Ascotts is approached along a trackway leading from the south side of Crawley Down Road in Felbridge, situated on the Surrey/Sussex border.  Historically this was part of the borough of Wardley in the manor of Broadhurst.


Today the property comprises of a dwelling house in a rural position set in fifteen and half acres of land comprising of a formal garden, less formal grounds and paddocks.  The garden lies to the north and west of the house being surrounded by more informal grounds planted with mature trees.  To the south of the house and garden there is an area of woodland with a central stream running through it containing a medieval moated site that is a scheduled monument registered by English Heritage no. 20006.


Paddocks with stabling and associated outbuildings are situated west of the trackway, opposite the house, with another paddock located further south along the track over a small bridge.   This paddock slopes upwards and is also of archaeological interest, encompassing earthworks thought to be the site of a deserted mediaeval village, Matthew’s Barn and a well (lost in the late 18th century), a potential site of a Roman bloomery and a section of the 1st century London to Brighton Roman road.


This document will not attempt to trace the areas of archaeological interest, only the history of the holding from its earliest known name of Cockets.   The document will look at the lives of some of the people who have been associated with the property and their connections with families local to the area living on Felbridge Common and Hedgecourt Common in the parish of East Grinstead and further afield.  It will also try and track the development of the Cockets property to the substantial house and associated lands now known as Ascotts.



The first surviving document referring to the property as Cockets is found in the Court Books for the manor of Broadhurst in 1685.  The entry refers to the admittance of Thomas Cooper and his son John, for ‘a parcel of the waste called Felbridge and a cottage, barn, stable and garden in [the parish of] East Grinstead, adjoining land called Gulledge Farm’ at rent of 2s 6d.  The entry states that the property was ‘the same place where Cocket formerly inhabited’.  Sadly there is no first name given and no Court Books for the manor of Broadhurst survive before 1623 to identify this person, but form the 1685 entry it is obvious that someone by the surname of Cocket had held the property prior to the admittance of Thomas Cooper and his son John.


Cocket does not appear in the surviving Court Books for the manor of Broadhurst implying that the family no longer held property within the manor from 1623.  There are however, several entries for members of the Cocket family in the registers for St Swithun’s Church, East Grinstead; the earliest being in 1579 with the birth of Agnes Cocket.  However, the majority date from 1606 onwards implying that the Cocket family may have moved into the area.


The first Cocket family to be pieced together from the registers include Thomas married to Ann (surname unknown) and three recorded children; Anne born in 1606, Richard born in 1616/7 and William born in 1619, all baptised at St Swithun’s Church.  Little else is recorded about this family except a possible marriage in East Grinstead between Ann Cocket and Richard Deynty on 20th October 1636.


A second Cocket family, a generation younger, can be pieced together and includes Thomas Cocket who married Katherine Harris on 10th November 1633.  There is no surviving birth date for Thomas so he could be the aforementioned Thomas who had re-married or more likely, a son of his whose baptism entry does not survive.


Thomas and Katherine had at least nine children including; Ann born in 1634 but who died an infant in March 1635, Katherine born in 1635/6, Thomas born in 1637/8, John born in 1640/1, Dorothy born in 1642, a second John born in 1643 (presumably the first John died an infant before 1643 but there is no registry of his death), Anne born in 1646, Judith born in 1649 and Henry born in 1651.  Sadly Thomas’ wife Katherine died in October 1656 leaving a fairly large, young family.  However, on 23rd June 1657, Thomas married Ann Belingham, (formerly Piggot, the widow of Richard Belingham who had died in March 1656).


Sadly, without any further surviving documents or records, it may never be known which Cocket gave his name to the property but who ever they were was probably responsible for the enclosing the a piece of Felbridge Common and the construction of a cottage, barn and stable to form a small holding.  What is documented is that in 1685 Thomas Cooper and his son John were admitted to this property with the proviso that ‘John Cooper and his heirs, for any time thereafter, do not erect or build any new foundation or building upwards on the unadulterated land, in the same place where Cocket inhabited’.


Cooper family

Fortunately the Court Books for the manor of Broadhurst have provided the full name of Thomas Cooper.  Thomas Cooper already appeared in the Court Books in 1675 and 1677 for ‘default in Wardley’ where he was fined for not attending the manorial Court sessions.  However, this does not mean he was not in the area prior to 1675 just that he does not appear in the Court Books.


Thomas Cooper, as established above, was admitted to the property called Cockets, along with his son John, in 1685, the property consisting of a cottage, barn, stable and garden.  Sadly it has not yet been possible to establish when or where Thomas was born or when and to whom he married but he had at least two sons, John and Richard, referred to in his will.


John (birth date not yet established) married Jane Marten on 27th June 1676 at Horsted Keynes, and they had at least five children including; Mary born in 1679, John born in 1680, Sarah born in 1682/3, William born in 1685 and James (birth date not yet established), the first three baptised at St Swithun’s Church, East Grinstead.  Within three years of being admitted to Cockets, John had died and his wife Jane and youngest son William were admitted to Cockets in 1688.


A little more can be gleaned about the Cooper family from the will of Thomas Cooper.  Thomas was recorded as a husbandman (one whose occupation is husbandry, a farmer), and John was recorded as a carpenter.  However, no other children or the name of Thomas’ wife are recorded in the will and John is recorded as ‘late’ implying that the only surviving member of Thomas’ family was his son Richard when the will was written in 1695.  Thomas left ‘the cottage or tenement, barn, stable and 3 acres of land where now I dwell in East Grinstead’ to his grandson John (eldest son of John late of East Grinstead) to be administered for him until ‘the said John attains the age of 21’, which would be July 1701.  As a proviso, should grandson John die before reaching the age of twenty-one then the property was to pass to grandson William, John’s bother and second eldest son of John late of East Grinstead.


It would appear that Jane Cooper (widow of John, daughter-in-law of Thomas and mother of grandson John) held Cockets until 1724 when the Court Books for the manor of Broadhurst record that John was admitted to the property.  John and his wife Elizabeth held Cockets until 1749 when they surrendered the property to John Rolfe, husbandman of East Grinstead.


Between 1710 and 1724 there are several entries in the Court Books for the manor of Broadhurst referring to John Cooper and encroachments of the waste of Hedgecourt Common and the erection of a cottage and one acre at a rent of 2/-.  This cottage was in the vicinity of Oak Farm and in 1715, after the third proclamation of the death of a John Cooper in 1712, this property was  forfeited to the lord of the manor and leased to the Overseers of East Grinstead for twenty-one years [for further information see Handout, Oak Farm, JIC/SJC 03/13].  This John Cooper was not the John who held Cockets and unfortunately it has still not been possible to determine the relationships between the two John Coopers.

John Rolfe/Relfe

There is nothing conclusive found on John Rolfe/Relfe other than in 1752 he secured a loan of £65 against Cockets from William Harman, a bricklayer of East Grinstead, and surrendered the property to William Harman for the sum of £50 in 1758.


William Harman

There is a little more information about William Harman than his predecessor John Rolfe/Relfe at Cockets.  William married Sarah Saunders on 1st January 1752 at Fleet Prison, a venue renowned for ‘quick’ marriages.  William and Sarah had at least three children; the first was William born in March 1752, Sarah born in 1754 and Joseph born in 1756, all baptised at St Swithun’s Church, East Grinstead.   Unfortunately it has not been possible to establish any further details about Sarah Saunders but it is a local name with members of the Saunders family occupying Gullege in the mid to late 1700’s [for further information see Handout, Gullege, SJC 03/02] and the property at Oak Farm in the early 1800’s [for further information see Handout, Oak Farm, JIC/SJC 03/13].


It is interesting that William Harman becomes associated with Cockets in 1752 implying that he wanted to settle there with his very recent wife and son.  During their occupation of the property William used it as collateral against two loans, the first for £30 was taken out with John Jenner a yeoman of Lingfield in 1752 and the second for £80 was taken out with William Vallance a husbandman of Worth in 1761.  The first loan was probably used as part of the £50 asked of by John Relf/Rolfe for the surrender of Cockets and was repaid by 1758, and the second loan was discharged in 1772.


In 1761, William and Sarah Harman appear in the Court Books for the manor of Broadhurst surrendering Cockets consisting of ‘messuage, barn, stable, garden and 3 acres of land’ to the use of Henry Carter, a husbandman of East Grinstead.


Carter family

It is not known when or where Henry Carter was born but he was married to Mary (surname not known) and they would appear to have no children, or at least none that were surviving when Henry wrote his will in 1776.  From Henry’s will it is evident that he had a brother Thomas and several nephews and nieces, all of whom were from Catfield in Sussex, where Thomas had married Elizabeth Lennard in 1754 and settled.  Thomas and Elizabeth had Mary born in 1756, Elizabeth born in 1759, Ann born in 1760, Henry born in 1763, Philly born in 1764, John and Thomas born in 1770.


Henry Carter died in 1777 holding Cockets, listed as an inn holder of East Grinstead, and his niece Hannah Carter (youngest daughter of Henry’s brother Thomas [deceased]) was Henry’s next heir, but Henry’s wife Mary brought his will to court and remained in the property until her death in 1785.  On the death of Mary Carter, her sister-in-law Elizabeth (widow of Thomas Carter) was admitted to the property for the rest of her life when it was to go to her four surviving daughters, Mary, Elizabeth, Ann and Hannah.


It is interesting to note that Henry Carter, victualler of East Grinstead, is recorded in the Court Books for the manor of South Malling Lindfield in 1773 when John Rowland surrendered, for the sum of £65, his property described as ‘all that site of a messuage or tenement lately burnt down and 2 acres of customary land thereto belonging with the appurtenances heretofore on the waste of the Lord near Felbridge Common in Worth paying yearly 12d’.  This piece of land is now within the site of Michaelmas Farm off Copthorne Road, Felbridge, the dwelling having burnt down sometime between March 1766 and April 1768 [for further details see Handout, Michaelmas Farm, JIC/SJC 07/09].  The Henry Carter referred to in this court entry was probably the same Henry Carter who held Cockets.


Henry Carter’s sister-in-law Mary died in 1804 and three of her daughters were admitted to Cockets, Elizabeth (wife of John Moon), Ann (wife of Charles Whitehead) and Hannah (wife of Stephen Blundell).  The fourth daughter, Mary had married William Russell but had pre-deceased her mother so was represented by her widower William Russell on behalf of their son Samuel Russell who was still a minor.


In 1805, the three sisters each surrendered their three quarter ownerships of Cockets to the use of William Belton of Horne, a husbandman, but it was not until 1812 that Samuel Russell (son of the fourth sister, Mary deceased) surrendered the last quarter and William Belton took over the whole ownership of Cockets, William then listed as yeoman [a man holding and cultivating a small landed estate; a freeholder] of East Grinstead.


Belton family

The Belton family associated with Cockets originated from Horne in Surrey, being descended from William Belton and his wife Mary née Luckin who married in Horne on 19th April 1796.  William Belton, who gained a three quarter interest in Cockets in 1805 and acquired the total property in 1812, was the son of George and Susannah Belton and was born in May 1774, one of at least two children, the second being Mary born in August 1785, both baptised at Horne.


William and Mary Belton had at least eleven children including; George born in December 1796, William born in 1799, Stephen born in 1801, Mary born in 1803, Milly born in 1805, Elizabeth born in 1807, John born in 1809, James born in 1811, Jane born in 1813, Daniel born in 1815 and Richard born in 1818, the first seven baptised in Horne and the last four at St Swithun’s Church, East Grinstead.  Of the children, George became a husbandman of Horne and married Mary Bradford; William married Mary Holland[s] whose family occupied a small dwelling on Hedgecourt Common now part of Llanberis Farm on Crawley Down Road [for further information see Handout, Llanberis Farm, SJC 01/07]; Stephen became a farmer of Yew Tree Farm, Felbridge, [for further information see Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08] and married Sarah Holland[s], sister of Sarah (see above); Milly Belton married Thomas Fowle (the surname re-appears at Cockets in 1841 and 1851, see below); John was an agricultural labourer at Whitewood, Horne, and Horne Court Hill, and married Elizabeth Lack; James farmed at Cockets, Sandhill Farm in Crawley Down and later at Felcot Farm, Felbridge, [for further information see Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08]; and Daniel was a farm labourer at Rabies, Newchapel, and married Mary Bradford.


It would appear that although William Belton acquired a three quarter interest in Cockets in 1805 he was not living at the property as he does not appear in the East Grinstead census for 1811.  However, his eighth and subsequent children were baptised in East Grinstead implying that he had taken up residence later in 1811 and the 1821 census records his household consisting of four males and three females.  William Belton was still there in the 1831 census and the 1841 census records that William Belton and his family, consisting of his wife Mary, son James, daughter Ann and Ann Fowle (William’s grand-daughter, daughter of Milly) occupied what was then called Cacketts Farm, with Elizabeth Daniels and her family occupying a second cottage within the holding.


The Daniels family living in the second of the cottages at Cockets consisted of Elizabeth and children: Mary Anne born in 1827, William born in 1830, Francis born in 1832, Edmund born in 1834, Thomas born in 1837 and Jessie born in 1840.  Husband Edward Daniels was not recorded at home (although he appears in the 1831 census), nor were children John born in 1823 and Edward born in 1825.  The Daniels family did not reside there long and by 1851 had moved to Blandford Farm in Horne, Surrey, and had been joined by a tenth child, Frederick born about 1841.


However, Edward Daniels is recorded in the 1831 census in the adjacent household to the Belton family implying that the second cottage had been constructed at Cockets by that date and even in 1821 the list of householders suggests that a Richard Tows and his family were living in the second cottage.  Unfortunately the list of householder’s names on the 1821 census bears no resemblance to those in 1821 and it is impossible to determine who was occupying Cockets or even if the second cottages had been constructed by that date.  What is apparent is that the proviso on the property of 1885 not to ‘erect or build any new foundation or building upwards on the unadulterated land, in the same place where Cocket inhabited’ had been withdrawn, overthrown or ignored.

The Worth tithe apportionment of 1842 lists William Belton as the owner and occupier of an unnamed property, whilst the East Grinstead tithe of 1842 records ‘Cockets’ as owned and occupied by John Belton, possibly William’s son John, although he was farming at Whitewood in Horne in 1841.

Nos. ref. to the Plan


State of Cultivation

Quantities in Statute Measure











Part of a Close







Pasture field




























Two Houses & Gardens







East Grinstead







Part of Orchard














Arable Field







Part of Meadow















Plot 204 was shown as un-granted common land in the South Malling court records of 1830, so it must have been granted in the following decade to be included within Cockets in the tithe. It is evident from the description given in the tithe that Cockets had acquired a second dwelling since 1812 and that the holding had risen to just over four and half acres.  The break down of cultivation suggests that Cockets was operating as a mixed farm with any arable crops grown going as animal feed to supplement the hay from the meadow land and grass from the pasture land.


William Belton (born 1769) died in April 1846 and in 1847 when his will was proved, his property was described as ‘a messauge, barn, stable, garden and 3 acres of land at Felbridge Common called Cockett and also 1 acre, parcel of the waste’, which would make up the four and half acres referred to in 1842.  William Chapman, a draper of East Grinstead, went to the court with William’s will within which he had been left the property in trust being instructed to sell it as soon as possible, and to allocate £50 to William’s wife Mary and the remainder to their children.


It would appear that William Chapman had not felt it prudent to sell the property immediately as in 1851 both cottages at Cockets were in the occupation of Belton families.  James still occupied the original dwelling with his wife Mary (born in Worth, Sussex in about 1817), together with his niece Ann Fowle who was recorded as ‘servant out of place’ from Croydon.  The adjacent cottage was in the occupation of Mary Belton, widow of William (born 1796) who had died in 1847 listed as a yeoman of East Grinstead.  In 1851 Mary was recorded as a charwoman, born in Godstone in 1810, and living with her were sons; James born in 1837 (an agricultural labourer), Henry born in 1839 (a plough boy) and Thomas born in 1843 (a scholar), along with granddaughter Mary Jane Belton born in 1848.


Mary (formerly Hollands) had married William (son of William and brother of James) on 11th May 1823 in Worth, Sussex.  Apart from the three aforementioned children they also had: William born in 1823, Mary born in 1825, George born in 1826, Ann born in 1827, Milley born in 1829, Jane born in 1830, Harriet born in 1832 and Elizabeth born in 1834.  As a point of interest, George was recorded as deaf, married Jane Roffey (another local family), worked as an estate worker for the Gatty family of Felbridge Place [for further information see Handout, More Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, Estate Workers of the Gatty Family, SJC, 11/03], and ended his days living in Rowplatt Lane, being buried at St John’s, Felbridge, in 1907.


On 26th June 1851, William Chapman carried out the request of William Belton and sold Cockets, including the 1 acre parcel of waste and cottage, to Thomas Sayers, a farmer of Burstow, Surrey, for the sum of £220.  Thomas was admitted to the property in 1852.


Sayers family

Thomas Sayers was born about 1805 in Crowhurst, Surrey.  In 1841 he was living in Paygate Lane, Horley, Surrey, and on 25th May 1842 married Jane Fowle, the daughter of Richard and Amelia Fowle of East Grinstead.  Jane had been born in 1811 and was the sister of Thomas Fowle who married Milly Belton (see above), the parents of Ann Belton who was residing at Cockets in the 1841 and 1851 census (see above).


Thomas and Jane Sayers had at least four children including; Elizabeth born about 1844, Sarah Jane born about 1847, Mary Ann born in 1849 and William Henry born in 1851.  The first two girls were born in Horley but were baptised in Burstow, along with Mary Ann on 27th May 1849, whilst William was born and baptised in Burstow.  As a point of interest, Mary Ann married Michael Miles who built Rose Cottages on Crawley Down Road from where Mary Ann died in 1931, being buried with her husband who had pre-deceased her in 1886 and their nine-year old son John who had died in 1889, in the churchyard of St John’s, Felbridge.


In 1851, Thomas Sayers was recorded as a farmer of forty acres at Cole Lands, Burstow, moving to Cockets in 1852, where he remained for the rest of his life.  In 1861 he’d had a career change and was working as a cordwainer, then in 1871 he was listed as a ‘land owner of 6 acres’ and a cordwainer.  In 1881 Thomas was recorded as a ‘cordwainer and farmer of 6¾ acres’, occupations he continued to practise until his death in 1888.  On his death, his son William took over Cockets before selling the property to Ethel Platt some time between 1891 and 1901 when it became known as Ascotts.


During their time at Cockets, the Sayers family had several families residing in the small cottage adjacent to the original cottage.  In 1861 Hacketts Cottage as it was called, was occupied by John Holliday, a sixty-eight year old labourer and his daughter-in-law, Philis Simmons.  In 1871 the Dumsday family had succeeded John Holliday.


William Dumsday was a forty-nine year old widower whose occupation was given as labourer.  William had married Jane Wilson on 18th January 1848 and they had at least eight children including; Henry born in 1848, Matilda born about 1852, Joshua born about 1854, Amelia born about 1857, Fanny Elizabeth born in 1859, Annie born in 1863, Mary Jane born in 1865 and Sarah born in 1868, all born in Worth, Sussex.  Jane had died in January 1870 and in 1871 Matilda had assumed the role of housekeeper for the family.  William died in 1879 and the Dumsday family were succeeded at Cockets Cottage by Sarah Sherlock, a widow who had been born in Worth, Sussex, in about 1808.  Sadly there is no further conclusive information about Sarah except that she died in East Grinstead in 1890, aged eighty-three.


Ethel Platt

As established above, Ethel Platt purchased Cockets/Ascotts from Thomas Sayers some time between 1891 and 1901.  Ethel Beatrice Russell Platt was born on 6th June 1875 at 73, Lancaster Gate, Hyde Park, London, the second daughter of Thomas Platt and his wife Mary Anne Elizabeth Strutt who married on 24th September 1872 at Christ Church, Paddington.  Their other child was Mary Gartside born in 1874.


Thomas, formerly of Tien-Twien [Tianjin], a large trading centre in North China, was a merchant who had been born in about 1817.  Sadly Thomas died in March 1875, never seeing his second daughter Ethel who was born three months after his death.


Ethel’s mother, Mary Anne Elizabeth was the daughter of Joseph Strutt and his wife and cousin Mary Anne Coombe née Rolfe, both bringing a son from their previous marriages as Joseph too was a widower at the time of their marriage.  Mary Anne Elizabeth was born in 1839, aboard ship on the family’s way to Australia, being baptised in 1839 at St Lawrence, Sydney.  Mary Anne Elizabeth married John Donald McLean of Westbrook on 13th September 1855 and they had seven children.  John McLean, born at Condrae House, Kilmuir, on the Isle of Skye, emigrated to Australia in 1837 where he acquired partnerships in fifty stations [large Australian cattle or sheep farms] in Queensland and extensive shipping and mercantile interests in New South Wales.  Sadly John McLean died from a riding accident in 1866 and left the majority of his estate to his wife Mary Anne Elizabeth, who sometime between 1866 and 1875, travelled to England.


In 1881, Mary Anne Elizabeth and her daughters Mary and Ethel were living at Stoberry House in Honiton, Somerset.  In 1883, Mary Anne Elizabeth re-married, Robert Gandell, canon of Wells Cathedral, but he sadly died just four years later, aged sixty nine.  After his death Mary Anne Elizabeth and her two daughters moved to Belgrave Mansions, Hanover Square, London, where Mary Anne Elizabeth died in 1895, which was probably the catalyst for Ethel’s move to Ascotts.


In 1901, Ethel was ‘living on her own means’ at Ascotts and within the household was a visitor named Thomas Hart and a ‘man servant’ named George Chapman.  Two years later Ethel had died, aged just twenty-seven, in a fatal fall from a carriage and was buried in the churchyard of St John’s, Felbridge.


In 1905, Thomas William Hart was recorded in the electoral roll for East Grinstead as living at Ascotts, but it has been impossible to determine any other facts about him except that he was born about 1864, and by 1911 he had been succeeded at Ascotts by James William Mollison


James William Mollison

James William Mollison was born in Inverness, Scotland, in about 1858, the son of James Mollison and his wife Ann née Bisset.  Besides James junior, the Mollison family consisted of a further six children, including; Ann Elizabeth born about 1856,  Hellen Mary born about 1860, William born about 1862, Jessie born about 1864, Andrew Oliver born about 1865 and Robert Bisset born about 1869.  The Mollison family were living at Dochgarroch Lodge, Inverness in 1861 and 1871.  However, by 1881, James junior had moved to Wiltshire and was living at Brunton House, Collingbourne Kingston (along with his sister Hellen), employed as a farm manager.


Sometime between 1881 and 1892, James was living and working in India where he published a book called Agricultural Implement Maker, Isla Works, Ruthven, Meigle, in 1890.  In 1892 he was appointed Technical Director of Agriculture for the Bombay Presidency. In 1900 he published ‘Cultivation of the betel-palm, cardamom and pepper in the Kanara District of the Bombay Presidency’ and rose to the position of Deputy Director of Agriculture in Bombay in 1901, the same year that he published ‘A Text-Book of Indian Agriculture’.  Also in 1901, James married Edith Mary MacRae[McRae] who was born in about 1858, the daughter of James McRae, a tanner and leather manufacturer, and his wife Georgeana, of the Wallington/Cousldon area of Surrey.


It would appear that James and Edith did not have a family and that James spent much of his time in India, and his wife too appears to have travelled with him on occasions.  In 1910 James had another book published entitled ‘A Text-Book of Indian Agriculture Vol. 3: Field and Garden Crops of the Bombay Presidency’ and by 1911 he had been appointed Inspector General of Agriculture in India.  Presumable there was ‘A Text-Book of Indian Agriculture Vol.  2’ but there are no details on when it was published.


In 1911, both James and Edith were in England, living at Ascotts the census entry records that James is ‘on leave’ a ‘British subject’ and that Edith ‘looks after the home’.  Also living within the household is Emily Baldwin, a domestic servant.  A note in the box for the description of the dwelling reads that it had 9 rooms, with the added note ‘House being enlarged and not yet complete’.


James Mollison died at Ascotts in 1927 and his widow moved from the area sometime between 1927 and 1930 when she was succeeded at Ascotts by Captain, Sir Thomas George Segrave.


Sir Thomas George Segrave

Thomas George Segrave was born in Tralee, Ireland, on 26th May 1864, one of four children of Thomas Segrave and his wife Louisa Mary Buckely, daughter of Major William Buckley.  Thomas and Louisa’s other children include; Isobel born in 1856, Henry John born in 1861 and Claire Mary born in 1867.


Thomas George was educated at St Charles’ College, Bayswater, and on board the Cadet School Ship HMS Conway.  Thomas George Segrave married Harriet Rose Daly, daughter of the fourth Baron, Dunsdale of Co. Galway, Ireland, in 1895, and they had one daughter, Maureen Peyton Segrave who married Charles Christopher Gattan Bellew.


Thomas George Segrave fought in the Spanish American war of 1896, and was twice mentioned in dispatches.  He was later attached to the transport service during the Boer War of 1899 to 1902, and also fought in World War I between 1914 and 1918.  At the end of the war he was employed as the Shipping Surveyor and Adviser, for the India Office and in 1923 received a CBE and was in charge of the management of the Indian Prize Ships.


On 25th July 1923, Captain Thomas George Segrave was knighted, and received the US Humane Society’s Gold Medal and the Dutch Humane Society’s Medal, together with the personal thanks of the US Congress and the Queen of Holland, for saving lives at sea.


In 1923, Sir Thomas and Lady Segrave were living at Shenfield in Essex but had moved to Kempshott in Smallfield, Surrey, by 1929, where Lady Harriet died on 23rd May 1930.  Three years later Sir Thomas married Violet Beatrice Fox MBE, the daughter of Charles James Fox of Ladbroke Gardens, London, on 6th April 1933.  Violet was twenty-one years younger than Sir Thomas, being born on 12th February 1885.  In 1920, Violet was employed as an Administrative Assistant in the Ministry of Shipping, possibly this is how she met Thomas Segrave.  Thomas and Violet did not have a family.


It is not known exactly when Sir Thomas Segrave moved to Ascotts but it would have been sometime between May 1930 and April 1933.  In August 1933 Violet Segrave bought the field to the south of the property and it is said locally that ‘Lady Segrave’ had two old properties that once stood on the ridge at Greenfield Shaw demolished as they ‘spoilt her view’.  Also, at some point during their residence at Ascotts the Segraves purchased the moated site and from documented local memories, Sir Thomas would row a boat round the stream system surrounding the site.


Local legend also said that Sir Thomas Segrave was a racing driver but it was actually Henry O’Neil de Hane Segrave, the grandson of Sir Thomas’ uncle Henry Segrave, who was the racing driver.  He was famous for setting three land speed records and the water speed record.  He was the first person to hold both the land and water speed records simultaneously.  He was the first person to travel at over 200 mph (320 km/h) in a land vehicle, and the Segrave Trophy was established in 1930 to commemorate his life.


Sir Thomas George Segrave died from Ascotts on 11th January 1941, aged seventy-six and Lady Segrave continued to live at Ascotts until her death in 1971.  After her death, when the premises were cleared, a Wolseley car dating to the 1930’s/40’s was found jacked up on bricks in the garage and it may have been this that led to the local belief that Sir Thomas was a racing driver.


The development of the site of Cockets/Ascotts

The history and development of the site of Cockets/Ascotts can be pieced together using map evidence and details about the people who have historically occupied the property.


From the site’s first mention in 1685 it is known that the plot was originally three acres and that it had already been enclosed off the waste of Felbridge Common in the parish of East Grinstead, and that a dwelling had been constructed there, along with a barn and stable.  Unfortunately there are no earlier surviving Court Books for the manor of Broadhurst of which Cockets was part.  The property was known as Cockets in 1685, named after its last occupants, and there is a family of Cockets in the area in the early 1600’s, suggesting that the property probably dates to around the mid 1600’s.  However, the name Cocket does not appear in the surviving Court Books from 1623 until 1685.


Most properties dating to this period in the Felbridge area were small, one bay structures like the one found within the grounds of Llanberis Farm [for further details see Handout, Llanberis Farm, SJC 01/07] or those found on Froggit Heath at Newchapel [for further information see Handout, Clayton’s Ancient Enclosure, JIC/SJC 05/10].  The associated buildings suggest it was operating as a small farm to have a barn and stable and was owned and occupied by people with some wealth to enable them to own the freehold of the property rather than copyhold.  Sadly with no original structure surviving it is impossible to determine the exact date or construction of the dwelling, whether a structure pre-dated the one referred to in 1685 or its relationship with the medieval moated site or lost Saxon/early medieval village to the south.


It is known that Cockets was a freehold property and that when Thomas Cooper was admitted in 1685 he was a husbandman, one whose occupation is husbandry (the care, cultivation and breeding of crops and animals); a farmer.  This would reinforce the fact that the property had some level of status as Thomas was not listed as the lowest of the low employed in agriculture - an agricultural labourer, but as a husbandman, an occupation higher up the rungs of the agricultural work ladder.


A property is depicted at Cockets on the Rocque map of 1768; this is the earliest map that shows individual dwellings although the scale is too small to identify the position of the house within the plot.  A dwelling continues to be shown in this locality on the Lindley & Crossley map of 1793 and the draft Ordnance Survey map of 1805-8.  The 1829 Figg survey of the adjacent manor of South-Malling Lindfield is the first large scale map and this shows two dwellings close together on the plot one to the north of the entrance off the track and one laying more or less in line with the entrance.  The East Grinstead tithe map of 1842 shows two dwelling houses occupied by the Belton and Daniels families, this generally agrees with the Figg survey showing the building north of the entrance as aligned north-south, whilst the one in line with the entrance is smaller and aligned east-west.  Both are in the quarter acre plot numbered 2114.  Both cottages would have been accessed from the track running from the current Crawley Down Road, parallel to the property on the west side.


The 1879 Ordnance Survey shows three buildings on the plot, a small square building to the north whose front wall is the parish boundary marker, a long east-west building to the south and east of that a more irregular shaped building close to the location of the second dwelling on the 1842 tithe map.  This configuration remains for the 1897 Ordnance Survey map (surveyed in 1895), but by the survey of 1909 (published in 1910)  a new house had been built on the west side of the parish boundary close to the previous building on the boundary which had been demolished, the other buildings on the plot have remained.  The floor plan of the current property shows that this new house forms the core of the current property and had a pair of bay windows in the west elevation and probably on the south elevation as well.  The plan was four rooms on each of the ground and first floor, all with hearths.  The stairs were probably at the north of the property where they are today.  The 1936 Ordnance Survey shows a large addition to the north-west corner of the property as well as extending the earlier properties south elevation and adding a small single storey extension on the east.  The main building has remained in this form until today.  The two other buildings survived until at least 1956 but have since been demolished and replaced by a car port and garden store.



During the 18th century Cockets was used as collateral against a loan on three separate occasions, suggesting that the occupiers needed access to money but were sure that they would make enough to pay back the loans without forfeiting the property, which occurred in all three occasions.   By the early 19th century Cockets was in the ownership of a yeoman, a freeholder holding and cultivating what was classed as a small estate, the next level up from husbandman on the agricultural work ladder.  It was also probably around this time that the second dwelling was constructed, generally providing a home for agricultural labourers, the lowest position on the agricultural work ladder.  By 1861, Cockets was held by a tradesman – Thomas Sayers, cordwainer [a shoemaker who makes fine leather shoes and other luxury leather items], described in 1871 as a landowner and cordwainer.


By 1891, one of the dwellings at Cockets had ceased to exist and the remaining cottage was described as having ‘four occupation rooms’, implying that at some point it had been enlarged from a single bay dwelling if that was how it had originally been constructed.  By 1901, the property was known as Ascotts and it is most likely to have changed name on the arrival of Ethel Platt, the single woman of means, whose mother had died in 1895, Ethel had moved there shortly after.


Up for sale in 2013, the description of the house at Ascotts was given as: ‘a very handsome late Victorian country house.  The property is believed to have been built in 1897 with an extension dating from 1926 when it was the home of Sir Thomas Segrave’.  The current house was therefore built for Ethel Platt and it is this house that is surveyed in 1909 and appears on the 1910 map.  The 1911 census records that the house was in the process of being extended by James Mollison, but Sir Thomas Segrave did not move to the property until 1930, although he too may have made additions.   With no intermediate map evidence, it is impossible to tell whether it was the northwest addition or the extension of the south elevation that was underway at the time of the 1911 census.


The description continues: ‘Characterised by red brick elevations with handsome gable ends and a tiled roof, the property benefits from well proportioned rooms and a number of features typical of the late 1800s, including wooden sash and casement windows, high ceilings, wooden internal doors with brass furniture and a number of working fireplaces’.  The accommodation includes: a reception hall, drawing room, sitting room (with attached store accessed from outside), dining room with pantry (Lady Segrave used this as a silver pantry), kitchen, larder and utility/boot room, cloakroom, six bedrooms, two bathrooms and separate WC.




Broadhurst Court Book, Ref: G1081 f106, ESRO

Sales particulars for Ascotts, 2013, FHA

Documented memories of The Terry/Hills family of Acacia Cottage, FHA

Roman Roads in Britain, by I Margary

Birth, Marriage and Burial registers for St Swithun’s Church, East Grinstead, 1558 – 1661, FHA

Birth, Marriage and Burial registers for Horne, FHA

Birth, Marriage and Burial registers for Worth, FHA

Ancestry details,

Broadhurst Court Books G1080 f93 and f107, ESRO

Will of Thomas Cooper, 1695, Ref: A42, p138, WSRO

Broadhurst Court Books G1080 f148, ESRO

Broadhurst Court Books G1081 f1294 and G1082 f124, ESRO

Broadhurst Court Books G 1082 f203, ESRO

Handout, Oak Farm, JIC/SJC 03/13, FHWS

Broadhurst Court Books G 1082 f209, ESRO

Handout, Gullege, SJC 03/02, FHWS

Broadhurst Court Books G 1082 f229 and F241, ESRO

Handout, Michaelmas Farm, JIC/SJC 07/09, FHWS

Broadhurst Court Books G 1082 f294 and G1083 f 36, f179, f186 and f264, ESRO

EG Census, 1811, WSRO

EG Census 1821, Ref: Par 348/26/2/8-10, WSRO

EG Census 1821, Ref: Par 348/26/2/7, WSRO

Handout, Llanberis Farm, SJC 01/07, FHWS

Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08, FHWS

Birth, marriage and death index, www.Free

Census, 1841

Wirth tithe map and apportionment, 1842, FHA

East Grinstead Tithe map and apportionment, 1842, FHA

Broadhurst Court Books G 1084 f365, ESRO

Census, 1851, 1861, 1871

Handout, More Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, Estate Workers of the Gatty Family, SJC, 11/03

Census 1881, 1891

Broadhurst Court Books G 1085 f12, ESRO

Thomas Platt, obituary, Manchester Weekly Times, 20th March 1875, FHA

Census 1901, 1911

EG Electoral Roll, 1905, Ref: C/C70 10J, ESRO

News article, Edinburgh Gazette, 3rd Jan 1911, FHA

Article in London Gazette, 7/1/18, FHA

Article in Edinburgh Gazette, 25/7/1923, FHA

Telephone Directories 1929-31, FHA

The Segrave Family 1066-1935, by Charles W Segrave

Lady Segrave obituary, Catholic Herald, 31/5/1930, FHA

Supplement to the Edinburg Gazette, 1/4/20, FHA

Abstract of Title for Greenfield Shaw, 1933, FHA

Sir Thomas George Segrave Obituary, Catholic Herald, 11/1/1941, FHA

Documented memories of T & M Jones, FHA

Handout, Clayton’s Ancient Enclosure, JIC/SJC 05/10

Rocque map, 1768, FHA

Lindley & Crossley map, 1793, FHA

draft Ordnance Survey, 1805-8, BL OSD19

Figg survey of manor of South Malling, 1829, ESRO ACC 2327-1-5-15

O/S maps, 1879, 1897, 1910, 1936, 1956, 2008, FHA

Sales particulars for Ascotts, 2013, FHA


Texts of all Handouts referred to in this document can be found on FHG website:

JIC/SJC 11/13