Felbridge Triangle & development of Warren Farm

Felbridge Triangle & development of Warren Farm

The Felbridge ‘Triangle’ refers to the piece of land that is bounded by Rowplatt Lane, Copthorne Road and Crawley Down Road, the point of the isosceles triangle being where the Copthorne Road and Crawley Down Road meet at the apex of Felbridge Village Green. This document charts its uses and development over the centuries, including some of the prominent people that have lived within it.

From Common to Enclosure
This piece of land once formed part of Hedgecourt Heath or Common, which encompassed the land to the south and southwest of Hedgecourt Park. [For further details see Hedgecourt Common, Fact Sheet, SJC 07/01] There is evidence to suggest that this triangular piece of Hedgecourt Common was part of the seventy acres of Felbridge purchased by George Evelyn of Nutfield in 1588. Possibly around the same time, or at least by 1700, the central section of Hedgecourt Common had been purchased by Sir William Clayton, and by 1748 the triangular section formed part of the 1,536 acre estate of Felbridge owned by the Evelyn family.

The land is bounded by three tracks that criss-crossed the common. It is most likely that the west side, the shortest side, was established by the rope walk that followed the line of the Horne-Godstone parish boundary very close to the line of the London to Brighton Roman road that was constructed in the 1st century AD. The rope-walk now forms the line of Rowplatt Lane. [For further details see Felbridge Rope Walk, Fact Sheet, SJC 02/05] The Copthorne Road, formerly Hedgecourt Road, was one of two routes that ran along the north side of the common. The route of one of these tracks, running through the grounds of Felbridge School, the woodland behind the Felbridge Village Hall, the back gardens of the houses in The Crescent and emerging in Rowplatt Lane, to the south of Twitten Lane, was abandoned at some point in time and the line of the Copthorne Road became the preferred route. The track leading to Crawley Down along the Crawley Down Road remains virtually on the route of the old track, following the line of the boundary between the counties of Sussex and Surrey as they were then, except for a very short section as it approaches Rowplatt Lane. At the area of Oak Farm and the Felbridge Sports & Recreation Ground, the track was slightly further south than the current road location.

The triangle of land, being common land, sometimes referred to as waste, was owned by the lord of the manor, originally Hedgecourt manor. Commons and wastes were generally located at the edge of the manorial estate acting as a buffer between manors, and this triangle of Hedgecourt Common acted as a buffer between the manors of Hedgecourt and Imberhorne. Tenants of the manor of Hedgecourt had the right to graze livestock on the common, a right that was vital for the survival of the small farms of the manor. In deeds these rights are referred to as the ‘appurtenances’ of the property. Commoners had six rights over the use of the common: Pasture, for the grazing of livestock such as cattle, sheep and horses, Pannage, for the grazing and rooting of pigs, Estovers, the right to take bracken for bedding and fodder and brushwood, furze and gorse for fuel, Turbary, the right to take peat for fuel, Piscary, the right to the fish in the streams and ponds, and Soil, the right to take sand, stone and gravel. In the case of this triangular piece of Hedgecourt Common, only three of the six commoners rights would probably have applied, that of pasture, pannage and estovers, as there is no peat, and the gravel pit was located outside the triangle on the site of the house called Harborne and the front garden of Cherry Wood on the south side of the Crawley Down Road. However, there was once a small pond located in the woodland behind the Village Hall, although it is not known whether it supported any fish life.

Sometimes small enclosures appeared on the commons as was the case with Doves Barn, originally known as Black Barn, constructed in the mid 1600’s as a communal barn serving the small farms of the area, and the Rope Yard on the site of what is now Lyric Cottage. These enclosures, known as private or piecemeal enclosures, were generally located at the edges of commons and wastes and in both cases were next to trackways running across the common, although both these enclosures were located on the central section of Hedgecourt Common to the south of Copthorne Road and not within the triangular section of Hedgecourt Common. Within the triangle there is evidence of a pottery/tile kiln situated to the east of what is now Rowplatt Lane, near to the junction with Copthorne Road, on the fringe of the triangular section of Hedgecourt Common. The site is now occupied by the properties known as Greensward House on the corner of Rowplatt Lane, Wild Meadow, Firswood, Ibstock, and Gentian Cottage, formerly Shirley Cottage. The remains of a kiln were uncovered during the construction of Firswood, and Ivan Margary, an expert on the Roman Roads of Britain, working with Donald Merritt of Gentian Cottage, found pottery dating to the 15th century during excavation work in the 1940’s on the Roman Road that runs through the back gardens of these properties. More work needs to be carried out in this area to determine when this kiln was operating and whether it was producing pottery, tiles or bricks.

The development of private or piecemeal enclosures led to the Parliamentary Enclosure Act. Parliamentary enclosures were the last stage of a process of enclosure that had been operating for centuries, which occurred where an agreement to enclose could not be obtained from all the relevant landowners, and a minority could be overruled by a private or public act of Parliament. The first such act was in 1604, but it was well into the 18th century before this method became common. The Felbridge triangle had been enclosed before 1733, although the exact date has not yet been determined. The evidence for enclosure of this triangle of common is linked with the death of George Evelyn in 1724. When George Evelyn died he held the manor of Walkhamsted and Lagham, alias Godstone, which had been conveyed to his predecessors George and Robert Evelyn in 1591, (this older George being the same George that purchased the seventy acres of Felbridge in 1588). When George Evelyn died in 1724, he left only infant daughters, his heir being his brother Edward, and it was felt that his title and estate, which still included the seventy acres of Felbridge, should be sold. Having three young daughters, Mary, widow of George Evelyn, quickly re-married Charles Boone, who agreed to purchase the estate for £24,000. In 1733, Charles and Mary Boone, and Edward Evelyn petitioned for an Act of Parliament which granted Charles Boone the lordship of Godstone and the estate of George Evelyn, exempting the Borough of Blindley Heath, Stocklands and forty-eight acres of land in Bletchingley, Felbridge Heath Common and about fifty acres of Felbridge Common, which was retained by Edward Evelyn.

Felbridge Common was referred to as ‘with two cottages and two newly enclosed fields of five and eight acres, the common being marked by stone bounds against Horne on the north, and East Grinstead on the south, and with a boundary cross cut on the east side against Tandridge’. The ‘newly enclosed fields’ implies that the enclosure must have preceded 1733. The method of enclosing the triangular piece of land creating the two fields is still clearly evident along the majority of the lengths of all three sides. This method was the use of a ditch and bank, with hedging/trees. It is clearly visible along a large section of the footpath under the sweet chestnut trees along the Crawley Down Road. Here the ditch runs along beside the path with the bank on top which, for the most part, has been planted with beech that has been cut as hedging. Along the disused trackway leading through the woodland behind the Village Hall there is again the remnants of a ditch with a bank planted with beech, only along this line of the enclosure the beech have been allowed to grow as trees. Like Crawley Down Road, there is also another row of sweet chestnut trees planted on the other side of the disused track; with trees planted either side of the trackway suggests that it was still in use as a track at the time of the enclosure in the early 1700’s. Both rows of sweet chestnut trees were planted by the Evelyn family around 1714, fifty-two along each track. [For further details see the Evelyn Chestnuts Fact Sheet, JIC 09/00] On the third side, that of Rowplatt Lane, the enclosure is less evident, although the bank still remains in short sections with a tiny length of original hedging still growing outside nos. 40 to 44. There was once also a line of oak trees that ran the full length of the east side of Rowplatt Lane, a few of which still survive.

New Fields to the sale and break up of the Felbridge Place estate
The ‘newly enclosed fields’ appear as ‘New Fields’ on the Bourd map of 1748, along with the depiction of two buildings. The Bourd map was commissioned by Edward Evelyn and details his estate comprising of the original seventy acres of land purchased by George Evelyn in 1588 and Edward’s newly acquired lands of Hedgecourt from William Gage, deceased, creating the Felbridge estate. Bourd depicts two properties in the small enclosure at the southwest of the land, the area where Warren Close is now situated; both properties have a small chimney pot suggesting that they were the ‘two cottages’ referred to in the 1733 Act of Parliament between Boone and Evelyn. The schedule attached to the Bourd map does not give a specific name for the site and the two fields, called ‘New Fields’, are listed as 10 acres 2 roods 9 perches for the one closest to what is now Rowplatt Lane, and 5 acres 3 roods 25 perches for the other, a total of 16 acres 1 rood 34 perches. On the schedule, this acreage most probably falls under the area known as Felbridge Lands that amounts to just short of 54 acres, implying that this may refer to the fifty acres of Felbridge Common outlined in the 1733 Act. Also, the Bourd map depicts this triangular piece of land with a wide swathe dividing the two fields, located roughly where the entrance into McIver Close is now situated, and in the centre of this swath was a clump of five trees. The area to the north of the fields, between the fields’ ditch and bank and the old trackway leading across Hedgecourt Common and the line of the current Copthorne Road, shows no detail. This suggests that this area was part of the yet to be enclosed common and may have been referred to as ‘New Field Wood’ in the schedule, an area of woodland amounting to just over 29 acres, the remnants of which can still be seen as the woodland abutting the Felbridge Village Hall and Recreation Ground.

By 1785, the eastern tip of the five-acre field that made up ‘New Fields’ had been further enclosed, and James Evelyn, the son and heir of Edward Evelyn of the Felbridge estate, had established a small schoolhouse in the enclosure. The schoolhouse is still standing and now forms part of Felbridge Primary School. The 1840 Godstone tithe lists one of the cottages referred to on the Bourd map as Neals Cottage, this name plus the former name of ‘Late Neals’ suggests that before the Groves’ family it had been occupied by a family called Neal. The apportionment described the property as ‘cottage, garden and plot’ amounting to 1 acre 1 rood 3 perch, being in the occupation of George Groves. ‘New Fields’ were field nos. 264 and 265, being respectively known as Upper Warren Field and Lower Warren Field, and formed part of Park Farm in the occupation of William Oliver, and the only other property on the triangular piece of former common was the schoolhouse and yard in the occupation of the schoolmaster, William Chart, in plot 262. The strip of common land that divided Upper and Lower Warren Fields was referred to as enclosure 263 being common owned by the Earl of Liverpool, a descendant of James Evelyn and then owner of the Felbridge estate. By the 1841 census, the cottage was still occupied by George Groves working as an agricultural labourer. George was born in 1781, and living with him was his wife Elizabeth and son John aged fifteen. A George Groves had been listed as receiving an annuity upon the death of James Evelyn in 1793 and was also paying rent to the Evelyn estate in 1801. The George Groves referred to in 1841 would have been too young to have been recognised in an annuity on the death of James Evelyn in 1793, being only twelve years of age, but it could possibly be his father or a close relation that received the annuity, which suggests that the Groves’ family may have been occupying the property from before the death of James Evelyn in 1793. In 1841, the cottage was referred to as ‘Late Neals’ and together with the two fields was held under the tenancy of Park Farm in the occupation of William Stenning.


Drawing based on 1840 Godstone Tithe Map

George Groves died between 1842 and 1845 and in 1851, the cottage was listed as being occupied by Elizabeth Groves, his widow, by then aged seventy-four, who was living with her son-in-law, Thomas Ferguson, a shoemaker. In 1855, the Earl of Liverpool sold the Felbridge estate to George Gatty of Crowhurst in Sussex. At this date, the ‘cottage, garden and plot’ was still in the occupation of Widow Groves, and together with Upper Warren Field, amounting to 5 acres 1 rood 38 perch, and Lower Warren Field, amounting to 9 acres 1 rood 39 perch, still fell under the holding of Park Farm, at that time in the occupation of William Stenning. Upper Warren was listed as growing hops, whilst Lower Warren was listed as arable as it had been in 1748.

Widow Groves died in 1853 and by 1861 the cottage had passed to James West a farm labourer aged twenty-eight who occupied the property with his wife Mary aged twenty-seven and their children William George aged six, James aged four and Stephen aged nine months. Stephen is recorded as being born in East Grinstead, which suggests that the West family had moved to the property at the end of 1860 or the beginning of 1861. James West was still living at the property in 1871, the property at that date being described as a ‘cottage on Copthorne Road’. James was still working as an agricultural labourer, and living with him was his wife Mary, and their sons William George aged sixteen, James aged fourteen, Stephen aged ten, and Harry aged eight months, along with a lodger called George Adams, a stone mason aged twenty-four. In 1876, the West family had increased with the birth of Myra, and by 1881, the West family, still in the occupation of the property, had been joined by Mary’s parents, James and Salome King. James was still working as a labourer at the age of eighty-two, but his wife was somewhat younger being only sixty-six years old. In 1881, James West was listed as a farmer of eighteen acres which suggests that at sometime between 1861 and 1881, he had acquired the occupation of the two fields known as Upper and Lower Warren.

At sometime between 1881 and 1891, James West moved from the property, by then known as Warren Farm, to take up the position of farm bailiff at Hedgecourt Farm, his son, William, taking over the property and the eighteen acres. In 1887, James West’s wife Mary West died at the age of fifty-three, and in 1891, James West was recorded as a widower living at Hedgecourt Farm and working as the farm bailiff, living with two of his sons, Stephen and Harry who were both working as bricklayers. James West’s eldest son, William, was living and working at Warren Farm as a farmer, with his wife Charlotte and their two children William James aged twelve and daughter Edith aged ten. Working as a domestic servant for the family was William’s sister Myra.

By 1901, William and Charlotte West and their family had moved to the Blindley Heath area and his father James West had returned to Warren Farm. At sometime between 1881 and 1891, James West had taken a second wife, Harriet. The 1901 census records Harriet’s age as forty-seven which puts her birth date at 1854, but the burial register puts her age of death in 1916 as eighty-two making her birth date 1834. James West continued to occupy Warren Farm until his death in 1908 but Harriet ended her days in the Union Infirmary at Horsham where she died in 1916, both being buried in St John’s churchyard. James West was succeeded at Warren Farm by Arthur W Payne who took on the tenancy until the break up of the Felbridge Place estate in 1911.

By 1911, Warren Farm consisted of sixteen acres encompassing the ‘cottage, garden and plot’ of the 1840 tithe and field nos. 264 and 265. It is unclear exactly what occurred with this property at the time of sale in 1911, as the triangle of land does not appear in the auction catalogue of May 1911. From the available evidence the most likely break up of the Felbridge triangle occurred as follows. In 1911, the whole triangle, which included Lower Warren Field, by now two fields (plots 210 and 211) and the cottage and garden (plot 212), Upper Warren Field (plot 208), plus what had originally been termed New Field Wood (plots 200, 205 and 209), were sold by the East Grinstead Estate Company to Edwin Chaffey with certain covenants attached. These included:
1) Maintaining the roads fronting the land until such time as they were taken over by the Local Authority.
2) Not building or erecting a property less than 100 feet from the centre of the road in front.
3) No building could be built other than a private dwelling house or farmhouse and outbuildings, and that no trade or business should be carried out on the property except for Poultry Farming without the permission of the vendor.
4) Only one house at the cost of not less than £300 or a pair of semi-detached houses costing at least £600 could be erected.
5) No mobile or temporary building could be placed or built on the land without the consent of the vendor.
6) The land, until built on, could only be used for garden, meadowland, plant nursery or poultry farming and that no building could be erected that would be of annoyance to the vendor, owner or tenant of any part of the Felbridge Place estate.

Evidence suggests that in July 1916, Lower Warren Field (plots 210 and 211), was sold together with the cottage and garden (plot 212), a total of 10 acres 3 roods 2 perch known as Warren House Farm, to James Osborn Spong, and the remaining Upper Warren Field and New Field Wood (plots 200, 205, 208 and 209), were sold to Robert Percy Chinneck. The enclosure in which the school stands remained unchanged and was retained by the school. One tiny plot remains unaccounted for, plot 207 adjacent to the school enclosure and now the site the property known as Cluden. Cluden started life as a small sweet shop which was run by Miss Dorothy Hannah in the early 1930’s. When the shop closed and Miss Hannah moved from the Felbridge area in 1948, it became a house, which in the 1970’s was lived in by Charlie and Dora Wheeler, Charlie being a founder member of the Felbridge Parish Council. This left only the extreme tip of the triangle, to the east of the school. This area is now the Felbridge Village Green and forms the majority of the surviving section of Hedgecourt Common which is still common land today, the other section being the thin strip of land under the sweet chestnut trees that run along the line of the Crawley Down Road from the school area to Rowplatt Lane.

Warren House Farm and the Spong family
In 1916, James Osborn Spong purchased Warren House Farm with some of the proceeds from his company, Spong & Co, which he had founded in 1856 for the manufacture of wirework and kitchen utensils. [See More Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge – James Osborn Spong, Fact Sheet SJC 05/04] The property consisted of Lower Warren Field and a small cottage probably built at the beginning of the 18th century and little changed since its construction. Warren House Farm was entered via a trackway leading to a large five-bar gate off the Crawley Down Road where the road leading to Warren Close is now located. The cottage was set well back from the road behind a tall hedge and could not easily be seen by the passer-by, only the top of a large black barn (similar to Dove’s Barn on the Copthorne Road) was visible to the left of the house behind a rough field. There was a small gate and path leading down to the front door of the cottage, which ran through a pretty garden. The cottage was fairly substantial in comparison to other agricultural properties in the Felbridge area. The property was built of brick being half clapboarded, under a very deep pitched tiled roof. From photographs at the time of purchase by the Spong family (see cover) the brickwork appears pale in colour suggesting that it may have been painted, although a former resident of Felbridge described the property as ‘a very old beautiful cottage in a lovely setting built with a pale pinkish/red brick and roof tiles of the same colour’, suggesting that the cottage was not painted. The west end of the property was completely clapboarded with a chimneystack built in the centre of the exterior wall. There was also a large chimney stack set at about two thirds of the length of the property, towards the east end. The east end of the property had a catslide roof extending from the main roof to provide a single storey end extension. Slightly off-set from the centre to the property was a small gabled porch over which pink roses scrambled. This porch had been added between the occupation of James and Harriet West and ownership by the Spong family as it does not appear in a photograph of James and Harriet West who posed in front of the front door around the turn of the 1900’s. The front face of the property had three small cottage style windows on the first floor and two marginally larger cottage style windows on the ground floor. Shortly after their arrival, the Spong family extended the property with the addition of a cross-wing and a contemporary postcard view of Crawley Down Road shows the original cottage tucked behind a large oak tree, which is still standing at the end of Rowplatt Lane, and the cottage has the extended taller cross-wing section on the east end of the property, where the catslide extension had been.

The Spong family are an extremely interesting family that seem to sum up the changing attitudes and time of the Edwardian period by encompassing the extreme move away from the values of Victorian society. Head of the Spong family was James Osborn Spong, born in 1839, the son of a minister. James O founded Spong & Co in 1856 at the age of sixteen, a company that produced kitchen equipment and utensils that revolutionised the preparation of food and time spent in the kitchen. He was well educated with an inventive mind, a true pillar of Victorian society, who had made great achievements during the industrial Victorian age and had moved to the country in semi-retirement, a fine example for his eldest and only surviving son James William to follow. However, descendants of the Spong family point out that it is important to note ‘the split between the male inventive side of the family and the female non-conformist side’, which included James O’s wife Frances and their five daughters. The family member is unclear as to whether their ‘suffragette activity preceded the vegetarianism and pacifism’, but all the daughters either joined or were influenced by The Order of the Cross, which combined feminism with pacifism and vegetarianism, ‘and also enthusiasm for dressing in Greek tunics and sandals’. It is understood that Warren House Farm was divided between James O and his housekeeper, providing him with ‘conventional carnivorous fare’, and Frances and the daughters with their vegetarian diet.

The first child and only surviving son of the Spong family was James William, (known as Will), who was born in 1868 in Brompton. Like his father, James W was well educated and inventive and eventually joined his father at Spong & Co in 1902, later taking over the company on his father’s retirement. James W married Alice Spencer, known as Lal, and they had two sons, Donald William born in 1904 and Roger Spencer born in 1906. Both Donald and Roger joined their father at Spong & Co. in the 1920’s. Roger Spong was a talented sportsman and during the mid 1920’s and early 1930’s played rugby for England on several, one game that is generally cited was when Roger played for the English Lions against France in 1930. In 1917, James William, jointly purchased, with his sisters Minnie Frances and Florence, a property just across the road from Warren House Farm at what is now the site of bungalows nos. 111-113, Crawley Down Road, and Vine Cottage, originally lots 15 and 16 in the break up of the Felbridge Place estate. It would appear that neither he nor his sisters Minnie and Florence ever lived in the property although his younger sister Dora and her husband Ralph Beedham occupied the property with their two children for at least some of the ownership.

Then there were the non-conformist wife and five daughters of James Osborn Spong.

James O’s wife Frances was born Frances Elizabeth Scott in 1843 and married James Osborn Spong in about 1867. The couple initially made their home in Brompton, Middlesex, before moving to Kensington in 1868. They had seven children, James William, Minnie Frances, Annie Eliza, Florence, Francis, Dora and Irene Osborn. Sadly their fifth child and second son, Francis, died within three years of his birth, but all the other children went on to live long and interesting lives. Frances, like all her daughters, followed the teachings of The Order of the Cross and was a committed vegetarian. The Order of the Cross was an informal Christian spiritual fellowship that was founded in London in 1904 by Rev John Todd Ferrier. Ferrier was born in Greenock in Scotland in 1855 and had been ordained as a Congregational minister, serving first in Preston and then Macclesfield. He was profoundly influenced by the writings of Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland and left the church in 1903 to found The Order of the Cross. The Order was dedicated to the compassionate life and the realisation of Christ within, promoting a pacifist and vegetarian way of life, the most important spiritual aims being the cultivation of the spirit of love towards all souls, helping the weak and defending the defenceless and oppressed; abstaining from hurting creatures and flesh-eating and living on the pure foods so abundantly provided by nature; and walking in the mystical way of life. Frances would have been considered very unconventional for her era by following the teachings of The Order of the Cross and for adopting a unique style of dress that was heavily influenced by the teachings of simplicity by The Order of the Cross and the clothing of Ancient Greece realised through the influence of Isadora Duncan. Frances’s daughters also adopted this style, the clothing being free-flowing and tunic-like made of homespun fabric, with a disregard for shoes in preference to sandals. The Spong family home at Warren House Farm played host to several Summer Schools of The Order of the Cross during the 1920’s. Frances was also a supporter of the women’s suffrage movement and attended several of the demonstrations and processions organised by the Women’s Social and Political Union. She also believed that all the daughters should be trained in a career allowing them to be independently supporting, an alien concept for most daughters of Victorian upper middle class families whose security in adult life was considered to be a ‘suitable’ and financially well-matched husband. Frances died in 1929 at the age of eighty-six having lived an unconventional life that reflects the changing attitudes and climate of the early part of the 20th century.

The second child and eldest Spong daughter was Minnie Frances who was born in Kensington in 1869. In the early years of her life Minnie was also known as Minn, but later, after becoming a committed vegetarian, chose be known by her second name, Frances, after her father named one of his meat mincers ‘The Minnie’. Minnie never married and followed a career as a teacher, teaching in Africa for part of her life, and moving to Warren House Farm with her parents in 1911. Minnie, like her mother, also followed The Order of the Cross and was a committed vegetarian. At Warren House Farm, Minnie appears to have taken charge of growing the fruit and vegetables required for their diet. This venture must have been very successful as she was able to produce not only enough for the Spong consumption but also an excess. This excess was initially sold at the East Grinstead Market held in the High Street, but later Minnie ran or supplied an open-air vegetable market in London Road. Minnie was also involved with the women’s suffrage movement although she does not appear to have been as active as her mother and sisters as there is no information held about her in the archive of the Suffragette Fellowship Collection.

The third child and second Spong daughter was Annie Eliza who was born in Kensington in 1870. By the 1890’s Annie had become a highly regarded portrait painter of corporate dignitaries, working from her Studio in Gower Street, London. Portraits included such dignitaries as T Vezey Strong, Alderman of the City of London, J H Anderson and W T Rabbits, Past Masters of the Fanmakers’ Company, Rev. Alex Connell, chairman of the Presbyterian Missionary Society, and R T Turnbull and T Bell, Elders of Regent’s Square Presbyterian Church. Annie, like her mother and sisters, supported the women’s suffrage movement and followed the teachings of The Order of the Cross. Annie, as a member of the women’s suffrage movement, attended demonstrations and processions organised by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), but unlike several of her sisters, Annie would appear to have been less active in the movement and was not arrested or imprisoned for her support!

Around 1900, Annie moved to a new Studio at 66 Adelaide Road, Hampstead, where she set up home with fellow artist Joseph Syddall. In the early years of 1900, Annie became influenced by Isadora Duncan, being trained in Paris, along with four other students, in the unique style of movement and dance by Isadora’s brother Raymond Duncan. It had been Raymond who had introduced Isadora to the wonders and images of Ancient Greece on which many of her dance movements and poses were based. Isadora had been born in San Francisco on 26th May 1877, and as a child she had trained in classical ballet. In 1900 she visited Paris, where she and her brother Raymond attended the Comedie Francaise where they saw a production of Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus Rex’. For Isadora and Raymond this Greek tragedy caught their imaginations and they embarked upon an exhaustive study of Greek antiquities. By 1903, Isadora had formulated her ideas about dance and movement in relation to her studies of Ancient Greece and gave a lecture in Berlin entitled ‘The Dance of the Future’, which was to become the manifesto of Modern Dance and a feminist classic. Isadora used the physical discipline of her classical ballet training to give bodily strength to produce free, curvilinear movements emanating from the solar plexus, but unlike ballet where the steps are set to music, Isadora’s own technique of dance composition was created from movement that grew out of the emotion evoked by the music. Her vocabulary of dance comprised of simple runs, skips and jumps, large expressive gestures and playful mime, performed barelegged and with bare feet in loose, flimsy tunics that were heavily influenced by the images of Ancient Greece.

The private life of Isadora was as unconventional as her ideas about dance and movement as both were constantly defying existing taboos. She did not believe in marriage although she had two children, the first, Deidre, by stage designer Gordon Craig and the second, Patrick, by prominent art patron Paris Singer, sadly both children were tragically killed in a car accident in 1913. By then Isadora was permanently based in Europe but touring extensively all over the world. In 1920 Isadora was invited to Moscow to establish a dance school based on her ideas. Whilst in Russia she met Sergey Aleksandrovich Yesenin, whom she reluctantly married enabling him to tour with her in America. Unfortunately the American tour was not a success, the audiences accusing them of being Bolshevik agents. Leaving her native country, Isadora vowed never to return, settling in Nice. Here her marriage foundered and a mentally unstable Yesenin returned to Russia where he committed suicide in 1925. Tragically, Isadora died two years later in 1927 when her scarf caught in the spokes of the spinning rear wheel of the Bugatti racing car in which she was travelling as a passenger, killing her instantly.

The legacy of Isadora Duncan was the birth of Modern Dance, paving the way for future dancers to listen to the music with their souls and create their own dance. It was following this influence that, at the end of the First World War, Annie opened her own dance school operating from her Studio at Adelaide Road, Hampstead, from 1919. The style of dancing was first advertised as Spong Rhythmic Dancing and was demonstrated in May 1919 by students of the Spong School accompanied by students of the Incorporated London Academy of Music. By 1920 the style of dance was known as Natural Movement Dancing being further enriched by Annie’s understanding of the teachings of The Order of the Cross. With a change of career came a change of name and Annie became known as Annea. Along with her school, Annea also ran Summer Schools for dancing based on natural movement at her parent’s home of Warren House Farm from 1920. The Summer School was advertised as open air dancing held in ‘beautiful grounds and orchards, under avenues of magnificent chestnut trees in invigorating air’. Here students, ranging from adults down to small children, were instructed in this ‘modern’ form of dance. Annea believed that dancing was a language, able to convey thoughts, feelings, vision and spirit. She is quoted as saying ‘Dance has outer form and inner content’, which she believed was able to release, relax and restore body and soul. The exercises increase energy and flexibility, tone muscles, reduce stress, improve the cardiovascular function, boost self-esteem and correct posture and body alignment. Annea’s legacy to the world of dance is that to this day her Natural Movement Dance is still taught both here and abroad. Today Natural Movement Dance, founded upon the classic Greek positions as advocated by Isadora Duncan and taught in England by Annea in the early 1920’s, provides a programme of movements that promotes balance, grace, poise, rhythm, creative expression, joy, inner peace and a feeling of well being, all of which are very beneficial for everyday health in this modern world.

The fourth child and third Spong daughter was Florence, born in Wandsworth in 1873. Florence trained as a weaver and artistic dressmaker, and was possibly responsible for the home spun tunics that the Spong ladies so favoured. She also studied lace-making in Spain and wood-carving under Sir Hubert von Herkomer, the British Social Realist painter who was born in Bavaria in 1849 and whose family settled in Southampton in England in 1857. Again, like her mother and sisters she followed the teachings of The Order of the Cross and was involved with the women’s suffrage movement. In 1909, Florence was arrested, accused of stone throwing, after taking part in the Women’s Social and Political Union’s deputation on 29th June, she was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment. Whilst in prison she went on hunger strike and was released early from Holloway. A family legend conveyed to us by the grandson of Dora, tells that Florence became acquainted with Sir Vesey Strong, (later Lord Mayor of London), when he sat for a portrait by her sister Annie. The story tells that they were almost engaged when Florence and her younger sister Dora were arrested on Black Friday, November 18th, 1910, when police attacked a women’s delegation to Parliament. Florence came up before Vesey Strong JP in court and was sent to Holloway, consequently ending a beautiful and what could have been lucrative relationship. A problem for the grandson of Dora is that the portrait was painted in 1901, which, as he suggests, was ‘rather a long period of “almost engagement”’. However, Florence is recorded as being arrested and sentenced to two months imprisonment for stone throwing in disgust of the way women had been treated in Parliament Square on Black Friday, so there may be some truth in the Spong family story. Florence never married and acted as housekeeper for Annea during her professional career as an artist. In 1917, Florence jointly purchased property in Crawley Down Road with her brother James William and her sister Minnie Frances, although she appears not to have lived there. In 1925, this property, now the site of nos. 111-113 and Vine Cottage, was eventually sold by Florence and her sister Minnie Frances, (both recorded as living at Warren Farm), to Benjamin Walter Dallyn. Florence was also housekeeper to Rev John Todd Ferrier, the founder of The Order of the Cross until his death in 1943, after which she and her sister Annea set up home together in Hampstead Garden Suburb, Annea having lost her partner, Joseph Syddall in 1942, believed to have been killed when Annea’s Studio in Adelaide Road was bombed in the Second World War.

The sixth child and fourth Spong daughter was Dora, born in Balham in 1879. Dora trained in the nursing profession and by 1903 had qualified as a midwife and sanitary inspector. Like her mother and sisters, Dora followed the teaching of The Order of the Cross and became a committed vegetarian. She was also an active member of the women’s suffrage movement joining the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1908. Later that year she was arrested for obstruction after taking part in the deputation to the House of Commons, and was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment. She was arrested again in 1910 in a demonstration in Parliament Square known as ‘Black Friday’, this time being discharged, and was arrested again in 1912, this time sentenced to 2 months imprisonment with hard labour. After her spell in jail, Dora received a commemorative scroll signed by Emmeline Pankhurst. By 1910 Dora had met and married Ralph John Beedham, an accomplished wood engraver who was sympathetic to her cause. The couple had met through a rambling club formed from members of the City Temple, High Holborn. Ralph Beedham was born in London to a family of Yorkshire origin. He was apprenticed at the age of thirteen and had trained as a commercial reproductive engraver. Most engravers of the period did not draw their own work only engrave that of an artist and Ralph was no exception even though he was very accomplished at drawing. By the time that Ralph had completed his six-year apprenticeship in 1899, most illustrations were done by photographic methods making his skill as an engraver of illustrations for newspapers and periodicals redundant. Ralph decided to embrace the concept of creative engraving as an artistic medium and made his career out of teaching and supporting craftsmen and women who took up wood engraving as an artistic expression, eventually becoming an instructor of wood engraving at the School of Photo-Engraving at Bolt Court in London. Ralph also studied lettering under Eric Gill and joined him as an assistant at Ditchling in Sussex in the early 1920’s. Whilst working with Gill, Ralph produced a handbook on engraving that was originally published as a craft product on handmade paper at Ditchling and which was later published in a number of editions by Faber and Faber. Ralph also gained work by re-engraving the wood-cut illustrations of historical texts, such as the Kelmscott Press reproductions of Chaucer and Decameron.

In 1913, Ralph Beedham became a vegetarian, like his wife Dora, and during the early years of the First World War, Dora and Ralph attempted farming in Woolmer Green in Hertfordshire, where they were joined for a short time by Dora’s sister Irene and her two children. The Beedham’s later moved to Vine Cottage, Crawley Down Road, the property purchased by James William, Minnie Frances and Florence Spong, opposite Dora’s parent’s home of Warren House Farm. Here Dora and Ralph’s children, Ruth born in 1914 and David in 1918, embraced the unconventional life style of the Spongs, wearing loose fitting tunics and sandals. When Vine Cottage was sold in 1925, the Beedham family moved to Hampstead Garden Suburb, first living in attic rooms in the house of Dora’s sister Irene, before settling in their own home. In the mid 1950’s Dora and Ralph went to live with their daughter Ruth and her family in Pirbright, Surrey, where Dora died in 1969 aged 90. Ralph then moved with Ruth and her family to Brill in Buckinghamshire, where he died in 1975 aged 96.

The seventh child and fifth Spong daughter was Irene Osborne, who was born in Balham in 1882. Irene studied music and, again like her mother and sisters, was influenced by the teachings of The Order of the Cross and supported the women’s suffrage movement, although there is little information held about her in the archive of the Suffragette Fellowship Collection implying that she was not that active. However, the publication Votes for Women carried advertisements for Irene as a singer, and she gave concerts in aid of the suffrage movement’s cause as well as giving singing lessons and voice production to members of the WSPU. Like Dora, Irene met her future husband, Norman Ierson Parley, through membership of the City Temple in High Holborn, and they married in 1910, having two children, Ivor born in 1911 and Joan born in 1913. Norman had been a youthful cricketer and played chess for Middlesex, being one of only a few Englishmen to beat José Raoul Capablanca, the Cuban chess player who dominated the chess world between 1921 and 1927. Norman was also a keen walker and artist and kept diaries and sketchbooks of all his long expeditions. He became in turn, a vegetarian, a pacifist, and a Quaker, refusing to fight in the Great War, and like his brother-in-law Ralph Beedham, was also sympathetic to the cause of the women’s suffrage movement. Irene was close to her older sister Dora and with the outbreak of the First World War, Irene and her two children joined the Beedham family in Hertfordshire when her husband Norman went to Holland with the Quakers. Shortly after the War, Norman joined the printing and publishing firm of Percy Lund Humphries with whom he worked until his retirement. His work gave him scope for his enthusiasm and interest of old manuscripts and medieval church architecture, producing such books as The Canterbury Psalter, The Exeter Book, and The Ancient Glass of Canterbury Cathedral. During his latter years he became increasing interested in mysticism and for the last thirty years of his life was a Trustee for The Order of the Cross. Irene died at the age of seventy-eight in 1960 and Norman died a year later in May 1961, also aged seventy-eight. Their daughter Joan was a great family record keeper and moved to New Zealand but still remained in close contact with her cousin Ruth, passing on much of the Spong family information and photographs.

Departure of the Spong family and Warren House Farm
It is unclear exactly when the Spong family moved from Warren House Farm, although James Osborn Spong died in 1925, being buried in the churchyard at St John’s, Felbridge. According to Spong family information, his wife Frances died in 1929, but she is not buried in the churchyard at St John’s implying that she may have moved from the Felbridge area. However, a Felbridge resident who is now in his eighties lived opposite Warren House Farm as a child and remembers the two ‘elderly sisters’ who used to give him rides in their pony and trap and allowed him and his friends to play in their field. These two sisters were probably Frances and Florence who both gave their address as Warren Farm when they sold Vine Cottage and its attached land in 1925.

Evidence suggests that Warren House Farm remained with the Spong family until the early 1930’s when part of the land was sold for development and the house and immediate surrounding land was purchased by Mr and Mrs Brex. The first development appears to have been five bungalows on the east side of Rowplatt Lane, in the field that the Spong’s called Heather Field, bounded on the north by the line of sweet chestnut trees that run along the side of Twitten Lane. These bungalows include Harmonie that was built prior to 1937, One Oak, Marbeth, Holly Bush and Pulruan, now called Collingwood. One Oak was offered for sale in June 1937 after the death of John Joseph McManus of Pine Crest on Woodcock Hill in Felbridge, being described as a ‘substantial modern bungalow’, and from the sales photograph looks newly built suggesting that John McManus had purchased some of Warren House Farm as a speculative property investment. Holy Bush, a market garden run by the Mitchell family, and Pulruan, were later developed as Tithe Orchard in 1989 by Jonathan Selby Estates, creating a close of five luxury properties. There is also evidence to suggest that at the time the five bungalows were being built, there were two properties built on the south side of Twitten Lane, a garage block on the site of what is now The Boat House, and the house called Dewley Mead.

In 1932, the building line was implemented along Crawley Down Road suggesting that around this time the series of properties extending from the entrance of Warren Close, (formerly the entrance to Warren House Farm) to the beginning of McIver Close were built, McIver Close falling outside the bounds of Warren House Farm when owned by the Spong family. These properties are, Beechcroft, Dragons, formerly called Meadhurst, a pair of semi-detached houses called Spinbaldok and the Ferns, and two more houses called Oak House and Windermere, the latter built by Lakes, builders of Felbridge, for Albert John Lake, the head of the building firm, and his wife Ethel who lived there until their deaths in 1974 and 1971, being aged ninety-three and eighty-six respectively.

When the Brex family purchased Warren House Farm in the early to mid 1930’s, the property consisted of the farmhouse, gardens, and the field to the adjoining Rowplatt Lane. Local residents remember that Mr Brex had a car, a rarity in Felbridge at that time, which he kept in the barn. The Brex’s did not keep livestock and the farmland was left as rough grass and orchards. The field remained open ground until 1950 when Godstone Rural District Council acquired it and built five pairs of houses, followed by a further two terraces of three houses in 1963. Finally, the site of the house and garden at Warren House Farm was developed by Manning Cooper (Felbridge) Ltd. between 1965 and 1968 as a close of twenty-one houses now known as Warren Close.

Development of Upper Warren Field and New Field Wood
The whole of Upper Warren field and New Field Wood was purchased by Robert Percy Chinneck who built a property which was named Merle Cottage on plot 209, around 1916. Robert Chinneck occupied Merle Cottage until his death in September 1928, when he died at the relatively young age of forty-six being buried in St John’s churchyard. Robert Chinneck was born in Dawlish in Devon in 1882, the son of John and Harriet Chinneck who were the school master and school mistress at the Dawlish School in Old Town Street. Robert had at least three brothers, William born in 1875, Sydney born in 1879 and Walter born in 1884, and one sister, Winifred born in 1880. All the children entered into professions, Winifred becoming a school mistress like her mother, and the boys all entered business as clerks of one description or another. In 1901, Robert Chinneck was working as a clerk in the Railway Agents Office and had presumably acquired enough wealth to move to Felbridge sometime between 1901 and 1916, having Merle Cottage built. Set well off the Crawley Down Road, Merle Cottage was not visible from the road, the entrance to the property being where the entrance to McIver Close is now situated. There was an orchard at the back of Merle Cottage where chicken ran freely and as well as in what was described as a ‘rough field’, now the site of the Felbridge Village Hall and Recreation Ground. At the time of Robert Chinneck’s death in 1928, Merle Cottage may have been sold or leased out, but the remaining property stayed in the hands of the Chinneck family until 1956. In the 1930’s Merle Cottage was occupied by Mr and Mrs Channon, Mr Channon being a Governor at Felbridge School and as local legend has it, his wife Margaret was an opera singer who had sung at the Albert Hall. Mr Channon was remembered by children of Felbridge School as being rather short and for wearing ‘high heeled’ shoes, no doubt to compensate for his lack of inches. Unfortunately, no information has yet emerged to confirm whether Margaret Channon was a singer so this will have to remain a story until further evidence can be found to prove or disprove it. The Channons must have moved from Merle Cottage by the late 1940’s, as the property was then occupied by Mrs M A Wingrave until its sale in 1956.

There is evidence from covenants in deeds for the area that some of the Chinneck land was sold in 1934, which may have included Merle Cottage, plot 209. The sale definitely included plot 200, adjoining the east side of Rowplatt Lane from Twitten Lane to the junction with the Copthorne Road, (originally the site of the kiln working area), and part of plot 205, sold for development. The east end of plot 205 was acquired by Felbridge School to include within their grounds and known as The Glades. The 1934 sale left the Chinneck family with the remaining part of plot 205, and the ‘rough field’, part of plot 208. A small section at the east end, of this field, next to the site of Cluden, had been purchased by Jonas John Sinden of Beechwood, Crawley Down Road, sometime between 1916 and 1928, and in 1928 he offered it to Felbridge School as a playing field for their own use instead of having to use the Village Green. Initially the school rented the field from him, but eventually the field was purchased and now forms a much needed school playing field, next to the Felbridge Village Hall and Recreation Ground.

The 1934 sale of part of the Chinneck land saw the development of three bungalows, Bitterne Cottage, Gentian Cottage, formerly April Cottage, Ibstock, and one house, Wild Meadow, on the east side of Rowplatt Lane from Twitten Lane to the junction with the Copthorne Road. In later years two more houses were erected on the east side of Rowplatt Lane, Firswood and Greensward House, both sub-divisions of already established properties. Two houses, Birchwood and Dundori, were also built on the north side of Twitten Lane, making a lane of three houses, with a fourth house, The Boat House, converted from a garage block in the early 1980’s. The land with a frontage to the Copthorne Road was developed initially with a proposed close of five houses known as The Crescent, licensed to Sidney Joseph Wood on 11th June 1934. The first property to be built here, plot no. 3, was registered to Sidney Joseph Wood on 31st May 1939. The property built on plot no. 3, Penlee Cottage, now known as 39 Copthorne Road, was constructed by E J Mills, builder and contractor of Felbridge, for Mrs Ethel Case who took possession on 23rd October 1939. Ethel Case had been widowed in World War I when her husband Francis had died as a prisoner of war at Kiel in Germany in August 1918. Ethel had been living at 26 Rowplatt Lane and was also the daughter of Professor Furneaux, the eminent zoologist, who lived at Penlee, now Thicket Cottage, Crawley Down Road. The new house, named Penlee Cottage, was built with two separate and distinct living areas and evidence suggests that Professor Furneaux, by then in advanced age, joined his daughter in the new property.

The development of the remaining plots in The Crescent was interrupted during the Second World War and in 1945, after the war had finished, a new proposal was put forward that would have incorporated plots in The Crescent as part of a development of fourteen houses that was to run between the Copthorne Road and Crawley Down Road, covering what is now the site of the Felbridge Village Hall, the Recreation Ground and the woodland behind the Recreation Ground. It was through the foresight and persistence of Mrs Nancy McIver, a great benefactor of Felbridge, that the vast majority of this land was successfully secured as an ‘open space to be enjoyed by the people of Felbridge in perpetuity’. It took a further eleven years of negotiating before the land was successfully purchased from Lydia Frost Chinneck, John Elston Chinneck and Robert McNeil as trustees of the Chinneck estate, for the value of £900, being conveyed to Godstone Rural District Council creating what is now the site of the Felbridge Village Hall, Recreation Ground and woodland behind the Recreation Ground. The immediate use was as an open space for the enjoyment of the people of Felbridge resulting in the relocation of the previous Recreation Ground at Oak Farm, further along the Crawley Down Road, Godstone RDC deeming it unnecessary for Felbridge to have two Recreation Grounds. The result was that the two bronze plaques that were once positioned at the entrance of the old Recreation Ground were moved to the gate posts of the new Recreation Ground, the new area also taking the name of the King George’s Field from the old area. Ultimately, Nancy McIver envisaged the area as a potential site for a Village Hall to replace the old St John’s (Felbridge) Institute that had been built in 1924 on the Copthorne Road, thus making the new site an ideal village centre. It took a further eight years before construction started on the new Village Hall to replace the old Institute, being completed and opened in 1965 at the cost of £19,136. 3s. 11d, with a note left by Nancy McIver that stated, ‘We never asked for or received any money from the Rates’.

The remaining plots in The Crescent were eventually built on in the 1960’s and 1970’s, making a crescent of four properties and not the five that were initially envisaged. The remaining Chinneck land that sold in 1934, between The Crescent and the end of Rowplatt Lane, was developed as three houses, now nos. 43 to 47 Copthorne Road, built shortly after the Second world War, with the garden of no. 47 being subdivided at a later date and developed as Casa Inca, 47a Copthorne Road. With the change in the development connected with The Crescent, Merle Cottage with nearly three acres of land, formerly plot 209, was put on the market in 1956, being purchased by Matthew Anthony Cripps. The property was renamed Alton House and a programme of building work extended the small cottage to create a large and substantial house.

Matthew Anthony Cripps, known as Tony, was born in London in December 1913, the son of a cavalry officer, being educated at Eton before going to Christ Church, Oxford. He joined the Royal Leicestershire Regiment as a territorial in 1933, and was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1938 where he entered the chamber of his uncle Sir Stafford Cripps, the prominent statesmen, lawyer, and Chancellor for Clement Attlee’s Labour party between 1947 and 1950. Three years later he married Dorothea Scott, the sister of his former second-in-command, and they had three sons. During World War II, Tony Cripps served with the 1st/5th Leicesters and in 1943, during a campaign in Tunisia, he was awarded a DSO whilst in command of a composite company from the 2nd/5th Leicesters. At the end of the war he returned to the Bar and moved to the chambers of Frank Soskice, later Lord Stowhill. He soon established himself as a leading expert on agricultural land law, publishing two books on the subject, and re-editing the book ‘Cripps on Compensation, the practitioners’ textbook’ that had originally been written by his grandfather, the 1st Lord Parmoor, which had been later updated by his uncle Sir Stafford Cripps. In 1961 Tony Cripps succeeded Christopher Shawcross as Recorder of Nottingham and from 1978 to 1990 he was also deputy senior judge at the British Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus. He had a keen interested in politics and in the 1950 General Election he contested Bosworth for the Conservative party. He headed several committees at Central Office, including the Cripps Committee on Women’s Rights in 1969, the Northumberland Committee of Inquiry into Foot and Mouth Disease in 1968-69 and the Committee of Inquiry into the Export of Live Animals for Slaughter in 1973-74. The latter involved a tour of abattoirs in South America and Europe, so appalled at what he saw he was unable to eat meat for sometime afterwards. He was appointed CBE in 1971 and through his work on the National Panel for Approved Coal Merchants was invited to join the Fuellers, a newly formed City Livery Company of which he was Grand Master in 1990.

The Cripps family lived at Alton House for nearly thirty years before it was put on the market in 1986, when the family moved to Buckinghamshire. At the time of sale, Alton House was described as ‘altered and extended over the years in the Tudor style and having seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, four reception rooms and an annexe’. Standing in nearly three acres of land, the property attracted a lot of interest from developers but planning consent was not granted for development until 1994, the house having stood empty for all those years suffered several attacks of vandalism and a fire. The site was eventually developed by Charles Church Development in 1994 as a close of ten luxury dwellings being given the name of McIver Close, (McIver pronounced McEever), after the lady who had provided the Recreation Ground in the adjoining field. To gain a wide enough entrance to the close some of the remaining strip of Hedgecourt Common had to be cut through and an equal area of land had to be given in exchange from the development, which is why there is a wide strip of hedging and waste land between the path under the sweet chestnut trees and the boundary of the close. Tony Cripps lived long enough to see the sale and development of Alton House, dying at the age of eighty-three in 1996.

In 2000, Charles Church Developments secured more development land to the west of McIver Close with the purchase of a piece of landlocked woodland and the incorporation of the back gardens of Windermere, Oak House and Rookery Nook. This development of five luxury houses was named Evelyn Close after the Evelyn family who held the Felbridge estate until 1855.

The tip of the Felbridge Triangle
The tip of the Felbridge triangle, now referred to as the Felbridge Village Green, still remains as common land, and forms the majority of the surviving area of what was once Hedgecourt Common. The Green is remembered as little better than scrub land well into the 1940’s. It was once used by the children of Felbridge School as a playing field before they were able to rent and eventually purchase the field to the west of the school, also as an area to hold the occasional village fete, and, in living memory, as an area where Romany gypsies with their painted wagons would gather to hold horse fairs. The Green is no longer host to such events and is now an open space that is well kept and gives a focal centre to the village of Felbridge, being in front of the school and opposite the village shop. The triangular green is scattered with a few trees and is now home to the Felbridge Village Sign, commissioned and erected by the Felbridge Parish Council in 1984. For those who wish to sit and watch the world go by there is a choice of four seats around the Green. One to the south of the school, erected in the memory of Charlie and Dora Wheeler in 1973, another in front of the school erected in the memory of Mrs Edna Roberts in 2000, the third seat looks towards the Village Sign and the point of the Green, erected in the memory of Ken Housman in 2003 for his long service to the Felbridge Parish Council and commitment to the village of Felbridge, and the fourth, looking towards Crawley Down Road, was presented to the parish in 1987 by Marjorie Jones of Stream Park to replace a seat that had been damaged.

This last part of Hedgecourt Common, although at times under threat by road improvement schemes, should remain intact because being common land it is protected by the Commons Registration Act of 1965 and the use of the land is governed by a set of Bye Laws administered by Tandridge District Council.

The Future of the Felbridge ‘Triangle’
Lying between three roads, the Felbridge ‘Triangle’ has existed since the earliest tracks across Hedgecourt Common encompassed the area. Formerly the triangle was made up of common land being enclosed by the early 18th century. The first development of the area occurred with the construction of two small cottages at the west end of the two ‘New Fields’, one of which remained until the 20th century, known as Warren House Farm. The break up and sale of the Felbridge Place estate in 1911 was to determine the ultimate fate of the ‘Triangle’. The whole estate was sold for the purpose of development and the ‘Triangle’ was no exception, the first division occurring in 1916 when part of it was bought by James Osborn Spong and the other part by Robert Percy Chinneck. With the sale of Warren House Farm in the early 1930’s ribbon development began to creep along the east side of Rowplatt Lane and the north side of Crawley Down Road. At the same time, Chinneck held land was also being sold off for various developments, along the bottom end of Rowplatt Lane to join up with the Warren House Farm development of Rowplatt Lane, and along the south side of Copthorne Road between the school and Rowplatt Lane. Eventually, the sites of the former residences of the Spong’s and Chinneck’s, Warren House and Merle Cottage, later known as Alton House, were developed as Warren Close and McIver Close, leaving only the site of the Felbridge Village Hall and Recreation Ground, Felbridge Primary School and grounds, and the Felbridge Village Green free from secondary development. With no available land left to develop within the Felbridge ‘Triangle’, infill development has replaced the original ribbon development, with sections of gardens sold off, the first infill development being Tithe Orchard followed by Evelyn Close.

There may yet be more infill development but for the time being restrictions placed on the site of the Recreation Ground prevents any further development of this area, and there is unlikely to be any development within the grounds of Felbridge Primary School. This just leaves the Felbridge Village Green which is still common land and as such is protected by the Commons Registration Act. Although there has been a dramatic reduction in the original extent of common land that once lay between the trackways across Hedgecourt Common forming the Felbridge ‘Triangle’, there is at least one small piece remaining of this ancient common, ironically a triangle at the apex of the Felbridge ‘Triangle’, now called the Felbridge Village Green.


Hedgecourt Common, Fact Sheet, SJC 07/01, FHA
Victoria History of Surrey
Bourd map, 1748, FHA
Oxford Companion to Local and Family History
Enclosure Map of Horne, Bletchingley Court Rolls, Ref. 447/1-2, SHC
Roman Ways of the Weald, by I D Margary
Roman Legacy in Felbridge, Fact Sheet, SJC 11/01, FHA
Felbridge Rope Walk, Fact Sheet, SJC 02/05, FHA
Documented memories of Dr P Merritt, FHA
Godstone by U Lambert
Evelyn Chestnuts Fact Sheet, JIC 09/00, FHA
Burial Register of St John the Divine, Felbridge, FHA
Census Records for 1841, 1851, 1871, 1881 and 1901, FHA
Evelyn Estate Tithe, 1801, SHC 3069/1
Godstone Tithe map and apportionment, 1840, FHA
Sale map and catalogue of the Felbridge estate, 1855, FHA
Sale map and catalogue of the Felbridge Place estate, 1911, FHA
Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge – James Osborn Spong, Fact Sheet SJC 05/04, FHA
Mrs Wheeler’s Scrapbook, FHA
Covenants of 1911 Sale of Felbridge Place estate, FHA
Title Deeds to 113 Crawley Down Road, FHA
Spiritual Aims and Ideals of The Order of The Cross, FHA
The Women’s Suffrage Movement, A Reference Guide 1866-1928, by E Crawford
The Misses Spong by M J Leppard, Compass no.15, FHA
Some Appreciations & Press Opinions of Portraits Painted by Miss Annie E Spong, FHA
Isadora Duncan and ‘The Dance’ by B J Zavrel
Natural Movement Dance http://www.naturalmovementdance.com
A History of British Wood Engraving by A Garrett
Ralph J Beedham, article from the Vegatarian Gazette, 1970, FHA
Obituary of Norman I Parley, The Times, 1961, FHA
Sale Catalogue for Pine Crest and One Oak, 1937, FHA
Background information and deeds to the Felbridge Recreation Ground, FHA
Minutes of the Felbridge Parish Council
Felbridge School Log, 1905-1983
Felbridge Parish Magazine, 1932 -1952, ref.3702/7/1-3, SHC
Title Deeds to 19 Warren Close, FHA
Title Deeds to Penlee Cottage, The Crescent, Copthorne Road, FHA
Minutes of the Felbridge Village Hall, 1971-1984, FHA
Mrs McIver’s Scrapbook, FHA
Obituary of Anthony Cripps, The Times, FHA
Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, http://www.makingthemodernworld.org.uk
Bye Laws of Felbridge Green Common, 1924, FHA
Documented memoirs of Felbridge residents H Heselden and M Jones, former Felbridge residents A Hillman, D Wedge and F Wheeler, FHA

Grateful thanks are extended to Peter Wickenden, a descendant of the Spong family, for all his information and numerous photographs of the family.

SJC 03/05