Manor of Street

The places in Ardingly already dealt with have been mostly in the manors of Ditchling and South Malling. Small portions belong to the manor of Plumpton Boscage and a considerable area in the south-eastern part of the parish belongs to the manor of Street. This part includes Withylands, Bury or Berry and Lywood.

Unfortunately the existing Court Rolls of the manor of Street only commence in the early years of the 17th century, so that we have very little early consecutive knowledge of its history. But there are some isolated pieces of information which can be collected here.

The first point is that the manor of Street is a pre-Conquest manor – that is to say, it was in existence before William the Norman came in 1066. The parish of Ardingly was in the Hundred of Street up till the middle of the 17th century, when it was removed into the Hundred of Buttinghill. The manor and the Hundred are not the same thing, the manor being in the hands of a lord, the Hundred being what we now call a Petty Sessions district and responsible for law and order. The name of Street Hundred has dropped out of use of recent years, and the chief example now remains in the parish of Street, which was the headquarters of the manor. It is presumed that the name Street originated in the Roman road which ran from Chichester to Pevensey at the foot of the Downs on the north side. The name ‘Hundred’ has come down to us from such early times that it is difficult for the experts to be certain as to its origin. It probably came in with the Saxon invasion in the 5th century, and roughly may be described as an area which was responsible for finding a hundred men for the army and for accounting for crimes committed within its bounds. The manor of Street was a smaller area within the Hundred of the same name, and it follows the Sussex custom of having lands in the forest for the summer feeding of beasts in addition to the plough lands surrounding the manor house in the Weald.

Manorial customs are dying fast, but they have left an indelible mark on the history of the land. Lywood Common is known to us all, and we are apt to think that the word Common means that a piece of land so called is the property of the people of England as a whole. But as often as not it is the piece of land on which the tenants of the manor had the right of feeding their beasts in common. They are in fact often called commoners of the manor because they have this right, and it is entered on the parchment slip by which they held their lands from the lord of the manor, whether copyhold or freehold.

The holders of Lywood, Berry and the surrounding lands had the right of common on Lywood as part of the Manor of Street, but they would be very keen to keep off the tenants of other manors from their own preserves. There is nothing to prove that Lywood Common ever belonged to the people at large.

As to the meaning of the name Lywood, we have not many examples of it from which information can be got, but such as there are point to its meaning the heath land belonging to the family of de la Lehe or atte Legh. The name Lyhoath in Lindfield is another form of the same name, and the Ardingly name shows the normal corruption of “h” to “w”, as well as the transition from the forgotten “hoath” to the known “wood”. The old people will remember the intermediate form Lyeood.

We get the form “Liode” in the Parish Registers in 1559. Also Liod – Lyod, Lyoth and Leyhoth within the next 20 years.

The family name of atte Legh is so common that it is difficult to be certain if the following instances are among those who are responsible for the first syllable of the name. In 1296 in the Villata of Street “Rado ate Legh”. In 1327: “Willo ater Leghe”; in 1333 “Rico atte Leghe”; these were all taxpayers in the Lay Subsidies for those years in the Hundred of Street.

A curious survival of ancient custom is recorded in the Registers, in a rate and valuation of the lands within the parish, made about 1666, and largely corresponding in a the names of the owners with the Heath Tax of 1666. In this list “William Chapman for his part of Liod and Withyland” is rated on £37 10s., and “John Wheeler for the other part of Lied” on £33. At the end of the rate there is a memorandum which says “When a taxe is laid and to be levyed upon the Burrough of Ardingleigh by Act of Parliament or otherwise then those persons whose names follow are not to be taxed for any more of their estates but what lieth in the Burrough of Ardingleigh. That is to say:

Abraham Nicholas for Stonehouse and Andrew Browne whose land lieth wholly in Pevensey Rape.

“John Wheeler and William Chapman for Lied and Withyland which lieth wholly in Street Burrough.

“John Killingbecke, Richard Bridges and Thomas Chapman are partly in Ardingleigh, partly in Street Burrough and are to pay to Ardingleigh Burrough for what part they hold there.

“That is to say John Killingbecke for the Lodgeland for 9li, per annum, Richard Bridges 3li, per annum and Thomas Chapman for his part of Davies 5li, and 5s. per annum and the residue of their several rates are to be abated out of the whole summe of the rates and valuations of the said parish of Ardingleigh“.

To reduce this to plain English we have here a formal statement, that as late as the last half of the 17th century ratepayers are paying through their manors instead of to their parish, a survival of feudal customs of which I know no other example of so late a date.

The statement that Stonehouse was in Pevensey Rape may be accounted for by its being in the manor of South Malling. Lindfield, one of the chief centres of that manor, has recently been transferred from the Rape of Lewes to that of Pevensey.

The borough of Streat must here be interpreted as the manor of Street, to which, as already stated, Lywood, Berry and Withyland have belonged since their first existence. It is a curious fact that the manors of Ditchling and Plumpton Boscage are not treated in a similar manner. Further confirmation of the separate treatment of the same portion of the Manor of Streat is found in the Hearth Tax for 1666, where John Wheeler, who held part of Liod, William Chapman, who held the other part and Withyland, and John Killingbecke, who held the Berry, are not included in the list for Ardingly but appear together after the list for Lindfield.

Lindfield residents show a similar division, certain names being classed together as belonging to Framfield manor, part of which lies in Lindfield.

It may be as well to record that Wheeler’s hearths numbered six, Chapman’s four and John Killingbecke’s four.

The Paynes have been mentioned as the earliest holders of Lywood recorded in the manor books, but the Elizabethan record of Churchwardens and Overseers belonging to the Church, gives an earlier date, when John Payne of Liod gives in his account as churchwarden at the close of his year l582-83.

In a portion of the original paper register found after Mr. G.W.E. Loder had published the Registers of Ardingly, (Sussex Record Society, Vol. XVII) there is a record of the baptism and burial of Richard, son of John Payne, of Leyhoath and Lyoth, in 1564, the two forms of the Place-name being recorded in the Bishops transcripts of the Registers preserved at Lewes.

Some of these details have already been published in the series “From Generation to Generation”, but it is best to risk repetition and collect the information together with the place concerned.

Place Name Index