Volume 8 – Summer 2002
Simon Wright acknowledges the Society’s debt to several members who have died recently, particularly Norman Edwards who joined in the early days and was an invaluable point of reference about Uckfield and district. He thanks also Pat Eves and Peter Gilles for their recent contributions to the Society’s collections.
How to keep, make available for enquirers and to display the Society’s accumulated material and artefacts is a concern he expresses. The solution to be sought is an Uckfield heritage centre and museum. Now that the Millennium Green is complete there ought also to be efforts to maintain the woodlands and space reserves that surround the town giving it a distinctive, delightful character. It is important to preserve this for posterity and with it Luxfords Field in the town’s heart.
Women in 13th Century Uckfield
by Brian Phillips
This article grows out of Brian Phillips’ detailed analysis and debate about the possibility of a 13th century Uckfield market and borough.(Hindsight Volume 7) It links with the short note by Oliver Harris about medieval archbishops’ towns, which follows it sequentially in this Volume.
24 women holding land tenancies are identified in Uckfield and vicinity in 1285. The fact is unusual in a society in which women and children have been described as ‘legal marginals’. Some are widows, or single women, there is one instance of a married couple holding land in partnership, none seem to be of great substance. However two – Dyn of Uckfeud, a shopkeeper and Maud de Marsefued (Maresfield) – were burgesses who paid larger tax charges for their property holding.
The writer acknowledges “Conclusions from this recital of two dozen female tenants in Uckfield must be limited: … there are pointers to current research and debates in medieval social history.” The Black Death caused a labour shortage from which women seem to have profited, losing their advantage in the next century as economic life assumed traditional normality.
This interesting article is illustrated by line drawings of women performing tasks customary in the Middle Ages (and for many subsequent centuries).
Uckfield and other medieval Archbishop’s towns
by Oliver Harris
The title describes the substance of this article which draws the conclusion that Uckfield was a rising borough until the mid-thirteenth century when decline in status appears to have started.. Oliver Harris writes:
“I find it a persuasive indication of Uckfield’s decline that it was taxed as a township, not a borough, in the lay subsidy of 1296, and that it was not even a tax unit in the subsidies of 1327, 1332 and 1334.”
The papal grant of a market charter (1261) for Mayfield may have influenced Uckfield’s decline.
The Thorneycroft ‘J’ type lorry
This lorry was designed in 1912 partly with Government subsidy made available to encourage the manufacture of vehicles usable in the event of war. During World War I some 6,000 vehicles were produced and some were adapted as mobile anti-aircraft gun carriages. The Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire has one of the originals, carefully restored in 1986-87 by Richard Peskett of Midhurst.
Farming in Halland: the Wrens of Sandhill Farm
by Simon Wright
Charles and Ann (nee Gaston) Wren started farming at Sandhill around 1865; they and their family descendents remained in occupation until 1933 when sons, Henry Charles (‘Jim’) and Alick dissolved their partnership and retired.
This short article documents many of their experiences, the farming changes that occurred over time, their successes and a few uncertainties. ‘Jim’, it was said, drank heavily; his daughter Millicent Wyndham Gould told how his pony knew every hostelry on the way home, and would stop when it was reached ! On retirement Jim and his wife went to live with the Goulds.
A history of Parliamentary representation in East Sussex
by Rt. Hon.Sir Geoffrey Johnson-Smith
Sir Geoffrey makes clear that his studies are incomplete: he offers a brief review of his topic, picking several high lights between 1295 and 2002. He says that many of the early seats went to members of the Sackville family who had vested property in the represented localities. Thomas Sackvill elected in 1558 for East Grinstead and Westmorland, chose the latter and switched to the former on his second election. The Culpepers of Wakehurst were among the early representatives
He recalls the hostility of Parliament towards Roman Catholic members who, opposing legislation, also incurred the ‘wrath of the monarch’. He exemplifies the fearful case of John Story sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered for such an offence.
Hospitality for electors was a feature of elections and the franchise was limited to a few persons in each town. Uckfield was part of East Grinstead constituency, and remained so when boundary changes introduced the Wealden constituency to replace it.
His promise about Uckfield electors was fulfilled in Hindsight, Volume 9 , 2003. There were 33 all prominent property owners in the district. Ed.
The Morris Family in Uckfield (Part 3)
introduced and annotated by Simon Wright.
A continuation of Robert Morris’ personal diary recording family events, national politics and international warfare. This extract begins in 1908 and runs to March 1915 with the German blockade of the English coast, an airship on patrol watch over the Sussex coast for signs of invasion, the Allies bombarding the Dardenelles, and the arrival of Lord Strathcona’s Horse regiment at Maresfield Park Camp. (Presumably en route for France.)
The entries refer to topical issues of the times: Old Age Pensions for 70 year olds, the introduction of National Insurance, the battle with the Lords for Commons’ supremacy, the Miners’ strike of 1911, the gaoling of Sylvia Pankhurst, Shackleton’s expedition to the South Pole , many local events, happenings and celebrations and a great deal more.
Earlier extracts are printed in Volumes 6 and 7. The UDPS acknowledged a deep debt to the Gilbert family (related to Robert by marriage of his sister), for permission to use extracts from his Diary.
William Rose and his sons
by Simon Wright
Rose was born of Scottish parents; his early life is little known. In 1793 he married Susannah Ryall, a Lewes school proprietor and became the curate of Glynde where he set up a small school for ‘young gentlemen’. Moving to Little Horsted he enlarged his private school, and thence to Uckfield.
Here he took charge of the Saunders’ Charity School, and the education of the 12 charity boys from Buxted and Uckfield. He continued to educate and board his earlier class of pupils and eventually paid the master of the National School to educate the charity boys. He returned to Glynde as vicar in 1824 and died 20 years later. William had four sons – two only survived infancy.
Hugh James proved a brilliant scholar, but suffered from very poor health. Educated at Cambridge and married shortly thereafter to Anna Guyler Mair, he held a Buxted curacy, was appointed first vicar of Horsham, and later, rector of Hadleigh in Suffolk in 1830.
He was associated with the Oxford (Tractarian) Movement in the Church of England discussing issues of reform with Keble, Newman and others, although playing no major part. He edited the British Magazine, a contemporary Church journal, and held briefly the Chair of Divinity at Durham (but delivered only three lectures), resigning to be perpetual curate of St. Thomas’, Southwark.
He was nominated a domestic chaplain by the Archbishop of Canterbury and in 1836 appointed Principal of the new, King’s College, London. For health reasons he decided to spend the winter of 1838 in Italy; he died out there and is buried in the Protestant cemetery outside the Rome city walls. Anna lived on until 1854, and is buried at Glynde.
Henry John was born in 1800 soon after the family moved to Uckfield. He also went to Cambridge graduating BA, then MA and being admitted to the fellowship of St. John’s College in 1824. Here he remained until 1837, teaching and lecturing. To his knowledge of Latin and Greek, acquired at school, he added German, Hebrew and Syriac.
In 1837 the college offered him the rectorship of Houghton Conquest (Bedfordshire) and in that year he married Sarah Caroline Burgon. Henry devoted the rest of his life to his parish work; he raised a family of two boys and three daughters, maintained contact with many friends and scholars, and worked on the restoration of his church and improving the village school.
Periodically he assisted his brother, Hugh, when the latter was unwell, and regularly entertained as a guest at the parsonage, his brother-in-law, John William Burgon, Dean of Chichester. He was an authoritative writer on Church History, and translated a German classical work upon the history of Christianity. He died in 1873 and is buried at Houghton Conquest. Sarah outlived him by sixteen years until 1889.
Uckfield in 1855 - An abstract from the Post Office Assurance Directory, 1855.
The Mission of St. Phillip Neri 1885-1891
by Margaret Boss
Between March 1885 and circa December 1891, Father Philip Fletcher led the mission to Uckfield which re-established a Roman Catholic presence in the town. A school was begun in Church Street with Miss Fairclough as teacher. She was succeeded by Alice O’Neill who had trained at Wandworth Training College, Miss Fairclough deciding to leave the profession altogether.
Fr. Philip aimed: “I sought popularity in Uckfield and got it, that is about all I did get. I made very few converts, but I removed some prejudices.” Anti-Catholic prejudice in Sussex was strong; the evidence of the strength of the Bonfire Societies was a witness. (Fr. Philip believed that, when he converted to Roman Catholicism from high church Anglicanism, he was burned in effigy on a Guy Fawkes night.) However he managed to achieve significant popularity and appreciation through the school, the brass band ‘for men and boys’, the entertainments he organised, involvement in the fire brigade, and the provision of winter soup kitchens,” not provided by the local church”.
The school, and the ground on which the iron chapel was built in Church Street, was purchased by Lady Philippa Howard, daughter of the Dower Duchess of Norfolk resident at Herons Ghyll. There was a Roman Catholic church and enclave there which supported strongly the Mission. With the Duchess’ death in March 1886, funding for the mission became a problem for Lady Philippa. It ceased altogether in 1890 on her marriage.
Maureen Boss concludes her article by saying: “Thus within six years of its founding the Uckfield Mission of St, Philip Neri had lost the two people who had brought the Mission into existence; it was now up to its members, the congregation, whether it would survive.” Fr. Philip had retired ‘to be free of parish work’ and, with his bishop’s approval, become something of a roving evangelist. Clearly the church did survive as the modern Uckfield church building in New Town witnesses.
The owners of Bridge Cottage
by Peter Ferguson
This article is the outcome of a careful, detailed and skilful study of some fifty and more documentary sources, tracking down the former owners of the UDPS’ Heritage headquarters.
Peter Ferguson has identified the persons from 1570 to 1713, concluding that many were people with a significant status in the society of their times. One such was Arthur Langworth in 1570, whose family had close links with the Archbishop of Canterbury. (Uckfield was part of the Archbishop’s South Malling Manor.) Simon Snell, a London merchant’ received the cottage under the Will of William Peake, his brother-in-law, a prominent Lewes Dissenter,and a ‘man of substance’. Henry Colgate (1713), a miller and churchwarden of Holy Cross, purchased the cottage from Thomas Michell, gentleman.
This is the third essay in a series prepared by the author. A further one is promised.
by Simon Wright based on information provided by Edward’s grandson, Peter Hunter
A Norfolk man, Edward Hunter became game keeper at Buxted Park circa 1880. Previous owners of the Park had included the 3rd Earl of Liverpool, Charles Cecil Jenkinson, half brother of the Prime Minister (1812-1827) whose title he inherited. Edward was probably appointed by William Portman to whom the estate had come through inheritance by his wife, Mary, a niece of the Earl’s daughter, Lady Catherine Julia Harcourt. Edward continued in post after the death of Lady Portman.
In 1903 he was made blind in one eye and ended with reduced vision in the other, through a shooting accident.
The cause was the misdirected discharge of a gun by Dr. Langdale, (Uckfield surgeon) whilst on a shoot. There are no records of compensation being paid. Despite this Edward continued to exercise his duties, supported by some of his sons, until the early 1920s, aged 67. Throughout life he was a strong supporter of the Grange Hill Mission from where he was buried in 1932. His wife Sarah, from Great Amwell in Hertfordshire, lived on until 1941.
The early years of Bridge Cottage (1436 – 1584)
by Simon Wright.
A detailed research article about the origins of Bridge Cottage, the oldest timber in which was dated circa 1436 (in 2001) , by Dr. Martin Bridge, specialist dendrologist from the University of London. Its general construction is compatible with the Wealden timber houses of the time. The writer provides a fascinating account of these traditional buildings and an insight into the skill and dexterity with which they were built.
Simon Wright ‘clothes the timbers’ with reference to events and people contemporary to the period of study. Thus he notes the last phases of the Hundred Years’ War, and the founding of Eton and King’s College Cambridge, during the reign of Henry VI. He reminds us also of critical factors in determining place and function in farmhouses, among which were an accessible water supply, and room for animals to be housed in winter.
He commends the studies by Reg Mason (1981) and those of David and Barbara Martin. The author acknowledges his debt to learned works by Margaret Wood, R J Brown, R T Mason, Hugh Braun, J J Bagley, and Trudy West. The final page contains a useful diagram glossary of terms which specify the differing parts of timber-framed houses. .