The history of Berrylands, or as it is now called “Berry”, can be traced much further back than that of Lywood. The examples given below show that the spelling has varied from the beginning, and “Bury” and “Berry” were interchangeable. It is not certain in this Ardingly specimen what the origin of the name really was. The usual meaning of the name “Bury” is a fortified place, but this does not fit the circumstances. The fact that it stands on the edge of a small precipice and therefore might have been used as a place of defence in very early times has not been forgotten, but there is absolutely no evidence to confirm the possibility. The latest opinion tends toward the name having been given to it as the chief house of the island portion of the manor of Streat in the parish of Ardingly. From the old use of burh to denote a fortified house, there arose the use of bury for a “court or manor house, the centre of a soke or other jurisdiction. Such names are all of post-conquest origin and first became common in the 13th century”. The suggestion is that the name was given in ignorance of its original meaning but serving the purpose of the centre of the holding. There is some evidence in the bailiff’s accounts of Streat Manor in 1366 which gives some indirect support to this view. The fact of Berry ever having been a fortified house may be wiped out altogether.
The suffix “lands” is the usual one for cultivated, i.e., plough lands. The earliest records of the name come from the men who lived on the land and took their name from it. There is one William ate Bery, who was a taxpayer in 1327 under the head of the Manor of Streat and paid 2s. 9d.
In 1332 William paid 2s.11½d., while John atte Bery paid 3s. It does not follow that John and William were related. We know that the holding was divided in two, from the evidence of the bailiff’s accounts already mentioned. They had their baptismal name, the place they lived at gave them a secondary definition which often developed into a surname, and other distinctions arose from occupations or personal peculiarities. A good example of the last occurs in Ralph Blakeneck, also connected with Berry.
That the occupier of Berry was a person of some importance in the parish is proved by William de Bury serving as a Juror in 1342, when an inquisition was held throughout England called the Nonae Inquisition. This was an enquiry into the value of the tithes, etc., of the parishes with a view to ascertain the ninth part, a tax due to the King. In this return Erthyngelithe is the spelling of Ardingly.
In 1357 William atte Bury and Johanna (Joan) his wife had a legal dispute with Johana, widow of John atte Logge and daughter of John atte Hull. The dispute concerned the 3rd part of 3 acres of land with 20s. of rent and the appurtenances thereof in Erthynglegh. This is recorded in the De Banco records – now called Kings Bench.
We can recognise Lodge as remaining in Upper Lodge to this day, while Hull probably is the old way of describing hill, now represented by Hill House.
A little later (1366) we get a mention of Berry in the Bailiff’s accounts referred to above. Here Ralph Blaknecke seems to have been held responsible for John Aghemond and John atte Bery, both of whom held the 4th part of half a vergate freely of the lord by Charter on condition that they performed certain “works” for the lord every week.
This amounted to rent and was eventually a very heavy tax on the cultivator, as the best of his time was at the lord’s service.
The 15th and 16th centuries have yielded nothing to the history of Berry, but probably because search has not been made under the head of Street. All records of taxation are classified under Rape and Hundred, but by no means all are included under the head of the parish and it is absolutely essential to search under the head of the manor as well.
William de Bery signed a document regarding a tenement in Southover, Lewes, in the ninth year of Edward the Second (1315-16). Thus the name is taken back ten years earlier than the earliest date previously recorded. The reference is Ancient Deeds, A.4098. The bearer of the name is one of the same family, if not the same individual, who, as William ate Bury, paid his tax through the manor of Streat in 1327.
Among the few references to Berry in the 16th century is one among the Chancery Proceedings in Elizabeth’s reign, referring to Thomas ffynes, Lord Dacre, who being possessed of a yardland in Ardingly called Berrylands, by virtue of his ownership of the manor of Streat, demised the same to Henry Payne. Although the lawsuit dates from Elizabeth’s time, it is referring to matters which took place in Henry VIII’s reign, as the last Thomas, Lord Dacre, to own the manor of Streat, was hung in 1541 for murder in a hunting quarrel.
Henry Payne must be one of the family of a name that is as the sand of the sea for number in Ardingly in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1610 Alexander Payne died possessed of Berrylands. His will alludes to it.
“Item I will unto Alexander Payne son of Francis Payne and his heires all my lands called Berrylands and Withielands in the parish of Ardingly and my house and lands which I purchased of John Wheeler in Ardingly. Item to the poor of Ardingly 30s., to the poor of Balcombe 10s. I give towards the building of the steeple of Balcombe 40s yf yt bee now builded by the said parish of Balcombe“.
Alexander Payne the younger died in February, 1638. He is described in the Register as “a young man”, and his place of residence is given as Lywood. In the Bishop’s transcript of the same Register the word “Batchelour” is added. It is exceedingly difficult to follow the descent of Berrylands accurately at this time. It was divided into three parts, and the Manor books of Streat give the holders in due course, but they do not include either Alexander Payne. One part is held by Thomas Bridges in 1634. It remains in that family till 1707, when it passed by marriage to the Allinghams through the Clifford family to Henry Longley and so to Mr. Potter, who bought it in 1875. This portion contained seven acres, and appears to be the land lying above Berry Lane.
The second portion, which was part of John Wheeler’s farm at one time, passed through Calvert Bristow to the Hamlyns in the early part of the eighteenth century, and remained in their hands till Anne Hamlyn, afterwards Dennet, had it. She owned it when the Tithe Map was made in 1841. At that time it was called Bury Farm and was occupied by Mary Comber. This also belonged to Mr. Potter and is the portion containing the house now called Berry.
The third portion appears to be the land on the other side of the road through which the pathway goes to Lywood. The Killingbecks held this portion firm 1653, if not earlier, till 1733, when it was in the hands of the Crawford families, till the last member of the family, Mrs. Anna Maria Williams, enfranchised it in 1880. All three portions are now part of the Stephenson Clarke property. It is not possible to say which was the house that Alexander Payne purchased of John Wheeler, but as Alexander the younger was described as of Lywood, it looks as if it was Lywood House which may well have been the property of John Wheeler, of Lywood Farm.
That there was confusion long ago is proved by the valuation list in the Registers dating from about 1665, when, having entered Berry to John Killingbeck, they were at a loss to give a name to Richard Bridges’s part, so left it blank. The Hearth Tax of 1666 shows John Killingbeck paying for four hearths and Richard Bridges three hearths, having decreased one.
The Lane adjoining Berry on the West is a very ancient right of way, leading to Withylands. In a mutilated deed of the 16th century it is mentioned as “the way leading to Ivery-gate unto Wydyland“. The persons concerned are Lord Dacre, lord of the Manor of Street, Henry and Thomas Payne free-holders versus John Wheeler. We have no other trace of the name Ivery gate (Misc.Chan. Pro. Bundle l24, No.24), though there is always the hope of some fresh instance turning up.