High Street

In the map of the Manor of Wakehurst dated 1727 there are only three houses marked on the west side of the road in Hapstead. One is John Langridge’s house mentioned above, another is either Plummer’s Cottage, or that which preceded Hapstead Cottages, and the third, lower down, is probably Holland House. The site of Miles Terrace was quite recently a rough piece where timber lay and the cottagers had their wood stacks. There was also a shed where it is said that Anscombe the weaver had his loom. On the east side of the road there are five houses marked on the map. One would be the old thatched cottage pulled down many years ago and replaced by three red brick cottages built by the late Thomas Potter. The next is Great Hapstead, then comes the pond now completely dried up and then three other buildings between the pond and the crossroads.

On the East side the road in Hapstead there are only 5 houses marked in the Wakehurst map of 1727. One would be the old thatched cottage pulled down many years ago and replaced by 5 red brick cottages built by the late Thomas Potter, one of which served as the Post Office for many years. This adjoined the old footpath to Highbrook which was moved lower down, at the end of the last century. The next old house is Great Hapstead, for several generations the homestead of the Paynes, and then comes the pond now dried up. The wall enclosing all this was built by Mr. Potter, but previously it was open ground. Mr. Potter also built Hapstead House in 1867. The third house in the map corresponds with premises occupied by Messrs. Turner, Plane and Bashford, but at present there is not much information to hand about these houses, although we know that there has been a wheelwright and a blacksmith in Hapstead since the 14th century. The fourth old house would be Mr. Clifford’s the Bough House, already mentioned. The fifth and last house before the cross-roads in 1727 is Mr. Sayers’ house with the shop attached, which has been the centre of trade for Ardingly for several centuries. There is reason to believe that the Binghams, who have left their name in Bingham’s Green, were some of the first to have a shop in Ardingly. They certainly issued a token in the 17th century, which showed that they had custom enough to need small change, which was the purpose for which the tokens were used.

The deeds in Mr. Sayers’ possession go back to 1752, when Thomas Harmer took over the property. His father John had had the business before him, but we have no record of any transaction with the Binghams. The Harmer family first appears in the Registers in 1683 and the last mention of the Binghams is in 1722, so they must have had plenty of opportunity for doing business together. It is needful to notice that in all the deeds, which are consecutive from 1752 there is no reference to quit rent, heriot or other manorial dues. In other words, the property has been freehold at least since that date. It probably was originally held from the Manor of Ditchling but no record has yet been found of its enfranchisement. The Manor of Wakehurst chipped in with a claim in 1840, but as its own Court Rolls show no evidence whatever that any claim existed it may be looked upon as a “pious wish”on behalf of the person who drew up the schedule in 1840, or perhaps a mistake for another house held by a Wheeler.

In the deed of 1752 there is a little plan of the ground, which amounts to about one rood twenty-eight perches. At one time there were five cottages forming “The Court”, now transformed into warehouses. In one of these cottages there was a Dame School in 1822, Kept by Miss Ann Heasman, Schoolmistress.

Benjamin Wheeler took the premises over from the Harmers in 1791 and Richard Uwins had it in 1821. In 1856 Mr. Henry Sayers bought it, and it remains in the hands of his descendants. The existing house seems to be chiefly of early 18th century date, but there was a fireback dated 1626 in one of the rooms which was removed during the lifetime of the late Mr. Albert Sayers. There was also a dated brick in one of the chimneys bearing figures which looked like 1716.

The first Post Office of the parish was opened in Mr. Sayers’ shop in the early 1870s. The postmark was Hapstead and remained so till confusion with Hampstead, Hempstead and other similar names made it advisable to change it to Ardingly. There are a few of these Hapstead postmarks still in existence, and those who have them on old letters should treasure them.

The distinction between Hapstead and Ardingly is most marked in the early part of the 19th century, especially in the Parish Registers, where Hapstead is invariably used for the place of abode of those who dwelt in what we now call the village.

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