One of the most interesting names in the parish is that of Saucelands. We have no very early references to it as compared with the age of many names, but still we have records of it in the early part of the 14th century. It is one of those names which is either turned into ridicule by the uninitiated or explained away in some ingenious fashion. But its meaning is quite plain – so plain that it is constantly said to be impossible! It is the place where the salting and pickling were done which formed such an important part of the provisioning in old days. Our forefathers had little fodder for winter keep, and so a large proportion of their animals were killed in the autumn, and only breeding stock retained. The meat was salted, dried and pickled in various ways for winter use by the men whose provender was as scanty as that of their beasts during the winter months. Saucelands (now divided into Great and Little by reason of the two houses), is in the wide manor of Ditchling, and as it lies on the edge of the forest land where the stock were pastured during the summer, it was in a convenient position for its purpose. Whether it served the whole Manor of Ditchling or not we cannot tell, but it is the only farm of the name in the manor, and indeed there is only one other like it to be found in Sussex, namely, Sauceland in Shipley.
The first documentary mention that we have of it is found in the Lay Subsidy of 1327, when “Thomas ate Sauserye paid a tax of eighteenpence in the Villata of Erthyngelegh.” This Subsidy, with two others of 1296 and 1332, are still in existence at the Public Record Office. They are written on strips of parchment sewn together at the top, and formed into several rolls. They have been printed by the Sussex Record Society, and form one of the most valuable sources of the local history of the times.
Now this Thomas of 1327 had no surname, but took his identification from all the other Thomases by the place at which he lived – the Sauserye. It is obvious that the place was a going concern in 1327, and probably was in existence many years previously.
In the Subsidy for 1332 Thomas is described as Thomas de Saucerye, “of” Saucerye instead of “at”. The difference is little, though it may imply that he had left the Saucerye and was living in the village. Two of the chief origins of surnames are the places at which a man lived and the occupations which he followed. There are two men in the Shipley neighbourhood, who, unlike our Thomas, took their name from their occupation, Galfrid and John Sauce, which must be pronounced Sauce (saucer). And there are three who are described as John, Thomas and William le Saucer. These are all contained in the Subsidies mentioned above. The name must not be confused with le Salter, which, of course, was part of the business. The saltness of the food required the sauce to make it more palatable.
After 1332 there is a blank in the history of Saucelands for a couple of hundred years, not necessarily because there is no record, but probably because further search is needed. The Challoner family were certainly in possession of it in Henry VIII’s reign. In the reign of Elizabeth, 1591, Thomas Challoner held Sawceryes als Sawceland with Ryeland and Horneland, for which he paid a rent of 54s. as a free tenant of the Manor of Ditchling. There is a note in the Steward’s (John Rowe) book, that in 1420 and 1497 the rent of Sawceryes was 26s. and 8d. In 1484 the rent of Ryeland, Sawceryes, Horneland and Hothland was 60s., and in 1499 Hothland was taken over by Stephen Bord at a rent of 6s., leaving the 54s. for the other three holdings of which Thomas Challenor was in possession at his death on 3rd April, 1605.
In the valuation list of c. 1665 Sauseland was held by John Chatfield and valued at £24. In the Hearth Tax of the same date he is taxed 3s. for three chimneys.
The next information is contained in John Wicking’s Will of 1781, by which he leaves his freehold messuage and lands called Sirsland to his son John. His initials J.W., and the date 1760 are on a beam of the cellar in Great Saucelands.
In 1803 the Rev. Timothy Browne, Rector of Ardingly, held Great Sarsland Farm and a cottage (Little Saucelands) let to Ferdinando Jackson. The literal spelling of the broad Sussex pronunciation is interesting. Thomas Picknal was occupying Little Sarsland in 1806, and later we find it in the possession of John Dennett, of Henfield, who married Anne Hamlyn, of Ardingly, who inherited with her sister a large amount of land in the parish.
Continuing the story of Saucelands, we find further information in 1821 when a list of the farms in Ardingly was made, showing what portion of the Church fence or mark had to be maintained by each farm. From this list we get the information that John Dennett had to provide one length of 7ft. for Little Saucelands, while his wife had to find one length of 9ft. 9in. for Great Saucelands.
John Humble next appears as the tenant of Saucelands, and there are several entries in the parish accounts of his supplying wool for spinning, to the workhouse in Ardingly. His death was reported at the Manor Court held in 1837, and in 1839 Saucelands is reported as alienated to Charles Jollands, of Buxshalls. Both Great and Little Saucelands are recorded as in the possession of the Rev. Mr. Woodward in the notes made by the Rev. E.P. Haslewood about 1850, having passed from Mrs. Dennett to her daughter, Mrs. Burnell, in 1847, and thence to the founder of the College.
Mrs. Burnell produced Mrs. Anne Dennett’s Will at the Ditchling manor Court in 1847 as evidence of her right. It was dated 1823 and proved in 1847. The clause concerning this farm runs as follows:- “All my farm and lands freehold and copyhold in the occupation of Thomas Picknell called Sarceland in Ardingly I bequeath to my daughter Barbara Louisa Burnell widow of the late Martin Burnell“.
Saucelands contains one of the most interesting field names in Ardingly, that of Queen’s Earth, an arable field lying to the N.E. of the house of Great Saucelands. It is impossible to be certain as to the cause of the name. The fact that the Manor of Ditchling, to which Saucelands belongs, was part of the dower of Anne of Cleves when Henry VIII disposed of her, has been the foundation of many pleasing errors in this district. The three manor houses of West Hoathly, Ditchling and Southover which bear her name were no doubt the places where her Manor Courts were held. But the uninitiated have dropped the word “Manor” and think of these houses as the places where Anne lived and held her Court!
There is not a tittle of evidence to show that Anne ever lived in any of them. Of course we should like to think that even an ex-queen took a personal interest in a field in Ardingly and allowed it to be called after her in commemoration of a visit! But that is fancy and not fact. The chances may be in favour of Queen’s Earth getting its name from being the best field of the farm and if the readers of this paper like to add that the name from the time when Elizabeth was Queen there is nothing to stop them.
Another field name on the same farm is also difficult to account for – Street Field, which lies to the west of the road leading to the Station, immediately below the entrance to the College. The road has never been a made up road till recent years, so that source of the name Street is wiped out. Neither was the field part of the Manor of Street, which had other possessions in Ardingly. Therefore we can but record the name and leave it.