Smugglers Cottage is located at Snow Hill and stands on the northern side of the Copthorne Road, A264, which was once just one of many old trackways that led across the Commons from East Grinstead to Crawley, via Felbridge and Copthorne.
This document, at the request of the current owners, sets out to try and determine the history and development of the property, its owners and occupiers, and the origin of the name.
The Snow Hill Area
The area known as Snow Hill lies on what was once part of the Commons or wastes of Hedgecourt, Crawley Down and Copthorne, partly in the county of Surrey and partly in the county of Sussex, now West Sussex. The site of Smugglers Cottage, although built on part of Copthorne Common, fell under the manor of South Malling – Lindfield and not under the manor of Ditchling that held the rest of the Copthorne area.
Most of the area was formerly part of the parish of Worth, one of the largest parishes in England, but since 1843, Snow Hill has formed part of the parish of Crawley Down after a series of church reforms that saw the sub-division of the parish of Worth and several smaller parishes emerge.
Evidence suggests that the Crawley Down and Copthorne areas followed a similar pattern of development and as such Snow Hill also developed in a comparable way. Crawley Down means ‘crow clearing hill’ from Old English crawe leah dun, as such it was the hill near the pasture where crows gathered. Copthorne means ‘capped or pollarded thorn-tree’ from Old English coppede porn, therefore a clearing in the forest surrounded by cut or copped thorn trees. The first documented use of the name Crawley Down, as Crauledun, appears in 1272, and Copthorne, as Coppethorne, just over one hundred and fifty years later in 1437.
However, Snow Hill does not make it first documented appearance until the mid 1700’s appearing as Snower Hill on the Bourd map of 1748, commissioned by Edward Evelyn after his purchase of the Hedgecourt estate of the late Sir William Gage. The Bourd map, denotes Snower Hill as comprising of Snower Hill Farm, 141 acres, 1 rood, 34 perch and Snower Hill Wood of just over 13½ acres, both in the vicinity of Thorny Park which has today become Domewood, New Domewood and Snow Hill [Haskins] Nursery. Snower Hill Farm and Wood were held by the manor of Hedgecourt. The remaining area of Snow Hill on Copthorne Common, except that of Little Shirleys, now known as Little Frenches, was held by the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, falling outside the manor of Hedgecourt.
Both Crawley Down and Copthorne grew out of small clearances made in the Saxon period in the heavily wooded area known as the Weald. Until the 16th century, this area would have been fairly sparsely populated, with the odd property, generally a small farm, emerging on the fringes of the cleared areas – the waste of what was literally Crawley’s ‘Down’ and Copthorne Common. These properties did not constitute a village, merely scattered settlement on the fringes of waste land. However, this changed in the mid 16th century when the iron industry made its appearance in the area around 1567. A blast furnace was constructed in Myll Wood, now Furnace Wood, and a hammer mill, known as Woodcock Forge or Hammer, was constructed at what is now Wiremill, in the manor of Hedgecourt, along with several other furnaces and forges constructed in the Worth area including, Rowfant forge and furnace, Tilgate furnace and Tinsley forge in Crawley, and Worth Forest furnace.
The burgeoning iron industry required workers and they required somewhere to live, and as such more properties slowly began to be constructed on the fringes of the commons in this area. A furnace operated when there was enough water to supply power to run the bellows; therefore it would generally only be in constant blast between October and March. For the workers there were a few other jobs associated with the furnace process that could provide employment for some of the remainder of the year, in particular charcoal burning that was carried out during the summer months to supply fuel for the iron industry as a whole. It has been suggested that to survive, the iron worker would have supported himself and his family with a smallholding. It is thought that these smallholdings were small encroachments on the Commons and wastes of the area, indeed what are now Felcot Farm and Michaelmas Farm appear as small early enclosures on Hedgecourt Common during the period that the Myll Wood furnace was operating.
However, Myll Wood furnace had ceased operating by 1627 and shortly after this date small parcels of Copthorne common began to be enclosed. These enclosures may be the formalisation of earlier (unrecorded) encroachments that had existed whilst the furnace at Myll Wood was operating. With formalisation of these, the manor within which they fell would gain control and some income. These original enclosures must have reflected the change in the local inhabitants’ occupations with a move away from the iron industry and the necessity for alternative employment and smallholding. Thus as one enclosure was created so this must have had a snow-balling effect with other people wanting to enclose land off the Common or waste, particularly in the Snow Hill area.
It is not known if the encroachments in the Snow Hill area related to the appearance of the iron industry in the area but it would have brought prosperity and therefore people to the area. With the inevitable increase of encroachments at Snow Hill, the manor of South Malling – Lindfield appears to have issued long term leases to the occupants of each encroachment thus creating a small enclosure. The encroachments appear to have been well established in the Snow Hill area prior to the issue of the first long term lease in 1654 because of the shape that it was. The first lease was not for a regular shaped piece of land but had a boundary which had many deviations in it, later leases then covered the land that had caused these deviations. All the subsequently leased holdings in the Snow Hill area had these field boundaries which interconnected with the neighbouring plots, rather like a jig-saw implying they were already well established boundaries prior to the first lease.
Before 1654, there is a distinct lack of encroachment entries in Court Books for Copthorne Common, and only a few for Crawleys Down and Turners Hill, but as you move progressively towards Lindfield, the central power base, more and more encroachments are recorded, particularly on the wastes and commons of Lindfield and Wivelsfield. The most likely reason for these long term leases in the Snow Hill area was that it was so far removed from the central power base of the Court at Lindfield, being located at the northern-most bounds of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield and large sections of the Crawley Down area had already been granted as freeholds. By issuing long term leases there was less need to supervise the area for encroachments upon the waste because with a series of small, abutting enclosures the leaseholders would be more responsive towards anyone trying to encroach upon land they held by lease.
It is through the issue of these long term leases that a small community was consolidated on the fringe of Copthorne Common at Snow Hill during the mid to late 1600’s. It is evident, from the occupations given at the time that the leases were issued, that the inhabitants of the Snow Hill area had formed a small community as not only were there farmers and agricultural labourers but also trades such as blacksmith, wheelwright, millwright, carpenter and grocer were recorded, indicative of community living. It has also been proposed that perhaps the community were supporting the manor of Effingham abutting Snow Hill on the Surrey side of the county boundary.
Unfortunately, because the property now known as Smugglers Cottage was one of these long term leasehold properties there are few references to it in the Court Books for several reasons. Firstly, the lease holder could sub-let without the consent of the Court, making it difficult to track the sub-leasee and occupants of the property, secondly the lease could be inherited or sold without appearing in the Court Book and lastly, the only time one of these long leasehold properties needed to appear in the Court Book was when the lease expired, which is 200-300 years after the issuing of the lease.
Structure of Smugglers Cottage
Smugglers Cottage is aligned east/west with 4 frames forming 3 bays, all 11ft (3.42m) wide. The bays are of unequal size with bay 1 being only 3ft 8ins (1.13m) long, bay 2 is 10ft 5ins (3.19m) long and bay 3 is 8ft 1ins (2.48m). The roof is of side purlin construction with each collar supported by 2 pegged queen struts, there is no ridge board and the 3¼ins x 2½ins (82mm x 64mm) rafters are pegged at the top halved joint. The roof of the main structure is constructed with a pitch of 50 degrees suggesting it may have been thatched when originally constructed. The scantling or dimensions of the majority of the timber is small, with many of the main structural timbers being only 5½ins x 5ins (140mm x 126mm). There is no visible decoration with no clear chamfers on any of the timbers.
Frame 1 (west end)
The vast majority of this frame is obscured by the chimney on the inside and the later dining room extension on the exterior. The only visible section of the frame is in the south west corner where it is possible to identify that there was originally a rail across the mid height of the lower floor, strongly suggesting that this was the end of the original structure.
Bay 1 (frame 1 to frame 2)
This is the very narrow bay, now mainly occupied by the brick chimney which is offset against the north wall, leaving a 2ft 11ins (0.9m) passage to the south of the stack. At the first floor level, this passage is repeated with the side of the brick stack exposed. The brick chimney is constructed with lime mortar and then appears to have been lined with a thin layer of daub much of which is still evident. The outer walls of the stack continue to use the same lime mortar down to floor level although the centre of the hearth has a later inserted fireplace using cement mortar. The stack includes an auxiliary flue at the first floor level to heat the upper chamber.
Frame 2 (front of fireplace)
The lower side of the transverse beam in this frame is visible to the south of the chimney and it can be seen that there were two studs descending into the ground floor with no infill between them, these are repeated on the first floor and would appear to be the side posts for a doorway to the south of the chimney. The tie-beam is 6ins high x 4½ins wide (152mm x 113mm) with very little curvature. There are two queen struts pegged into the tie-beam, the tie-beam and the collar all marked with carpenter’s marks on the east face. The frame above the collar is still infilled with daub, which although clean, shows signs of smoke leakage from the west side to the east side.
Bay 2 (frame 2 to frame 3)
This bay is divided at ceiling level by a transverse beam, 7½ins wide x 5ins high (190mm x 127mm), at position 2a [see appendix], the first floor joists are jointed into this beam and pegged. The east and west ends of the floor joists, 4ins high x 3ins wide (101mm x 76mm), are laying upon the transverse beams of frames 2 and 3. The ends of the transverse beam at position 2a are deeply jointed into the mid rails and fully pegged. The beam and the joists are all fully numbered with Roman numerals. This bay also includes the current front door in the south east corner of the bay and a doorway through to the rear in the centre of the north wall. At first floor level this bay contains a single room. The south wall of the room has had a window inserted which has removed much of the evidence but it is still possible to identify pegs for the original wall studs which were slightly closer together than the width of the current window.
This frame marks the east end of bay 2, two of the three original pegged wall studs descending from the transverse beam have survived, the ends of these stop just above the current floor level, implying that the current floor level and the original are not too dissimilar. There is clear evidence (and survival) of infill between these studs, but there is no evidence of partitioning on either the east or the west ends.
At first floor level the frame is infilled with daub except for the third gap from the north, which is currently a doorway. This doorway is only slightly north of the doorway in frame 2 on the opposite side of the room and could indicate an access route at first floor along the southern side of the property. Above the tie-beam and the collar is infilled with daub, and there is no sooting on the west face of the daub even above the collar.
Bay 3 (frame 2 to frame 4)
This bay is slightly shorter than bay 2 and is floored over with joists and contains a staircase up to the first floor which has required many of the joists to be cut out. The remaining whole joists on the south of the room are 4ins high x 3ins wide (101mm x 76mm). The joists are laying on top of the transverse beams in frames 3 and 4. The north wall of this bay also contains an external chimney stack providing a small fireplace in the room.
The north wall plate above the stairs in this bay contains a large wrought iron hook, and the wall plate has been carved back which would allow the hook to have a rope run over it to raise or lower objects to or from the first floor.
At first floor level, the staircase has been divided off from the room to the east with a modern partition. Again a window has been inserted but it is possible to see that either side of the window position was a pegged stud.
This frame marks the end of the original structure. There is evidence for the sill beam joining the base of the wall posts in this frame. There is also a square mullion five light window on the north of the ground floor in this frame as well as evidence of partitioning of the entire length of the end wall except the window. The mullion window has a shutter groove above it and the height of the window can be determined as the mortice for the lower rail is still visible in the wall post. The exterior of this frame is visible and shows only a little weathering.
The mullion window was later removed and an outward opening doorway made in its location as there is a door catch visible on the west face of the northern wall post.
The south wall consists of a selection of pegged and unpegged studs. The majority of the timber above the mid rail is visible and shows a regular infill width with two diagonal half braces up to the end frames. Below the mid rail, much of the timber has been removed and replaced to provide larger window openings although the peg holes mark the positions of a number of studs matching the positions of the studs above. The current doorway is against frame 3 but has a double pegged post on the western side not matched by any stud above the mid rail making it likely that this was an original entrance.
The north wall contains far fewer studs with only the pegged ones surviving to match the pegged stud’s positions on the south wall. The position of the doorway in the centre of bay 2 aligns with two pegged wall studs with no visible partitioning between them and it is likely that this was the position of an original doorway.
There is now a catslide roof against the north side of the property, descending from the wall plate and extending over a kitchen area. There is evidence that this replaced an earlier catslide which covered a much smaller distance from the house, 6ft 3ins (1.9m) wide. Unfortunately, no structural evidence of the earlier catslide remains or any visible evidence of its attachment to the main property to provide any clues as to whether this was an early timber framed extension or one from a modern period.
East of Frame 3
Beyond bay 3 is a catslide roof with timber framing below on the north and south walls. The roof was photographed in 1932 and the top of the catslide was attached at the main wall plate level with the lower end descending to only about 3ft (0.9m) from the ground. Since 1932 the catslide has been raised and extended to cover approximately an additional 2ft (0.7m) of floor space on the ground floor with a modern supporting wall at the east end.
It is most likely that Smugglers Cottage was constructed as a 2 bay dwelling with a narrow smoke bay at the west end. There is evidence that the dwelling was originally floored in both bays and it is likely that access was obtained to the first floor via a stair partitioned off in the south end of the smoke bay and using a ‘passage’ (it is unlikely that it was partitioned) along the south side of the first floor. The property has two gable ends with very slight timbers and this structural style is most common about 1600 with very few smoke bay cottages built after 1650, the use of very slight timbers indicates a later date within the period.
The property had a mullion window at the north side of the east wall on the ground floor, and it is possible that it also had two upstairs mullions and two downstairs mullions in the positions of the current windows in the south wall although the insertion of these windows has hidden the evidence, as the underside of the wall plate and mid rail are not visible.
The catslide at the east end was added at a later date and the mullion windows on the east end replaced with a doorway. This had probably occurred before about 1700 due to the lack of weathering on the original outside wall.
The chimney was inserted within the smoke bay and the date of 1730 (now removed) in the bressumer is consistent with the brick size and method of construction of the current stack to support that date.
The stairs were inserted into bay 3, but there is very little constructional evidence to provide a possible date for this insertion, although the partition of the first floor eastern room away from the inserted staircase is definitely 20th century.
Smugglers Cottage and the Russell family
The first documented reference to the site of Smugglers Cottage appears in a lease dated 16th July 1694, when a 200-year lease was granted by John Studley of Lindfield, gentleman, as Lord of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, to Drue [Drew] Russell of Worth, his wife Anne and their son Drue [Drew]. This lease was just one of many issued during the last half of the 17th century in the Snow Hill area by the manor of South Malling – Lindfield. The property was not named at this date and the lease simply states that it was for: ‘a cottage and land of 1 acre upon Copthorne [Common] in Worth’, at a rent of 2s 6d per annum, and relief at 2s 6d. Although not known by the name of ‘Smugglers Cottage’ in 1694, for the purpose of identification, Smugglers Cottage will be used throughout the text.
It is not known how long the Russell family had occupied the encroachment on which the cottage was built or when the cottage was actually built but construction features and details would suggest that it was built in the early to mid 17th century. It is also not known how long Smugglers Cottage was held by the Russell family, however, it has been established that in 1880 the property was enfranchised to Henry Frederick Clare, gentleman, making it a freehold property.
The early history of the Russell family in the Snow Hill area is rather illusive, made even less simple with references to more than one Drew Russell. It is known that Drew Russell who took out the 200-year lease on Smugglers Cottage in 1694 was a shingler by trade. A shingler is a maker or repairer of wooden roof tiles which was classed as a trade because the apprenticeship agreements record that in 1709, Francis Waldrapper of Hartfield [Sussex] was a pauper apprenticed to Drew Russell of Worth. The shingles would have been made from locally grown sweet chestnut that would have been found in abundance in the area after the decline of the iron industry that once relied on the large chestnut woodlands of the area for charcoal for fuel.
Drew Russell was married to Ann and they had at least two children, Drew born in the last decade of the 17th century, and a daughter Sarah, baptised on 7th February 1704. Drew senior was baptised on 6th August 1671, the son of Drew and Ann Russell, and had at least two brothers, William baptised on 17th February 1666/7 and Son, baptised on 7th December 1673, all three baptised in Worth.
Documentary evidence is fragmentary for this area in this period, and many of the inhabitants were either non-conformists or attended church infrequently due to the distance from Snow Hill, (Worth being their official place of worship). Both factors have combined such that recorded details are in most cases, few and far between, making family connections virtually impossible to prove. However, there were several Russells living in the Snow Hill area at the same time as both Drew Russells’.
In April 1702, an 81-year lease was granted by Joseph Studley of Lindfield, gentleman, as Lord of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, to William Cooper of Worth, a yeoman, and Matthias Crouch of Worth, a mariner, for: ‘a cottage and 1 acre of land on the waste land of the manor, called Copthorne, in Worth, occupied by widow Cardine, abutting south on the lands of Drew Russell, and on the north-west on the lands of John Russell and Copthorne [Common]. Proviso for the rent of 2s 6d to be paid to the Churchwardens and Overseers of Worth for the relief of the Poor’. Widow Cardine, we can identify from a lease dated 1735, as Ann Cardin[e], the wife of Drew Russell deceased, and mother of Drew Russell. In all probability, she was the Ann of Drew and Ann Russell who were granted the 200-year lease on the Smugglers Cottage plot in 1694.
Further evidence of Russells living in the area include that in July 1710, Ann Russell of Worth, widow, conveyed for the sum of £24, ‘a messuage, barn and 2 acres of land’ that she occupied, to John Garden of Worth, a butcher. It is possible that Ann Russell, widow, and Ann Cardin[e], widow, are one and the same, although she was not at this date living in Smugglers Cottage. Also attached to the same document there is an assignment of indenture of bargain and sale for the property by John Garden to Thomas Rice, Richard Cackett, Thomas Butcher, Henry Allingham and John Alli[e]n, Churchwardens and Overseers of Worth.
The Court Books for the manor of South Malling – Lindfield also record that on 3rd June 1735, Drew Russell of Worth, husbandman, was admitted, on the death of his mother Ann Cardin, to ‘a cottage and 4 acres adjoining land of John Harborough and William Lary on the north and west, and land used by John Illman on the south and the Lord’s waste [Copthorne Common] on the east, hereto inclosed and erected by Drew Russell his father, deceased’. This plot of land includes the property now known as Mount House, which was to remain with descendents of the Russell family until the last quarter of the 19th century, being leased by the Dewdney family. On 9th January, 1771, Drew Russell of Worth, listed as a carpenter, conveyed for the sum of £52 10/- to Thomas Harbour, alias Harborough of Worth, yeoman, a ‘piece of land called the Burley, formerly in 2 parcels in Worth (4 acres) adjoining to lands owned by Thomas Nichols on the east, west and south and to the road from Crawley Down to East Grinstead on the north, in the occupation of George Harborough’. From a map of the area by William Figg in 1830, this property can be identified south of what is now the A264, opposite Smugglers Cottage.
From the scant documentary evidence it is currently impossible to have a clear understanding of the Russell family and its association with the Snow Hill area, but it is apparent that they did hold several properties covering a fairly substantial area of Snow Hill, including freehold properties enfranchised to the manor of Hedgecourt including Little Shirley’s, now known as Little Frenches. It has also proved impossible, due to the long length of the leasehold on the Smugglers Cottage plot and the lack of requirement to appear before the manorial Court to sub-let the property or sell the lease, to determine when the property known as Smugglers Cottage left the Russell family ownership. However, by 1775, John Allingham appears to have acquired the lease from the Russell family as it appears in his will.
Late 18th Century
John Allingham was the son of Henry and Elizabeth, one of seven children, and was baptised on 19th July 1721 at Worth. John’s siblings were, Richard baptised on 13th March 1708/9 who sadly died in March 1709/10, Elizabeth baptised on 19th July 1712, Hannah baptised on 16th August 1716, Henry baptised on 15th July 1718, Sarah baptised on 28th January 1723/4 and Richard baptised on 1st April 1729. John’s sister Elizabeth married William Blaker on 27th September 1744 at Worth. His brother Henry married Priscilla Fieldwick on 4th April 1758 at Worth and they had Richard in 1759, John in 1760, Henry in 1762, Priscilla in 1764, Abraham in 1765, Isaac in 1773 and Jacob in 1775. Their first two children were baptised at Worth but the remaining five children were all baptised at Burstow suggesting that perhaps that had moved to Burstow by 1762. John’s sister Sarah married Staning Hall on 28th September 1747 and they had at least one son called John and lived in the Snow Hill area. The spouses of all these Allingham children were all from the Snow Hill area. The surviving brother Richard was listed as a bachelor of Croydon at the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Marchant, a widow of Godstone, on 23rd April 1770.
John’s mother Elizabeth Allingham appears to have died at a fairly young age being buried on 12th August 1742. His father, Henry Allingham, was the Churchwarden and Overseer referred to in the Ann Russell/John Garden conveyance of 1710, and by 1772 held Snouts in Turners Hill, (location not yet established), along with other property near Turners Hill occupied by John Holman and John Chandler, and his own dwelling house and land (location not yet established).
John Allingham married Mary Field on 10th May 1748 and they had three children, Mary baptised on 15th August 1749, John baptised on 11th November 1750 and Hannah baptised on 17th July 1753, all in Worth. Mary married William Blaker on 8th February 1774 at Bolney and Hannah married Thomas Dowley. Little information has surfaced about their brother John, except that he had died by the death of his father John in April 1775. At the time of his death, John senior held the freehold of The Crown, alias Cannons, in Turners Hill and the Old Shop and messuage in Turners Hill in the occupation of John Dane the butcher, both properties were to go to his eldest daughter Mary Blaker. To his youngest daughter Hannah, not yet married, he left Cackstans, his own dwelling house, a copyhold messuage in the occupation of Richard Isgate, a copyhold messuage, barn, hovel, yard, garden and land known as Ridleys in Copthorne in the occupation of William Vallance, a freehold barn, hovel, yards, malt house, gardens and lands called West Evils in Copthorne (immediately south of what is now the Dukes Head), also in the occupation of William Vallance, a freehold messuage with two tenements to the same gardens and premises together with all the appurtenances thereto belonging in the occupation of Mrs Helen Holman and Edward Taylor, a freehold messuage in the occupation of John Holman, and freehold land known as Cherry Garden in the occupation of William Holder, a butcher.
By the time John Allingham died in 1775 he appears to have taken a second wife, as his will leaves £15 per annum to Ann his wife. His will also stipulated that should his daughter Mary die without issue, her inheritance was to pass to her sister Hannah, and vice versa, and if both daughters should die without issue, all his properties were to pass to his brother Henry Allingham of Burstow, and John Hall, his nephew by his sister Sarah and Staning Hall.
It would appear, from John Allingham’s will, that he believed Smugglers Cottage to be a freehold property as by tracking back through the Land Tax records the property is referred to as the freehold messuage with two tenements to the same gardens and premises together with all the appurtenances thereto belonging in the occupation of Mrs Helen Holman and Edward Taylor. It is possible that due to long length of the original leasehold the property was viewed as freehold paying a quit rent because the lease was not due for renewal until 1894.
John Allingham pre-deceased his father Henry by two years and by the probate of Henry’s will on 20th December 1777, all his goods and chattels were granted to his son Henry, older brother of John deceased. By 1780, Henry Allingham was recorded in the Land Tax records as the owner of Smugglers Cottage plot, the land occupied by himself at a rental of £8, with a cottage occupied by John Holman at a rental of £1, a second cottage occupied by Mrs Holman at a rental of £1, and a third cottage in the occupation of Edward Taylor, also at a rental of £1. These three properties equate to the inheritance of Hannah Allingham, the daughter of Henry’s brother John, by 1777, Hannah Dowley having married Henry Dowley.
These properties are recorded as owned by Henry Allingham until 1789 although some of the tenants changed during the nine years. By 1781, Thomas Langdon had taken over Mrs Holman’s cottage and by 1783, William Holden had succeeded John Holden and Thomas Langdon had been succeeded by William King. By 1790, Richard Snead had acquired Henry Allingham’s holding and Smugglers Cottage was being occupied by William Langridge, which was to remain unchanged until 1796 when Thomas Lidbetter was recorded as owner/occupier of the property.
There is little information about Richard Snead except that he was the son of William and Mary and was baptised on 22nd May 1763 in Worth. William had married Mary Dixon on 1st June 1761 and apart from Richard their eldest son, they also had, Mary baptised on 14th October 1764, Jane baptised on 26th September 1766, William baptised on 8th May 1768, Susannah baptised on 13th August 1769, Thomas baptised on 13th January 1771 and John baptised on 3rd January 1773. Within two years of the birth of their last child, William had died leaving Mary with seven children under the age of ten and as a consequence she remarried, John Bashford, on 29th May 1775.
There is no conclusive evidence relating to William Langridge, although a William Landgridge married to Sarah and their children Richard aged four, Sarah aged three and William aged one, appear in a settlement order for Worth, having been moved from Bletchingley, dated 9th April 1787. This would be about the right time period and no other William Langridges’ can be identified from the Worth parish records although this lack of evidence cannot be used to provide assurance that there is only one William Langridge in Worth at this time.
Thomas Lidbetter appears to have originated from Nuthurst in Sussex and married Mary Smith in Billingshurst on 8th July 1770. Their first child, Mary, was baptised in Nuthurst on 25th December 1772 and their second child, Elizabeth, was born in February 1775, however, the Lidbetter family then moved to Snow Hill by 9th May 1775 when a settlement order was issued for the family. Thomas and Mary had a further five children all baptised at Worth, Thomas on 19th May 1776, Hannah on 8th August 1779, Richard on 25th February 1781, Lucy on 25th May 1783 and William on 19th December 1784. Sadly Hannah died in 1781 and Elizabeth died in 1790.
Early 19th Century
Thomas Lidbetter died in 1824, and his will requested that his three cottages in Worth, that is to say Smugglers Cottage and the two tenements sharing the same garden, were to be sold and the money divided equally between his five surviving children. The property was sold to Mrs Gardner who was listed as the owner/occupier in the Land Tax records later in 1824. In 1829 a tenants list of the manor of South Malling – Lindfield confirms that Mrs Gardner was the tenant of ‘a cottage and one acre of land at Copthorne held by lease granted to Drew Russell, Ann his wife and Drew their son’. The tenants list accompanies the Figg map of the manorial lands of South Malling – Lindfield, and the Smugglers Cottage plot is denoted as plot 907, containing 1 acre 12 perch, including a cottage and barn. However, the tenants list of 1830 records William Moore as the tenant of the cottage implying that William Moore had succeeded Mrs Gardner, and the Land Tax records of 1831 show the property was occupied by Timothy Rovery, owned by the late Mrs Gardner. Unfortunately no further information has yet come to light on either William Moore or Mrs Gardner.
Timothy Rovery was born about 1801 and evidence suggests that the Rovery family were from Horne. Timothy married Ann Sanders of Godstone on 24th July 1820 in Worth. They had six children, Timothy baptised on 17th November 1822, Amy baptised on 13th February 1825, James baptised on 18th May 1828, David baptised on 26th January 1832, William baptised on 14th December 1834 and Jane born about 1839. The first five children were all baptised in Worth, however, by 1841, the Rovery family had moved from the Snow Hill area and Timothy senior was working as the miller at Ifield in Sussex where his daughter Jane was probably born in 1839. Timothy Rovery senior died before 1851 leaving his widow Ann, a pauper of Ifield, whilst his son William had replaced him as the miller of Ifield.
As already established Timothy Rovery had left Smugglers Cottage by 1839 and the Worth Tithe of the same year records the owner/occupier of the plot as James King.
No. on Plan
Cottage and garden
Cottage and garden
01. 00. 00
On comparison with the Figg map, plot 907 has by the Tithe map of 1839 been given three plot numbers, although the number of buildings depicted is the same on both maps. Plot 70 on the Tithe map contains a cottage and garden that equates to the property now known as Smugglers Barn. Plot 71, referred to as a meadow in the Tithe, also contained a building adjacent to the road, (now the A264), which no longer survives, and the cottage and garden in plot 72 is what is today known as Smugglers Cottage.
No other information has yet come to light about James King and by the 1841 census he had been succeeded at Smugglers Cottage by Edward and Ann Boarman, who by the 1851 census was recorded as Braman. Edward was born in 1795 and Ann was born in 1801, and in 1841 both Edward and Ann list their place of birth as Ireland, however, by 1851 Ann’s birth place had become England. Unfortunately no other information can as yet be attributed to either of them except that in 1851 Edward was working as a pedlar or itinerant seller of goods, selling his wares on foot, the name literally meaning ‘ped (basket) carrier’. The Boarman/Bramans’ are the first in a succession of tenants that leased the property, initially from William Moore who was again presented at the manor Court of South Malling – Lindfield in 1845 as leaseholder of the manor.
When discussing leaseholders, sub-leasees and tenants in the Court Book, Land Tax and Census records it is worthwhile understanding the documents different interests in a property. A leaseholder referred to in the Court Book is the person who has taken out the lease for a set period of time. They may also be referred as the tenant by the Court. However, they may have, in turn, leased the property to another person which the Court may not necessarily know about and would not record. This person would be a sub-leasee and tenant to the original leaseholder. Land Tax records list proprietors and occupiers of the property, the proprietor not necessarily being the name of the leaseholder that took out the original lease but the person who was paying the tax. Census records tend to list just the occupier of the property, and in some cases who that person considers to be the owner, the Census being interested only in who was living in the property. Thus it is possible for the Court, Land Tax and Census to disagree, but all be correct.
Late 19th Century tenants
Sometime between 1851 and 1861, Edward and Ann Boarman/Braman were succeeded at Smugglers Cottage by William and Mary Pilbeam who had two lodgers, William and George Gorringe, living with them. William Pilbeam was born in 1792 in Worth and Mary had been born in 1798 in Croydon. In 1841, William and Mary were living in Copthorne with their children, William born in 1821, Mary born in 1826, Jane born in 1832 and George born in 1837. In 1841 and 1861 William senior was working as a millwright, the nearest mill being the windmill in Mill Lane at Copthorne. In 1851, his son William was also listed as a millwright but he had by then left home and was lodging with James Uridge, born in 1792, who ran the beer house known as the House of Content next to Copthorne Chapel in Chapel Lane in Snow Hill. Another Uridge family can also be found living adjacent to the windmill and had been associated with it for several years.
It is known that William Pilbeam a millwright of Worth, took out a 74-year lease of a cottage and land of 30 rood on Copthorne [Common], plot 902, on 10th December 1806, this plot of land is situated north of the road (A264), opposite the Duke’s Head. However, the William Pilbeam who was occupying Smugglers Cottage in 1861 would only have been fourteen in 1806, and it is therefore very unlikely to have been him. There was also a William Pilbeam paying the Land Tax for Wire Mill (Godstone) in 1808.
William and George Gorringe were born in 1839 and 1841 respectively, both born in Horne and were both working as agricultural labourers. William and George were the sons of George and Elizabeth Gorringe of Horne. George senior had been born in 1816 and Elizabeth in 1817, as well as William and George, their first two children, they also had, James born in 1844, Edgar born in 1847, Sarah born in 1849 and John born in 1851, being just one month old in the 1851 census. There were several Gorringe families living in the Felbridge and Snow Hill area during the late 1800’s but unfortunately it has not yet been possible to establish whether they are connected.
By 1871 Thomas Gatland was living in Smugglers Cottage along with his wife Jane and three of their children, Charles, Edwin and Margaret. Thomas Gatland was born in 1818 in Worth and married Jane Prevett in Croydon on 8th April 1839, who had been born in 1817 in Horsted Keynes. They had Sarah Ann born in 1839, Thomas baptised on 1st March 1840, Robert born in 1842, George baptised on 5th November 1843, William baptised on 7th December 1845, Charles baptised on 9th January 1848, Jane born in 1850, Mary Ann baptised on 7th January 1855, Henry baptised on 5th June 1859, Edwin born in 1860, and Margaret baptised on 3rd November 1861. In 1851, Thomas Gatland had been listed as a farmer of nine acres in Crawley Down but by 1871, he and his sons Charles and Edwin were working as labourers.
Map evidence suggests that by 1874, Smugglers Cottage had been extended to the west side of the property, all other buildings as depicted on the Tithe map of 1839 remained the same. There is no documentary evidence as to the reason for the addition or by whom, but the property was unlikely to have been extended under the occupation the Boarman/Braman’s as they were just a couple, but it may have been enlarged by William Pilbeam, as in the 1861 census Smugglers Cottage was denoted as one cottage with three separate households within. Another possibility is that it may have been enlarged by Thomas Gatland as the majority of the family units living in the property were small until the occupation by the Gatland family sometime between 1861 and 1871.
In November 1880, during the tenancy of the Gatland family, most of the 200-year leases that had been issued in the mid to late 1600’s in the Snow Hill area were surrendered and enfranchised by the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, thus making the holdings freehold. Plot 907, Smugglers Cottage, does not appear in the list, however, when comparing the descriptions of the plots and acreages of the original leases to the enfranchised descriptions, one enfranchisement had increased by 1 acre 12 perch, the exact size of plot 907 from the 1829 Figg map & schedule, implying that Smugglers Cottage had become incorporated into that parcel, all other plot sizes stated match the 1829 Figg schedule. The enfranchised land included plots 912, 913, 914, 195 and 916 which had originally been leased to Robert Campfield of Worth for 200 years on 30th May 1681, containing a cottage and three acres of land, but on 1st November the same plots, by then totalling 4 acres 3 rood 12 perch were enfranchised and released to Henry Frederick Clare of Notting Hill, Middlesex, and of Worth, gentleman, and Riginal Blaker of Lewes, gentleman. The enfranchisement is located south of Smugglers Cottage, plot 907, abutting theCopthorne Road, (A264), formerly Borer’s Farm, now known as Little Orchard.
This enfranchisement ended the leasehold of Smugglers Cottage that had been taken out by Drew Russell in 1694 and held by William Moore since 1830, the lease being surrendered with fourteen years to run. Smugglers Cottage was thus purchased, as a freehold property, forming part of Borer’s Farm, by Henry Frederick Clare. Borer’s Farm, including Smugglers Cottage, was just one of twelve leasehold properties that were purchased by Henry Clare in November 1880, an area of Snow Hill totalling nearly twenty-six acres.
Henry Frederick Clare had been born 1807 in Cullan, Northampton. He married Theodosia Boyd on 19th August 1830 in Paddington, and they had one child, Theodocia Boyd Clare baptised on 16th August 1831. Henry appears to have trained as a Doctor or Physician as in 1881 he was described as a Medical (not in Practice). In 1880, when Henry was purchasing a large portion of the Snow Hill area, he was recorded ‘of Notting Hill and of Worth’ as he had already invested in the property known as East Lodge in Snow Hill in 1853, possibly as a country home for him and his wife. However, in 1881 the Clare’s were living at 50 Kensington Park Road, Kensington, where Henry died three years later in the June quarter of 1884 at the age of seventy-seven.
In 1881, Thomas and Jane Gatland were still living at Smugglers Cottage, but all their children had left home except Edwin and Margaret. Thomas and Edwin were working as labourers and Margaret gave her occupation as a dressmaker. In December 1882, Margaret married William Harber in East Grinstead and six years later her mother Jane died at the age of seventy-one, being buried at Crawley Down on 5th July 1888.
William Harber had been born in 1860 in Worth, the son of William and Ann Harber. William senior had been born in 1811 in Horsham and was a broom maker by trade. Ann, several years William’s junior, had been born Ann Holman in 1828 in Worth. She had married George Smart, a labourer of Worth, in 1851 in Brighton. They had three children, James born in Shoreham in 1853, Alice Fanny baptised on 15th October 1854 in Brighton, and Stephen born in 1854 in Worth. George Smart died sometime between 1854 and 1857 and his widow Ann remarried, William Harber, on 17th October 1857. In 1861, William and Ann Harber, along with their son William and his two half-brothers James and Stephen, were living in a cottage next to Akehurst Farm in Copthorne. William and Ann went on to have three more children, Eliza born on 9th February 1862, Lucy born in 1868, and Ellen born in 1870.
In 1891, William Harber, working as a bricklayer’s labourer, was listed as the head of household at Smugglers Cottage, with his father-in-law Thomas Gatland and brother-in-law Edwin living with him and his family. William and Margaret had three children living with them, William Harold born in 1885, Albert Edward born in 1887 and Gertrude born in 1891, being recorded as just two months old. Thomas Gatland was working as a farm labourer and Edwin as a nursery gardener. Six years later Thomas Gatland died, aged seventy-nine and was buried at Crawley Down on 4th February 1897.
Map evidence suggests that nothing significant had occurred to Smugglers Cottage since 1874, although the plot size had increased to 1.4 acres, but this may be due to more accurate surveying or perhaps boundary movement. However, the building adjacent to the road (A264) that stood in plot 71 of the Tithe map of 1839 had disappeared suggesting that it had been demolished between 1874 and 1898.
Early 20th Century and the origin of the name Smugglers Cottage
In 1901, Smugglers Cottage was still tenanted to a Harber family; however, it was Henry Harbour who was recorded as the head of the household along with his wife Elizabeth and son Frank. Both Henry and Frank were working as charcoal burners which may account for the lack of records relating to either of them or the Harber family in general, as charcoal burners or colliers as they were also known, spent much of their time away from home living out in the surrounding woodland.
In the 1901 census, Henry gave his age as sixty-one, therefore born in 1840, however, his birth is not recorded until 1842 in the East Grinstead Registration District. In 1881, Henry, an agricultural labourer, was living at Cross Fields in East Grinstead with his wife Sarah Ann who had been born in 1845 in Worth. Living with the couple were seven of their eventual eight children, Agnes Amy born in 1865 in Burstow, Thomas born in 1868 in Worth, Esther born in 1870, Sarah Ann born in 1872, Henry born in 1874, Amos born in 1877 and Ambrose Sidney born in 1880. Henry and Sarah had Frank Herbert, their eighth child in 1885, the last six children all born in East Grinstead. Sarah’s death is recorded in the September quarter of 1888, aged only forty-three, but Henry is recorded as having married Elizabeth Arnold in the June quarter of 1888!
By 1891, the Harber family had split up; Thomas was working as a baker and was living at 7 Queens Road, East Grinstead. He had married Rosina who had been born in 1868 in Hawkhurst, Kent. Living with them was Thomas’s brother Henry working as a baker’s assistant. Agnes Amy had married James Weller born in 1865, who was working as an agricultural labourer. The census records that they were living at Holly Bush Cottage, next to Holly Bush Farm in East Grinstead [now part of Standen off Frampost Hollow, East Grinstead]. Living with them were Oliver Reginald Harber, the son of Agnes, born in 1889, and Sarah Ann, Ambrose Sydney and Frank Herbert Harber, three of Agnes’s brothers and sisters. Agnes’s father, Henry Harber, appears to be missing from the 1891 census, but considering his occupation as a charcoal burner, as given in 1901, he could have been out in the woods somewhere. It has not been possible to make any connection between Henry Harber and the William Harber who had been occupying Smugglers Cottage ten years earlier in 1891.
As already established, Henry Frederick Clare died in 1888, although Smugglers Cottage appears as part of the lands owned by the executors of the Clare’s throughout the first twenty years of the 20th century. Eventually, on 6th May 1920, the estate of Henry Frederick Clare was sold in five separate lots which included:
1) Borer’s Farm, purchased by Edward Nash of Horsham.
2) Bruce Cottage, purchased by Frederick Hill of7 New Square,Lincoln’s Inn,London.
3) Vigar’s Farm, purchased by John Edward Kingsbury of 123 Herne Hill,London, SE.
4) Privett’s Farm, purchased by John Waters of Burnt House Farm, Forest Row.
5) Mount Pleasant Cottage, purchased by Marc Ceppi of Church Road, Crawley.
It is not clear whether Smugglers Cottage was sold as part of Borer’s Farm in 1920 or whether it was incorporated into any of the four other lots. However, by about 1925, William Anthony Rayner had purchased Smugglers Cottage, along with his wife Letitia Emily.
By 1935, William Rayner had also purchased Felcot and Forge Farm situated in Furnace Wood and his occupation was given as an estate agent in the schedule of deeds. William Rayner was born in the Croydon Registration District in the December quarter 1885. The Rayner’s did not move to Felcot and Forge Farm, leasing it to Hubert Sherman Sanderson, a farmer, for the sum of £1,600.00 in September 1935. However, by 1939, in a subsequent lease on Felcot and Forge Farm, William Rayner was listed as an incorporated accountant. The Land Tax records continue to list William Rayner as the owner/occupier of Smugglers Cottage until at least 1949, although Letitia Rayner was recorded as a widow on the sale of Felcot and Forge Farm in April 1947.
Historically, Smugglers Cottage had never had a name attached to it, even as late as 1830 it was merely described as ‘a cottage and 1 acre of land at Copthorne held by lease granted to Drew Russell, Ann his wife and Drew their son, dated 16th July 1694’. Throughout the census listings from 1841 to 1901 it was described simply as ‘Cottage, Copthorne Road’, ‘Cottage, East Grinstead Way’, or merely ‘Crawley Down’. The name ‘Smugglers’ Cottage’ does not appear until 1932, in an article written by Viscountess Wolseley for the Sussex County Magazine.
Smugglers Cottage is described as [much abridged]:
‘The doorway admits you at once to the oldest portion where possibly at one time there was a hearth in the centre of the floor, long before the present recessed open hearth had been placed on the north side of the tiny room. Everything including the seat within the ingle and the Gothic-shaped cupboards for salt is on a small scale matching the size of the room. The oven was once on the left but has been removed and the hearth has been modernised, but certain objects like the great iron hooks up the chimney, the scooped out portion of the ingle where knives were sharpened and the date 1730 on the hearth-beam have all been carefully preserved. Of course, the house is a mediaeval one and this date was only an afterthought of one of the owners. One guesses its extreme age in various ways and in especial by the diminutive doors on the east and west sides which must have been even lower when the floor of this room was higher that it now is.
As far as I could see the ceiling-beams only showed one small specimen of chamfering and this was a very delicately cut spear shape, again of diminutive size.
The wall beams had assembly marks in Roman numbers and these had been freely used, giving one the impression that when the house was built some great trees had been felled to make a forest clearing and then these huge limbs were carefully selected and numbered, so that they could easily be put together for this fairy’s dwelling.
From the first room we passed beneath the low old doorway on the east side to what had once been the dairy, a beamed room, and beyond it, but now united to it, was a queer irregular shaped plaster and beam stable. This, with its small modern fireplace surrounded by beautiful blue 16th century tiles showing pictures of sailing vessels and armed men, is a cosy parlour.
The west end of the house is modern and here is the dining room, the stairs, also modern, mounting from it and it is only after passing through the bedchamber, that we come again to the old part above the kitchen living- room where the old hall once ascended to the roof.
There is a cupboard leading out of this bedchamber and although the door to it is very low a man can stand upright within the closet.
There is yet another tiny door leading from this room to the old staircase, further east, which descends into the living-room below, but it is shut off by a massive door’.
It is interesting to note that at the end of the 19th century, tiles were being reproduced with the same designs that are found on the ‘beautiful 16th century tiles’ to be found in Smugglers Cottage. Unfortunately it has not been possible to determine whether the tiles date to the 16th century or are 19th century copies.
It is in the same article that the cottage is linked with smuggling, in particular, ‘King’ Colin Goodman. Viscountess Worlsey writes [much abridged]:
‘This very small ancient house, minute enough to have been built for a little fairy, is of very great interest. It was probably a hall place and appears to have been used by a smuggling gang who were connected with Colin Goodmans, near Nutley. The contraband goods used to be brought by barge from the sea, up the Ouse and its canal to The Sloop Inn, at Freshfield. From here the loot was distributed in different directions and some of it went by a trackway to the Smugglers’ Cottage at Crawley Down.
I am told that the oldest inhabitant at Crawley Down showed particular interest in the being whom he named ‘King’ Colin Godman, an untraceable individual apparently, except by name, but who was said to have been murdered in the cellar beneath the dining-room in the ancient house [near Nutley] which has been named after him and which his ghost is said to frequent.
The trackway that I have alluded to, that went from Freshfield to the Smuggler’s Cottage over hills and valleys, emerges within a stone’s throw of the little house upon the road to Felbridge, not far from where there used to be a toll-gate and a dame school, both now things of the past. An old weather beaten stile is where they crossed the road turning soon to the left they crept along a track beneath the west end of Smugglers’ Cottage and continued their “run” in a northerly direction.
There is a wood close by named “Gallows Wood”. The name arose from a member of the smugglers’ gang having betrayed them and so he was hung by his confederates when they discovered hid faithlessness to them.
It is from this article that all following accounts of Smugglers Cottage seem to be based. The Crawley Down Coronation Programme of 1953 talks about Smugglers Cottage thus:
‘At the Northern end of the Parish, near Snow Hill, stands Smugglers’ Cottage, which dates back to the Mediaeval times. Here in ancient times a gang of smugglers used to bring in their silks, brandy, tobacco and tea from its main centre at Nutley. The latter was run by a legendary character called Colin Goodman’.
Again the 1986, a newspaper article written by Les Optiz appeared in the Observer which stated:
‘Not far from the Dukes Head at Crawley Down along the road to Felbridge, stands an attractive tiled cottage with old oak beams and leaded light windows. This is known as Smugglers Cottage and, as far as it is known, it dates back to 1385.
Originally this was a small house consisting of a hall place only with a cellar and it is said to have been used by a gang of smugglers.
Such illicit trading was all too prevalent in Sussex in earlier times. A popular ‘run’ from the coast was from Newhaven to London via Ashdown Forest along less frequented tracks, much of which apparently still exists, to Smugglers Cottage.
To alert the local inhabitants that goods were approaching, a watch tower at a property called Colin Godmans near Danehill was used in conjunction with a beacon light on the Downs near the coast. Colin Godmans, described as an untraceable individual except by name, was said to have been murdered in the cellar at Smugglers Cottage and that his ghost still remains.
A very old house by the name of Colin Godmans has existed in the parish of Danehill for many years and it is possible there are connections with the past.
Opposite Smugglers Cottage, near the road, a large oak tree still stands to this day. It was here that another death was claimed when a smuggler was apparently hanged after betraying his colleagues’.
The Viscountess Wolseley article, on which this appears to be based, stated that Colin Goodman was murdered in the ‘cellar beneath the dining-room in the ancient house which has been named after him’, that is to say Colin Godman’s near Nutley and not Smugglers Cottage at Snow Hill. The article also adds the following:
‘But another mystery has more recently been added to the history of the cottage. The present occupants appear to have been left in peace from earlier ghosts and instead the crying of a baby has often been heard.
The mother, on hearing one of her two children crying, has more than once gone upstairs to investigate only to find them both sound asleep. Local gossip has it that a child had previously been murdered in the house’.
During most the 1990’s Smugglers Cottage was on the market and several estate agents details state:
‘It is said that the owner in the early days traded in illegal contraband, and whether or not the tale is true has been lost in the midst of time’.
In 1993, Jenny Bunting of Bowers Place re-tells a story that appeared in the ‘Crawley Down Coronation Programme’ in her section of the booklet ‘Crawley Down Village and Church – the first 150 years’:
‘Perhaps the most colourful character to have lived in the Crawley Down area is a lady whom we know only by reputation. At a time when our part of Sussex was well acquainted with activities of smugglers, brandy, tobacco and tea were taken along a well concealed, sunken path near where Crawley monastery now stands, to the local depot for contraband at Smugglers Cottage. It is said that this nameless local lady used her legitimate carrier business as a cover for her participation in the illegal trade, driving her cart with the reins held in her teeth thus freeing her hands to brandish her two pistols. Her cart is said to have borne the mark of bullets from the Revenue officers guns’.
The millennium book, ‘Copthorne – the story so far’, also recants similar stories about Smugglers Cottage. However, Joy Day the author of the particular section that includes smuggling activity, decided to question the origin of the tales. Her research found the following in an article written by William Albury on Sussex Smuggling and Smuggling:
‘One of the most notorious smugglers at the beginning of the 19th century was a native of the forest, Jack Akehurst, who grew up in Copthorne. He was in league with the Horsham attorney, Old Sonny Elliott, whose house in the Carfax often contained two gallon casks of spirits that were hidden among the hay and straw in the stables.’
Joy Day continues:
‘Records show a Samuel Akehurst is recorded as owner of Akehurst Farm in the Tithe Records of 1839 and according to the Inclosure Map of 1855, owner of land along the Bank [an area in Copthorne] where the allotments are now. Akehurst drove a wagon and two horses down to the coast to pick up illicit brandy. The tale goes that Mrs Akehurst sat on a keg while the customs officer searched the place – her crinoline covered the keg thus avoiding detection’.
Joy Day also found an article in the Surrey and Sussex Border Church publication that recalled:
‘Widow Borah, who lived in a little cottage at Copthorne, picturesque outside but rather dark and damp within, had a son, now a big lad, too big and self-willed to go with her to the meeting, and associating with some others that were no good. Out of an evening, the obscure alehouse, idling all day Sunday, no one or no organisations to help uplift, he drifted down, nearly breaking his mother’s heart. Becoming associated in some way with the night riders, there was a posse of armed Preventive man and while others, well horsed, got away, he was struck down and handcuffed and marched off to jail’.
There is no doubt that the Snow Hill area saw smuggling activity, as did the surrounding areas of Felbridge, Crawley Down and Copthorne, and many of the surnames referred to in the stories can be found living in the area when smuggling was in its heyday, between 1700 and 1840.
In peak years, smuggling accounted for about a quarter of all of England’s overseas trade, employing up to 40,000 people at a time. Smugglers in Kent and Sussex, being the closest to the London markets and the Continent, were considered leaders in the trade. It is estimated that in 1782, a quarter of all smuggling vessels that were operating around the coast of England and Wales were based on the South-East coast. Also, a third of all tea and over half the gin that illegally entered Britain was landed in the South-East.
The smuggling trade fluctuated with the rise and fall of the iron industry, which in turn was affected by the warring status of Britain. After 1720, there was a rapid expansion of smuggling due to the sharp decline of the iron industry. Britain was not at war and blast furnaces were closing across the Wealden area reducing its inhabitants to acute poverty. Farm workers could only expect to earn between 7/- and 8/- a week whereas a smuggler, if all went well, could expect to earn 10/- a night.
Evidence suggests that by 1780, armed convoys of hundreds of smugglers left the South-East coast more frequently and regularly than the stage coaches, their routes all funnelling into London. Several of the main routes are known. One route ran via Ashdown Forest which provided an excellent temporary storage for contraband, with known hiding places at Sheffield Park, and the villages of Buxted, Fairwarp, Duddleswell and Nutley, being generally associated with the East Sussex coastline. Contraband landed in the Brighton and Worthing area often went north through Lindfield, where 300 laden horses were seen on one occasion in 1782. Contraband landed further west went first to the markets of Horsham, and there is evidence that Crawley and Copthorne were for a time local gang headquarters for goods heading for Reigate in Surrey.
One can only speculate as to which route Snow Hill was associated, perhaps the same route that coal was legitimately carried to the area by teams of oxen that would collect coal brought by barge up the Ouse canal to Lindfield. Or, perhaps Snow Hill was a temporary storage area for contraband heading from the Brighton and Worthing area or from Horsham to Reigate. Or, perhaps the area was associated with the smuggling activities from the East Sussex area, although logic should dictate that contraband would travel via the most direct route to London and not branch across country which would be the case from Nutley to Snow Hill. As already established, there are several smugglers surnames associated with the Snow Hill area, and there is no doubt that smuggling activities occurred in the area, but there is currently no evidence in the area for a smuggler called Colin Goodman.
Smugglers Cottage as it is today
By 1958, Smugglers Cottage had become the property that it is today, save a few minor alterations. Verbal tradition suggests that the majority of the alteration occurred during the ownership of the Rayner’s. From map evidence between 1910 and 1958, the building to the southeast of Smugglers Cottage, disappeared, and the addition on the west side of the Smugglers Cottage that had been added by 1874 was either demolished or incorporated into the larger extension that you see today. There is a local belief that the current extension was the work of Blunden Shadbolt, a locally based architect working during the first half of the 20th century who specialised in producing contemporary houses and extensions using ancient and traditional materials and methods of construction. These properties are now difficult to distinguish from genuine old buildings. A couple of examples of Blunden Shadbolt’s work in the locality include, Paygate on the West Park Road in Felbridge, and The Old House Restaurant, formerly Brook Cottage, in Burstow. The extension on Smugglers Cottage has a strangely angled corner on its northwest side and the reason for this is that the west side of the extension abuts the line of the public footpath as it appears on the O/S map of 1910 and the corner is angled to match the change in direction of the footpath at this point. The 1958 O/S map also shows that the boundary between Smugglers Cottage and Smugglers Barn Cottage had been altered since 1910.
From photographic evidence dated 1932, it is also possible to compare the appearance the south face of Smugglers Cottage to that of today. In 1932 the extension to the west was the only part of the house to have leaded light windows; the remainder had pairs of four-pane casement windows. Since this extension was erected in the late 1920’s/early 1930’s, a second extension was put on to the west and north sides of it giving the curious cut-off corner that appears on the 1958 map. The two first floor windows in the south elevation of 1932 have not been raised into the roof as they are today. Since 1932, two windows have also been cut into the south wall of the catslide, abutting to what was the original end of the cottage, and the timber framing has also altered in this section. The catslide structure ended in line with the original north face of the cottage in 1932 and has since acquired an east/west, two-storey structure abutting it and a north/south structure abutting that. The sill beam that ran the full length of the cottage and catslide structure on the south side was in situ in 1932 but today ends on the west side of the porch.
It is known that the footpath that runs along the west side of Smugglers Cottage was blocked off and closed at some point in the early 20th century by the then owner of Smugglers Cottage. Verbal tradition recalls that the occupants of the Snow Hill area demonstrated their disapproval of this action and the inconvenience caused. One way for the inhabitants of the local area to show their disapproval to any such action was for the person in the ‘wrong’ to suffer ‘Rough Music’, and this was one of the last times that it was performed in the locality.
‘Rough Music’ was performed by a group of local inhabitants, men, women and youths, who would gather outside the offender’s house, usually in early evening. Each member of the group would be armed with something that made a ‘din’, pots, pans, tin cans or kettles with stones inside, sticks and tin trays, bells, whistles, anything that would make a deafening noise. The group would march round and round the property for about an hour, or in some cases all night. This action could be repeated on several nights and on the last occasion the group would throw all the implements used to make the ‘din’ into the victim’s garden. Having made their point it was hoped that the recipient would mend their ways, which in the case of the owners of Smugglers Cottage they did, as the footpath was re-opened.
It was not only offences against the community that faced ‘Rough Music’ as another known occasion, which has been passed down by word of mouth in the Felbridge area, was of a couple who lived in a cottage on Hedgecourt Common. The husband had beaten his wife and to show communal disapproval, he too was treated to several nights of ‘Rough Music’.
As already established Letitia Raynor was still living at Smugglers Cottage in 1947, but it has not yet been established when she sold Smugglers Cottage. However, in September 1958 her home address was given as Cambalt Cottage, Wire Mill Lane, when she sold Felcot and Forge Farm to Kenneth Ernest Deacon Housman, implying that she must have sold Smugglers Cottage sometime between 1947 and 1958. Verbal tradition suggests that Letitia Rayner had moved from Smugglers Cottage by the early 1950’s and by the late 1950’s it was bought a man who worked for Marks and Spencers, called Mr Beard, but little else is known about him or his family, or when he sold the property or to whom.
However, map evidence shows that between 1958 and 1978, the footpath on the west side of Smugglers Cottage had been moved further to the west, allowing enough space for a garage to be built. Extra depth had been added to the kitchen area on the north side of the property and a loggia structure had either been built onto something at the northeast corner of the property, or occupied the same space as the structure that appeared on the 1958 map. The loggia structure had a room over at first floor level but was open beneath, the room being supported on brick pillars. It is also believed that during the twenty years in question, a wine cellar had been fitted out in a structure below ground level to the east of Smugglers Cottage. This structure may possibly have been an air raid shelter that was later converted to hold a wine store. The structure is now in a serious state of repair and is unused.
In about 1978, Smugglers Cottage was bought by Mr and Mrs DuPlooy who lived there for about twelve years. Around this date Smugglers Cottage was given a Grade II listing being described as:
‘Restored 17th century or earlier timber-framed cottage with plaster infilling. Tiled roof. Casement windows. One storey and attic. Two windows. Two hipped dormers. Modern addition in imitation timbering to the west’.
The DuPlooy’s first advertised Smugglers Cottage for sale in 1988, being advertised again in 1989, 1990, and 1992 when it was described as:
‘A unique property with a fascinating history, Smugglers Cottage at Snow Hill was once home to Colin Goodman and the central portion is thought to date to 1385.
According to the sole agent, Howard Cundy, Colin Goodman was one of the smugglers who travelled from the south coast via a waterway system to Nutley, where contraband was stored, and then went across land using little known footpaths to their homes.
Now Grade II listed, his cottage still has its original wattle and daub elevations with brick additions, leaded light windows and exposed timber framework under a clay tiled roof.
There is masses more woodwork inside with exposed beams and numerous character features include an inglenook fireplace in the hall, latch doors and three staircases.
Improvements completed by the present owners include refitting the kitchen with oak units and downstairs shower room with a Victorian suite and gold plated taps. The oil fired central heating system has been updated.
The cottage stands in grounds of two thirds of an acre.
The first staircase is in the main entrance hall which leads into the sitting room, where there is a recessed fireplace. The second stairway is in the dining room.
From the kitchen/breakfast room a low latch door goes through a passageway leading to the shower room. An attractive whitened brick archway goes into the utility room from the kitchen, then through to the conservatory.
Doors from the kitchen also lead to the third staircase at the rear going up to bedroom one, a triple aspect room which makes up a separate annexe with a kitchenette at one end and an adjoining bathroom. A wooden external staircase goes down to the garden from the bedroom.
There are four more bedrooms, all with built-in wardrobes or cupboards, the second bedroom having access into the third bedroom which has a recessed fireplace and oak bressumer beam.
A brick garage is outside and there is extra parking space in the driveway.
Gardens at the front consist of paved paths with a lawn, shrubs and screening conifers, rose beds, rhododendrons and a paved sun terrace.
A good sized paved terrace, also a raised sun terrace, are at the back along with well stocked shrub and herbaceous borders and a level lawn.
A green house and timber shed are in the well maintained gardens. Offers in the region of £210,000.’
The advertisement draws upon the smuggling details that appeared in the 1932 article written by Viscountess Wolseley for the Sussex County Magazine and a date that first appeared in Les Opitz’s article in 1986. However, this does provide a fairly accurate description of the interior of Smugglers Cottage.
It had not yet been established when the Duploys eventually sold the property but on 23rd May 1994, Morgan and Michelle Victoria Phillips were listed as the proprietors of Smugglers Cottage. Morgan Phillips was a builder by trade and it was he who enclosed the loggia area to the northeast of the property making another internal room. The property then appeared on and off the market for the next seven years, with steadily reducing offers requested in the region of £270,000, to £245,000. In 1999, with rising house prices, Smugglers Cottage was advertised requesting offers in the region of £495,000, eventually being sold to Richard and Susan Bateman in 2001, at less than the asking price.
Smugglers Cottage was built on the northern fringe of Copthorne Common in the manor of South Malling – Lindfield. The first known lease dates to 16th July 1694, when a 200-year lease of ‘a cottage and 1 acre of land’ was granted to Drue Russell of Worth, his wife Anne and their son Drue. Structural evidence suggests that the property had been built between 1600 and 1650, and documentary evidence suggest that a community was well established in the Snow Hill area by the mid 1600’s.
For the next 186 years, the lease was held by a succession of owners, most of whom tenanted the property out. From the occupations given of the tenants in various documents and archival records, the cottage was of fairly low status by the mid 1800’s.
On 1st November 1880, the cottage was enfranchised to Henry Frederick Clare making it a freehold property. The cottage remained part of some twenty-six acres of the Snow Hill area that had been amassed by the Clare family until 1920 when it was sold as part of one of five lots put up for auction by the executors of the Clare’s. And around 1925 the cottage was purchased by William Anthony Rayner and his wife Letitia Emily.
Historically, the cottage had never had a name attached to it, even as late as 1830 it was merely described as ‘a cottage and 1 acre of land at Copthorne held by lease granted to Drew Russell, Ann his wife and Drew their son, dated 16th July 1694’. The name ‘Smugglers’ Cottage’ did not appear until 1932 when an article written by Viscountess Wolseley appeared in the Sussex County Magazine, and it is from this article that all subsequent smuggling stories have been attributed to the property.
The Rayners retained the property until the early 1950’s and over the past fifty or so years it has had at least five owners, the current owners being Richard and Sue Bateman, at whose request this document has been generated.
CrawleyDown Coronation Souvenir Programme
Crawley Down Village and Church – The first 150 years…
Copthorne – the story so far
The Place Names of Sussex by J Glover
The Iron Industry of the Weald by Cleere and Crossley
The Place Names of Surrey
Bourd Map, 1748
Lease, 1694, ACC2327/1/5/17/31, ESRO
Court Book for the manor of South Malling – Lindfield, ACC 2371/1/5/6, ESRO
A Dictionary of old Trades, titles and Occupations by C Waters
Apprenticeship agreements – Russell/Waldrapper, PAR 360/33/1/8, WSRO
Recording Timber-framed Buildings by Alcock, Barley, Dixon and Reed
The development of the timber-framed buildings in the Sussex Weald by D Chatwin
Parish Registers for Worth
Parish Registers for Horne
Parish Registers for Crawley Down
Parish Registers for East Grinstead
Sussex Marriage Index
Surrey Marriage Index
Cooper/Crouch Lease, 1702, PAR 516/10/6, WSRO
Conveyance Russell/Garden, 1710, PAR 516/10/9, WSRO
Conveyance Russell/Harbour, 1771, MSS 35627-8, WSRO
Figg map, 1830, ACC2327/1/5/15, ESRO
Book of reference to the Figg Map, ACC2327/1/5/15, ESRO
Hedgecourt Court Book, Box 3151, SRC
Land Tax Records for Worth, MF656, WSRO
Will of John Allingham, ADD MSS 25944, WSRO
Will of Henry Allingham, Prob 11/1037 TNA
Will of Thomas Lidbetter, A75, p106, WSRO
Tenants list, 1829, ACC 2327/1/5/16, ESRO
Tenants list, 1830, ACC 2327/1/5/12, ESRO
Worth Tithe map and apportionment, WSRO
Mid Sussex Poor Law Records, 1601 – 1835
Census 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901
Oxford Companion to Local and Family History
74-year Lease, 1806, ACC2327/1/5/17/48, ESRO
1st Edition O/S Map, 1874, 25”OS IV/3, WSRO
Court Book for South Malling – Lindfield, ACC2327/1/5/10, ESRO
Court Book for South Malling – Lindfield, ACC2327/1/5/8, ESRO
2nd Edition O/S Map, 1898, 25” OS IV/3, WSRO
O/S Map, 1910, FHA
Smugglers Cottage by Viscountess Wolseley, SCM, vol 6, ESRO
Schedule of Deeds for Felcot and Forge Farm, FHA
Kelly’s Directories, 1934, 1938, ESRO
CrawleyDown Coronation Programme, 1953, FHA
Church used to hide smuggled brandy and silk, by Les Opitz, EGO article, 1986, FHA
Estate Agent sales details, EGC/EGO, 1992 -2000, FHA
Crawley Down Village and Church, 1993
Copthorne – the story so far, 2000
Smuggling in Kent and Sussex 1700-1840, by M Waugh
Smuggling in Sussex by W Cooper
O/S Map, 1958, FHA
Biographical details, Shadbolt, RIBA
Documented memories of K Housman, FHA
Documented memories of B Salmon, FHA
O/S Map, 1978, FHA
Documented memories of Mrs DuPlooy, FHA
Sales particulars for Smugglers Cottage, EG Courier/Observer, FHA
O/S Map, 1982, FHA
Land Registry document, FHA
Our thanks are extended to Richard and Sue Bateman, the current owners, for their patience and understanding during the time spent surveying their home.