Felbridge in the mid 18th century

Felbridge in the 18th Century

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Whilst we have studied the histories of individual places and families in the 18th century, it seems appropriate to consider a wider interpretation of this period in Felbridge.

The mid 18th century marked a significant change in Felbridge with the creation of the Felbridge Estate out of the purchase and combination of the manor of Hedgecourt with lands at Felbridge already owned by a branch of the Evelyn family. The Gage family had held Hedgecourt since 1445 and it was operated as an estate generating an income mainly being leased out in its entirety.  After the amalgamation of the two holdings, Felbridge assumed the dominant title of the newly created estate.

The Evelyn family had owned 70 acres of land in Felbridge (around the location of the Star) since 1588 and in 1692 George Evelyn gave these 70 acres and a newly built house called Heath Hatch to his youngest son William. In 1719 William sold the land and house to his brother Col. Edward Evelyn who had just left the army and wanted somewhere to live. Until this point, the house does not appear to have been the main residence of either George or William Evelyn. In 1741, Edward Evelyn bought from Sir William Gage a house called Park Corner and some 130 acres of land being part of the manor of Hedgecourt and in 1747 he purchased the remainder of the Manor of Hedgecourt from the trustees of the late Sir William Gage. Thus creating the Felbridge Estate.

In 1748 Edward Evelyn commissioned John Bourd to produce a map of his new estate. The Bourd Map is the central feature of this talk and we will be taking a close look at how it depicts our area. In 1751 the estate passes to James son of Edward Evelyn and James Evelyn decides to make Felbridge his constant residence, as his father had done before him, and later in 1763 he builds a new house that is to become known as Felbridge Place.

We will also look at other surviving 18th century records to try to build up a picture of who was living in and around Felbridge at this time and what we are able to determine about the impact that the creation of the Felbridge Estate had upon the residents both within the estate and those adjoining it.


Map Evidence

The 1748 Bourd Map is currently held by the Worshipful Company of Mercers having been donated it by Ivan Margary when they purchased the Site of Felbridge Place for the construction of WhittingtonCollege.


The cartographer was John Bourd of Tonbridge and the map is approximately 4’6” by 2’6” on vellum and is titled ‘A Survey and Map of Land lying in the Parishes of Hoorn Godstone, Tanderidge & Worth in the Countys of Surrey and Sussex belonging to Edward Evelyn Esqr’. Each field is named and also coloured to indicate its use.


Buildings are shown stylistically but houses are depicted with chimneys and red coloured roofs whilst other buildings have black roofs and different designs representing barns, mills etc…


The dwellings depicted within the Felbridge Estate are Chapel Farm (now the London Temple, Church of Latter Day Saints site); Rabies Farm, Newchapel Road; Legend and Mill End House, Wiremill, Harmans Farm (The Old Peasantry, Woodcock Hill), Hedgecourt Mill Cottage, Park Corner Farm, Felbridge Place, The Star, Warren Farm, Hedgecourt Farm and Snower Hill (West Park Road).


A number of buildings just outside the Felbridge Estate are also depicted, but as the map does not cover the land outside of the estate it is not known if all the houses in the immediate area are shown. There are depictions for Hophurst Farm, Gibbshaven Farm, Lyewood Farm (on the track from Hophurst to Gullege), The Red Lion (on the south of Copthorne Road where Longwall/ Mulberry Gate are located), Quarry Farm (West Park Road), a property at Judges Corner, Snowhill and Felcot Farm.

Thus in 1748 we know there were only 11 houses within the Estate in addition to the main house complex just north of the Star. A schedule on the map also shows how the land was divided between the farms;


Property                                                                                   Acreage

Hedgecourt Farm                                                                     305

Snower Hill Farm                                                                     141

Chappel Farm                                                                          124

Forge Farm (Wiremill)                                                               93

Park Corner                                                                             80

Smith Fields (east of Hophurst Hill, has no dwelling)                         59

Plots (Rabies Farm, Lingfield Road)                                              42

Harmans                                                                                39

Warren Farm                                                                           16

MillLand (with Hedgecourt Mill Cottages)                                        11

Tilts (The Star)                                                                        2

Lower Ground (east of Coopers Moor, Woodcock Hill)                        32

This land is not shown associated with any of the farms.


A 1761 survey of the common lands[1] held by Kenrick Clayton (Bletchingley Manor) shows a number of the properties in the vicinity of the Felbridge Estate as it includes Hedgecourt Common, Copthorne Common and Froggit Heath (the land either side of West Park Road towards Newchapel). The properties shown include; Felcot Farm, Yew Tree Farm, Michaelmas Farm and Little Hedgecourt Farm on Hedgecourt Common occupied by Masters, Hayward & Hugget; two properties at Judges Corner occupied by Marchant & Neal; a property on West Park Road occupied by Homward; three properties in a strip along the south side of West park road occupied by Marlin, Ward & Hugget; a block of four properties (Quest, Quarry Farm, Cherry Tree Farm & Cherry Tree Cottage) on Froggit Heath to the east of East Park Lane and two properties at the junction of Bones Lane and West Park Road.




The Bletchingley manorial rents[2] show that all the properties along West Park Road pre-existed the 1748 Bourd map but only one (Quarry Farm) of the ten was depicted by Bourd, therefore it is possible that other small dwellings existed outside the estate that were similarly ignored for the purposes of the Felbridge Estate Map.


A 1760’s survey and map of Shaws and Hodghorne Farms belonging to Nathaniel Newnham of Newtimber Place, Sussex[3] shows the farmhouse that is now the site of the Kennels off Woodcock Hill. This house was also shown on the c1720 map of the messuage and lands of Magnus Deo[4] (Lingfield).


Indicating the coverage of all of the 18th century large scale maps for Felbridge and adding the pre-18th century larger freehold properties shows (see fig 1) that the significant areas of uncertainty regarding the presence of dwellings is the lands to the south of the estate in Sussex and at Snowhill.




Fig. 1 – 18th century map coverage and the larger freehold properties


This uncertainty can be resolved using the manorial records for the manors of South Malling-Lindfield[5], Broadhurst-Horsted Keynes[6] and Imberhorne[7] to determine when grants or other records specify that a dwelling is present on a site. By 1700 much of the common belonging to South Malling-Lindfield manor at Snowhill had been enclosed and nine small dwellings had been built and were mainly occupied by tradesmen. The lands belonging to the manors of Broadhurst-Horsted Keynes and Imberhorne on the south side of Crawley Down Road were also enclosed, accompanied by a few small dwellings. Thus we can identify that in 1748 the land holdings within the Felbridge Estate and the housing in the vicinity was as shown below [see fig 2 - dark blue squares are cottages, red squares are larger dwellings, the black line is the extent to which the housing is all shown].



Fig. 2 – mid 18th century dwellings and Felbridge Estate land holdings


This shows that in 1748 there are only 12 dwellings within the Felbridge Estate including the Principal Dwelling that is later called Felbridge Place, whilst within the black line surrounding the immediate area there are 32 cottages and 22 larger houses.


The farm landholdings shown in lighter green within the Felbridge Estate highlight how the areas of woodland [Furnace Wood, Cuttingly Wood, Bakers Wood and Chapel Wood], Hedgecourt Lake and the ‘Lawn’ around Edward Evelyn’s house were all in his tenure and were not let as part of any of the farms at this time. The dashed line around Edward Evelyn’s house represents what appears to be the original fence around the house. The stretch along Copthorne Road is depicted as a post and rail fence running to a gate in the south west corner (where the Parish Council gate now stands), the line northwards from this point has been erased from the map but was clearly present when the map was completed.


Similarly the boundaries of Harmans and Park Corner farms were erased and redrawn after completion of the map. This is evidenced by the fact that the schedule of land sizes on the map lists Harmans and Park Corner as shown above and not the smaller sizes resulting from the enlargement of the Lawn around the main house as below (fig. 3) which is what the revised Bourd map shows.


Fig. 3 – Revised Bourd Map landholding boundaries


Dating this expansion of the ‘lawn’ and the reduction in the lands forming Park Corner and Harmans is difficult, but the expansion had not taken place by 1752 when Park Corner and Harmans were the subject of a mortgage lease to Cave Radcliffe[8] as the total acreages stated align to the pre-expansion boundaries of these properties, in fact Park Corner had increased in size to 95 acres and is consistent with an enclosure of Felbridge Water Common to the east of Park Corner, giving a land holding map as shown below (fig. 4). The 1768 Rocque map[9] (fig. 5) is much smaller scale than the maps we have already discussed, however it does show Felbridge Park, which is most like the Revised Bourd Map above and therefore it is likely that the relocation of the farm boundaries and the revisions to the Bourd map were completed between 1752 and 1768. James Evelyn had inherited the Felbridge Estate in 1752 when his father Col. Edward Evelyn died. The dating of the expansion of Felbridge Park would therefore align with the construction of a new mansion house, potentially around the earlier property[10], by James Evelyn, which had a date stone of 1763.


Fig. 4 – Park Corner boundary necessary to match the 1752 lease


Fig. 5 - John Rocque map of Surrey (1768)


Despite this being a smaller scale map, it is interesting to note how well it aligns with the large scale mapping for Felbridge. It makes no visual differentiation between dwellings and other buildings but it is still possible to identify most of the cottages on the commons belonging to Bletchingley and all of the properties within the Felbridge estate are shown. Whilst the Sussex side of the county boundary is partially depicted by Rocque, there is a later 1795 map by Yeakell & Gardner[11] (fig. 6) showing the Sussex side of the boundary that better indicates the extent of the enclosure of Copthorne Common at Snow Hill.



Fig. 6 – Yeakell & Gardner map of Sussex (1795)


The map evidence for end of the 18th century is best depicted by the draft Ordnance Survey maps for Sussex and Surrey as these differentiate between dwellings and other buildings. The Sussex survey was 1805-8[12], whilst the Surrey survey was 1809[13]. Unfortunately our section of the Surrey map is across two sheets and the bottom corner of the left sheet has been damaged.




Fig. 7 Draft Ordnance Survey Drawings 1805-1809


The overall impact on the summary map of the Felbridge area is below (fig. 8). The yellow points are the dwellings that have been constructed since c1748; there are 8 within the Felbridge Estate and 10 in the area immediately outside it.



Fig. 8 – Dwellings and Felbridge Estate landholdings at the start of the 19th century


This summary map also indicates the changes in the boundaries of the land holdings within the estate which have been modified by the division of the lands of Hedgecourt Farm and Park Farm to form New House Farm (south of Hedgecourt Mill) and Agates’ farm (north of Hedgecourt Mill) both of which have new farmhouses constructed.


The new dwellings within the estate, apart from the two new farmhouses listed above, are; the school house, the blacksmiths forge and house opposite the Star, a cottage just north of Wards Farm, a cottage abutting the north side of Coopers Moor that is within the fields forming part of Forge Farm and the blacksmiths forge at Golards (at the entrance to Wiremill Lane).


It is interesting to note that there are significant clusters of dwellings within the enclosures at Newchapel, Snow Hill and south of Crawley Down Road. These communities had beer shops, builders, blacksmiths, shoemakers etc; Snow Hill even had a bowling alley. These small settlements existed at both the middle and end of the 18th century with a moderate level of expansion during that period; however they were most probably occupied by people who worked on the surrounding estates including the Felbridge Estate. The yeoman farmers of the Gage period prior to 1748 would still require agricultural labourers, carters, cow men etc. if they did not have enough people or skills within their household. After the creation of the Felbridge Estate there is clearly a requirement for builders as well as an increase in diversity of skills required to support the mansion house at Felbridge, which would have required carriage drivers, grooms, domestic and outdoor servants. 


Documentary Evidence

There are a few documents relating to the Felbridge Estate from this period including the Quarter Sessions proposal for the construction of a bridge at Felbridge Water in 1750; “it appears that the road leading through the River called Felbridge Water lying at the bottom of East Grinstead Common in the great road to London is become exceeding dangerous to all his majesty’s subjects passing that way. And that there ought to be a bridge built over the said River to make the said road safe for passengers.”[14] It is interesting to note that the provision of a bridge (instead of a ford) is occurring at a similar period as the construction of two blacksmiths shops along the A22 between Felbridge Water and Newchapel. This last half of the 18th century also sees the first records of The Star as an inn when the resident Thomas Ewridge [Uridge], a wheelwright, applied for a victualler’s licence between 1785 and 1794[15] whilst in 1752, Chapel Farm at Newchapel appears to have changed its name to the Half Moon[16], later becoming the Evelyn Arms in the early 1800’s. This could imply an increase in travellers passing along what is now the A22 during this period, creating the demand to set up two blacksmiths and two inns along this short stretch of highway.


Some residents of the Felbridge Estate are named in a few documents around the 18th century:-

1695, 1701, 1723 John Stenning – yeoman of Chapel Farm[17]

1701, 1723 Joseph Marchant – Miller at Hedgecourt Mill[18]

1702, 1710, 1730 & 1752 Benjamin Cheal – husbandman & later yeoman of Park Corner[19]

1702, 1730 & 1752 Edward Harman Snr. – occupying ‘Harmans’[20]

1736-1747 Thomas Holcombe – yeoman of Hedgecourt Farm[21]

1742-1773 James Marchant – Miller at Hedgecourt Mill

1742 Samuel Baker – occupying the “forgeman’s house” at Wiremill[22]

1743-1752 Robert Tilt – occupies what is later known as the ‘Star Inn’

1745-1747 Harris – occupies Snow Hill Farm[23]

1745-1747 Benjamin Stenning – occupies Chappel Farm

1745-1747 James Potter – occupies Smithfields (land east of Hophurst Hill)

1752 George Tichenor – yeoman of Harris’s farm (Snowhill Farm)

1758-1774 Edward Raby and Alexander Master – Woodcock Forge

1793 Allen Cook –schoolmaster

1795[24], 1801 William Stenning - Hedgecourt Farm and ‘Late Neals’ (Snowhill Farm) [probably referring to William Neale or his son John]

1801 William Payne – Hammonds [Harmons] Land, Cheals & Finches

1801 Dan Fossick – Wiremill[25]

1801 William Stenning for Newchapel Farm and Late Rabys

1801 Edward Stenning – Hedgecourt Mill & Woods, Messr. Lock & Stone of Hedgecourt Mill.


Unfortunately the 18th century Land Tax records for Godstone and Horne treat the whole of the Felbridge estate as a single entity owned by the Evelyn family and therefore do not identify the tenants.


It can be seen that many of the inhabitants of Felbridge during the Gage ownership continued in the same properties after the purchase by Edward Evelyn and were granted new leases when their previous ones expired. Benjamin Cheale is a good example as he was born in Lingfield, Surrey, in 1673, the son of William Cheale.  It is known that Benjamin married Susannah (date not yet established) and they had at least three children, Mary born 1703, William born in 1706 and Susannah born in 1710, all three children christened in Godstone. Whilst there is no baptism record for then having a son Benjamin, the East Grinstead parish registers include the burials of two Benjamin Cheals in 1764 and 1786, and other entries for this family noted as ‘Cheale of Godstone’ showing that the family residing in Felbridge were using St. Swithin’s Church in East Grinstead. Even as a father and son, their occupation of Park Corner covered as a minimum 1702-1752, with a reference in 1794 of ‘Park Corner late Cheals’[26].


The Stenning family are another example of a family who’s tenancy within Felbridge extends throughout the 18th century and the number of properties they hold also increases from holding only Chapel Farm to holding Chapel Farm, Rabies Farm, Hedgecourt Farm, Snowhill Farm and Hedgecourt Mill.


The resurgence of the iron industry in Felbridge is also evidenced with Woodcock Forge being leased to Edward Raby and Alexander Master in 1758; they also took on Warren Furnace (in Furnace Wood) during the 1760’s and were casting mainly bronze ordnance there until 1774[27]. From the map evidence we also see that one of the dwellings that appears in the estate in the late 18th century is the workers cottages in Furnace Wood immediately adjacent to the furnace. The cessation of the iron industry in Felbridge left Woodcock Hammer redundant and it was converted to a wire drawing mill operated by Dan Fossick, thus becoming called Wiremill, whilst Warren Furnace was converted into a corn mill.


In 1739 James Marchant, the son of Joseph, took out a sixty-year lease with William Clayton of Marden, for six acres of Hedgecourt Heath in Horne on which to build a windmill[28].  This piece of land was a small promontory at the southeast corner of Hedgecourt Millpond, visible to the south from Hedgecourt watermill. At this time father and son were operating the two mills at Hedgecourt. The growth in agricultural production during the mid 18th century, due to improved farming practices coming in from the continent such as crop rotation, meant that Felbridge, with over half its farmland laid to arable, would have produced a lot of grain for milling. In addition to the new windmill at Hedgecourt, windmills were also constructed around 1750 at Copthorne Common, Crawley Down Common and at Kenwards Farm just west of Furnace Wood.


Impact of having a resident Manorial Lord

Whilst the purchase of Hedgecourt manor and the creation of the Felbridge Estate by Edward Evelyn did not fundamentally change the farming of Felbridge or the families who were living here, it did create an estate with a resident Lord of the Manor and a main residence that would have required a reasonable number of staff to run it and maintain its grounds. We can demonstrate that the number of dwellings within the estate increases from 12 to 20 in the last half of the 18th century, exceeding the rate of increase in dwellings in the immediate area outside of the estate. As most of the new dwellings have land associated with them, it would seem likely that the domestic staff for the house lived within the main residence complex, this is supported by the fact that all three of the buildings shown in the complex on the Bourd map are denoted as dwellings and have chimneys. The stable block shown on the Bourd map survives today and was clearly designed for domestic use on the first floor.


Having a resident owner of the estate did not only increase the servant employment opportunities, but James Evelyn also improved the welfare of the estate workers. James Evelyn founded the Beef and Faggot Charity, along with the Felbridge School Charity and The Chapel Charity, by a codicil of his will dated 3rd July 1793[29]. All three of these welfare provisions already existed before his death, the provision of the Charities was to ensure that funding was available to maintain them into the future. James Evelyn founded FelbridgeSchool in 1783 and the school house was built to provide accommodation for the school master along with a single classroom. The school provided for the educational needs of eight boys and four girls selected from the parishes of Godstone, Horne, Worth and East Grinstead, as parts of all four parishes lay within the Felbridge Place estate. James Evelyn was also responsible for the construction of the Evelyn Chapel built in 1787, on a site opposite the current church of St John’s in Felbridge. Although built as a family chapel, it was also used by the estate workers whose place of worship until this date had been St Nicholas church, Godstone, some ten miles North of Felbridge.


It is evident that during his life, James Evelyn was a model lord of the manor, providing for both the educational and spiritual needs of his estate workers and tenants in Felbridge. It is also evident, from the codicil of his will referring to the Beef and Faggot Charity, that he provided for the welfare of these people, especially the poorer members of the community, as the codicil recommended that 4-stone (56lbs/25.2kg) of beef should be provided and made into broth and distributed, as during his lifetime, from the first Thursday in November until the last Thursday in April, and that a round of beef, weighing not less than 4-stone 2lbs (58lbs/26.1kg), should be provided every Sunday of the year, as during his life time.


The codicil stipulated that the preparation and cooking of both the beef broth and beef should be done by the Schoolmistress, who would receive 200 faggots of wood a year to dress (prepare and cook) the meat. The codicil also made provision for beer and bread to be served with the broth and beef by allowing the Schoolmistress the rate of 1d per head for beer and 1d per head for bread for those who partook of the charity. For the service of preparing the broth, the Schoolmistress was allowed 6d a week, although there is no mention of payment for preparing the Sunday meal. This income would have amounted to 13/- a year, on top of the wage for teaching at the school and the security of free board and lodging at the Schoolhouse.

The codicil also stated that the number of people to benefit from the charity of receiving the beef broth and the prepared beef was not to be less than twelve nor more than fourteen.


James Evelyn also left annuities in his will; these were listed in the tithe return for 1801 along with a few dates of death.[30] [notes added July 2016]:-



William Gatland (died 11/3/1801)                     30/-/-

William Barnes                                                 20/-/-

John Bailey                                                       20/-/-

Richard Stripp [of Blue Anchor, Blindley Heath]              20/-/-

Elizabeth Wilson                                               15/15/-

Allen Cook                                                       5/-/-

John Cooper                                                     2/2/-

William Young                                                  2/2/-

George Groves                                                  5/-/-

James Gorringe                                                 5/-/-

John Woolgar                                                    5/-/-

Thomas Daniel Snr (died 2/1/1801)                  5/-/-

Thomas Daniel Jnr                                            5/-/-

Edward Turner                                                  5/-/-

James Pilbeam                                                  6/-/-

John Dearling                                                    6/-/-

Richard Jenner                                                  3/-/-

John Harman                                                    5/-/-

Thomas Payne                                                  2/2/-

Robert Wood                                                    2/2/-

Benjamin Hayward (died)                                 2/2/-

Allen Cook for teaching school                        21/-/-



On the death of James Evelyn on 7th November 1793 the Felbridge estate passed to his only surviving daughter and sole heir Julia Annabella, wife of Sir George Augustus Shuckburgh. Sir George and his family lived at Buxted thus Felbridge Place was no longer the residence of the Felbridge branch of the Evelyn family and was leased out to successive tenants.


Julia pre-deceased George on 14th September 1797, aged forty-six, and Felbridge Park remained under the control of George until his death on 11th August 1804, aged fifty-two, when the property passed to their only daughter Julia Evelyn Medley Shuckburgh.  Having no need of FelbridgePark as a home, the property continued to be leased out until it was purchased by the Gatty family in 1856.


The tithe maps and apportionments for Horne, Godstone, Tandridge, Worth and East Grinstead show that there were no new dwellings in the Felbridge estate from c1800 all the way through to the 1840’s. This is not surprising as the whole estate was being leased out and the short term tenants are highly unlikely to invest in new buildings for the estate workers.


In conclusion, you get a sense that Felbridge had obtained a community focal point by the end of the 18th century created by the Evelyn family, when compared to the earlier ownership by the Gage family when there was often just a senior tenant living at Hedgecourt Farm whose main role was that of a rent collector for the tenants farming the surrounding lands. After the short burst of building activity during the occupancy of the Evelyn family at Felbridge and their ownership of the complete Felbridge Estate (1747-1793), the leasing out of the estate ceased any further building activity until the purchase by George Gatty in 1856. Thus the second half of the 18th century marked a significant period of change for the residents of Felbridge.



JIC 07/16

[1] SHC 8948/2

[2] SHC 597/28a & 3089/6/44

[3] SHC 3349

[4] SHC ZS/308

[5] ESRO ACC1327/1/5

[6] ESRO GLY1080, GLY1081

[7] ESRO ADA39. ADA106

[8] ESRO SAS/PN/1362

[9] TNA WO 78/5745

[10] Notes from Ken Housman.

[11] TNA WO 78/5742

[12] BL OSD19

[13] BL OSD89

[14] SHC QS/2/6/1750/51 Xmas 26 & 27

[15] SHC QS/2/1

[16] Lagham Court Book. SHC P25/21/11

[17] ESRO SAS/G43/145, SAS/G11/29, SAS G43/147

[18] ESRO SAS/G43/71, SAS/G43/136

[19] ESRO SAS/G11/29, SAS/G43/146, SAS/G26/2, SAS/PN/1362

[20] ESRO SAS/G11/29, SAS/G26/2, SAS/PN/1362

[21] ESRO SAS/G43/137

[22] ESRO SAS/G11/11-30

[23] SHC 3151/Box2 (same reference for all 1745-1747 entries)

[24]HorneLand Tax

[25] 1801 Tithe for the Evelyn Estate SHC 3069/1 (same reference for all 1801 entries)

[26] SHC P25/18/1

[27] Warren Furnace a talk by Jeremy Hodgkinson FHG 1999

[28] SHC K61/2/69

[29] TNA PROB 11/1235/132

[30] SHC 3069/1 1801 Tithes for Felbridge, includes a list of the annuities