The Nineteenth Century

Ouse Navigation
Napoleonic Wars
The Rectors and Tithes
Comparison with Modern Times
The Building of the School
The Restoration of the Church
The Building of the College
The New Churchyard
The Last Rector of the Nineteenth Century

Perhaps the best introduction of the most wonderful century in English history may be a list of the men who lived here and did their bit amongst the scenes we know so well. It is not given to many of us to be a corner stone of progress, but the humble brick has its part to play, too, and each village reflects the history of the time.

Mention has been made previously of the Lower Rye Bridge over the Ouse, below the Station. It frequently gave trouble to the Parish. Floods were probably much heavier in old days than they are now, and at the time in question the Ouse Navigation was in full use and the barges may have required a wider bridge.

An Assessment made by the Churchwardings and Overseers of the Poor, Surveyors of the Highways and other Substantial Householders of the Parish of Ardingly in Vestry Assembled on the Undermentioned Lands, Houses, etc., in the said Parish, for Raising the Sum of Thirty Pounds Three Shillings and twopence for the Purpose of Defraying the Expences of Re-building a Certain Bridge Called Lower Rye Bridge in the Parish of Ardingly in the County of Sussex. Made and assessed the 22nd Day of Septemr 1806. At the Rate of Two pence Halfpenny in the Pound.

£ s d£ s d
286 – –Peyton. Jas Capt Esq. for Mansion House and Land5 17 4
12 0Axford Jas for a Croft
5 12 0Attree Wm for Public House etc.2 6¾
63 11 2Browne Timy Gent for Great Sarseland1 9 1½
62 4 5Do. Do. for Tealinghurst farm1 8 6¼
60 8 –Bannister Wm for Burstye1 7 8¼
66 – –Burtenshaw Jnr for Rivers farm1 9 4
1 12 –Bashford Wm for Cottage and Garden
2 10 –Box Wm for Cottage and Shop1 3½
1 4 –Box Peter for Cottage etc.
80 3 2Cook Richard for Avens and Stangrove1 16 8¾
11 11 2Comber Jnr for Lands in Ardingly5 3½
12 18 –Clifford Thos. for Hapstead Land5 11
16 16 –Cook. Jas Esq. for Awell and Copyhold7 8¼
1 12 –Cox Charles for Cottage aild Shop
34 10 –Dennett Jnr Esq. for Stangrove Wood etc.15 9¾
2 8 –Dench Ed for House and Shop etc.1 11¼
67 5 7Frances Jnr for Bolney Farm1 10 10
6 8 –Frances and Morley for House and Garden2 11
165 12 2Heasman Chas. for Knowles and Cooks Lands3 15 11
12 5 7Hards Mrs for Strudgates14 9½
1 16 –Harman Jas for Cottage and Garden10
2 – –Kennard Mrs for Homewood field11
57 14 –Marten Thos. for Newhouse1 6 5½
36 16 –Montero G. P. Esq. for Rivers Wood14 6¾
41 12 –Newnhan Wm Gent, for West hill19 0¾
25 3 3Picknal Thos. for Little Sarsland11 6¼
4 4 –Picknal Walt for Little Noldred1 11
54 9 7Pannett Jnr for Townhouse1 4 11½
2 – –Pilbeame Thos. for Cottage and Shop11
2 4 –Langridg Wm for Late Pilbeame1 –
49 0 5Stanbridge Jnr and Wm for Lands in Ardingly1 2 6
48 – –Turner Jnr for Pearmints and Hook Lands1 2
2 5 7Tulley Jnr for Buckshalls field1 ½
2 – –Tulley Jas for House and Garden11
35 8 –Ward Wm Gent for Hickpots16 2¾
31 4 –Wood Robt for Kings and Crips’s Land14 3½
7 4 –Wheeler Benjm for House and Shop etc.3 3½
13 3 7Walder Jnr for Old Fulling Mill Land6 0¾
8 10 –Wicking Wm for Little Hapstead3 10¾
9 12 –Webber Geo. for Fulling Mill and Lands4 6¾
£30 3 2

Churchwardens Charles Heasman John Burtenshaw’s

Overseers of the Poor Thos. Marten

Householders Timy Browne Benjmn Wheeler

Allowed by us two of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Sussex the 17th day of October 1806.

W. Sewell
Thos. C.Grainger

Endorsed. 1806. Bridge Assessment.

The Ouse Navigation

In 1790 an Act of Parliament was passed to authorise the transformation of the Ouse into a navigable river from Newhaven to Cuckfield. Amongst those who supported the scheme were the Rev. Timothy Browne, Rector, William Newnham and Joseph Peyton, of Ardingly. Various locks were to be built and the water way altered so as to allow of the passage of barges 12ft 4in in breadth, 50ft in length, 3ft 6in in draught with a capacity of 18 tons.

The highest lock was built about ¼ mile above the Lower Rye Bridge and can still be well seen from the train after leaving Ardingly Station. A wharf was made close to the Upper Rye Bridge, on the Balcombe road, beyond which the navigation was never completed. The undertaking never paid, although the revenue amounted to £800 a year at one time. It is difficult to imagine the passage of barges along the over-grown winding little stream that the Ouse now appears; but the shrinkage has been going on for many generations as evidenced by the surrounding low meadows. The final struggle for existence came in 1840, when the materials for the Viaduct were brought up the river and caused a temporary access of trade, after which there was a complete cessation. In a valuation list of this date we find Samuel Briggs, of Copyhold, rated for a Blacksmith’s shop, Wheelwright’s ditto, Counting House. Warehouse and Stable, temporary built; James Copely for a Beershop at the same address; and the Navigation Company itself on 5a. 2r. 8p. of the Upper Ouse. The Railway took 16a. 3r. 26p. parts of Sugworths, Kings and Cripps, Rivers, Brays and Lindersland Farms.

A note against Robert Wood’s holding of Noldred and Kings and Cripps Land states that “This is injured by the Railway Cut.” The same may be said of the Navigation Company, though it is doubtful if it could have survived even without the final blow which the Railway gave it.

Napoleonic Wars

The beginning of the nineteenth century is a difficult time to write about, there being no outstanding features of village history to describe. Yet under the weakening bonds of old method the spirit of the new age was struggling to the light and before the century had reached the ‘50’s the great Victorian era was in full swing. In our own village we find the mark of the Napoleonic Wars in the drilling of volunteers and provision of recruits, besides the payments to the wives and widows of soldiers. The name of Allen Daws is the only one now known to us as having served in the Peninsular War. There are also many entries in the Parish accounts of assistance given to soldiers and sailors and their dependents from other places going through the village on a pass.

The poverty caused by the great struggle against Napoleon was terrible and fell heavily on our small agricultural population. In 1801 the population was 506, consisting of 82 families living in 62 houses. In 1811 the number had risen to 553, 83 families living in 64 houses and one house building. Of these families 67 were agricultural and 16 were traders (not shopkeepers, but men with a trade, such as bricklayers, &c.)

Two years later (1813) the number of persons relieved outside the Workhouse was 348 and indoors 51, without counting children. Eleven men were then serving in the Militia. Practically the whole parish was on the rates, and the cost was £1,913 in that year. Many of the children were boarded out with farmers, who paid the Parish for the use of them and received money from the Parish for keeping them according to varying circumstances. This custom was open to many abuses, and was one of the causes of troubles which came to a head in 1829.
The Poorhouse stood on Jordan’s land, near the Church: there seem to have been two buildings, as one is constantly mentioned in the accounts as the Old Poorhouse. By the way, there seems to have been a cherry tree of some note there, for in 1789 one Jackson was “paid 5/11/2 for gathering cherries at Workhouse“; in 1823 “Journey with cherries 2/6,” and, finally, “Sawing cherry tree.”

The people in the Poorhouse worked chiefly at spinning. There are many entries of the purchase of tier, tow, and wool for the purpose. The yarn was sent to Webber at the Fulling Mill, to be woven and dyed, and it may here be recorded that old people who have but recently passed away remembered the blankets being brought up by oxen from the Mill. The name Webber is a good example of a surname arising from occupation.

The food seems to have been bacon (there is, surely, a record hog of 56st. 5lb., which cost £16 19s. 9d).; cheese—Sussex cheese being denoted in one instance and apparently made in the parish; beef, occasionally. The flour bill for two months alone amounted to £92 on one occasion. This was ground at Stone Mill. There is an entry of “Red Herrings and carriage £5. 9.” in March, 1801, and a few entries of Potatoes.

The Churchwardens, Overseers, and other substantial householders met every month, and their disbursements were heavy. The “substantial householders” were only small farmers, and it is not surprising that their knowledge of economies was not very great. The saying of ”taking in one another’s washing” applied at every turn, with its usual disastrous effect. Education, as we know it, was non-existent among the weekly wage-earners. Some of the farmers, even, could only make a mark for their names, but those who kept the books wrote a good clear hand. Every Easter the Parish Meeting was held, and after the passing of the accounts and the election of the new officers a feast was consumed which cost the parish from £7 to £8.

The accounts were submitted to the Magistrates and signed by two of them. It must be remembered that the whole of the Parish business and the administration of much of the law was still being carried out through the organisation of the Church and its Wardens in every parish.

The Rectors and Tithes

During the early part of the 19th Century, in addition to the Napoleonic wars, a complete change in all ways of work and life was being effected and the rapidity of the change caused great hardships and difficulties in all classes.

Owing to the financial stress of the times the patronage of the Rectory of Ardingly had fallen into the hands of Trustees. The old Rector, Timothy Browne, had died in 1804, after an incumbency of 47 years, during part of which time he was also Vicar of West Hoathly. There is a memorial to him in the Chancel and also to his father and mother, who lived in the parish. The latter was on the North wall up till the time of the making of the new Vestry in 1887.

Five Rectors followed Timothy Browne in rapid succession. The only one who seems to have left any impression was P. T. B. Hicks, 1820-5, who died in the 29th year of his age. A memorial of him is on the North wall of the Sanctuary.

In 1826 the Rev. James Hamilton was appointed, and for the succeeding eighteen years there seems to have been no peace in the parish. By this time industrial and agricultural trouble was seething throughout the land. It is difficult to imagine anything more exasperating than the method of collecting tithe in kind which then prevailed. The taking of the tenth sheaf, the tenth pigling, the tenth day’s yield of milk, was a source of friction at all times and especially when the dread of famine hung over the people.

In addition to this irritating custom there was the further evil practice of farming out the tithe. To avoid the unpleasantness of the personal collection of pigs and sheaves, &c., it was the custom to compound with some person who paid a lump sum yearly to the Rector for the “privilege” of taking up the tithes in kind, This led to endless extortion and consequent bitterness. Wages were very low and farmers made the tithe the excuse for their being unable to pay more, though the real cause lay in the dislocation of all methods of production, caused by the introduction of steam and machinery.

Mr. Hamilton offered to compound with the farmers in the first instance, but not coming to terms he appointed a Mr. Rogers who contracted for the tithes for £600 a year with other advantages. Mr. Rogers very speedily increased the disaffection caused by the failure of the parish to come to terms with the Rector. An extract from a contemporary newspaper states that

“the tythes were exacted to the very cabbage in the poor man’s garden, and even the elderberries on his hedge could not escape the clutches of the contractor.”

In October, 1829, things came to a head. First there was the breaking of windows in a newly-erected cottage belonging to Mr. Hamilton. Then 150 of the people of Ardingly armed themselves with bludgeons and marched over to Cuckfield and threatened the magistrates. Their ostensible reason was to protest against their children being placed out with the farmers (as alluded to above). But in this instance it seems to have been an erroneous idea. Mr. Dennett, whose wife owned considerable property in Ardingly, reasoned with then kindly and they returned without a breach of the peace. But the tithe trouble was unallayed, and shortly afterwards Mr. Rogers’ barn and fifteen corn and hay stacks in different parts of the parish were set on fire with disastrous effect.
Mr. Rogers very soon took his departure and left Mr. Hamilton to grapple with the situation as best he could. He does not seem to have been at all successful, and in 1835 disputes were still going on. He would not accept the terms offered by the parish and eventually he was obliged to take his tithe in kind—” the produce of milk, eggs, &c., is put by for him every tenth day, but as he neglects to take it, it is thrown away the eleventh day.”
There is a book in existence in his handwriting giving the crops grown in every field in the parish with various calculations connected with them. Its date is about 1839 and these stormy scenes were soon to bear their fruit in the Tithe Act of 1840, which put an end to a system which had outlived its means of fulfillment.

Mr. Hamilton died in 1844 and was buried outside the Priest’s Door. There is a memorial to him on the South side of the Sanctuary, which also commemorates his wife and two sons.

Comparison with Modern Times*

The last instalment of this series dealt with the troubles of the Parish in Mr. Hamilton’s time, and it may he interesting to compare the Ardingly of those days with that of to-day. The population in 1801 was 506, and it remained under 600 till 1841, when it rose to 742, owing to the men employed in making the Brighton line. It fell again into the 600’s till 1871, when the building of the College brought it up to 1,095. In 1881 the making of the railway from Hayward’s Heath caused a rise to 1,564, since when it has not varied very much from its present number of 1,346.

In the Return for 1811 there were 64 houses inhabited by 83 families, of whom 67 were occupied in Agriculture and 16 in Trade or otherwise. To-day* there are 234 separate dwellings, but the overcrowding still remains. The houses, however, are mostly built of brick, and therefore better than the wattle and daub huts, such as those in Balcombe Lane, which have long since gone to decay.

The earliest Directory which refers to Ardingly, under the head of Worth, is Pigot’s, published in 1826. It speaks of Ardingly as a “romantic village” and the Church as an “imposing structure, strictly Gothic,” while it disposes of the fine Saxon Church of Worth as “small and inelegant.”

There was a post between East Grinstead, Worth, West Hoathly, Ardingly and Balcombe. An old inhabitant who died in 1914 remembered the walking postman, who came up the bridle road from West Hoathly to Hickpotts, crossed the main road there into Humpherys field, across which the path led directly into the existing path to the Church and so on to Balcombe.

In the first Directory only eight names are mentioned, of which Clifford alone is still represented; but a later edition, 1832-4, gives us Henry Sayers and the first mention of a schoolmaster, William Attree. In 1839 we had risen to an “Academy,” kept by Elizabeth Attree. We shall have more to say about the struggle for education another time. (See also Kelly’s Directory of 1867.)

In Victoria’s first Parliament, August, 1837, the only Ardingly voters were R. Bechley, T. and W. Comber, J. Hamilton, T. Leppard and H. Marchant. Outside voters were T. Stanbridge, R. Uwins, and W.S. Robinson, who then owned Town House.

The great poverty and the consequent troubles throughout the country necessitated a general enquiry, and a return of all lands, owners and occupiers was made in 1840. This resulted in a Tithe Map being drawn up, which gives full particulars of every field in every parish in England. Our Tithe Map shows Wakehurst with the long wings projecting to the south. The house is returned as empty, and the wings were shortly afterwards pulled down and the material used for the re-building of New House. Sir Charles Wetherall, Solicitor General, 1824-32, then lived at Old House, and owned a considerable portion of land now included in the Wakehurst and Stonehurst estates. John Hollands held Stone Mill, which “runs 2 pr. Stones, said to be dry four months in the year, wheel is overshot, 3ft. wide, of which only 18 inches in the parish.” Tillinghurst is shown with a large number of barns, &c., surrounding it, and other farms also testify to the need of the 67 families mentioned above to work them.

The total acreage of the parish is 3,789, including New House and Strudgate, which though now part of Turner’s Hill ecclesiastical parish still belong to the civil parish of Ardingly. In 1840 the woods covered 1,316 acres, nearly 300 more than at the present. The agricultural land is practically the same, 2,889 acres. In 1840 793 acres were pasture and 1,529 arable.

These dry details become alive when we remember that Agriculture is one of the few elemental things of life. The existence of a nation rests upon its power to feed its population. Seed time and harvest and the tending of flocks and herds have come down to us from the childhood of Man, and they give us a vision of God in Nature which is lost in the crowded humanity of the town.

The Building of the School

In 1844 the Rev. W. P. Haslewood became Rector of Ardingly. With him begins what may be called our modern history, as he is still well remembered by the older inhabitants of the parish. To his efforts and personal generosity we owe, amongst other things, the building of the School, and the education of the people for 22 years, for it must be remembered that there was no public education then, and all efforts to teach the poorer people to read and write were entirely due to private charity, enterprise and goodwill up till 1870.

The land on which the School is built was given for a nominal sum by Mrs. Peyton, as Guardian for J. H. E. Peyton, of Wakehurst, then a minor. It is conveyed to the Rector of Ardingly and his successors on condition that the School is always to be in union with the National Society for the Education of the Poor. The land is described as, “part of Wheeler’s Mead, in the occupation of Philip Penfold, on the left-hand side of the road leading from the village of Hapstead to the village of Ardingly, and bounded on the west by land belonging to Mr. Newnham.” The deed is dated 7 Jan. 1848.

The following entry within the Register records that

“The First Stone of the New School Room, to be always in union with the National Society, was laid by me on Monday, September 27th, 1847. The New School Room was opened by me on Friday, Sep. 29, 1848.

The population at this time was about 650, having fallen since 1841, owing to the withdrawal of workmen employed on the construction of the Brighton railway in the former year. In applying to the National Society for assistance, Mr. Hamilton states that he already has a School of 40 boys and girls at work. This was held in a building in Hapstead. About 30 additional children were also being educated apart from the Church. The new Schools were to accommodate 106 boys and girls, and the estimated cost was £600, including the School teacher’s house, which, however, was not built till thirty years later. The cost of the School itself amounted to about £425. The Diocesan Fund, the National Society, the landowners and others connected with the parish raised £356, leaving the remainder to he found by the Rector. The voluntary subscriptions included the gift of free carting by 14 farmers, calculated at 10s. a day. It may he recorded here that this method of helping the School in kind continued till quite recent times, the late Mr. George Tester giving his subscription in this way every year. An old inhabitant now dead remembered bringing some of the stone for the School from Philpots’ quarry up Cobb Lane and across the fields to the School. His team was oxen: there was no jibbing at the hill, and wherever their broad horns could go there was room for any vehicle.

A copy of the first set of Rules is in existence. It is headed:

“The object of this School is to train children to fear God, to obey their Parents, and to live according to the Faith in Christ, as true members of His Body, the Church.”

It would be difficult to find a simpler statement of the foundation of all education. Knowledge without training of character is a destroying force, and in the present day we are just beginning to open our eyes to the evil of a divorce between them. Children were not admitted unless they already knew the alphabet, and if they missed two attendances without leave on account of illness or bad weather they were suspended for a month and had to be formally re-admitted. Parents are earnestly asked to assist in enforcing the “Rules of the School,” as unless they do but little good can be expected to come to their children. The weekly payment was twopence for one child and one penny for each of the rest.

The Restoration of the Church

Having completed the arrangements for the education of the children, Mr. Hazelwood turned his attention to the restoration of the Church. It was doubtless in need of it, although many of the alterations in the ‘50’s of the last century are regretted by the present generation. We know that the Church was in a ruinous condition in 1724, and that Charles Liddell, the Rector then appointed, did much to make it weather-tight and bring it up to the fashion of those days in the matter of high pews, &c.

When Mr. Hazelwood came into possession of the Rectory he found the little Church consisting of Chancel, Nave and South Aisle, as it had stood since the 14th century. There was no Vestry and no North Aisle. Drawings of the Church in 1788, 1802, 1842 and 1850 exist, and there are also several printed accounts of its condition. There was a fine Pulpit with an inlaid Sounding Board, which is reported to have been sent to Ditchling Church. [It would be interesting to have confirmation of this fact.] There was a Staircase outside the East end of the South Aisle, which led through a doorway close to the window, into the Wakehurst Aisle, the floor of which was considerably higher than it is at present. In this Aisle Sunday School had been held. Below it is the Vault made by Charles Liddell for the burial of his relations, and to which many were removed who were originally buried in the Chancel. There was a Gallery in the Tower, the marks of which are still quite plain. There was a North door, which had recently been closed, in the wall which was destroyed when the North Aisle was added in 1887.
The Screen stood in its present position, which should be noted, as there is an erroneous statement in print that it was across the Tower Arch in 1853. It was placed there in 1887, but it was in its proper position when Mr. Hazelwood removed it in 1853.

The Brasses have been moved many times. In 1831 they were described as lying within the Altar rails; in 1851 they are described as six, and that of Richard Culpeper is shown separate from that of his wife; and they are all shown lying immediately west of the Altar steps. It is recorded that Richard’s brass originally lay before the Altar. Several of the guide books repeat the error that the recumbent effigy of the Priest is a woman. The glass in the North and South Chancel windows was there before 1851 and doubtless that in the South windows of the Nave also. The little circular window over the Font, which looks absolutely modern, is, however, shown in a sketch of the Church dated 1802.

Mr. Hazelwood swept away the high pews, the pulpit with its sounding board, the screen, the gallery, and the staircase into the South Aisle; he opened out the chancel roof, the bosses of which were carved by one Corke, of Horsted Keynes. He re-pewed the Church, repaired the Fabric, and did all that he could to bring the building and the services up to date.

The singing was led by the Schoolmaster with his flute, sometimes aided by a clarinet. The Metrical Psalms were used; there were no Hymn Books then. Latterly a harmonium was used, and then a small organ, which stood on the south side of the Chancel. The Rector put on his surplice behind the curtain of the Priest’s door, and all was simple and primitive.

During the restoration of the Church, Services were held in the School, which had been previously erected. When all was finished there was a grand opening. The Bishop (Gilbert) came, and a good many clergy. There was a grand dinner at the Rectory, and it is recorded that Mrs. Hazelwood looked charming in a black velvet dress! There was a feast for all the people—men, women and children—held in the Rectory grounds. At that time, with the exception of Mr. Esdaile, then living at Wakehurst, two small shopkeepers and a blacksmith, the whole population was agricultural. A feast in those days was a real treat. In the winter the poverty was very great, and the Rectory did much to supply the needs of the parish.

It is on record that at one time 12 women had nothing to wear to come to Church in, so Mrs. Hazelwood promptly had 12 long red cloaks made for them to come in. How nice they must have looked! Both Mr. and Mrs. Hazelwood devoted their lives to helping the people through that time of poverty and distress—a time which we hope will never fall to our lot again.

The Building of the College

No history of Ardingly would be complete without mention of the School, which through its scholars has carried the name of our little country parish to all parts of the world.

A member of the College of St. Nicolas, Lancing, the building of St. Saviour’s School (or, as we are accustomed to call it, Ardingly College) was commenced in 1864 and opened in 1870, when the boys from Shoreham College were transferred to it. It is one of the many Schools which owe their erection to Canon Woodard.
The foundation stone was laid by Earl Granville on July 12th, 1864. His supporters included Lord Robert Cecil (afterwards Lord Salisbury and Prime Minister), Lord Brougham, A. J. B. Beresford Hope, J. G. Hubbard and other prominent churchmen of the day, the Bishop of the Diocese heading the clerical side, amongst whom was Samuel Wilberforce, the famous Bishop of Oxford and Winchester.

The ground on which the School is built was part of Sauceland Farm and bought from Mr. Jollands, of Buxshalls. The present football ground was a hop garden in the ‘40s, and Kiln Wood, which lies to the east of the main quadrangle, reminds us of the kiln where the hops were dried. It is recorded that on the day of the laying of the foundation stone a way had to be cut through standing corn to enable the visitors to get from the place of the ceremony to the luncheon tent. Kiln Pond, otherwise the lake, is an artificial piece of water developed from a small pond. An old man, not long dead, remembered it as a piece of marshy ground, and helped to bank it up at the lower end.

In an old map of Sauceland (1821) the ground close to the Lake is called “Part of the 100 acres,” a title over which archaeologists dispute; it may be part of the land belonging to the Hundred and not given up to particular owners, or it may be odd pieces of land under one acre, the “under” having been transformed in “hundred.” It should, however, be noted that Ardingly was in the Hundred of Street till recently, and Street field adjoins this particular piece.

Field names are very interesting and Saucelands has one, “Queen’s Earth,” which is very unusual. A guess might be that it had something to do with Anne of Cleves. Saucelands belongs to Ditchling Manor, which was part of the dower of that lady when Henry VIII dispensed with her! The field in question is behind Great Saucelands House. Place names often get inverted in an extraordinary way, but Saucelands means Sauce and nothing else. In early medieval times the occupation of the saucer [possibly salter or drysalter] was a very important one. He not only had to salt and dry the meat for winter use, but he had to provide appetising sauce to make it go down.

In the Subsidy Roll for 1327, under the head of Ardingly, we find that Thomas ate Sauserye, paid 1/6; in the Roll for 1332 Thomas de Saucerye paid 8d. In the Ditchling Manor Rolls we get the name actually in process of transformation — “Swaceland als Sawceryes.”

In 1779 we get the broad Saxon pronunciation reproduced in “Sarsland,” then in the occupation of John Wicking. His initials still remain in the cellar of the house.

Having noted some points about the land on which the College stands, we must go back to the building itself, which was opened with great state on June 18th, 1870. The original plans by Messrs. Slater & Carpenter are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but they were considerably altered in erection, and the great central tower over the entrance was never attempted.

The presence of the School amongst us has made a mark in the parish quite apart from the increased population and enlarged demands. The sound of the boys’ voices at play, the bugle calls and the Chapel bell rise to the little village on the hill and remind us of the young life that is being brought up in the “faith and fear of God, together with brotherly love and sound learning”* in which combination alone lies the hope for the future of this nation.

In addition to the building of the College the Ouse Valley Railway was commenced in 1866 and there were many complaints of the heavy traffic and resulting damage to roads in the neighbourhood at the time. The line branched off near the Viaduct and was to pass through Lindfield to Uckfield, and eventually to Eastbourne. It was, however, abandoned in 1867. Many of the embankments and cuttings remain, but the bridge across Copyhold Lane, which was a danger trap for 40 years, has been removed.

*From the inscription on the Foundation Stone

The New Churchyard

Among the many works carried out for the good of the parish during Mr. Hazelwood’s time, perhaps the provision of the new Churchyard was not the least important.

The land for it was given by the Downshire family, the then owners of Wakehurst, with a clause in the title deed reserving a portion for the burial of the owners of Wakehurst, whosoever they might be.

It should be clearly understood that it is not a Cemetery. A Cemetery is a burial ground provided out of the rates, belonging to the parish, and in which burial can only be had by payment, or through the parish authorities. But our burial ground is provided by and belongs to the Church. It is but an addition to the Churchyard surrounding the Church, where for generations our forefathers have been laid in a true earth to earth burial. Within its bounds every parishioner may claim a right to lay his bones when it shall please God to call his spirit hence. The setting up of a head-stone gives no perpetual right to a grave: future generations have a right to the ground as well as the present. Death is the great leveller. Rich and poor alike, we bow to his summons, stripped of all earthly values, and set forth on that journey to the further shore from which there is no return. Surely anything that savours of money or possessions is more than ever repulsive where the presence of Death dignifies the humblest. To some of us, at least, there is no more beautiful covering for our poor worn-out bodies than the green grass with the rosy sorrel and the dancing ox-eye daisies which in due season deck the graves of a country Churchyard. Truly, the grass withereth and the flower fadeth, but so does the life of man of which they are a symbol. It is natural that those who remain should like to put up some memorial to distinguish one grave from another. But do we really like the foreign marble best? It never weathers, but only gets dirty, and it makes our Churchyards an eyesore in the landscape. A simple headstone of English origin, or a cross of Sussex oak, are hard to get, because we are in the strangle-hold of a bad fashion in these matters, but they are more in keeping with the Christian spirit.

The new Churchyard was consecrated in 1874. The first burial in it was that of Sarah Clifford, of Pearmints. The last act of Mr. Hazelwood, as Rector, was the burial of a little child on May 24th, 1875, from whose graveside he left the parish where he had laboured for 31 years and accomplished much good for Church and people.

Much has been done of late to improve the state of the Churchyard. Flowering trees and roses have been planted, the grass mown, and the paths kept up. Mothering Sunday—the 4th Sunday in Lent—is still observed amongst us, and the graves are bright with daffodils and primroses on that day.

In the midst of life we are in death, but through the grave and gate of death we pass to the life of the world to come. “O holy and merciful Saviour, Thou most worthy Judge Eternal, suffer us not to fall from Thee.

The Last Rector of the Nineteenth Century

In 1875 James Bowden became Rector of Ardingly. His work has left an unfading mark here, which is not always recognised by the present generation, because they have grown up in the possession of what he brought about.

In all that he did he was thorough, and in his younger days he had some of that constructive power which made the Victorian age the greatest that England has ever known. Only those whose memory goes hack for three generations, and they are few, can compare the conditions of things before 1875 and after; but there are silent facts which bear witness if we will consider them.

The Church and the School were his first concern, and on both did he expend himself and his patrimony.

The building of the North Aisle and Vestry in 1887, consecrated February 10th, 1888, was needed on account of the increase of population, on which the opening of the line from Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes in 1883 had some influence.

The South Aisle was also re-roofed, and it may be noted here that the beams used were given by Mr. Renton from an old barn at West Hill.

Mr. Bowden introduced the surpliced Choir and Organ, and much of the furniture of the Church, including pulpit, lectern, altar cloths, &c., was given during his time. The organ originally stood on the south side of the Chancel, but was adapted to its present position when the alterations were made in 1887. It should be recorded that to Mr. Bowden is due the preservation of the Rood Staircase and of the Norman Capital which was found at that time. He also restored the Screen and placed it across the Tower Arch. It had been taken down at the restoration of 1854 and put away in the Tower, where it was much damaged.

The brasses also were restored and two of them relaid in new stones.

The low wall and fence round the Churchyard were also put up in the ‘80’s, the old high wall to the north of the gate disappearing at the same time. It was against this wall that the men of Ardingly set their backs, according to tradition, when the Dragoons from Lewes came to oust the Rector of 1643.

Mr. Bowden had several excellent Curates, among them the Rev. J. H. L. Booker, whose laborious work on the records of Ardingly was only equalled by his devotion to its people. The brass of the Rectors of Ardingly, which is Mr. Booker’s memorial, was largely due to Mr. Bowden’s initiative.

The School was twice enlarged and the School Master’s house built during these years, and the fight for the recognition of the absolute necessity of religious education carried on in the light then existing.

The Rectory was completely re-built, with the exception of a small piece of the back. No picture is forthcoming of the old house, but it is said to have been like the stone house at Selsfield Corner. It is impossible to record all the movements set on foot by the Rector during the last quarter of the 19th century, but mention must be made of the Band, which still flourishes, and in which he always took the greatest interest.

These are all outward signs of Mr. Bowden’s energy and goodwill; but of his innumerable acts of kindness and generosity there can be no record save in the books of Him in Whose Name they were done, and in the hearts of those who experienced them.

Mr. Bowden resigned in 1911, having been Rector for more than 36 years. The parishioners restored the porch of the Church in remembrance of his work among them. He died at Eastbourne on January 26th, 1925, within a short time of completing his 90th year, and on January 30th his body was laid to rest in the Churchyard here, among the people whom he loved and served.

“With Christ, which is far better.”

Back to contents

* The article was written around 1925