The Sixteenth Century

Richard Culpeper’s Will
The Reformation
The Dissolution of the Monasteries
Myles Newby’s Will
The Age of Elizabeth (1558-1603)
The Parish Clerks of Ardingly
The Building of Wakehurst

One of the most valuable sources of information about the past consists in the Wills which have been preserved at the Diocesan and National Registries where they were proved.

The Will of Richard Culpeper is a good example, and we make use of it here to illustrate the period at which we have now arrived. Part of it is in Latin and part in English. It is too long to be printed here entirely, but the following parts are translated from the Latin and made intelligible from the old English, so that all who live in Ardingly in the 20th century may share in the interest of their parish history. Richard Culpeper was the elder of the two brothers who married the two Wakehurst sisters as described in our last number. He died in 1516, the Will being dated September 22nd and proved November 8th of that year. He had no children. He leaves first.

“My soul to Almighty God,—-
“My body to be buried in the Chancel of the Church of Erthingle next the grave of Margaret Culpeper late my wife, which privilege is conceded by the Rector.
“I leave to the Mother Church of Chichester 12 pence, to the altar of Erthyngle aforesaid for tenths and obligations by me neglected 3s. 4d., for the privilege of burial 6s. 8d.
“For a trental of St. Gregory for one year to be celebrated in the parish (church) of Erthyngle aforesaid for my soul and for the soul of Margaret my wife £10 . . . and for 3 years after my death.
“For the lights of the herse or the Bere of the church aforesaid 12 pence.”
“For the fabric of the Church 6s. 8d.
“For the amending of the ways between the Manor of Wakehurst and Seldwyke Cross 13s. 4d.
“For the men who carry my body to the Church after my death 2s.
“For the torch bearers on the day of my burial 4d.”

He then appoints Richard and Edward, Sons of his brother Nicholas, as supervisors of his will with legacies for their trouble.

“The residue I give and leave to Elizabeth Culpeper, late the wife of Nicholas my brother for the generosity which she bath done me the which is little for her labour. Witnesses, Dominus John Young, Vicar of Westhothle, Henry Wellys, Thomas Dogget, Christopher Payne, Willtm Hordys and others.”

The above is taken from the Latin portion of the Will. The English portion commences with the disposition of his Kentish property and proceeds to create a trust for the celebration of an Obit in our Church

”to pray specially for my soul and Margaret my wifes soul and the souls of Walter Culpeper and Agnes his wife my father and mother, Richard Wakehurst the elder and Richard Wakehurst the younger and Agnes his wife, my wifes father and mother, and all Christian souls.”

The land which was set apart to provide the funds for this purpose was “Loggeland then let to John Payne and others to farm.” The Obit was to be kept as follows—

“Yearly by 10 priests if they may be gotten, and every priest yearly to have 8d. for their labours, without meat or drink, if the issues and profits (of the land) will extend. Also a bushel of wheat to be made in bread or oats—12d. in bread—and for ale or beer 16d. and a cheese of 4d. to be spent at Dirige and to be given to poor men that leveth; also to pay for wax for lights yerely . . . for my mind is to have the Obit done with prayer and alms deeds, and if any issues and profits remain that is to be done in alms deeds to poor people and amending of foul ways by discretion of the owner of the Manor of Wakehurst, Parson of the Church and Wardens.”

He then charges the Churchwardens with the arrangements for the income from Lodgeland to be applied to the keeping of the yearly Obit

“as long as the world endureth or the law of England will suffer it—–the wardens to take for their labours 2s. and also I will that one of the Churchwardens or both be at Dirige and Masse the day of the Obit unless he or“the do lose their way. And also yerely to the Parson of Erthyngle for to pray for the souls above said in his bede roll 8d., and also to the Clerke of the Church 4d.”

The Obit was to be kept within eight days before or after St. Margaret’s Day (July 20th). He leaves the income from many farms in Kent and Sussex as well as that at “Leye in the Shyre of Surrey” to Elizabeth, his sister-in- law, with remainder to her eldest son Richard Culpeper. Strudgate is left to George, another son, who also is copyholder of Pipstyes and is to receive Busses, in West Hoathly, on his mothers death.

Richard Culpeper’s will is dated September 22nd, 1516. It gives us a true picture of the outlook of those times, but we will deal with the lesser points of interest first.

The sums of money left for various purposes strike us as very small; but money was very scarce in those days, and its buying power in consequence vastly greater. The 6s. 8d. which he leaves for the fabric of the Church and for the privilege of burial in the Chancel was the angel, the standard gold coin of the day, which succeeded the noble and owed its name to the figure of St. Michael stamped upon it: 3s. 4d. is of course the half-noble.

  • The Trental of St. Gregory, a set of thirty Masses for the Dead.
  • The herse or bier on which the body was placed in the Church during the service for the dead was surrounded with tall candles.
  • Seidwyke—now Seisfield.
  • Obit—the observation of the anniversaries of the death of the testator.
  • Dirige—the service for the dead held on these anniversaries. The name is taken from the first word of Psalm v., 8—” Dirige, Dominus incus “—used as an anthem in this service. From it we get our modern word “dirge.”
  • Loggeland — now represented by Upper Lodge Farm. Lower Lodge as a separate holding has practically disappeared, though it is remembered by some. The residue of the profits on this land, after paying for the annual Obit, were to be used for “the amending of foul
    ways,” in other words, the improvement of the roads. How much they needed it may be judged from the provision in the Will that one or both Churchwardens shall be at the annual services “unless he or they lose their way.” A sum of money is also set aside for the betterment of the road between Wakehurst and Selsfield.

The whole Will is a good example of the close intermixture of the religious life with the consideration of the needs of others in practical ways—there is no separation into things sacred and secular. It is a very human document too, for while Richard Culpeper records his gratitude to his sister-in-law in generous words as well as in substantial ways, he is careful to leave his wife’s grandmother, Elizabeth Wakehurst, out of the list of those whom he desires to be remembered. As has already been recorded, she objected to his marriage and made financial difficulties for the runaway couples, hence his omission of her name is but natural.

There is a sign of the times in the sentence that the Obit should be kept “so long as the world endureth or the law of England will suffer it.” One of the causes of the Reformation was the excessive use of these services, and Richard Culpeper must have been aware of the growing feeling against their abuse.

How much we owe to Richard Culpeper and others like him we shall never know, but we can follow the good example of those who have gone before us in trying to “amend the ways“ for the footsteps of the coming generation.

The Reformation

A sentence already noticed in Richard Culpeper’s will is local evidence of the great changes which were at work beneath the surface and which took shape not many years after his death in the upheaval called the Reformation. This is not the place to enlarge upon the principles involved, but looked at historically its coming may be likened to the fall of a cliff that has been gradually undermined by the waves of the sea. The tides of time work imperceptibly for a while and then some slighter cause gives the final touch and rock and soil go crashing down to find their level in the ocean of the past and to form, even in their destruction, the foundation of a new world. Thus the Reformation was a step in the evolution of thought and religion, neither wholly good nor wholly bad, partaking of the imperfection of all things human, and yet in the providence of God a means to a wider and better knowledge of Himself.

We naturally look to our Church first to see what outward marks of the Reformation are there to be found. Of structural alterations there are none. The Church, saving the additions of 1887, is absolutely the same building as it was for a couple of hundred years before the Reformation. The window in the south aisle was altered in the fifteenth century, another in the north wall, now destroyed, was added, and the tower was probably remodelled about the same time, but otherwise the Church as we know it now is the same in all main features as when Richard Wakehurst was carried to his grave in the chancel in 1454, and where Richard Culpeper followed him in 1516.

If we had been present then we should have seen the screen in its original place, parting the nave from the chancel, with the rood loft over it, on to which the staircase in the wall opened. Above was the great Rood, or Crucifix, hanging from the beam (in which the mortice from which it hung is still to be seen) with the figures of St. John and St. Mary the Virgin on either side. The present altar rails were not there, nor the Culpeper brasses, but the effigy of the priest was old even in those days. The windows were probably filled with stained glass, of which the two shields in the chancel windows and a few bits in the tower window are the only remnants, Perhaps there were frescoes or paintings on the walls, which with the painted windows formed the picture lesson books of the villagers. For the Church was the centre of village life. Education, recreation, medicine, business have all now emerged into distinct branches of public life, but in those days they were chiefly administered by the Church and her ministers, who, with all their imperfections, were the instruments through which the benefits of the wider life have come to the people.

The pageant of a great funeral and yearly commemoration, as desired by Richard Culpeper, was not only a religious ceremony—it was a spectacle, a dramatic event in the minds of the people and an occasion for feasting the poor. Moreover, it has the touch of mortality which makes the whole world kin.

But the ferment was already at work, and before many years were past all the old customs were being cast into the melting pot and, as Richard Culpeper foresaw, the laws of England did not long suffer the continuance of his bequest.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries

At the time of Richard Culpeper’s funeral (1516) the Rector of Ardingly was Ninian Burrell, who was also Vicar of Cuckfield. His unusual Christian name marks the north country origin of his family and accounts for the use of the name of a Northern English Saint amongst the villagers of Ardingly for many generations. The most notable of the bearers of the name seems to have been one Ninian Jenkins, still perpetuated in Jenkins Croft, Little London.

Burrell and his successor, Thomas Cheney, like all their predecessors, were appointed by the Prior and Convent of Lewes, to whom the advowson had been given by Earl Warren in Norman times.

But the dissolution of the monasteries was at hand, and in 1537 Lewes Priory surrendered all its property to the King. Shortly afterwards Henry granted all its possessions to Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex. He was then at the height of his power, but his position was as insecure as that of Henry’s wives, and being, attained in 1540 the whole reverted to the Crown. The following year Henry, wishing to provide for his last discarded Queen, granted the manors which had belonged to Lewes Priory to Anne of Cloves. These included Dichling Manor, which covers the greater part Ardingly south of Street Lane. The name of Queen’s Earth attached to a field at the back of Great Saucelands may date from this time, and should not be allowed to lapse.

Thomas Burstye was sergeant to Anne of Cleves. Although he lived at Hever he “was possessed of Birchenstye, the Antient land of his predecessors in Ardingly,” and was a man of considerable standing. His coat of arms will be found in the Heralds’ Visitation of 1562. Members of his family continued to live in Ardingly down to 1629.

The Birch trees which gave the name to the place in the long, long past are gone; the family which took its name from the place is gone too. Burstye remains, the Park a name which witnesses to its former importance is there too, but few now know the beauty of the site or try to guess the history of its past.

We in Ardingly as well as England at large owe a debt of gratitude to Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, of whom mention was made above as holding the advowson of this parish for a short time. It is to him that we owe the Parish Registers, which are priceless in value as records of the past throughout England. His Injunction of 1538 has been more or less faithfully carried out ever since, and is yet another instance of the work of the parochial clergy in building up the foundation of the Nation. The care of the poor, the sick, the education of the people and the records of their lives have become part of our national duty, but they had their origin in the Christian Faith, and are proofs that we have a claim to be called as a Christian Nation so long as we are willing to suffer for the good of others. The registration of the people having now passed into the hands of a greater State department, the registers of the Church become records of those who are made members of Christ in Baptism, of those who seek God’s blessing on their marriage, and of those who having finished their course in faith do rest from their labours, a more spiritual record and a step in the evolution of things which is both natural and wholesome.

Our own Registers do not go back to Cromwell’s Injunction, but commence in 1558. (For an account of them see Parish Magazine No. 25, August, 1915—the statement in that article that there is no mention of Burials in Linen in our Registers requires correction— there is one such entry), and from this date onwards we have practically a continuous record of the inhabitants of this parish as shown by their births, deaths and marriages.

There is nothing special in parish history to chronicle during the few years of Edward VI’s reign. It was a time of unrest, the great upheaval of Henry’s reign being followed by a period of uncertainty, apprehension and excitement which in its turn was succeeded by the reaction towards Popedom in Mary’s time. Our Prayer Book, as we know it now, was being shaped from the older Service books and translated from the Latin. The Bible was read in English, though not in the version we now use. Tyndal’s translation had been in every Parish Church since 1539, and it is his version that we still use in the Prayer Book Psalter. The music for the responses also dates back to this time, Thomas Tallis, the organist of Westminster Abbey (d.1585), setting them in the form which we still use. He also wrote the tune now coupled to the hymn “Glory to Thee, my God, this night,” which for four hundred years and more has lifted the hearts as well as the voices of the passing generations within the walls of our Church.

The reaction of Mary’s reign and the persecution which resulted brings to light one who bore witness to the ever-growing revolt against the power of Rome. We know nothing of him except that he was a turner by trade. His name does not appear in any of the parish records, and therefore he may have been a newcomer to the place. Be that as it may, ours is one of many parishes which have furnished a martyr in the cause of freedom, for in June, 1556, Thomas Avington, of Erdingleigh, was burnt at Lewes rather than return to the superstitious ways of former days.

Myles Newby’s Will

Before we leave the period of the Reformation and pass on to the great Age of Elizabeth it may be of interest to reproduce the Will of Myles Newby, who was parish priest of Ardingly in Henry VIII’s time. He predeceased that Monarch by some 16 months only, and must have served Ardingly during the years through which the Reformation was coming into being. Looking back on that revolution we are apt to look on it as a definite, concrete fact, with an ascertained date and a formal scheme. But to the men of those days who were the living agents of the great change it was “here a little, there a little” till the Rubicon was passed, and almost without knowing it a new principle had come into power. The details of life remained much the same for the time and there was no abrupt transition in the religious attitude of the people as a whole and no idea of founding a new Church. Compare the Wills of Richard Culpeper (1516) and Myles Newby (1545) and you will find no dislocation of outlook, and yet it was during the 30 years that divide them that the New Learning, combined with and expressed in the personality of Henry VIII, acted as a boulder in the river of History and turned its course towards its present bed.

The Will is dated the third day of October, 1545, and runs as follows:

I Sir Mylys Newbye1 parish prest of Ardyngle in the Co. Sussex make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following, first I bequeth my soul unto Almighty God, to our blessed lady St. Mary and to all the holy company of heaven and my body to be buried within the chancel of Ardyngle, also I give and bequethe to my master2 for my burial in the chancel as is accustomed, also I bequethe to the mother church of Chichester iid bequethe to the hye alter of Ardyngle iid. It is my will that I have at my baring five priests and everyone of them to have vid as offering at every masse, it is my will to have bestowed in meat and drink at my burial viis It is my will to have as many masses and so much bestowed in meat and drink as is aforesaid both a my month’s mind3 and at my year’s mind. I give and bequeth to Sir Myles Kylner parson of Nytimber my gelding, to John Cheseman xxvis viiid to the wife of John Cheseman my short gown lyned with woisted, to Nicholas Cheseman and to William Cheseman my long gown, to John Byrstye my godson my jakett and my dublett to his father, all my riding gere and boxes spryng?4 saddle and bridall to John Cheseman, to (i.) George? (ii.) Henry?5 Cheseman and to Agnes Cheseman my fether bed with all thereto belonging and my table, to Mother (i.) Blevyng? (ii.) Pterigg?6 one pair of hosyn and ii. pair of shoes, to John Bale7 a fustian dublett and a canvas shirt, to the wife of John (i.) Burstye (ii.) Bysshe my best shirt, to my father and mother £4 in money which I did leave with them in custody at my last being with them in the north country,9 to James Shawe10 my velvet nightcap, my hat to the Vicar of West hothle,11 to Sir Joseph or John?12 Kylner my woisted tippet, the residue of all my goods not bequeathed to Sir Myles Kilner parson of Nytimber13 whom I order and make my very true and lawful executor that he dispose for the health of my soul and all Christian souls as he may think most expedient.
Witnesses Sir Robert Boyes, vicar of Westhothie. John Cheseman. John Baly.


1) The title Sir or Dominus was used in very early days for all clerks in Holy Orders. In Miles Newby’s time it was used in contrast to Master or Magister, a graduate M.A. of a university, and denoted that the priest was not a graduate. Later it was used with surname only to designate B.A.
2) The will proves that Newby was priest in charge but not Rector, for he bequeathed to his Master, i.e., Rector (probably John Worthall) the accustomed fee for burial in the chancel, which privilege would have been his by right had he been Rector. See also Richard Culpeper’s will.
3) The day of remembrance or bearing in mind.
4) Boxes spryng, a puzzle yet to be solved
5) George or Henry.
6) Blevyng or Pterigg.
7) and 11) Note the pronunciation of Bale and Hothle and compare with signature of John Baly.
8) Burstye or Bysshe.
9) There are several hamlets in Yorkshire and elsewhere in the North called Newby, from one of which the family of Newby doubtless took its name.
10) James Shawe became Rector of Ardingly in 1550 and died in 1558.
12) Joseph or John. This rendering of the will is made from a comparison of transcripts made by the Rev. J. H. L. Booker and Mr. C. H. Goodman; the different renderings given above illustrate the difficulty of reading these old documents. Owing to war conditions it has been impossible to compare the transcripts with the original, but from other evidence it appears that in 5) George and in 12) John is the correct reading, in 6) both are probably wrong, and in Burstye is probably right, though Bysshe is also a name connected with the parish at that time.
13) Newtimber.

Myles Newby’s signature as witness is attached to the Will of Thomas Abrigge, or Bridges, dated June 19th, 1542.

The Cheeseman family was prominent in the parish for at least two centuries. In 1587, 1608, 1621 and 1629 there were Churchwardens of that name. The initials 0 C. on the 5th Bell are probably those of George, who was Churchwarden in 1629, which is also the date of the Bell. A token found not long since bears their name and the date 1667, while the field in which stands Knowles, or more properly, New Knowles, is still called Cheeseman’s Meadow.

The will gives an interesting list of the clothing of the day and its value as gifts to friends and neighbours, and it is a good specimen of simple direction. Miles Newby’s dust lies mingled with that of many Rectors of Ardingly beneath the Chancel floor and his spirit has joined that great company of heaven who, awaiting the coming of the Lord, perchance look down on us as day by day we hammer out as great a reformation as that which they in their day wrought, making the 16th century the birthday of a new light.

AN INTERESTING FIND has been made at Berry, consisting of a small round metal box containing eight farthings of Charles the Second, issued in 1672 We have from time to time called attention to the traders’ tokens which were used by tradesmen on account of the non existence of small change. Local specimens bearing the names of George Cheeseman and W. and H. Bingham, of Ardingly, are in existence. The farthings which have now been found belong to the small copper coinage of the realm which was issued to meet the need for small change and to do away with the tokens.

These coins bear the King’s head turned to left portrayed as a Roman Emperor, with the inscription “Carolus a Carob,” which means “Charles from Charles” a title which was then used to show the connection of Charles II with his father Charles I., and to bridge the gap caused by the Commonwealth. The reverse bears a fine figure of Britannia with the date “1672.”

The coins are somewhat spoiled by damp but the details are quite legible, and it is obvious that they have not been used. Perhaps they were treasured up in their little box as new coins and lost soon afterwards.

Berrylands belonged to the Payne family in the early part of the 17th century. In a valuation contained in one of the Register Books John Killingbeck is returned as occupier of the Berry. Although this document is undated, from internal evidence we may conclude that its date very nearly corresponds with that of these coins.

It would be interesting if we could get together a small loan exhibition of all the finds and relics connected with the parish. Seeing what others have found is a wonderful help towards finding oneself.

Does anyone possess the tiny little engravings of the Church which were issued about 1840-45 as an advertisement of the charms and attractions (with others) of the new Brighton railroad?

The Age of Elizabeth (1558-1603)

It is difficult to write of the far way days of Elizabeth at a time of historic happenings so great that their like has never been equalled. Yet in the deadly peril of invasion by a cruel foe there is a resemblance between the days of the Armada and our own.

The end of the 16th century was a time of amazing progress—the New Learning, which underlay the Reformation, opened the door to the growth of knowledge and freedom and marks the commencement of England’s international greatness. Then as now the sea was the pathway of power, and to those that go down to the sea in ships we do indeed owe our existence. Trade and commerce flourished and the names of Shakespeare, Bacon and Spenser are sufficient to remind us of the true greatness of that splendid age.

The Sussex iron trade was then in full swing and it brought new men to the fore whose mark remains to this day. Hitherto the Church has been the only building identical with that which our medieval ancestors knew. But from the 16th century onwards the very houses themselves are the same, Before Elizabeth’s reign was out Wakehurst stood as it stands now, save for the shortening of the wings. Paxhill, Borde Hill, Cuckfield Park, Danny, are but a few of the great houses which date from this time and which, in many instances, owe their existence to the wealth of the iron masters. Many humbler dwellings also, with their huge chimneys characteristic of that time, shelter us to-day as they did those Elizabethan builders. Among these may be mentioned Hickpotts, Great Hapstead, Little Hapstead, Berry, Rivers, Pearmints, Knowles (old), Stone (pulled down). Many others might be added to the list of buildings within the parish which show the narrow bricks characteristic of this period.

Bricks were fixed at their present size by law in 1625, therefore whenever we see long thin bricks we can be sure that they are older than that date. Ardingly had a good share in the iron trade. The Registers tell us of the furnace at Strudgate, and a State Paper of 1574 records “Mr. Challoner one forge in Ardinglie.” The iron was smelted at the furnace and cast at the forge. Charcoal was used, then called coal, and the reference given later to “collier” meant what is now called charcoal burner. The traffic was so destructive that an Act was passed compelling the iron masters to repair the roads in proportion to the weight carried.

The forge, or Hammer, at the bottom of the hill below Town House was worked by the combined waters of the Shill and Ardingly brooks. It is now called Fulling Mill but retained its name of the Hammer at least till 1711. It would be interesting to know whether all the Anne Forster grave slab fire backs were cast at the Ardingly forge. One is now in the Church, and an account of it will be found in the Magazine for January, 1916.

The following references from the Ardingly Parish Registers show how many of our Elizabethan inhabitants were concerned in the local iron works. The list is also very interesting as an illustration of the foreigners brought in by the trade, whose names, often a trouble to the scribe of those days, have taken on English forms and lost their foreign appearance. The first in the list we now know as Gilham, Oiliam in the phonetic spelling of the 16th century being the nearest approach to the French Guillaume = William. Renould, Morgaine, Warnet Dogion, all seem to be French in origin. Lerken – Lukar – Lucar = Luca, however, has an Italian turn, as has also Tace Deninsha. Although the latter has no specified connection with the iron works the name is included here in the hope that its peculiarity may catch the eye of some expert who may be able to interpret it. The fact of his being described as a Frenchman is no argument against his being an Italian, as the title Frenchman was used for all foreigners. Other foreign names include Reynye Rubine, Martaine Labar, Reynould Fremyng and *Markes Caffe frenchman. Among names of French origin still existing in Ardingly is that of Gasson, the local and correct pronunciation “Garson” showing the close connection with the original “Garçon “= boy.

There is no mention of Strudgate furnace in the Return of 1574. The Park is Wakehurst Park, now commonly called Wakehurst Warren. Fire Wood in the neighbourhood of Little Strudgate and three woods close to Fulling Mill Cottages by their name of Hammerwood are records of the time when Ardingly was busy with iron production.

1564/5 *Tacey Dennichey.
1565John Gillam Frenchman of the fornace.
*Antllonye of the fornace in the parke.
*Richard Haryon of the Hammer.
1566Tace Deninsha being a Frenchman.
1566/7John Gillam founder.
1567Renould Harvye Founder in the Park.
1567/8Richard Dipplie of the Hamer.
1569Charles Tiler of the furniss.
1571/2*Richard Potter Fynar of the hamer.
1572*Richard Penfould of the hammer.
1575/6.Edward Bowebrook of the Hamer.
1577/8*John Morgaine of Strodgate fornace.
Morgaine the collier.
1580John Simmonds, Hammerman.
1580/1Warnet Dogion of Strodgate fornace.
1582*James Lerken the hammerman.
1583James Morrell of the hammer.
1584*Nicholas Hoock founder of Strodgate furnace.
*James Lukar the hammerman.
1591Thomas Kerbee of Strudgate fornace
Phillip a collier dwelling in Thomas
Newnam’s wood of West Hill.
1593/4John Finch at the Hamer.
1606Frances Lucar of the Hammer.
1638Antony Millam an old man of the Hammer.
1643/4 Thomas Simmons belonging to the yron works.
1659/60Richard Finch hamer man.
* From the original paper copy which varies from the parchment transcript of the Registers.

The Parish Clerks of Ardingly

Among the entries of Elizabethan date in the Parish Registers we find the first reference by name to the Parish Clerk. Earlier mention of the Clerks is made in the Wills of Richard Culpeper, 1516, and Thomas a briggs or Bridges, 1542, but no name is given.

It may be well to put on record the list of those, as far as known, who have served Ardingly in an office which in the past has been of great use to the inhabitants of a country village such as ours.

The Clerks in early times were one of the minor orders of the clergy and as such were better educated than the majority of people. They had special duties with regard to the music of the Church, the preparation for the services, the reading of the Lessons and of the Epistle. They also assisted in ministerial duties, baptising, visiting the sick in the absence of the clergyman and attending him when present. They were helpful to the people in making their wills, acting as the business man of the parish and schoolmaster as well. Special provision was made at Easter for the Clerk’s dues from the parish at large. In many places there was more than one and we shall find reference to them in the Rubrics of the Prayer Book.

In Puritanical times the office of clerk fell to a lower standard though many of the old customs survived in altered form. In our own case the custom of the Parish Clerk providing the bread for the Holy Communion survived down to 1843, if not later.

It is fitting that the name of the first parish clerk known to us should be one so familiar still, for “Homeman “is but “Holman” in careless spelling and is so entered in other references to the same man. Richard Holman’s wife and child are buried within the church, a privilege doubtless allowed him on account of his office. The entry of his own burial does not mention whether he too lies within the walls where doubtless he led the singing. Sternhold and Hopkins’ version of the Psalms was then the new Hymnbook and from it comes the Old Hundredth with which perchance the Richard Holman of Elizabeth’s time raised the thanksgiving for deliverance from the Spaniards in the same words and music which we hope to use on the conclusion of Peace,

“All people that on earth do dwell.”

List of Parish Clerks

1516. “To the clerke of the Church iiijd to make a yerely account.” Rich. Culperer’s Will
1542. “To the parish Clerke of the said Church iiij.” Thomas a briggs or Bridges’ Will
*1598/9 Richard Homeman, Clerk of this Parish.
*1634 Thomas Anstie the Parish Clarke an old man.
#1636/7 Richard Paine. d at West Hoathly Feb., l671/2 Buried at Ardingly.
#1671 George Cheeseman. d. 1712, aged 79.
#1724 Thomas Pollard. d. 1737, aged 72.
Thomas Pollard. d. 1794, aged 74.
#1791 Richard Creasy. d. 1819, aged 66.
Edward Tester. d. 1859, aged 77.
1859 Edward Tester, resigned 1905, d.1907, aged 86.
1905. Alfred Neal. resigned 1912.
* From the Burial Register.
# In office at date given.

(See also current Chairmen and Clerks)

Mention was made in the preceding number of an Elizabethan member of the Holman family. Another family still represented in Ardingly furnishes some information for the present article. Richard Bexill, yeoman, made a Will dated 7 Apr 1571. He died two years later and was buried in the Churchyard on 10 Apr 1573. He is described in the Register as Richard Baxshell the elder.

The Will mentions Margaret his wife, Richard, Thomas, John and Nicholas, sons, Dorothy, daughter, Richard, godson and grandson, and Anne Balcombe, servant.

He leaves to “John my sonne two bushels of wheat and tymber for the reparacons of his myll. The residue of my goods I bequeath to Nicholas B. my sonne who shall fynde and carry suffycient tymber for the reparacons of the fulling myll now in the occupyinge of my sonne John B. and shall also fynde meat and drynke sufficient for the workmen and labourers that shall make and repaire the same during all the tyme untyll the said myll shall be well and suffyciently repayred and so it shall be thought meete and by the dyscretion of two honest men. This is the last wylle and testament of me the said Richard Bexill touching the dysposytion of all my landes being within the parishes of Erthynglygh and Hothlygh. Nicholas B. shall enjoy all my land with appurtenances which I late purchased and made free of Mr. Francis Barne which before were coppyhold.

Henry Balcombe )
Jasper Wheeler ) overseers

The Mill in question was that now represented by Fulling Mill Farm on the Stonehurst estate. Its name is a record of the days when every locality was more or less self-dependent, and the whole process of transference of the wool on the sheep’s back to the clothing of its owner was carried out in the neighbourhood. As we have already noticed, the other Fulling Mill in the parish was originally the iron mill, and it might save confusion if it went back to its old name of the Hammer.

Cobb Brook is now a rapidly diminishing stream, but in the old days it worked three mills which must have contributed greatly to the convenience of the inhabitants. Stone Mill was the flour mill, then came the Fulling Mill for the treatment of cloth and the third was at the bottom of Cobb Lane. What purpose this last one served has not yet come to light, in fact it is only lately that the following reference to it has become known: Release from Wm de Wulborgh to Wm de Chytyngelegh of a Water mill and land in West Hodlegh called Colbe melne. Witnesses. P. R. Gravetye, Richard de Wakehurst, Wm atte Stone. delivered at West hodlegh the day before purification (Feb 1.) I. Ed. ii. (1308).

One of the objects of these notes being to preserve information contained in perishable documents, a portion of a parish record of Elizabethan date is here printed and will be continued hereafter.

The document consists of eight sheets of soft paper folded in half and making a booklet of 32 pages measuring 8in. by 6in. Both sides of the paper are used, pages 19—30 are blank. The information contained refers to Churchwardens and their accounts, and the accounts of the Overseers for (1) the destruction of birds and vermin, (2) the poor, (3) the highways. The dates run from 1578 to 1628 continuously, with the exception of 1626. The handwriting is variable but never illiterate; in the cases of Richard Cripps, 1599, and George Cheeseman, 1628, it is remarkably good. The ink is faded in some places but in others is as black as ever.
The date of the year is written in Arabic figures throughout but the accounts from 1578 to 1612, excepting 1599, are in Roman figures which are here replaced by Arabic figures, for the sake of clearness to our readers.

A° 1578. John Paine of Lodge and Leonard Paine, church wardens made their accompte to ye parishe in the end of their yere of £4 7s 11d received by them and of £4 5s 2d which they layed oute, and so they owed to ye parishe 2s 9d, which was delivered to John Jynkyns one of ye next churchwardens.

A° praedicto 1578 ye two monthely distributors of ye provishon for ye destruccon of noyfull fowle and vermyn made their full accompte for their year unto the Churchwardens and 6 taxers appointed by statute. (This paragraph is repeated after each year *).


A° supradicto John Jynkyns and John Baxshell churchwardens made their accompte in the end of their said yere of 19s 4d. which they had layed oute and of 12s 5d and ye parish oweth them “9s 11d
A° praedicto 1579 (as above *).


A° 1580 Richard Crippes and Nicholas Tully churchwardens made their accompte for the ende of their said year of 23s & 2d which they had layde oute and of 31s & 8d which theye had received and so theye owed to ye parishe 7s 2d which was delyvered to Gyles Lynfell one of the next churchwardens.
A° 1580 praedicto (as above *).


A° 1581 Thomas Paine of Stone and Gyles Lynfell Churchwardens made theire accompte in
the ende of their yere of 7s & 9d layed oute and of 45s. 9d. received beside ye moneye received for bredd and wyne.
A’ supradicto (as above *), the syde men John Comber and Nycholas Hunt.

A° 1582.

A° dm 1582 Richard Hothe and John Pilbem, church wardens made their accompte in the ende of their yere to ye parishe of 46s & 6d which theye had layed oute, and 39s & 10d they had received and so ye parishe remain in their debt 2s & 8d There were present at this accompte Richard Pilbeam, Thomas Payne of Stone, Richard Crippes, John Jynkyns, Leonard Paine, Nicholas Tulleye, Henry Willerd and John Comber.
The ij montheleye distrybutors (as above *).

A° 1583.

A° dmi 1583 John Nicholas and John Payne of Lyod church wardens made their accompte to ye parish in the ends of their yere of 19s & 2d layed oute by them and of 15s & 4d which theye had received and so the parish owethe them 3s. & 10d.

A° 1583.

In A° 1583 the ij monethleye dystributor (as above *)

A° dmi 1584. Richard Payne and Roger Combar churchwardens made their accompte to the parishe in the ende of their yere of xxviijs and vd layed oute and of xxvs and xd received so the parishe oweth them ijs and viid
*A° 1584 ye ij. monthelye distrybutors of ye provysyon for ye destruccon of noyefull fowles and vermyn made their full accompte for their yere to ye churchwardens and vi. taxers appointed by statute.

A° dmi 1585 George Willard and John Burstye, church wardens made their accompte to the parishe in the end of their yere of xvis and ixd layed out by them and of xxis arid iiid which they had received and so remain in their hands due to the parishe iiijs and vid
A° 1585 (as above *)

A° dmi 1586 John Jynkyns and Leonard Payne made their accompte to ye parishe in the end of their yere of xxvs viijd1 layed out and of xxiiijs and viiid received by them and so the parish oweth them xiid
A° 1586 (as above *)

A° dmi 1587. Robert Cheseman and John Payne made their accompte to ye parishe in the ende of their yere of v xvjs iiis layed out by them The parish oweth them vjs and iiid
A° 1587 (as above *)

Memorands that in the yeare of Or Lorde 1588 Thomas Gatland and John Payne of Lodge were churchwardens.

Anno dom. 1589.

Memorandm in the yeare of 0” Lorde 1589 £17 12 3 John Chatfield and Nicolas Tullie were churchwardens.

Anno Dom. 1590.
Memorandm in the yeare of Or Lorde 1590 John Baxell and Nicolas Baxell churchwardens made their accomptes to the parishe in the end of there yeare of xvs and xid received and of xvijs and iiijs. layde out by them and the parish oweth them xviis

Anno Dom. 1591.
Memorand” in the yeare of 0r Lorde 1591. Richard Crippes and William Newenam were church wardens and made the accomptes to the parish in the ende of there yeare of xvis xd received and layed out Xvi’ vid, remaining to the parish iv Memorand” the sidesmen chosen this yeare above written are John Burstie and Roger Cumber. (1592).
Item the overseers for thedestroyinge of noysome foules and vermine are this yeare above written, John Baxell and John Gilbirt.

Anno Dom. 1592.
Memorandn in the yeare of o’ Lorde 1592 Richard Payne of Stone and John Pilben were churchwardens.

Anno Dom. 1593.
Memorandn in the yeare of or Lorde 1593 Thomas Newenam of Westhill and Thomas Burstie of Holgrove were churchwardens.

Anno Dom. 1594.
Memorandn in the yeare of or Lorde 1594 John Wheeler and John Jenks were churchwardens.

Item the overseers for noysome foule— John Burstie and Roger Comber

Anno Dom. 1595.
Memorandn in the yeare of or Lorde 1595 John Verrall and John Atkins were church- wardens.

Item overseers for noysome fowle John Barstie and John Redding.

In the year of or Lord 1596 John Chatfield and Roger Coomber were churchwardens. Item overseers for noysome foule John Crips and Barnabe Harvie.

William Weller and Barnabe Harvey were sides men 1596.

John Chatfield and Roger Comber churchwardens afore said made there Accompt to the parish and ther was remayninge in ther handes iiijs which they have delivered to John Baxshell and to John Burstie the new churchwardens.

Referring to the destruction of “noisome fowle and vermin” it is worth recording that the plague of crows, rooks and choughs was so great in Henry VIII.’s reign that in 1533 an Act of Parliament was passed to encourage their destruction and every parish was required to provide “Crow Nets wherewith to capture the devastors.” In Elizabeth’s reign in 1563 and 1572 further Acts were passed with the same object. The statute referred to (see 1578 and onwards) provided that “in every parish the churchwardens with six other parishioners shall yearly on one of the holy days in Easter week tax and assess every land and tithe owner for such sums of money as they shall think meet,” which sums “shall be delivered to two honest and substantial persons of the parish elegible by the Churchwardens, to be named ‘The distribution of the provisions for the destruccon of noisome fowle and vermin.

These regulations are but another instance of the part that the Church took in all that concerned the well-being of the country. Nowadays the increase and complication of duties necessitates division of work and the Church is more strictly concentrated on spiritual needs. But the underlying principle that all work can be sacred remains the same. In the individual life religion follows the same line. The best outcome of the Lord’s Day is good and honourable work in the week, as our duty to God and our neighbour can never be divided.

John Backshell and John Bnrstie church wardens for this yere.
Sidemen Thomas Payne of Hook and Tymothe Garlande. Overseers for noysom fowls John Willard and John Lane. John Baxshell and John Burstie churchwardens a fore said have made ther Accompt and they have paid to the new church wardens — iijs iiijd

William Newnam and John Longley church wardens for this year 1598.
Side men Thomas Longe and Thomas Payne of Lodge. Serveyers for the High wayes Roger Comber and John Burstie. Serveyers for noysome fowle John Comber and William Weller.

Richard Crippes, John Monke (erased) and Thomas Bridges Church-wardens for this year

Sideman Richard Cripps junior, and Anthony Millum. Memorandu that Richard Cripps and Thomas Bridges have given in their accomte and the parish remaineth 4s 6d. in ther debt.

Memorandu that in the year of our lord 1600 Richard Paine of Burstye and John Pilben were chosen Churchwardens. Item, Sidemen John Reading and John Outhead.

Memorandu ãno do: 1601 John Wheiler and John Bridges were chosen churchwardens.
Item theye delivered up theire accomte and they have vid left in their hands due unto ye pishe.

Memoradft äno do: 1602 Thomas Bursty and John Jenkin weare chosen churchwardens.

Theye have delivered up theare account and there is left in their hands—xviijd
Memorand that Edmdnd Moorye and John Jenner were chosen churcbwardens Anno domini 1603. They have delivered their accompt and there is left due to the parish in their hands vid.

The Building of Wakehurst

Before we leave the days of Good Queen Bess and pass on to the history of Ardingly during the 17th century mention must be made of the great house which stands as an enduring witness of the aspirations of the men of those days, aspirations which have shown their value by the fact that Wakehurst is not an ancient ruin but a house which has proved adaptable to the needs of the passing centuries.

Many families have owned it and some day their names must be recorded here, but at present we deal with the house alone. It stands on or close to the site of the older Wakehurst, which sheltered the family who took their name from the place and which had become ruinous in the 16th century.

Thomas Culpeper, in his will dated 1570/1, desires his executors to proceed with the buildings which he had already begun. His son Edward was then only nine years old, but before he was thirty he had completed the house and all the ancient part of the Wakehurst that we know is his work. The initials E.C. are on either side of the central southern door and the date 1590 is carved on one of the side doors. The plan of the house originally covered a square; of this the south side has long disappeared, and no trace remains above ground. The East and West wings remained, much longer than they now are, till about 1845, when they were pulled down to their present length and the material used for the re-building of New House Farm.

The existence of Wakehurst has had an effect upon the life of Ardingly, which perhaps is not obvious at first sight. Picture to yourselves a hill village populated entirely with small farmers and labourers, or think of it as a little community of small tradesmen congregated at Hapstead, or again as a collection of dependents clustered beneath the shadow of some overwhelming castle, and contrast it with the real Ardingly, which has always had a certain independence, due, perhaps, to Wakehurst Manor covering only part of the parish. And yet the village has had the benefit of a connecting link with the outside world by means of the great ‘house and its inhabitants. These things have a great influence in forming the character of a place, and the individuality of Ardingly reflects its history. It may interest some of our builder readers to know that every stone of Wakehurst has a number or mason’s mark upon it. While the architect’s name is not certainly known, the Parish Register contains the following entry of the burial of one of the workmen—
“1591. . July 5 one Duke a mason which wrathe (wrought) at Wakhurst.”

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