The history of Upper Lodge goes back as far as, if not farther than, any other part of the parish. It was a freehold of the Manor of South Malling, and there is a document referring to the lands of that manor which takes the date back to about 765. In those ancient days Aldwulf, Duke of the South Saxons, gave a great strip of land, stretching from the Downs to the border of Surrey, to the religious house of South Malling. A copy of the charter concerning this gift exists in the Library at Lambeth Palace. It is very corrupt, by which is meant that the person writing it did not understand what he was copying and so hopeless mistakes crept in. The original description of the lands would have been in Saxon, otherwise called Old English, and the scribe of the 13th century who made the copy was probably quite ignorant of the older tongue. Hence we get some absolutely unintelligible names in the charter. Fortunately there are some that are sensible, and these we can identify, as Stanmer, Wivelsfield, Lindfield, Buxshalls, Stone, Chittingly in West Hoathly, Burley in Turners Hill and so on. The names follow in order from south to north, and between Buxshalls and Chittingly comes the name “Leofecildes cot”. It is almost certain that this is the “north cote” belonging to the manor of South Malling which formed part of Upper Lodge Farm till quite recent times. There will be more to be said about this later on.
The first available reference to this name Lodge itself dates from 1328, when the two daughters of Walter atte Logge had a law suit about a piece of land. One of the sisters had married Richard le War, who then held Berry. A little later on (1357) Joan, who was the wife of John atte Logge and daughter of John atte Hulle, had another dispute with William atte Bury and Joan his wife. Then comes a blank in the history till 1516, when Richard Culpeper deals with Lodge land in his will, as follows:-
“Also I wot that Loggeland – now in the hands of John Payne – abyde in my feoffees handes to fulfille this my last wylle – to Kepe an obit in the (parish) Church of Erthingle – to pray specially for my soulle and Margaret my wyves soulle, etc. Also I wil that one of the Churchwardeynes or both be at dirige and masses the day of the obit unless he or they do lose their way.
“If there is any residue after providing for the service it is to be spent in alms dedes to poore people and amending of foul wayes by discretion of the owner of Wakehurst, person and wardens.“
Richard Culpeper’s gift did not long remain available for the church, as in 1547 the endowments of chantries and obits were swept away and the proceeds confiscated.
In 1564 John Culpeper bought back Lodge Land, containing one house and 17 acres of land, and it has remained part of the Wakehurst estate till quite recently. There is, however, a puzzling entry in the South Malling Court book for 1693, where the death of John Spence is recorded, who held freely of the Manor 30 acres called Upper Lodge in Ardingly. His son John was accepted as the heir and paid the necessary fees.
The Payne family occupied Upper Lodge during the 16th century, and there are several mentions of them in the parish registers. One of them served as Churchwarden in 1578. Ninian Jenkin was the tenant at the time of Sir Edward Culpeper’s death in 1630.
Then we find Thomas Chapman, who paid 2s. for the Hearth Tax in 1665, while Upper Lodge was valued at £10 15s. in the valuation of the parish taken about the same date. John Killingbeck held a part then which is probably to be identified with what became Lower Lodge. Then come the Alfreys, followed by tenant farmers who no longer were succeeded by their sons as in the old days.
Upper Lodge and Lower Lodge both appear in the list of Farms which contribute to the upkeep of the Church fence, or mark a proof of ancient existence, a definite portion being appropriated to each ancient holding.