by Alex Maclean

The Censuses 1801-1891– Summary
The 1841 Census
The 1851 Census
The 1861 Census
The 1871 Census
The 1881 Census
The 1891 Census

The next chapters look at Transport:
1. The Turnpike Road.
2. The River Ouse.
3. The railways and their impact on Ardingly in the nineteenth century.

St Saviour’s College

The original document included a number of hand-drawn tables, illustrations and maps. These have been reproduced as faithfully as possible although some tables have been retyped for clarity with graphs computer-generated. A number of photographs were included and these will be added as the originals or good facsimiles are tracked down.

Historical Introduction

Ardingly parish was situated in the County of East Sussex (now part of West Sussex). It is in the High Weald north east of the town of Cuckfield, north of Lindfield and straddles a Brighton to London Turnpike Road just south of the Wealden ridge. To the east is the London Brighton South Coast Railway.

The geology of the district reveals sandstone outcrops and heavy clay soils. Two steep valleys define the boundaries on the east and west. The parish at the river Ouse is 125 feet above sea level and rises to about 500 feet above sea level at the northern end. The parish shape almost looks like a map of Great Britain.

Heavily wooded from early times, part of the Andredsleah, the impenetrable Weald thought to be an isolated part of Sussex. My own investigations (1) reveal that Mesolithic, Neolithic and Iron Age peoples all made their way through Ardingly forests, creating clearings and leaving a trail of Hunter Gatherer tools. This trail followed the line of the river Ouse and its feeder streams to the north.

Further evidence from Roman times suggests that the Weald was much used with a Roman military road constructed through the parish as a direct link from the coast to London. The road would have been used for the transport of timber, charcoal and iron which was made in a number of places within reach of the road.

Sometime during the incursion of the South Saxons, settlements were established and Ardingly (Saxon Erdingelega) became a cluster of outliers to at least six South Down manors. Later the parish also formed part of the South Park of Worth known as Wakehurst.

Life in Ardingly was influenced by the topography of the steep valleys to the east and west with an useable land plateaux between. The parish divided into two centres; 1. the original village and parish church to the west on the Roman Road and 2. the later houses and shops on the drove road to the east known as Hapstead Green. From Norman times Wakehurst Place with the de Wakehursts and the Culpepers had some influence on the parish. By the 19th Century owned many of the farms only to sell them by the end of the century. The earliest available map of Ardingly is that of the Wakehurst estate in 1727 and the more accurate Tithe map of 1841.

At the beginning of the 19th Century the parish was at a low ebb after the Napoleonic wars, with great poverty largely amongst its predominant agricultural population. The Poor Law and the tithes brought their problems and riots.

Transport was encouraged by the creation of a Turnpike Road, the canalisation of the River Ouse and the building of the railways. Later in the century St. Saviour’s College was to make a permanent impression on the parish.

The inducement to undertake research in 19th Century Ardingly was the prolific amount of material found in the Parish Church Chest. This is all now lodged in the West Sussex Record for safe keeping.