West Hill

West Hill is in the Manor of Ditchling. Its name is descriptive, being the hill to the west of Ardingly and not the east hill of Balcombe, a distinction which should be borne in mind now that the postal address is Balcombe. The place is undoubtedly one of early occupation and cultivation, but it is difficult to find any documentary evidence before the l6th century. In John Rowe’s book, Steward of the Manor of Ditchling, we find “Thomas Newnan, Reeve for landes called Clevers als Westhill“. He also appears, in 1587, as a customary tenant holding one tenement and divers parcels of land called Clevers als Bredons, containing 62 acres, for which the quit rent was 13/8. The divers parcels of land included Lullings, the old farm which has been in ruins for 20 years or more, and another house, Little Knowles, which has completely disappeared. It stood where the north gate from West Hill opens into the lane. It is probable that this is the North field or croft held by the family of the name of Balcombe. They also held Lullings, and parted with both to the Newnhams, of West Hill, in the 17th century. There are practically no direct references to either Lullings or Little Knowles in early days. The former is a very old Saxon name, but we do not know how it came into existence here. The name has now been transferred to West Hill in consequence of the confusion with West Hill Place, a modern house built some 50 years ago.

In an undated valuation list in the Parish Register the following entries appear:-

  • John Piggott for West Hill sometimes Martin’s called Perimans £22 10
  • Edward Newnham for West Hill £22 10
  • Edward Balcombe for his house and land £2

In the Hearth Tax of 1665, which contains practically the same householders as the valuation list, Edward Newnam pays for 4 hearths, John Picket (Piggott) for 4 and Edward Balcombe for 2 hearths.

In a list of tenants of the Manor of Ditchling in 1779 the following appear:-

  • W. Newnham, West Hill 14 4
  • W. Newnham late Balcombe 10
  • J. Turner, Pearmints, late Strongs 15 0

Place Name Index