Wall Hill Farm & The Link To Gullege

Wall Hill Farm, Forest Row and the link to Gullege

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This is a work in progress, it opens up a large number of avenues for further research. To aid other researchers in this area, I have included extended transcripts of the documents within the text and referenced them as fully as possible. I am fully aware of the excellent work of Mr Dyson and Mr Leppard with regards to Wald[1]/Spartenden[2]/Ashurst[3], but due to time limitations I have not attempted to align my findings with their research which is highly likely to lead to more areas of investigation and discussion.

This paper started as an investigation into the location of ‘Spartenden’ [or similar] which is mentioned in documents relating to Gullege. The last reference was from 1877 when “William James is freed from all manorial rights to the freehold that he holds called Sprattenden in East Grinstead late Simms before Clears before Earl of Burlington’s formerly the Earl of Northampton’s for the yearly rent of 10s with all that piece of land situate at Chailey Common in Fletching 3r 30p and No.61 on the map annexed to the award of the valuer acting in the matter of the inclosure of the waste lands of the said Manor and which was allocated under the said inclosure in respect of the before mentioned tenement.” He paid £30 to be released of the manorial rights[4]. The deed does not state which manor has released its rights on Sprattenden, but they must also have held lands on Chailey Common to allocate nearly an acre of it to the freeholder of Sprattenden when it was enclosed.

Samuel Simms had purchased Gullege from William Clear in 1852[5] and William Clear had succeeded Lord George Cavendish [Earl of Burlington] and Elizabeth his wife. Lady Elizabeth Compton, who married George Cavendish, was the heir of Rt. Hon. Charles Earl of Northampton who held Gullege in 1764[6]. So the ownership of Sprattenden follows the same descent as Gullege from at least 1764 to 1877 implying a link between the properties. To find the location of Sprattenden the local manorial records were checked starting with Bysshe Court which was the manor holding Gullege. In 1853 Samuel Simms was the freeholder of ‘Gullidge, Cockmans & Cockmans Mead’ [1 messuage and 200 acres of land] at the quit rent of 5s 2d[7]. So Sprattenden could not be a part of this property as the quit rent is significantly below the 10s in the release.

The manor of Broadhurst also holds land around Gullege. Their records indicate that they released their rights to William James in 1877, as the same 10s rental is in an entry from 1825 when Lord George Henry Cavendish was presented for freely holding lands called Sprattenden in East Grinstead at a quit rent of 10s[8].

Mr Leppard proposed that Spartenden was associated with land at Forest Row, known as Spanden Wood and that its names could be derived from the manor of Sperchedene which was listed in the hundred of [East] Grinstead in the Domesday Book[9]. He was also interested in the rental of ‘land at Ashurst’ which he had identified as being granted to William de Waux by William son of Walter in about 1230 for an ongoing rent of 20s, this rental was then passed to Lewes Priory by William son of Walter[10]. Lewes Priory held the manor of Imberhorne and this land holding appears in the Imberhorne records as ‘John Leedes esq pays 20s rent for lands at Ashurst or Ashurst Wood’[11]. Mr Leppard kindly provided me with a list of known references to Spartenden from his records, these showed entries had also been found in the manors of Ashurst, Sheffield-Grinstead and Imberhorne[12]. Therefore the manorial search was expanded, resulting in the following summarised information.



1677   William Greene Baronet died holding certain land called Spartenden in East Grinstead being east of Royal highway from Forest Row to East Grinstead.

1751   Spencer Earl of Wilmington holds Sprattenden a freehold in East Grinstead, 10s.

1755   Death of Earl of Northampton for lands in East Grinstead called Sprattenden, 10s. Devised same to nephew Charles Compton

1825   Lord George Henry Cavendish holds lands called Sprattenden in East Grinstead late Charles Compton’s and before the Earl of Northampton’s. 10s.



1677   William Green holds land called Spartenden at 3s 4d rent which abuts the road from Cowden to Forest Row on the east, land of Robert Goodwin on North, & part of manor of Wallhill south and west.

1730   Alienation of William Peck eldest (son and heir of William Peck) to Randyll Peck, his brother, the land called Spartenden at 3s 4d rent. In 1731 the same was conveyed to the Rt. Hon. Mathew Lant. The will of Matthew Lant passed it to Rt. Hon. Spencer Earl of Wilmington in 1741.

1764   Rt. Hon. Charles Earl of Northampton held land called Spartenden at 3s 4d rent. Lady Elizabeth Compton is his only daughter and heir.

1788   Rt. Hon. Lord George Henry Cavendish in right of his wife the Rt. Hon. Lady Elizabeth Compton holds lands called Spartenden at 3s 4d rent.



1557   John Ledes Gent. holds certain lands in East Grinstead at rent of 20s ‘but where they lie they know not’.

1608   Death of John Leedes esq who held land called Ashurst alias Ashurst wood for 20s rent. Thomas Leeds Kt. is his eldest son and heir.

1614   Thomas Leede Kt. holds by knights service and rent of 20s certain land called Ashehurst alias Ashehurst Wood lately alienated the premises to Sackvil Turner Esq.

1619   Present that Sackvile Turner esq holds by knights service and rent of 20s certain land called Ashehurst alias Ashehurst Wood lately alienated the premises to Mathew Caldicott Gent.

1640   Manor of Asherst in East Grinstead lately Sackville Turner and before Thomas Leedes. Rental 20s.

1671   Death of Sir William Greene Baronet who held the manor of Ashurst in East Grinstead for rent of 20s.

1674   The heirs of Sir William Greene Baronet for the manor of Ashurst £1.

1686   William Peck Esq. in right of his wife for the manor of Asherst alias Wallhill paying yearly £1.

1743   Rt. Hon. Spencer Earl of Wilmington held the manor of Ashurst with appurtenances late the Earl of Wilmington before Mathew Lant Esq. before Pecks and before that Sir William Greens at the rent of 20s. Rt. Hon. Earl of Northampton is his nephew and heir.

1756   Rt. Hon. Charles Compton Esq. held the manor of Ashurst lately the Earl of Northampton’s for the rent of 20s.

1766   Death of Rt. Hon. Charles Earl of Northampton holding the manor of Ashurst for rent of 20s, lately the Hon. Charles Compton’s before the Rt. Hon. James Earl of Northampton’s. Lady Elizabeth Compton is his only daughter and heir.

1826   Rt. Hon. Lord George Henry Cavendish for the manor of Ashurst late the Earl of Northampton before the Earl of Wilmington and formerly Peck’s. £1. A later hand has entered ‘late the Earl of Burlington’ and ‘William Pearless gent’, then in red ‘Enfranchised’.



1485 John Alfray for tenement Wayld Smythe 14s 9d, heirs of Walter Wodeman hold a parcel of the same 2s 5¼d.

1558   John Ledes holds land called Wald and Smythe, 14s 9d.

1597   John Leedes holds tenement and lands called the Wilde 14s 9d.

1619   Sackville Turner sold to Matthew Caldicott the messuage and land called le Weild alias Walehill at rent of 14s 9d.

1644   Richard Fowle gent & Martha his wife & Robert Burdet and Bennet his wife hold messuage & barn called le Weild alias Walehill and 100ac of land lately the land of Mathew Caldicot and before Sackvile Turner and previously Thomas Leeds Kt. lately in the tenure of Richard Maynard and now in tenure of Drewe Wicken. Rent 14s 9d

1671   Sir William Green Baronet for Walehill 14s 9d.

1684   Park Esq for the farm & lands called Waldhill alias the Wild 14s 9d.

1847   Rt. Hon. Wm. Earl of Burlington died holding a farm & lands called Wall Hill otherwise The Wild for rent of 14s 9d, late Earl of Burlington’s before Fontbratton’s and formerly Parke’s.

1854   Present the Rt. Hon Wm Earl of Burlington who helds freely at the rent of 14s 9d a farm & lands called Wall Hill otherwise The Wild, late Earl of Burlington before Foulbratton’s and formerly Packe’s lately alienated the said property to Rev. Mark Aloysuis Tierney and Edward Norris Gent.

1877   Charles William Bell of Bramblehurst holds a farm and lands called Wall Hill otherwise The Wild, at the rent of 14s 9d, late Tierney’s and Norris’ before the Earl of Burlington before Fontbrattons and formerly Pache’s. Enfranchised 12 Feb 1877.

Thus we have Broadhurst manor receiving 10s rent for the land called Spartenden, the manor of Sheffield-Grinstead receiving 3s 4d rent for land called Spartenden; the manor of Buckhurst receiving 14s 9d rent for ‘le Weild alias Walehill’ later ‘farm & lands called Wall Hill otherwise The Wild’; and the manor of Imberhorne receiving 20s rent for ‘land called Ashurst alias Ashurst Wood’ which from 1640 is described as ‘the manor of Ashurst’ and later ‘Wallhill’. These four manors also have the same progression of freeholders where their dates coincide; Leedes-[Turner-Caldicott[17]]-Greene-Peck-Lant-Earl of Wilmington- Earl of Northampton-Compton-Cavendish-[Burlington17]-[Peerless[18]]. This implies that these are most probably rentals of one single property whose rental is divided amongst these manors. This is further reinforced by the rental to Buckhurst stated in the 1606 Leedes IPM (page 10 item 2) as 13s 4d, because when added to the Broadhurst and Sheffield-Grinstead rents it gives a total of 26s 8d which is 2 silver marks, a common early medieval quit rent for a Knights’ fee. The division of the rental is 1 mark to Buckhurst, then ¾ mark to Broadhurst and ¼ mark to Sheffield-Grinstead.

This type of subdivision of a rent is often associated with division of income between co-heirs. If this is the case for the manor of Ashurst, then this sub-division would require a common link for the manors of Buckhurst, Broadhurst and Sheffield-Grinstead. Buckhurst has been held by the Sackville family from the early 12th century[19], whilst Broadhurst was held by William De Cahaignes in 1086 and by Roger de Leukenors when in 1276 he married Joan, the heiress of the Keynes[20], Sheffield was held by the de la Warr family from 1292. Tracing the early medieval lineage of these families to determine when the quit rental division occurred will not be covered here.

The rental to Imberhorne is not within the 2 marks as this is the ongoing rent of 20s that was granted c1230 to Lewes Priory, but it is identified as the manor of Ashurst and Wall Hill, the latter being the same name as the property paying its rent to Buckhurst manor. It is worth looking at the records for the manor of Ashurst which are titled as ‘Ashurst alias Grinsted Wild alias Wallhill manor’ these contain references to a property called Upper Spartenden.


1728   Death of John Conyers who holds messuage & lands, 30ac called Upper Spartenden 2s 3d rent, Edward Conyers is his only son and heir.

1739   Alienation from Edward Conyers esq [son & heir of John Conyers Esq and Mary his wife niece and heiress of Susanna Goodwin spinster deceased] to Sir Thomas Webster Baronet of Battle Abbey of a freehold messuage & 30ac of land called Upper Spartenden 2s 3d rent with a toft & 1ac land 6d, all occupied by Richard Austen.

1786   Alienation from Sir Godfrey Webster to Richard Austin, Butcher of a messuage & 30ac land called Upper Spartenden 2s 3d rent with a toft & 1ac land 6d rent.

1843   Rt. Hon Charles Lord Colchester holds lands called Upper Spartenden late Pearless formerly Austin late in occupation of Edward Heaver and since Mrs Heaver 2s 3d rent with a toft & 1ac land 6d rent.

1849   Enfranchisement of the property to Rt. Hon. Charles Lord Colchester of Kidbrooke Park a messuage & 30ac land called Upper Spartenden 2s 3d rent with a toft & 1ac land 6d rent. The premises are a part and parcel of a certain farm belonging to Charles Lord Colchester called Pilstye.


Upper Spartenden is identified as being part of Pilstye Farm. Pilstye farmhouse still stands and is adjacent to the Mid-Sussex Timber yard at Forest Row. The 1843 manorial entry enables a check against the East Grinstead tithe indicating that Upper Spartenden is highly likely to be all of the land held by Pilstye [Pigstye] Farm west of the track that leads from the bridge and ford that used to be at Pilstye[22] up to Cansiron Lane. 22 acres of the land is above Spanden Wood with 2½a of meadow on the west of the track at the bottom of the hill very close to Pilstye Farm[23]. The overall acreage of 24½ compares adequately with the historic manorial recorded size of 30 acres.


The court books also provide the names of the Lords of Ashurst alias Grinsted Wild alias Wallhill manor of which a selection of dates are shown below[24]:


1691 William Peck Esq.

1730 Randall Peck

1733 Matthew Lant Esq.

1741 Spencer Compton 1st Earl of Wilmington

1743 James Compton 5th Earl of Northampton

1755 Charles Compton later 7th Earl of Northampton

1764 Elizabeth Compton

1783 George Augustus Henry Cavendish, later 1st Earl of Burlington

1832 William 2nd Earl of Burlington and 7th Duke of Devonshire

1842 Henry Charles Compton later 1st Baron Chesham

1848 William Pearless Esq.


We can see that the lords of the manor of Ashurst align with those paying the various rents to Sheffield-Grinsted, Buckhurst, Broadhurst and Imberhorne. This further supports the theory that these are all parts of the same holding as they are always owned by the same person and not split up which would be likely if they were diverse holdings that happened to be under the same ownership in the early period.

The location of the manor house for Ashurst manor is identified in the Brambletye court book for 1651 which states that its land called ‘Broadmead otherwise Barnefield Mead lies near the manor house of Wallhill’[25]. These fields can be identified on the 1842 Tithe map as being the fields on the north bank of the Medway and only 120 yards from Wall Hill Farm[26] and thus Wall Hill Farm was the manor house for the manor of Ashurst alias Grinstead Wild alias Wallhill in 1651.

Whilst investigating the potential location of Spartenden, we were offered the opportunity to study Wall Hill Farm at the bottom of Wall Hill, Forest Row and below Spanden Wood which is on the hill to the east of the Farm. Mr Leppard’s article on Sperchedene[27] had linked Spanden Wood to Wall Hill Farm and so the opportunity to study the property was gratefully accepted.

House Structure

The main building comprises of two ranges one north-south, the other east-west. There are later additions to the north elevation which are not considered in this report.  Whilst the current main road lies a distance to the south of the dwelling, until the 18th century the main road from East Grinstead towards Lewes passed round the north side of the property and then travelled parallel and within 15 yards of the east elevation[28]. The north-south range has end chimney stacks although they are at slightly different positions in relation to the roof ridge with the northern stack laying to the west of the ridge, whilst the southern stack is central to it. The east-west range also has an end stack located immediately south of the roof ridge. There is a fourth stack on the north face of the east-west range and this appears to be associated with the additions to the north elevation. All the stacks are similarly detailed, although the bricks used in the stacks are of different sizes.

The ranges are both two storey, the northern addition is single storey and all roofs are tiled. The north-south range is built upon a sandstone block plinth, the top edge of the plinth is chamfered and the vertical edges are chamfered for the door in the east elevation of this range, there is also clear evidence of a previous door in the west external elevation of the range. The east-west range is on a sandstone plinth but the blocks are square edged and no chamfer is present on any part of this plinth. The west end of the east-west range is English-bond brick infill with the north west corner post and associated tie-beam still visible. The south elevation of this range is also brick infill up to the wall plate and the wall post at the west end of the elevation is still visible.

The west elevation of the north-south range is tile hung above a Flemish bond brick ground floor. This continues around the south end with only the chimney as exposed brickwork above the ground floor. The chimney has been decorated with a diaper pattern using glazed headers. The east elevation continues with the tile hanging above Flemish bond brickwork, at the north end of this elevation is an inserted bay window using different sized bricks compared to the main facade. The door in this facade has a porch over it and a path that leads to a gate and steps down onto what was the main road. This would appear to have been the principle elevation until the main road was diverted. The whole of the north elevation is obscured by the single storey extension and a modern two storey addition at the east end.

The whole building is constructed on a landscape that slopes down from the north end, this leaves the south end of the building with a floor level significantly above the external ground level, whilst the north end is actually below the natural surrounding level and the ground has been lowered immediately around the building presumably to reduce issues with damp. Abutting the south end of the building is a group of farm buildings which were associated with the farm house (but now separately owned), these have been built on an excavated base such that their single storey eave height is below the floor level of the farm house.

[See Figure 1 for a floor plan] Considering the north-south range first; the roof structure consists of 5 bays and these are replicated on the ground floor although there are few timber wall posts visible anywhere in this range to confirm the current roof divisions match to earlier timber framing beneath the wall plate. The southern 3 bays now form a single room with ceiling beams aligning with ‘frames’ B & C. The internal width of this range is 14’2” and the bays are of irregular size A-B is 7’, B-C is 7’2”, C-D is 5’5”. The hearth is a large inglenook style with a bressummer which has a simple chamfer and a single daisy wheel design scribed into it. The blocked in doorway in the west wall lies immediately south of C.

‘A’ is the southern end of the range and the brickwork of the stack is external to the roof at the wall plate level, below this it protrudes into the south end of the range so on the ground floor the front of the hearth is within the first bay forming alcoves each side of the stack. The Bay D-E (7’4” wide) acts as a circulation passage and contains a stair for this range. Beneath the stair is the access down into the cellar beneath bay E-F.

There are timbers visible just below the first floor aligned with divisions B & C. There is also a surviving mid-rail visible on the west side of the range from D towards F. The west face of this is weathered and the infill above this rail is visible and contains timber studs. The doorway at the west end of the bay D-E has an oak door surround with an integral detailed moulding on the east side. Between the bottom of the stairs and partition D there is a timber in the ceiling with mortices that indicate a partition beneath it, this would have cut off the circulation to the west at this point. The current ground floor has a spacious 7’10” of headroom compared to the first floor which is 6’10”, there is no indication that the ground floor has been lowered.

Bay E-F is much larger at 11’4”, the only visible timber is above the inserted bay window in the east wall and this appears to be a later reused timber. There is a cellar beneath this bay, this is cut into the bedrock and built up with sandstone blocks.

The first floor layout replicates the partitions of the ground floor. The main visible timbers are the wall plates on the east and west walls. These have face halved and bladed (4 pegs on face) scarf joints between B-C, D-E and E-F on both sides. There are no visible peg holes in the wall for any posts. At B and C on the west wall there are 7” timbers that could be wall posts, the face of the timber at division C has clearly been hacked off and could have been jowled. The face of the timber below division B does not show comparative damage. There are matching sized timbers at B and C on the east wall. Both these eastern vertical timbers have matching peg holes 1’ down from the wall plate with another pair 2’6” below that and the final ones are only 8” below the last. The south chamber ceiling has an axial girder and reused timbers joisted into it, these include one timber which had formed a mullion window. There are a pair of wider joists that have dovetails on the end and are jointed into the top of the wall plate close to division C.

A tie-beam is clearly visible at E, and another is visible at the west end of F, at this point the underside of the tie-beam is visible and it was never jointed to accept a jowled wall post. There is no evidence of any timber below the wall plate to indicate a wall post was present at this location. The north stack is entirely outside the tie-beam at F. The ceiling is once again formed of an axial beam and reused timbers for joists.

The roof structure of this range has been reordered. The arrangement is now side purlin with raked struts, the raked struts are fully jointed and pegged into the tie beams aligned with divisions A to F, both the side purlins have nailed splayed scarf joints. None of the tie-beams, raking struts or side purlins are sooted. However, there are 9 pairs of sooted larger rafters that have been reused, these have the joint for a halved and pegged collar, they also have Roman numerals carved on them to pair them up, the numerals are unsooted in the carved grooves and the numbering is out of sequence. The collar joint indicates that these rafters were from a roof with a 60 degree pitch. The current roof has a 47 degree pitch. There are smaller sooted rafters that have been reused, but these do not have the collar joint on them. There are further rafters that are unsooted.  All rafter pairs are pegged at the top. The axial girders for the ceilings are staggered into the tie beams.

The east-west range is two bays with a width of 19’10”, the west bay is the larger at 14’9” and the east bay is 8’8”. The intersection of the two ranges is not double-framed thus the east bay is supported by the side north-south range. The west bay contains a hearth but this is positioned against the south end of the west wall, it has been significantly altered but is large enough to have been used for cooking. There is a 11”x11” axial girder in this bay, this has a chamfer with a deeper cut and then scroll run out at the east end, at the west end the chamfer continues into the stack. The axial girder has mortices beneath it for a partition along its underside except for a gap at the east end against partition H. There are chamfered floor joists jointed into the axial girder but resting upon the mid rail, the chamfer has a straight run out. The axial girder has cut off floor joist mortices at the bottom of the girder below every current floor joist, but these have nowhere to joint into the mid rail. The wall post is visible in the north west corner.

The east bay contains another stair against the east end. There is also an external door in the south east corner and access through into the later outshot in the north east corner. The mid rail is visible on the north wall and is weathered on the north side indicating that the outshot is a later addition.

On the first floor there are jowled wall posts on the north wall at G and H, the underside of the 11”x8” tie-beam at H is visible at the doorway between the two bays, a shake in the tie-beam has soot within it as do the mortices for a partition that was faced to the western side of this tie-beam. The discolouration indicates that this partition was only sooted on the east side of it and the west side is clean. There are mortices for a brace between the north wall post at H and the tie-beam. The wall plate is 7”x7” and has scribe marks in the west bay matching to intermediate studs that are visible beneath it, however these studs are interrupted by a rail midway between the floor and the wall plate, this gives approximately 3’ square wall panels. There are similar scribe marks in the east bay but the studs are not visible in this bay.

The west bay on the first floor has a 9”x9” axial girder with a 2” chamfer but no chamfer stops at either end, the ceiling height is about 1’ higher in this bay than the east bay and there is no partition beneath this girder.  The tie-beam at H has a cut out for a later doorway against the south wall.

The roof of this range has been reconstructed and is set at 42 degree pitch. The roof structure rests upon the roof of the north-south range at the eastern end. This roof is also side purlin with raked struts although in the east bay it has reused two lightly curved sooted wind braces for the struts, one of these is 12” wide. There are 18 rafter pairs which are a mixture of sooted and unsooted timbers all pegged at the top, again they are numbered but are not in sequence. There is one reused rafter in the east bay of this roof that has the joint for a collar exactly matching those re-used in the north-south range.  The infill associated with the step up in ceiling height between the east and the west bay is unsooted. The ceiling joists are all nailed into the west girder whilst the east bay are pegged. A doorway has been formed in the roof partition at H and there is a window in the west gable wall. The west bay also contains a lot of forged nails banged into the rafters, probably to act as hooks.

Structural discussion and suggested dating

The lack of original timbers in the north-south range causes considerable difficulty in identifying its original form. The use of face halved and bladed scarf joints in the wall plates is normally associated with the 17th century and this would appear to be contemporary to the installation of the unsooted tie beams with raking struts and side purlins as the roof structure. Thus all the timber above the walls does not appear to be original.

The absence of any provision for a wall post jowl connecting into the tie beams implies that at the time the wall plate was replaced the wall posts had either been removed (and replaced by infill) or were cut back as they were deemed unnecessary. The evidence that this was a timber framed building is the surviving mid rail along the west wall, which has probably only survived as it is the support for the east-west range. The fact that the roof divisions are matched on the ground floor divisions also indicates a former timber framed building. If the structure had been solid walls when it was first constructed, there is no structural reason to have the partitions of the floors aligned as all parts of the external walls are load bearing as compared to a timber structure where the wall posts are the load bearing elements and thus major partitions have to be aligned vertically.

The reuse of sooted purlins that have come from a roof with a 60 degree pitch is interesting as this indicates an early (possibly 14th century) donor roof structure to have such a steep angle, however, the donor roof may be unrelated to this site. The presence of one of the same rafters reused in the roof of the east-west range implies that this was inserted at the same time as the north-south range was re-roofed.

The east-west range is highly likely to post date the north-south range as it is supported by it, the only other explanation would be alternate rebuild, but the absence of surviving timbers in the north-south range compared to the survival in the east-west range would not support an alternate rebuild theory.

Figure 1 Plan of Wall Hill Farm


The survival of timbers in the east-west range below the wall plate does allow more interpretation. This was constructed as a 2 bay addition to the north-south range. The bays are of differing sizes and the sooting evidence on the first floor timbers shows that the east bay was smoke filled and partitioned from the west bay at the first floor. Thus the east bay was either an open hall or more likely a smoke bay with a first floor chamber to the west.

The west bay was originally floored and thus the partition below the axial girder represents the original partition of this bay into two. The chamfer stop in the axial girder being buried by the construction of the hearth also indicates that the flooring relates to an earlier method of heating such as the smoke bay. The scroll chamfer stop is indicative of the mid to late 16th century which is also a supported by the division of the external wall into square wall panels on the first floor which also dates to this period.  The west end of the roof space has clearly been used for accommodation, with the construction of a doorway and a window, the access into the roof space was probably in the location of the current attic steps as there is no other location available. The wall plate of the east-west range is lower than the north-south one which reduces the head height on the first floor, thus a lowering of the girder in the ground floor west bay and cutting new mortices for the floor joists to drop the first floor level by 6” combined with the raising of the ceiling in the first floor west bay have generated a more adequate first floor headroom.

Having determined a likely construction period for the east-west range of mid to late 16th century, it is worth reconsidering what the potential layout of the north-south range would have been as it is likely to have been built 50 to 100 years earlier based upon the weathering on the surviving mid rail.  At this date, the north-south range is most likely to have been constructed as an open hall house, there would appear to be no extension either north or south as the foundation blocks continue their chamfered carving around both the north and south ends of the current building. The uneven bay spacing then allows conjecture for the intended layout. The current east doorway and corridor DE through into the later range could have been a cross passage, but this would force bay EF to be the service end and either a single narrow bay hall CD and or a two bay hall B-D and an incredibly small solar AB. Neither of these are likely options for a building of this size. If the blocked up doorway on the west wall south of C was the site of the cross passage, this would enable A to C to be the service and passage, a 2 bay hall C-E but with uneven bay widths and the largest bay EF as the solar. Re-examining the sandstone plinth on the east wall B-C this shows significant disturbance and different colours of stone blocks aligned with the blocked up doorway on the opposite wall. It is possible that this supports a cross passage layout, but there is insufficient evidence to confirm the location of a passage.

The stacks are difficult to date but are likely to be 17th century although the brick sizes differ so they were not all added at once. The face halved and bladed scarf joint in the wall plate indicates that the roof replacement of the north-south range took place sometime in the 17th century and it seems likely that the east wall had been infilled with brickwork by this date, the use of thinner bricks in the south stack compared to the infilled wall implies that the stack was constructed before the main facade was replaced with brickwork. The presence of two staircases is indicative of dual occupancy, the staircase in the north-south range is the older of the two, and the evidence for a wall on the ground floor between these stairs and partition D would imply that the occupier of the east-west range had the access to the cellar.

It is concluded that this was most probably a north-south hall house from the 15th century, this was extended in the mid to late 16th century with a 2 bay addition on the west side including a smoke bay. In the 17th century major work was undertaken which included the reroofing of the north-south range and replacement of the wallplates and tie-beams. The vast majority of the timbers have been removed and this leaves very little evidence upon which to draw any better dating.

The Early History of Wall Hill Farm

Having identified that surviving parts of the house date from the 15th century, the early history of the property was researched to ascertain and clarify any links to Spartenden or Gullege. In the manorial records we have identified Sir William Greene Baronet was holding the property when his death was recorded in 1673. His last will and testament[29] assists us with how he came to hold this property as it states ‘my messuage, lands and tenements in the Parish of East Grinstead which I lately purchased from Drew Sherman I give to my wife Elizabeth and then daughter Gertrude’. Sir William lists no other properties in East Grinstead so this description must include Wall Hill. The descent of the property is also uncovered as Gertrude Greene married William Peck[30].

Drew Sherman was the son of Edward Sherman and Susan Sherman, where Susan was the daughter and co-heir of Robert Drewe[31] but Wall Hill does not appear to have descended down from Robert Drewe as he was only holding the manor of Brokehurst in East Grinstead when he died in January 1666.

An earlier reference to Wall Hill is when Edward Goodwyn died in 1637 as he was holding a few properties from the manor of Walhill amongst many other local properties;

And a messuage called Turners and le Leame at Forest Row in East Grinstead, messuage and land called the Upper Spartenden, a cottage and 1 acre of land and its cottage adjacent called Le Little Spartenden. Held of Sackville Turner Kt. and his manor of The Wild als Walhill for the rent of 3s 9d.

And a parcel of meadow called Bonie Mead in East Grinstead. Held of Sackville Turner Kt. and his manor of The Wild als Wallhill for the rent of 3d[32].

These lands were still held together as an entity in 1728 when John Conyers Esq. died holding a messuage and certain lands belonging containing 30 ac called Upper Spartenden 2s 3d rent; a toft and 1 ac land 6d rent; a parcel of meadow called Bonnymead 3d rent; messuage and 2 ac of land called The Catt near Forest Row 12d rent[33]. The 3s 9d rent in 1637 equating to Upper Spartenden, the toft and 1 acre of land and The Catt, the ‘toft and 1 acre of land’ being called Little Spartenden in 1637. All of these lands stayed together until 1787 when Sir Godfrey Webster sold to Joseph Tubb, Coachman, all that stable heretofore a messuage and lands called The Catt near Forest Row held for 12d rent[34]. This plot of land is where Chadder & Co.’s showroom is now situated on the south side of the Medway[35]. The toft and 1 acre of land remained with Upper Spartenden and Bonnymead until 1849 as part of Pilstye (Pigstye) Farm[36]. It therefore is most likely that Little Spartenden stood close to Pilstye Farm in the small parcel of land at the bottom of the hill on the east of the track from Forest Row to Cansiron Lane[37].

Whilst it is not possible to determine how and when Sir William Greene acquired Wall Hill, the previous owners of Wall Hill are known to have been Richard Fowle with Martha his wife and Robert Burdett with Bennett his wife who held it until at least 1644. It was described as a messuage and barn with 100 acres and the property had dual ownership as Martha and Bennett were the daughters of Matthew Caldicott Gent.[38] Matthew Caldicott had purchased Wall Hill from Sackville Turner in 1619[39], shortly after his marriage to Sackville’s youngest daughter Ann[40]. Between 1647 and 1654 there are a number of transactions recorded in feet of fines and deeds suggesting that shares of the property were sold by Martha and Bennett to William Sydenham[41], Henry Riley[42] and John Millington[43] although these names never appear in the various court records.

Sackville Turner purchased the manor of Ashurst in 1612 from Sir Thomas Leedes Kt. and Sir John Leedes Kt. for £100[44]. The manor was described as 1 messuage, 8 cottages, 1 barn, 1 garden, 1 orchard, 60 acres land, 40 acres meadow, 140 acres pasture, 100 acres wood and 100 acres heath and furze in East Grinstead, this description was repeated exactly the same in the 1647 indenture between Robert Burdett and Henry Riley.

Sir Thomas Leedes Kt. and Sir John Leedes Kt. were the sons of John Leedes Esq. of Wappingthorne, Sir Thomas was aged 40 and the heir when his father died in 1606[45]. John Leedes Esq. held various properties in East Grinstead when he died:-

1. The manor of Brockhurst held of the manor of Sheffield Grinsted at the rent of 4d;

2. The manor of Weild alias Walehill is held of Thomas Earl Dorsett of his manor of Buckhurst at the rent of 13s 4d and is worth 40s;

3. A messuage with land of the same adjoining in the tenure of John Underhill, held of the crown by the Borough of Eastgrinsted at the rent of 6½d and is worth 6s;

4. In another place parcells of land called Smythdeane and Spartendeane, Smythdene is held of the manor of Sheffield Grinsted at the rent of 3s 4d and is worth 5s; Spartendeane is held of Richard Michelborne Knight of his manor of Broadhurst at the rent of 10s and is worth 30s 4d;

5. In another place parcells of land called Barnefeild and Broadmead; held of the manor of Bramletty [Brambletye] at the rent of 12d and is worth 10s;

6. A certain wood called Ashurst Wood; held of Thomas Earl Dorsett of his manor of Imberhorne at the rent of 20s it is worth 2s;

7. A certain other parcel of land called La Leame; held of Thomas Earl Dorsett of his manor of Tablehurst at the rent of 11½d and is worth 10s;


Here are all of the parts of Ashurst, Wall Hill and Spartenden that we have seen previously in the various manorial records. The manor of Weild is shown as only paying quit rent to Buckhurst manor, whereas the Imberhorne courts also show a quit rent for the manor of Ashurst. Similarly, Spartendeane is held of Broadhurst and the Sheffield-Grinsted lands called Sprattenden in their records are here named Smythdeane. Smythdeane and Spartendeane are co-located and it seems likely that they are given different names to avoid confusion, Smythdeane potentially being similar to Wald and Smythe that appeared in the Buckhurst court book in 1558 and Smithfield/Smithfield Wood at the north-eastern extent of Wall Hill Farm in 1842[46]. Barnefield and Broadmead held of the manor of Brambletye have been discussed earlier, La Leame is called ‘a meadow called Atwells 2 ac’ in 1597[47]. The messuage in the Borough of East Grinstead is identified as what is now numbers 34-40, High Street[48].

The values of the holdings are also interesting as Spartendeane, at 30s 4d, is approaching the value of the manor of Walehill at 40s, compared to Smythdeane which is only worth 5s, this implies that Spartendeane has something of value almost comparable to a manorial income.

It is possible to go back into the 16th century but the surviving documents get sparse. John Leedes Esq. held Wall Hill from at least 1557 based upon the entry in the Imberhorne Rental[49]. In 1546 we find that John Payne the elder of Wald Farm in East Grinstead has died and his will grants his lease of Wald Farm and lands to his son Henry[50]. This Payne family are the tenants of Wald Farm and do not have the freehold, The Paynes have occupied the Farm since at least the 1480’s as the same John Payne of Walehill is a witness at the Star Chamber proceedings in 1533 regarding a dispute over land at Tablehurst. ‘John Payne of Walehill aged 50’ who ‘dwelleth and ever hath done within 2 furlongs of the land’[51].

In 1537 Edmund Alfrye [Alfray] granted a lease for 13 years to John Hawlats. The property paid a quit rent for one part to the manor of Waldhyll of 6d, and 8d for the other to the manor of Canserne[52]. The early Ashurst court books have only one freehold with a quit rent of 6d that is not granted after 1691, that is the toft and 1 acre of land[53] that was called Little Spartenden in 1637 and later becomes part of Pilstye Farm. However, this does not help us determine the owner of Wall Hill at this time as Edmund may only hold Little Spartenden and not Wall Hill farm.

Another document from slightly later provides further clues regarding Wall Hill, extracts below are from a Chancellery case between John Leedes (who died in 1606) and Thomas Ellys [Ellis] regarding a parcel of the manor of Ashurst Wald, unfortunately it is not dated but based upon the ages stated in the case it was written between 1558 and 1579[54];

William Alfrey had been seized of the demesne of Ashurst Wald and the complaint is that he granted a parcel of land to William Fuller as 3s per annum rent.

John Ledes late of Wappingthorne father of John Ledes the plaintiff was seised of the demesne of Ashurst Wald.

Thomas Ellys was seized of Lyggers held of John Ledes by knights fine suit of court and 7s per annum and a field called Middlesparkden at the rent of 2s 9d & 3 rod of land at Tylers Hill at a rent of 2½d.

When John Ledes senior died, his son John was under the age of 21 and during his minority, Thomas Ellys removed the hedges and seised the documents that explained his tenancy.

Thomas Ellys responds that he does not have any documents and that Ashurstwald is also known as Walhyll and the Wyld, he agrees William Alfrey was seised of the demesne and granted land to William Fuller at 3s rent. Also that Thomas Ledes holds a parcel of the land called Sparkendens which rightfully belongs to Thomas Ellys.


From the freehold rental of 7s Lyggers is most likely what became known as Pawleys or Pauls and is to the north of Wall Hill farm[55]. Middlesparkden is highly likely to be the same holding as ‘Upper Spartenden at 2s 3d rent with the toft and 1ac land at 6d’ recorded in 1739[56]. This record also identifies that William Alfrey held the demesne of the manor of Ashurst Wald alias Wallhill alias the Wyld before John Leedes senior.

In 1527 there is a transfer of the manor of Pollingfold with tenements in Ewhurst, Surrey, and the manor of Ashehurst described as 3 messuages, 100ac land, 40ac pasture, 300ac meadow, 100ac wood, 100ac heath & furze and 20s rent in Estgrenested & Cowefold[57]. It transfers from Henry Robertes and Anne his wife to Robert Broke in exchange for £340. This transfer does not fit well with the other records as the freehold rents in the Ashurst court book far exceed 20s and no land in Cowfold can be identified, whilst the original document clearly identifies East Grinstead this seems more likely to be the Ashurst that is between West Grinstead and Cowfold.

The descent from William Alfrey to John Leedes is explained by a wonderful pedigree roll[58] that was created c1600 for Sir Thomas Ledes Kt. of Hoppenthorne [Wappingthorne] showing his four sons. Thomas was the youngest son and heir of John Leedes who was the plaintiff in the Chancellery case above and died in 1606 holding Wall Hill. The pleadings state that John Leedes senior had held the demesne when his son John was under the age of 21 (before 1587). The pedigree shows that John Leedes junior married Mary the daughter of Thomas Palmer of Parham and that John Leedes senior married Anna the daughter of John Thatcher of Priesthawes. The next generation back are the parents of John Leedes senior who were William Leedes of Wappingthorne and Anna the daughter and heir of Thomas Aldfrey of Walld. This is a link between the Alfrey and the Leedes families, with Anna transferring her inherited manor of Ashurst Wald to her son, and through three generations of the Leedes family before it was sold to Sackville Turner.

Thomas Alfray ‘of Walld’ died in 1507, and was a Squire living in Steyning at the time of his death[59]. He had written his will in April 1504 and stated that all of his lands would transfer to his daughter and heir Anne (Anna on the Leedes pedigree) and her husband William Leedes according to ‘covenants of the marriage... comprised in certain indenture thereof made’. In other words there was a marriage settlement to transfer the land. Among the witnesses to the will are Richard Broke and Edmond Alfrey.

Thomas Alfray was the son of John Alfrey who had purchased the tenement of Brokehurst for £40 from Richard Couper in 1486-1507[60]. This John Alfrey is most likely the one recorded in the 1485 Buckhurst rental ‘for tenement Wayld Smythe 14s 9d’. As shown in the manorial entries on page 2, the ‘heirs of Walter Wodeman hold a parcel of the same 2s 5¼d ’, so this is another part of Wayld and Smythe outside of the 14s 9d that continues through to the 19th century as the quit rent to Buckhurst for Wall Hill. In 1558 it is recorded as Walter Woodman a parcel of the land called Welde and Smythe for a quit rent of 2s 5d. This parcel cannot be traced as it does not appear in the Buckhurst Terrier or in any other rental or court records for the Sackville manors in East Grinstead. It may have been merged into Pickstones as this adjoins Wall Hill to the east.

The Leedes family has another connection to the Alfreys of East Grinstead; Thomas Alfrey married Joanne who had previously been married to William Leedes[61]. Joanne’s will released Edmond Alfrey Gent. of his debt to her, again showing interaction between the Alfreys on the tree below and Edmond Alfrey who held Gullege c1520. Due to multiple individuals with the same name it is easier to summarise this section with an extract of the family tree.

Figure 2 Extract from the Alfrey and Leedes family


We are still seeking the descent from William Alfrey who held the demesne of the manor of Ashurst Wald before John Alfray senior, but we now know that William probably precedes Thomas Alfray and John his father therefore his ownership is earlier than 1485, the other option is that William is the brother of Thomas or John extending the search potentially up to about 1525. In my previous research into the Alfrey[62] family (and its variants) I had collected sixty references to the name in Sussex from 14th and 15th century. There are very few William Alfreys found in the records for East Grinstead, in fact the only one found was in the 1327 lay subsidy for the Borough [rather than the Parish] of East Grinstead. This individual is probably the same one recorded in the Assize Rolls for the Borough of East Grinstead in 1279 and 1288[63]. The next one is an entry in 1545 for the transfer of the manor of Bassetts[64]:-

William Alverey, plaintiff and Edward Sherley esq deforciant – The manor of Bassetts and tenements in Hartfield and Est Grinysted (which Mary Shelley, wife of Thomas Shelley, holds for her life of the inheritance of said Edward Sherley, and which after her decease to said Edward Sherley and heirs should revert) settled after the decease of Mary Shelley on plaintiff and heirs.


Bassetts is in the parish of Hartfield, lying about 1.5km east of Great Cansiron Farm, and this William Alfrey has the manor settled upon him including tenements in East Grinstead. Whilst William Alfrey is a scarce name in East Grinstead, it is a frequent name in the Alfreys of Hartfield and Withyham with at least six individuals named William Alfrey recorded in the period 1490-1590. This along with the close proximity of the Hartfield parish boundary to Wall Hill Farm it seems more likely that the earlier holder of the demesne came from Hartfield family line. This is further supported by the coat of arms on the Leedes pedigree which show Thomas Alfrey with the Ostrich Head as his symbol which is the same as the Catsfield Alfreys descended from the Hartfield line who held Bassetts, rather than the Fleur-de-lis on a chevron that are on the arms for the East Grinstead Alfrey’s.


Trying to go further back than 1500 is a challenge requiring significant further searches of records from this period. In a similar direction to the work of Mr Dyson[65] and Mr Leppard[66] who have collated early Wald based names, I want to extend those references with the following from the Assize Rolls[67]:-


Hundred (if stated)



East Grinstead

Rad' de Essenden'



Radm' de Wold



Ric' de Walesberg'


East Grinstead

Walt' de la Wald & Matil' his wife for 46a land 4a meadow in Grenested


East Grinstead

Walt' de Wald


East Grinstead

Walt' ate Welde


East Grinstead

Walt' Atte wald


East Grinstead

Walt' Atte Welde


East Grinstead

Walt' de la Welde


East Grinstead & Hartfield

Reg' de Cobeham & Johanna thereafter called ad Warr'



Rog' de la Ware


Loxfield, Vill’ de Grenhurst

Rog' la Ware


East Grinstead

Simon de Waus



W’m de la Welde



W’m atte Ware



Walt' atte Wald



Walt' de Walesbergh


Horsted Keynes

Walt' de Walesbergh



J’n de la Ware



Walt' Walesbergh


In line with Mr Leppard’s identification that Loxfield Hundred included a narrow strip of land between the Hundreds of East Grinstead and Hartfield[68], the assize rolls show the Forest Row names of Tablehurst and Parrock in entries for Loxfield Hundred as well as repeating the East Grinstead Wald names within entries for the hundreds of Loxfield and Hartfield.

As we have ‘Thomas Aldfrey de Walld’ c1507 and we can demonstrate that he held the manor of Ashurst alias Grinsted Wild alias Wallhill manor, is it not possible that the ‘atte Wald’ or ‘de Wald’ names are also from this property. It is interesting that in the Assize Rolls the Wald names run in a sequence with  Radm’ & Walt’ 1262 – Walt’ 1271-1279 – Rog’ & Simon 1288 - William 1294-1306 – Walt’ 1314 – John 1384, is this an indication that the names relate to a single property, if it was an area of Wald it is more likely there would be multiple people describing themselves ‘of Wald’ at the same time, or was it so sparsely populated that the surviving records rarely have a chance to record them.

John of Wald is a witness to all three grants of portions of Berglegh/Berklegh in East Grinstead that were made in 1316-1317[69]. Whilst he does not witness any of the other grants, the only other person witnessing all of the same three grants is William Holyndale whose property is used as one of the boundaries in the grant. This implies that John of Wald has an interest in Berglegh/Berklegh or lives close to it, thus it is relevant that Berglegh is near Worsted Farm a long way from Wall Hill Farm but is a freehold property paying quit rent to the manor of Ashurst.

An area of further investigation would be the inquisition post mortem of Thomas son of Michael de Ponyngges in 1375 which the calendar[70] summarises as holding Waldern the manor held of Thomas de Sakvyll by knight’s service. But Waldern alias Waldron is held of Petworth and is therefore highly unlikely to be held by Sackville, therefore it is possible that this is Wald held of Buckhurst. It is hoped that viewing the original document may clarify this query.

Marg’ Sperkend was found in the Brambletye tithing in 1285[71], and studying the original roll[72] I have identified that whilst there is no obvious abbreviation mark after the d at the end of her name, the character is formed differently from most other d characters elsewhere on the membrane and closely matches the character where the end of the word has been abbreviated. Thus it is highly likely that this is an entry for Margaret Sperkenden, the surname is highly likely to be referring to where she lives or a dominant place her family lived. No similar surnames appear in any records after this date, implying that the place name had ceased to be used or is uninhabited by the start of the 14th century.

Location of Spartenden and Ashurst Manor

To attempt to locate Spartenden we can use the two location references to this named property in the 1677 court records above 1) it lies east of Royal highway from Forest Row to East Grinstead and 2) it abuts the road from Cowden to Forest Row on the east, land of Robert Goodwin on north, and part of manor of Wallhill south and west. We have already noted that the road from Forest Row to East Grinstead has been realigned as it used to run immediately east of Wall Hill Farmhouse. There are two places on this road where its course is close enough to north-south for land on one side to be firmly described as being on the east. These are at the top of Wall Hill and on the old alignment of the road on the east of Wall Hill Farm. The rest of the road has a very similar direction and therefore east is just a generality, and this could be anywhere on the north-east of the road from East Grinstead to Forest Row. The road from Cowden to Forest Row would be along Cansiron Lane and either down past Pixton Hill which would take you onto the Hartfield Road considerably to the east of the 17th century extent of Forest Row[73] or continue along Cansiron Lane and then come down to Pilstye Farm. This latter route seems more likely as the track down to Pilstye Farm was identified as an ancient trackway by Ivan Margary[74].

The map at the back of this paper attempts to illustrate the lands held by the manor of Ashurst and the adjoining manors. The descriptions above are best satisfied if Spartenden is located at the east of Wall Hill against the ancient trackway that is shown as the East Grinstead Hundred boundary[75]. The proposed location of the Hundred boundary is supported by the landscape survey and most importantly by the bridge and ford located at Pilstye. The commercial properties to the west of Forest Row that are on the approach to the bridge at Wall Hill Farm are no earlier than the 17th century, this includes The Cat Inn which does not become known as such until 1727. The mapping of the lands held by the manors of Maresfield and Duddleswell by C. J. Hobbs[76] shows the gap between plots 17 and 18 heading from Forest Row to Pilstye Farm as an obvious extension to the alignment of Priory Road. This suggests that Forest Row could have developed around the higher ground south of where the ancient track identified by Ivan Margary crossed the Medway.

The Buckhurst Terrier provides location information for the land at Ashurst Wood, also called the manor of Ashurst, which was held from Imberhorne Manor. It names the adjoining land holders in 1597[77]; late Thomas Ellis and Thomas Cripps east; John Allen and Thomas Drewry [Brockhurst] west; land of Jacob Picas Gent called Brambletye Park south; and Thomas Crips’ Benchfield and Thomas Paine’s Benchers [Little Worsted Farm] north. Benchfield and Little Worsted Farm are on the junction of Worsted Lane and Lewes Road[78]; Thomas Ellis was discussed earlier and he held Pauls and Upper Spartenden. Thomas Cripps is known to have held Woodies and Homestall[79]. Woodies is too far east with other manors holding lands between it and Ashurst Wood Common for it to be the boundary mark, Homestall could be the ‘eastern’ boundary considering that Benchfield is described as being to the ‘north’. Therefore the lands held from Imberhorne for the rent of 20s is most probably the original extent of Ashurst Wood Common including the later freeholds that were granted from it and held by the manor of Ashurst.

Landscape Archaeology

Assuming that Spartenden and the Domesday Sperchedene are one and the same we are attempting to locate the site of very early habitation. This requires a study of the landscape to determine what constraints and opportunities the area offers. The use of LiDAR imaging, which provides detailed elevation data combined with its ability to detect the ground surface below woodland cover, has greatly enhanced this area of research. Figure 3 shows the ‘bare earth’ LiDAR data coloured to show elevation and artificially shadowed with a light source in the north east of the image to emphasise ditches and banks. This clearly shows the meandering Medway sitting within a flat basin (green) with the ground rising up to Cansiron Lane on the east-west ridge at the top right of the image and the rise that Forest Row village sits upon at the bottom centre.

At a macro scale you can see how the crossings of the Medway are focused around the places where the width of the valley floor is at its narrowest such that the distance across what would have been wetter marshy ground is minimised. The upper half of the landscape has numerous pock marks indicating the locations of stone quarrying, most of these are now tree covered as the quarry prevents its use for agriculture.

Prehistoric settlement in the Weald is normally located on higher ground, typified by Iron Age hill forts; they are also frequently positioned to be visible within the wider landscape as well as being situated where there are a variety of land types suitable for pasture, arable and water meadow[80]. The Romano-British settlements normally include linear boundaries and rural settlement in the Saxon period reverts to a form reminiscent of the Iron Age. Immediately after 1066, rural settlement is still predominantly on higher ground until the 13th century when defendable moated sites start to appear suggesting that settlement was moving down from the slopes into the valleys.

Looking in more detail at (6) Spanden Wood and Field, the eastern boundary is the ancient track that shows up clearly as a depression on the hillside from Pilstye at the bottom to Cansiron Lane at the top, note how the track alignment continues at Cansiron Lane to the west of Grove Farm. There is a curved boundary (marked with red spots) enclosing this area and the upper half of Spanden Field is generally level before it drops steeply towards the quarry and curved southern boundary.

The curved boundary of Spanden Wood and Field can be seen to continue to the east (marked with blue spots) potentially enclosing a large oval of hillside, an area of approximately 100 acres. This enclosure would contain lands within the manors of Wall Hill, Pickstones, Tablehurst and Laverty indicating that it pre-dated the division of these separate manors. The enclosure is far too large to be a hill fort[81] and is similar in size and form to the early Saxon enclosures identified in the western Sussex Weald[82].

Walking the area provides additional information; the track that is to the east of Spanden Wood and Field is hollowed, well defined and, although steep in places, is level across its width. This is in contrast to the track down to Pixton Hill that cuts across the slope in a number of places making it unsuitable for any type of cart. The track from Cansiron Lane down to Wall Hill Farm is not as hollowed as the Spanden Wood track and the descent at the southern end is very steep. This supports (but does not prove) the track past Spanden Wood is the ride through the ‘Land of Wilde’ in the description of the hundred boundary of 1579[83].

Spanden Field is an excellent vantage point looking up the valley and beyond what is now Weir Wood Reservoir. The division of the oval enclosure by the track to the east of Spanden Field could imply that the track postdates the enclosure, but there is a large bank and ditch visible between the track and Spanden Field (also shown on the LiDAR) suggesting that Spanden Field was divided from the rest of the enclosure at some point. The relative chronology of Spanden Field, the ditch, bank and track cannot be determined without archaeological investigation.

The etymology of Sperchedene is not clear but it could be from spǣr-denn[84] which is enclosed swine-pasture or spear (shaped) swine-pasture. Swine-pasture is woodland[85] where pigs are enclosed, and therefore it could be relevant that whilst the origins of the stem of Table-hurst is unknown, ‘hurst’ means wood, Lavertye is lawerce-teag which is lark-frequented enclosure and so three of the four manors have names that are associated with a wooded enclosure [Pilstye is Pila’s path and Pickstones is probably after a family name Pikstan][86].

Conclusion for Wall Hill, Spartenden and Ashurst

This study supports the proposal put forward by Mr Leppard that the Sperchedene in the Domesday Survey was located at what is now Spanden Wood and Field, and that this sits within a large oval enclosure potentially dating to the early Saxon period.

The lands of Wall Hill Farm including Lower Spartenden, Spartenden and Upper Spartenden represent the demesne of the manor of Ashurst. Ashurst Wood Common was held by this manor and freeholds and later copyholds were enclosed and granted out of it. The absence of Spartenden or Sperchedene references after 1285 strongly suggests that the name was superseded; the later name for the property was potentially Wald (or derivatives) as the manor of this name encompasses the land of Spartenden within its demesne.

The roof timbers used to re-roof Wall Hill Farm are potentially 14th century and could be from a crown post house closer to the valley floor, by at least the 15th century parts of the surviving structure within Wall Hill Farm had been constructed and from at least 1500 this is the principle dwelling for the manor. The cessation of the name Spartenden/Sperchedene and the early date for Wall Hill Farm agrees with the construction of principle dwellings closer to the valley floor which started in the 13th century, this would have resulted in the Spanden Field site being abandoned. Ultimately parts of the Spartenden land that had been within the demesne of the manor of Ashurst were transferred to Pickstones manor.

And the link to Gullege...

Having covered the known descent of Gullege from 1724 at the very start of this paper, we now need to put the descent of Spartenden into context with the earlier history of Gullege. The ownership of Gullege can be traced back to Henry Alfrey in 1557 when there is an inquisition to determine if he is an idiot[87]. He is listed as being seized of le Gullage and land called Cortefeld and another parcel called [blank] all held of John Culpepper for a rent of 14s. He also has the lands called Heytheland held of Thomas Duke of Norfolk. The inquisition also states that Henry’s father Edward had died before 1535. Henry dies in March 1573 and the inquisition post mortem[88] details his landholding more fully as;

A tenement called Le Gullege with land pasture wood and underwood there and a parcel of land situated in Courtfeld together with a certain parcel of land called Wardleigh and Frenchelond in Estgrynsted [held of John Culpepper esquire of his manor of Byshecourt for the rent of 14s] and also certain land and tenement called Heathlond [held of Philippe Earl of Surrey of his manor of Sheffeld Grensted at the rent of 20s] and a tenement called Tilkerst with appurtenances in Estgrynsted [held of John Culpepper esquire of his manor of Byshecourt for the rent of 2s 4d]. Edward Alfrey is his son and heir, aged 27.


Heytheland can be identified from the Sheffield-Grinstead court books[89] as lying close to Hazleden Cross, therefore Henry does not hold any land at Forest Row as all other the parcels are recognised as being in the immediate vicinity of Gullege and Tilkhurst.

The maps in the Buckhurst Terrier show Gullege as being the freehold land of Edward Alfrey in 1597[90]. When Edward dies in 1610 he is holding a messuage called Le Gullage with lands called Courtfield, Wardleigh and French Lands held of Edward Culpepper’s manor of Bish Court for fealty unknown. He also has Heathlands held of the manor of Sheffield-Grinstead for 20s, and another messuage and lands called Cockmans in East Grinstead held of the manor of Bish Court for 6s 8d, and another messuage and lands called Telkherst held of the manor of Bish Court for 2s 4d[91]. His son and heir is Edward Alfrey. Thus again the freeholder of Gullege is not holding any lands near Forest Row in 1610, this is also the case for his son Edward who died in 1642 seized of the same properties[92].

In the 1686 rental for the manor of Bysshe Court, the heirs of Sir William Greene Baronet are listed for lands called Gulledge paying yearly 5s 2d, occupied by Sanders[93]. This rental of 5s 2d continues until the last rental in 1853[94], but the description after 1730 has expanded to Gullege, Cockmans and Cockmans Mead, 200 acres. Between 1573 and 1686, the quit rental for Gullege has dropped from 14s to 5s 2d, this can only be through enfranchisement of a large part of the land as the total rental of all the Bysshe Court lands in East Grinstead has dropped to only 12s which is less than the 16s 4d that Gullege and Tilkhurst were paying in 1573.


By 1730, the Terrier of Bysshe Court records that Gullege has passed from Sir William Greene Baronet to William Peck; and in 1753 the Earl of Northampton is recorded. So the descents of Ashurst manor and Gullege can be shown diagrammatically as below with the block showing the period of common ownership:-

Ownership timeline for Wall Hill and Gullege





The descent of the two properties clearly overlaps and separates when the 2nd Earl of Burlington sold Gullege to William Clear in 1841[95]. The c1500 Alfrey connection for the two properties is also prominent, but without an explanation for how Sir William Greene acquired the two properties from different people, it seems highly unlikely that Gullege remained in the hands of a descendant of the Alfrey family and happened to be acquired by the person who had already acquired another Alfrey property. As the 2 marks of quit rent was always paid by the same person (the Lord of the manor of Ashurst) either Broadhurst was the only manor of the three that realised Samuel Simms had a manorial tie on his property, or William James did not pursue the legitimacy of Broadhurst’s claim.

Knowing how the manor of Ashurst descended through Greene-Peck-Lant-Compton-Cavendish-Burlington does enable us to identify that Gullege would have followed the same descent and therefore we can securely fill in the gaps in the ownership of Gullege between 1686 and 1841.


JC 09/14


Detail from the 1874 Ordnance Survey map


Figure 3 Bare Earth LiDAR image


Figure 4 1874 Ordnance Survey map of the same area


[1] Grinstead Weald, A. G. Dyson. EGSB 67; Our Wald, M. J. Leppard. EGSB 99.

[2] Domesday Book and the origins of settlement in East Grinstead, M. J. Leppard. EGSB 61 & Addenda EGSB 68

[3] The origins of Ashurst Wood, M. J. Leppard. EGSB 65

[4] 1877 Abstract of Title to Gullege, FHA

[5] 1852 Terrier of manor of Bysshe Court 2224/19, SHC

[6] Rental of Earl of Northampton, 1764, SAS-CP/10/240, ESRO

[7] 1853 Terrier of manor of Bysshe Court 2224/19, SHC

[8] Court book for the manor of Broadhurst, 1825 GLY1084 f86, ESRO

[9] Sperchedene, M. J. Leppard. EGSB 59.

[10] The Chartulary of the Priory of St. Pancras, Lewes. SRS38 (1932) p83

[11] Imberhorne manor, The Buckhurst Terrier 1597-1598, SRS Vol.39 (1933).

[12] Personal Communication, FHA

[13] Broadhurst Manor: 1677 GLY1081 f82; 1751 GLY1093; 1755 GLY1082 f221; 1825 GLY1084 f86, ESRO

[14] Sheffield-Grinstead Manor: 1677 AddMs 17705 f120, AddMs 17706 1730-1741:f54, 1764:f67; 1788 AddMs 17707 f15

[15] Imberhorne Manor: WKRO 1557 U269E341; ESRO AMS5909/6 1608:f11, 1614:f32, 1619:f63; 1640 ADA48; 1671 AMS5909/9 f7; 1674 ADA49; 1686 ADA50; 1743 ADA108 f24; 1756 ADA109 f65; 1766 ADA110 f17; 1826 AMS 5909/12

[16] Buckhurst Manor: WKRO 1485:U269/M46/2; 1558:U269/E341; 1597 SRS39; 1619 ESRO ADA38 f15; 1644,1671 ADA48; 1684 ADA 50; ADA41 1847:f45; 1854:f51; 1877:f73

[17] Names only found in Imberhorne & Buckhurst manor records and therefore may not be correct for the other manors.

[18] Name only found in Imberhorne manor records and therefore may not be correct for the other manors.

[19] Honors and Knights' Fees, Volume 2. William Farrer (1925)

[20] The Victoria history of the county of Sussex, Vol. 1 (1905)

[21] Ashurst Manor: AddMs 17700 1728: f57,  1739:f140; 1786 AddMs 17701 f89; AddMs 17702 1843:f139; 1849:f270, WSRO

[22] 1826 painting by George Bourne, reproduced in Forest Row, Historical Aspects and Recollections, Vol3 pt1 1986

[23] East Grinstead Tithe 1842 TD/E45 WSRO. Plots 744-751a

[24] WSRO AddMss 17700-17703,1691-1914

[25] Brambletye Court Book  AddMs 17704 1651:f7 WSRO

[26] East Grinstead Tithe 1842 TD/E45 WSRO. Plots 764 & 765

[27] East Grinstead in the Domesday Survey, P. D. Wood, EGSB 58 (1996) p6

[28] Gardner and Gream map of Sussex 1795 shows both road alignments; 1805-8 Draft Ordnance Survey BL OSD19 shows only the latter alignment.

[29] TNA Prob 11/337

[30] Sheffield-Grinstead WSRO AddMs 17705 1677:f122v

[31] Notes of Post Mortem Inquisitions in Sussex, Atree (1912) SRSv14 no.347

[32] IPM Edward Goodwyn TNA C 142/568/122

[33] Ashurst Manor WSRO AddMs 17700 f57

[34] Ashurst Manor WSRO AddMs 17701 f88

[35] East Grinstead Tithe 1842 TD/E45 WSRO. Plots 24c & 25c.

[36] Ashurst Manor WSRO AddMs 17702 f270

[37] East Grinstead Tithe 1842 TD/E45 WSRO. Plot 744.

[38] Notes of Post Mortem Inquisitions in Sussex, Atree (1912) SRSv14 no.1040

[39] Imberhorne Court Book ERSO AMS5909/6 f63. Buckhurst Court Book ESRO ADA38 f15.

[40] Sussex Marriage Index: Withyham, 23 Oct 1618.

[41] 1647 Demise of Robert Burdett merchant of London to William Sydenham, TNA C 104/265

[42] 1647 Indenture from Robert Burdett to Henry Riley. TNA C 104/265/34 & CP 25/2/501/23ChasIMich

[43] 1652 & 1654 Transfer from Robert Burdett and Richard Fowle to John Millington. SRS19 (1919)

[44] Foot of Fine TNA CP25/2/363/10JasIMich. Imberhorne Court Book ESRO AMS5909/6 f32.

[45] IPM John Leeds Esq. TNA C142/291/123 1606

[46] East Grinstead Tithe 1842 TD/E45 WSRO. Plots 793 and 792

[47] The Buckhurst Terrier 1597-1598, SRS Vol.39 (1933)

[48] The Topography of East Grinstead Borough, P. D. Wood, SAC 106

[49] 1557 rental for Imberhorne WKRO U269/E341

[50] John Payne’s will 1546, ESRO Lewes A1 131

[51] Star Chamber Proceedings, Henry VII to Philip and Mary, SRS16.

[52]Chantry Commission 1547 & unpublished Chantry Records, M. J. Leppard. SAC 109  p27

[53] Ashurst manor AddMs 17700 WSRO f50

[54] TNA C 3/112/5

[55] Ashurst manor AddMs 17700 WSRO f152

[56] Ashurst Manor: AddMs 17700 f140

[57] TNA CP 25/2/51/366/19HenVIIIHil m29

[58] Leedes Pedigree,WSRO AddMss326

[59] PCC Will TNA  prob 11/15/298

[60] Land dispute between Thomas Alfray and Alyn Luggeford, TNA C 1/114/51

[61] PCC Will of Joanne Alfrey 1527 TNA prob 11/22/42

[62] Alfrey families of Sussex, J. Clarke, Felbridge History Group (2002)

[63] TNA Just1/921 & Just1/928

[64] Sussex Manors in the Feet of Fines SRS19 (1914)

[65] Grinstead Weald, A. G. Dyson. EGSB 67

[66] Our Wald, M. J. Leppard. EGSB 99.

[67] TNA Just1 /912a (1262); /913 (1271); /917, /923, /921 (1279); /926, /931, /932 (1288); /1307 (1294); /934 (1306); /938 (1314); /941a (1352); /944 (1384); /1503 (1388-1399)

[68] More Peculiar Places, Michael Leppard. Sussex Family Historian Vol.3, No.3 pg 85.

[69] Lewes Chartulary. SRS 38

[70] TNA Cal IPM Vol14 #190

[71] East Grinstead in the Domesday Survey, P. D. Wood, EGSB 58 (1996)

[72] SAS-CP-1-2 ESRO

[73] East Grinstead Tithe 1842 TD/E45 WSRO

[74] Wayfaring in Forest Row. Forest Row, Historical Aspects and Recollections, Vol.3 pt1 1986

[75] Boundaries of the Hundreds of the Dutchy of Lancaster 1579. Hop 47/4 ESRO

[76] The manors of Maresfield and Duddleswell in the parish of East Grinstead, C. J. Hobbs. EGSB 62 (1997)

[77] The Buckhurst Terrier 1597-1598, SRS Vol.39 (1933)

[78] Cuttons Hill, M. J. Leppard. EGSB 109

[79] Ashurst Manor AddMs 17700 WSRO

[80] The Archaeology of Surrey to 1540, Ed. Joanna Bird and D. G. Bird. Surrey Archaeological Society (1987)

[81] Iron Age Communities in Britain, Barry Cunliffe. (1974)

[82] Rethinking the Early medieval settlement of woodlands: the western Sussex Weald, Diana Chatwin & Mark Gardiner. Landscape History Vol. 27 (2005).

[83] Boundaries of the Hundreds of the Dutchy of Lancaster 1579. Hop 47/4 ESRO

[84] A concise Anglo-Saxon dictionary, John R. Clark Hall, 2nd Edition, Macmillan, New York (1916)

[85] Pigs and Pollards: Medieval Insights for UK Wood Pasture Restoration, Dolly Jørgensen. Journal of Sustainability (2003)

[86] The place names of Sussex, English Place Name Society Vol.7 (1930)

[87] 1557 IPM Henry Alfrey. TNA C142/112/149

[88] TNA C142/167/92

[89] Sheffield-Grinstead Manor: WSRO AddMs 17705-7.

[90] The Buckhurst Terrier 1597-1598, SRS Vol.39 (1933)

[91] 1610/1 IPM Edward Alfrey TNA C 142/325/179

[92] 1642/3 IPM Edward Alfrey TNA C 142/700/137

[93] Rental of the Manor of Bysshe Court SHC 181/19/16

[94] Terrier of manor of Bysshe Court SHC 2224/19

[95] Sale details for Gullege, 1841 FHA