Ryelands Wood

Further down the road we come to Ryelands Wood. This is a very old name, and takes us back to the days our present language was being formed. Its origin lies in its nearness to water – in this case the river Ouse – and not in its being a place where rye is grown.

We have a reference to it in 1296 when John ate Ree was a tax-payer in this district. The difficulty of saying “John ater Ea”, the word for water, will show how it became “ater Rea”, with other corruptions to follow. We find another mention in 1327 when John ate Ree in Erthynglegh paid his tax of one shilling, probably a son of the former John. Five years later we have three men, Ralph, John and Walter atte Ree, all paying taxes. The land stretched along the river and no doubt joined up with Ryelands Farm in Balcombe. Thomas Chaloner held Reelands in Ardingly of the Manor of Ditchling in Henry VIII’s reign and it is only later that we get the spelling Rye, the plant that was known, instead of the original “ea”, of which the meaning was forgotten.

Place Name Index