The oldest name in Ardingly of which we have recorded evidence is Stone, which has only been called Stonehurst during recent years. It got its name from the great stone and surrounding rocks in the early days when men named places according to their natural features. In turn it gave its name to men, and the family who lived on the holding containing the stone were called “atte Stone”. There are many records of this family in the various taxations of the 15th and 14th centuries. They are generally found under the head of Lindfield, because Stone was given to the College of South Malling in A.D.765 and formed part of the Walstead-in-Lindfield portion of that manor. (See page 2). The atte Stone family ended in a daughter, and then we find the land in the hands of the Paines for several generations. Towards the end of their time (16th century) it was called Stone Place. In the 17th century it was held by Abraham Nicholas and was called Stone House. In the 19th century it was owned by Hamlin Borrer, Sir Charles Wetherall and Mr. Joseph Esdaile and was then called Stone Farm.

Stone Mill, now destroyed, doubtless followed the fortunes of the surrounding land, but we have one record of 1630 of a water and flour mill called Wakehurst Mill, owned by Sir Edward Culpeper and occupied by George Gatland, which almost certainly is identical with Stone Mill.

A description of this Mill in 1840 states “that it is said to be dry four months in a year, it runs two pair of stones, the wheel is overshot, three feet wide, of which only eighteen inches is in this parish. Approach to and from the premises very bad. Occupier, John Hollands“.

The great shrinkage in the water supply is a very marked feature in the history of the land. In the present case Stone brook was evidently failing to supply the one remaining Mill, which for generations had been the source of livelihood to its owners. But in earlier days there had been sufficient not only to keep Stone Mill going but the Fulling Mill and another at the bottom of Cobb Lane as well. The whole of the milling for the inhabitants was done within the bounds of the parish, and there was no outside source of supply until comparatively recent days.

The Ardingly portion of the Stone estate has never been large, and the steepness of the valley has prevented any development on its sides. The only field-name to be recorded is Waller’s Mead. It may possibly be a reminiscence of a humble family of that name whose records appear in the parish Registers in the 18th century. Liddell’s Rock, doubtless, got its name from one of the family of that name who owned Wakehurst from 1694 to 1757. It stands on the border of the road to the Mill at a little distance from the first sharp downward corner.

Place Name Index