Michaelmas Farm

Michaelmas Farm

Michaelmas Farm, known until recently as Miles Farm, is located on the southern side of Copthorne Road in Felbridge, currently lying wholly in Sussex, abutting the county boundary with Surrey. 


The property appears to be made up of two separate holdings and a piece of common land, and to further complicate the understanding of the history and development of the Michaelmas Farm as a whole, the holdings both had freehold status.  Tracking freehold property in the manorial records is always quite difficult as it generally only appears when a herriot (a fine payable on the death of the owner) or a quit rent (a small fixed annual rent whose payment released a tenant from manorial service) was due.  Added to this, from the surviving records it would also appear that there was some confusion between the local manors, South Malling –Lindfield, Walstead, and Hedgecourt, as to which manor the properties actually belonged to.


It is therefore against this background of manorial confusion that the early history and development of Michaelmas Farm has been traced using the records of the manors of South Malling – Lindfield and Walstead, and the manor of Hedgecourt.  To add to the confusion further, the two holdings that form Michaelmas Farm as it is today were amalgamated under the ownership of Sir Robert Clayton of Marden who held the manor of Bletchingley in the mid 18th century, leading to yet another set of records that had to be searched.  Under the ownership of the Clayton family the boundaries of their various holdings in the area of Michaelmas Farm were altered over time and the amalgamation of their holdings that forms what is today known as Michaelmas Farm had separate identities, the land and house being recorded separately in the surviving records until the early 20th century when they were united as one property.


For ease of understanding the history and development of Michaelmas Farm, this document is divided into three sections and each section will also discuss the lives of some of the owners and occupiers associated with the property.  The information is based on the findings of the various manorial records, backed up by dating evidence from a survey of the surrounding hedges, the wills of some of the occupants and parish registers. 


The first section covers the early history and development of the property held of the manor of Walstead, including a survey of the surviving dwelling that now forms Michaelmas farmhouse.  The second section covers the early history and development of the property held of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield.  The final section covers the history and development of the two properties under one owner, and their amalgamation to create one farm that is today called Michaelmas Farm.


History of the property held of the manor of Walstead  

A large part of Michaelmas Farm is made up of land that once belonged to the atte Fenn [Fenner] family who had connections with Worth dating back to at least the mid 1300’s when Gilbert atte Fenne gave his name to the property Gybbes affen [Gibbshaven], to the south of Michaelmas Farm [for further information see Handout, Gibbshaven Farm, JIC/SJC 07/07].  Since completion of the Gibbshaven handout, a very informative document has come to light that shows that the Worth lands of the atte Fenn family not only included Gibbshaven Farm but also further land to the north, also called Gibbes affen [Gibbshaven].  This land later became known as Lower Gibs a Ven [Gibbshaven] and is sometimes referred to as Little Gibs a Ven [Gibbshaven], although it should not to be confused with property known as Little Gibbshaven in the 19th century that lies on the site of the former Felbridge Nursery [for further information see Handout, Little Gibbshaven, SJC 07/08] to the southeast of the current property called Gibbshaven.


One of the few surviving records referring to this piece of land (Little/ Lower Gibs a Ven) is a transcript of a document, now lost, which was held in the Gage papers, lords of the manor of Hedgecourt.  The record, dated 19th April 1600, refers to a court case that John Gage, as lord of the manor of Hedgecourt, brought against William Blundell for trespass concerning the tenure of land called ‘Little Gibbs [Lower Gibs a Ven] otherwise Fennes in Worth’.  The piece of land abuts Gibbshaven which was held by the manor of Hedgecourt and Gage must have thought that William Blundell’s ‘Little Gibbs’ was also part of his manor.


The transcript details the history of the piece of land back to the death of Roger at Fenn who died seized of ‘12 acres called [Lower] Gibbs affen’ in 1531, which by deed dated 3rd September 1532,  was given to William Tomson of Horne in Surrey.  The same year William Tomson granted the land to John Payne of Brambletye in East Grinstead, Sussex.  On 20th May 1538, John Payne granted [Lower] Gibbes affen to Michael Egerton and the land then descended to his son Thomas Egerton, who in turn ‘released and quit claimed’ [sold] the property to John Dallet and his wife Ursula and the heirs of Ursula.  For the stipulation that the property pass to the heirs of Ursula suggests that Thomas Egerton and Ursula may have been related, but unfortunately there are no surviving records to prove this. 


John and Ursula Dallet held the property until 12th June 1564 when they sold [Lower] Gibbs affen to John Blundell and his heirs.  At the time of sale [Lower] Gibbs affen consisted of a cottage, 4 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow, 6 acres of pasture and 1 acre of wood, an increase of two acres since the death of Roger at Fenn in 1531.  John Blundell then enfoeoffed (surrendered to a group of trustees) the property for his youngest son, William.  It was proved that William Blundell held ‘the lands called [Lower] Gibbes affen in Worth containing by estimation 12 acres holden of Thomas Challenger of Linfield [Lindfield], as of his manor of Walstead’ at a rent of 4d.  Hence in April 1600 the court found against John Gage and in favour of William Blundell as the true owner of the ‘cottage and approximately 13 acres called [Lower] Gibbes affen in Worth’.


From the transcription of the court case it would seem that the original land holding of ‘Little Gibbs’ [Lower Gibbshaven] acquired a cottage under the ownership of John and Ursula Dallet and it is probable that this cottage is now Michaelmas Farmhouse.



The building is aligned roughly north-south and comprises of four bays 4.8m (16 feet) in width. There is an out shot at the south end of the property forming a fifth bay. The exterior is tile hung above first floor and rendered below with no visible timbers. The tiled roof is gabled at both ends with the outshot extending from the tie-beam at the south end. The chimney stack is at the south end within the fourth bay.


Frame 1 is at the north end of the property and is a queen strut clasped purlin construction. There has been replacement of the lower timbers but the wall posts and mid post survive. The timbers are generally heavy with all posts and rails varying between 8”-10” in every dimension. There are jowls on the wall posts that generally thicken rather than having a shaped form. There is a mid rail providing the support for nine joists set north-south and pegged into the mid rail. Below this rail there is a lower rail and an upper rail within the first floor. The panelling is generally square with only one division each side of the mid post.


Bay 1 is 2.5m (8 feet) in width. There are no surviving wall plates and the west side of this bay contains the current staircase. The east and west walls of this bay both have evidence of a lower rail preventing there being any door to the outside from this bay. There is an axial beam extending from the mid post in frame 1 to the transverse beam of frame 2, the underside of this beam has mortices to indicate a doorway about mid way along the bay with infill on each side of it. The stave mortices are all round ended whilst the post mortices are square ended. This bay was clearly divided into two chambers and has no decoration. The floor joists in this bay run north-south and are 4” in width and 5” high; there are also joists above the first floor of similar dimensions pegged into the tie-beam of frame 1 implying that the roof space in this bay was intended to be used when the structure was built.


Frame 2 has visible lower faces to much of the tie beam and mid-rail. The ground floor was partitioned at this frame with doorways at the west end of the frame into the west chamber of bay 1 and also at the west end of the east chamber of bay 1. The mid-rail is very heavily chamfered, with 2” x 2” chamfers ending with a crisp step and run-out stop at both ends on the south side, but no chamfer at all on the north side. The chamfer on the south side also has stops either side of the axial beam extending from the mid-rail to frame 3. It was recorded that during a lowering of the floor a badly rotten transverse sill beam was removed from the base of this frame. The tie-beam indicates that there was a central doorway between bays 1and 2 with infill to the east and west.


Bay 2 is 3m (10 feet) in width and is the most decorated and widest bay within the building. It contains an axial beam 10” x 10” which has heavy chamfers with step and run-out stops. The axial beam supports the 4” x 5” high floor joists which run east-west and are also chamfered with similar stops. The west wall has evidence for a lower rail at the north end of the bay but none at the south. Similarly there are no peg holes at the south end of the east wall. The first floor east and west walls are divided into three panels, there are mortices in the middle panels to indicate that these were infilled.


Frame 3 has an exposed mid-rail showing that this frame was infilled below with a door way east of centre. The mortices for this infill match all the other round ended stave mortices elsewhere in the structure. The mid-rail is crisply chamfered on the north side with matching stops to the rest of bay 3, the south side of the beam is chamfered but is less crisp with only the stop at the east end visible. The tie-beam has been cut out but the collar shows an interesting arrangement as it terminates into a vertical post east of centre. There is no mortice or peg hole in the east principle rafter for it to have ever extended. The south side of the mid-rail has a number of marks carved onto it, these are mainly ‘W’ forms.


Bay 3 is very narrow at 1.3m (4 feet) in width. There is an axial beam extending between frames 3 and 4 east of centre directly below the terminated roof collar in frame 3. The underside of this axial beam shows it to have been infilled completely. The west wall of this bay has a lower rail on the ground floor; the east wall now contains a doorway although it has peg holes for a lower rail. The roof space of this bay is heavily sooted from the west side to the line of the terminated roof collar. There is a small section of sooted daub in the south end of this bay.


Frame 4 now forms the front line of the fireplace and is not visible on the ground floor and only partially visible on the first floor. The tie-beam has a large mortice east of centre for an axial beam towards frame 3. Unfortunately frame 3 is not visible at the matching point so its extent is not possible to determine. The tie-beam is chamfered but with narrow run-out stops. Between the roof collar and the tie-beam there are heavily sooted infill staves and queen struts. Above the collar the principle rafters are sooted on both sides implying that the smoke was only contained to the west side of the frame up to the collar. The south side of this frame is weathered indicating that this formed the southern extent of the original structure. This frame is also the only one that has the principle rafters faced to the south side of the frame.


Bay 4 is 1.8m in width and now contains the brick chimney stack sited against the west wall leaving a space of 1.5m at the east side of the bay which contained a stair in the 1960’s. The floor joists above the east side of the bay are all reused timbers. It is possible that there may have been a bread oven to the west side of the chimney stack that extended outside the main structure.


Beyond bay 4 is an outshot on the south side of the chimney stack, the rafters are lighter timbers with no other significant features.


The roof is made up of paired rafters pegged at the apex with no ridge board. The rafters are all numbered with Roman numerals but are not in sequence. There are wind braces from every principle rafter to the purlin. These are straight and about 5” in width and are terminated into the principle rafter about half way between the purlin and the eave plate. These braces in the roof are the only visible bracing in the entire structure which has otherwise shown no angled bracing.


Discussion and conclusion

The property would appear to be constructed as a small 2 bay fully floored dwelling with a narrow bay used as a smoke bay but with a partition from the floor to the roof collar dividing off the east side of the smoke bay to contain the smoke. This smoke free space within the bay could have been used for the original access to the first floor and attic space which were built to be fully useable space.


The infill evidence below frame 3 might imply an original attempt to contain the smoke further as this would have completely contained the cooking and heating fire if this infill extended to the floor level. Bay 1 contains two chambers at the north end with a sill beam at the base of frame 2 such that the doorways led into these chambers from the heated ground floor room. These rooms are of lower status to the main heated chamber as the beams are not chamfered. The most likely date of construction is mid to late 1500’s particularly considering the clasped purlin roof structure and the smoke bay combined with the very heavy timbers. It is probably that the original entrance to the property was a cross passage at the south end of bay 2.


The addition of an external brick stack at the south end of the property was probably made in the early 1600’s. It was immediately enclosed in a timber frame extending to the east wall probably to provide a space for a stair to the upper floors. The outshot is difficult to date but the timber weight and style is probably from the 18th century.


Blundell family

The first Blundell to be associated with Little/Lower Gibs a Ven [Gibbshaven] was John Blundell who bought the cottage and fourteen acres of land from John and Ursula Dallet in 1564, although no record survives to confirm the sale.  Unfortunately it has not been possible to determine much about the early life of John Blundell except that he married Johan [Joan] Swane in Worth on 18th February 1559 and was buried in East Grinstead on 12th September 1596.  John and Joan had at least five children; Johan baptised on 31st January 1560, Mary baptised on 6th October 1561, Edward baptised on 13th November 1566 and Roger baptised on 21st March 1571, all baptised in Worth, and William (date of birth not yet established but he was listed as John’s youngest son and heir in 1600).


Roger Blundell and his wife and had at least six children; George and Thomasyn (dates of birth not yet established), Dorothye baptised on 1st January 1586/7, Ursula baptised on 5th April 1590, Margerye baptised on 26th November 1592 and John baptised on 3rd August 1595, all baptised in East Grinstead.  


As established above, John Blundell enfoeoffed Little/Lower Gibs a Ven [Gibbshaven] to his son William, evoking the inheritance custom of Borough English whereby the youngest son was the heir to his father’s lands and tenements.  William Blundell and his wife Agnes had at least two children; Elizabeth baptised on 20th February 1602/3 and Joahne baptised on 1st March 1606, both in Worth.  Little else is known about William’s life except that at the time of writing his will on 9th January 1607 he was a sheath maker, someone who makes scabbards for swords.  However, from the will some family information can be gleaned. 


The will was witnessed by Richard Ledger, neighbour Roger Croucher [see below] and Roger Parrham (related to Roger Croucher’s wife [see below]).  The will was written when William Blundell was ‘of indifferent health’, although he died within forty days of writing it.  William Blundell left money to Alice Saunders of Horne who was living in Worth at the time, to Dorothy Blundell his niece, who was working as his servant, and to Elizabeth his only surviving daughter, he left £25 to be taken out of his stock and goods and put in trust until she was of age.  William made his wife Agnes sole executor and instructed her to keep their daughter until she reached the age of eighteen or she married, which ever was sooner.  William Blundell gave his lands in Horne and Worth to his brother Roger, including the house in which Roger was living, for the remainder of his natural life and on his death the property was to go to Roger’s son George and his heirs.  The house was that which is now Felcot Farmhouse [for further information to Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08]. 


William willed the house and lands in Worth in which he was living (Little/Lower Gibbshaven) in trust to John Blundell (brother of George) and his heirs, although William’s wife Agnes and their daughter Elizabeth were to remain in occupation until Elizabeth reached the age of eighteen or married, which ever was sooner, when the property would become Elizabeth’s.  William also put on the condition that Agnes was to keep the property in good order.  A codicil to the will continued that should Elizabeth die before she reached the age of sixteen then £20 of her £25 bequest was to go to Agnes and the remaining £5 to William’s brother Roger Blundell.  William also added a bequest that his nephew George Blundell was to pay £4 to each of his siblings, Thomasyn, Dorothye, Ursula, Margerie and John, raised from the possession of the land that he had inherited from him.


At this point in time there is a complete absence of records relating to Lower Gibbshaven in any of the court books.  However, it would appear that the property became the freehold of John Finch, although it has been impossible to discover whether he acquired it through marriage to a Blundell or whether he purchased it from a member of the Blundell family, nor has it been possible to determine at what date. 


John Finch

There is little information on the life of John Finch but there is reference to him in the Felbridge area from at least 1663 when he appears in the court book for the manor of Hedgecourt taking out an eleven-year lease on ‘the watermill and mill house called Hedgecourt Mill with implements and tools and two parcels of land called Upper Floodgate Plat and the Little Floodgate Plat containing five acres more or less, and also a parcel of land called Longshawes by estimation six acres, and also Mill Land’ [for further details see Handout, Hedgecourt Watermill and Cottages, SJC 07/04]. 


In April 1668, John Finch, still as the miller of Hedgecourt, purchased seventy-four acres of land and two houses and a barn at Woodcock Forge being lately the estates of Richard Thorpe of ‘Gibshaven’ in Worth and his brother George Thorpe, both descendents of John Thorpe who had previously held the demesne lands of the manor of Hedgecourt.  A year later John Gage of Firle, lord of the manor of Hedgecourt, took out a seven-year counterpart lease with John Finch for the ‘forgeman’s house, adjoining to a forge or ironwork called Woodcock Hammer in Godstone otherwise Walkcombested [sic], with all floodgates, water and water courses’ [for further information see Handout, Wiremill, SJC 03/06].


Some time between September 1669 and March 1670, John Finch was joined at Hedgecourt Mill by John Marchant.  However, by February 1672 John Finch had retired from the mill being described as a yeoman of Worth in an assignment of mortgage on Woodcock Hammer [for further information see Handout, Wiremill, SJC 03/06].  Being a ‘yeoman of Worth’ would imply that by 1672 John Finch was living at Lower Gibbshaven which is confirmed in 1676 in the survey of the cottagers on Common in which he appears. Another reference to John Finch being at Lower Gibbshaven appears in the 1681 survey of the Commons of the manor of Bletchingley as his property is used as a marker in the description of the bounds of the common, & from the said last mentioned mearstone the said common or wast ground extendeth itself south west through certain inclosed lands now inclosed and incroached out of the said common or wast ground by John Finch and the limits and bounds of the said common or wast ground are known and distinguished from the freehold lands [Lower Gibbshaven] of the said John Finch by certain scrubs or bushes and a young oaken tree there growing & the said common or wast ground extendeth it self south west from the said oake to a certain messuage or tenement now in the occupation of one William Blundell’ [what is now Felcot Farm]. 


At the end of the survey is the revision made within a few years of the original document ‘said hedge court common or wast ground conteygneth in the whole by estimation 100 acres out of which the last mentioned common the said John Finch hath inclosed in there a field about 2 acres of the same on the south side thereof And that there is thereon a cottage and four little closes of land thereth belonging containing about 3 acres erected on and inclosed out of the said common now in the occupation of George Coleman or his asignes [an un-named  cottage that is now lost, further details follow below] And there standeth a barn and stall which hath thereto belonging four severall closes of land containing 6 acres or thereabouts inclosed and incroached out of the said common [part of what is now Felcot Farm] & now in the occupation of William Blundell or of his assigns’.


In 1682 John Finch appeared in the court books for the manor of South Malling – Lindfield paying 8/- per annum for the arrears from 1678 for a house and land in Worth, which was probably Lower Gibbshaven.  However, sometime around 1684 John Finch died and in 1685 his death was presented in the court book for the manor of Lagham alias Walkhamsted (Godstone) as he died seized of the seventy-four acre property at Woodcock.  The court book records that John Finch’s only daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Nicholas Ditcher, ‘tenants of the manor of Walkhamsted’ was ‘intitled to the lands called Woodcocks’ [for further information see Handout, Wiremill, 03/06].  However, no surviving entry appears for the presentment of the death of John Finch in either the Walstead or South Malling – Lindfield records with regard to his freehold property of Lower Gibbshaven held of one or other of these manors.


From the entry in the Lagham court records it is now known that John Finch’s heir was his daughter Elizabeth, although there is no conclusive candidate for her in the local parish registers in either Surrey or Sussex.  However, she may possibly be Elizabeth Finch baptised in Worth on 28th April 1622, the daughter of John Finch and his wife Katherine née Cheeseman who had married in Worth on 11th November 1621.  If this is the correct family, John and Katherine also had a son John baptised in Worth on 27th July 1628 but he must have died young, leaving Elizabeth as heir. 


Again, like her father, there is very little information on Elizabeth except that it is known she was the wife of Nicholas Ditcher by the presentment of the death of her father in 1685.  However, their marriage does not appear in any surviving local parish registers, and there are no entries for children they may have had.


Nicholas Ditcher

Like the Finchs, there is no early information on Nicholas Ditcher, and as established above, not even his marriage to Elizabeth Finch.  What is known is at the time of Elizabeth’s father’s death in 1685 the Ditchers were tenants of the manor of Walkhamsted.  However, on 15th March 1686 Nicholas Ditcher of Godstone, alias Walkhamsted, took out a thirty-one year counterpart lease at 1/- per annum, with Sir Robert Clayton, lord of the manor of Bletchingley, for ‘All that parcel of land containing by estimation one acre more or less lying and being in Horne in the said County of Surrey and within the said manor of Bletchingly at the south part of a certain common or parcel of wasteground belonging to the said manor of Bletchingly called Felbridge Common or Shirestone Heath and near adjoining to the freehold lands of the said Nicholas Ditcher and Elizabeth his wife heretofore in the occupation of one John Cranston and now in the occupation of the said Nicholas Ditcher his assigns or undertenants commonly called Little Gibbs of Venne within said close or parcel of land was heretofore parcel of the said common called Felbridge Common or Shirestone Heath and the said close is now in the occupation of the said Nicholas Ditcher his assigns or undertenants and used and occupied with the said Nicholas Ditcher his freehold lands thereunto adjoining’.


This document confirms that by 1686 Nicholas and Elizabeth Ditcher held the freehold property known as Lower Gibbshaven when they were granted the one acre field adjoining their land that had been in the occupation of John Cranston, which by the date of the lease in 1685 was in the occupation of Nicholas and Elizabeth Ditcher.  It is believed that the one acre piece of land is field no. 811 on the Horne tithe map [see appendix] which, together with field no.163 of the Worth tithe map [see appendix], equates to just over one acre, straddling the parishes of Worth and Horne and county boundary of Sussex and Surrey by 1839.  However from the description given in the survey of the boundary of commons of Bletchingley in 1681 it would appear that the county boundary had moved between 1681 and 1839. Therefore most of field 163 would have been in Horne in 1686 than is shown on the tithe map.


The next mention of Nicholas Ditcher is in 1727 when he appeared, along with his family, in the Surrey Quarter Sessions in a Removal Order from Horne to Worth suggesting that he had recently entered Horne and they suspected that he may later become a burden upon their parish.  In 1742 a John Ditcher appears in the Bletchingley records as a tenant paying 5/- rent for two fields near Hedgecourt Common in Horne.  Unfortunately it has not been possible to connect John Ditcher with Nicholas and Elizabeth but he may be their son, and if that is the case, one of the fields may equate to the acre field referred to in the lease taken out in 1686 with the addition of a further encroachment of the common.  John Ditcher also appears in an indenture of release made with John Wanmore and Sir Robert Clayton on 3rd October 1758, for the ‘messuage called Lower Gibs a Ven with another messuage and lands in Horne and Worth’ for the ‘consideration of 10/- a piece to John Ditcher and John Wanmore’.


The connection between John Ditcher and John Wanmore has not yet been established, although they both appear in records dealing with the acquisition of Lower Gibbshaven by Sir Kenrick Clayton in May 1760.  One possibility is that John Ditcher had previously sold part of Lower Gibbshaven to John Wanmore although there are no surviving records to confirm this, or possibly Wanmore had acquired some or all of Lower Gibbshaven through marriage, but again there are no surviving records to confirm this either.  What is clear is that it was John Wanmore who received payment for the freehold of Lower Gibbshaven. 


John Wanmore

Unlike the Ditchers and Finchs before, there is a little personal information about John Wanmore.  He was baptised on 8th October 1704 in Cowden in Kent, the son of John Wanmer.  On 8th April 1735 he married Anne Kemp, the daughter of Thomas Kemp and his wife Susanna née Pain, in Lingfield in Surrey.  Here the family information stops as they have not yet been found in any local parish registers.  However, in the series of documents relating to the release of Lower Gibbshaven to Sir Kenrick Clayton in 1760 John Wanmore was recorded as a brick-maker of Otford in Kent.


The first of the documents was a one-year Lease and Release made on the 5th May 1760 between John Wanmore and Sir Kenrick Clayton of Marden in Surrey, which for the sum of 5/- paid by Sir Kenrick Clayton, the said John Wanmore bargained and sold to him, ‘All that messuage or tenement commonly called or known by the name of Lower Gibs a ven or by whatsoever name or names the same is or hath been called or known and also all that messuage or tenement formerly in the occupation of Francis Roborough together with the barns stables edifices buildings yards gardens orchards lands and hereditaments thereunto belonging with their and every of their appurtenances containing in the whole by estimation eighteen acres (more or less) of arable meadow and pasture land all which said premises were formerly in the several tenures or occupations of Thomas Perry Francis Roborough and George Humphrey or their assigns and are now in the several tenures or occupations of John Sanders and Lazarus Roffey or their assignee or assigns and are situate lying and being in the parishes of Worth in the County of Sussex and Horne in the said County of Surrey and bounding to the lands formerly of Richard Thorpe Gentleman towards the south to the lands formerly in the occupation of the said George Humphrey towards the north to the common called Hedge Court Common towards the east and to the wood called the Warren towards the west howsoever otherwise the said premises are abutted or bounded together with all waters watercourses commons common of pasture feedings privileges easements advantages and appurtenances whatsoever to the said several messuages or tenements lands and premises belonging or in anywise appertaining or therewith used held occupied or enjoyed or accepted reputed deemed taken or known as part parcel or member thereof or of any part thereof and the reversion and reversions remainder and remainders rents issues and profits thereof and of every part and parcel thereof to have and to hold the said 2 messuages or tenements lands hereditaments and all and singular other the premises thereby bargained and sold mentioned or intended so to be with their and every of their appurtenances unto the said Sir Kenrick Clayton his executors administrators and assigns  from the day next before the day of the date of these presents for and during the term and unto the full end of one whole year from thence next ensuing and fully to be complete and ended yielding and paying therefore at the feast of Saint Michael the archangel next ensuing the date thereof unto the said John Wanmore his heirs or assigns the rent of one peppercorn (if the same shall be lawfully demanded) To the intent and purpose that by virtue of these presents and by force of the statute made for transferring uses into possession he the said Sir Kenrick Clayton may be in the actual possession of all and singular the said messuages or tenements lands hereditaments and premises hereby bargained and sold or mentioned or intended so to be with their and every of their appurtenances and thereby be enabled to accept and take a grant and release of the reversion and inheritance thereof unto and to the use of the said Sir Kenrick Clayton his heirs and assigns for ever’.


The second document, dated the 6th May 1760, was a Release of two messuage and lands in Worth and Horne made between Sir Kenrick Clayton and John Wanmore.  Sir Kenrick Clayton paid the sum of £380 to John Wanmore who stated that he had ‘executed Bargained and Sold, Alienates Releases and Confirms actual possession to Sir Kenrick Clayton the messuage or tenement commonly called or known by the name of Lower Gibs a ven’.  The third document was a Deed to lead uses of a Fine between Sir Kenrick Clayton, John Ditcher of Lingfield and John Wanmore and his wife Ann.  This document refers back to an Indenture of Release made between John Ditcher, John Wanmore and Sir Robert Clayton for the same property on 3rd October 1758.


The fourth document, a Final Agreement, was drawn up in the Trinity Term (22nd May and 12th June) 1760 between Sir Kenrick Clayton, plaintiff,  John Ditcher and John and Ann Wanmore, defendants, for ‘four acres of land two acres of meadow two acres of pasture and common of pasture for all cattle with the appurtenances in Horne in the County of Surrey and of two messuages two barns two stables two gardens two orchards eighteen acres of land five acres of meadow five acres of pasture five acres of wood and common of pasture for all cattle with the appurtenances in Worth in the county of Sussex whereupon a plea of covenant was summoned between them in the same court that is to say that the aforesaid John & John & Ann have acknowledged the aforesaid tenements & commons or pasture with the appurtenances to be the right of him the said Kenrick and his heirs forever and moreover the said John Ditcher hath granted for him and his heirs that they will warrant to the aforesaid Kenrick and his heirs the aforesaid tenements & commons of pasture with the appurtenances against him the said John & his heirs forever and further the said John Wanmore & Ann have granted for them and the heirs of the said John that they will warrant to the aforesaid Kenrick & his heirs the aforesaid tenements & commons of pasture with the appurtenances against them the said John  & Ann & the said heirs of the said John forever and for this acknowledgment demise quitclaim warrant fine & agreement the said Kenrick hath given to the aforesaid John & John & Ann one hundred & twenty pounds sterling’.


From this series of documents it is evident that Sir Kenrick Clayton acquired Lower Gibbshaven made up of a messuage, barn, stable, garden and orchard together with a total of fifteen acres of land in Worth.  Plus a second holding made up of an un-named messuage with a barn, stable, garden and orchard in Worth together with four acres of land in Horne. This second holding probably equates to the reference made in Survey of the Commons of Bletchingley in 1681 [see above] concerning the enclosure of land off Hedgecourt Common by John Finch that included a ‘field [of] about 2 acres of the same on the south side thereof And that there is thereon a cottage and four little closes of land thereth belonging containing about 3 acres erected on and inclosed out of the said common.’  From the documents it is also evident that the un-named messuage had been in the occupation of Francis Roborough just prior to the completion of sale of the property to Sir Kenrick Clayton.  Lower Gibbshaven, which also included a messuage, and all the land in Worth and Horne was in the joint occupation of Thomas Perry, Francis Roborough and George Humphrey.


One could speculate on the breakdown of holdings and suggest that some of the land on Horne went with the un-named messuage and was therefore under the occupation of Francis Roborough.  It is known that in 1760 George Humphrey was in the occupation of what is now known as Felcot Farm which consisted of a messuage and six acres of land [for further information see Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08], on this basis it would be unlikely that George Humphrey occupied the messuage belonging to Lower Gibbshaven so he probably occupied some of the land that was closest to his own holding.  This then leaves Thomas Perry as the most likely candidate to occupy the messuage belonging to Lower Gibbshaven and the remainder of the land.  However, at the completion of sale there are only two names recorded in occupation, that of John Saunders and Lazarus Roffey, and it is impossible to conclusively prove which of the two men was the occupant of Lower Gibbshaven or the un-named messuage.  Perhaps as Lower Gibbshaven was the more dominant property and appeared first, it was John Saunders who occupied it, purely as he was listed first.  There are five named occupants of Lower Gibbshaven and the un-named messuage from around 1760, the level of details regarding their lives is varied and listed below.


Francis Roborough

There are two possible Francis Roborough’s, a father and a son.  Francis Roborough [Robbery/Roughbrow which eventually becomes Rovery] senior was born in Ardingly, Sussex, on 28th January 1706 the son of Henry Robrough and his wife Elizabeth née Woodman, who were married on 13th June 1703.  Francis Roborough senior married Elizabeth Gatland in Horne on 26th May 1730 and they had at least five children; Thomas baptised on 18th June 1732 but who sadly died an infant and was buried on 26th July 1732 in Horne, Francis [the second candidate] who was baptised on 12th October 1733, Elizabeth who was baptised on 20th May 1735, Mary who was baptised on 20th February 1736, and Thomas who was baptised on 15th September 1747, all the baptism took place in Worth. 


Thomas Perry

There are two possible candidates for Thomas Perry, one born in Bletchingley on 20th February 1710, the son of Robert and Jane, the other born in West Hoathly in 1724, the son of Henry and Anne, it is therefore impossible to ascertain which if either had associations with Lower Gibbshaven.


George Humphrey

George was the son of George and Elizabeth and grandson of George Humphrey who had succeeded William Blundell at what is today known as Felcot Farm in 1680. The Felcot Farm holding was made up of a freehold cottage, together with six acres of copyhold land.  On the death George Humphrey (grandfather) in 1706 the property passed to his son George, father of the George referred to in the Lower Gibbshaven documents of 1760.  Sometime between 1749 and 1751 the two George’s sold the freehold messuage of Felcot Farm to Sir Kenrick Clayton and in 1752 George Humphrey (not known if it was father or son) took out a twenty-one year lease with Sir Kenrick Clayton that included their former freehold cottage together with the six acres of copyhold land.  On the death of George Humphrey senior in 1754 the lease passed to his son George Humphrey [for further information see Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08].  It is this George Humphrey who is referred to in the Lower Gibbshaven documents.   


John Saunders

Personal details are limited for John Saunders as there are just too many living in the area around 1760, but he may have been a relation to the John Saunders who held Felcot Farm in the Horne tithe of 1839 and was recorded as the miller at Hedgecourt Mill in 1851 and farmer of Sayer’s [Felcot] Farm in 1861 [for further details see Handouts, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08 and Hedgecourt Watermill and Cottages, SJC 07/04]. 


Lazarus Roffey

The last of the named occupants in the documents referring to the Lower Gibbshaven transaction was Lazarus Roffey and a little is known about him.  Lazarus was born the son of Robert Roffey and was baptised on 19th July 1734 in Charlwood in Surrey.  He had at least one brother, Job baptised on 2nd April 1736.  Lazarus Roffey married Sarah Cripps in Horne on 17th October 1763 and they had at least five children; Robert baptised on 15th November 1764, Job (date of birth not yet established but under seven in 1769), Lazarus baptised on 8th November 1767, Mary baptised on 8th May 1774, and Ann baptised on 8th October 1775, all baptism took place in Burstow.  On 12th January 1769 Lazarus and his wife Sarah and children Robert, Job and Lazarus appear in a removal order from Worth to Horne but this was discharged.  The only other information to add is that a Lazarus Roffey was buried on 22nd January 1776 but no age was given so it could have been Lazarus senior who would have been aged forty-one or Lazarus junior who would have been aged just eight years old.


Sir Kenrick Clayton was to own this portion of what became Michaelmas Farm for eighteen years before he acquired the last piece of land that currently makes up the farm.  During this time Lower Gibbshaven and the un-named messuage were leased out and in 1761 the area appears on a map of the cottages on the heath of the manor of Bletchingley that was commissioned by Sir Kenrick Clayton.  The schedule records that the area was held by ‘Master’s’.  This was probably Alexander Master the brother-in-law of Edward Raby who revived the iron industry of the Felbridge area by leasing Woodcock hammer in 1758 and Warren furnace (situated in what is now Furnace Wood) by 1762. 


Alexander Master

Alexander Master was the son of Alexander Master who worked in the ironmongery business in London.  In 1746 Alexander’s sister Mary married Edward Raby who then worked for Alexander Master senior.  On the death of Alexander senior in 1744 the business passed to his son Alexander, and Edward Raby went into partnership with him [for further information see Handout, Wiremill, SJC 03/06].  However, by 1764 the business had gone bankrupt and it is likely that Alexander Master would have given up his interest in the Felbridge area around this date.


After this date there are few surviving records relating to Lower Gibbshaven until 1780 when the Worth Land Tax records Sir Robert Clayton as owner of two pieces of land for which he was paying 7/- and 2/-, with Matthew Humphrey as the occupier of both pieces of land.  Sir Robert Clayton owned very little property in Worth so it is assumed that he was paying 7/- for Lower Gibbshaven and the un-named messuage, and the 2/- was for the property that he acquired in 1778 [see below] that was recorded in 1780 as ‘Late Tilt’s’ and which joined Lower Gibbshaven to form Michaelmas Farm of today.  As a point of interest, the un-named messuage disappears from the maps sometime between 1793 and 1808 implying that it either burnt down, which was a common occurrence for timber framed properties of which it must have been, or it had fallen into a bad state of repair and had to be demolished.


Matthew Humphrey was recorded as occupying Lower Gibbshaven in the Worth Land Tax between 1780 and 1797.  At the same time he was also occupying what became Felcot Farm in Horne on a lease he had renewed with Sir Robert Clayton in 1783 after the death George Humphrey [see above].  It is therefore assumed that Matthew Humphrey continued the occupation of Lower Gibbshaven that the Humphrey family had enjoyed since at least 1760.     


Having covered the history of the larger portion of Michaelmas Farm the next section looks at the other part which did not become the property of Sir Robert Clayton until 1778.


History of the property held of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield 

The other part of Michaelmas Farm is made up of an encroachment and an enclosure of Felbridge Heath or Common held of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, together with a further enclosure of just over two acres of the Common, added at a much later date.  The first encroachment dates to 1597 when the manor of South Malling – Lindfield presented Roger Croucher [Crowcher] for an ‘encroachment of an acre with a cottage of Felbridge Heath’.


The encroachment was also recorded in the court records for the manor of Hedgecourt, although no fine was levied.  However, the manor of Hedgecourt must have felt unsure about Croucher’s action to necessitate its recording, possibly because the court did not know if that part of the Heath belonged to their manor or not.  An attempt was made to clarify ownership in 1652 when the court of Hedgecourt was asked to ‘organise what part of Felbridge Common belongs to the Mannor of Hedgecourt’.  This must have proved difficult as in 1670 it was recorded that the court had looked into the ownership of Felbridge Common or Heath, Copthorne Common and Frogget Heath, ‘but that the Ffelbridge Common especially belongs to this Mannor they crave a further day to enquire’.  Unfortunately there is no surviving record noting the answer. 


Croucher family

There had been a Croucher family in the area from at least the mid 1500’s when it was recorded that John Croucher died holding 100 acres called Frenches in Worth, part of the manor of Walstead, now part of Snow Hill area.  John had married Joyane and they had at least five children; Christopher, Joane, Elizabeth, Alyce and John.  On the death of John Croucher senior in about 1550, his son Christopher inherited the freehold property of Frenches.  Christopher Croucher married Elizabeth and they had at least seven children; Elizabeth born about 1571 and who died an infant in November the same year, Joan born about 1572, Christopher born about 1575, Elizabeth born in 1578, John born about 1580, Thomas born about 1589 and Rachel Martha born in 1593.


In 1599 there is an entry in the court book for the manor of Hedgecourt that presents Christopher Croucher [John’s son] and John Goodwyn for trespass having ‘entered upon ground called Sencleres in Worth (5a), a parcel of the manor of Hedgecourt (N Copthorne Common, E land of Roger Harling)’.  This piece of land had also been inherited by Christopher Croucher, together with Frenches, on the death of his father in 1550 and in 1599 was in the tenancy of John Goodwyn.  The reference in the Hedgecourt Freeholders Book records that Christopher Croucher ‘holds one parcel of meadow called St Clare’s Meadow [later known as Gage’s Mead], part of the manor of Hedgecourt on which he did cut certain wood upon the said land and the same sold from the meadow’.  The trespass and removal of wood resulted in a lengthy court case brought by Sir Edward Gage against Christopher Croucher who argued that he owned the land having inherited it from his father.  Eventually the court found in favour of Sir Edward Gage, concluding that the land was only held as copyhold and not freehold of the manor of Hedgecourt.


Two years before Christopher Croucher’s trespass entry, Roger Croucher appeared in the Court Book of the manor of Hedgecourt for an encroachment on Felbridge Heath that included a cottage.  Unfortunately, because parish records and records in general are scant for this period, it has been impossible to link Roger with Christopher and the above mentioned Croucher family of Worth.  What it known is that Roger Croucher was one of at least four children born to Roger and Alice, although his birth date has not yet been established, but potentially his father Roger could be a brother of the John Croucher who died about 1550 and therefore uncle to Christopher.  The other three children born of Roger and Alice Croucher were; Joan born in 1557 but who died an infant on 22nd February 1557 the day after her baptism, Joane baptised on 24th November 1561 and William baptised on 5th December 1565, all baptised in Worth. 


Roger Croucher married Margerie Parrham in Worth on 10th June 1582 but it has not yet been possible to establish whether they had any children.  As a point of interest, Roger Croucher and Roger Parrham (probably a relation of Margerie’s but as yet unable to prove the link) were witnesses of the will of William Blundell, dated 1607 [see above].  Sadly, Margarie must have died before 1612 as Roger Croucher married Jane Humphrey in Worth on 30th September 1612.  It was mid-way between these two marriages that Roger Croucher built his cottage within the one acre encroachment of Felbridge Heath.  From his will of 1613, it is possible to determine that Roger Croucher had at least one child from his marriage with second wife Jane, as within the will he refers to his daughter Jane.  At the time of writing his will Roger Croucher was recorded as a weaver of Worth and he died within a month of writing it. 


The name ‘Croucher’ continued to be associated with what is now known as Michaelmas Farm until at least 1851, the farm being recorded as ‘Croucher’s Orchard’ in both the 1841 and 1851 census.  However, it has not yet been established who acquired the property after the death of Roger Croucher but by 1650 his one acre encroachment with the cottage, together with a further one acre of land, was recorded as the freehold of John Lacy at the presentment of his death on 22nd April 1650 in the court books that state that he died seized of it, the herriot of a brown cow being paid by his widow.  Unfortunately nothing can be found on John Lacy or his wife (no name given), and there are no surviving documents that record how or when he acquired Croucher’s original encroachment or the further one acre of land on Felbridge Heath. 


In February 1650 the court book for the manor of South Malling – Lindfield recorded that two acres of Felbridge Heath had been enclosed for a fine of 1/- and a herriot of 1/- suggesting that this was freehold, and on 16th April 1650 Richard Rowland was granted what was described as ‘a newly erected cottage and land of 1 acre on the heath to be held of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield’.  These two entries entry may refer to the same property but may equally it may refer to two separate holdings; one being that of Croucher’s original holding, as on 22nd April 1650 the court book for the manor of South Malling – Lindfield presents the death of John Lacy, free tenant of the manor, for a tenement and two acres, the herriot of one brown cow being paid by his widow (not named).  It is known that John Lacy died holding Croucher’s original one acre encroachment with the cottage and this property did end up with the Rowland family.


The grant to Richard Rowland in February 1650 appears in the court books of both the manors of South Malling – Lindfield and Walstead, with a margin note in the latter saying ‘transferred to Lindfield’.  After the transferral the Rowland holding only appears in the court books of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, and by 1830 is referred to as ‘Plots A & B’ on the Figg map and associated Rental Book of the manor.


Rowland family

It has not been possible to ascertain the birth or parentage of Richard Rowland but he married Ann Butler in Worth on 19th November 1640 and they had at least five children; Richard (2) baptised on 7th November 1641, Anne baptised on 17th December 1643, Mary baptised on 5th April 1646 but who must have died as an infant by 1650 as a second Mary was baptised on 16th June 1650, and Catherine baptised on 18th February 1653/4, all baptised in Worth.  Mary went on to marry Roger Potter in May 1673 and from later documents Catherine married a Mr Beast, although no records survive of their marriage, but in 1705 Richard (2) was allowed 6/- a month to keep Catherine Beast.


As established above, in April 1650 Richard Rowland was granted a cottage and two acres on Felbridge Heath and from the birth dates of his children, at least two were born after his acquisition.  Richard Rowland occupied the property until his death and on 20th October 1659 his widow Ann was presented at the court of South Malling – Lindfield and admitted to the property.  On the death of Ann (date not yet established), her son Richard (2) took over the property.


Richard (2) married Mary (no other information available) and they had at least five children; Richard (3) baptised on 19th January 1677/78, Mary baptised on 8th June 1681, William baptised on 13th January 1682/3, Ann baptised on 8th August 1686, and Francis baptised on 11th June 1690, all baptised in Worth.  Richard (3) married Elizabeth and they had at least two children; Elizabeth born in 1710 and John born in 1716, both baptised in East Grinstead.  Francis married Sarah Pearce in East Grinstead on 2nd December 1731.


Richard (2) died in 1705 and his will, proved on 23rd January 1705, stated that he was a yeoman of Worth and that he gave to his daughters Mary and Ann, and sons William and Francis, 5/- each.  To his wife he gave ‘the house wherein my sister Catherine Rowland [Beast] now liveth [see above]’.  Mary continued to hold the property until her death in 1731.  In her will she left her son Richard (3) a guinea, her daughter Mary her gown, petticoat and straw hat, and to her youngest son Francis she left the remainder of her ‘goods, money and mortgages, and estate’, which included the cottage and two acres near Felbridge Common.


By 7th July 1766 Francis Rowland had died and the court of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield recorded that he died ‘seized of a freehold messuage or tenement and two acres of customary lands thereto belonging with the appurtenances heretofore the wast of the Lord near Felbridge Heath in Worth’ which was to be devised (given) to his widow Sarah Rowland for her life in accordance with his will.  However, on the presentment of the will it stated ‘I do give Devise and bequeath the aforesaid Copyhold Lands Messuages Orchards and Gardens unto my dear and loving wife Sarah during the term of her natural life and from then and after her decease to the heirs of her body’.  However, in the event of no surviving children, Francis Rowland gave ‘all the aforesaid Messuages Orchards Gardens and all the copyhold Lands thereto belonging to my nephew John Rowland of East Grinstead in the County of Sussex the younger son of my late brother Richard [3] deceased’.  He also requested that his nephew William Dench of Oxted was to be paid £23 within six months of John Rowland inheriting the property.  However, if John Rowland was to refuse to pay William Dench then Francis Rowland bequeathed all his property to William Dench junior.  John Rowland did agree to pay the £23 which was accepted in court by Thomas Dench and Thomas Brooker and his wife Elizabeth, as the heirs of William Dench deceased.


There seems to be some confusion between the court entry that recorded that Francis had died seized of ‘a freehold messuage or tenement and two acres’ whereas the transcribed will refers to messuages, orchards and gardens in plural and that the land was copyhold. 


At the same court on 7th July 1766 John Rowland surrendered, for the sum of £55, his newly acquired ‘messuage or tenement and two acres of land near Felbridge Common’ to the ‘use and behoof [benefit]’ of John Edwards, a salesman of East Grinstead. 


John Edwards

John Edwards was born in East Grinstead on 2nd July 1706, the son of Richard Edwards and his wife Elizabeth née Finch.  Richard and Elizabeth had married in East Grinstead on 13th April 1702 and besides John they had at least a further four children; Thomas born baptised on 25th September 1703, Richard born about 1707/08, William baptised on 19th September 1712 and Edward baptised on 11th February 1716/17.  Richard Edwards married Anne Sudds on 10th January 1733/34 in Fleet Prison in London.  At the time of their marriage Richard’s occupation was given as a labourer of East Grinstead and Anne was recorded of Croydon in Surrey.  Richard and Anne had at least one child, Richard baptised on 14th December 1734 in East Grinstead.


John Edwards married Phoebe Gascoigne on the 6th June 1731, also in Fleet Prison his occupation being recorded as butcher of East Grinstead.  In the early 1700’s Fleet Prison was known as a place to get a ‘quick wedding’, much like Grenta Green.  To date it has not been possible to determine for which reason the two brothers married there.  John recorded his trade as a salesman when he wrote his will in March 1766.  John Edwards died sometime between March 1766 and April 1768 when his will was proved, but it was not until 23rd July 1773 that Richard Edwards (John’s nephew), and Phoebe Edwards (John’s widow), as executors and exetrix of his will, were presented at the court for the manor of South Malling – Lindfield. 


At this court John Rowland surrendered, for the sum of £65, his property described as ‘all that site of a messuage or tenement lately burnt down and 2 acres of customary land thereto belonging with the appurtenances heretofore on the waste of the Lord near Felbridge Common in Worth paying yearly XIId’, to the use and behoof of Henry Carter, a victualler of East Grinstead.  Unfortunately it has not yet been possible to determine any further information about Henry Carter.  However, it is evident from the entry in the court book of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield that in the intervening seven years between 1766 and 1773 the messuage had burnt down.


On the 13th May 1777, John Rowland surrendered all his rights to the site of the burnt messuage with its two acres of land near Felbridge Common, by the payment of a herriot of 1/-, to the use and behoof of Sir Robert Clayton of Marden in Surrey, and on the 12th June 1778 Sir Robert Clayton was admitted to the property by payment of a fine of 1/-.  This surrender by John Rowland to Sir Robert Clayton was the last time that the two acre property appeared in the court books of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield.  The next appearance of the property is found in the Worth Land Tax in 1780 when Sir Robert Clayton is recorded as paying 2/- for the land, known as ‘Late Tilt’s’, in the occupation of Matthew Humphrey [see above]. 


The Clayton family

Sir Robert Clayton was the first Clayton lord of the manor of Bletchingley of which some of the above land holdings were held.  Robert Clayton and was born in 1629, the son of John Clayton, of Northamptonshire.  By 1648 Robert was an apprentice scrivener with his uncle Robert Abbot in London.  Robert Abbot amassed a small fortune during his life time which he left to Robert Clayton who also later inherited property in Bletchingley from his brother Thomas.  In 1659 Robert married Martha, the daughter and co-heir of Alderman Perient Trotter, a city merchant, Martha being aged just sixteen and Robert thirty.  They had only one son, Robert, who sadly died in infancy.


In 1672, Robert Clayton, together with his partner John Morris, purchased the manor of Marden from Mary Gittings, the mistress of the late Sir John Evelyn, shortly after which John Morris released his interest to Sir Robert Clayton.  In 1677 Sir Robert Clayton purchased the manor and borough of Bletchingley from the trustees of Lady Mary Mordaunt, a descendent of the Earls of Peterborough. 


In 1679 Sir Robert Clayton was installed as Lord Mayor of London, and was also a member for the City in parliament between 1678 and 1681.  Among other offices Sir Robert Clayton was a director of the Bank of England, vice-president of the London workhouse, president of St Thomas’s Hospital, a member of the governing body of Christ Hospital and endowed the Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich.  He resided both in London in the house he had built at Old Jewry and at Marden in Godstone, Surrey. 


It is this Robert Clayton that leased Lower Gibshaven to Nicholas Ditcher and his wife Elizabeth ion 15th March 1686 [see above].  Sir Robert died in 1707 at Marden, and on his death his estates passed to his nephew William Clayton.


Sir William Clayton was born the son of William, brother of Sir Robert Clayton.  In December 1703 William married Martha, the daughter of John Kenrick esquire, of Flore in Godstone and Sarah his wife who was the sister of Sir Robert Clayton’s wife Martha.  William and Martha had at least five children; William born in 1710, Sarah born in 1712, Kenrick born in 1713, Susannah born in 1714 and William born in 1723. 


Shortly after inheriting the estates of his uncle Sir Robert Clayton, William was elected MP for Bletchingley in 1715, being made a baronet in 1732.  In 1734 Sir William and his eldest surviving son, Sir Kenrick Clayton were both elected and served until their deaths in 1744 and 1769 respectively.  On the death of Sir William Clayton, his estates passed to his son Sir Kenrick Clayton and it is Kenrick Clayton that  purchased Lower Gibbshaven from Nicholas Ditcher and  John and Ann Wanmore in 1760 and ‘Plots A & B’ from John Rowland in 1778. .


Sir Kenrick Clayton married Henrietta Marie and they had at least three children; Henrietta Marie born in 1738, Robert born in 1739 and Martha born in 1741.  Robert was later elected alongside his father as MP for Bletchingley and succeeded as 2nd baronet on the death of his father in 1744.  On the death of Sir Kenrick Clayton his estates passed to his son Sir Robert Clayton.  


Sir Robert Clayton married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Frederick Standish, on 1st June 1767 in Bletchingley, but they had no children.  It is this Sir Robert Clayton that amalgamated the separate holdings to form what is today known as Michaelmas Farm.  In 1788 Sir Robert Clayton sold the reversion of the manor and borough of Bletchingley to his maternal cousin John Kenrick in order to pay off heavy debts, thus ending the Clayton lordship of Bletchingley that had started in 1677 [for further details see Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08].  However, Sir Robert Clayton retained the manor of Marden and the amalgamated holdings that became known as Michaelmas Farm.  Sir Robert served as MP for Bletchingley until his death in 1799 and as he died childless, his cousin William Clayton, (the son of William [the second son of Sir William Clayton 1st baronet] and his second wife Caroline Mary, the daughter of Rice Lloyd), succeeded as 4th baronet and inherited the remaining Clayton property in Surrey. 


Sir William Clayton was baptised on 16th April 1762 and married Mary, the only daughter of Sir William East, on 16th July 1785 at St James, Westminster.  William and Mary had William Robert born on 28th August 1786, George East born on 9th April 1788, John Lloyd born on 19th August 1796 and Richard Rice born on 15th November 1797.  On the death of Sir William Clayton in 1814 he was succeeded by his eldest son William Robert.


Sir William Robert Clayton was a distinguished soldier and was wounded in the Battle of Waterloo, later becoming a General in 1865.  Sir William Robert married Alice Hugh Massey, the only daughter and heir of Colonel Hugh O’Donel, on 10th May 1817 at Harleyford in Buckinghamshire.  William and Alice had  William Capel born 14th April 1818, Alice Charlotte born 16th September 1819, Henry Hugh born 2nd April 18323 and Mary Louisa baptised 28th August 1827.


William Capel Clayton, who became a captain in the Coldstream Guards, married Georgina, the daughter of Charles Wood, (date not yet established) and they had one son, William Robert who was born on 3rd April 1842.  William Capel Clayton died in the June quarter of 1848 pre-deceasing his father Sir William Robert Clayton who died within a few months of him and the baronetcy passed to William Capel’s son William Robert in 1848.


Sir William Robert Clayton married Aimee Gertrude, the daughter of Edward MacKenzie and his wife Mary, (the daughter of William Dalziel of the Craigs, Dumfries-shire a descendant of the first Earl of Carnwarth), on 29th October 1872, at the parish church of Fawley in Buckinghamshire; however, they had no children.  It is this Sir William Robert Clayton who sold Marden and the holdings that became Michaelmas Farm to Sir Walpole Lloyd Greenwell in 1911 [see below].


Amalgamation of the two holdings as one farm under Sir Robert Clayton

As established above, Lower Gibbshaven was originally made up of thirteen acres of usable land held of the manor of Walstead, granted to William Tomson in 1532.  Over the years this holding had grown to about twenty-two acres when it was purchased by Sir Kenrick Clayton in 1760.  It has also been established above that ‘Plots A & B’, were made up of the one acre Croucher encroachment of Felbridge Common of 1597 together with a further acre of land held by the manor of South Malling – Lindfield/Walstead, granted to Francis Rowland in 1650. 


It is known that the Claytons owned very little land in Worth and from the land tax it is evident that Sir Robert Clayton was paying 7/- for Lower Gibbshaven and an un-named messuage that Sir Kenrick Clayton had purchased from John Wanmore in 1760 and 2/- for ‘Plots A & B’ that Sir Robert Clayton had purchased from John Rowland in 1778.  Between 1780 and 1783 the site ofLower Gibbshaven, like its second messuage, was un-named, and ‘Plots A & B’ were known as ‘late Tilts’ implying that someone by the name of Tilt had recently occupied the property.  However, there are too few details to speculate as to who Tilt was.


Although listed as two separate entities until 1783, both properties were under the occupation of Matthew Humphrey, the occupier of the farm now known as Felcot Farm [for further information see Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08].  However in 1784 only one rental value appears under the ownership of Clayton in the land tax, that of 9/- (the holding being un-named), indicating a possible amalgamation of the site of Lower Gibbshaven with ‘Plots A & B’ or an acceptance that the two holdings were operating as one. 


Today Michaelmas Farm consists of just over twenty acres, wholly on the Sussex side of the county boundary in Worth.  It is known that Lower Gibbshaven and the Croucher encroachment, together with an acre of land were amalgamated under one owner through their purchase by Sir Kenrick and Sir Robert Clayton in 1760 and 1778 respectively.  What is not known is when the land on the Surrey side of the county boundary in Horne that had formed part of Lower Gibbshaven was detached from Lower Gibbshaven.  The bulk of this Surrey land has since been amalgamated with what is now known as Yew Tree Farm, with the remaining land being attached to what is now known as Felcot Farm.


As established above, the Worth land tax records that Lower Gibbshaven and ‘Plots A & B’ were recorded as separate holdings until 1784 when their rentals were combined to make 9/-.  In 1784 the land tax recorded that Matthew Humphrey was still in occupation of what is today known as Michaelmas Farm and he continued to be recorded as the occupier until 1807 when he was succeeded by William Borer, who had also succeeded him at the farm now known as Felcot Farm [for further information see Handout, Felcot Farm, JIC/SJC 05/08].


The Borer Family

The most likely candidate for William Borer who succeeded Matthew Humphrey, was the son of William and Elizabeth Borer of Godstone, who was born on 1st March 1722.  It would appear that William and his wife, also Elizabeth, had at least five children; Hannah born in 1749, Mary born in 1759, Thomas born in 1762, Joel born in 1770 and Elizabeth born in 1773.  In 1814 Joel Borer is recorded as paying the land tax on Felcot Farm until the end of the records in 1832.  However, by 1841 Joel Borer and his family had moved from Felcot Farm and were living at the cottage now known as Lake Cottage, to the north of the Copthorne Road on the southern bank of Hedgecourt Lake [for further details see Handout Rope Making in Felbridge SJC 03/05].  The census records Joel Borer as a farmer, and living with him was his wife Catherine aged about fifty-five and a son Thomas, aged fourteen. 


Unfortunately, there is currently a gap in known surviving records for this property from between 1832 (when it was last recorded in the occupation of Mrs Borer), until 1839 when the Worth Tithe apportionment records the property, made up of the site of Lower Gibbshaven and ‘Plots A & B’, in the occupation of Thomas Miles, a tenant of Sir Robert William Clayton.  It is also during this gap in the records, sometime between 1830 and 1839, that Sir Robert Clayton acquired Common Field, field no.174 on the Worth tithe, which he amalgamated as part of the farm.


By 1839, what became known as Miles Farm had been established, being made up of two entities but run as one holding, which was known at the time as Croucher’s Orchard, owned by Sir Robert Clayton and occupied by Thomas Miles. 


Thomas Miles

Thomas Miles was born about 1787 in Burstow in Surrey, but unfortunately it has not been possible to determine his parentage.  From later census entries it is known that he married Mary Ann, (surname unknown), and that they had at least ten children; William born 23rd January 1812, John born in 1813, Thomas born about 1815, James born in 1817, Hannah born in 1818, George born in 1820 but who sadly died an infant within a few days of his baptism on 16th September 1820, Mary born about 1821, Harriet born in 1823, Michael born about 1826 and Caroline born about 1828.  The first eight children were born or baptised in Burstow and the last two in Worth.


There are very few early records about Thomas Miles but from the places of birth given for his children it would suggest that he and his family moved from the Burstow area to Worth sometime between 1823 and 1826.  As for Mary Ann his wife, she was born about 1785 in Horne in Surrey, but again it has not been possible to determine her parentage.


Thomas Miles occupied the farm until some time between 1874 and 1881 and it is interesting to note that whilst under the occupation of Thomas Miles the property was known as Croucher’s Orchard until at least 1851, some 350 years after Roger Croucher’s initial encroachment of Felbridge Heath.  However, in the 1861 census the property was recorded as Little Hedgecourt Farm and in the 1871 census as ‘at Hedgecourt’, but by 1881 the property had adopted the name of Miles Farm, although Thomas Miles had been succeeded by William Young sometime between 1874 and 1881, when he appears in the census records living at Miles Farm with housekeeper Anna Payne.


William Young

William Richard Young was baptised in Lingfield on 28th October 1849, the son of John and Sarah Young.  His siblings included Jane Penelope born about 1845, Henry and Gertrude born about 1853, Charles born about 1855 and Thomas born about 1860.  In 1871 William was working as a butcher but by 1881 he was the farmer at Miles Farm, the farm recorded as thirty-seven acres.  For Miles Farm to be that size William Young must have been also farming land from a neighbouring farm, either Gibbshaven, Felcot or Yew Tree Farms that all have boundaries abutting Miles Farm.


In 1885 William Young married Mary Jane Holman and they had at least six children; Easty born about 1886 , John born about 1888, Archibald born about 1890, Edward born about 1894, Aubrey born about 1897 and Lydia born about 1899, all born in Worth.


In 1891 William Young and his family were recorded in the census as occupying Gibbshaven Farm, with Thomas Gorringe occupying Miles Farm.  In 1901 William Young and his family were recorded as occupying Little Gibbshaven, which has previously been taken to refer to the property known as Little Gibbshaven to the southeast of Gibbshaven [for further details see Handout, Little Gibbshaven SJC/07/08]. However, on further research it would appear that ‘Little Gibbshaven’ in the 1901 census was the name given to Miles Farm, as at the burial of William Young in September 1901 his address is given as Miles Farm. 


Thomas Gorringe

Thomas Gorringe, who briefly appears in residence at Miles Farm in 1891, was born in Worth on 1st March 1811, the son of Hezekiah Gorringe and his wife Jane née Tidy.  Hezekiah and Jane had at least seven other children including; Mary born in 1808, James born in 1814, Jane born in 1816, William born in 1818, John born in 1821, James born in 1823 and Hezekiah born in 1827 [for further information on the Gorringe/Gorridge/Goring family see Handouts Gibbshaven Farm, JIC/SJC 07/07, Felcot Farm JIC/SJC 05/08 and Parkfields SJC 05/05].


In 1834 Thomas Gorringe married Harriet Payne in Godstone and they had at least two children, Mary born in 1835 in Surrey and Anne born in 1837 in East Grinstead.  By 1841 Thomas Gorringe and his family were living on East Grinstead Common where he was working as a farm servant for Ann Stone. By 1851 and until at least 1861 he was farmer Mount Farm in Snow Hill, a small farm of five acres.  By 1871 and until at least 1881 Thomas Gorringe was farming Felcot Farm retiring to Miles Farm by 1891 where he was living on charity as a widower with Anna Payne his un-married sister-in-law acting as housekeeper.


Unfortunately it has not been possible to determine the date of death for Thomas Gorringe but as he was eighty in the 1891 census it must have been before the end of the 19th century.


20th Century

At the dawn of the 20th century, Miles Farm was still under the ownership of the Clayton family and in the occupation of William Young.  Unfortunately after the death of William Young in September 1901 there is again a gap in surviving records until 13th March 1911 when Miles Farm was in the occupation of Fred Durrant Chester [see below], being listed in the schedule of deeds as the occupier at the time of sale between Sir William Robert Clayton and Sir Walpole Lloyd Greenwell.


Sir Walpole Lloyd Greenwell

Walpole Lloyd Greenwell was born on 2nd June 1847, the son of Walpole Eyre Greenwell and his wife Elizabeth Theophila née Morris.  Walpole and Elizabeth had married in Marylebone, London, on 9th August 1843 and, besides Walpole junior, they had eleven other children including; Fenwick Morris born in 1845, Rosa born in 1849, Samuel Martin born in 1850, Amy born in 1853, Leonard born in 1854, Henry Belfour born in 1855, Donald born in 1856, Reginald John born in 1858, Edward Eyre born in 1859, Charles Otley born in 1861 and Lilian born in 1862.


The Greenwell branch of Walpole Eyre’s family moved to London about 1800, being descended from Anthony Greenwell of Corbridge, Northumberland (circa 1600), who was a younger son from the line of the Greenwell family of ‘Greenwell’ in County Durham. 


Walpole Lloyd Greenwell married Kathleen Eugenie Tizard, daughter of John Tizard, on 21st January 1873 in Weymouth, Dorset, and they had at least eleven children, all christened with the second name Eyre; Bernard born 1874, Aynsley born 1877, Cecil born in 1878, Aubrey born in 1881, Kathleen born in 1882, Ronald born in 1884, Marjorie born in 1885, Evelyn born in 1886, Sybil born in 1890 and Geoffrey born in 1894.


Walpole Lloyd Greenwell was a stock broker and race horse owner whose London address was Marylebone.  In 1890 he purchased ‘Greenwell’ in County Durham, from Isabella Fletcher, née Greenwell.  In 1903 he was made High Sheriff of either Co. Durham or Surrey [depending on where you look] and in 1906 he was created 1st Barnet Greenwell.  On 13th March 1911 Walpole Lloyd Greenwell purchased Marden Park in Godstone from the Clayton family, (although there is some evidence to suggest that he had been living in Godstone from at least 1885), together with the freehold property of Miles Farm as part of the estate of Sir William Robert Clayton. 


The sale particulars for Miles Farm describe the property as follows:

‘All that piece of land situate in the Parish of Worth and containing by estimation 1 acre and 26 perches or thereabouts (forming part of a Farm known as Miles Farm in the occupation of Fred Durrant Chester at the yearly rent of £30) together with the farmhouse and other buildings thereon which said piece of land was numbered 212 on the Ordnance map of the said Parish.... All which hereditaments thereinbefore conveyed further described in the first Schedule....’ 


First Schedule

Part 1 – Lands and Buildings

House and land in Copthorne called Miles Farm (part of) occupied by F. D. Chester                   19a 1r 19p


Part IV – Lands

Lands farm house buildings remainder of Miles Farm occupied by F. D. Chester                           1a 0r 26p


The tenant in residence at Miles Farm at the time of sale was listed as Fred Durrant Chester (see below), although he does not appear in the census records of 1911, nor does Miles Farm, implying that the property was again missed by the enumerator.


In 1919 Sir Walpole Lloyd Greenwell died and Miles Farm, together with Marden Park passed to his sons Bernard Eyre and Anysley Eyre Greewnwell, the tenancy of Miles Farm remaining with Fred Chester who continued to run the farm until his death in 1932. 


Fred Durrant Chester

Fred Chester was born sometime between October and December 1864 in Colchester, Essex.  Unfortunately the earliest conclusive entry for Fred Chester in the census records is 1891 when he is listed as a groom, living in Westminster, London.  In 1897 Fred Chester married Louisa Bryant who had been born between April and June 1874 in Exeter, Devon, and by 1891 was in service in Croydon. 


Fred and Louisa had at least four children, James Leigh born between April and June 1898 and John Henry born between July and September 1899, Douglas Edward D born between January and March 1901, all three registered in Godstone, and Minnie M born between January and March 1917, registered in East Grinstead.


In 1901 the Chester family were living in Foston & Scropton in Derbyshire where Fred was working as a domestic groom, and sometime between then and 1911 the family moved to Miles Farm in Felbridge where they remained until the death of Fred Chester, aged sixty-eight, in March 1932.


Six months after the death of Fred Chester, Sir Bernard Eyre and Aynsley Eyre Greenwell put Miles Farm on the market and it was purchased on 30th September 1932 by Reginald George Budgen of Grove Buildings in Worth, for the sum of £435.00.  The sale included:

‘all that piece or parcel of land with the farm buildings erected thereon and known as Miles Farm, being part of Marden Park Estate, land estimated at 20a 2r 5p together with the right of way’.


Reginald George Budgen

Reginald (Reg) George Budgen was born between July and September 1889, the son of William Budgen and his wife Sarah née Sargent.  William and Sarah had married in 1886 and bedsides Reg, they had two other children; Herbert William born in 1887 and Harold Sargent born in 1898, both in Turners Hill.  William Budgen’s family came from the Turners Hill area where his father Benjamin Budgen was a grocer and had a hoop making business, originally located at Selsfield Common, whcih later moved to workshops opposite the Punch Bowl.  William Budgen worked as a carpenter and Reg trained as a carpenter and coach-builder.


In 1982 Reg, then aged ninety-three, set down a few of his memories in which he talked about his youth, earning 6/- a week when he first went out to work at the age of fourteen.  Reg recalled that he first met his future wife, Jane (Ginny) Pallister, at Turners Hill Church in 1914 when she was in service in the area.  With the outbreak of World War I she begged him to marry her but he wouldn’t as he believed he would not return from the war.


Reg had learnt to drive in 1911 and during World War I was a driver for the ‘2/15 Company’ in France where he drove ‘Daimlers and ambulances’ and repaired the Company’s vehicles.  From time to time, he also repaired civilian cars, as in a letter written in 1915 to his fiancé he states that he got a ‘5 Frank tip for repairing a lady’s car’. 


In 1919 Reg Budgen married Ginny Pallister in Westmorland, before settling in Turner Hill where they had two children, Joyce born in 1921 and Ronald (Ronnie) born in 1924.  Joyce went into nursing and Ronnie started work in Dawson & Steer, a local radio dealer in East Grinstead before moving to Mullards.  Later Ronnie went into research work connected with radar in the Royal Navy. 


In 1932 Reg Budgen purchased Miles Farm, which at the time was being run as a dairy farm.  Reg continued to run it as a dairy farm and also ran a milk delivery service to the local area delivering milk produced on the farm in a pony and trap.  In his memories, Reg states that Ginny would often be up till 1 o’clock washing bottles ready to take the next day’s milk, and that the milk cost 2½d [about 1p] a pint.


Whilst at Miles Farm, Reg and Ginny Budgen received frequent visits from a pair of local children, Brian Roberts and Jean Sargeant, (later Roberts), who spent much of their spare time there and extracts from their memories give an interesting window into life at Miles Farm under the Budgens during their ownership:


When my parents moved to Felbridge in 1936, they chose as their milkman Mr Reg Budgen who delivered milk which he produced on his own small farm.  Our two families soon became friends, and before long I was helping my father install an indoor water system in the farmhouse.  There was no mains water supply to the farm in spite of being a commercial milk producing unit.  The water was drawn from the well outside of the back door by a semi-rotary pump in the kitchen and thence to a standard 50-gallon storage tank balanced on a huge oak beam in the roof.  Years later, when the Sanitary Inspector would no longer approve the well water for drinking, Mr Budgen dug, by hand, a trench (the obligatory 2 foot  9 inches deep) across two fields and we connected to mains water supply at the end of Chesterfield Close [in Furnace Wood].  The well therefore became redundant and a platform and cage was attached to the well-rope and used as a refrigerator.  My father was a keen gardener and we used to buy from Mr Budgen, one load of manure every year, the standard horse-drawn dung cart being approximately 17 wheelbarrows full at a cost of 7/6d [37½p] (total cost £3. 7s. 6d).


Mr Budgen was quite a clever self taught engineer.  Apart from using a heavy horse for carting and a pony and trap for his milk-round, he had adapted a bull-nosed Morris car (circa 1926) to operate an old horse drawn mowing machine to cut his hay, and also to draw a large hay rake.  When cut, the hay was turned many times by hand using just the usual two-tined pitch fork, then loaded by hand on to the horse drawn wagon and taken to the farmyard (to the south of the farmhouse), and a single large stack was built.  It used to be thatched by a Mr Carey who lived at Stone Lodge, opposite Felbridge Village Green.  By the start of the War, he [Mr Carey] was too old and feeble to do the job and a tarpaulin had to suffice.


At the labour intensive times of haymaking, hedge-cutting etc, Mr Budgen, used the help of several friends, Percy Agate. Mr Carey, Mr Will Sargent and his daughter Jean Sargent, my father and myself.  On one occasion, I was asked to help take a bull calf to East Grinstead market in Cantelupe Road.  The family car was a 1930 Morris 12 and the unfortunate animal was backed into a large loosely woven sack, and I had to sit on the back seat with it on my lap.  At the end of the trip to market I was not allowed out of the car because of the state the nervous animal had left me in.


Sometime early in the War, Mr Budgen acquired an old Standard Fordson tractor, he got it for next to nothing because the clutch plate was worn beyond use and spares for that model were unobtainable.  The steel clutch plate was perforated with many dozens of egg-shaped holes, these were filled with similar shaped pieces of cork, and as it was these which had worn, he replaced them all with pieces that he hand cut from sheet cork.  The resulting repair provided him with his first working tractor. 


In an attempt to improve milk yield during the War, farmers were encouraged to change fodder for their herd, and Mr Budgen planted several fields with lucerne, a type of clover similar to alfalfa.  At the time, silage was becoming the feedstock to produce, and the first crop made at Miles Farm was made in a Ministry of Agriculture subsidised pre-cast concrete silo about 12 feet high.  The green cut grass was thrown in layers about 1 foot thick.  These were trodden down and then watered via a watering can fitted with a rose, with a diluted solution of molasses which came in 40 gallon barrel, some of this found it's way onto slices of bread on the family tea table.  When the first season’s silage was used, the silo was found to be a useful and cheap tool shed and subsequent crops were made in a pit dug in the orchard, lined with sheep netting and sisal-craft paper.


Mr Budgen’s wife 'Ginny' formed a large part of the labour force on the farm, always there for the twice daily hand milking sessions.  She did the dairy work, the dairy being a separate room to the northeast of the house.  The new milk was poured into a filter-cooler, which was a metal coil, internally cooled by cold running water.  It was then measured into ½, 1 and 2 pint bottles, being closed with thin white cardboard discs.  

Brian Roberts, 2000


My first memories of Miles Farm were at the beginning of the War when my father, William Sargent, was asked to help with the hay-making, together with Percy Agates, the reason being that the farm was run solely by Mr Reg Budgen and his wife Ginny.  I used to accompany Mrs Budgen gleaning the edges of the field with enormous wooden hay rakes, and later I was allowed to help with loading the horse-drawn hay wagon, which needed a certain amount of skill or else the load would slip when negotiating rough ground through gateways.  After the hay was collected in the evenings, the cows would need milking, and sometimes I was allowed to milk Mrs Budgen's pet white cow.  Another chore was washing milk bottles in the kitchen, and also pumping water from the well. 


On a Saturday, when the milk was delivered to our home at Little Hedgecourt, Mr Budgen would invite me to help with the rest of the round which ended in the Limes Estate.  I was allowed to drive the pony trap, which Mr Budgen had made as he was also a skilled carpenter as well as delivering milk.  In those days there were quart [2 pint] bottles as well as pints, and these were sometimes too difficult to handle depending on the number needed.  The pony would get restless and want to continue with the round when Mr Budgen was talking.   One particular pony was rather nervous, and on one unforgettable Saturday, we stopped at the Village Green to deliver and as we moved off past the telephone box, he remembered being startled the previous week.  He took off at a terrific pace and didn't come to halt until we reached the end of the round at Limes Estate where the road finished.  Fortunately there was not any traffic at the Star corner at that time.


Other memories of the farm were the apple trees in front of the house, which I was told were Sussex Forge.  At that time I was not aware that they were first recorded locally in 1850's.  Another thing which comes to mind was seeing a small television set in the farmhouse with a magnifying glass in front of the screen.  This was powered by home made electricity by a generator.  The picture was not very clear and wavered because of the generator.  Possibly this was one of the first TV’s in the village as Mr Budgen's son Ronald worked at Dawson & Steer and it would probably have been assembled by him. 

Jean Roberts née Sargent, 2000


After twenty-five years at the farm Reg Budgen decided to retire to a family property in Turners Hill and reluctantly put Miles Farm on the market.  It was purchased on 8th June 1957 by James Everard White and his wife Janet, of 19, Berkley Court, Vines Avenue, Finchley, London, for the sum of £3,400.00, with the right of way to lands consisting of 20a 2r 5p, together with the Fordson tractor and trailer, Massey Harris two furrow plough, Albion mowing machine, Hay tedder and Chain harrow. 


James Everard and Janet White

James (known as Jim), and Janet White moved into Miles Farm on 20th June 1957.  They had been looking for a small farmstead since their marriage in 1956 after Janet had returned to England from New Zealand where she had been a sheep farmer and care-taker of the small island of Aroa.  Miles Farm answered all their requirements; it was totally secluded, had nearly twenty-one acres of pasture, was a commutable distance to London where Jim worked and was within their price range.


Whilst Jim continued to bring in a steady and reliable income, Janet, (aided whenever possible by Jim), set about renovating the cottage and establishing a small-holding at Miles Farm.  Starting with six pullets for eggs and a pedigree Guernsey cow for milk, cream and butter, the livestock soon rose to a small flock of sheep and a couple of heifers; Janet even tried her hand at raising turkeys for Christmas one year but vowed never to do it again after discovering just how vicious they were.  Jim and Janet expanded the size of their farm to fifty acres by renting nearby fields to accommodate their increasing number of livestock.  However, by 1965, with their fourth child on the way, Jim and Janet began to look for a bigger farm with a larger house, and the search began for a cheap and remote hill farm which they eventually found in Somerset.


Jim accepted that after the life that Janet had lived in New Zealand as a sheep farmer, hill farming was her main ambition and it was decided that she would live in Somerset with the children and their, by-now, ninety-strong breeding flock of sheep, and that Jim would continue to live at Miles Farm to enable him to commute to London, as the family still needed his regular income.  He would also oversee the production of their young stock on the farm, and at weekends travel to Somerset to see his family.  In his absence, Janet’s parents, (Mr and Mrs Scrase) agreed to care-take the farm as they had moved to The Homestead, a small cottage off the lane to Miles Farm.


It was during this period of the White’s ownership, in 1975, that Miles Farm gained a Grade II Listing, the house being described as a:

Typical 16th century small timber framed farmhouse of two bays plus a narrower smoke bay.  Brick chimney subsequently inserted in smoke bay and remainder of bay ceiled over.  Much exposed timber inside, including heavy chamfered main ceiling beam.  External appearance is of a two-storey cottage with irregular windows largely clad in modern weather-boarding with some painted brick and rendering showing below.  High pitched tiled roof.  19th century one-bar [windows] and small, modern casement [windows].  Several plain boarded doors.  Lean-to extension at South end.


Jim continued to work in London and run Miles Farm during the week, joining his family in Somerset at the weekends, until the early 1980’s when an opportunity arose to extend the farm in Somerset with the purchase of another hundred acres of adjoining land.  This could not be achieved financially without the sale of Miles Farm so Jim and Janet White reluctantly put their Felbridge property on the market which was purchased by Jennifer Cremer on 29th September 1982. 


The sale of Miles Farm, however, did not put an end to Jim living in Felbridge as he bought himself a small shed that was erected in the orchard at Janet’s parent’s property and lived there whilst continuing to work in London during the week and travelling to the farm in Somerset each weekend, before eventually retiring to Somerset. 


During her working life Janet has contributed articles to The Countryman magazine and the farming press, both locally and nationally.  In 1990 Janet was shortlisted for The Times/Radio 4 Conservation Award and won a Sunday Times Kenneth Allsop conservation essay award.  In 1991, with a little spare time on her hands, Janet wrote her autobiography starting with her childhood in the Cotswolds that formulated the idea that she wanted to live ‘somewhere wild and supremely beautiful’.  The extremely interesting and readable book talks about her desire to work with sheep, living firstly as a solitary shepherd in the Cheviot Hills, then working her own flock on a previously uninhabited island off New Zealand before returning to England where she married and became a smallholder with her husband Jim at Miles Farm, eventually moving to become a hill farmer in Somerset. 


The book, in four parts, has a complete section on their time at Miles Farm, describing Janet’s first visit to the property, a short description of the cottage and surrounding farmland, their move to the farm, their battle to get the first hay in and their gradual build-up of family and livestock.  The section gives a delightful and vivid description of life at Miles Farm between 1957 and 1982.    


Jennifer Cremer

Jennifer Cremer bought Miles Farm from Jim and Janet White on 29th September 1982 and with her purchase Miles Farm became Michaelmas Farm, being named after the date of purchase – 29th September, which is Michaelmas Day.


In the Christian calendar Michaelmas now falls on 29th September having been brought forward from 10th/11th October.  Michaelmas Day was traditionally celebrated with the feast of St Michael the Archangel who was associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days.  The traditional meal for the day was goose that had been fattened on the stubble from the fields after the harvest and as such the day was also known as ‘Goose Day’ when goose fairs were held across the country. 


Michaelmas Day was also traditionally one of the ‘quarter days’, the others being Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June) and Christmas (25th December).  These days were spaced at three month intervals, on religious festivals, usually close to the solstices or equinoxes.  It was said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas Day and it was a time when accounts were settled, rents were due, leases begun, land was exchanged, new servants were hired, and within manors, a reeve (an official who supervised the lands of the Lord of the manor) was elected from the peasants.


Whilst at Michaelmas Farm, Jennifer Cremer had the house renovated and modernised, and like the Whites she also kept sheep.  However, within five years Michaelmas Farm was back on the market being described in the sales particulars as:


A unique small medieval farm delightfully set in the middle of its own land of just over 20 acres arranged in nine paddocks.


Accommodation:        3 Bedrooms, Bathroom, Reception Room,

                                        Kitchen/Breakfast Room, Large Garden, 20 acres

Amenities:                     Outbuildings, electricity, Private Drainage, Solid Fuel Central Heating

Rateable value:           £169

Price:                              Offers in the region of £300,000


Michaelmas Farm

To be sold: A unique Grade II Listed small farm believed to date from the XIVth Century but with earlier connections.  The property has been sympathetically restored and improved by the present owner and now has the benefit of a new roof, re-wired electrical circuits, new plumbing and water tanks, new guttering and refitted farmhouse style Kitchen/Breakfast Room.  The land has been drained and re-seeded with a special grass and herb mixture.  There is also new fencing and the hedges, some of which are believed to date from the Saxon times, have been carefully cut and maintained.  The accommodation, which is in good decorative order, is as follows:


Front Door into:

Living Room: 15ft 6ins x19ft 6ins into inglenook fireplace with wood burning stove, heavily beamed ceiling and exposed timbers to walls, brick fireplace and stable type door to rear garden.

Kitchen/Breakfast Room: 15ft 9ins x 13ft narrowing to 7ft 9ins ‘L’ shaped with quarry tiled flooring, very well fitted with pine kitchen units including base unit with built-in ironing board, AEG freezer and AEG fridge built-in with matching panelled doors to kitchen units, plumbed AEG Lavamat 2005 Turbo washer, dryer and AEG Favorit 460 U dishwasher, again with matching doors, Neff built-in oven and ceramic hob with extractor hood over, porcelain sink with French brass mixer taps, exposed beams, fitted pine dresser, Myson Kichsoace heaters operating off wood burner and stable type door to garden.

Rear Hall: with brick flooring and beamed ceiling, radiator, wall light point and cupboard under stairs.

Bathroom: with magnificent roll topped bath with brass mixer taps and shower unit, pedestal wash hand basin, low flush w.c., radiator and two wall light points.

First Floor:

Bedroom 1: 16ft x 12ft 9ins.  A double aspect room with exposed wall beams and brick fireplace, double panel radiator and walk-in airing cupboard/wardrobe with lagged hot water cylinder and immersion heater.

Bedroom 2: 12ft 6ins x 12ft.  At present open plan with Landing but could easily be partitioned if required.  With beamed ceiling and radiator.

Bedroom 3: approached by second staircase.  8ft 9ins x 7ft with sloping ceilings and direct access to lagged roof space area with electric light.

Lambing Barn: 45ft x 15ft with electric light and power, piped water and ten pens.

Old Carters Barn: 15ft 3ins x 24ft 9ins in need of some attention.

Cow Byre: 27ft x 11ft 3ins.

Chicken Coops

Sheep Dip and Foot Bath

Grounds: The land is laid out into 9 paddocks that are well fenced and drained.  There is also a small pond.

In all the land extends to just over 20 acres.


Although the sale particulars are fairly accurate in the description of the accommodation they are not entirely accurate in the description of the property being ‘medieval’ and ‘believed to date the 14th century’ with possible ‘earlier connections’, or that the hedges are ‘believed to date from the Saxon times’.  In reality the house dates to the mid 1500’s.  However, despite the small inaccuracies, Michaelmas Farm was bought on 25th February 1988, by its current owners, Brian and Evelyn Roberts.



This has been a frustratingly difficult property to research due primarily to the confusion between the manors as to which actually owned the land in the area, coupled with the fact that Michaelmas Farm is made up of two freehold properties that have a lack of surviving records.  As a summary, based on the interpretation of the records available, Michaelmas Farm is made up of at least two separate freehold properties that were joined under a single ownership with their purchases in 1760 and 1778 by Sir Kenrick Clayton and Sir Robert Clayton respectively, of Marden Park.  One freehold property dates to 1531 when Roger at Fenn died seized of twelve acres called Gibbes affen, later known as Little orLower Gibbshaven, that was given in 1532 to William Tomson of Horne.  The other freehold property dates to 1597 when Roger Croucher encroached land from Felbridge Common that later became known as ‘Plots A & B’. 


The property known as Lower Gibbshaven had two cottages associated with, one built in the mid 1500’s that survives as Michaelmas Farmhouse and one that had disappeared, either through neglect or fire, by the end of the 1700’s.  The other property also had a cottage dating to the late 1500’s although it no longer stands having burnt down by 1773. 


By 1783 the two properties had amalgamated and by 1841 were known as Croucher’s Orchard, taking its name from Roger Croucher, former owner of 1597.  By 1881 the farm became known as Miles Farm taking its new name from Thomas Miles who had lived there from the mid 1830’s until sometime between 1871 and 1881.  The farm was to remain as Miles Farm until 1982 when the date of purchase, 29th September – Michaelmas Day, gave rise to the current name of Michaelmas Farm.




South Malling – Lindfield Court Book, ACC2327/1/5/1, ESRO

Great Black Book of the manor of Hedgecourt, SAS/G45/14, ESRO 

Hedgecourt Freeholders Book, Box 3151, SHC

Handout, Gibbshaven Farm, JIC/SJC 07/07, FHA

Handout, Little Gibbshaven, SJC 07/08, FHA

Gage v Blundell: tenure of land called Little Gibbs, 1600.  SAS/G46/5, ESRO


Will of William Blundell, 1607, XA26/32 f17, ESRO

Clayton/Blundell, Counterpart lease of Felcot Farm, 1678, K61/2/68, SHC

Clayton/Humphrey, Counterpart lease of Felcot Farm, 1752, K61/2/70, SHC

Handout, Hedgecourt Watermill and Cottages, SJC 07/04, FHA

Handout, Wiremill, SJC 03/06, FHA

Survey of the Commons of Beltchingley, 1681, 453/1/1(g), SHC

John Finch, Arrears of 1678 – 1682,   G11/28, ESRO

Lagham Court Books, P25/21/11, SHC

Clayton/Ditcher lease, 1686, K60/3/186 SHC

Horne tithe map, 1839, SHC

Worth tithe map, 1839, WSRO

Horne Removal Order of Nicholas Ditcher and his family from Horne, 1727, QS2/6/1727/Mid/48, SHC

Horne tenants list, 1742, G3/1/58, SHC

Clayton/Ditcher/Wanmore Indenture of Release, 1758, K61/2/75, SHC

Clayton/Ditcher/Wanmore Lease and Release, 1760, K61/2/74a, SHC

Clayton/Ditcher/Wanmore Lease and Release, 1760, K61/2/74b, SHC

Clayton/Ditcher/Wanmore Indenture of Fine, 1758, K61/2/76, SHC

Horne parish registers

Burstow parish registers

Sussex marriage index

Surrey marriage index

Map of cottages of the heath of the manor of Bletchingley, 1761, K61/3/2, SHC

Worth Land Tax, WSRO

Lindley and Crossley map, 1793

Draft O/S map, 1805

South Malling – Lindfield/Walstead Court Book, ACC2327/1/5/1, ESRO

Hedgecourt Freeholders Court Book, 1597.  Box 3151, SHC

Worth Parish Records

Will of Roger Croucher of Worth, weaver, 1613.  XA26/34126/14, ESRO

Figg map & Copyholders of Worth in South Malling – Lindfield, ACC2327/1/5/12, ESRO

South Malling – Lindfield Court Book, 1650.  ACC2327/1/5/2, ESRO

Assent of Freehold Tenants of Felbridge Heath, South Malling – Lindfield, 1650.  ACC2327/1/5/17/45, ESRO

Poor Records, 1702, Par/516/37/76, ESRO

Will of R Rowland, 1705, XA26/52/70, ESRO

Will of M Rowland, 1731, XA26/58/46, ESRO

South Malling – Lindfield Court Book, ACC2327/1/5/6, ESRO

Will of J Edwards, 1768 FHA

Godstone by U Lambert

The Mackenzies of Fawley Court and Farr

Free BMD

Census Records, 1841, 1851, 1861, 1817, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911

Miles Farm Schedule of Deeds, FHA

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

Worth Tithe map and apportionment, 1839, WSRO

PO Directories, 1874, 1878

Handout, Little Gibbshaven, SJC 07/08, FHA

Handout Parkfields SJC 05/05, FHA

Handout Rope Making in Felbridge SJC 03/05

Documented memories of R G Budgen, FHA

Documented memories of B Roberts, FHA

Documented memories of J Roberts, FHA

The Sheep Stell: Autobiography of a shepherd, by J White

Documented memories of J White, FHA

Listing, Ref: HB/5405/274/7, HB/2029/274/2, FHA

Michaelmas, www.Historic-uk.com

Miles Farm Sales Particulars, 1987, FHA


Thanks go to Brian and Evelyn Roberts for kindly allowing access to their property.

Texts of all Handouts referred to in this document can be found on FHG website; www.felbridge.org.uk

JIC/SJC 07/09