Monday 27 November 1837. Notice having been duly given to the adjoining
parishes of Easebourne, Woolbeding, Linch, Linchmere, Haslemere,
North Ambersham, Selham, and Woolavington that it was the intention
of the Inhabitants of the Parish of Farnhurst to perambulate the
Boundaries of this Parish on this and the following days to Commence
at 10 o'clock in the Forenoon at the Blue Bell Inn in Farnhurst
Lane and proceed Northward and Eastward treading the Parish in on
the Right hand."
the first page of the original account, held in the West Sussex Records Office]
the Society retraced the Fernhurst Parish boundary in a series of
'beating the bounds' walks, the first time this has been done since
1837. In September 2004, Jacqueline Kennett, who led thirty parishioners
along the 4th stage of the walks, between Bexley Hill and Scotland
Farm, wrote the following account.
Fernhurst boundary walk: 1837 and 2004
28th November, 1837. Fernhurst Parish population between
5th September, 2004. Fernhurst Parish population 2,765 (2001 census)
1837 was the first year of the 18 year-old Queen
Victoria’s reign. The economy was struggling to recover from
the costly Napoleonic wars and a succession of poor summers and
Many of the people living in the Fernhurst Parish
were agricultural workers, woodcutters, craftsmen and tradesmen.
Over decades, farm labourers had progressively lost the freedom
to use strips of land and commons to eke out a living. Poaching
of any kind was a criminal offence. To be found with poaching nets
could result in deportation for seven years.
One child in four died before the age of five in
1837 Sussex. One person in twelve of the population of England and
Wales was a registered pauper. However, after 1834, outdoor relief
for the able-bodied poor was no longer the responsibility of each
parish. Surrounding Easebourne, seventeen parishes, including Fernhurst,
had already combined to share the burden (the Gilbert Union of 1792),
the solution at the time seeming to be the dreaded, divisive, workhouse
which separated men, women and children. The Easebourne workhouse
(now Budgenor Lodge) became the local destination for the impoverished,
the aged and incapacitated. It was 1929 before the workhouse system
was finally reformed.
Beginning in 1830, Kent, Sussex and Hampshire went
through a period of turbulence and rioting (arson, violence, the
smashing of threshing machines, mass demonstrations) which was directed
at landowners, farmers and the parish overseers. Labourers were
demanding a wage rise to bring them up to 2s 6d a day. The average
labourer’s wage was 8 shillings a week. A loaf of bread cost
1s 2d (about a day’s wages), partly due to inflated prices
maintained by the protectionist corn tariff imposed on cheaper,
In Kent, troops were despatched to put down the
uprisings. The Duke of Richmond (at Goodwood) enrolled shopkeepers,
farmers and compliant labourers to occupy Sussex villages when trouble
arose (a strategy known as ’The Sussex Plan’). The court
cases saw one arsonist executed, sixteen imprisoned, and seventeen
transported to Tasmania. Following the reform and modest extension
of democracy in 1832, an increased number of the wealthier householders
and tenants (one in twenty four of the adult population) were able
to vote. Although ties of political power, patronage and land ownership
had been loosened, the labourer was still disenfranchised.
Between 1832 and 1837, eighteen hundred men, women
and children left the parishes surrounding Petworth and further
afield in order to go to Upper Canada in ships, guaranteed to be
seaworthy and with adequate food, under the assisted emigration
scheme sponsored by the Earl of Egremont (Petworth) and backed by
the Reverend Sockett of Petworth, along with members of local parishes.
Well crafted tools to take to Canada were made in Petworth for the
emigrants - tools of such excellent quality that they were subsequently
sought out by local purchasers. A number of emigrants from Fernhurst
made a new start in Ontario. Overall, 70% were labourers, 20% rural
artisans (Cameron and McDougall Maude, 2000).
During his fact-finding rural rides in the summer
of 1823, William Cobbett observed that, ‘All the towns in
Sussex are very clean, the women are very nice in their dress and
in their houses’. ‘More than in other counties‘,
Sussex men and boys wore .. ‘clean smock-frocks’ (often
faded, patched and darned), a plain and coarse shirt, nailed half-boots
or shoes (Cobbett, 1830).
All of the pigs that Cobbett saw in this part of
Sussex were ‘black and thin-haired’. (The Fernhurst
boundary recorders of 1837 describe the tenanted spring line dwellings
on their route along the steep Verdley scarp with reference to their
meadows, hog pens and orchards). Cobbett noted that Sussex orchards
were ‘closely planted‘. Locally, orchards were mainly
of apples, plums and damsons. In July, farmers were laying out lime
along the wheat fallows.
In 1837, patches of woodland around the southern
boundary of the Fernhurst Parish bore traces of ancient ancestry
- but much land had by then been put to cultivation as chestnut
coppice for the ironmasters, glassblowers and farmers. Here and
there along the boundary route were meadows and dwellings which
have long given way to commercial woodland or scrub. Today, substantial
areas of the Cowdray Estate that we pass through along the boundary
have been replanted with conifer although, to the west of the A286
(sometimes still referred to as ‘the turnpike‘), larger
tracts of chestnut coppice survive. Oxen (put to the plough and
used to draw carts and carriages), cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs
and poultry would have played a significant and visible part in
The first exclusively Sussex Trust for maintaining a turnpike road
was set up in 1749 ‘for repairing the road from Hindhead Heath
through Fernhurst Lane and Midhurst to the City of Chichester’.
Until the formation of the trust, which gave a boost to local enterprises
and inns, road conditions in the area were appalling. Travellers
were thought reckless if they avoided turnpikes.
Excavations after the Second World War found iron
slag under the stone cobbles in Old Henley, giving rise to the likelihood
that these were laid by the turnpike trust in the mid eighteenth
century (and not by the Romans, as some had thought) (Margery, 1948).
Until 1825, extra horses could be called upon from the King’s
Arms to draw wagons and carriages over the hill through Old Henley
which, even today, sometimes becomes impassable to traffic in icy
conditions. That section of the main road (now the A286) from the
King’s Arms to the top of Henley Hill, crossed by the parish
boundary at Henley Common, was constructed in 1825 to avoid the
steep ascent through Old Henley.
In 1837, the present Duke of Cumberland Inn at
Henley was described as ‘a cottage in three acres, with barns
and meadow‘. At that time, Ann Venes (‘Widow Venus‘),
a widow with eleven children, was the occupant. Five years later,
she married a nearby Henley resident, Thomas Puttick, twenty-four
years her senior. Beside his cottage stood a granary and bakehouse
- of which the cottage and granary survive.
The 1851 census shows that Thomas and Ann were selling ale from
Ann’s cottage. In the 1860‘s, one of the Ann’s
children, David, was described as a ‘beer retailer’
in Henley. A generation later, in 1891, the cottage had been fully
transformed into the ‘The Cumberland Arms’, run by a
younger Thomas Puttick and Daniel Venes.
By 1837, nearby canals and waterways had almost
had their short-lived day. Competition saw the turnpike roads -
and the newly emerging railways - increasingly transporting people,
produce, coal, timber and lime.
Recorders and walkers of 1837
Thomas Luff (farmer) of Fernhurst (Overseer), William
Luff, Richard Luff, John Luff, George Madgwick of Lower Lodge Farm,
William Alywin of Collyers, Robert Lambert of Fernhurst, John Gale,
John Enticknap, John Berry of Van Common, Mr. Purser (Overseer)
of Easebourne, James West of Henley Hill (Reeve of the Manor), Mr.
Duncombe of Guildford (Surveyor), William Berry of Haslemere and
his son, William (14), Alexander Brown (Document Scribe) of Easebourne
Priory, William Howick of Henley, Richard West of Dowood, George
Berry of Redford, George Alder of Van Common, James Ellis, Isaac
Stevens, Henry Hall (all of Woolbeding), Thomas French (Bailiff),
C.F. Hector, Esq., James Graysmark of Parry’s Farm, Fernhurst,
William Bridger of Scotland Farm, Thomas Bridger (his brother),
Mr. Mills (joined at Highbuildings), Mr. J. Harding of Shottermill,
Samuel Greenway and Thomas Glazer (joined at Vann Bridge).
Ashley, Maurice (1982). The
People of England, Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
Baigent, P. (2004). The Petworth Emigration
Society, Sussex Family Historian, Vol 16, No 3, September
Cameron, Wendy & Maude, Mary McDougall
(2000). Assisting Emigration to Upper Canada - The Petworth
Project 1832-1837. McGill - Queens University Press.
Cobbett, William. (2001), Rural Rides.
Margery, Ivan (1948). Roman Ways in
the Weald. Phoenix House.
Silver, Brian (1999). Fernhurst
- Pictures and People. B. Silver.
Wimbolt, S.E. Sussex Notes and Queries in
J. Sussex Archaeological Society, Volume 4, p.48
Sussex County Magazine, Vol. 13,
M. Jacqueline Kennett, 2004