© Uckfield and District Preservation Society Ltd.          Registered Office - 47 Roman Way, Uckfield, East Sussex TN22 1UY  All rights reserved.   Company Registered in England Number 04471316    Registered Charity No 1102573         webadmin@udps.co.uk
Volume 5 – Summer 1999


Nutley Mill (continued)
by Anthony Shaw & Brian Pike

This article broadly continues the story of Nutley Mill from the end of the 19th Century, - but offering some further insights to the past, - into the 20th Century.  There is much detail about the technical and practical operation and needs for restoration.  The story is of hard work, much courage and great dedication on the part of UDPS members led by and Tony and Peggy Turner with Brian Pike and his wife Elsa.  Tony was inspired by the knowledge that he was the great, great grandson of Hannah, daughter of Henry Sitford who owned the Mill early in the 19th Century.  

Courage, enthusiasm, dedication and determination were severely tested when, in the Great Hurricane of 1987, £6,000 worth of damage was done and a considerable amount of the restoration, undone.  Shortly thereafter, Lady Castle Stewart the mill owner and strong supporter of the entire restoration project, died.  The work continued with the agreement of her family.  Meantime a successful application had been made to British Telecom for a grant towards the new costs.  After review in 1994 their Committee gave £7,000.  Gratitude was very great and it was a proud moment when, on 14th May 1995, Tony Turner and Brian Pike received the keys (and title) of the Mill on behalf of the UDPS, from the Hon. Simon Stuart, Lady Castle Stewart’s son, with Kevin Ruck there to represent BT.  

The death of Tony Turner in August 1997, and George Wood three days later, - also a strong supporter and worker with Tony, - shocked the Society.  The work continued as they would have wished.  Tom Coppard, Tom Evans, Gerry Graham, David Gubbins, James Guile, Brian and Robert Pike, and Martyn Taylor and many others carried forward on the task of further restoration.  

Sir Henry Hart – some new perspectives
by Peter Ferguson

This article, as the previous one, builds on an earlier contribution.  Sir Henry was the eighth child of Richard Hart (formerly of Uckfield) and Sarah (nee Blackman).  After education he entered the Navy and was under the command of Sir Edward Pellew (Lord Exmouth 1757-1833).  He rose from midshipman to Captain (command) of a number of naval vessels and successfully fought the French navy during the Napoleonic Wars.  He served in Europe and the Far East and was supported throughout his career by Sir Edward Pellew.

Sir Henry was appointed in 1846 by Sir Robert Peel to be a Commissioner of Greenwich Hospital.  The institution had a reputation for disorder, discord among the residents, and bad management.  It was the subject of a critical report by the Inspector-General of the Royal Hospital in that year.  The Commissioners supported some of the reform proposals, rejecting others on grounds of cost.  There is no evidence that Sir Henry intervened or argued in major support.  The Hospital was finally closed in 1869.

Peter Ferguson ends the article with this valedictory observation:   

“All accounts agree that Hart was a brave and distinguished officer, whose conduct and bearing during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and after them in the diplomatic field were to win him the approbation of many of his superiors including Sir Edward Pellew and Sir John Gore, and finally earned him high honours.”

Smuggling Episodes

Reports drawn from the Sussex Weekly Advertiser in 1787 and 1794.

Ordnance Survey Maps
by Janet Hardy

Inspired by the gift of 250 old maps, mainly of Uckfield district, from Uckfield solicitor Dawson & Hart, Janet Hardy has written this short article about the origins of the Ordnance Survey.

The idea of a national survey and mapping was the brainchild of William Roy (1726-1790), but not achieved in his lifetime.  The fear of French invasion (circa 1801 onwards) brought the process nearer, placing responsibility under the Board of Ordnance at the Tower of London.  After 1855 the duty was transferred to an independent Ordnance Survey with a requirement for the Director-General to be an army officer of Major General rank.  

Sir Henry James, appointed Director-General in 1854 fostered the use of photography as a means of reducing the size of maps, thus  preparing the way for the public sale of local and county maps.  Post World War One Ellis Martin was appointed to improve the artistic quality of OS map covers;  aerial photography became a more efficient way of improving survey accuracy, progressively superseding the trigonometric triangulation process introduced in the late 1840s.  

Following extensive damage during World War Two, new headquarters had been built and finally opened in 1969 at Maybush, Southampton.  In 1974 Government changed the law to enable the appointment of a civilian Director-General.  Digital mapping, was piloted in 1971 and successfully introduced on a national scale in later years.  Recent work includes the use of satellite technology for survey purposes.

The Sawyers of Uckfield
by Don Thompson

The essay ends with a question:  
“How the do we (the Sawyers) come to be involved in the Uckfield history ?”   

Don Thompson does not give an answer but his contribution traces the long and intricate connection of his family with the district starting with William Sawyer in 1751.  He married a widow in Isfield, lived to age 75 – she to age 89 – and both are buried in Framfield.  William the son married at Little Horsted;  his children were born in Uckfield district.  William married a second time at Holy Cross church in 1816.  In 1841 a family of Sawyers lived in Bridge Cottage.  These  facts exemplify part of the answer to the writer’s question.  

The various branches outlined in a family tree set alongside the text starting with Don Thompson’s four times Great Grandfather illustrates the extent of the family’s local involvement.  James Sawyer is named a gamekeeper to R J Streatfeild in the 1860s.  In 1871 a Frederick Sawyers of Ridgewood is listed as a ‘jobbing gardener’.  During the 1880s a Richard Sawyers became a tenant farmer at Ridgewood and a part-time labourer at the Sussex Pottery Brick & Tile Works.  Later Census returns (1891) record other branches of the family living and working in Uckfield and district.  The article also includes some detailed references to branches of the family which grew up in Sussex and elsewhere, many working on the land.

Chartered Surveyors, Auctioneers and Valuers: St. Jphn Smith & Son – the first Sixty Years   
by Jeremy Clark

Jeremy Clark is the brother of Michael Clark (BSc. FRCS) from whose history of the firm this contribution is drawn.  Both are the sons of W.A Clark who became a partner of Stuart, the son of George St.John Smith, and subsequently the business’ senior partner upon Stuart’s retirement.  

The company’s greatest achievement was the sale of the large Streatfeild estate following the death of Annette Streatfeild in 1937.  W.A.Clark persuaded four leading Uckfield business men to invest in parts of the property, encouraged development – stemmed during the second World War and regulated by post-war legislation – thus facilitating the town’s growth.

George St. Smith was articled to a T Bannister of Haywards Heath in 1895.  An energetic, thrusting young man he soon sought, with encouragement from an uncle, to engage in business on his own account.  A third attempt to find Uckfield premises brought success securing an office at the rear of 196 High Street, Uckfield – the landlady providing him with board and lodging.

During the inter-war years he successfully built a portfolio of distinguished local clients including the Shiffners, a local family with senior military connections, and the Gazle Slope estate at Piltdown which the company managed for many years thereafter.

In the mid 1920s Stuart, then senior partner, bought new offices in Ivy and York House.  He had qualified as an Associate Surveyor in 1907 and became a Fellow of the Auctioneers Institute in 1921.  These reflected the main activities of the company at the time.  W.A.Clark became a partner in 1931 following the death of the founder, and brought the experience of estate agency to the practice, culminating in the 1937 sale of the Streatfeild Estate.  The firm continued successful business well into the post-World War Two era.

A Waterway into History
by Simon Wright

This is the history of the Ouse Navigation cut from Lewes to Lindfield.  The article in entirety is more than that and presents an interesting study of the reasons for constructing navigations, and their differences from canals proper.  There is also some discussion of contemporary political and social developments.  

Begun in 1790 the Navigation was finally completed in 1812, after much uncertainty arising from incompetent contractors, periodic shortfalls in investment funds, changes in management and three construction stops and restarts.  Initiated by Thomas Pelham, MP for Sussex County, with support from Lord Sheffield it was completed to Freshfield Bridge, above Fletching in 1799, with a branch from Isfield to Shortbridge, two miles west of Uckfield.

A forecast of possible carriage included commodities as diverse as corn, chalk, iron, alabaster, and animals (sheep, cattle, goats).  Prominent barge owners were Lord Sheffield and the Streatfeilds, but it is doubtful if the Navigation was ever more than marginally profitable.  Trade and usage fluctuated and declined sharply after 1858 with the opening of the Lewes to Uckfield Railway, and ceased finally in 1870.  In its last phases the navigation carried the stone and materials needed to build the viaduct at Haywards Heath for the London to Brighton railway line, hastening further its own ultimate decline.

Comments and Corrections Corner

Important additions to two articles by Brian Phillips in Volume 4, 1998:  
Feudal Jargon Made Simpler  and  Conflict and Disorder in 19th Century

Some titles for further reading are given, and minor text variations noted.  

Three Centuries of Sussex Cricket (1600 –1900)
by Simon Wright

This essay describes the fascinating development of Sussex cricket through its initial regard as a game engaged in by the lower classes and subject to control by rules of conduct prescribed by the church.  (The writer reports upon the disciplining of players by the Bishop of Chichester in the 17th Century.)  Its subsequent adoption by the gentry and aristocracy and the development of teams representing great houses and then across counties.  There is more than a hint of the way the Gentlemen and Players status developed which persisted into the Twentieth Century.

Simon Wright focuses down from his wide theme in the opening section to bring it first into Sussex with examples from Lewes, and then to the involvement of the great enthusiast, the Third Earl of Sheffield.  The story of the Earl’s contribution, the creation of a special ground and pavilions within Sheffield Park, and the hosting of Australian touring teams, makes remarkable reading.  On these occasions the Park was thrown open to the public and upwards of 25,000 people – mostly from Sussex – enjoyed the games and the festivities.  

The spat between the Earl and his neighbour, Maryon-Wilson, in which each sought to outwit the other offers an acute insight into local attitudes and behaviour.  The one determined to deny his opponent admission or sight of the matches;  the other building a tower to overlook (and the Earl’s response to that).  

Mention is made of two cricketing ‘giants’ of the times:  William Lillywhite, renowned 19th Century bowler, and John Wisden whose memory is still recalled in the annual publication that bears his name.  Finally the Australian Sheffield Shield competition, was the outcome of the Earl’s initiative to take an English team to Australia in the winter of 1891-92.  He gave the Australians £150 to be spent on any cricketing purpose.  Their governing Council used the money to purchase a shield trophy.

Lord Sheffield was renowned and respected in Sussex cricket, and by local people.  He died in 1909.  The essay ends:  “He received a grand military funeral, the route to Fletching Church lined by three thousand of his tenants and villagers.” ………. “By his death”  wrote the editor of Wisden,  “Sussex lost the best supporter of cricket they ever had ”.  

A Fragment of Local History

Some additional notes about the Wells family and William Wells, wheelwright of Forest Row.  He owned Nutley Mill, receiving it in lieu of loan repayment from first, Henry Sitford, and second Robert Hollands.  (See Hindsight, Volume 4)

Sussex Privies
by Simon Wright
A short review of a Countryside Books publication by David Arscott, including reference to the condition of Uckfield sewers in the 1870s.

Place names and Person names
by Simon Wright

The opening sentence points to the complexity and extent of the subjects.

 “To describe a local historian writing about place names in Sussex as being like ‘a soldier negotiating a minefield in heavy  boots’ is grossly to underestimate the hazards involved.”

Simon Wright carefully and skilfully works through the intricate nature of these topics to provide an understanding.  Two examples illustrate his perception:

Totease (1200) is Tot(t)a’s brushwood.  Sleeches farm in 1327 belonged to William Slech.’   ‘Uckfield in Ucca’s open field (1220)’.

Turner  had meanings other than a man who operated a lathe.  It could mean a turnspit, or translator or a jouster or even a ‘turn-hare’ (someone especially fleet-footed).

His authorities include the distinguished Dr. P H Reaney The Origin of English Surnames (1967) and Eiliert Ekwall’s seminal work The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names in addition to excellent, more recent works.