Burstow Hill

As we follow the brook which forms the eastern boundary of the parish, the next name that calls for attention is Burstow Hill, which, from the steepness which tries the wind of man and beast, has been nick-named “Buster”.

Its connection with Burstow in Surrey, some 12 miles away, seems impossible at first sight. But there is a record in existence which gives a reasonable link and which is worth putting into print.

In 1249 the Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex held an enquiry as to the bounds of the chace adjoining the forest of Worth, on account of a dispute between Peter of Sabaudia and John of Burgstow.

The jury who were called were to have no affinity with either of the disputants. Their verdict runs as follows:-

The said John (de Burgstow) and his ancestors have always enjoyed their chace up to the hedge of the said forest of Worth on the north and so on to the east up to the said hedge, nor were they ever impeded save by William de Wakehunst, forester of Sir Peter de Sabaudia, in the time of Sir Peter de Sabaudia.

Chan. Inq. 55. Hen. III. File 7 (15).

A little further information is required to make the matter clearer. Peter of Sabaudia, otherwise Savoy, was Lord of the Rape of Pevensey. He was uncle to Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III., at that time King of England. The Rape of Pevensey comes up to within half a mile of Burstow Bridge, its boundary being identical in the Rape of Lewes, which was the lordship of the Warennes. At the time of the trial the then Earl Warenne, John, was a minor, and Peter of Savoy was his guardian. Peter appointed a forester of his own in the forest of Worth, William of Wakehurst, who seems to have tried to hinder the lawful tenants with a view to getting his master into the hunting grounds which belonged to his young ward. The rights and privileges of hunting were jealously guarded in those days, and the dispute was so serious that it needed a trial by jury to settle it. No doubt some of the men on the jury were Ardingly men with local knowledge, Ardingly being in included in the forest of Worth, which surrounded the “leigh” from which it gets its name. The verdict went against Peter of Savoy, and the evidence points to Burstow Hill and Bridge being the boundary mark of John Burgstow’s hunting, beyond which the Lord of the Rape of Pevensey should not come.

It may be of interest to add that the name of Peter of Savoy, a foreigner and an ecclesiastic, is recorded in the Savoy Chapel in London, with the later addition of the Savoy Hotel. He died in 1268.

The reference to William de Wakehurst is one of the earliest that we have to the name in Ardingly, and his description as forester to Sir Peter de Sabaudia is interesting.

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