North Common are the Heritage Craft Schools for Cripples, with the buildings for boys on both sides of the road and that for girls farther north. This road enters the parish from Scaynes Hill and runs across it eastward to Newick and Maresfield, crossing the road from London to Lewes at the eastern side of the common. To the west of the cross-roads is St. Mary's Church (a chapel of ease erected in 1876), on the Common. From the middle of North Common roads run south-west to Wivelsfield Green, and south past Godley's Green to Plumpton. Great Homewood lies to the east of the latter, in the south-western corner of the parish, with the Hooke to the east of it.

The Lewes road runs south from North Common, with Bineham in its park on the west side of it, through the main part of the village, with the church of St. Peter, to South Common, now wholly inclosed, where St. John's Mission Church (erected in 1895) stands, with Chailey Potteries, still in the hands of the Norman family by whom they were started c. 1740, on the opposite side of the road. Here a road turns west to the Chailey Institution, and a long projection of the parish runs south, down to Comps Wood and the stream coming from Plumpton. Balneath Manor house is near the Lewes road, to the south of the Potteries, but just outside the boundary of the parish.

There is a Nonconformist Mission Hall at South Common.

The Rectory, situated on a narrow lane running west from the church, is surrounded by a moat, said to have been dug by a parson in the reign of Queen Anne, but more probably older; the moat has a brick revetment and is fed by a stream at the back of the house. A typical 18th-century south-east front of brick and tile-hanging seems to have been added on to a 16th-century house; the main rooms have panelling without mitres, of the Elizabethan period, that in the dining-room being painted green in the time of George IV and not since redecorated. (fn. 1) Part of a Charles I bedstead has been inserted above the drawing-room fire-place, which has a 1635 fireback with the royal arms, and iron dogs of similar date. The dining-room fire-place has a four-centred head with bold roll-and cavetto-moulded jambs, of c. 1540; a fine beam in this room has similar mouldings; the overmantel is of the late 17th century. The hall shows six-panelled doors of the 18th century, and a staircase of like date with delicate turned balusters and columnar newel. There are Georgian out-buildings at the back, and a tithe barn of c. 1600.

The Hooke, the residence of Colonel Tillard, has an extensive park. Grimm's drawing of c. 1780, (fn. 2) from the north, suggests a house of late-17th-century date with hipped roofs, mullioned and transomed windows, with some sashes, and a triangular door-hood. This block, modernized, is now central and has a balustraded top. The west front, with two bay projections, seems to have been added early in the 18th century, but the semi-hexagonal bays are unusual for this period. The crenellations (shown by Grimm) may have replaced a hipped roof in the days of the first Gothic revival. The dining-room is lined with large panelling with bolection mouldings and dado in Wren style. The staircase has twisted balusters, flat-topped moulded handrail, and dado panelling; it dates from c. 1700. A window on the top floor retains a portion of late-17th-century glass, with a Pegasus, said to come from the Inner Temple. Another later fragment elsewhere has a stag's head and crown.

On a road from Newick which joins the Lewes road by an inn south of the old church is 'Furze Grove', a timber-framed house of the 16th century, considerably restored. It shows Georgian brick with timber-framing, partly tile-hung, above. There are wide lintelled fire-places on both floors, a 16th-century partition with chamfered uprights and moulded top, stop-chamfered ceiling-beams, and a strutted king-post in the roof. Farther north-east is a 17th-century tile-hung and brick house of three bays, now forming two cottages, having chamfered beams and a central chimney-stack. A thatched cottage east of it has timber-framing concealed by plaster and brick; a turned pendant, probably reset, remains on the east gable end. Ades, on the east side of the road, is a substantial Georgian house. (fn. 3) 'Cinders', on the same side, has timber-framing in square panels over a later brick base, and contains four bays of two stories. There is a good hipped gable, timberframed, at the west end, and a modern addition to the east. The hall has a wide oak-lintelled fire-place with recesses at the back, off a passage. South of it projects a room having late-17th-century panelling; the room above has a three-light casement window with original bars. There is a wide fire-place above that in the hall, and stop-chamfered beams are exposed, also wide baulks to the first floor. A small room on ground-level has a floor of Sussex marble.

'Ovendean', a cottage near South Common Post Office, on the east side of the Lewes road, was built in the late 16th century, of T-shaped plan. Some timber framework shows externally, the rest is of brick and weather-boarding. There is a central chimney-stack with wide fire-places; stop-chamfered ceiling-beams are exposed, and in the north wall of the dairy is a series of square brick recesses. Two original windows remain in the first floor, one with an ogee moulding.

Shelley's Farm, a mile east of the Lewes road, is an early-17th-century house, refaced with Georgian brick, but retaining its original doors and wide fireplaces.

Longridge Farm, on North Common, dates probably from the 16th century, the period of an external chimney-stack on a north gable. A 17th-century central stack serves a wide lintelled fire-place. The original stair remains, but is closed to the attics. An original window still exists on the north side, and wide panels show internally near it, but the north front is plastered above the Georgian brick and has weather-boarding on the gable.

Wapsbourne lies in the extreme north of the parish. The house is a fine example of 17th-century (fn. 4) building in timber-framing and brick, of L-shaped plan, (fn. 5) with ends extending north and east. Apart from the extravagant number of chimneys (eleven) the most interesting features of the exterior are found on the inner faces of the L, and especially the north gable end. The timberframing here shows completely, on a brick base, with square panels of plastered wattle-and-daub. The northern bay window has a base of thin bricks with roll-moulded plinth, and an original five-light window to the first floor, with filleted-roll frame, mullions, and transoms, and old glass in diamond-shaped quarries. In the ground-floor window mullions of the later 17th century have been inserted, making four lights of small oblong panes. The attic projection, with a four-light window, is supported on this bay and on carved scroll brackets. The moulded barge-boards and central turned pendant are original. The east face of the L has no windows except at the southern end, where there is a later 17th-century three-light on the ground floor, and a small one, with filleted-roll mullions and oblong panes, over a modern brick porch, which contains a nail-studded door, re-used. The north face contains a late-17th-century four-light window, and above to the west an original five-light.

The gabled east end is of brick above a roll-moulded plinth, and the windows on three floors are of late17th-century three-light type. There is a moulded barge-board and a finial almost identical with that on the north end. The south chimney projection, in slightly wider brick, was probably added in the second quarter of the 17th century. There is a straight joint with the later east gable. There are two groups of three shafts, diagonally set and hiding the original dormers. In the stack is a later window with segmental arch on the ground level, and a blocked opening on each floor above. West of the chimney-stack, a brick porch was probably added at the same time, the doorway within having an original flat arch and key-stone. A window with like treatment has been blocked above the porch, and there are similar heads to a central window on each floor of this end. Between each floor is a rollmoulded string-course, with tiles on the upper chamfer. The west wall has two diagonal chimneys, similar, but not projecting. Near the north-west angle is a chimney projection with three more diagonally set shafts and a roll-topped plinth below; a low modern addition projects to the north. The roofing is in Horsham slate.

The largest of the many fire-places is of the usual wide oak-lintelled type, on the south wall of the ground floor, and has late-17th-century cupboards inserted in the jambs. There are original cupboards under the north bay window at first-floor level. Chamfered ceiling beams with leaf stops are exposed, and there are several old plank doors, one to the staircase having an original grating. The staircase is of newel type, with turned finials at attic level.

Evidence of former iron-works in the eastern part of the parish is shown by such names as 'le synder', a tract of common enclosed about 1623, (fn. 6) and Cinders Farm and Cinder Hill.


Chailey presumably formed part of the 7 knights' fees held of the honor in 1242–3 by Hugh de Plaiz in Iford and Wapsbourne, (fn. 7) which in 1439, after the division of the honor, were held as 7 fees in Wapsbourne, Chailey, Iford, and Worth, by the heirs of Richard Plaiz, of Elizabeth, Lady Bergavenny. (fn. 8) The subsequent history of the overlordship presumably followed that of the manor of Wapsbourne (q.v.).

In 1284–5 'Chagelegh' was in the king's hands during the minority of Giles de Plaiz. (fn. 9) The earliest reference to a manor of CHAILEY, however, occurs in 1256, when Alice de Plaiz, widow of Hugh, sought one-third of it as dower from her step-son Richard de Plaiz. (fn. 10) From this time onwards, with the exception of one reappearance in the hands of Sir Roger Lewknor in 1497, (fn. 11) the manor disappears from view. It seems probable that its identity became merged in that of Warningore (q.v.). (fn. 12) A manor of Newick and Chailey was conveyed in 1659 by William Boord to George Butterwick (fn. 13) and in 1683 by William Boord and his wife Joan to Timothy Burrell. (fn. 14) There is no further trace of Chailey as a manor.

BALNEATH (fn. 15) [Balneth (xvi to xviii cent.)] formed part of the possessions of St. Pancras Priory at Lewes until the Dissolution. (fn. 16) It was perhaps identical with the land which William de Warenne granted to the priory about 1095, being his demesne land 'from Beuehorne (Bevern) Bridge to Cheagele (Chailey) (fn. 17) from the east road to the road beside the Bridge of Hamwde', which seems roughly to correspond with its present situation. The tenants of this manor had to carry 600 cartloads of wood yearly to the priory from Homewood and Balneath Wood. (fn. 18) After the Dissolution Balneath, with the other possessions of the priory, was granted first to Thomas Cromwell in 1538, and later, in 1541, to Anne of Cleves for her life. (fn. 19) The reversion of the manor was granted in 1552 to Sir William Goring, (fn. 20) who died in 1554. His son Sir Henry obtained possession of it, (fn. 21) and Balneath remained in the Goring family without a break until the end of the 19th century, (fn. 22) being purchased from them about 1900 by Sir William Grantham, K.C., from whom it descended to his son William Wilson Grantham, esq., V.D., K.C., J.P., the present owner. The custom of Borough English obtained in this manor. (fn. 23)

Goring. Argent a cheveron between three rings gules.

WAPSBOURNE [Weplesburn (xii cent.); Werplesburn (xiii cent.); Warplesbourne (xv cent.); Wappesbourne, Wapyllyssborne, Warpesborn (xvi cent.)] formed part of the 7 fees held by the family of Plaiz, of the honor of Lewes, (fn. 24) and the overlordship descended with the Bergavenny third of the honor after 1439. (fn. 25)

It is first mentioned in 1197, when Ralph de Plaiz granted a pond and watercourse there to Maud de Dive and her son Hugh. (fn. 26) Wapsbourne descended in the same manner as Iford (q.v.), (fn. 27) Worth, and Warningore (fn. 28) until it came to Roger Lewknor, who in 1538 sold it to Sir John Harecourt. (fn. 29) By 1559 it was divided into five parts, the holders being John Woodland and Agnes, Robert Danyell and Elizabeth, Richard Martyn and Joan, Anthony Morley and Bridget, and Thomas Rickson and Mary. George Goring acquired two-fifths from Martyn and Danyell in 1567 and 1568, but sold one of them to John Frend in 1577. At the end of the century Richard Scrase purchased two-fifths from Richard Frend and Thomas Rickson, and Anthony Morley sold his share to John and Edward Holmewood. (fn. 30) Finally in 1605 all five shares were acquired from Richard and Tuppin Scrase, Edward Holmewood, William Carpenter, and Robert Baker, by David Middleton, who held the manor of the Castle of Lewes for one knight's fee. (fn. 31) From David, Wapsbourne passed to his son Lewknor Middleton, who was holding it in 1653. (fn. 32) By 1677 it had come into the possession of Henry Norton, who died about 1681, leaving it to his three daughters, Sarah Vernetty, Anne Corbett, and Mary Norton. Sarah bequeathed her portion to Mary in 1716, (fn. 33) and in 1726 Edmund Corbett, son of Anne, conveyed his third to Anne, widow of George, 13th Lord Bergavenny, (fn. 34) who in 1744 married John, Lord de la Warr. (fn. 35) In 1750 the latter acquired the remaining two-thirds from Abel Walter and Jane, (fn. 36) who had presumably acquired them from Mary Norton's trustees. Twenty years later John, Earl de la Warr, their son, (fn. 37) conveyed Wapsbourne to John Baker Holroyd, 1st baron and subsequently Earl of Sheffield. (fn. 38) His son, the second earl, was holding it in 1823. (fn. 39) With the rest of the Sheffield property, it passed on the death of the third and last Earl of Sheffield in 1909 to Lord Stanley of Alderley, by whom it was sold to Arthur Gilstrap Soames, who died in 1935. His widow, Mrs. Soames, holds it for life, with reversion to his nephew, Captain Soames.


The church of ST. PETER is built of sandstone rubble, plastered, with ashlar dressings, except that the east wall of the south aisle is of sandstone ashlar, as is the modern extension. The west tower has a shingled spire, and the chancel roof is tiled; otherwise Horsham slates are used throughout. The nave has been modernized; the chancel and west tower, of similar width to it, were built in the middle of the 13th century, and a south aisle was added in the late 14th century. The existing south arcade is modern, together with the double north aisle and chancel arch.

The chancel (27 ft. 10 in. × 15 ft. 8 in.) shows much of its original mid-13th-century character, though it has been restored. The east end has contemporary right-angled buttresses of two stages and plinth; the east window has now three lancets, but the heads of the lights are probably a 17th-century simplification, as they have coarse mullion-like filleted rolls on the inside; also the south arc of the central and taller lancet is asymmetrical. No doubt the window had a traceried head originally, bound by the segmental enclosing arch of roll and hollow mouldings. The hood has an undercut roll and carved head stops; further mutilated sculpture remains at the south spring-stone. The window has two internal orders with six shafts in all, having triple-roll bases and stiff-stalk and other capitals; the abaci are circular in plan, of double roll section. There are four shafts to the lights, with an enclosing arch moulded like that on the external wall. The rear-arch is also segmental-pointed and supported on similar jamb shafts; it has roll and fillet mouldings and the hood, an undercut roll, has carved head stops. The north wall has three original lancets with chamfered heads; each has a segmental-pointed rear-arch with double roll mouldings, supported on jamb shafts similar to those in the east window; the capitals are various, foliated, and the easternmost has a bird and dragon carving. The south wall has three similar lancets, the west being slightly longer. In Sharpe's drawing of 1805, (fn. 40) however, it is short and has below it an ogee light with label; the middle lancet is shown with a pointed doorway underneath (mentioned by Hussey in 1852 as blocked). The piscina is restored and has a trefoil head and eight-petalled drain. The internal string-course was added at the restoration. The chancel arch is 19th-century work.

The nave (40 ft. 10 in. × 15 ft. 7 in.) retains no original features. The double north aisle (with two arcades of three bays) is peculiar, and of two dates in the 19th century; there is a west annexe to each. The south arcade (of two bays) was built in 1878–9, when the galleries over the south aisle and west end were removed. East of it is a modern arch to the organ at the end of the south aisle.

The south aisle (42 ft. 7 in. × 7ft. 2 in.) dates to the late 14th century, but was greatly restored in 1878–9. The east wall is old and retains a contemporary window of two ogee trefoiled lights; the chamfered label is intact except for its returned ends. Above is a later square window with chamfered head and jambs: it seems old but does not appear in Sharpe's drawing. Of the south wall, the portion west of the porch is original, but eastwards only the base is old and two rough buttresses on either side of a modern door; the rest of the wall was rebuilt in 1878–9 with two modern windows in each gable. The west wall is old, but has a modern window; it is continued south in a buttress.


The porch is modern on an older base.

The west tower (15 ft. 4 in. square) is of late-13thcentury date, and undivided to roof level. It has a pyramidal shingled spire nearly its own height. At the western angles are contemporary buttresses similar to those of the chancel; these extend about half-way up the tower. The tower arch was restored in 1878–9, but the old chamfered outer order was retained. A modern screen divides the tower from the nave. The west wall has a 13th-century doorway of two obtusepointed chamfered orders; internally it has a segmentalpointed head with jambs chamfered likewise, and an equilateral rear-arch. North of this is a round-headed recess which may have been a stoup but is now blocked by a safe. The north wall has a 13th-century lancet, blocked externally, with chamfered, segmental-pointed rear-arch; the south lancet is unblocked; the west window is a modern double lancet. Above are modern circular windows with sexfoil cusping, and modern gabled louvres in the spire to north and south, with clock-faces to east and west.

The roofs are modern. In the south aisle some old rafters are re-used.

There is panelling of 17th-century date in the vestry at the west end of the northernmost aisle.

There is an 18th-century Royal Arms, and a weather vane dated 1772.

There are six bells—one by Thomas Mears of London—1810, the rest by Samuel Knight of London—1737. (fn. 41)

The plate includes a cup (1871 hall-mark), chalice (1895 hall-mark), paten on a foot (1874 hall-mark), and two patens of 1895 hall-mark. (fn. 42)

There are several yews in the churchyard, of which two are especially fine and surrounded by seating.

The registers date from 1538.


The advowson of the rectory of Chailey followed the descent of the manor of Warningore (q.v.), (fn. 43) being held by the families of de Plaiz, (fn. 44) Dalyngrigge, and Lewknor, (fn. 45) until after the death of Constance Glenham, daughter and co-heir of Sir Roger Lewknor, in 1635. (fn. 46) It was then apparently acquired by David Middleton, of Wapsbourne, for Lewknor Middleton owned it in 1653 and 1654. (fn. 47) In 1660, however, presentation was made by Sir William Wheeler, and in the following year by the Crown, (fn. 48) after which it frequently changed hands. Mr. Wilson and Mr. Nevill jointly presented in 1676, (fn. 49) and in 1692 the advowson was conveyed by the Rev. William Rootes to Richard Fowle. (fn. 50) In 1713 Thomas Porter presented; in 1753 Elizabeth Porter, and in 1762 the Rev. Thomas Porter. (fn. 51) Later the patronage was acquired by the Rev. Sir Henry Poole, bart., rector of the parish, who died in 1821, (fn. 52) and in 1835 it was held by his widow and their two daughters Harriet Hepburn and Charlotte Elizabeth Blencowe. (fn. 53) It then descended in the families of Hepburn and Blencowe until 1906, (fn. 54) after which, on the extinction of the Hepburn line, it was held entire by Mr. Robert Campion Blencowe until his death in 1936, when it passed to his niece, Mrs. Tillard, daughter of Mr. John Blencowe.


Robert Campion Blencowe, by will proved 26 May 1936, devised to the Parish Council of Chailey, for the benefit of the inhabitants, a piece of land at Chailey Green, together with the reading-room and other buildings erected thereon.


  • 1. Information from the Rev. H. Grepe. Horsfield, writing in 1827, speaks of recent 'considerable repairs'. The bay window to the north is a modern addition. The chimneys are 18th-century or later.
  • 2. Add. MS. 5677, fol. 55.
  • 3. For Grimm's drawing of 'Eades' see Add. MS. 5677, fol. 26.
  • 4. A pendant on the north gable bears what is said to be the date 1606 (Add. MS. 5684, fol. 157), the year after the manor was acquired by David Middleton.
  • 5. Foundations found in the lawn suggest an east wing, possibly never completed, to form a half-H plan.
  • 6. a Bk. of J. Rowe, 8.
  • 7. Bk. of Fees, 690.
  • 8. Bk. of J. Rowe, 190.
  • 9. Feud. Aids, vi, 130; Farrer, Honors and Knights' Fees, iii, 337.
  • 10. Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. vii), 607.
  • 11. Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 558, no. 35.
  • 12. In Chailey parish until 1934, when it was transferred to East Chiltington.
  • 13. Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xx), 317; Recov. R. Hil. 1659, no. 102.
  • 14. Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xx), 317; Recov. R. 35 Chas. II, ro. 166; cf. Comber, Suss. Gen. (Ardingly), 21.
  • 15. The lands of this manor are nearly all in Chailey parish, although the manor house is just in Barcombe.
  • 16. Dugdale, Mon. v, 18.
  • 17. Lewes Chart. (Suss. Rec. Soc., xxxviii), 29.
  • 18. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, g. 305 (70).
  • 19. Ibid. xiii (i), g. 384 (74); ibid. xvi, g. 503 (32).
  • 20. Suss. Arch. Coll. xxxv, 10.
  • 21. Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv, 480 and 481.
  • 22. Ibid. xiv, 483, 486; xix, 79, 80. Add. MS. 5683, fol. 33; Cal. Deeds W. G. Lewes, 11–27, 45.
  • 23. Suss. Arch. Coll. vi, 179.
  • 24. Bk. of Fees, 690.
  • 25. Bk. of J. Rowe, 190.
  • 26. Suss. Rec. Soc. ii, 8.
  • 27. In Swanborough Hund.
  • 28. Farrer, Honors and Knights' Fees, iii, 336–7; Suss. Rec. Soc., vii, 60; Add. Ch. 20087.
  • 29. Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 445.
  • 30. Ibid. 465.
  • 31. Ibid.; Bk. of J. Rowe (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv), 195. The fifth name here is given as Vicarye instead of Baker. David Middleton's mother was Jane, daughter of Richard Lewknor, descendant of a colateral branch of the family.
  • 32. Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 466.
  • 33. Add. MS. 5684, fol. 156.
  • 34. Feet of F. Suss. East. 12 Geo. I.
  • 35. G.E.C. Complete Peerage (2nd ed.), i, 38–9.
  • 36. Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 340.
  • 37. G.E.C. loc. cit.
  • 38. Ibid.; Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 390.
  • 39. Recov. R. Trin. 4 Geo. IV, ro. 386.
  • 40. In the Library of the Society of Antiquaries. For Lambert's drawing c. 1780—see Add. MS. 5677, fol. 55.
  • 41. Suss. Arch. Coll. xvi, 204.
  • 42. Ibid. lv, 169.
  • 43. Since 1934 in East Chiltington (q.v.).
  • 44. Cal. Inq. p.m. i, 711; iv, 121; vii, 49.
  • 45. Cal. Close, 1392–6, p. 499; Ch. Inq. p.m. 21 Hen. VI; ibid. (Ser. 2), lxxv, 48.
  • 46. Ibid. cccclxxv, 25; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 47. Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 466; Recov. R. Mich. 1654, ro. 226.
  • 48. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 49. Ibid.
  • 50. Feet of F. Suss. Mich. 4 Will. and Mary.
  • 51. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 52. G.E.C. Baronetage, iv, 93.
  • 53. Horsfield, Sussex, i, 225.
  • 54. Add. MS. 39469, fols. 78–81; Chich. Dioc. Cal.