For Holgrove, commonly but wrongly called Hollygrove, we have far older records than anything concerning Jordans of which farm it formed part of in the 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest reference that we have is in 1278, when Alice wife of William Atte Holegrove and daughter of Edith, daughter of Alexander Atte Strete, in Erdingly, sued Alice de la Toune, Reginald le Webbe and William de Wakehurst, Sen., for the recovery of her mother’s lands, etc., at the Assize held at Chichester, 23 June, 7 Ed.1. The prefix “Atte” was used when surnames were not general, and to distinguish between the multitudes of “Johns” and “Wiliams” the place of his abode was given.

In this particular record we have specimens of four different ways in which surnames originated. The men who lived at Holegrove and at the Street (Street Lane), Alice of the Towne, probably no longer living there but having come from what is now Town House, are specimens of surnames arising from place-names. Reginald gets his name from his occupation of weaving, Webber being the common form nowadays, while the chief man of the parish is described “of Wakehurst“.

There is strong reason for believing that the family name of Holman, which flourishes in Ardingly, had its origin in the long past at Holegrove, Alice atte Holegrove won her case and got back her mother’s property, which consisted of two houses, 28 acres of land and one acre of wood, which had got into the hands of the three defendants.

As one stands at the edge of Kitfield and looks down on the present house the suitability of the name Holgrove is easy to see. The first syllable comes from the word “hole” or hollow, the second from the Old English “graef” or “graf”. Without very ancient written forms it is impossible to decide which is the origin. The first means “pit, trench or graye” and the second “grove or copse”. Under any circumstances there is no warrant for “Holly”, the modern corruption.

It is highly probable that John atte Helegrave, who with other local men formed the jury at Horsham in 1308, came from Ardingly. They had before them the valuation of the property of the Knights Templar in Sussex, at the time of the dissolution of that Order. (Add. M.S. 6165).

In 1327 William ate Holegrave pays a tax of 1s., David ate Grave 10¾d., and Henry and William ate Towne 2s. 6d. and l0d. respectively. Five years later Walter atte Holegrave appears as taxpayer. After this the name disappears as a surname, as far as is known at present, but the place-name remains as a witness of the common sense of our forefathers.

Thomas Burstye, of Holgrove, was Churchwarden in l593.

Place Name Index