Brambletye Manor and Park

Brambletye Manor and Park

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This handout is based around a detailed landscape study of the area of BrambletyePark. The associated talk given to the group also covered the early history of Brambletye up to 1540, then discussed the landscape evidence followed by the post 1540 history up to the early 19th century. Therefore the handout sections before and after the landscape study are brief summaries of the information that was presented to the group rather than the detailed reports that we normally publish.


Whilst Brambletye is in the ancient parish of East Grinstead and located close to Forest Row, it has strong links to the history of Felbridge as the families that held the manor of Brambletye [St. Clare, Sackville, Compton] also held significant properties in Felbridge which followed similar descent by inheritance. The moated site is similar in form to those of Hedgecourt and Warley within Felbridge. Felbridge also had deer parks at Cuttingly and Hedgecourt, of which Hedgecourt suffered similar damage as Brambletye when they were both under the management of Sir John Pelham.


Brambletye is identified in the Domesday book and is described as being held by Ralph. Ralph holds Branbertei from the Count. It has 1 hide of land (very approximately 120 acres), land for 1½ ploughs. A priest, a villager and 14 smallholders. grazing and woodland for 12 pigs. 5 acres of meadow, 1 mill worth 2s. The manor being valued at 20s.

‘Ralph’ was granted many manors, so Brambletye is unlikely to be his home and he would have sub-let it, but it is possible to trace the changing ownership of Brambletye from Ralph (see below for a summary family tree showing the descent of the manor).

The following entries for Brambletye are worth mentioning as they relate to people on the family tree:-

1285   Inquisition Post Mortem (IPM) of Isabella de la Haye who holds Bremlete from by Warren de Aquila. Bramlete with Agistment (rights of forest) herbage and curtillage worth 5s. 66a land covered with wood worth 22s. 65a pieces of land covered with water worth 11s 4d. 10a of water meadow worth 15s. A water mill and miller worth 14s 4d. Profits of court worth 4s. Value after expenses 30s 9d.[1]

1288   Richard Hereward, squire of Baldewyn de Aldenham, obstructed the road from Grinstead to Brembeltye.[2]

1292   Assignment of dower to Nicholaa, late the wife of Baldwin de Aldham, tenant in chief. 6s 8d yearly of rent from Richard Hereward for a tenement in the hamlet of Brembeltye and the advowson of the chapel of Brembeltye, which is extended at 4 marks yearly[3]. Richard Hereward could be associated with Harwoods Farm (now the Herontye Estate), but it is more likely that he was living at or close by the moated site to be called the ‘hamlet’ of Brambletye and being the only tenant listed.

1299   Ralph de Sandwyco and John Abel sentenced for touching the persons who entered the park of Eustace de Hache at Brembeltye and carried away deer.[4]  Eustace de Hache [of Hacche, in the county of Wilts] was at one time "a menial servant to Edward I”, he rose to great honour and was knighted in 1279. He died 1306 and was probably the tenant whilst Nicola held it in dower.

1314-20 Francis de Aldham holds Brambeltye . Francis de Aldham was at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322, and was taken prisoner, and afterwards sentenced to be drawn for acts of treason and to be hanged for homicides and robbery committed by him, which sentence was executed at Windsor. Thus in 1322 the King grants it to Pancius de Controne (the Kings clerk and doctor) for life, ‘Brembelteigh, late of Francis de Aldham, the kings enemy and rebel of late’.

 1327 IPM of Francis de Aldham. Manor of Brembeltye with a messuage worth nothing after repairs, and a dovecot worth 40d, a water mill worth 20s after repairs , 100 acres of arable land worth 25s, 20 acres of water meadow worth 20s, 220 acres enclosed in a park of which the pasture is worth nothing due to the shade of the trees, freeholders rents of 33s 6d. Total worth after repairs 118s 9d.[5] This IPM appears to be for the estate of Francis who was executed in 1322, and potentially relates to the appeals from the heirs of Francis to have their lands returned which was granted in 1327 with the properties being granted to John de St. Clare, his cousin.

1336   IPM of John de St. Clare. The manor of Brembeltye with a park containing in circuit one league and a half and the pasture of the same is worth 20s. Costs of 30s 4d for the wages of Simon le Parker, parker there, who received by the day 1d by charter of Francis de Aldham, once lord of the manor aforesaid. John de St. Clare is his son and heir[6].

1352   John de Wyndesore obstructed the road from Brembeltye at Ashurst with a ditch and pale.[7]

1408   Philip St. Clare dies and his son and heir, Thomas, is still a minor. The King grants the wardship of Thomas St. Clare to Sir John Pelham.

1419   Inquisition into the actions of Sir John Pelham. In the manor of Brambletye he permitted the great hall, worth 20 marks, the great chamber, worth 40 marks, a building called the Norserye, worth 10 marks, a bakehouse, worth the same, 2 buildings called shepens, worth 10 marks each, and a stable, worth 10 marks, to stand unroofed, so that the timber thereof became entirely rotten and decayed and the buildings threaten to fall down; he also permitted the head and the bays of the mill pond to be washed away by the stream to the value of 20 marks for lack of repair; and he permitted the greater part of the palings of the park to fall down and decay to the value of 20 marks for lack of repair, so that the park for long lay open and most of the game formerly enclosed therein escaped. He has done this waste from 1411 till now[8].

1423   Thomas St. Clare comes of age and received the manor. He is the first recorded owner-occupier. He dies with three daughtersas heirs and his estates were divided, Elizabeth gets Brambletye [Eleanor married to Sir John Gage gets Hedgecourt].

1437   Rector of Jevington holds services at the free chapel of the Blessed Mary, Brambeltye[9]. The chapel is believed to have been located to the south of the ruins of Brambletye House.

1540   Henry Windsor sells his inherited half of the estates. Ending nearly 500 years of family descent.

1551   Inquisition into the idiocy of Henry Windesor esq. Jurors say Henry is an idiot and unable to take care of his lands, etc. His lands were half manors of Brambletye and Lavertye, Nuttborne, 100 messuages, 40 cottages and lands, and £4 rent, manors of Suthe Harting, Weste Harting, Este Harting, and Rogate, 100 messuages, 60 cottages, and lands, and £20 rent; he alienated the same to Edmund Forde and is declared an idiot[10].



Family tree showing the descent of theproperty

The first Deer Parks were created in the twelfth century. These tended to be on the forest margins and differed in that they were enclosed, sometimes by a wall alone but more usually by a massive earthwork, the park pale. As deer can jump up to six metres horizontally and three metres vertically this had to be a formidable barrier. The usual form was of a large bank, three to four metres high topped by a strong wooden fence or wall. On the inside, to deny the deer the footing to take off, would be a steep sided ditch of similar dimensions to the bank. Although many of these earthworks have been lost to the plough enough survive around the country, albeit in a degraded state, to reveal how widespread a feature deer parks became. Indeed by the start of the fourteenth century there were something like 3,200 deer parks in England occupying around 650,000 acres which represented something like 2% of the countryside. They enclosed ‘game’, this could be rabbits, hares, boar or deer. The King granted permission to have a park and what game could be kept. More recently it is being shown that the wider community also had ‘free’ access to parks and often maintained their common rights. Collecting brush wood, bracken etc...

Identifying the bounds of Brambletye Park

As already identified there are various references to BrambletyePark in historic references and it was also discussed in an article in the Bulletin of the East Grinstead Society[11] which included that a length of pale had been observed alongside the footpath that goes from the Lewes Road just east of Cuttens down to Little Luxfords.


The study started with the 1m LiDar data available, unfortunately it does not fully encompass the area of study. Other mapping sources used are the 1805-8 draft Ordnance Survey[12] (shown below), the East Grinstead Tithe map of 1840 and its apportionment[13] as well as the first edition Ordnance Survey map series 1872-3. The 1805-8 map shows the early alignment of the Lewes road through Ashurst Wood.




The Tithe map provides an early large scale mapping, although the Lewes Road has been relocated and passes around the Brambletye bends rather than going through Ashurst Wood and down Wall Hill to Forest Row. The railway has not been constructed and so it provides a view of the field layout immediately prior to the railway, which is then shown on the 1873 Ordnance Survey map. Whilst the first edition ordnance survey map can be georeferenced and directly overlaid onto modern mapping, this is not possible with the East Grinstead Tithe map as the cartography is not as reliable. It is possible to overlay small sections of the Tithe map with minor distortion to align fixed features.


Northern area

I will consider the landscape in sections, before returning to consider the Park landscape as an entirety. I will start with the already identified length of park pale alongside the footpath from the Lewes Road to Little Luxfords. The image below is the overlay of the first edition OS map upon the current 1:2500 series mapping data. The numbering relates to locations discussed in the text below.


Physical observations is that there is a pronounced and well preserved boundary ditch and bank from immediately behind the properties along the south west of the Lewes Road that is a few metres south of the footpath‹. This boundary is still visible as it gets progressively closer to the footpath and would meet it where the access road to BrambletyeSchool crosses over the footpath on a bridgeŒ, however the sinking of the footpath to pass below the road and the construction of the associated bridge has eliminated the visible evidence at this point.


Section of the relative elevations through the bank and ditch close to ‹, the north side of the feature is on the left. All dimensions in metres. [Note: these sections are all shown at the same scale for comparison]


Immediately after the bridge, the footpath descends rapidly and the original boundary bank is visible in places, considering the relative positions of the bank and footpath in this area, the footpath is following the approximate line of the ditch, unfortunately this would mean that the ditch has been used to provide a route for the installation of a sewer as the access manholes are within the width of the footpath. As the footpath exits the base of the sandstone outcrop, the ditch and bank both become visible again as the sewer alignment is a couple of metres to the west. The ditch and bank continue to be visible as the left boundary of the fieldŽ, the field boundary then curves away to the left and the footpath continues to the corner of the field, there is no visible evidence that the ditch and bank continued along the line of the footpath. The curving field boundary continues to include a distinct bank, but the line of the ditch has become a wet drainage channel flowing down to a very boggy area which is now within a domestic property. Even very recent cattle grazing in the field shows that their attraction to the wet ditch has damaged any visible evidence of the original ditch shape at this point. This poorly defined wet drainage ditch and bank continues south until it meets the stream.


The entire length of Luxfords Lane from the Lewes Road to Horseshoe Farm was inspected, and the only visible ditch and bank features along either side of the road are consistent with traditional field hedges and roadside drainage being of insignificant scale compared to the visible sections of ditch and bank at ‹ and .


The LiDar data for the section of Luxfords Lane from the Railway crossing to Horseshoe Farm and the land to the east of the Lane is shown below (shaded to provide elevation contrast).



The matching overlay map area is below.


The approximate matching Tithe extract is below


Figure showing the tithe map extract.


The drainage ditch and bank ending at the stream along with the course of the stream are visible as strong features in this projection. A large number of the boundaries in this area have been investigated and found to only be of the wood bank type‘ with or without small drainage gullies against the field edge. There are no obvious features to indicate the alignment of the pale after meeting the stream. The depression’ across the field south of the stream is seen to align with scattered trees on the 1873 map and aligns with a field boundary on the Tithe map. The scale of the depression (-1.0m at its base depth compared to surrounding field, but 300m wide) makes it highly unlikely to be a ploughed out boundary ditch it is more likely to be natural. The LiDar feature running down the next field“ is conclusively a drainage channel from the pond constructed further up the slope”, the watercourse has been culverted under the field in the 20th century. The platform• and the differences between the ordnance survey map and the Tithe show the significant impact that Brambletye House (later School) has had on the landscape of the higher ground.


Northern Area Discussion

The physical evidence for a medieval park boundary ‹-Œ--Ž is very strong, therefore the discussion is limited to its potential alignment before and after this extent. The physical evidence for the continuation from Ž towards  is good, with the bank being much larger than any of the wood banks seen elsewhere in this area. In the absence of any other landscape features indicating any fragments of surviving pale in this area, it seems likely that the Park boundary continued from 4 towards 5, although the bank is not as clearly superior to a wood bank along this stretch.  Its potential alignment after the stream cannot be identified on the ground.


The alignment of the park boundary Œ to ‹ matches exactly to a property boundary on the 1873 map, which is also the northern boundary of plot 830 ‘Lodge Field’ on the Tithe map. At position ‹ the ditch and bank run directly into the rear boundary of the modern housing on Lewes Road. There is no deviation or indication that it has started to turn, leaving only 31m between the last visible point and the nearest kerbstone of the Lewes Road. Whilst park boundaries can change direction acutely, they still have a curved corner in these situations[14].


I believe that map evidence along with elevation data (national 5m OS LiDar data) provides a plausible alignment for the park boundary at this corner. The 1873 map and the Tithe map show their boundaries matching to the surviving Pale continuing right up to the edge of the Lewes Road, and the Tithe shows the north east corner of plot 830 cut off by the Lewes Road.

Figure showing the tithe map extract against the Lewes Road


At the time when parks were being created in the early medieval period, there would have been few enclosures within the Weald and thus transportation routes would have navigated their way through the area along the most convenient routes based upon directness and ease of navigation. A trackway from East Grinstead to Cansiron Lane would have predated the creation of any medieval parks in the area, and therefore investigating the potential route of this track could help identify the location of the park boundary.

The 1805-8 draft Ordnance Survey can be overlaid on the 1873 to show the main road alignment at the start of the 19th century was as below in red. The elevation profile of the red route (towards Cansiron Lane) is shown graphically below the map, this shows the gradual descent down the Lewes Road and then the sharp downhill section starting when the route diverts from the modern main road alignment reaching a low point at just in front of the Three Crowns, before rising to the high point as the route passes around the back of the blacksmiths property. This last part of the route profile would have been level before the blacksmiths property was enclosed from Ashurst Common.





The topography of the area is such that the old road could not have deviated any further to the north east than shown, even if there were no enclosures. Where Hammerwood Road now meets the Lewes Road, there is only about 20m of high ground before the very sharp drop of about 10m down to Rock House. In front of the Three Crowns the current descent of Woods Hill Lane demonstrates how the landscape slopes rapidly down into the valley in that direction, descending these slopes with carts or even just on horseback would have been avoided if possible, particularly considering that the intended destination of Cansiron Lane is also on high ground and therefore any descent will require a later ascent.


The blue lines on the map and profile represent a ‘best’ route from a transport perspective, avoiding the steeper gradients of the old road alignment. Whilst this route is 50m longer, this is a very small increase in distance considering that it reduces both the descent and ascent gradients by more than half (maximum descent slope -8% [1:12] reduces to -3.7% [1:27]). The elevation differences between the red and blue routes, mean that once you have progressed down what is now Hammerwood Road to the Three Crowns, it is an even sharper ascent to revert back to the blue route at any point before you have reached what is now Park Lane, where a level diversion to the south would then avoid the rest of the steep climb to the top of Wallhill.


I believe that before any significant enclosure of the Weald, it is highly likely that the route from East Grinstead to Cansiron Lane would have been nearer to the blue route than the old road alignment. This would have followed the geological ridge. Therefore there must have been something that forced the diversion of the traffic down what became Hammerwood Road, and this also prevented the traffic from seeking relief from the steepness of the ascent by going south a short distance at what is now Park Lane to take a more gradual rise to Cansiron Lane. Therefore I propose that the park boundary was constructed up against the edge of Ashurst Wood common, giving a park boundary similar to the one shown dotted below.



This is also supported by the fields 1157, 1166 & 1217 on this map being parts of Park Corner Farm in the 1840 Tithe (cf. 827, 826 & 825), owned by Biddulph along with the rest of the Brambletye Estate. The lack of small enclosures on the south side of Hammerwood Road at this point is very obvious compared to the location around the Three Crowns and the other tracks on Ashurst Wood Common which have small properties (many only 1 or 2 rods in area) granted by the Manor of Ashurst. The Three Crowns is first mentioned as known by the sign of The Crown in 1767, but before then it can be traced as a cottage and adjoining half an acre of land in the manor of Ashurst at a rent of 2s which was enclosed before 1700[15].


Eastern Area

The LiDar data for the section from Park Corner towards BrambletyeCastle is shown below (shaded to provide elevation contrast), this is alongside the same area on the overlaid composite map.



The approximate extract of the Tithe map is to the left.


The most obvious feature on the ground is the extensive and very deep ditch ‹-Œ. The ditch has a small stream at the bottom, but it appears to have been enhanced by landscaping as the shape of the ditch sides are not symmetrical. The section below shows that there is a bank on the east side of the ditch. The ditch lies about 20m to the west of the current Brambletye Lane. The area between the deep ditch and the roadway has a series of up to three north-south gullies which may be the roadside gullies of previous track alignments. There is then a small wood bank followed by a gully immediately on the west of Brambletye Lane.


Another feature to suggest the current roadway lies to the east of the original position is the stagger to the west that occurs as the roadway meets the A22 before it continues as the current footpath -Ž. The footpath is very deeply eroded and the overlay mapping indicates that it is very close to the alignment of the Brambletye House access road as shown on the 1873 map. Unfortunately, east and west of the footpath -Ž has been landscaped to differing levels as these are now within extensive domestic gardens.





Section East-West through the feature ‹-Œ, Brambletye Lane’s modern road surface is at the left axis


Although inconclusive due to modern landscaping, there are a number of ridges and dips that run roughly parallel and up to 10m to the west of the footpath along with mature trees indicating a possible continuation of the feature ‹-Œ. North of Ž, the footpath passes close to modern housing and no discernible features were observed. The LiDar data to the west of the junction of the footpath with Wall Hill correlates well with the Tithe map showing that the access road ran tangential to Wall Hill rather than the 1873 and current alignments.


Other features on the LiDar were also investigated; the line coming south from the Brambletye bend on the A22 is the remains of the access road to a property that stood within the wood. The building is shown on the 1873 map, but not on the Tithe. The Tithe map shows this alignment as a continuous boundary all the way down the hill which may be significant, the LiDar shows the lower section as a depression in the field. However, this cannot be a significant ancient boundary as this would be indicated by the field boundaries either side of it not being aligned. In this case we have three intersecting field boundaries and all of them are aligned on both the east and west sides of this line. The curved feature’ just south of the A22, leaving Brambletye Lane and going west is a very modern access track.


The woodland between this access track and the A22 contains a number of features [see left; ‘ & ’ being the same as those labelled above]. ‹ are a pair of tracks, probably associated with the quarry immediately to their west. I am particularly interested in the ditch and bank Œ-Œ as this aligns with the continuation of boundary ‘ to the west. There is also a potential continuation of that alignment beyond the short zigzag in the boundary at Ž.  This zigzag is typical of a boundary that swaps from one side of a track to the other after the track has gone out of use.


The ditch along the boundary north of plot 868 on the Tithe‘ is also deep cut with very steep sides. There is a bank along the south side of the ditch with very mature oak trees along the bank line, but the bank is narrow and not particularly significant in scale. The intersection of this boundary with the north south ditch ‹-Œ is interesting as the water has visibly eroded the southwest corner as expected, but the northwest corner has been constructed with a swept curve, this cannot be to assist drainage flow as the water flowing down from the north would then travel uphill to flow along the ditch to the west.


The boundary ‘ continues to the west turning progressively towards the south marking the southern edge of ‘High Wood’ on the 1873 map. The current landowner has always known the land north of the boundary ‘ as ‘BrambletyePark’. The boundary line crosses the line of the railway in a north-south direction before continuing down the hill towards the Brambletye moated site. The location of the ditch on the north side of this boundary bank is therefore significant, as this should only be a wood bank at the edge of the woodland, but that would have the ditch on the southern side of the bank. 


There is significant disruption to the historic landscape where the feature ‹-Œ meets the railway. The apparent curve of the ditch towards the west immediately north of the railway cannot be assumed to be historic as there has been obvious significant earth movement in this area in the last few decades, much of which has not yet been naturalised by woodland plants. This is unfortunate as the direction of any continuation of the ditch would be a key piece of information.


There is a ditch on the west and parallel to the modern roadway south of the railway crossing, this is visible down to the next field boundary” on the 1873 map. This ditch is for drainage, and does not have any associated banks.


The feature“ seen crossing the field south west of the railway crossing does not correlate with the field boundary shown on the 1873 mapping, that boundary lies parallel to the feature but at a distance of about 15m to the south.


Eastern Area Discussion

The approaches towards Brambletye Moat and Castle will be discussed as part of the next section, this includes the boundaries and features south of the railway.


The alignment of the approach road to Brambletye House from the top of Wall Hill does not appear to have changed significantly since the 1805 mapping if we disregard the changes immediately around the junction where Wall Hill and the footpath separate. Assuming that the moated site existed before Wall Hill provided an access from Ashurst Wood down to Forest Row (the alternative route being along Cansiron Lane and then descending to Forest Row via one of the tracks); then the approach to Brambletye House from the red route discussed in the last section can be considered independent of the alignment of Wall Hill. The red line on the map below indicates the line of the smoothest descent with a very steady slope of 9.3% [1:11]. The initial progression to the east before turning south is to avoid the steep descent down the slope to the south of this route. Extending the route further east before going south generates a further incline which is avoided by the route shown. It is interesting how the deviation of the red line away from Wall Hill just north of the junction with the footpath closely resembles the alignment shown on the Tithe map, any deviation at this point to the east or west causes a steeper descent. After the red line meets the current footpath the topography no longer constrains the exact route as the contour lines are perpendicular to the route, therefore any deviations east and west will not increase the descent. Therefore the direction of the approach road after this point would be expected to head directly towards the destination unless there is an influence upon it other than topography.


The topography restrictions can be visualised from the LiDar data generating a colour map where the brightest white is equal to a slope of 1:14, blues are shallower than this and greens, reds and yellows are steeper. The image to the right of the map is the visualised slope data for the same area as the map. The black lines indicate the eastern and western limits within which an access route would not exceed a slope of 1:14 [the small areas of green and red within here are all associated with quarries, landscaping and modern embankments/cuttings].




Therefore it seems highly likely that the largest ditch and bank feature ‹-Œ marks the eastern boundary of the park causing the access road to circumnavigate it on the east side. The boundary ‘ is potentially an earlier park boundary, its lack of upkeep causing its loss in scale. It cannot be the most recent park boundary as it joins into the ditch and bank ‹-Œ with no significant difference in that major feature either side of the junction.  South of the railway will be discussed in the next section, leaving us to consider how far north the park extends towards Park Corner.


The first reference I can find to Park Corner is in the court records for the manor of Ashurst in 1697, when the death of Frances Ridgeway is recorded having died seized of a Cottage and half an acre of land at Park Corner (rental 1s 4d)[16].  This property can be traced through the court books until 1840 and matched to the tithe to demonstrate that it is the cottage ‘now in two tenements’ within plot 1515, this is directly opposite Park Corner Farm, so the court book entry of 1697 is referring to the same locality as Park Corner. The court books also identify that Park Corner Farm itself was a freehold of the manor of Ashurst held by Biddulph in 1842 for a quit rent of 7d[17], unfortunately it does not give an area for the part of Park Corner held by the manor of Ashurst, although the farm buildings (tithe plot 824) have the appearance of being in a wayside encroachment as they are in a narrow strip directly alongside the road and therefore potentially it is only the farmhouse and yard that lay outside the manor of Brambletye.


Therefore I believe that Park Corner farmhouse is highly likely to lie outside the original park pale as it is unlikely that the pale would have entered land belonging to the manor of Ashurst without references to the pale appearing in their court records.


The location of the north east corner of the park is difficult to place, it is highly likely to be north of the intersection of the major ditch and bank with the current A22Œ, and plausibly north of the intersection of the footpath with Wall HillŽ, If it were this far north, then the steep slope to the west would make it easiest to create a boundary roughly along a contour of the slope for example the 130m contour which surprisingly matches the rear boundaries of several of the modern housing plots despite it not being a boundary shown on earlier mapping. Discovering physical evidence for a pale behind these houses would require further investigation.


The map to the left shows the potential eastern park boundary with the level of physical evidence (shown by the solidity of the blue line) reducing as it progresses northwards.


The potential for an earlier south eastern boundary has been shown with the green line.


Southern Area

The Southern area is the most complex as it encompasses both the moated and later site of Brambletye Manor and across the river floodplain to the area around South Park Farm to determine if this place can be linked physically to a park. The LiDar data is complete for this area and is shown below along with a matching composite map.


Firstly considering the area of SouthPark, there is a continuous curved boundary encompassing the farm‹. This does not show as a significant feature on LiDar, and field studies show only the physical characteristics of a field boundary. This boundary is shown on a c1630 map of Whalesbeech[18], but none of the field names are indicative of a park. The only other early reference I can find to South Park is in the description of the boundary of the Tithes of Townward and Southward dated 1721[19]; this includes a section from Claypitts down by a Gill against the lands inclosed out of the Forest to Kidbrook, and thence along the way leading to a Gill running by the gate leading into South Parke, and so by the Gill into the main river leading to Brambletye. This implies that the ‘gate into SouthPark’ is where the track from Kidbrook to South Park Farm crosses the brookŒ.


The East Grinstead Bulletin article introduced at the start of this study, identified that In 1492 Maresfield manor had land called Lez Innomes of which a parcel was enclosed within the park at Brambletye. In 1493 there is a similar entry for Senclershoms at Bramylty, part whereof lies in the park there[20]. This latter name can be traced through the court records of Maresfield up to the rental of 1746[21] when it is described as bond lands called The Rest Inholms and Saint Cleers’ Inholmes otherwise the Court Inholms. From at least 1599 it is held by the lord of the manor of Brambletye. The c1630 map of Walesbeech states that it also shows the lands of South Park, but it does not show anything beyond the line of the track from Kidbrook including the continuation of that boundary round Wier Wood up to the MedwayŒ-. The land east of that boundary is shown as the land of Mr Henry Compton. Thus Tithe plots 483 and 492 called The Park (totalling just over 7a) and mapped in the Bulletin article[22] are potentially the portion of Saint Clare’s that lies within the park of Brambletye. This still leaves us trying to locate the boundaries of this park that could enclose these plots. Despite searches in the surrounding area, I have been unable to find any landscape features that could be described as park boundaries. I wonder whether these fields are adjacent to the park, in a similar way to Park Fields in Crawley Down which are outside but adjoining to Cuttingly Park and that it is a portion of land north of Court-In-Holms that lies within BrambletyePark, the old track from Priory Road potentially being a boundary.


Along the west of the modern access road to Weirwood Water Works there is a bankŽ&, this varies in size and definition and is most probably a wood bank, denoting the separation of Weir Wood and ‘The Green’ from the arable fields to the east.


Around Brambletye Moat and House are a number of major features and it is necessary to consider the chronology of the landscape before I attempt to interpret them.


Brambletye Moat is the earliest habitation feature, it was abandoned in 1631 upon completion of the new dwelling Brambletye House, by Henry Compton, which sits upon slightly higher ground to the east. The moat is similar in form to homestead moats dating from the 13th or 14th century[23] although it has not been excavated to provide any firm dating[24]. The remains of the gatehouse and bridge show that the moat was crossed to enter the manor house on its west elevation.


A main landscape feature near the moat site is the large bank laying just to the north’. This bank can be seen in the LiDar extending a long way to the west almost reaching the Medway tributary. The scale of the bank indicates that it is likely to be medieval although it has been modified later to provide a leet for the corn mill that is shown on the 1873 map just south of Brambletye House. The Heritage Environment Record (HER) describes this as a modification of the north outer retaining bank of the moated site, and discusses its potential in relation to an iron forge it has mistakenly placed just south of the corn mill. The HER states that this bank cannot be a dam as the water would have submerged the moated site that was occupied until 1631. However, the extension of this impressive bank so far to the west excludes it from being a continuation of the outer retention bank as that would enclose the moated site, the moated site does not require the leet to flood its moat as the flow of water required is easily provided by one of the streams coming down the hill from the north, the most likely is the one just to the west of the site which has clearly been diverted to flow eastwards in a route just north of the leet•. The north bank at its eastern end was used to retain the pond that fed the corn mill and it is higher in this area. However to the west of the moated site the size of the leet stream does not require the bank to be as high or broad as it is. The leet stream is also seen to be running between two banks, as the natural ground level in this area has a significant fall to the south, it would have been easy to run the leet along the north side of a bank and the natural slope of the land would have constrained the stream. The leet appears to have been cut into the top of a pre-existing bank, generating the appearance of a bank on each side. Unfortunately it was only possible to view the feature from a short distance, and I have been unable to get onto it in a place suitable to provide a section profile of the west extension.


Section through bank’ with the north side on the left axis, the small dip before the bank is where the leet stream was located. This section is close to the north west corner of the moat, outside the extent of the pond for the corn mill. Where this bank is retaining the pond it rises about 1.5m from the current ground level on the north side.


As the bank’ approaches the water course to the west its definition is lost in the LiDar and on the ground, this is unfortunate as it would have been very interesting to see how it related to the feature that is at the top of the steep bank above the leet stream curving to the south as it progresses east. The current public footpath is aligned with this feature which can be seen to extend into but not completely across the next field to the west. It consists of a narrow deep cut ditch with a bank on the southern side, the profile is similar to one discussed earlier [feature 6 (page 10)]. The location of this ditch does not appear to correlate well with a need for drainage as it is positioned at the crest of a steep bank that descends to the leet stream. The only reason for a drainage ditch in this position would be to divert surface water away from a trackway that lay on the south side of it. However, there is frequently little or no space for a track on that side before the steep slope and at these points the current footpath is on the north side of the ditch. If it is not intended for drainage then it could be a part of the park enclosure, with much of the current footpath being along the bank of the pale resulting in the erosion of the associated bank.


Alongside the small stream that divides the fields, there is a bank this appears to be a wood bank but it is larger than I would have expected as the land is sloping from the field towards the bank making it less likely that ploughing has dragged the soil away from the woodland boundary which is the way that feature is enhanced.


The bank“ alongside the track that extends south of the house and corn mill up to Court-In-Holms also shows as a significant feature, but it is most likely the boundary of the track and causeway to Brambletye House. This track alignment has clearly wandered over time as this bank diverges and converges with the current position of the track. At its southern visual extremity” the track and the bank diverge significantly, but this is at the point where the access track would have met an early route from Priory Road that passed immediately north of Court-In-Holms, the alignment of the field boundaries on the Tithe map back towards and across the track to Burnt House Farm and the road beyond confirm this.


There was a mill at Brambletye recorded in the Domesday survey, this was probably an undershot water wheel located on a fast flowing water course. The post medieval period records two co-existing mills south of Brambletye House[25], the tithe and first edition ordnance surveys clearly show the leet feeding a pond that curves round from beyond the north of the moat to the east where the sluice was positioned. There are only two bridges over the leet, one at the northwest corner of the moated site and one 127m to the west. It is unlikely that the Domesday mill is on the same site as the post medieval mills; because the transition to overshot water wheels later in the medieval period required the formation of mill ponds and unless these could be created by damming the fast flowing water course used for the earlier undershot mill the topography necessary for the creation of a pond will cause a new location to be required.


The forge is believed to have been a hammer forge and was in operation by 1562 and had probably ceased operation by 1602[26]. Its location south west of the moat is identified by forge bottoms in the stream bed and the location of its now dry pond is belied by the sharp diversions of the stream along what would have been the pond bay‘.


In terms of sequence, the moat is the first feature that was constructed, I believe that the large bank’ was later, followed by the forge (although this has little impact on the interpretation of the moat, house and mill as it is now located away from those features). The mill leet was the next construction as this modified the pre-existing bank’.


It is worthwhile considering how the moated site could have been approached; it is highly unlikely that the principle approach was from Priory Road to the south as this would require crossing the Medway flood plain, a wet and boggy area. Therefore we are looking for suitable approaches from Cansiron Lane to the north. As the moated house would have been a status symbol and show of wealth for the owner rather than defensive[27], the approach is likely to have provided views of the moat, this style of approach remained until the early 18th century when the ‘Capability Brown’ landscape design became prevalent, that is where the main approach only provided distant glimpses of the principle dwelling, then obscuring it, before a carefully contrived final reveal of the whole building in its landscape.


This intervisibility diagram (left) illustrates in the lighter colour all the places in the immediate landscape from which it is possible to see the moated site. This shows there is only a narrow corridor from the north east that provides visibility of the moated site, and this excludes Brambletye Lane as it approaches the railway crossing. With the causeway entrance on the west side of the moat, it is unlikely that the main approach followed the current Brambletye Lane down from the crossing to where it passes the front of Brambletye House. The bridge across the leet at the North West corner of the moat  possibly maintains the access route after the leet was formed. This bridge and access aligns with a feature that is visible on the maps and LiDar that is a track to higher ground 200m north[‹ below].


I have already discussed the diagonal feature“-“ that does not match with the field boundaries, but runs parallel to them. The other features visible on the LiDar [Œ-Œ, -, Ž-Ž] all correlate well with the Tithe field boundaries and are therefore probably the remnants of those boundaries having being ploughed out.



Southern Area Discussion

I have already determined that I can find no obvious remnants of the boundaries of a ‘south park’ although I suspect that it did exist as a separate entity south of the Medway. It is worth noting the presence of an orchard in plot 927 on the Tithe map. This is close to the location of the gate to SouthPark and is in a small enclosure very similar to an orchard that would have existed in close proximity to a dwelling. However, there is no dwelling in that area so it is possible that it has already fallen down. This could have been a suitable location for a lodge for a SouthPark. The map of Hurts and Oldlands in 1597/8[28]  shows the road way turning north immediately after crossing the stream, this leads directly towards plot 927, although the road alignment after the stream is now northwest and any previous road has been lost in a ploughed arable field. Unless further map or documentary evidence can be identified it is not possible to progress this theory.


Figure showing SouthPark on the Tithe map


On the north side of the Medway, the following text and diagram indicates what can be interpreted from the landscape. Although not conclusive, I suspect that the moat was approached by a route similar to the line of Brambletye Lane to just north of the crossing, where it turned south-west and continued south of the feature“-“ with the field boundary on the 1873 map providing a southern boundary to this access track. The access track met the southern end of the track‹, it then turned south to approach the gatehouse on the west side of the moat. After the construction of Brambletye House in 1631, the current alignment of Brambletye Lane would provide a better approach to the new house as it is always in view from the Lane and the approach is more direct to the new gatehouse. I cannot see any reason why the lane does not go direct from the crossing to the gatehouse. The forced diversion to the bend in the lane must have a reason; it is unlikely that the location of the Park caused this detour as this would have caused a far greater impact for the earlier access to the moat.


If the large bank’ west of the later mill pond was not originally for water management, then it is potentially a boundary within the demesne lands of Brambletye and could relate to a park boundary.




Discussion relating to the features of the Park

Considering the Park at a macro scale; the original EGSB article mapped the lodge fields (Tithe plots 830 & 933) also there are:-

Park Lane which is shown on the draft OS map 1805-8 and was clearly an access route into the Park rather than a connection with the later main road.

Warrens (Tithe plots 832, 833, 838a, 839 & 840). I also suspect 833a was part of the Warren

Lawns (Tithe plot 856=Upper Lawn & 857=Middle Lawn). It is likely that 858 & 858a were ‘Lower Lawn’.

Chase Copse (Tithe plot 834).




Chase Copse implies that the ‘chase’ [an open strip of land into which the selected deer is flushed to be chased down and killed[29]] existed either at this location or adjacent to it, although it would have extended as far as possible to maximise the spectator element of hunting. The chase is also associated with a standing which is a high point from which to observe the deer in the chase[30]. With the chase as an east west strip there is a good vantage point at the current location of BrambletyeSchool.


Lawns were the open grazing land for the deer; they are an essential part of a deer park. Lawns could also be used for coursing the deer in front of the lodge although this appears to be a later form of deer hunting in parks which survives into the 17th century. Deer coursing on lawns was popular in the late 16th century, and was favoured by Queen Elizabeth as a spectator sport[31].


The Warren is on the higher rocky land to the north and east and would have been created to promote the breeding of hare and rabbit within the park.


The presence of a lodge north of the warren and another alongside the lawns is very similar to the layout of DeenePark (Northamptonshire) which has a lodge within the warren and another in the lawn[32]. Perhaps this is to accommodate the warrener and the parker respectively.


Brambletye Park Boundaries

Based upon the early descriptions of the size of the park and that there are apparently two sets of boundaries for the south eastern corner of the park, I believe that there are at least two phases of the boundaries to consider. I therefore suggest that the park boundaries are potentially as shown below. This gives an early park with a perimeter of 3,340m and an area of 77.9 hectares and with a later extended park perimeter of 4,230m and an area of 117 hectares. Converted to old units gives:-


Perimeter (Leagues[33])


1327/1336 Park



Early Park



Extended Park




This gives a very good match between the early park and the 1327/1336 description considering that length is relatively easy to measure accurately along the pale, but area is far more difficult, particularly as some of the park would have been wooded hindering line-of-sight surveying.


History of Brambletye from 1540.

Following Henry Windsor’s sale of his half of the manor c1540 there was a rapid change in ownership over the next 60 years, Agnes Lovell who held the other half of the manor had also sold and the two portions were not in single ownership again until James Pycas prior to 1590. The diagram below shows the transfers in this period, green arrows marking the few times that the transfer was by inheritance compared to the frequent sales.




In this period we have only a couple of entries relating to occupation at or near Brambletye:-

1543   John Payn of Brambelti pays 12s tax for goods[34].

1555   John Payne of Horsshoo in Brambylltie in Eastgrinsted, yeoman[35].


The dwelling at this time is still the moated manor house, it was painted in 1785 (below[36]). Note how intact it is, with its gatehouse and first floor chambers. The catslide roof is indicative of the lower end of the house, Horsham slab hipped roof, these chimneys are a 16th century design. The porch containing a stair turret to the attic space is more typical of the 15th century. However, there are a number of inconsistencies compared to a later photograph and I think a later drawing of potentially gives us more detailed information.


Drawings of the moated house


This drawing of 1809[37] shows a greater level of detail, with the stonework of the bridge and gatehouse closely resembling a 1907 photograph, this implies that the drawing may show the detail more reliably than the earlier painting. This drawing shows a jettied north (left) end, with larger windows that could therefore be a hall and principle chamber, this is potentially late 15th century. I suspect the walls of the southern half are older than the northern section based upon their scale and buttressing.  A late 15th century upgrade would relate to the Lewkenor family or Dame Katherine Grey, both of whom would have the financial means and would benefit from the upgrade as this was their principle dwelling house.  


We left the descent of the property when it had been received by Richard Sackville and then enter a 200 year period of family descent. The chart on the opposite page shows the descent through the Compton and Biddulph families with the red spots being the owner-occupiers and the green spots being the absent owners.


Henry Compton was elected to represent the borough of East Grinstead in 1601, at which time Compton was still aged only about 17. Compton was re-elected for East Grinstead in 1604, still probably under-age, by which time he had strengthened his connections with the Sackvilles by marrying his stepsister. By 1616 Compton had taken up residence at Brambletye, two-and-a-half miles from East Grinstead, at first as a tenant of the Sackvilles. Lady Compton disliked the damp and low-lying situation of Brambletye, while her husband was so fond of it, and they lived, according to their sister-in-law, Lady Anne Clifford, ‘with many discontents’ and at least one period of separation. By inheritance, marriage, and purchase he acquired widely scattered property ranging from Northumberland to Kent and from Somerset to Norfolk.


Compton entered into his Common Pleas office in 1630, then worth some £2,000 p.a., and he may have applied these profits to building his new house at Brambletye in ‘Jacobean Gothic’.  He also acquired an interest in the soap monopoly. Henry Compton built his new house on the slightly higher ground to the east of the moated site. Although the vaulted cellars beneath it drop to the same level as the moated building. It was completed in 1631 (based upon the date stone) and would have been a marvellous and extensive Jacobean house.


Sir Henry Compton was a Royalist and a Recusant (did not attend services at Church of England) at the start of the English Civil War. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London, his lands sequestered by Parliament. In 1645 allowed to go overseas for his health but actually as King’s ambassador in Lisbon.


Family tree showing the descent of the property

December 1646, Sir Henry begs to compound his properties, being voted delinquent for taking arms against Parliament, but on appeal before the Committee for Compounding. In January 1648, the Committee order ‘his writings to be delivered him, that he may make particulars of his estate’. Henry was recalled from Portugal in January 1648 but died in Paris during his return. It is not until 1654 that his children are allowed their portions of his estate on certificate of non-recusancy.

In 1650 Lady Mary Compton is still living at Brambletye. Henry’s son Henry, was killed in a duel in 1652 at Putney, and in 1659 son John, died at Brambletye. The house had therefore survived the Civil War, and the last act of the Comptons at Brambletye was in 1660, the year of the Restoration, when Henry's third son, George, held court there. So the impressive Jacobean building is still inhabited by the Comptons in 1660, but is a ruin a hundred years later.

All that we can find out about the fate of the estate during the second half of the 17th century is from the various court cases the Compton’s and the Biddulph’s brought. The Chancellery cases provide a total of 11 manuscripts dated 1674-1693.

1674 Richard Compton claims Richard Biddulph and Mary widow of George tried to deceit Richard Compton of his inheritance[38]. Richard Compton says the conveyance of the property to Biddulph was only in trust and not an outright sale. Richard Biddulph provides evidence that the estate was passed by conveyance of 1671 between George & Wife Mary to Richard Biddulph who paid £3647 4s & £600/a  & £300/a to Mary for life. Richard Biddulph says that he has secured all debts of George Compton and that Richard Biddulph does not know of any documents leaving it to Richard Compton and therefore considers himself the purchaser.

Not a Chancellery case, but in 1683 Sir James Richards was living at Brambletye. In 1684 Sir James Richards of Bramlety House, Sussex pays £1,095 to be made a Baron by the King[39].

1690 Bill of Complaint by Samuel Kert (barrister) that in 1649 Sir Henry’s estate went to George Compton as second son of his 2nd wife[40]. Then after Charles II sequestered at Worcester (3 Sep 1651), George was taken by his mother to London and kept in prison. Just before the restoration George’s mother got government to settle the estate on John Compton, youngest son. John entered the estate until his death in 1659.
But in the meantime John had contracted great debts and his wife was much involved in the estate. George having got his liberty & John being without issue, George got deeds of settlement and asked Samuel Kert to assist him secure the estate for George. This took 3 years and money had to be paid to creditors of John. George paid £1500.
George died without issue and Richard Compton tried to recover the estate, paying 30 guineas to Samuel Kert. But all documents had been destroyed by Henry Compton but Samuel found some fines levied and drew up the case and sent it to Richard Compton. But hearing that Richard was a fellon he made further searches and found a release under the hand & seal of Richard Compton and copied it. Unfortunately all documents burnt in a fire.
The tenants of Brambletye were called to London, they all said that if Richard Biddulph had title, he did not come fairly to it. Therefore on the advice of counsel they are now taking leases from Henry Compton (a total of 13 such leases have been raised).
Amy and Henry owed Samuel Kert £40 but did not pay it when he requested it in 1687. 13th June 1687 Samuel’s house burnt down all documents were lost before anything could be entered on the roll.

Amy and Henry come to court and say they know nothing except that after George’s death, Samuel came to her husband Richard Compton saying he knew all the title and could get the estate settled on Richard for little expense. Richard Compton paid him 20 guineas. Amy had never seen any documents and thought the £40 bill from Samuel was very extravagant. Amy wants to end the dispute with the ‘troublesome person’. Samuel never got Brambletye settled on Henry, but the ‘tenants handed it over’.

1692 Richard Biddulph v Thomas Cholmondeley, Henry Bolestrode and George Middleton[41]. Richard Biddulph sates he is seized of Brambletye and other estates of considerable yearly value. Richard Bidduplh being the only tenant for life the remainder to his sons in marriage. John Biddulph is his eldest son and will become entitled as declared in the marriage settlement. Richard owes Mary King and James Bamber £3000 secured on the said estate by marriage settlement. Richard made an indenture in 1688 with Thomas Cholmondeley of Chester, Henry Bolestrode of Petworth and George Middleton of Holborn that they would farm and let the manors and premises for the term of 21 years upon trust that they should raise and pay their expenses from the trust. Reversion to John Biddulph after debts paid.
4 years profits would have nearly paid off the debt, but the trustees did neglect and refused to let and manage the manors to their best advantage. Requested the court to instruct the trustees to improve their management of the estates, and asked to subpoena the three of them to give evidence.

1693 the defendants come to court, Thomas Cholmondeley & Henry Bolestrode agree there was an indenture, but they had received nothing. They claim George Middleton had received it all and they were willing to transfer the trust if the court wishes.  Middleton says he has received profits and paid off several debts and is prepared to give an account and also willing to hand over the trust if the court wishes.

So with Brambletye being miss-managed by George Middleton in London and no particular interest from the Biddulphs who are living in Staffordshire at this time, there is no tenant for the house and it falls to ruin. The tenants clearly dislike Biddulph and so probably took pleasure in using it as a source of building materials. 1684 is the last date we can be sure it had a tenant, but Biddulph’s indenture of trust in 1688 implies that it was probably being well managed up till then. So it only took 84 years to become a ruin much of which is what we still see today.

The moated site appears to have been tenanted until the early 1800’s by Edward Virgo[42], and therefore was maintained such that it did not suffer the fate of the new house until it too was robbed of stone during the 19th century, with nothing but the lower part of the gatehouse and the bridge over the moat surviving when it was photographed in 1907.

The estate eventually descended to Anthony George Wright-Biddulph who was the grandson of Ann Biddulph (daughter of Richard Biddulph of Burton) who had married Anthony Wright. Anthony Wright-Biddulph sold the Brambletye estate in 1866 ending the second long period of family ownership.


JIC 03/16

[1] TNA C133/42/1 m2

[2] Assize Rolls TNA Just1/924

[3] Close Rolls, Edward I: February 1292

[4] Calendar of Patent Rolls 18 March 1299 Westminster

[5] TNA C135/1/5 m2

[6] TNA C135/44/3 m8

[7] Assize Rolls TNA Just1/941a

[8] Calendar of Inquest Misc (Chancery) Vol 7, 569.

[9] Calendar of Papal Registers Relating To Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 9, 1431-1447, pp. 1-13

[10] Suss. Inquis. (Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv), 1105.

[11] EGSB 113 p9.  Parks in Medieval East Grinstead, M. J. Leppard 2015

[12] British Library OSD19

[13] WSRO TD E45

[14]HedgecourtPark boundary well preserved north-east corner has an internal angle of 80° but at a radius of approximately 50m. Cuttingly north-west corner internal angle 120°, radius ~20m. Cuttingly south-west corner internal angle 75°, radius ~25m.

[15] WSRO AddMss 17700 f232, f21.

[16] WSRO AddMss 17700 f15

[17] WSRO AddMss 17702 f140

[18] ESRO AMS6525/2

[19] ESRO SAS-H/395

[20] EGSB 113 p11.  Parks in Medieval East Grinstead, M. J. Leppard 2015

[21] ESRO SAS-G/17/24 (list 14)

[22] EGSB 113 p10.  Parks in Medieval East Grinstead, M. J. Leppard 2015

[23] D. Turner, Moated Sites in Surrey, SryAC Vol. 71 p91-95

[24]East Sussex Heritage Environment Record MES3169 & MES3167

[25] Wealden Power: Windmills and Watermills of the East Grinstead Area, Roy Henderson (2012)

[26] The Iron Industry of the Weald, Henry Cleere & David Crossley. (1995) p351.

[27] Medieval Moated Sites. CBA Research Report, Ed. F. A. Aberg 1978

[28] Buckhurst Terrier, SRS Vol.39 250.138 p.XXXVIII.

[29] From The Deer to the Fox. The Hunting transition and the landscape. Mandy de Berlin (2013)

[30] Parks in Medieval England. S.A. Mileson 2009

[31] From The Deer to the Fox. The Hunting transition and the landscape. Mandy de Berlin (2013) p20.

[32] From The Deer to the Fox. The Hunting transition and the landscape. Mandy de Berlin (2013) p50

[33] Using the Gallo-Roman league which is 1½ Roman miles (7500 Roman feet or 2.22 km). Attempting to use 1 league = 3 statute miles [the English Land League] cannot generate a realistic Park boundary.

[34] Lay Subsidy TNA E179/190/191

[35] Grant  ESRO SAS-RF/2/70

[36]Sussex Views, from the Burrell Collection 1776-1791 SRS 83, 58

[37] Illustrations to WallaceHills History of East Grinstead 1906/7.

[38] 1674 TNA C5-464-23 Richard Compton v Richard Biddulph

[39] Kings Warrant Book IX, pp. 321–2 TNA T52-9.

[40] 1690 TNA C5-170-29 Kert v Compton

[41] 1692 TNA C6-300-29 Biddulph v Cholmondeley

[42]EastGrinsteadLand Tax