The Eighteenth Century

See also “Life in Ardingly in the 18th Century”

Stephen Roborough, Rector (1667-1723)
Charles Lydell, Rector (1724-57)
The Visits of a Great Archaeologist
The Children of the Parish
The Turnpike Acts
Additional lost papers

Stephen Roborough, Rector (1667-1723)

Mention has already been made of Stephen Roborough, [this reference cannot be found, see Steph. Robrough in the List of Rectors] who was Rector of Ardingly for the record time of 56 years. Appointed in 1667 he was the last Rector to be nominated by the Culpepers. Judging from his name he appears to have been of Devonshire extraction.

The following signed the record of his induction on June 11th :— William Culpeper, Edward Culpeper, Edward Newnam, John Killingbecke, John Tullye, Richard Brigges, John Wheeler.

During the early years of his incumbency he seems to have been generally active in the welfare of the parish, and he was doubtless concerned in the gift of the Communion Plate by Judeth Culpeper in 1673. We are also indebted to, him for the list of landholders in the parish which has recently been published in the Magazine.

But as the burden of years told upon him things were allowed to go to pieces, the Church fell into disrepair and the registers were absolutely neglected. During the last few years of his life, his son, also named Stephen Roborough, was Church warden and seems to have done what he could to keep things going. It was during his term of office that our beautiful Tenor Bell was hung. It was cast by John Waylett in 1719 and cost £12 5s.

The old Rector died in 1723. Born in Charles the First’s reign and dying in George the First’s he had seen six sovereigns on the throne and known the troublous times of the Civil War and the Commonwealth. When he came to Ardingly the Culpepers held a great position in the county. Long before his death they had fallen from their high estate and Wakehurst had been sold to the “new rich.” No doubt this altered the condition of things and affected the old man, and though it does not exonerate him, the latter part of a life of nearly ninety years is not the time when a man is best fitted for changes such as Stephen Roborough had to deal with.

The following is the record of his death and burial :—

1723. Nov. 5. Mr Stephen Roborough, Reckter of Ardingly, Dyed about ten of the Clock in the forenoone and was buried the tenth in the Chancell under the great stone that is split asunder, aged eighty nine years this tenth daye.

Stephen Roborough’s grave is immediately under the present Rector’s seat in the SW. corner of the Chancel, and a memorial stone has long since taken the place of that which was “split asunder.” His will is extant, but it contains nothing of parochial interest. He bequeaths a shilling apiece to five of his children if demanded within a year of his decease, and the rest of his property, which seems to have been considerable, to his son Stephen, whose death followed his father’s within twelve months.

Charles Lydell, Rector (1724-57)

As already stated the Church and kindred matters had been allowed to go to ruin during the later years of Stephen Roborough’s incumbency. He died November 23rd, 1723, and for some months Ardingly was without a Rector. Then Charles Lyddell, second son of the Squire of Wakehurst, seems to have stepped into the breach and taken the burden of restoration upon him. He was ordained Deacon and Priest in April and read himself in on May 31st, 1724. The witnesses who signed the entry in the Register that day were John Wicking, William Nicholas (Churchwardens) and Thomas Pollard (Clerk). Shortly before his ordination a Return was made to the Bishop of the condition of the parishes in the Deanery of Lewes. In the case of Ardingly a large number of the questions are left unanswered, but we get the following information :—

ARDINGLY.—Rectory. Richard Lyddeil, Esq.,Patron. Charles Lyddell, Rector. Church out of repair but shortly to be repaired.
A Poor Box. Four Bells.
The Chancel repaired by the Rector who is now repairing it.
The Mansion House and outhouses left under great dilapidation by the late incumbent but shortly to be repaired or rebuilt by the present Rector.
40 Families.
7 acres plain land, Glebe.

N.B.—The Rectory is Erthingly in an original grant made 29. Hen. viii. to Thos. Lord Cromwell of all lands belonging to the Priory of Lewes and Castle Acre in Norfolk of which I have seen an attested copy, but the original I think is in the Augmentation Office.

Thos. Pierce, Rector of St. Mary Westout,
Ap. 8. 1724. Lewes.

The restoration of the Church Rectory, the care of the Registers and many other points bear witness that Charles Lyddell, whatever the irregularity of his ordination, devoted himself to the work he had undertaken.

Following the fashion of those days he made a family vault in the Wakehurst aisle, to which he removed the bodies of his parents, which were originally buried in the chancel near the Wakehurst tomb. It is possible that the stone tablets with Commandments, Creed and 2 Lord’s Prayer were erected when this alteration was made, and the following entry in the Parish accounts may refer to them:—”1732. Ap. 5. Pd Rev. Lyddell for the ornaments of the Church £36 2s. 6d.” Another entry in the fly-leaf of the same book of accounts in the Rector’s own writing runs thus: “July 5. 1730. A small Silver Salver given for the use of gathering the offerings at the Sacrament by Mrs Elizabeth Lyddell.” The donor was Charles Lyddell’s sister, who died unmarried in 1738. Tradition has it that Charles always lived at Wakehurst and served the Church from there. At any rate he was in possession long before his elder brother’s death, which occurred in 1746, whereas Charles held his first Manor Court in 1731.

Charles Lyddell died suddenly on Sunday, January 9th, 1757. There are references to his worth in the Register and in the diary of Thomas Turner, of East Hoathly; but perhaps the strongest testimony is that of Sir William Burrell, the antiquary, who visited Ardingly many years later. In his notes about the Parish he writes after Charles Lyddell’s name the simple words “a very good man.”

Outside of the Church little remains to mark the existence of the Lyddell family in Ardingly. They seem to have built the stables at Wakehurst, and there is a fine map of the estate made for Richard Lyddell in 1727. Lyddell’s Rock still stands overlooking the site of Stone Mill, but its name is known only to the few. As none of the Lyddells married, Wakehurst passed by will, after Charles Lyddell’s death, to a cousin, Richard Clarke, of Blake Hall, Essex.

The Visits of a Great Archaeologist

Sir William Burrell, whose manuscripts form a valuable collection in the British Museum, was a member of the family whose headquarters, now at Knepp Castle, were formerly at Cuckfield. There they laid the foundations of their wealth in the iron works at Tilgate. In those days the family was closely connected with Ardingly. Ninian Burrell was Rector here from 1511 to 1530. Another Ninian married a daughter of Sir William Culpeper, of Wakehurst, in 1655, and Timothy Burrell, one of the Sussex Diarists, was Steward of Wakehurst in 1701.

Sir William paid two visits to Ardingly for purposes of research,and it seems desirable to quote his notes in full with the exception of the inscriptions which are still in existence. The notes of his first visit in 1775 run as follows.

21. Edw. 1. (11). Ecclia de Hertingligh xxx mares. Pope Nicholas Taxation.
Dedication . . . Patron R. Liddall, Esq., 1724.
Deanery. Lewes. Apprd Pension Lewes Prior 3S/5d
King’s Books. £19.5.10. Tenths £1.18.7

The Church is small, consisting of a Nave and a south isle which as well as the Chancel is in tolerable repair, it is well paved – the walls are green and the monuments in the Chancel very nasty. In the Chancel in ancient. . . characters with the portraits of a man and woman praying under 2 Brass Gothic Arches – (here follows the inscription on the tomb of Richard Wakehust and his wife Elizabeth, 1454 and 1464).

Near the last inscription in the niche of the Chancel wall on the North side is pourtrayed the figure of a Man lyeiug on his Back as large as Life in a praying attitude, his Head is reclined on a cushion, on each side of his head is an animal resembling a lion and at his feet a Dog couchant. There is no Coat Armour or inscription to denote the Person to whose memory it was erected tho’ it probably was to commemorate a Wakehurst. (This is the figure of the Priest).

On a grave stone within the Communion rails are pourtrayed in Brass under two Gothic Arches the figure of a man and woman, the head of the woman is missing but the minister assured me it was not lost and should be replaced. (Here follows the inscription on the brass of Richard and Margaret Culpeper, 1504).

On the South side of the chancel on a grave stone is pourtrayed in Brass the figure of a man in his Tabard also of his wife praying, with the coat of Culpeper impaling Wakehurst, near the man are the portraits of Ten sons in Brass near the woman the Portraits of eight daughters. (Here follows the inscription to Nicholas and Elizabeth Gulpeper, 1510.

On a grave stone is pourtrayed in Brass the Figure of a woman elegantly dressed in a praying attitude. (Here follows the inscription to Elizabeth Culpeper, widow of Sir Edward, 1633).

At the foot of the above mentioned stone is the Brass figure of a child with a coat of Culpeper with quarterings in a lozenge and an Escutcheon of Pretence. (Here follows the inscription to Elizabeth d. of Sir Wm. Culpeper, 1634).

The inscriptions on this page were sent me in August 1775 by the Rev. Robb Wetherall Curate of Horsted Keynes in Sussex. Visited by W.B. Thursday 8 Sept. 1775.

On a grave stone in the Chancel – (here follows the inscription to Elizabeth Bickerstaffe, 1628).

Incorporated with these notes are illustrations in pen and ink of the brasses and their shields. That of Richard and Margaret Culpeper is particularly interesting as it shows the broken shafts attached to the inscription instead of to the canopy as they are now. The head and shoulders of the woman are missing and Timothy Browne, the then Rector, never fulfilled his promise to replace it. The statement that this brass was within the Communion rails is also of importance. The probability is that all the brasses were originally within the rails and it would preserve them and make them more accessible if they were returned there. Sir William does not always discriminate between the Chancel and the sanctuary, as for instance when he speaks of the Wakehurst tomb as in the Chancel. We know from the register that Lady Culpeper was buried four feet from the South window and in 1775 the child’s brass lay at the foot of hers. Sir William does not mention Stephen Roborough’s grave stone which lied in front of the low side window was doubtless covered then, as now, by the minister’s desk. The notes of Burrell’s second visit will follow.

Sir William Burrell paid another visit to Ardingly Church on May 12th, 1782. His notes run as follows :—

“A Tower Steeple with 5 Bells, Roof of Horsham Stone. The Church is ceiled, pewed, well paved with Tyles, a Gallery at the West end of the Nave, a South Aisle belonging to Wakehurst.”

The mention of the Gallery points to the conclusion that it had been erected since Burrell’s previous visit in 1775. According to the late Mr. G. Box the ceiling remained in the Chancel till about 1850. We are indebted to Sir William for the series of drawings by Grimm, which are included in his Collections in the British Museum. Eight of these are concerned with Ardingly. One of the exterior of the Church from the N.E., two of the Priest’s tomb, one of Wake- hurst South Door, and several of the Ardingly Rocks and Big-upon-Little. The sketch of the Church is practically identical with the photograph taken before the erection of the North Aisle except that it omits the long narrow window in the Chancel opposite the existing low side window, and it adds a small window in the North Wall of the Nave. The latter is in the position of the North Door which Hussey tells us had been closed (1852). The stone wall round part of the Churchyard and the old Rectory are also shown.

A photograph of the drawing of the Church in 1782, referred to above, can be obtained from Miss Mary Holgate, price 2s.

Among the notes regarding the Parish Burrell records the following :—

“The Lower Rye Bridge in Ardingleigh is to be made by the Burrowe 21.23.30 Eliz: 6.7.16 Jag. These are to be made by particular persons—

Holgrove Bridge 16.17 Eliz.
The West part of Cob Bridge 23.24 Eliz.
A bridge between Ardinglye and Balcombe, 17. Jas.”

The Lower Rye Bridge is that over the Ouse below the Station and was a constant source of expense to the “Borough” all through the 18th century. The third bridge is probably Upper Rye Bridge, near the Viaduct. They get their names from the lands where rye was grown. Ryelands Wood also preserves the name.

Holgrove Bridge is that between Holgrove and Brook Cottage over the Ardingly brook in Balcombe Lane.

Some extracts from the records of Ditchling Manor may be of interest here before we quit the eighteenth century and pass on to more modern history.

A Rental of Ditchling Manor for the N. part of the Hd of Streat, 1779.

T. Stanbridgefor the Church Lands
S. Francis’ part
for Knowles
S. Flintfor Rivers200
T. NewnmanRyeland
John WickingSarsland200
E. StencingTownhouse170
J. GawerDowses
part of Townland
S. Picknallate Davys
lower Awell
a Cottage

FlintUpper Awell39
G. MartinCopyhold34
W NewnhamWest Hill
late Balcombe
T. Barndenlate Cookes Land in Ardingly
for part of the Hooke late Cookes
J. TurnerPearmints late Strongs150
M. Allinghamfor her House
a Cottage late G. Box’s
a Cottage late Jn Tooths
a Cottage Thomas Pollard’s
a Cottage John Smith
John Pagea Cottage
a Cottage Ellyotts
£7 195
From Woolgar’s JWSS. S.A. Library, Lewes.

The Children of the Parish

Among the documents in the Church chest is one recording the putting out to service of the children chargeable to the parish between the years 1784-1816.

In those days there was no union of parishes with a Workhouse in common, but each parish was responsible for its own poor. Our Workhouse stood on the ground called Jordans. The method of providing for the older children was to put them out to service with the various farmers and other inhabitants who could afford to keep them. The employers generally paid the parish an annual sum for their service, but in some cases, probably where the child’s service was of very little value, the parish paid the employer to take the child. In a few cases no payment was made on either side, but the arrangement was on “Level Hands.” In all cases the parish provided the clothes, and it appears most of them were made at the Workhouse.

This method of putting out the children was open to abuse, as there was no check on the amount of work put upon a child: but not everyone of our forefathers was a slave-driver, and the child had the advantage of being in a home instead of in an institution. There are two or three entries in the document in question of children running away, but there are many more where the words “Off for himself” record the child’s start in life after a few years training under this system.

The number of children put out every year varies from 9 to 23, and in most cases the term of service is for a year.

The above remarks will explain the following extracts, which are all that space and cost will allow.


Febay the 15. 1786 Being the Day of Puting out of the Parish Children at the Workhouse of Ardingly the Officesers of the said year Thos Newnham Jas Attree Churchwardens Henry Harmer Wm Tester Overseers.

1786 M’ Richard Comber to keep Mary Ridley from Lady day 1786 to Lady day
1787 the Parish to Cloth her and the Parish to pay Richd Comber £1. 5.

1787 Mary Ridley. aged 14 years Stays again with M’ Richard Comber from Lady day 1787 to Lady day 1788 parish to cloath her and pay Richard Comber £1. 1. Lady day 1788. off for herself.

Feb. 16. 1789 Jno Marchant of for himself But to have his Cloths mended one year in the Workhouse

Lady day 1790. of for himself.

Mr Wm Newnham To keep Jas. Budgen from Lady day 1789 to Lady day 1790 the parish to cloth him and the parish to receive £1. 2.
Lady day 1790. Of for himself.

Mr Richard Steadman to keep Hannah Langridge from August 20th 1793 to Lady Day 1794 at Leavell hand and ye parish to cloth her.

The Clothing Acct of the Parish Children; year 1798:

Wm Nicholas
Off for himself
To him Pare of Leather Breeches
New hat and pare of Stockings
New pare of high choues.
2 Shirts and a frock 91/2 Ells
1 Wascoat
Total value to Wm Nicholas
5s 6d
3s 6d
9s 6d
16s 9d
7s 0d
£2 2s 3d
Rebecca Ridley
A tuck apron and off for herself
2 Shifts 4½ Ells.
Gowne and caps and handkerchief
Making the Gowne
Under coat
10s 6d
8s 3d
9s 8½d
5s 0d
1s 0d
3s 4d
£1 17s 9d
Various items.Camblet 8d a yard.
Pare of Leather stayes 6/-
1 Handkerchief Tape and pare of pattins 2/2
2½yds Woolsy for uper coat 6/3
Handkerf ½yd Irish 2 nails Muslin
pr Pattins 3/7½

The Turnpike Acts

Few of us can imagine the state of the roads in the 18th century and the consequent impossibility of communication in winter, unless we read contemporary accounts of the dangers to life and limb encountered in undertaking a journey.

The first Turnpike Act to affect an improvement in this district was passed in 1768. It deals with the road from New Chapel through Lindfield to Ditchling Bost Hills, which it says “is become so ruinous that in the winter season some parts are impassable for carriages and very dangerous for travellers on horseback“ ; it also speaks of “Trees, bushes and underwood growing in the said road“ which are to be removed. There is no mention of Ardingly in the Act which describes the road as passing “through Turners Hill over Hapstead Green across Lywood Common through the town of Lindfield, over another common called Haywoods Heath to the Town of Ditchling to the top of Ditchling Bost Hills.”

Among the trustees appointed to erect gates and toll houses and to collect tolls were the following Ardingly men :- John Attree, Dennis Clarke, William Clifford, Thomas Harmer, John Hamlin, William Nicholas, Wm Newnham, Jasper Wheeler, John Wicking. The charges were to be 1s. for 4-wheeled and 6d. for 2-wheeled vehicles, 2d. for Horse or other beast of burden, 10d. a score for oxen or neat cattle, 5d. a score for Calves, Sheep, etc. Exceptions were made for local agricultural operations and on Sundays for parishioners going to or from places of worship.

Parishioners were to find the labour required for making up the road or pay composition money.

It was Acts such as this which, passed in large numbers during the latter part of the 18th century, transformed the life of the country through improving means of communication. McAdam (1756—1831), by his method of road making, enabled horse-traffic to reach its highest pitch of excellence, and in 1822 no less than 62 coaches left Brighton daily.

There are two or three other Acts dealing with our road, but they give no details of interest till one of 1862, which mentions Hapstead gate and Side gate, Wallage gate and Side gate, and Turners Hill gate and Side gate. Hapstead gate originally stood further down College Road. The old road from Berry came straight from the bottom of the hill in front of Upper Lodge Farm and joined the Cuckfield, or, as we call it, College Road, at the white gate still existing, and it was here that the first Turnpike gate was put up. The first Gate house seems to have been a sort of caravan. We sometimes think that our forefathers would be surprised at the wonderful vehicles now to be seen on the road. It might surprise us equally if we could see a Berlin, Caleche, Sociable, Sedan chair, Curricle or Stage coach passing through Hapstead, and yet these were some of the types of conveyance for which the Turnpike Acts provided an improved roadway. Within the memory of some still living the dog carts brought the fish here from Brighton, not the dog carts that we know, for conveying sporting dogs, but small carts drawn by two to six powerful dogs who could get over the ground at good speed.

The by-roads at this time were very narrow, deep sand in summer and water-courses in winter. Most of them had a raised causeway on one side to enable foot passengers to get along. Horses wore bells to give warning of the coming of a vehicle, as passing was impossible except at occasional places. Altogether we owe a debt of gratitude to those who have gone before us and made our paths easy in more ways than one.

The following two articles have been gleaned from some loose papers found within a folder containing copies of the original St Peters Parish Magazine. They seem to be hand-written drafts of the articles presumably for use in the missing publications. I have had to make a few assumptions as to some words , names and dates so without corroborating research these should be used with caution.
Roy Simmonds 16th October 2015

The Eighteenth Century

The list of names already given is followed by a note as to the rates and valuation being for the Church and poor; and then comes a memorandum that when

a tax is levyed upon the Burrough of Ardingly the following persons are not to be taxed for any more of their estates but what lieth in the Burrough of Ardingleigh, – That is to say –

Abraham Nicholas for Stonehouse and Andrew Browne whose land lieth wholly in Pevensy Rape.
John Wheeler and William Chapman for Liod and Withylands which lieth wholly in Street Burrough
John Killinbecke, Richard Bridges and Thomas Chapman are partly in Ardingleigh, partly in Street Burrough and are to pay Ardingleigh Burrough for what part they hold there.
That is to say John Killingbecke for the Lodgeland for 9? Per annum, Richard Bridges 3? Per annum and Thomas Chapman for his part of Davies 5? And 5s per annum(*)

The whole of this list of Landholders appears to be in the handwriting of Stephen Roborough, who was appointed Rector in 1667 and held the living for 57 years. It should be noticed that the Rectory pays no tax. Also that Bauldeigh, now called Bolney, paid the largest rate after Wakehurst. The earliest at present available (1606) gives the name as Balsdye, and it is not till 1727 that we get Baldry, alias Bolne, and Bolney, Balds Ly – a mound in a wet place belonging to Bald – is a possible origin of the name and we get a form of it still in Baldwin. Bauldeigh was held at the time of the valuation by one of the Hamlyns, a family of gentle birth who lived in Ardingly for several generations. One member of the family became High Sheriff in Queen Anne’s reign. He held Avins and Sunte, and report has it that it took him two days to go from there to Lewes partly because of the mud and partly because oxen were his steads.

The reference above to Pevensey Rape is unusual. Andrew Browne probably held Chiddingly Farm (now overshadowed by “Rockhurst”) which is an outlier of the Manor of the same name and hence the connection to Pevensey Rape.

Lywood, Withyland and Berry belong to the Manor of Street, and it is strange that other farms belonging to Ditchling, Plumpton Boscage, Keymer, Clayton, South Malling and Balneath Manor are not also treated separately.

These outlying potions of Manors remind us that in very early times the older settlements under the Downs had there steadings in the open places of the forest where they could feed their pigs on the acorns and get wood for their dwellings.

The use of the word Borough to describe Ardingly should also be noticed. The kernel of all the glory of Mayor and Corporation lies in the old Saxon method which still forms the bedrock of all our local government today.

Parliamentary Votes

Poll Knights of the Shire May 24, 1705
Candidates – Lumley, Parker, Peachy, Trevors
Ardingly – Rape of Lewes
Wm Nicholas, James Tully, D.Lyddall Esq, Matias Crouch, Abraham Nicholas

The Poll Book of Sussex 1734

Taken at Chichester

John Allingham11
John Crossford11
Thomas Harman, Horsted Keynes11
Ferdinando Jackson11
Charles Lyddall, Clerk11
John King, Shipley11
John Newnham, Balcombe11
William Nicholas11
John Pilbeam11
Richard Pilbeam11
John Tooth11
John Wicking11
Wm Wicken, West Hoathly11

Candidates: Right Hon Henry Pelham (1), James Butler Esq. (2), Sir Cecil Bishop Bart. (3), John Fuller Esq. (4)

Note:- Where there is an addition of a Parish to a name there the freehold of such person lyeth in the Parish so added to his name.

Sussex Poll 1774

Ardingly Voters all Freeholders

Rev. Tim Browne Ardingly Rectory
T.Stanbridge Ardingly dot? Occupiers E.Gallard and others
Richd Jackson Ardingly Occupiers Francis and Hearst
John Holland Ardingly Mill and land
John Jordan Ardingly Workhouse
Wm Nicholas Ardingly Land
Richard Pilbeam Ardingly House and shop
John Wickens Ardingly House and land

Poll for Knights of the Shire. Sussex 1774

ResidenceFreehold his & what consistsOccupiers NamesLumleyWilsonPeachey
Rev. Timothy BrowneArdinglyArdingly Rectory
T. Stanbridge 1ArdinglyHouse & LandE. Gatland & others
John HollandArdinglyMill and landHimself
John JordonArdinglyWorkhouseParish officer of ditto
William NicholasArdinglyLandHimself
Richard PilbeamArdinglyHouse and shopHimself
Wm NewnhamArdinglyBalcombe landHimself
Thomas Ellis2West GrinsteadArdingly houseHolman and others
Emery Streeter1CuckfieldHouse and landJames Wood
John WickensArdinglyHouse and land
1) Oaths of fidelity and bribery administered
2) Bribery only

The above lists are interesting as showing the smallness of the number of voters and also the publicity of their votes.

The Nicholas family occupied Stonehouse and other farms for some 200 years, in which time they served the parish in many ways. Three of them were Churchwardens and one of them appears as Headborough, who came with his tithing to the Hundred Court of Street in the 17th century. Ferdinando Jackson is a name bourn by at least three generations of the family. One of them was Bailiff at Wakehurst and one held East Riches, now called The Oaks at Balcombe. Wicking is another name commemorated amongst the Churchwardens. John Wickings name appears on one of the bells. They held Hickpotts and Saucelands at various times. Pilbeams and Newnhams are still with us, and it is but a short time since the last of the Tully’s left the parish.

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