Imberhorne Old Farmhouse

Imberhorne Old Farmhouse

Imberhorne Farm is in the ecclesiastical parish of Felbridge, located to the south of Felbridge and west of East Grinstead. The 285-acre farm covers a large portion of the former demesne lands of the manor of Imberhorne as outlined in the Buckhurst Terrier of 1597/8, although the manor is believed to date to c1078, and the name ‘Hymberhorne’ (‘Corner of land where hindberries [raspberries] grow’) is first recorded in 1091. Today a classic Georgian farmhouse stands to the east of the farm complex but this property was built by Arabella Diana Sackville, Duchess of Dorset, to replace an older farmhouse located to the south of the farm complex (see Imberhorne Farmhouse Factsheet SJC 09/04). The old Imberhorne Farmhouse that was replaced currently masquerades as nos.1-3 Imberhorne Farm Cottages, being hidden from view by the farm complex.

Interest in these cottages was first aroused after reading ‘The Blounts of Imberhorne’ by J G Smith, in which the property was described as ‘an early 17th century timber-framed farmhouse’, because from the outside the property should be described as a row of Victorian farm worker’s cottages. The cottages are also very close to the southern side of the quadrangle of farm buildings surrounding the farm yard, with windows only 3ft/1m away from the back of the 19th century stables and cow stalls. A survey revealed that the cottages were 7° out of alignment with the farm complex and farmyard, which were built in 1811, and also the other farm worker’s cottages, (nos.4-7), which were constructed in the second half of the 19th century.

A general survey of the cottages revealed that cottage no.3 had a few visible beams and that a floor and associated partition wall had been inserted after the date of original construction concealing an original arch-braced hammer-beam hall structure. The structure and timbers found in the roof are quite impressive but were unable to be accurately dated by an expert on vernacular architecture, due to inconsistencies in the methods of construction for the area. Dendrochronology was therefore used to determine the construction date for the property. The trees that provided the wood for key structural timbers were felled between the winter of 1427 and spring of 1428. As the timber framing would have been constructed of ‘green’ oak, the date of 1428 was given as the date of construction.

It had long been suggested that the origin of Imberhorne is the half-hide (between 30 and 60 acres) of land that was occupied by Geoffrey de Canon in 1086, being listed under the manor of Sedlescombe. This half-hide was thought to be the same half-hide of land called Imberhorne that passed to Lefsi before being given to Lewes Priory by William Malfeld, the son of William Malfeld in about 1100. However, in recent years, a re-evaluation of the available evidence (published in East Grinstead Bulletin 61) has suggested that Imberhorne may have formed part of the lost manor of Felsmere that appears in the Doomsday Book as one and half-hides (between 90 and 180 acres) of land held in the East Grinstead Hundred, being outside the Rape of Lewes, that was held by the Count of Mortain. For some time it had been suggested that Imberhorne was the lost manor of Felsmere but the name change seems dramatic and there was a large discrepancy in the size, Imberhorne being half a hide and Felsmere one and a half. It has now been proposed that Healdelye (Hurley) formed the remaining one hide, which was later given to Lewes Priory, between 1103 and 1106, by the Count of Mortain. It is known that Imberhorne shared a boundary with Hurley and that William Malfeld had acquired Imberhorne from the Count of Mortain before 1100.

During the 12th and 13th centuries the Priory continued to gain land in the area and by 1275 had amassed a substantial manor, continuing to use the name of Imberhorne. Lewes Priory held Imberhorne manor until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537, when Henry VIII granted it to Thomas, Lord Cromwell ultimately being purchased by Sir Richard Sackville in 1560. The manor remained in the hands of the Sackville family, the Dukes of Dorset, until 1872 when the ancient manor of Imberhorne was sold as an independent country estate.

Sadly no court rolls or Priory records have survived or have yet come to light that refer to the construction of the property, and the first documentary evidence for a dwelling at the manor of Imberhorne is in an indenture dated 1555 between Thomas Argall and Richard Dallenden for ‘the manor house of Imberhorne with all and all manor of houses, gardens, orchards, pondes, barns, stables, dove houses, meadows, leases, pastures, arable grounds, woods and underwoods’. Attached to the Manor House were ‘gardens, orchards, pondes and dove houses’, providing a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and fresh meat, particularly in the winter months, in the form of pigeons and suggesting that this was a property of some status. The first depiction showing a fairly substantial house and a further description of the property is found in the Buckhurst Terrier, the property by then under the occupation of Sackville Turner. The description given is ‘the site and capital messuage of the manor of Imberhorne, with orchards, gardens and pigeon houses’ together with over 1,100 acres of land and a watermill called Brook Mill, ‘all of which demised premises are parcel of the demeanes of the manor of Imberhorne’. The ‘Capital messuage’ is the principal dwelling house of the manor of Imberhorne, therefore confirming that it was the Manor House. The ‘demeanes’ or ‘lands retained by the lord of the manor for his own personal use’ were extensive and included a watermill, presumably for milling his crops. As to the extent of the manor, by 1597/8 it included land at Ashurst Wood, Forest Row, East Grinstead and West Hoathly, in Sussex, and Felbridge and Tandridge in Surrey, covering at least a further 1,500 acres.

The Manor House, now forming nos.1-3 Imberhorne Farm Cottages, is orientated roughly east/west with the main access lane on the north side, this lane has been in use since pre-historic times, running along the top of an east/west ridge avoiding the marshy low ground of the local Weald. Uncommonly, the ridge also has a significant number of springs generating fresh water ponds at an elevated level, one pond being recorded as early as 1296 when Robert de Wynton, the vicar of East Grinstead, was fined 100s for fishing in the pond without the permission of the Prior of Lewes Priory. As a result of the availability of the transport route and fresh water, this section of the ridge is the site of several medieval properties including Hophurst Farm, Gullege, and Copyhold Farm, (formerly Killick’s Farm that stood at what is now the junction of Park road and Grosvenor Road).

One can only speculate on the size and magnificence of the property when it was constructed as it has been much altered over the years and a large portion of the building is no longer standing, but a view of how part of the building once looked like has emerged from the survey carried out. The sill beams or lowest horizontal beams are set upon a sandstone block plinth and foundation. The outside walls, once timber framed and in-filled with wattle and daub have been replaced with brick up to the mid rail or middle horizontal beams using Flemish bond. The brick walls show at least two phases of construction, one phase probably coinciding with the building of the ‘new’ house in the early 19th century, as the brickwork is the same as that found in the ‘new’ Imberhorne Farmhouse. The mid rail and above is tile hung, the tile laths nailed to the timber frame, thus concealing it. The sandstone blocks are still in position in the north and south walls west of the chimney, but there are no blocks or sill beam present on the line of the current western end wall, implying that this was not the original end wall and that some of the structure past this point has been demolished and lost. Sandstone blocks matching those used in the plinths are also found randomly reused in the square bread oven structure located on the west wall of no.1 cottage, adjacent to the north wall of no.2 cottage. There are also rougher sandstone blocks below the wall running north from this bread oven.

During the mid to late 16th century extensive changes to the property were made with the building of the chimney, a circular bread oven and the insertion of the floor. The axial beam or ceiling beam that runs along the centre of the house supporting the inserted floor is supported by a brick pillar in line with the west wall of the property and a transverse beam that runs the width of the property was joined into the horizontal mid rails immediately west of the arch-braced hammer-beam to support the other end of the axial beam. The current chimney and the round, domed brick bread oven structure are not visible being hidden below the oak stairs and concealed in a void between the walls of no.2 and no.3 cottages. Endoscope studies of the base of the chimney and bread oven show them to have been constructed of a mixture of brick and stone. From the memory of a former resident of no.3 cottage, the bread oven has a large iron door on the south side, with two hinges and an iron latch.

In 1926, the property was struck by lightning damaging the chimneystack, and local rumour suggests that it may also have been struck twice before during the 19th century. In 1926, the bolt of lightning entered the chimneystack in the centre of the property, blew out the fireplace in no.2 cottage, shattered the stove in no.3 cottage, then followed the gas main, passing into the lane and blew three large holes in the ground. Fortunately, the chimneystack contained much of the force of the blast, however, roof tiles and hanging tiles were dislodged, windows were broken, doors were blown out, and the top of the stack and chimney pots were far flung. Although the chimney sustained damage, the original stack survives below the first floor ceiling height. Photographs of the building show that no.3 cottage escaped with the least damage, nos.1 and 2 cottages sustaining the majority of the damage. The photographs also show that by this date no original timber framing remained in the south wall to the east of the chimney.

The current western end wall west marks the west end of the open hall. The panels at rafter level, above the tie-beam or main transverse beam that holds the top of the walls together, are filled with staves and daub. The tie-beam also has evidence of two mortices, which were probably for concave braces to the outer walls, and the lack of other mortices implies that this wall was open below the tie-beam. The west face of the tie-beam was inspected using an endoscope and shows no signs of weathering, suggesting that the building extended further to the west. The surviving daub in the panels above the tie-beam are all heavily sooted, implying that they date to the period prior to the construction of the chimney. There are no chamfers on any of the timbers in this truss, however the finish of the beams is very fine with all faces square and smooth.

The east wall of no.3 cottages contains the arch-braced hammer-beam with a span of 22ft 9ins/6.9m being incorporated into the partition wall with the insertion of the chimney and floor in the 16th century. This work included the insertion of a slim tie-beam to connect the ends of the hammer-beams resulting in the loss of any original decoration on the ends of the hammer-beams. The outer hammer-beam brace on the north side has been removed in antiquity and a large wrought iron bracket added to prevent further sagging. The tracery of the south hammer-beam brace has survived having been filled with daub and later rendered over. It has now been uncovered to reveal a detailed quatrefoil design, which is the only remaining decorative feature of the structure. The tracery is similar to ecclesiastical or monastic designs, particularly as the central points of the quatrefoil project out of the design. The whole of the hammer-beam brace has been made from a single piece of timber, requiring an oak plank 7ft 2ins x 3ft 7ins x 8ins/2.2m x 1.1m x 20cm thick with considerable loss of timber in thinning the traced section and the outer section to only 4ins/10cm thick. The north outer hammer-beam brace section is a solid oak panel that has been marked out with deep scratches in preparation for the carving of a further quatrefoil with a pierced teardrop below, but has been left uncarved. The reason the carpenter committed the design to the timber but did not execute it or remove his marks is unknown. The timbers in the roof space are heavily sooted, and the daub panels of the later partition wall in the roof space have no soot on them implying that the sooting relates to the period prior to the chimney insertion rather than the later lightening strikes or fire damage.

The roof is constructed using single clasped purlins with plain concave up and down wind braces. There is evidence that a louvre was inserted after the construction of the roof and before the construction of the chimneystack. The roof contains no decoration other than chamfers on the purlins, although it does continue the use of high quality timber and craftsmanship.

Most of the wall timbers are obscured, although the inner faces of the wall plates (the plate of a wall frame on which the roof trusses rest) are visible on all walls and the pegs identify probable strut and brace locations. The few visible wall stud mortices suggest that the property may have had close studded walls, this decorative feature is normally associated with a slightly later period. Examinations within the other walls show that most (if not all) the wall studs and braces have been removed. There are mortices for concave braces inside the wall studs with three braces along the north wall matching the roof wind brace positions, but only one curved brace in the south wall. The lack of bracing in the south wall near the hammer-beam truss suggests that this may have been the position of windows. The positioning of the louvre on the west side of the dividing hammer-beam truss implies that what is now cottage no.3 was originally the ‘high’ end of the hall.

Whilst only one complete bay remains, it is possible to determine that the original building extended to the west. This is supported by a number of finds including the lack of weathering on the outside face of the west wall beneath the tile hanging and the lack of a sill beam or sandstone blocks beneath the west wall. If the high end of the hall was as suggested above, the section of building that has disappeared would have been the solar or private apartments of the owner, probably as a separately framed crosswing. The wall at the west end of the house also had a small door situated slightly right of centre on either the first or second floor, although a one-time resident and farm worker does not recall it being used during his time at the farm from the 1930’s onwards. The door was removed when the west end wall was re-tile hung in the late 1950’s. Although no timber structure remains at the east end of the cottages to prove its original extents, the length of the current cottages is very close to three times the length of the surviving bay which could indicate the re-use of the original foundations. One possible layout is therefore a two bay hall with solar at the west end and service room at the other.

The best-known example of an arch-braced hammer-beam roof is the Great Hall at Westminster, dating to 1395-9 and designed by Hugh Herland, the King’s carpenter, being considered to be the first to use this arch-braced design. The arch-braced hammer-beam structure at nos.1-3 Imberhorne Farm Cottages shows a striking similarity with the structure of Westminster Hall. Although the structure at Imberhorne Farm Cottages is very plain in comparison to the Great Hall at Westminster, the design of the tracery in the hammer-beam brace is identical except for the use of a quatrefoil rather than a trefoil as at Westminster. Although Hugh Herland died c1411, the construction of such a structure within thirty years of the completion of Westminster Hall implies that the carpenter that worked at Imberhorne had access to the latest ideas, and may have trained under the direction of Hugh Herland or successive King’s carpenters, William Toutmond (working 1405-c1415), William Yardhurst (working c1416-1426) or John Goldyng (working 1426-1451). The lack of mouldings and carvings at Imberhorne does not reduce the property to a low social status; it was still an impressive and expensive dwelling to construct.

Although the manor of Imberhorne was held by Lewes Priory, the records show that until the Dissolution the demesne lands of Imberhorne were leased by various families who appear to have sub-let the manor at various times. Evidence suggests that the Aske family had been leasing the manor of Imberhorne from Lewes Priory from before 1444 and may have held the manor at the time of the construction of the hammer-beam property in 1428. John Aske of Aughton in Yorkshire had married Joan, the heiress of the Shovelstrode family who owned the nearby Shovelstrode Manor, East Grinstead. With the close proximity of Shovelstrode Manor in their ownership and their principal residence in Sussex being Verdley Castle near Midhurst, it seems unlikely that they would have invested significant funds in constructing the hammer-beam property on land they did not own. However, it is known that from 1414, Lewes Priory was undergoing a period of investment and building work upon their ‘decayed’ manors under the direction of Prior Thomas Nelond. The hammer-beam property is most likely to have been constructed as Imberhorne Manor House, a dwelling at the northern extents of the Priory’s land holding, possibly as a halfway stop over on the main route from Lewes to London.

The Aske family continued to own lands in Sussex, including the estates of the Shovelstrode family until at least 1536. In 1541, John Aske, the great grandson of John and Joan Aske, petitioned Henry VIII to exchange the Askes estates in Sussex for Abbey lands of Ellerton in Yorkshire. In 1534, there is reference to Edward Mercer paying £7. 6s. 8d ‘for the manor of Imberhorne’, implying that he was the tenant at this time. However, with the Dissolution of Lewes Priory in 1537, the manor of Imberhorne was granted to Thomas, Lord Cromwell, Earl of Essex, who only held it until 1540 when he was executed for treason.

It is unclear who held the manor of Imberhorne after the death of Thomas, Lord Cromwell in 1540, although evidence suggests that it was granted to William, 11th Earl of Arundel, being granted thirteen years later by Henry, 12th Earl of Arundel, to Queen Mary in exchange for other land. The Imberhorne court roll of October 1555 lists an indenture between Thomas Argall, as lord of the manor, and Richard Dallenden, gentleman, where Richard Dallenden was to pay £12. 11s. 13d per annum for the Manor House and demesne lands of the manor, as well rights to the use of Grinstead and Felbridge Commons for grazing, as had been paid ‘lately by William Mercer’. This implies that Richard Dallenden succeeded William Mercer in holding the tenure of the manor of Imberhorne, who in turn had succeeded Edward Mercer who had been paying for the manor in 1534.

In February 1559, Thomas Argall granted the manor of Imberhorne to Sir Richard Sackville of Knole in Sevenoaks, Kent, and the manor of Imberhorne then remained with the Sackville family until 1872. There is no evidence to suggest that the Sackville family ever resided at Imberhorne during their ownership but continued to issue leases on the property. It was also sometime around this date that the chimney and floor were installed in the Manor House. The floor was inserted below the hammer-beam and a newly erected partition wall obliterated any evidence of the pierced decoration of the brace on the south side of the property. An even worse fate befell the brace on the north side of the property, the whole thing being cut out and removed. The removal of the brace resulted in sagging of the hammer-beam and it required strapping to the hammer-post with a substantial iron brace to prevent further collapse. Unfortunately no documents have yet come to light providing details on the alterations or who had them carried out but it seems likely that they may have been carried out during the early years of ownership by the Sackville family.

The ownership and occupation of the old manor house at Imberhorne is similar to the tenancy of the farmland; the information here is therefore based on ‘The Farm at Imberhorne’ Factsheet SJC 05/03, with additional details where relevant. In 1580, Imberhorne Manor House was leased from the Sackville family by John Turner(1) of Tablehurst in Forest Row, who took out a 99-year lease on the property being succeeded by his son Sackville Turner on his death in 1581. Sackville Turner died in 1636 and was succeeded by John Turner(2) who died in 1662 leaving seventeen years of the Turner lease to run. However, in 1660 the manor of Imberhorne appears to be held by Edward Lucas as bailiff, followed by William Bushey as bailiff in April 1667, and in 1669, Mr Jones is recorded as taking out a lease ‘upon Imberhorne demeane land’.

In 1697, Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset, issued a moiety (half share) lease to James Linfield for a farm of 110 acres (named in later leases as Cardinal’s Farm), then in the tenure of James Woodman, ‘the said premises and also all that messuage, garden and orchard in the occupation of James Linfield’. There is strong evidence to suggest that James Linfield was occupying Imberhorne Manor House and that he was adding to his land holding by the lease of the farm. In 1702 James Linfield died and John Turner(3) took over the property. In 1710, John Turner(3), listed as a yeoman, took out a counterpart lease from Lionel Cranfield Sackville, 7th Earl of Dorset, for the ‘demesne of the manor and Imberhorne and a barn lately built, late in the occupation of John Matthews, now in the occupation of John Turner’. John Turner(3) continued to occupy the ‘scite of Imberhorne manor’ and ‘Cardinals Ffarme’, until his death in 1733 when his son John(4) succeeded him. This is confirmed by an indenture between Lionel Cranfield Sackville, 7th Duke of Dorset and John Turner(4) dated October 1739. The lease was no longer a moiety lease and entitled John Turner(4) to the whole entity being, ‘the manor or mansion house wherein the said John Turner dwells, together with a stable and granary over, a cart house, 2 stalls for beasts, 2 barns, 4 closes or yards and a hay barn with the said premises, with orchard and appertainment by estimation 3 acres 2 perches’. Also attached to the Manor House was the mill mentioned in the 1580 lease taken out by John Turner(1) of Tablehurst.

John Turner(4) is recorded as occupying and paying the land tax for Imberhorne and Cardinal’s Farm until his death in 1785, a total of sixty-two years from the death of John Turner(3) in 1733, this implies that he was either very elderly at the time of his death or the property had passed to a son John(5) during the sixty-two years. However, the property continued to remain with the Turner family after the death of John Turner(4 or 5) in 1785. Although John had died without surviving children, the property passed to his brother Robert and nephew William Turner. The property was then leased to Thomas Walley. Robert Turner continued to pay the land tax until his death in 1795, and in 1796, William Turner is recorded as paying the land tax and occupying the property, although it is unclear when the occupation of Thomas Walley ceased and William Turner succeeded him. William Turner continued to occupy and pay the land tax on the property until his death in 1808 when William Hubble succeeded him.

It was during the tenure of William Hubble that Arabella Diana, Duchess of Dorset, had the ‘new’ farmhouse at Imberhorne built, along with most of the farm buildings that make up the current farm complex, although there is evidence to suggest that some of the old farm buildings were also being repaired at this time. The ‘new’ farmhouse was completed by 1811 and this date is a critical turning point in the history and development of the original hammer-beam Manor House at Imberhorne.

From the mid 1700’s the land tax paid on Imberhorne had been £13 for ‘Imberhorne and Cardinal’s’ and £1. 6s. 0d for ‘the manor’, rising to £17. 6s. 8d and then £24 for ‘Imberhorne and Cardinal’s’ by 1794, and £1.14s. 8d for ‘the manor’ by 1776. However, in 1808, a third value of £1 was added to the land tax due for Imberhorne suggesting that this was the value to be paid on the ‘new’ farmhouse. These values suggest that the hammer-beam property may have been valued as ‘the manor’ at £1 14s 8d, as this property was standing before the construction of the ‘new’ farmhouse in 1808/11. Based on this theory and the available land tax records, the hammer-beam property was classed as owned and ‘occupied’ by the Duchess of Dorset from between 1808 and 1820 until Col. John Turner is recorded as the occupier paying the land tax. In 1821, the value of £1 disappears from the records altogether leaving just the values of £24 being paid for ‘house and land’, and £1.14s 8d being paid for the ‘manor’, perhaps at this point the ‘new’ farmhouse becomes incorporated with ‘Imberhorne and Cardinal’s’. From between 1821 and 1823, Mr E Leaf paid the land tax as occupier for both properties, £24 for ‘house and land’ and £1. 14s. 8d for the ‘manor’, being succeeded by Mr W H Barrow in 1824. However, in 1825, Mr S S Slater paid the land tax for the ‘house and land’, and Mr Barrow for the ‘manor’.

In 1827, Mr Slater was still paying for the ‘house and land’ but Mr J Hoper had taken on the ‘manor’ payment and payments remained as such until 1829 when George Hoper succeeded Mr J Hoper. In 1831, Mr Wibley succeeded both Mr Slater and George Hoper with payments for the ‘house and land’ and ‘the manor’ until 1834, when they were taken on by John Whright (Wright) who continued their payment until 1841 when he was succeeded by Charles Worsley. Both John Wright and Charles Worsley were listed as occupiers during their times of paying the land tax, however, the census of 1841 lists two properties at Imberhorne, ‘Old Wallage’ and ‘New House’, clearly the old manor house and the new farmhouse, but Charles Worsley is not listed as the occupier of either, although Charles Worsley is listed as paying the land tax until 1851 when Frederick Caley Worsley succeeds him until 1855, and both are referred to as ‘of Imberhorne’ in local directories.

In 1841, John Stringer, a thirty-year old agricultural labourer, occupied ‘Old Wallage’, the hammer-beam property, with his wife Amelia aged thirty and children Ann aged eight, Esther aged seven, John aged two and Robert aged two months. ‘New House’ was occupied by James Isted listed as a farm bailiff implying that Charles Worsley had installed a bailiff to run Imberhorne and Cardinal’s Farm, by then known as simply as Imberhorne Farm, and that John Stringer was probably an agricultural labourer on the farm. The census entry confirms that by 1841 the high status hammer-beam property had slumped to the status of an agricultural labourer’s cottage, attached to Imberhorne Farm. The census of 1851 calls the two properties at Imberhorne - ‘Imberhorne’ and ‘Imberhorne Cottage’. Henry Batchelor occupied ‘Imberhorne’, (the ‘new’ farmhouse), as the bailiff and overlooker for the Worsely family and ‘Imberhorne Cottage’ the hammer-beam property was occupied by Thomas Geer a twenty-three year agricultural labourer with his brother George Geer aged nineteen, also an agricultural labourer. Thomas and George were sons of Edward and Mary Geer, Edward working as an agricultural labourer, and the great nephew of John Geer who was occupying and working the old mill, (Brook Mill), referred to in the Turner lease of 1580.

In 1855, Joseph Turner succeeded Frederick Caley Worsley in the tenure of Imberhorne Farm being listed as a land agent and farmer of Imberhorne in the local directories. In 1861, Joseph Turner and his family are recorded as occupying Imberhorne Farm, Joseph being a farmer of 400 acres and employing three labourers and two boys. The census records three households besides ‘Imberhorne Farm’, (the ‘new’ farmhouse), the dwellings of the three labourers that Joseph Turner employed. John Simmons an agricultural labourer aged forty-two with his children Ellen aged eighteen, William aged fourteen, Alfred aged eleven, Mary aged eight and James aged five occupied household no.1. William and Alfred are also recorded as agricultural labourers, being the two boys employed by Joseph Turner at Imberhorne. John Simmons and his family had previously lived at ‘Line House Park’ in Lingfield, Surrey, where he had been working as a labourer. Richard Baldwin a thirty-six year agricultural labourer with his wife Charlotte aged thirty-five, occupied household no.2, and James Fools a forty-year old groom with his wife Harriet aged forty-six, occupied household no.3. The three households suggest that by 1861, the hammer-beam property had been altered again to contain three agricultural worker’s cottages, although in 1871 only two households were listed.

In 1871, George Simmons a thirty-nine year old labourer with his wife Ann aged thirty-nine, and their children George aged fourteen, Edgar aged twelve, Eliza aged six and Amy aged three, occupied household no.1. George junior and Edgar were both listed as farm assistants and were probably replacement farm boys for William and Alfred Simmons who would have been men by 1871. George Simmons senior originated from Speldhurst, Kent, but by 1851 had been moved to ‘Bunell’s Orchard’ in East Grinstead, near Brook Mill. Henry Chatfield, a thirty-seven year old labourer, occupied household no.2 with his wife Emma aged thirty-nine and their children Emma aged nine, Alice aged six and Thomas aged five. By 1871, George Simmons senior and Henry Chatfield had replaced John Simmons and Richard Baldwin as the agricultural labourers at Imberhorne Farm working for Richard Dawson who had taken over the tenure of Imberhorne Farm from Joseph Turner by 1866, occupying the current Imberhorne Farmhouse.

In 1872, the ‘estate of Imberhorne’, consisting of nearly 531 acres including the ‘new’ farmhouse and the hammer-beam property, by then farm worker’s cottages, was sold by the Sackville family to Dr Thomas Fielden Campbell for £16,500. Dr Campbell purchased the estate as an investment and set about building a new house, initially called ‘Imberhorne House’, later to be known as ‘Imberhorne Manor’, whilst installing Isaac Rust in the ‘new’ farmhouse as the bailiff to run Imberhorne Farm. In 1878, Edward Blount, (later to become Sir Edward Blount), purchased the ‘estate of Imberhorne’ from Dr Campbell, the estate remaining with the Blount family until 1954. Evidence suggests that Edward Blount moved into ‘Imberhorne Manor’ and his son Henry Blount moved into the ‘new’ farmhouse whilst ‘Imberhorne Manor’ was enlarged. With the arrival of Henry Blount, Isaac Rust, the farm bailiff who had been living in the ‘new’ farmhouse, may have moved to one of the farm worker’s cottages in the hammer-beam property. Whilst in residence at the ‘new’ farmhouse, Henry Blount supervised the farming programme and workforce of Imberhorne Farm with Isaac Rust, the farm bailiff. By 1881, Henry Blount had joined his parents at ‘Imberhorne Manor’, and John Charles Davis, who had replaced Isaac Rust as farm bailiff, was occupying the ‘new’ farmhouse then called ‘Imberhorne Farm’, the name by which it is still known.

By 1881, the farm worker’s cottages in the hammer-beam property had assumed the description of ‘Imberhorne Buildings’ being occupied by John Marden, a twenty-four year old farm labourer, with his wife Mary aged twenty-three and their two sons, George aged three and Edwin A aged one, in household no.1. Thomas Pollard, a twenty-eight year old farm labourer, with his wife Amey aged twenty-eight and their daughter Alice aged two, occupied household no.2. Henry Tingley, a thirty-six year old agricultural labourer, with his wife Frances (also known as Fanny) aged thirty-five and sons Henry W aged eleven, John C aged eight and Alfred J aged five, occupied household no.3. Also living in this household were the parents of Frances, William and Philadelphia Brown aged sixty-eight and seventy, respectively. Henry Tingley was the son of John and Mary Ann Tingley who were living at ‘Giant Castle’ in Mill Wood area in Felbridge, (now Furnace Wood), in 1851. Evidence suggests that by 1881, the hammer-beam property had been established as three cottages, as it remains today, and that a further farm worker’s cottage had been built, the detached cottage now known as no.4 Imberhorne Farm Cottages.

In 1891, Thomas Pentecost occupied ‘Imberhorne Farm’ having replaced John Davis as farm bailiff in 1890, and the hammer-beam property had been re-named ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’, the name it carries to this day. Thomas Young, a thirty-seven year old farm labourer, with his wife Emily aged thirty-one, had succeeded John Marden and his family in cottage no.1. Thomas, the son of William and Harriet Young, had moved from Turners Hill where in 1881 he had been employed as a carpenter. Thomas Pollard and his family were still living in cottage no.2, Thomas being listed as a horse carter, and Margaret Payne, the sister of his wife Amy, had joined the family. Henry Tingley and his family still lived in cottage no.3, and by this date Henry was listed as a stockman. Three of Henry’s sons are also working on the farm, William by then aged twenty-one was working as a groom, John aged eighteen was working as a cowman and James aged sixteen was working as a pig man. By this date, William Brown, Henry Tingley’s father-in-law had died.

In 1901, Thomas Pentecost was still the farm bailiff occupying ‘Imberhorne Farm’. Living in no.1 ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’ was George Baldwin, having replaced Thomas Young, he was a thirty-eight year old farm labourer with his wife Ellen aged thirty-nine and their children Louisa aged sixteen and William aged thirteen. George Baldwin had previously worked at Gate House Farm, Newchapel, and was the brother of PC James Baldwin who was murdered whilst on duty in October 1898 and was buried at St John’s Church, Felbridge, (for more information see ‘Biographies from the churchyard of St John the Divine, Felbridge’ Factsheet SJC 07/02vi). Thomas Pollard and Henry Tingley and their families still lived in nos.2 and 3 ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’. Henry’s sixteen-year-old daughter Lilly was listed as a general servant and was probably in service for the Blount family at ‘Imberhorne Manor’ and his mother-in-law, Philadelphia Brown (listed as Polly Brown) was still living with the family, by then aged ninety. Philadelphia died in December 1902 being buried at St John’s Church on 1st January 1903, aged ninety-two. Ten years later, Henry Tingley died in April 1913 and was buried at St John’s Church aged sixty-five, having lived in no.3 ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’ for over thirty-two years.

In 1926, when nos.1-3 ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’ were struck by lightning, Thomas and Amy Pollard were still living at no.2, having lived there since 1879, forty-seven years of their fifty-year married life. Alec (known as Bob) Creasey and his wife Hilda lived at no.1 and Jack Cushion and his wife lived at no.3, Jack Cushion working as a cowman. In 1932, Amy Pollard died at the age of seventy-nine and was buried at St John’s Church on 15th December. During the war years, Amy Brayshaw, a married daughter of Edward Wells who had replaced Thomas Pentecost as farm bailiff in 1931, came to live at no.2. Amy Brayshaw had her third child, Frances, there in 1943. In October 1940, no.3 ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’, still in the occupation of Jack Cushion, sustained slight bomb damage, along with farm cottages 4, 5, 6 and 7, the bailiff’s house - ‘Imberhorne Farm’ and farm buildings suffering medium damage, ‘Imberhorne Farm’ also suffered medium damage a second time in June 1944.

In February 1953, Edward Charles Blount died, followed four months later by his wife, the Imberhorne estate being inherited by their two unmarried daughters, Clare and Marguerite. The deaths of their parents in such quick succession incurred huge death duties and forcing the decision to sell off the estate. The farm at Imberhorne, ‘Imberhorne Farm’ and seven farm worker’s cottages including nos.1-3 ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’ was put up for auction along with Gulledge Farm in May 1954, being purchased by Mr Beeney. At the time of sale nos.1-3 were described as:
Conveniently situated near the farmhouse and buildings:
Block of three brick built, part weather tile hung and tile roof Cottages and known as
Nos. 1, 2, & 3, Imberhorne Cottages

Occupied by Mr A Creasey, an Estate employee, and comprising:- Three Bedrooms (two communicating), one with fireplace and one with cupboard. Sitting Room, with fireplace and cupboard. Kitchen with tiled floor, stone sink, range, copper and cupboard under stairs. Kitchen garden.

Let to Mrs Brayshaw at 3/9d per week inclusive, and comprising:- Two Bedrooms, one with fireplace and cupboard and gas lighting. Larder with brick floor. Living Room with gas lighting, fireplace and cupboard. Scullery with white glazed sink, tiled floor, copper, fireplace, point for gas cooker. Kitchen garden.

Occupied by Mr G Botting (casual Estate employee):- Three Bedrooms (two communicating). Living Room with fireplace. Larder with brick floor. Kitchen with brick floor, range, copper, white glazed sink, point for gas cooker. Kitchen garden.
Brick built and slated lean-to range of three W.C.’s and three coal sheds.

In April 1955, Imberhorne and Gulledge Farms, including ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’, were again on the market being bought from Mr Beeney by Robert Emmett, a builder and farmer from Kent. At the time of the second sale, Bob and Hilda Creasey, Amy Brayshaw and George Botting were still occupying nos.1-3 ‘Imberhorne Cottages’. Bob Creasey stayed on as one of the farm workers on Imberhorne Farm, along with Taddy Redman from no.4 and George Piper from no.7 ‘Imberhorne Farm Cottages’.

After the arrival of the Emmett’s, those that worked on the farm still retained their tied cottage, rent-free, but as they either left or died, the farm cottages were put up for rent providing another source of income. In January 1969, Brian Emmett took over Imberhorne Farm on the death of his father Robert. Also in January 1969, Bob Creasey died and his widow Hilda continued to live in no.1 until her death in 1982, when it was taken over by Amilio Travaglini. In 1988 Amy Brayshaw moved from no.2 and was succeeded by Sue Ritchie.

Shortly after the arrival of the Emmett’s, George Botting moved out of no.3, the cottage remaining empty until 1958, when Robert Emmett’s sister Lorna moved in. During building work to install a bathroom on the first floor, some leather shoes and horsehair were uncovered deposited in the wall. The depositing of shoes in walls is a common custom in Southern Britain, with most finds dating to between the 17th and 19th century. It is believed that the shoes found hidden generally in a wall, roof, chimney breast or under floor boards, in places usually only accessible at the time of building or structural alterations, were placed there to offer protection to the property. The position of the hoard of shoes suggests that they could only have been placed in the wall at the time that the timber framing and wattle and daub of the original 15th century property was faced with tile hanging. The shoes were not removed from the wall and remain there to this day. Lorna Emmett lived in no.3 until 1961 when George and Muriel Orpen moved in, Muriel being the daughter of Taddy Redman. The Orpen’s remained there until the early 1972 before moving to no.7 Imberhorne Farm Cottages. In 1972, the Barrett family, Ugandan Asian refugees who had fled the reign of terror inflicted by Idi Amin, temporarily moved into no.3, being succeeded by the late 1970’s by Michael Stewart, and in September 1997, Neil Buss, the current tenant, moved into the cottage.

Today, the Victorian appearance of nos.1-3 Imberhorne Farm Cottages conceals the former Manor House for the manor of Imberhorne, along with a magnificent arch-braced hammer-beam structure, still standing as a testament to the craftsmanship and skill of the carpenters who built it in 1428. The intricately carved brace that had not been seen since the mid to late 16th century when the floor and chimneystack were inserted has been revealed after nearly five hundred years of being hidden behind daub and render in a partition wall. Unfortunately, the answer to the question of who built the property still remains a mystery and one can only speculate on the original size and grandeur of the house, but one cannot fail to appreciate the importance of such a rare and important structure.

Blounts of Imberhorne, by J G Smith
Indenture for manor house of Imberhorne, Ref: U269 E341, CKS
Buckhurst Terrier, SRS vol.XXXIX
The Chartulary of St Pancras, Lewes, SRS vol.XXXVIII
‘Doomsday Book and the origins of settlement in East Grinstead’, East Grinstead Bulletin, 61 p5-9, FHA
Victoria History of Sussex – Lewes Priory
Lewes Priory Excavations by Richard Lewis, by Malcolm Lyne
Imberhorne Dendrochronology Report, by Dr MC Bridge, FHA
English Mediaeval Architects, by John Harvey
The History of the King’s Works, by HM Colvin
English Historic Carpentry, by Cecil A Hewett
Church Architecture by, Cecil A Hewett
Discovering Church Architecture, by Mark Child
Timber Building in England, by Fred Crossley
Timber Building in Britain, by RW Brunskill
The English Mediaeval house, by Margaret Wood
English Vernacular Architecture, by Eric Mercer
English Vernacular Houses, by Eric Mercer
Outline of English Architecture by AH Gardner
English Architecture by David Watkin
Architecture of Britain by Doreen Yarwood
The English House by James Chambers
The Buildings of England, London 2, South, by B Cherry and N Pevsner
The Development of Timber-Framed Buildings in the Sussex Weald, by Diana Chatwin
Framed Buildings of the Weald, by R T Mason
Framed Buildings of Britain, by R T Mason
Recording Timber-Framed Buildings by NW Alcock, MW Barley, PW Dixon and RA Meerson
Carew Manor Great Hall
The Age of Carpentry
Architecture & History
Making History
Houses in Lancashire
Timber Roofs and Carved Ceilings
Medieval Colleges
Lightning strike drama of 1926, EGC article, FHA
Aske family information,
Shovelstrode and Homestall, by John Stapleton, in Ashurst Wood 1086-1986, FHA
Arms of Sussex Families, by J E Huxford
Feoffment to Richard Aske, 1444, Ref. SAS/G9/8, ESRO
Shovelstrode and Aske lands in Pevensey, SAC vol.X , vol. XII, vol. XX, vol. XXX, vol. XXXIX, vol. XXXXV
Parish Records of St Swithun’s, East Grinstead, WSRO
Copy of warrant for bailiffship of Imberhorne, 1660, Ref; U269 E183, CKS
Moiety Lease, 1697 & counterpart Lease of 1710, Ref: U269 T370, CKS
Land Tax Records, WSRO
Sackville Papers, Ref: U269 E183, T139/12, A149/1, CKS
Imberhorne Court Roll, Ref: DLW M6, ESRO
Imberhorne Court Book Index, Ref: ADA 113, ESRO
Will of John Turner, 1785, PRO
Will of William Turner, 1807, PRO
East Grinstead Tithe & Apportionment, WSRO
Census Records for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, FHA
Directories for East Grinstead area, EGL
Parish Records of St John’s, Felbridge, FHA
War Damage Reports, Ref:47855, WSRO
Sale Catalogue for Imberhorne and Gulledge Farms, 1954, FHA
Dictionary of English Folklore by J Simpson and S Roud

For a detailed architectural discussion of this building see: J. Clarke, An Early Vernacular Hammer-Beam Structure: Imberhorne Farm Cottages, East Grinstead, West Sussex, Vernacular Architecture Journal 36 (2005).

Many thanks to Neil Buss for his endless patience during the numerous visits to his house. Also, thanks to David Martin for his time and support, Martin Bridger for his dendrochronology work and report, the Margary Trust Fund for their financial contribution towards the cost of the dendrochronology, Christopher Whittick for his archival research on the Aske family, and Brian and Marilyn Emmett, and George and Muriel Orpen for their general information about the property.

For further information on Imberhorne Farm see ‘The Farm at Imberhorne’, Factsheet SJC 05/03, ‘Imberhorne Farmhouse’, Factsheet SJC 09/04 and ‘Imberhorne Farm Archaeological Field Walk Report of 10th May 2003’
JIC/SJC 09/04