Old Felbridge House & The Feld

Old Felbridge House & The Feld

Old Felbridge House and the close of houses known as The Feld represent a small section in the development of the area that was historically known as Felbridge Water. The area is just South of the Surrey/Sussex border and was on the extreme Northern fringe of East Grinstead Common.

The first evidence of development in this area can be found on the Rocque map of 1768 when two properties appear on the site of what is known today as Old Felbridge House. Later evidence suggests that these are a house and outbuilding. In 1768, the property was depicted in a cleared area abutting the main London road to the East. A wooded area, known as Birch Wood, ran between the property and the stream to the North, behind it and round to the South. The property is depicted as a rectangular building with the longer side running almost parallel to the main road.

On the Tithe Map of 1842, the area where Old Felbridge House stands was listed as two plots, numbers 2313 and 2314. Plot 2313 was listed as 1 rood, (¼ acre), with a house, shed and garden, whilst plot 2314 was a two acre meadow. The property at this point is again depicted as a rectangular shape but this time with the shorter side running almost parallel to the main road. Evidence from the ridge and roof tiles, and weather boarding, suggest that by now the building had a double gabled roof added, running West of the original building. The plots were in the ownership of John Southey. It should be remembered at this time ownership meant copyhold ownership, that is to say the area belonged to the Lord of the Manor, in this case Imberhorne, and John Southey had bought the right to the land for his life time. On death a heriot was to be paid to the Lord of the Manor, a kind of death duty or tax on the expiry or abandonment of the holding by the tenant. This would commonly have consisted of the tenant’s best beast or, if no beast was available, a payment of money. On the same map of 1842, the area now known as The Feld occupied part of plot 2311 listed as a meadow, with the house and buildings of plot 2312 drawn within its boundary. This area was in the ownership of George Lowdell and tenanted by William Payne. Again it is only copyhold ownership and was part of the manor of Imberhorne.

In the 1851 census, we find that for the area of Old Felbridge House the copyhold owner was Mary Southey, the widow of John Southey, listed as a fundholder. Edmund Coomber, an agricultural labourer, and his family occupied a property on the area of The Feld. In the 1881 Census we find that for the area of Old Felbridge House the copyhold owner was William Grynyer, stone mason and quarry owner, and the area of The Feld was occupied by Mary Coomber, widow of Edmund Coomber.

Some time between 1908 and 1911 the true ownership of the whole area of land between the Surrey/Sussex border and Imberhorne Lane passed from Imberhorne manor to the Felbridge Place Estate. This Estate had passed to Alfred Leighton Sayer and Charles Lane Sayer in 1903 on the death of Charles Henry Gatty. In 1908, the area of Old Felbridge House was listed as occupied by James Avard Payne and the area of The Feld would appear to have been added to the lands of James Payne to create what was then known as Stream Farm. It would appear that the property that had been situated on the area now known as The Feld had disappeared some time between 1881 and 1911. In April 1911, the Sayers’ sold the Felbridge Place Estate to the Mrs. Emma Harvey and the East Grinstead Estate Co. Ltd. who had arranged for the Estate to be split up and auctioned in lots on 25th May the same year. At that time, Stream Farm covered the area of land between Harts Hall and Imberhorne Lane on the West side of the main London Road and also from the River Fel to Sackville Lane on the East side of the road.

In the 1911 auction the area now known as Old Felbridge House and The Feld was auctioned in two lots being known as Stream Farm. The site of Old Felbridge House was Lot 8, and the site of The Feld formed part of Lot 7. The land to the East of the main London road was not put up for auction in 1911.

Lot 8 was described as ‘The charming freehold property known as Stream Farm…comprising of a pretty old-fashioned cottage residence… with outbuildings … and nice old garden’. The ‘cottage residence’ was built of brick, timber and tiled, with lattice windows. It comprised of four bedrooms, dressing room, sitting room, living room with range, kitchen with open fireplace, dairy, scullery with copper and sink, and a larder. The cottage not only had the double gabled extension to the West, as indicated on the 1842 Tithe Map, but also by now a single storey extension had been added to the West end of the property. The outbuildings consisted of timber and tiled cow lodges with stalls for six cows, a two-stall stable, a coach-house and three piggeries. There was also a well of water. The garden consisted of a lawn with flowerbeds in front, with a good kitchen garden and small paddock. The stream bounded the whole area that totalled .925 acres, with a 90 feet frontage to the East Grinstead Road.

Lot 7 was described as ‘A very valuable freehold building estate, … for a gentleman’s first-class house or villa residences’. The land was described as well-timbered pasture on the main London Road, with a frontage of 615 feet. ‘The whole of the land is sound pasture and it is intersected by a stream and prettily studded with timber trees’. The area now known as The Feld was part of field 13 on the sale plan, adjoining the property known as Stream Farm. The remainder of Lot 7 had, in 1842, been part of the grounds of Hart’s Hall, now Felbridge Court.

In 1911, it is unclear whether Lot 8 sold. Stream Farm was still occupied by James Avard Payne, if sold he had until December of that year before he was obliged to relinquish the property. However, Talbut Hugh Palmer purchased Lot 7 that included the land on which The Feld now stands.

In 1916, the East Grinstead Estate Co. Ltd. auctioned off more of the Felbridge Place Estate, and the remaining part of Stream Farm (24 ½ acres) which was the section to the East of the main London Road where the Felbridge Hotel now stands up to Sackville Lane. It was then suggested that the area be sold as ‘Summerlands Garden Village Estate, which it is proposed shall be laid out on the site of the old Stream Farm’. It was described as ‘a charming rural site … on the main London Road… to appeal to the speculative builder for residences from £26 to £45 per annum for which there is a large demand from the town’. The catalogue then went on to say:
‘The attractions of garden village life, its convenience, its healthfulness, the possibilities of beauty for which it offers, not only within one’s own property but in the ideal surroundings, the interest of social life, and at the same time the easy access to London, combine to make these residential plots specially attractive to the purchaser of limited means.

In garden villages one enjoys all the best of the convenience of the town, the healthfulness and comfort of modern home-making, together with all the best that country life can offer.

Summerlands Garden Village, which it is proposed shall be laid out on the site of the old Stream Farm, comprises a number of freehold plots, having frontages up to seventy feet on the main London Road and with depths up to two hundred feet. The land, which is now choice pasture, faces south-west, and is situate on the confines of East Grinstead. It is absolutely ripe for development, and enjoys company’s water, sewerage, and lighting. These plots offer very attractive site for the erection of small or moderate-sized villas.

The Summerlands Estate offers special opportunities to builders and to purchasers for investment who know well from observation of other popular villages that houses readily sell long before they are completed.

An advantage rarely offered elsewhere is the extent of back land available at Summerlands.

Nearly every man or woman who loves the country seeks to prove his or her ability to raise for the family table better and earlier vegetables and fruit that can be bought from the markets or from neighbouring gardeners. The wife who wishes to furnish her table with eggs and poultry from her own pens wants space in which to carry on her poultry farm without annoyance to the neighbours. The family which has a number of young children wishes to keep a cow or two. To all of these, while they appreciate the beauty and convenience of the garden village frontage, the need for an extra acre or two is almost imperative, and it is fortunate that at the Summerlands Garden Village the extent of good farming land and meadow land at the back of the plots makes it possible to secure any extent of extra land that may be required.

The excellent Schools in East Grinstead, the Libraries, the facilities for all kinds of study, and for indulging every kind of interest; the Churches of every denomination; the social life of the town; the excellent shops in the town and the daily service by tradesmen’s cart, add to the many rural pleasure of Summerlands.’

Summerlands Garden Village was never built and ownership of the area has not yet been ascertained for the next twelve years. However, in 1920, Mrs Edith Mary Gertrude Dix bought the area of land that was to become The Feld. Then in 1928, Major Thomas Stewart Inglis, of the then recently constructed Felbridge Hotel, bought this area along with the land that became Felwater Court and Stream Park. Also in 1928, Major Douglas Carter Stern bought the area of land that had been known as Stream Farm for £4,000, and extended the cottage, formerly the Stream Farmhouse, and called it The Stream. He had a double gable added to the South side of the house, (the back), and a wing put on the West side extending North. This housed the library and a room for flower arranging and gave access with a back entrance to the house. The outbuildings were also converted to living accommodation for the Head Gardener, his cottage being known as Stream Cottage. Attached to Stream Cottage were the stables that were converted to garages. Then in the 1930’s a single storey extension was built on the South side of the property to house the cook and three maids. Apart from a square single storey extension added to the front of the house at a later date, it remained unchanged until 1999.

In about 1937/8, Mr Stern purchased land, (now the site of Felwater Court), from Major Inglis. This plot had housed a greenhouse belonging to the Olde Felbridge Hotel, formerly the Felbridge Hotel, in which all the flowers for the rooms had been grown during the 1930’s. Purchase of this land gave Mr Stern access to the grounds of The Stream from the recently constructed Stream Park roadway. Also, at about this time, Mr Stern had built a bungalow, called Little Stream, to the extreme North of his grounds for his chauffeur/gardener, now where the first Scanda Hus stands on the right in Standen Close. This bungalow became the Stern’s home during World War II when most of their staff were called up for war duty and The Stream was turned over to evacuees from Croydon.

The Stern’s decided to stay in the bungalow after the war, the big house now being too large for them then. At this point the Olde Felbridge Hotel acquired part of the greenhouse plot and The Stream, which they used as an annexe to the hotel. To gain access to the house, the wall was partially demolished and the gap is still used today as the access to The Feld. It was also at this time that the bungalow, formerly known as Little Stream became The Stream and the big house became known as Old Felbridge House. From 1947, Mr Stern rented out the remainder of the greenhouse plot to the 1st Felbridge Scouts who erected a Scout hut there. This they used until the mid 1980’s when they amalgamated with an East Grinstead Scout troop.

During the 1950’s, Old Felbridge House was occupied as a private house, and Mr A P W Brewin had bought it by the early 1960’s. In 1977, Old Felbridge House, set in one and a half acres of grounds, was sold to the Parr family. The property remained unchanged until 1998 when it was sold to the property developers, Etherington’s. The contract accepted was not the most financially rewarding but it did ensure that the old house would remain standing and that only the grounds would be developed.

In 1998, Old Felbridge House, before the sale to Etherington’s, was entered by what is now the back of the house. It had a wealth of dark beams and panelling with carvings over some of the doors. The entrance hall had a large inglenook fireplace that backed onto another in the room to the left, now the kitchen next to the garage. This had been a kitchen before it had been relocated to the Stern’s single storey extension, now on the front of the house. The garage stood next to the L shaped wing but has now been relocated to stand between the house and the stone wall. The grounds of Old Felbridge House, at this time, were laid mostly to lawn, with an orchard, ornamental pond and several specimen trees. Most of these trees remain within the layout of the houses in The Feld.

Antler Homes started work on the area in 1999. Old Felbridge House was modernised and the interior slightly re-organised, with the addition of the new garage. The accommodation included, entrance hall, cloakroom, living room, dining room, dinning room lobby, study, music room, kitchen, family/breakfast room, utility room and two other spare rooms on the ground floor, with a master bedroom, dressing room, en-suite bathroom, family bathroom and a further five bedrooms with en-suite facilities. The property retained about half an acre of gardens to the front and back, including the well of water.

The remainder of the one and a half acre plot became The Feld, advertised as ‘A collection of four individually designed five bedroom family homes, that nestle in the grounds of an 18th century house which at one time formed part of the Felbridge Place Estate. Each house had been carefully designed to blend in with this well established and mature setting…’ The properties were built in a mixture of facing brick, rendering, tile hanging and timber boarding, each with an individual appearance and layout. They were named the Lodge House, Orchard House, Mill House and Manor House. The name The Feld is derived from Old English, feld meaning open space or field, an appropriate name that perpetuates the historical use of the area.


Rocque Map 1768
Gardner & Gream Map 1795
Ordnance Survey Map 1819
Tithe Map for East Grinstead 1842
Ordnance Survey Map 1875
Felbridge Place Sale Catalogue 1911
Ordnance Survey Map 1938
Plan for the proposed link road 1955
Ordnance Survey Maps 1964, 1979 and 1999
Deeds for Cleevecote Nursery Site, Imberhorne Lane
Deeds for No’s 16 to 24 Imberhorne Lane
Deeds for Stream Cottage, Stream Park
Sale Catalogue for Stream Park 1931
Sale Catalogue for Felbridge Place Estate 1916
Sale Catalogue for Old Felbridge House 1999
Sale Catalogue for The Feld 1999
Census Records for 1851 and 1881
Documented memoirs of Mrs Wiseman, Mr and Mrs A Jones and Mr L Emblem
Sale brochures for Old Felbridge House and The Feld

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