History of Gullege

History of Gullege

The house known as Gullege is located to the South of Felbridge, on the outskirts of East Grinstead. It is accessed on the North side along a sunken tree-lined track leading from Crawley Down Road, Felbridge and from the East along the pre-historic East/West Ridgeway that is now a bridle-way leading from Imberhorne Lane, East Grinstead, passing Imberhorne Farm and on to Hophurst Hill, Crawley Down, passing Hophurst Farm. The house at Gullege was described by R Mason, the founder of the Wealden Buildings Study Group, as ‘a charming Tudor house that stands, isolated and dignified, completely surrounded by meadows...’ It is perhaps due to this ‘isolation’ that very little is known about or has been documented about the enigmatic property known as Gullege.

The name ‘Gullege’ first appears in 1361 when Johannes Alfrey returns as MP for East Grinstead and is reputedly listed ‘of Gullege’. The name itself is enigmatic with no authorised definition. Over the centuries it has been documented as Gullege, Le/La Gullage/Gullege, Gullege, Gullidge, Gulledge and currently Gullege. A possible meaning for the name is golle, gulle from Middle English, possibly gul meaning ‘yellow or pale’, and age ‘indicating residence or place’, or ege from ‘ridge or edge’ i.e. yellow place/ridge or pale place/ridge. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the name derives from galoche, galoge, Old French then Middle English for ‘a kind of foot wear’. However, the latter tends to be connected to the surname of Golledge/Gulledge/Gullage/Gullege but there is no documented evidence that ‘Gullege’, the property, was ever in the ownership of a family with that name in any form of spelling at any point of time. From the location of ‘Gullege’ it would seem more likely to refer to the ridge on which it stands, being a sandstone and clay ridge it could be construed as a yellow ridge.

There is evidence of human activity in the Gullege area dating from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (8300-700 BC), with finds including microliths, flint scrapers and flint cores, right through to coins of the present day. There is also evidence of industrial activity dating to the Roman period with the discovery of two bloomery sites adjacent to the River Fel that runs to the North of Gullege, one being dated to the 3rd century. The fields adjacent to the current property of Gullege have a smattering of medieval finds, ranging from the 1200’s to 1400’s, including a cauldron foot, silver cuff link, knife handle, Edward I silver ¼d (1272), Edward II ½d (1471) and a sword belt hanger, and it should be noted that it is not until the medieval period that any reference to ‘Gullege’ is documented. However, the finds in the fields adjacent to the house significantly increase from the 1500’s to the late 1800’s, implying an increase of human activity in the area. Finds include, lead spindle whorls, lead tokens, Elizabethan coins ranging from 1558 to 1590, musket balls, some found within the grounds of Gullege, spur buckles, an 18th century Spanish silver coin, spoons, keys, buttons, lead candleholder, lid of a chaffing dish, numerous Georgian coins, hop tokens, horse brasses and pieces of harness, particularly from the 19th century, lead sack seals, Victorian coins, a Napoleon III silver 20 centime piece dated to 1866, and a few coins and pieces of jewellery from the early part of the 20th century. This evidence would suggest that human occupation may have relocated within the Gullege area sometime around the 1500’s. To locate the centre(s) of earlier human activity will require more archaeological fieldwork to be carried out.

Gullege was in the ownership of the Alfrey family from 1361 until about 1662, although the Alfrey family had been connected with this area since 1296, when Robert Alfrey, a burgess, was listed ‘of Ristonden’, the hundred in which the area now known as Gullege was situated from the 13th century. It is from the documents associated with the Alfrey family that the early history of Gullege can begin to be pieced together, but to understand the area more fully you need to start with the Doomsday Book of 1086.

It has been suggested that the property of Gullege superseded the manor of Warlege that appears in the Doomsday Book. Warlege, translated into modern English as Warley, was listed as part of the Hundred of East Grinstead and at the time of the Doomsday survey was held by William de Cahanges (Keynes) from the Count de Mortain, who held the Rape of Pevensey, although Warley was listed as outside the Rape, being in the Rape of Lewes. Warley was previously held by Vlueua (Wulfeva) who had held it from King Edward (the Confessor), as one manor that had never paid tax, which consisted of two hides of land. A hide covered about 120 acres, varying according to the quality of the soil and the nature of the terrain. Generally it was an area that could be ploughed by a team of eight oxen in a year, and was considered to be sufficient to support a family. The Doomsday Book records there being land for five ploughs, three held by villeins or villagers, implying that the villagers worked two for the manor as their agricultural service as unfree tenants of manorial land. On the basis of two hides and five ploughs, the manor of Warley would have been between 240 and 600 acres, probably erring towards the higher number of acres due to the poor and damp nature of the soil in the area. Taking the difference between the lowest possible and highest possible acreage it would seem plausible that the manor of Warley extended to about 420 acres and supported the manor complex and at least three villein families working three farms. It was also recorded that there was also enough grazing for five pigs, with enough woodland for two pigs, not to mention grazing for the teams of ploughing oxen. This implies an area of mixed arable, pasture, meadow and woodland.

To date there is little evidence to pinpoint the exact location of Warley, although there are tantalising clues. In 1086, Warley was listed in the Hundred of East Grinstead but outside the Rape in which East Grinstead was situated, implying it must be on the extreme or boundary of the area. For it to be held by William de Cahagnes sites it firmly within the manor of Broadhurst, as this was the seat of the de Cahagnes family. By 1272, there is evidence that parts of the Hundred of East Grinstead had been transferred to different administrative authorities, and the Hundred of Riston et Denne (Ristonedenne, Russhetonden, Rushmunden, Rushmonden) gained the tithing of Horsted Keynes and consequently the area of Warley. In this early medieval period, the manor of Broadhurst stretched from Horsted Keynes, in the extreme South to the old line of the Crawley Down Road, Felbridge at the extreme North. The manor of Warley was wedged between the lands of South Malling Lindfield Manor on the West and Imberhorne Manor, on the East.

It had been suggested that ‘Warlege’ developed into the word ‘Gullege’, but this has been proved to be philologically incorrect. Within the study of the development of language it is accepted that the letter W would not develop into a G, but this does not mean the two places are not connected. It is suggested that the evolution of Warlege to Wardlegh, Wardleigh and then Wardley is the more accurate development of the word, which would imply that the Doomsday manor of Warlege developed into the borough of Wardleigh, the small tithing in the Hundred of Danehill Horsted, the later name of Rushmonden. It is generally believed that the borough of Wardleigh encompassed the lands of Tilkhurst Farm, the lands that were once part of the current Gullege and one other farm, as yet unidentified. As a point of interest, the Alfrey family once owned both the properties of Gullege and Tilkhurst, Gullege listed from 1361, and Tilkhurst by 1504, when Edmund, grandson of John Alfrey, is listed ‘of Gullege and Tilkhurst’. It is also known that the place known as Tilkhurst existed in 1296, with the mention in the Subsidy Roll of William and Geoffrey de Telgherst, the name from which Tilkhurst developed. The bounds of Wardleigh are also given in a detailed survey made in 1564 and, in the opinion of Patrick Wood, founder member and former chairman of the East Grinstead Society, are almost identical with those given by the tithe survey of 1840 for Gullege and Tilkhurst. Michael Leppard, current President of the East Grinstead Society, has carried out further work on this subject, with a marginal difference along the boundary that puts the current property of Gullege within the borough of East Grinstead, however by 1662, the property is recorded within the borough of Wardley, and it may be that the exact bounds of Wardleigh will never be known.

From the available evidence, it would appear that the manor of Warley was located to the Northwest of the current property of Gullege. A possible location for the manor house would be the moated site to the South of the River Fel, constructed as a figure-of-eight homestead moat. This was originally dated to between the 11th and 15th century, but the recent discovery of part of a medieval floor tile narrows the date. The floor tile has the distinctive olive green glaze common to the medieval period and has black markings that may be the suggestion of a pattern, or the effect of the reduction firing process that causes dark speckles in the body of the clay to appear. The use of olive green glaze and the black speckles, suggests an early medieval tile of between 11th and 13th century. Identification of a pattern would pin-point the exact date, but even with the provisional date the tile has been identified by the Sussex Archaeological Society as coming from a house of some importance. On this basis it would suggest that a house once stood on the moated site between the 11th and 13th century, and the Doomsday survey was carried out in 1086, towards the end of the 11th century. It is therefore possible that the floor tile was part of the manor house of Warley. Found along side the floor tile was a piece of wall plaster or daub that has been exposed to severe heat, not enough to melt and fire the piece but enough to start the process of fusing the clay body and turning it pale terracotta in colour. With the lack of archaeological studies carried out on the site it is not possible to determine when or why the site ceased being used. It has been established that in 1296, in the Hundred of Rushmonden there was a William de Wardlegh listed, along with Robert Alfrey, the first appearance of the Alfrey family in Sussex.

The Alfrey family would appear to have moved to the area with some wealth and are listed as buying land in and around East Grinstead from the early 1300’s, resulting in a large holding by the early 1500’s. Being a family of wealth has implications of importance and Robert Alfrey was listed as a burgess, a citizen or freeman of a borough, especially a member of the governing body of a town. We do not know which town Robert Alfrey represented but by 1360, John Alfrey, his grandson, is the first recorded Alfrey as MP for East Grinstead, and that in 1361, the same John returns as MP for East Grinstead listing himself ‘of Gullege’. This would suggest that a property known as Gullege was in existence by that time, although it is not the property that we know as Gullege today. One can only speculate as to were the original Gullege property stood.

In the opinion of the Wealden Buildings Study Group, who have recently carried out an appraisal of the building, the current property of Gullege could not have been built earlier than 1550. This date would imply that John Alfrey, four times great grandson of Robert Alfrey, youngest son and heir to Edmund Alfrey who died around 1550, was responsible for building this fine example of Wealden architecture. However, John released his rights to Gullege to his brother Henry in 1566, not something you’d have done if you were responsible for the building of a new property. Perhaps Henry was then responsible for the building of Gullege around 1566, this too would be unlikely as Henry had been declared ‘an idiot from birth’ in 1557, and all his lands had been taken into trust. The most likely person responsible for the building of Gullege would have been Edward Alfrey, son of Henry, who inherited Gullege in 1574, as part of the lands held in trust for Henry. Gullege may seem comparatively small but it is considered to be a high status property, as, in general, Wealden houses tended to be small scale because there were no huge estates in the Weald.

The current property of Gullege is built high on the East/West ridge that runs along the Northern flank of the Medway basin, with commanding views to the South. Although in apparent ‘isolation’ now, at the time of construction there is evidence of it being adjacent to crossroads. The North/South road, known as Depe Lane, carried traffic across Hedgecourt Common via the Gullege area, past Tilkhurst Farm and Hurley Farm where it branched to the West towards Burleigh Arches along Sallye Land or continued, along the Whapple Way, to the South East and on to the coast, and the cross road is the East/West Ridgeway. There is evidence that the East/West Ridgeway has changed its course in the area of Gullege several times over the centuries, originally skirting the property to the North, then South and finally, being re-routed back to the North of the property in the late 1950’s when Gullege was sold as a private house. As a point of interest, this Ridgeway joins Hophurst Hill, and a close branch of the Gullege Alfrey family also owned Hoppers (Hophurst Farm) possibly as early as 1390 when John Alfrey is listed as acquiring land in Worth, and definitely by 1566, when John Alfrey, three times great grandson of the John mentioned above, released his rights to Hoppers to his brother Richard.

The findings of the Wealden Buildings Study Group appraisal, along with our own study of the current Grade 2* listed building, leads us to the following conclusions. The building conforms to the plan of a three-bay medieval house, but was not built as a hall-house as there are no indications of smoke damage to the roofing timbers implying that it was constructed as a three-storey dwelling and has not had floors and ceilings inserted at a later date. The ground-floor plan comprised of an entrance, on the Southern side, leading into a passage running between the front and back of the house and two opposed doorways. Leading off this passage, to the West, were two doors to the service accommodation. This consisted of two rooms, the buttery and the pantry. The buttery was used to store beer, wine, vessels and utensils and the pantry was used to store foodstuffs, especially flour and bread. On this basis the first room was the pantry and the second room, now the dining room/kitchen, was the buttery as this has a cellar accessed from the middle of the floor. The cellar has a stone slab and brick floor with a brick and tile channel that carries water from under the house out along a channel of cut dressed sandstone blocks, covered with stone slabs, to a possible stew or stock pond at the Southwest of the property. The cellar itself has two niches built into the wall nearest the cross-passage, probably for candles or lanterns for light, and extends to the front of the house. There is also evidence of a window or grill for ventilation on the West wall at ground level. To the East of the passage is a room that would have been the equivalent of the ‘hall’, with a large inglenook fireplace on the Northern wall. This room was the principal room in the house used for dining and entertaining. To the East of the fireplace is located a newel staircase, with the newel post running from the ground floor to the roof space, with a solid oak bottom stair tread and then riser and treads spiralling around the newel. Beyond the ‘hall’, to the East, is the room that would have been known as the parlour with the solar above, used as the family’s private apartments. The parlour had a smaller inglenook fireplace on the Northern wall, and the solar above also had a small fireplace on the Northern wall.

The first floor was accessed by the one set of newel stairs via a triangular entrance lobby that led to the principal bedchamber. Entrance to this room was once made through a heavy oak panelled door with wrought iron hinges and handle with a cock’s comb design upon them, since lost from the property. The first floor consisted of the solar on the East side of the property, accessed off the principal bedchamber, the principal bedchamber above the ‘hall’ and another room above the service area that was accessed off the central room. Leading from the room at the West end of the house there is evidence, on the North wall, of a possible garderobe, the medieval French name for a privy. Floral wall paintings of predominantly black and white with a hint of grey, yellow and red were also found adorning a section of the East wall and upright beam in the West bedroom when a later wall of plasterboard construction was removed in the 1980’s. The wall painting took the form of stylised flowers with stalks, buds and leaves, similar to sections of wall painting found in Ivy House, Fittleworth, dating to the late 16th century. The second floor, accessed from the one set of newel stairs, consisted of a large floor space divided into three rooms, with access to the East and West rooms through the central room. The central room was better finished than the East and West rooms that have exposed wattle and daub. The roof construction of dropped tiebeams implies that the roof space was constructed for frequent use, as the use of a dropped tiebeam allows more headroom and ease of movement. However, there would have been little natural light as the current three gabled windows were added at the same time as the South of the building was faced with stone. The effect of the stone facing becomes apparent in the roof space where large wrought iron brackets have been fitted to the structural beams of the roof to try and stop the stone facing from falling away. The oldest set is attached on the North side, then at a slightly later date more were added to the South side. Both sets obviously proved insufficient and at a later date, possibly during the Victorian period, long metal ties have been fitted between the front of the house and back upright beams of the building at about a foot off the floor level and at regular intervals to tie the front wall to the frame of the building. Two of these rods are secured with a fleur-de-lis wall plate on the outside of the Southern facing wall. Again these appear to be Victorian, implying they were not attached as the crest of the Alfrey family as has been suggested.

Originally the property would have been built with a timber frame set on a sandstone and brick foundation. The timber frame was in-filled with wattle and daub, and had a continuous jetty across the whole width of the front, the South side. The whole of this side would probably have been close studded; a statement to show the wealth of the family because close studding has no structural benefits only the status symbol of being able to use excess wood. This close studding continued around both the East and West sides of the property to the height of the front jetty. The top two thirds of these two walls were constructed of open studding or square box framing, typical of Wealden buildings, and in-filled with wattle and daub to the line of the hipped roof. The three gables and windows on the South were all added with the stone facing, and date to between 1603 and 1625, the reign of James I and the period in which many houses were given a ‘face lift’ of stone. The facing was also probably added by Edward, son of Henry Alfrey, during his ownership of the property between 1574 and 1622, and has been attributed to around 1610.

The chimneystacks are contemporary with the original building of the property, conforming to a feature of Wealden buildings where chimneys were generally imposing and often dwarfed the building they were attached to. Large chimneys were built as monuments to the prosperity of Elizabethan and Jacobean agriculture, and, in particular in the Wealden area, the wealth created by the iron industry. The chimney complex to the East of the property is made up of two offset square diamond-shaped chimneys that served the parlour and solar fires. The stacks are made of plain red brick, but from the base to where the two stacks join is made of red brick inset with a square diamond pattern of pale grey and blue glazed bricks, known as vitrified headers, with the centre of each diamond shape set with a grey/blue brick. The chimney complex that is central to the house consists of a central star-shaped stack, flanked by two offset square diamond-shaped chimneys. It is made entirely of red brick with no evidence of the grey/blue square diamond pattern that is found on the East chimney, this implies that this chimney complex was not built to be seen and was therefore enclosed. Evidence for this can be found in the structure on the back North wall. The central star-shaped chimney served the large inglenook in the ‘hall’ that is backed by a large inglenook in what is currently the garage, but was originally the kitchen area for the house. This location is substantiated by the fact that the field to the North and East of this area was called ‘Kitchen Garden Field’ and also a spit jack mounting on this fireplace.

The kitchen would have been used for cooking, baking and brewing, and would often be detached from the house for fire safety. In the case of Gullege, the kitchen was accessed by a door to the West side of the building, and from the house via the door on the North side of the cross passage, so the kitchen entrance was effectively detached. The inglenook fireplace within the garage shows signs of the spit jack confirming the building’s previous use as a kitchen. There is little evidence to confirm the size and shape of the kitchen, save that it may have been two stories from the evidence found on the central chimney complex. Firstly the chimneys were not built to be seen as they do not have the patterning on them that the East chimneys have, secondly there is staining on the chimney brickwork suggesting that something was once built against it or close to it, thirdly there is what appears to be a bricked-in recess that could have taken a ridge piece of an older building on the chimney face, or be a hole for a possible hearth or smoke hole that would have been located inside a two storey building, and fourthly, the structure that is currently occupying the kitchen space is not the structure that was there in 1927, which is therefore evidence that the current structure has evolved and changed over the years. For these reasons one can only speculate as to the exact dimensions and height of the original kitchen, and even the possibility that the kitchen was converted from a previous property that was enlarged by the addition of the current house and chimneys. The well of water that once served the kitchen and household is located close by, to the Northwest of the house.

Another speculation to be made is of the material originally used for the roof. Currently the main section of roof is covered with Horsham stone slabs, with tiles on the three window gables, the stair turret roof and the roof of the extended structure on the North side of the building. Unfortunately, the house does not yield any definite conclusions as to whether it was built like that or whether it was originally thatched or tiled, with the stone roof being added when the stone facing was added.

It would seem likely that some, if not all, of the stone used for the facing was quarried close to the house as there was evidence of a small quarry to the East of the house, with a vertical face bearing the tell tale signs of quarrying. This has since been turned into a garden feature and is now a substantial pond. It is also very likely that the bricks used in the construction were made in the field to the South and East of the property as this was called ‘Brick Field’ and during the Tudor period bricks were often made on or near to the site of the building, where local materials allowed. Gullege is fortunate in this sense as there is an abundance of clay in this area. The implication of the name ‘Brick Field’ is that it was the location of a site where clamp burning was practised and was therefore probably short lived, as opposed to the term ‘Brick Yard’ implying the use of a kiln and therefore a permanent site. Bricks were by no means a cheap building material so the use of so many bricks in the building of the Gullege chimneys would also be seen as a statement of wealth and status. It has been suggested that the Alfrey family of Gullege made their wealth through the iron industry that flourished in the area at the time that the current house was built, but to date there is no evidence linking this branch of the family directly to the local iron industry. There is evidence of an indirect link in that the woodland appears to have been let out and may well have been used for coppicing to produce charcoal, fuel for the iron industry. There is also evidence that a close branch of the Gullege Alfrey family, who had moved to the Battle area around mid 1500’s, were involved more directly with the iron industry as they are listed as tenanting Buckholt Furnace and Forge in Bexhill from 1575 and Potmans Forge in Catsfield from 1588, and they made their seat the manor of Potmans, bought from Sir John Ashburnham in 1600. Despite the fact that the Gullege Alfreys did not actually own an iron furnace or forge it does not take away the fact that the wealth of the central Weald at this period in time was mainly derived from the iron industry of the area and as such the stone facing of Gullege was as a result of this increasing local wealth. It is also interesting to note that Hophurst Farm acquired its chimney stack between 1550 and 1600, the same period of time that Gullege was being built, this may have been a form of sibling rivalry as at that time each property was owned by one of a pair of Alfrey brothers.

The interior of Gullege is quite plain in comparison to the statement of wealth found in the external appearance. Internally, there are no ornate carvings to be found on the woodwork, little wood panelling, and the newel post, main cross beams and two upright supports found in the ‘hall’ and parlour have the simplest detailing in the form of chamfered edges, where the detail has been formed by cutting off the square edge, usually at a 45° angle. The upright support beams found in the two ground floor rooms and the two rooms above were probably added at a later date to give greater support to the ceilings. There is a further cast iron support in the West bedroom, not too dissimilar to those found on Victorian railway stations and in the cellar, again added at a later date to support the ceiling. There is a carved stone mantel over the inglenook in the ‘hall’ and the brick side supports show years of convenient use for sharpening implements. The windows that face the South are lattice with carved stone mullions, and wrought iron fittings. Apart from these, and the remnant of wall painting found on the first floor, the interior of the property appears to be devoid of excess decoration.

On the exterior, apart from the patterning on the Eastern chimney, all the decorative features are found on the Southern front wall of the building. The three gabled windows have a carved ball finial at their point and one either side of the window, these were decorated with an iron spike that seem to have disappeared by the late 1920’s. The original balls were removed and replaced with concrete reproductions in the 1960’s, the originals being placed around the garden terrace wall, considered a safer location from the effects of erosion. The spike that ran through the middle of each finial ball is made of a square shaped iron rod, about one inch across. It has been suggested that the projecting spike once held a smaller stone ball on top making the finials double balls. The front door was replaced in the 1960’s and the current one is a replica of the original, although the chain lock is no longer present and the metal strap hinges appear to be different. Either side of the door a small shield has been carved into the triangle recesses of the stone frame, these are reputed to have had the Alfrey crest, the ostrich head with a cornet around its neck, to the left and the Alfrey arms, blazoned, argent, on a chevron sable, and a fleur-de-lis of the field, on the right. However, today both shields are plain and eroded and it is not possible to determine whether they ever had anything carved or painted onto them, which may have weathered away, or whether they were left undecorated. The upright of the stone surround of the front door shows signs of erosion on the right hand side, possibly caused by the use of the chain lock before its removal. The other decorative features are the two fleur-de-lis wall plates, but as already stated these are not contemporary with the stone facing of the building. One original wooden window bar is visible at the first floor on the exterior West wall. This window has been blocked in leaving the central and flanking upright window bars of the frame in-situ. The uprights are in the form of ovolo mouldings, with holes in the top and bottom of the horizontal frame that would have taken small diamond mullion bars. The construction of the window frame implies that the windows were glazed with leaded lights as the ovolo mouldings have a glazing groove cut into the length of them and the diamond-shaped mullion holes placed close to the edge of the frame held the glazing in place. This type of window and glazing was contemporary to the period in which Gullege was constructed, and was indicative of higher status buildings.

Like all properties, Gullege has been added to and altered over the years. A small extension has been put on the North wall next to the original kitchen area, abutting the buttery. This appears to have been constructed out of any material found lying to hand, re-used bricks of differing sizes, wooden beam-ends and tiles. This has now been knocked through into what was the buttery and now forms the current kitchen. A second set of stairs has been added to the East of the cross passage on the North wall, these probably date to the Victorian period. Later alterations to the external appearance include the whole of the West wall being tile hung for protection from the weather. These have now all been removed exposing the timber framing again and the problems caused by the elements! At some point a small chimneystack was built to serve the pantry area, but this has now been removed. The East wall does not appear to have been tile hung but the ground floor section of wall, to the level of the original jetty line, was bricked in, after the 1930’s, and a set of double doors, replacing a window, have been inserted leading onto the stone terrace that surrounds the house. Above this set of doors there is evidence that a window had been filled in, which has now been re-instated. Vicountess Wolseley, on her visit in the late 1920’s, noted ‘that traces of the foundations of a building are found in the garden extending from the East side of the house’ and believed they may belong to the older house that probably once stood there, but this is only speculation.

The turret-like structure on the North side of the house, wedged between the two chimney complexes and contemporary with the original building, contains the newel staircase, and has been tile hung on the North side, again for weather-proofing, but would originally have been timber framed and in-filled with wattle and daub. The roof of the turret, like that of the gabled windows, is tiled. As already stated, the kitchen complex has also changed over the centuries. There is evidence that in 1927, this extension extended to the line of the Eastern edge of the Eastern chimneystack, therefore covering the diamond-patterned brickwork. The roof was also hipped on this Eastern end, with a small chimneystack attached to the North wall of the extension taking the flue for the copper, East of the un-used door that’s there today. The current structure effectively has a catslide roof, an outshoot in a continuous slope somewhat like a lean-to and also appears to have been constructed out of materials found to hand, re-used and modern bricks and re-used beams. At some point a door in the East side of the structure has been blocked in, and the West wall of the structure has been completely removed allowing the space to be used as a garage.

There have been several outbuildings at Gullege over the years, but there is no evidence that any of the buildings currently standing originate from the period of the house, and at least one threshing barn, date unknown, has been removed during the 20th century. This appears in a photograph, taken in 1927, running East/West, attached to the current Northern barn and the scar of the threshing barn roof can still be seen today on the West end of the barn. The arrangement of barns and outbuildings has altered greatly during the centuries but the details found in the 1954 sale catalogue list a complex arranged around a quadrangle, made of brick, part weather-boarded with tiled roofs, comprising of: ‘cattle shed for ten, with access to yard. Two store rooms, eight-bay open cattle shed and three yards. One-bay open implements shed. Barn. Five-bay open front implement shed. Store room. Granary with outside steps’. There were also three loose boxes and an open cattle shed and yard, outside the quadrangle. This description of 1954 resembles the plan of the outbuildings attached to the sale details for 1896 implying that the farm complex remained generally unaltered between 1896 and 1954.

Apart from the farm, there would have been a kitchen garden and orchard to supply the Gullege household with food. Evidence for these can be found in the names of the fields in the location. On the tithe map of 1840, there is an orchard located to the East of the property and would probably have been planted with apples and pears. The kitchen garden may have been located in ‘Kitchen Garden Field’, although that would seem to be an excessive size at eight acres. This would have initially grown vegetables like cabbage, kale, turnips, spinach, leeks, onions, peas, beans and lettuce. An assortment of herbs would also have been grown for culinary and medicinal purposes. There would also have been soft fruit like gooseberries and raspberries, and it is known that raspberries grew in the area as Imberhorne, the property to the East of Gullege, was known as ‘Hymberhorne’ meaning corner of land where raspberries grow, from Old English ‘hindberie’ meaning raspberry. Apart from cultivated produce there were also wild fruits that could be gathered from fields and hedgerows. There is the possibility of wild strawberries being used as there is a field called ‘Strawberry Field’ located to the West of Gullege. The hedgerows would have provided blackberries, wild plums and sloes, along with hazel nuts. There is also evidence of hop growing in the area with a field to the Northwest of the property known as ‘Hop Garden Field’. This is also backed up by hop tokens found in the area. The hops may have been processed at Hophurst Farm, which had a hop house in operation from the 18th century. There is evidence of agricultural use of land for growing crops, with field names like ‘Marl Pit Field’ and ‘Burnt Marl Pit Field’, implying that marl was used as an early form of fertilizer for the soil. At a later date lime would have been used and there is evidence of a limekiln near Hophurst Farm. Livestock would also have been kept, oxen for ploughing, later to be superseded by the Shire horse, and horses for transport. For food products there would have been chicken and geese for eggs and meat, cattle for milk, meat and leather, and sheep for milk, meat and wool, especially as there are fields known as ‘Great Sheep Field’ and ‘Little Sheep Field’. The diet may also have been supplemented by venison, especially as the Alfrey family were of ‘gentleman’ class and would have spent much time hunting, and possibly fish raised in the stew pond to the Southwest of the property.

Perhaps at this point it would be wise to consider the romantic local legend associating Gullege with King Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn. There can be no connection with the current property of Gullege as it has been determined that the current property was not built before 1550, fourteen years after the execution of Ann Boleyn in 1536, and three years after the death of Henry VIII in 1547. There is also the other local legend that a tunnel exists leading from Gullege to St Swithun’s Church or Cromwell House, East Grinstead, again there is to date, no evidence of the existence of a tunnel leading anywhere. However, a local resident, as a young girl in the early part of the 20th century, did ascend into an underground space that she was told was ‘the tunnel’. On descending steps she stated that you turned right but could not enter very far as ‘the tunnel’ had collapsed and was filled with fallen debris. One explanation for this underground void may be a cellar, possibly from an earlier building that must have stood in the Gullege area prior to the construction of the current building, some time after 1550.

In 1656, there is reference to a son Edward being born to Edward Alfrey of Gullege. Edward, born in 1656, nine times great grandson of Robert Alfrey, may have inherited in 1672, at the age of sixteen, the ‘estate’ of his father Edward Alfrey ‘of Shoreham’, but unfortunately there are no details, as Edward senior had died without making a will and his properties passed to his wife Susan Alfrey. It would appear that Edward was the last Alfrey to be born of Gullege and that the family only enjoyed their impressive house for a few years after it was faced. What is known is that the Hearth Tax, introduced in 1662, lists Gullege, in the borough of Wardleigh, as occupied by Richard Head, unfortunately there is no evidence to determine whether he was tenanting the property or owned the property. The Hearth Tax was introduced in 1662 as a source of revenue for the government. Hearths were taxed twice a year at 2/- per year. The mean size of households was calculated to be about 4.75 hearths in the early years, and in 1662, the tax for Gullege was for eight hearths, a yearly cost of 16/-. This confirms that Gullege was an impressive and substantial property in the locality of its time. The Hearth Tax also confirms that Gullege was part of the borough of Wardleigh, containing just three properties, Gullege, Tilkhurst and one other, believed to be the three original farmsteads outlined in the Doomsday survey for Warley, with the manor house of Warley no longer in existence. Unfortunately, the third property has not yet been identified, but may have been the property known as ‘Matthew’s Barn’ that was located to the Southwest of the moated site, straddling ‘Barn Field’ and ‘Bottle House Field’, on top of the alignment of the Roman road as ascertained by Ivan D Margary.

Richard Head is again listed in the Hearth Tax for Gullege in 1670. As a point of interest the Hearth Tax for the borough of East Grinstead for 1670, lists Mr Richard Alfrey paying tax on four hearths, Thomas Alfrey on five and possibly John (damaged original) Alfrey paying tax on one hearth and one forge, implying that none were living at Gullege and that the family had definitely moved from Gullege by that date. How long the Head family held Gullege is not known as the Hearth Tax ceased in 1680, and not all Hearth Tax records survive. However, the Broadhurst Court Books list the Constables and Head Barons of the Frankpledge for Wardly, (a group of people made up of local householders who were mutually responsible for the good behaviour of one another and for bringing members to justice at the manorial court), and Richard Head appears in 1672, with a William Head appearing between 1685 and 1689. Between 1698 and 1700, the Broadhurst Court Book records William Saunders as a burgess for Wardly, (a citizen or freeman of a borough, especially a member of the governing body), and the Land Tax of 1750 records William’s son, John Saunders, ‘of Gulledge’, suggesting that William Saunders may have taken over Gullege between 1689 and 1698. The Land Tax records show that John Saunders occupied Gullege until 1769, followed by James Saunders, his son, who succeeded him until at least 1779 when the records run out.

Sometime between 1662 and 1782 the ownership of Gullege transferred to the Compton family, and on the marriage of Lady Elizabeth Compton, on 26th February 1782, the ownership passed to the Right Hon. Lord George Henry Cavendish, Earl of Burlington and the Right Hon. Lady Elizabeth, his wife, formerly Lady Elizabeth Compton; the Most Noble William 5th Duke of Devonshire, and the Right Hon. Charles Lord Compton. Both the Compton and Cavendish families were large land owning families, the Cavendish chief seats being at Chatsworth and Hardwicke Hall in Derbyshire. Lord George Cavendish, by marriage with Lady Elizabeth Compton, acquired the estates of Spencer Earl of Wilmington in Sussex.

In 1783, John Heaton took out a five hundred year lease on Gullege and Pinder Simpson took over the remaining 452 years of the 500-year lease in 1831. It would appear that Pinder Simpson did not occupy the house at Gullege as Carew Saunders, son of James Saunders who occupied Gullege between 1769 and 1779, was listed as the occupant in the Election Role in 1832. Carew continued to occupy Gullege until the beginning of 1841, as he appears in the census occupying Gullege, but he had either died or left by December 1841, as he was listed as ‘late of Gullege’ at the sale of Gullege by the Right Hon. William Cavendish 2nd Earl of Burlington and the 7th Duke of Devonshire to William Clear of Little Shelford, Cambridgeshire. The particulars of the sale stated: ‘There are 364 acres, including two small farms adjoining. Gulledge is charged with a quit rent on death to the Manor of Horsted Keynes or Broadhurst and heriot on death for land called Spartenden’. The two farms referred to were that of Lyewood Farm, later known as Gullege Farm Cottages and Gullege itself, the location of Spartenden has not yet been identified and could possibly be Spchedene or Sperchedene, in Wildetone lands, that is referred to in the Doomsday Book held by William de Cahagnes.

In 1842, William Clear raised a mortgage on Gullege with John Butler of Royston, Cambridgeshire, and later that year Gullege was sold under Trust to Benjamin Scott Currey of Derby. It would appear that William Clear lived at Gullege as he is listed ‘of Gullege Farm’ in 1845, in the East Grinstead Trade Directory, but he had died by 1851, as the census records John Jennings, bailiff and overlooker, and his family, from Little Shelford, occupying Gullege Farm. Later that year, in October 1851, the executors of John Butler sold Gullege Farm, which was said to contain about 370 acres, to Samuel Sims of Orchard Street, Nottingham.

In 1853, with the development of the railway network in Britain, Samuel Sims sold a strip of land to the East Grinstead Railway Co., which now forms part of the Worth Way running from East Grinstead to Three Bridges. It would appear that Samuel Sims did not at first reside at Gullege, as in 1855, John Stanford is listed as a farmer ‘of Gullege’ in the East Grinstead Trade Directory. However, by 1858, Samuel Sims had taken up residence at Gullege and was listed as the farmer in the East Grinstead Trade Directory. In 1860, he expanded his lands by purchasing Hophurst Farm from Sir John Villiar Shelley. The Shelley family had acquired Hophurst Farm through marriage with the Newnham family, of Maresfield Park, who had in turn acquired Hoppers (Hophurst), Horne/Homelands, Butlers and Tilts in Worth, and Crabsgrove, Crabgrove Mead in East Grinstead, from Richard Alfrey in 1685.

In 1865, Samuel Sims died and bequeathed Gullege to his son William, then aged fifteen years. The executors of Samuel Sims installed a farm bailiff, George Stone, who held Gullege farm in trust. Four years later, in April 1869, Gullege was released from quit rents and other manorial services, making it a freehold property. Three years later in 1872, William died at the age of twenty-two and Gullege was left to Elizabeth, wife of William James of Newark, possibly his sister. William Sims also made the bequest that William Stone should remain at Gullege. The Gullege estate was, at that time, listed as 358 acres and 2 roods in Worth and East Grinstead. It is not known how long William Stone remained at Gullege, as by 1874, Alfred Alcorn was listed as the farmer of Gullege in the East Grinstead Trade Directory.

In 1880, Charles Henry Gatty of Felbridge Place estate, acquired part of the lands of Gullege consisting of 61 acres 1 rood and 27 perches from the Right Hon. Henry Bouverie William Brand of Glynde, Speaker of the House of Commons who held the manor of Broadhurst. The area of land covered the Southern most tip of Hedgecourt Common, to the North of Gullege Farm. The area stretched from the lane to the moated site on the West, bounded by the River Fel to the South and the Crawley Down Road, Felbridge to the North, up to and including the area of Ann’s Orchard, Crawley Down Road to the East. This area had become detached from the original lands of Gullege around the late 1600’s, being retained by the manor of Broadhurst, and had not formed part of the freehold lands associated with the property of Gullege that had passed to the Compton family. The properties on this area of Hedgecourt Common did not become freehold until 1911, with the sale of the Felbridge estate.

Also in 1880, Elizabeth James sold 87 acres 3 roods and 7 perches of pasture and arable land, forming the Southern-most part of the Gullege estate, to George E Scaramanga of Tiltwood, Crawley Down, who had already purchased Hophurst Farm in 1879. Possibly around this time, and prior to 1895, Sir Edward C Blount of Imberhorne Manor purchased the remaining part of Gullege, including the house. In 1881, William and Sarah Taylor and their family occupied Gullege Farm, and by the 1890’s William Stone tenanted Gullege Farm. In 1895, Sir Edward C Blount transferred Gullege to his grandson Edward A C Blount and in 1896, he bought the remaining part of Gullege from George E Scaramanga, thus reuniting the original estate. Therefore Gullege and Tilkhurst were reunited, and incorporated, along with Imberhorne Farm and Hill Place Farm, into the estate known as Imberhorne Manor that totalled 1030 acres. Around 1913, Henry Stone tenanted Gullege and Edward A C Blount moved to Imberhorne manor after the death of his father Henry E Blount. Henry Stone remained at Gullege until about 1920, when he moved to Brookhurst, Lowdells Lane, Felbridge. Tom Creasey then succeeded him and remained at Gullege farm until 1955. For a description of life at Gullege during the Creasey tenancy we can turn to Lucy Wells who documented a visit there in 1930’s. ‘We were invited there for tea and shown round the house, up and up and round and round the spiral stairs, in and out the enormous rooms. I forget how many there were but there was too much floor space to be carpeted so Mrs Creasey had made bright pegged rugs of multi-coloured wools which glowed like jewels against the snowy whiteness of the bare scrubbed boards. The cooking alone was enough to make the stoutest hearts quail – modern hearts, that is. The pigs were homegrown; lard home-rendered; bread and confectionery home-baked in an oven big enough to roast an ox’. Tom Creasey also had a large collection of horse brasses that were displayed in the living room, no doubt complimenting the ‘jewel-like’ rugs.

In 1953, Edward A Charles and Clara Marie Blount of Imberhorne Manor, both died within four months of each other and as a result it was decided that Imberhorne Manor should be split up and sold off. Gullege Farm was put up for auction to be sold as part of Imberhorne Farm, and in 1954 was bought by Mr Beeney. He quickly sold the properties on, and in April 1955, Mr D Emmett bought them. At the time of purchase, Gullege farmhouse was unoccupied and in need of renovation. Originally destined to be demolished, Mr Emmett was persuaded to sell Gullege farmhouse, which was bought by Mr and Mrs HCH Thomas in September 1959. The roadway leading to Gullege (the old East/West Ridgeway) was diverted to pass behind the property, on the North side, thus giving the house a small garden area on the South side, and the proceeds of the sale enabled the roadway to be surfaced, as it is today. Prior to this date Gullege was reached by crossing muddy fields from the East or via the unmade road leading from Felbridge to the North.

At the sale of Gullege in 1959, the property had changed little from its initial sale in 1954, except that during the five years of not being occupied the lean-to area had partially collapsed. The sale catalogue detailed that the property comprised of: Second floor – three attic rooms with dormer windows and massive oak beams. First floor – bedroom 1, facing the South with a fireplace and oak beams, lobby, with oak panelled door and screen, bedroom 2, facing the South with a fireplace, oak beams and floor, bedroom 3, facing the West with oak beams, bedroom 4, facing the West and, off a half landing, bedroom 5, with oak beams. Staircase, off which was a cupboard, leading to the Ground floor – sitting room, facing South-East with a fireplace, two windows and oak beams, dining room, facing South with an open fireplace, ducks-nest grate, two cupboards and oak floor. The front entrance, with oak door, tiled floor and oak beams led to a storeroom with oak beams and two windows, ‘L’ shaped larder with oak beams and kitchen with white glazed sink, with water laid on, two windows and a cement floor. There was a door that led to secondary stairs off the passage. Attached to the outside of the house was a lean-to shed, with a large chimney corner, sink, brick floor, two coppers, oak beams and timbers. Outside and detached from the property was a brick built and tiled earth closet. The closing statement of the sale catalogue read ‘This house has considerable charm and character and could be made into a delightful residence’.

Mr and Mrs Thomas were responsible for the initial modernisation and renovation work carried out and in 1964, they extended their estate and purchased back from Mr D Emmett the barns and outbuildings that were once attached to Gullege farm. They owned the house until the early 1970’s when it passed, in quick succession, to Mr and Mrs Peerless and then Mr Bowen. Mr Bowen could not cope with the ‘isolation’ of Gullege and sold the property to Mr and Mrs EK Lightburn in 1975, who are the current owners. During their ownership they have re-exposed the West wall by removing the tile hanging and replaced the bottom third of this wall, to the original construction, as it had rotted. They have also carried some work on the outbuildings and clad the barn with boarding, reinstating the quadrangle with a high weather boarded fence. Wherever possible they have kept the original fabric of the property, maintaining the building and its situation, and preserving a bit of unspoilt Tudor England that has changed little since the time of the Alfrey family at Gullege.

Timeline of Gullege

1296 Robro Alfrey listed of Ristondenn, the hundred in which the area of Gullege fell.
<1361 Johannes Alfrey acquires Gullege in the manor of Broadhurst.
1361 Johannes Alfrey, of Gullege, returns as MP for East Grinstead.
1421 John (1), son of Johannes Alfrey, returns as MP for East Grinstead, listed of Gullege.
1446 John (2), son of John (1) Alfrey, returns as MP for East Grinstead, listed of Gullege.
1460 Richard, son of John (2) Alfrey, returns as MP for East Grinstead, listed of Gullege.
c1480 Edmund, son of Richard Alfrey inherits Gullege.
1531 Edmund leases Gullege to William Sodone, yeoman.
<1552 On the death of Edmund Alfrey his estate, including Gullege, pass to his sons James, Henry, Richard and John.
1558 Henry, second son of Edmund Alfrey, declared ‘an idiot from birth’ and his interest in his lands, including Gullege, are taken into Trust.
1566 John, youngest son of Edmund Alfrey, releases his rights and title to Gullege.
1574 Henry Alfrey dies and his lands, held in Trust, including Gullege, pass to his son Edward (1) Alfrey.
c1574 The current property known as Gullege is constructed.
1609 Edward (2) Alfrey dies and his son Edward (3) becomes heir to his estate and heir to the estate, including Gullege, of his grandfather Edward (1) Alfrey.
c1610 The stone facing is added to the Southern side of Gullege.
1622 Edward (1) Alfrey dies and his seat of Gullege passes to his grandson Edward (3) Alfrey, as his son Edward (2) had previously died.
1642 Edward (3) Alfrey dies and leaves his estate, including Gullege, to his son Edward (4).
<1662 Edward (4) Alfrey and family move to Shoreham.
1662 Richard Head listed at Gullege in the Hearth Tax records for the borough of Wardley.
>1662 Gullege becomes part of the estate belonging to the Compton family of Compton Place, Eastbourne.
1670 Richard Head listed at Gullege in the Hearth Tax records for the borough of Wardley.
1671 Edward (4) Alfrey dies leaving a long and complicated will making his son Edward (5) his heir, now of Shoreham.
1672 Richard Head listed as a constable or head baron for Wardley, possibly resident at Gullege.
1686 William Head listed as a constable or head baron for Wardley, possibly resident at Gullege.
1687 William Head again listed as a constable or head baron for Wardley, possibly resident at Gullege.
1697 William Saunders, father of John, is listed as a burgess of Wardley.
1698 William Saunders, father of John, is listed as a burgess of Wardley.
1700 William Saunders, father of John, is listed as a burgess of Wardley.
1750 John Saunders, son of William Saunders, listed at Gullege in the Land Tax records, up until 1768.
1769 James, son of John Saunders, is listed at Gullege in the Land Tax records until 1779 when the records run out.
<1782 Gullege becomes part of the estates of the Compton family of Compton Place, Eastbourne.
1782 Gullege passes to R Hon Lord George Henry Cavendish through his wife Lady Elizabeth née Compton, the most Noble William 5th duke of Devonshire and R Hon Charles Lord Compton.
1783 John Heaton takes out a 500-year lease on Gullege.
1831 Pinder Simpson takes over the remainder of the 500-year lease on Gullege.
1832 Carew Saunders, son of James Saunders listed at Gullege in the elections.
1841 Carew Saunders listed as ‘late of Gullege’ in December, but had been resident in April.
1841 Gullege sold by R Hon William Cavendish 2nd Earl of Burlington, son of R Hon Lord George Henry Cavendish and Lady Elizabeth, and the 7th Duke of Devonshire to William Clear.
1842 Gullege is mortgaged by William Clear to John Butler.
1842 Gullege is sold under Trust to Benjamin Scott Currey.
1845 William Clear listed at Gullege Farm.
1851 John Jenning listed as Bailiff and Overlooker at Gullege.
1851 Sale of Gullege Farm by the executors of John Butler to Samuel Sims.
1853 Sale of a strip of land at Gullege to the East Grinstead Railway Co.
1855 John Stanford listed as living at Gullege.
1858 Samuel Sims listed as living at Gullege,
1862 Samuel Sims still residing at Gullege.
1865 Samuel Sims dies and bequeaths Gullege to his son William Sims.
1866 George Stone listed as living at Gullege as farm bailiff to the executors of Samuel Sims.
1867 George Stone listed as living at Gullege as farm bailiff to the executors of Samuel Sims.
1868 Gullege released from quit rents and other manorial services.
1871 William Stone listed as living at Gullege as farm bailiff.
1872 William Sims dies and leaves Gullege estate to Elizabeth James, and bequeaths that William Stone should remain as farm bailiff.
1873 Alfred Alchorn listed as living at Gullege.
1881 William Taylor listed as living at Gullege.
c1890 William and Ann Stone listed a living at Gullege.
<1895 Elizabeth James sells Gullege Farm to EC Blount.
1895 Conveyance between EC Blount and EC Blount for Gullege Farm.
1896 William Stone dies, possibly his son Henry takes over at Gullege.
1913 Edward Blount JP recorded as living at Gullege.
1917 Henry Stone listed as living at Gullege.
c1920 Henry Stone retires and Tom Creasey takes over Gullege.
1954 Gullege sold as part of Imberhorne Farm, to Mr Beeney, in the break up of the Blount’s estate.
1954 Tom Creasey moves out of Gullege farmhouse, which is left empty.
1955 Mr D Emmett buys Imberhorne Farm and Gullege.
1959 Mr Emmett sells Gullege house to Mr and Mrs HCH Thomas who renovate the building.
c1964 Mr and Mrs Thomas purchase back the barns that went with Gullege Farm.
c1970 Mr and Mrs Thomas sell Gullege to Mr and Mrs Peerless.
c1973 Mr and Mrs Peerless sell Gullege to Mr Bowen.
1975 Mr Bowen sells Gullege to Mr and Mrs E Lightburn.

Key: < = Before, > = After, c = Circa


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SJC 03/02