In the Duke of Norfolk archives at Arundel there is a map and survey dated 1769 covering the area of Ewood which lies to the north of the parish of Newdigate. This historic area has in turn been used as a deer park, an ironworks, farms, the Schermuly factory (more information can be found under Misc. Studies) and housing.
This study has been drawn up by Jane Lilley and is constantly being updated as new information comes to light.
A Plan and Accurate Survey of the Estate of the Late [Richard] Morton Esq. at Ewood, in the Parish of Newdigate and County of Surrey.
Survey’d and Plan’d by Waddington & Son in the Year 1769. [Source: Duke of Norfolk’s archives at Arundel Castle, reference PM42]. A Scale of Chains, shown as 3 chains to 1 inch. [A chain was 66 feet, so the scale was 198 feet or 66 yards to the inch, very close to the modern scale of 1:2500]. Tables of acreages: two tables are given, the summary in the top right-hand corner and the detailed table of fields and acreages in the bottom centre.
[Summary of estate. Many of the figures are indistinct or lost; those in square brackets have been inserted from information in other table or elsewhere.]
A. R. P. [comments]
Mr Woods Farm 143 [ 0 02] [later Ewood Place Farm]
The Miller 5 [ 2 30] [Richard Bax was miller]
Mr Eager at Parkgate 3 0 [ 29] [wheelwright’s, now Surrey Oaks]
2 Cottages at do 0 2 [ 34] [site of Dukes Cottages, demolished]
4 Ponds 61 2 [ 22]
House Orchard Long Walk & Stables 1 2 [ 10?] [Ewood Place, demolished]
Coppice 138 3 [ 37?]
Total of the Estate 354 3 04 [area confirmed from 1786 sale] [Details of estate.]
Mr Woods Farm Mr [Bax] at the Mill Meadow
Arable Meadow & A R P A R P Pasture
1 Yard Barns Orchard
and the Green 3 0 28 1 House Mill Barn Orchard &c}
2 Pidgeon Croft 3 0 16 2 Old Flood Gates hole} 1 0 28
3 Four Acres 3 3 12 3 First Close }
4 Two Acres 2 2 09 4 North Close } 4 2 02
5 Two Acres 2? 2 16 5 Further Close } 6 Lodge Field 5 2 01
7 Little Chettys 1 3 12 Total of Lands 5 2 30
8 Great Chettys 6 2 21 Mr Eager House & Lands
9 Hither Eight Acres 8 3 10 1 House Orchard Shades [sic] &c 1 0 28
10 Further Eight Acres 8 0 23 2 Close 0 1 29
11 Grub Field 5 3 00 3 Close 1 2 10
12 Upper Lagg 1 3 05 Total of Lands 3 0 27
13 Middle Lagg 2 0 23
14 Lower Lagg 3 2 10 Cottages at Parkgate 0 2 34
15 Gatland 16 0 04
16 Hither Stoney Vour 8 1 10 The Pond 56 2 16
17 Further Stoney Vour 12 2 11 Pond in Grub Field 1 1 06
18 Barn Field 15 2 05 Ponds in the Coppice 3 3 00
19 Alder Field 12 2 33
20 Long Field 5 2 37 Total of Ponds 61 2 22
21 Waste round the Ponds 12 2 36
Total of Lands 113 3 28 29 0 14
n.b. There is a memorial stone to Richard Morton in the south aisle of St. Peter’s church.
This map was surveyed and drawn in 1769.
It was probably commissioned by Thomas Grinsted of Leatherhead when he bought the estate known as Ewood Place or Ewood Manor after the death of Richard Morton junior, the previous owner. The first large-scale Ordnance Survey maps were not published until the 1870s, so it was common practice for large landowners to have a detailed map drawn up of their property.
The scale is 3 chains to 1 inch. This is very close to the modern scale of 1:2500, or 25 inches to one mile.
Most of the map is fairly accurate, but there is considerable distortion in the bottom right-hand corner. This may have been caused by accumulated errors as the surveyor worked his way round the property, or the result of his efforts to fit an awkward bulge in the estate into the space available on his sheet of paper.
There was almost certainly a written survey of the estate to go with the map, which has not survived. The numbers in the fields would have related to this.
Written surveys of Ewood from 1575 and 1791 are extant, and the tithe apportionment survey of c.1840 has both map and schedule. These help us to interpret the 1769 map.
Unlike modern maps, north is at the bottom.
The surveyor was free to use whatever scale, orientation and symbols that he chose. This map is generally conventional in its symbols, but the surveyor chose to put the detail of Ewood Place and its surroundings at the bottom of the map, perhaps so that it could be more easily seen when the sheet was laid on a table. This meant that north was at the bottom.
Parkgate Road runs along the top. Mill Lane runs down the left hand side, with Broad Lane off the left edge of the map. The western end of Ewood Lane is at the bottom left. Henfold Lane is off the right-hand side.
This was often called the Great Pond. It was a huge sheet of water, and in winter covered about 70 acres. But it was only seven feet deep, and shrank considerably in summer as the water level fell.
The pond was formed in about 1550 when an ironworks was started at Ewood. Water power was essential to the ironworks. A huge waterwheel powered the bellows which raised the furnace temperature high enough to melt the iron ore. Later a forge was added, and another waterwheel worked huge hammers which pounded the impurities out of the iron.
Once a furnace was started, it needed to run continuously for many months to be economic. A ‘campaign’ would start as soon as the pond had filled in the autumn, and continued through the winter and spring, ceasing when the streams dried up in summer and they ran out of water. Shortage of water was a regular problem for all ironworks.
To store the maximum amount of water, additional ‘pen ponds’ were created on the streams, and their water released into the main pond as its level dropped. All the ponds were drained and dredged at intervals to prevent them silting up. In 1791 it was stated that the miller had to cease milling when the water against the bay was three feet deep; the pond then covered only about thirty acres.
After the ironworks closed, a watermill to grind corn was built against the bay. The pond was also stocked with fish and used for fishing. The map includes a little drawing of a boat with two fishermen.
The Duke of Norfolk bought Ewood in the late 1700s, and just after 1800 he had the Great Pond was drained and the area converted into farmland. Its position is still clearly visible as a large and particularly flat field.
Ewood Pond was created by damming several streams with a huge earth dam called a bay. Stone-faced culverts ran through it to channel the water for the waterwheels. Wooden sluice-gates controlled the amount of water entering the culverts, and closed them entirely when power was not required.
Ewood Pond was fed by seasonal streams which dried up entirely in summer, and the water level in the pond then dropped rapidly as it was used to power the waterwheels. In order to store as much water as possible, additional ponds called pen ponds were made by damming the streams at all suitable points. Their water would have been released into the main pond as its level dropped in spring.
The Upper and Lower Ponds and Grubfield Pond shown on the map were all pen ponds. The Laggs were certainly also ponds during the ironworks period. The stream just off the bottom right-hand edge of the map was certainly also dammed (the remains of the bay are still clearly visible), and the large area of waste close to West Barn was probably also a pen pond. If the land towards Henfold Lane was also part of Ewood during the later days of the ironworks, there would certainly have been ponds at the site of the present fishing lakes.
After the closure of the iron works, some of these pen ponds were drained. Others were stocked with coarse fish. The fishing rights belonged to the landowner, who could fish them himself, allow his friends use them, or generate an income by letting out the fishing for a season.
There is no evidence for a corn mill at Ewood before 1575; it was not mentioned when the ironworks were sold in 1553. It may have been built to grind flour for the workmen.
A mill pond was created by damming the waste water streams from the ironworks. The dam was at the bottom left-hand corner of the map, with a watermill beside it. The long, tapering meadow between the wastewater streams is the site of the old mill-pond.
The ironworks closed in about 1604. The site was then cleared before the estate was divided into two and sold as farmland in 1605-6. At this time the mill was apparently rebuilt close to the pond bay, using one of the redundant waterwheels and timber from abandoned buildings. At the same time the miller built himself a new house close to the mill, again using timber from the old buildings; this is now called Mill Cottage. In 1606 there was still a ‘little pond . . . called the old mill pond’, but this was later drained and the area became a meadow.
The mill lost business in the late 1700s as the roads were improved and it became easier for farmers to take corn to markets in Dorking, and for flour milled there to be carted to local shops. The mill and the cottage were both were rented by the miller, and successive landlords were presumably happy to take the rent but neglected to maintain the buildings. In 1791 the mill, cottage and sluice-gates were all in very bad repair.
The mill was closed in about 1802, after the Duke of Norfolk bought the estate and decided to drain the Great Pond.
Road to Newdigate Church
Most road names simply described where they went to. The ‘road to Newdigate Church’ ran from Parkgate towards the village; in the village it would have been called ‘the road to Parkgate’. It is now Parkgate Road.
In 1769 this and all other roads in the parish were unsurfaced earth tracks. They became deep mud in winter, and were ploughed annually to remove the ruts and level the surface. In 1794 a curate wrote vividly about the ‘badness of the roads’ and how the inhabitants of Newdigate suffered ‘sequestration from the world by entrenchments of deep mud’. The village was virtually cut off for six months of the year.
This was a very large house, described in 1575 as a ‘capitall mansion howse’. It must have been the manor house of Ewood Manor. The map shows it surrounded by orchards.
In 1667, when it was described as ‘antient’ (ancient), it was probably three hundred or more years old. The oldest surviving house in Newdigate is Greens Farm, which dates from c.1309. Ewood Place is likely to have been the same age or even older.
Most houses of this age were demolished and rebuilt as fashions in housing changed. Instead Ewood Place was modified by successive generations. This implies that it was a very fine house with heavy carved timbers which emphasised the status of the owner.
A manor house of the 1300s would be an aisled hall, similar in design to an aisled church nave but built of timber. It was a single huge space under a high roof which swept down to within six or eight feet of the ground. The outer part of the roof was supported by arcades of posts, creating aisles on some or all sides. The fire burnt in the middle of the hall, and the smoke rose into the roof and made its way out through the thatch. Virtually all indoor activities, including sleeping, took place in the hall, and the aisles provided storage areas.
In the later 1500s, when Ewood Place was the home of the ironmaster, life was very different. A modern house had the fire at one end of the hall, with the smoke contained within a ‘smoke bay’, and there were private rooms on two storeys for the owner at one end and rooms such as the buttery (for the butts or barrels of drink) and the dairy at the other. The map suggests that Ewood Place had three wings, which were probably added at different times to provide two-storey modern accommodation for the owner. The wings would have intruded into the space of the hall and were probably never very satisfactory.
In the 1736 window tax Mr. Morton was one of only four men in the parish taxed for ‘30 lights’, confirming the very large size of the house; most farmhouses had ten lights or fewer. But the winter water level of the pond was only four feet below the house, so it was probably very damp; Mr. Morton used the house as his summer residence. And it would have been increasingly inconvenient and old-fashioned to live in. The hall could be divided up, but inserting a floor to create an upper storey would require dormer windows, and rooms in the centre of the ground floor would be without light.
Thomas Grinsted lived in Leatherhead, and probably did not live in the house for long periods. So he may have been reluctant to spend much money on expensive repairs. By 1791 Ewood Place contained ‘Forty little inconvenient Rooms, Eight of which have no light but the Door Place, and all of them comeing down’. This implies a serious lack of maintenance.
The Duke of Norfolk had no use for a huge, inconvenient and seriously dilapidated house, however fine it may once have been, if it could not be let for a large sum. It was demolished, probably at the same time as the pond was drained in about 1802.
Ewood Place c. 1400 Ewood Place c. 169
The buildings around Ewood Place are farm buildings, and the fences and gates which controlled stock movement are shown. They were built after the ironworks closed, when the farmstead was moved from The Old Lodge to Ewood Place.
The buildings would have included one or two barns, a stable and harness-room, a cart-shed, and perhaps an open-sided ‘hovel’ for cattle. One of the buildings probably originated as the brewery which was said in 1575 to be west of the house.
A small building is attached to the end of Ewood Place on the side closest to the farmstead. This had clearly been built onto the old house, and was almost certainly a small farmhouse.
By 1791 ‘The Barns, Stables, Hovels etc. are inconvenient and falling down’, so it would seem that Thomas Grinsted neglected to maintain his estate as well as his house. The Duke of Norfolk had also bought Ewood Park Farm, and decided to combine the two farms and demolish the buildings at Ewood Place.
Pidgeon Croft and Long Walk
A croft is an enclosed field, usually close to a house, and Pidgeon Croft must have served as a home meadow for Ewood Place. The owner’s horses probably grazed there.
The connection with pigeons is unknown. It could be simply that pigeons liked foraging there, perhaps finding food in the horse droppings; horses are notorious for passing undigested grain. Or there could at one time have been a dove-cote there. Pigeon squabs were a convenient and readily available source of meat for the gentry, and a manor house would almost certainly have had a big dove-cote. These were usually circular structures with large numbers of holes in the sides which opened into nestboxes for the pigeons. The inside of the building was hollow, so that a man with a ladder could easily remove fat squabs from the nest boxes.
The Long Walk along the north-eastern side of Pidgeon Croft appears to be a wide path or track running from the orchard to a field, separated from the road by only a hedge. The name suggests that it was made as a sheltered ‘walk’ for the owner of Ewood Place. It was orientated south-east to north-west, sheltered at the north-west end by the orchard, and hedged on both sides, so it would have been fairly well protected from the winds. It was also far enough from the edge of the pond to be a little less wet in winter.
The Long Walk is not mentioned in the 1791 survey, and had vanished by c.1840.
Hither and Further Eight Acres
The shape of these fields suggests that they were originally one larger field.
Access was across the bay of Grubfield Pond, hence the use of ‘hither’ (nearer) and ‘further’. Both fields were, as their names say, of roughly eight acres. This was not always the case, because the name usually referred to the area that could be ploughed, while many fields in the parish had wide belts of woodland called shaws along one or more boundaries and so were considerably larger than their names indicated.
In c.1840 Hither Eight Acres had become simply Eight Acres, while Further Eight Acres was called Shackle Field. ‘Shackle’ in west Sussex dialect means to waste time or to idle about, so perhaps it was named by frustrated farm workers who found it a particularly poor-yielding field which did not repay their hard work.
Both fields are now part of Becket Wood.
The rectangular pond is a cart pond; every farm in the parish had easy access to one. They had a slope at each end and a flat bottom, so that a horse and cart or waggon could be driven in at one end and out at the other.
They were needed because the wheels of vehicles were expensive and complex items. They were made of wood, with the hub, spokes and sections of felloe (rim) carefully shaped from different kinds of wood and jointed together by a wheelwright. The blacksmith then fitted an iron tyre onto the outer rim. In hot weather the wood dried out and shrank, the tyre became loose, and the whole wheel could come apart, making the waggon useless just when it was essential for the hay or corn harvest. Repair or replacement by a wheelwright was a lengthy and expensive job.
To avoid this, vehicles were routinely driven into water in hot weather and left to stand for a time, probably at the end of the working day. This allowed the wood to absorb water and swell, so the wheel remained sound. Constable’s famous painting of The Hay Wain shows a horse and waggon standing in a ford for this purpose, but in the absence of convenient rivers, cart ponds were dug.
Newdigate’s best surviving pond is on Church Lane by George Horley Place. This is a particularly long one, because it probably served three farms (Horsieland, Dean House, and Clarks, which was where Church Cottages are now). Several other ponds survive, and in wet weather the remains of others can be seen in the scrubby shaws close to the entrances to farms.
The area below the pond bay was the ironworking area in the later 1500s, and possibly before.
We do not know whether there was earlier ironworking at Ewood. Many ironworking sites had a small-scale ‘bloomery’ producing wrought iron at an early date, but if there was one at Ewood, the evidence has been obscured by the later blast furnace which produced cast iron from just after 1550 until probably 1604.
In the 1570s it must have been a scene of intense activity. The blast furnace and forge, with their bellows and hammers powered by undershot waterwheels, stood against the pond bay on the two outlet streams. On the map the watermill has replaced one of them. The furnace burnt huge quantities of charcoal, which produced enough heat to melt the iron; this was run from the base of the furnace into moulds where it cooled into ‘sows’ and ‘pigs’ of cast iron. The forge used huge mechanical hammers to beat the impurities out of the cast iron, producing iron of a quality which could be made into guns and other products.
The area immediately around the furnace and forge would have contained huge stockpiles of iron ore, slag removed from the furnace, charcoal (probably in a building to keep it dry), and other materials.
A long cart pond is shown on the Green. It must have been used to soak the wheels of the carts and barrows used to move materials round the site; the heat of the furnace and forge would make them extremely prone to shrinkage.
Pictures courtesy of the Wealden Iron Research Group
This was a lime kiln, built long after the ironworks closed. Virtually every farm in the parish had a lime kiln in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Chalk was carted from the quarries at Betchworth and stacked carefully in a brick-built kiln. Then a fire was lit in a cavity underneath, burning furze, which burnt very fast and hot, and faggots of wood from the coppices. It took about three days of continuous firing for the whole kiln to reach the temperature of over 900oC needed to convert the chalk to quicklime.
Once the kiln had cooled, the quicklime was ‘slaked’ with water. This made the lumps crumble to a powder which could be spread on the fields. The lime made the clay less heavy and easier to work, and reduced the acidity of the soil so that crops grew better.
The kiln is not mentioned in the 1791 survey, so it must have been demolished by then, and lime bought from the limeworks at Dorking.
Old Floodgates Hole
The pond bay had three culverts fitted with sluice-gates. Two were close together in the centre where the water was deepest, and fed the water onto waterwheels which powered the forge and furnace. The third, near the western end, was a spillway for excess water in times of flood.
Occasionally the sluices were opened to allow the pond to be drained so that repairs to the bay, culverts, and sluice-gates could be done, and the pond dredged. In 1791 draining was said to take about 50 hours. The flood gates were then in very bad repair, and not long after the pond was finally drained and converted to arable land.
When the floodgates were opened, the ‘hole’ served to retain water which spilled out of its channel. The curved edge is a bank, designed to keep the water away from the road.
During the summer, Old Floodgates Hole was a meadow rented by the miller. Winter flooding by flowing water results in early and very strong growth of grass, so it could have been used for early grazing or cut for hay.
Alder Field and Bow Field
Field names were often taken from some prominent feature. An uncommon tree in the hedgerow often gave a field its name; Newdigate had fields named from apple, crab apple, pear, plum and yew trees, as well as a Swarmingtree Field. A swarm of bees was very valuable if it occurred early in the summer, so that name must recall an occasion when there were great and memorable difficulties in reaching a swarm which had settled in a tree there.
The north edge of Alder Field, close to the bottom edge of the map, was adjacent to an elongate bay pond formed by damming a stream (not shown, but just south of the old lane). Alders like wet land, so there may well have been a line of tall alders along the northern boundary of the field.
Fields were also given names from their shape. The map shows a Long Field running round the bottom right of the pond. There were several Rainbow Fields in the parish, where one boundary was strongly curved. But plain Bow Field was also not uncommon where a field boundary bent sharply into the field, as it did here. This was very obvious when working the field, and was likened to the curve of a bow.
Browns Lane, To Dorking
As Browns Lane is annotated ‘To Dorking’, it was a through road in 1769. It was probably part of one of the ancient routes along which the Weald was first settled in pre-Norman times.
Early manors were on the North and South Downs, where the land was more easily cleared. These manors each laid claim to part of the heavily wooded Weald to supply their wood and timber, and provide summer pasturage for pigs and other animals. Each manor had a track running to its own area of woodland, and this resulted in a large number of roughly parallel and closely spaced north-south routes. Later the areas of woodland were gradually cleared and settled, becoming manors and villages in their own right. The manor house of Ewood Place was sited very close to this road.
Browns Lane vanished some time in the later eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. The remains can still be seen in the line of field boundaries, footpaths and roads, running almost due north to Dorking and the Downs. Southwards, it probably emerged from Ewood at the kink in the boundary just before Parkgate Road, by the house called Reffolds. The original indenture for the land on which Reffolds was built describes one boundary as ‘the litle lane there leadinge out of the Kings highwaie . . . towards Iwood parke’. Southwards, the lane continued roughly on the line now followed by part of Parkgate Road, Hogspudding Lane, Green Lane and the bridleway. Beyond that it is lost, but extending the same line would lead straight to Rusper.
The road almost certainly remained in use until Ewood Pond was created in about 1550. This flooded and closed the road, so travellers must have detoured round initially, and then gradually found alternative routes.
A ‘lag’ was a wet meadow alongside a stream and liable to flooding.
The sharp, straight lower edges to the three small fields called The Laggs show that they were formerly pen ponds dammed by earth ‘bays’, and stored extra water for the ironworks. Once the ironworks closed, the bays were allowed to deteriorate or deliberately breached, allowing the ponds to drain. They then became meadow land, used for summer grazing or hay.
On the c.1840 tithe apportionment map they had been combined into a single field with a saw-tooth edge, still called The Lag. It has now been incorporated into the development called Becket Wood, and is clearly visible on the present O.S. 1:25,000 map, forming the indented western side of the estate, with the stream running behind the gardens.
Waste around the Pond
A total of twelve and a half acres of land in three main sections around Ewood Pond was described as ‘waste’. This did not mean that it was useless, only that it was not cultivated land.
It must all have been low-lying wet land, flooded for much of the winter. But in summer it dried to good grazing. In 1791 it had a good deal of grass between May and August, ‘very healthy grazing for horses and cattle but will rapidly give sheep rot [foot-rot] especially in spring; the land most flooded in winter produces the most grass in summer.’
After the pond was drained in the very early 1800s, the waste was converted to arable land and incorporated into the surrounding fields.
The stretch of waste extending up the stream near West End Barn may once have been a pen pond to store additional water, with a dam close to the main pond. It was named Pond Tail in c.1840.
Grub Field and Grubfield Pond
The name ‘Grub Field’ recalls that at some time it had been converted from woodland to arable land, and the stumps ‘grubbed out’ with much labour. It is not known when this was done.
Grubfield Pond is a pen pond, created to store extra water for the ironworks. In 1769 it covered an acre and a quarter; by 1791 it was estimated to cover only three-quarters of an acre, was six feet deep when full, and was stocked with carp, tench and perch.
The pond still exists in the scrub behind Becket Wood, although it is rapidly becoming an area of rushes and swampy scrub with little open water.
Upper and Lower Ponds
These were pen ponds, formed by damming a seasonal stream which rises just off the map. They would have filled up in autumn and been deliberately drained in order to raise the level of Ewood Pond in spring or early summer.
After the ironworks closed, the Upper and Lower Pond were stocked with fish. The 1791 survey names them as the High Coppice Pond, covering about one acre and six feet deep, and the Low Coppice Pond, of two acres area and seven feet deep. They contained carp, tench and perch.
The ponds were drained before c.1840. The present fisheries lakes were created in the late twentieth century on approximately the same sites.
The fields called Great Chettys and Little Chettys have the name of a former farmer.
It was very common for a farm to be named informally from its present or former occupier, and some of these names eventually became the official name of the farm. Greens, Coombers and Blanks Farms are examples in the parish.
When a farm name changed or one farm was incorporated into another, some fields often retained the old name of the farm. The c.1840 tithe apportionment survey records several fields carrying the name Fosters, although Fosters Farm had disappeared long before. Other fields just south of Parkgate had Curls names in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Curls Copse is still named on O.S. maps, although Curls Farm vanished before the 1700s and we can only infer where the farmhouse was.
The name Chitty (or Chetty – spelling was phonetic until a late date) is a common one in the area. At least two men named Chitty farmed at Ewood in the 1700s. Confusingly, one farmed Ewood Place Farm, the other Ewood Park Farm immediately to the west, making records referring to ‘Chittys Farm’ difficult to interpret.
The shape of Great and Little Chettys shows clearly how they were cut out of the woodland at some unknown date.
Peg Tanterum’s Well
This is named on the map just below the bay of Grubfield Pond.
Nothing is known about Peg Tanterum. But she clearly had a cottage there before 1769 but probably after about 1550, when Ewood Pond and the bay of Grubfield Pond were created.
At first sight it seems odd to have a well so close to a huge pond. But although the cottage would have been very close to the water’s edge in winter, in summer the water level dropped rapidly, moving away from the cottage and leaving Peg to pick her way across a wide expanse of mud to draw water. So it made sense to dig a relatively shallow well which reached the water-table and provided her with clean water all year round.
Naming it after Peg Tanterum implies that she was a single or widowed woman. She lived deep in the woods; did she earn her living by making besom brooms or willow baskets, perhaps? We will never know.
Her cottage had already vanished in 1769, and the well has long since disappeared into the scrub below the Grubfield Pond bay.
The present Surrey Oaks public house is the building on the right. When the map was drawn, it was the home of a wheelwright called Mr. Eager. His workshop was one of the two long buildings on the front of the plot; the other was probably used for storing timber.
A wheelwright was a vital member of an agricultural community, making and repairing the wheels for carts and waggons, wheelbarrows and ploughs. Opposite Mr. Eager’s house was a blacksmith’s, where the finished wheels would have their iron tyres put on.
Once a workshop had been set up, it probably remained in use for a very long time. The wheelwright’s here certainly continued in business from 1769 until the last wheelwright retired in the early 1900s, when the blacksmith’s also closed. It is not known whether it was on this site before 1769, but there had probably been a wheelwright near here for centuries before the map was drawn, and possibly since the area was first settled around the time of the 1086 Domesday Book.
In the early 1800s James Butcher was the wheelwright. He died in December 1850, and the business passed to his eldest son. But his widow Mary wanted an income of her own, and applied for a licence to open a public house in her front room. Her beer must have been good, and the Surrey Oaks pub flourished. When she died in 1859, another son took over as innkeeper and brewer, and the business continued into the following generation, when one of Mary Butcher’s grandsons was innkeeper and the other a brewer supplying not only the Surrey Oaks but pubs in the surrounding villages.
The brewery was on the other side of the road a little nearer the village, behind the present Old Brewery Cottage.
The brewery was sold and the pub became a tied house just before or just after the first world war. The pub continues to sell excellent beer.
These were a pair of semi-detached cottages with small gardens and a well at the front which they shared. They belonged to the Ewood Place estate, and were let out to men working in the woods.
They were later known as the Duke of Norfolk’s Cottages or just Dukes Cottages, because from 1786 until 1930 the Duke of Norfolk was their landlord and the cottages were let to men who worked in his coppices.
Dukes Cottages were demolished in c.1965, as being beyond repair. Their site was incorporated into the garden of the house behind.
The hamlet of Parkgate is probably as old as the village of Newdigate. Like Newdigate, it probably originated when the craftsmen who were essential to the workings of the agricultural community built houses close to each other. As it had no church or chapel Parkgate remained a hamlet instead of becoming a separate village.
In c.1840 the hamlet proper consisted of about six houses, with a similar number scattered along three roads not far away.
In the hamlet itself, the wheelwright’s and a pair of cottages backed onto Ewood. Curls Farm, which once stood roughly opposite the wheelwright’s workshop, vanished in the earlier 1700s or before. A blacksmith’s workshop was roughly where the telephone box is, and his house was on the site of the Ali Raj. Next to it were the houses now named Innstead and Old Saplings. Parkgate Farm (now High Trees) stood at the top of the hill.
At the bottom of the hill, a quarter of a mile from the centre of the hamlet, three more houses were considered to be part of Parkgate: a pair of cottages called Lances Cottages on the south side, and a house called Reffolds beyond them on the other side. They were not part of the original hamlet; Lances Cottages were built separately in the later 1600s and very early 1700s, and Reffolds in 1609, and none of them replaced earlier cottages.
As far as we know there were no houses on Broad Lane until two cottages were built in the early 1800s; both were later demolished. But a little way down Partridge Lane were Sots Hole (named after that stretch of road, and now called Partridge Cottage) and Deanhurst (since replaced). The latter two probably dated to or replaced houses from before the early 1600s.
Partridge Lane and Broad Lane are not named on the map but are described by their destinations: To Crawley, and From Reigate. Mill Lane is also un-named, and may be the Whappel Way (bridleway) referred to in an indenture of 1606.
The coppice called Hilly Falls has a steep incline crossing it. This is part of the same escarpment that forms a sharp hill on Henfold Lane.
The 1575 survey of the ironworks included ‘one messuage or tenement there called The Old Lodge with pightelle, garden plot and other edifices adjoining’. In modern English it was a house with an enclosed yard, a garden, and a few outbuildings.
The Old Lodge had disappeared before the 1769 map was drawn, but the name Lodge Field shows that it was on the west side of Mill Lane between Parkgate and Ewood Place. The present gate into Lodge Field, near the centre of the hedge, is probably in the same place as the original access to The Old Lodge. An earlier map suggests that the house was in the middle of the field.
Although it may have been built as a lodge, by 1575 The Old Lodge was the main farmstead of Ewood Place, with 104 acres of farmland and five acres of woodland. By Newdigate’s standards this was a large farm. When Newdigate was first settled, most properties appear to have been family farms averaging about 40 or 45 acres, with some smaller holdings probably associated with craftsmen. But Old Lodge Farm was demesne land, the ‘home farm’ of the manor, and had to be large enough to provide food for all those who lived and worked there. Its size in 1575 may have been the original size, or it may have incorporated another small farm at some time; by 1769 it had certainly acquired another forty acres.
After the ironworks closed, probably in 1604, the property seems to have been re-modelled as an up-to-date agricultural holding before it was sold again in 1606. This included moving the farmstead to Ewood Place. The Old Lodge was probably an old, small, dilapidated and inconvenient house, not easily converted to modern standards, and both the house and its farm buildings were pulled down.
Lanes leading westwards
Until roads were surfaced, first with rolled stone and later with tarmacadam, they were simply earth tracks. These were very impermanent and could change their route as conditions demanded. Our present roads are those which happened to be in regular use as through roads in the early 1800s, when they were given a rough stone surface. Many other roads existed, but remained as bridleways or footpaths, or have vanished entirely.
The map shows that in 1769 there were two lanes running west from Ewood Park Farm (not shown on the map). The one at the bottom of the map, marked ‘Old Lane’, is the present bridleway to Swires Farm and Henfold Lane. The one south of it, between Bow Field and Alder Field, has vanished.
Not shown, below the Old Lane and running off the edge of the map, was a stream which was dammed to create a pen pond for the Great Pond. We do not know whether it still remained in 1769, but its site was still named as Park Pond in c.1840.
Ewood Old Farmhouse
The present Ewood Old Farmhouse was not part of the Ewood Place estate, and is not shown on the map. Its position is roughly where the table of acreages has been drawn.
After the ironworks were closed, Ewood was apparently re-modelled as two agricultural estates, which were sold separately in 1606. One was called Ewood Place, from the old name of the manor house; this was the estate later bought by Thomas Grinsted. The other was named Ewood Park, and its farmhouse is now Ewood Old Farmhouse. The Duke of Norfolk bought Ewood Place Farm in 1786, and the estate was reunited three years later when he purchased Ewood Park Farm from General Smith of Portsmouth.
Ewood Old Farmhouse (Ewood Park Farm) is thought to date from the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, and contains re-used timbers. The division of the estate into two agricultural holdings meant that a new farmhouse and farmstead were needed. The 1575 survey states that the ironworks had four cottages for its workers close to the working area, and the site of Ewood Park Farm would have been ideal. When the ironworks closed and the skilled workers moved in search of work elsewhere, the cottages became redundant and were demolished. This left a level site large enough for a house and farm buildings, and with timber from abandoned buildings available for re-use.
So it is likely that Ewood Old Farmhouse was built in 1605 or 1606 on the site of the ironworkers’ cottages.
West End Barn
West End Barn, or West Barn, appears on later maps, including the present Ordnance Survey map.
It was not present in a survey made in 1575, although the names Westende and Westend Coppice appear and probably refer to the same area. So the barn was probably built after the ironworks closed and farming became more important than the production of huge amounts of coppice wood for fuel. It may date from the 1605-6 remodelling of the estate as two farms, or have been built by the farmer soon after.
The barn and adjacent large yard is on the ‘waste’ around the pond, not far above the winter high water level. The barn is not mentioned in the 1791 survey, although it certainly existed; the surveyor was more concerned with the state of the fields. In 1921 there was a double bay barn, two open cattle sheds, a forage store and yards there.
The track to West End Barn continued through the coppices of Brook Coppice and Hilly Falls, eventually opening onto Parkgate Road.
Hither Stoney-Vour, Further Stoney-Vour, Gatlands
These three fields have clearly been cut out of the vast area of former coppice woodland. Whether this was after the ironworks closed or long before it opened is not known. The shape and names of Hither and Further Stoney-Vour suggest that they were originally a single large field.
The meaning of Stoney is obvious. The soil in Newdigate is largely heavy clay, but a number of thin beds of thin flagstone and soft sandstone run through it. Little evidence for them now remains on the surface, because in the early 1800s all available stone was dug to put a stone surface on the main roads of the parish. In the 1830s responsibility for maintaining the highways passed from the parish to the forerunner of the district council, and after that flint was carted down from Dorking to surface the roads.
The old speech in Newdigate had more in common with that in the Sussex Weald than of the Surrey downs, and vour (also spelt voor or vur) is a Sussex dialect word meaning ‘furrow’. The plural of vour was ‘vurze’. So the name of Stoney-Vour meant ‘stony furrow’. By c.1840 this had become Stoney Firs. As ‘v’ and ‘f’ sound very similar and often mutate from one to the other according to the usage, this meant ‘stony furrows’, and was probably understood as such by the locals, although possibly not by the surveyor.
The name Gatland is usually considered to have originated as ‘goat land’. A complicating factor here is that it has modified over time; it was Gatlands in 1791, Gatland in 1769, Cattlands in 1736 and Cattlins in 1689. The capitals C and G are readily confused in some scripts, but whether the original name related to goats, cats, or something entirely different is not now known. By c.1840 it had become Great Gatlands, which was presumably a comment on its large size, as there is no Little Gatlands.
The woodland at Ewood may have existed, in some form, throughout history. The boundary bank of a mediaeval hunting park can still be seen in places. At that time it was probably open woodland and ‘wood pasture’, carefully managed to encourage the desired game, give good sport when required, and provide a regular income from controlled harvesting of both wood and game. Coppicing is likely to have been an important part of the management.
Many hardwood trees, if cut close to the ground while relatively young, will produce several strong shoots. These can be cut in their turn when they are large enough, and the process continued almost indefinitely; old ‘stools’ can be several feet across and live for many centuries. The process is known as coppicing, and a wood managed in this way was known as a coppice. Usually a wood was ‘coppice with standards’, where large numbers of coppice stools grew between carefully selected trees which are allowed to grow tall and straight before being felled for timber.
The coppices were divided into ‘coupes’ (from the French word meaning ‘cut’) or ‘cants’ (a Sussex word meaning a division), which were cut in rotation. For charcoal they were cut about every fifteen years.
Large-scale ironworking started at Ewood in about 1550, and very large amounts of charcoal were needed to produce the intense heat needed by the furnace. If there were already large areas of mature coppice woodland to provide fuel, this would have been an important factor in choosing the site.
In Elizabethan times, fear of invasion resulted in a great demand for iron to make guns, and many ironworks were set up in the Weald. So much timber was cut to fuel them that there were fears of a shortage of suitable mature oak trees for ship-building, and several Acts of Parliament were passed which restricted the cutting of timber trees. Ewood was specifically mentioned, approvingly, in one Act because it produced its fuel entirely from well-managed coppice. This would be explained if it was old coppice with huge stools producing large amounts of wood, where other ironworks had to rely heavily on recently established coppice.
After the ironworks closed, the need for charcoal declined, although some was still made for sale to London. However there was a continuing demand for some coppice wood, both for fuel and to provide the wood needed by craftsmen such as the wheelwright, carpenter, rake-maker and thatcher (who used large numbers of flexible hazel spars to pin the thatch into place), and to make hoops for wooden barrels. Some of the coppice was probably cleared to provide arable land for Ewood Park Farm, but much was retained.
The right to cut each coupe was sold at auction. The successful bidder spent the winter cutting the coppice wood, retaining whatever he needed and selling the remainder to other people. Wood not required by specialists was made into faggots about four feet long, and sold for firewood. Until the arrival of the railway at Beare Green in 1867 wood was used by every house in the parish for cooking and warmth.
The owner of the woodland thus had a regular income from the coppicing, and at long intervals could also cut and sell timber trees when he needed a capital sum.
Coppicing finally ceased with the second world war. The name ‘coppice’ for coppiced woods has now become ‘copse’, and the large numbers of copses named on modern maps show how extensive coppicing was in the past.
Charcoal is made by ‘cooking’ wood very slowly for several days with very little air and no flame, driving off the tar and volatiles. What remains is relatively light in weight and burns at a high temperature without smoke.
Charcoal was always known as ‘cole’, and was produced by skilled ‘colliers’ or ‘wood colliers’. Mineral coal was ‘sea-coal’, because it was imported to large towns by sea.
One or more ‘cords’ of coppice wood were stacked carefully to form a kiln in the shape of a dome. This was covered with a layer of earth to exclude air, and then lit by dropping burning material down a central chimney. Vents were left open while the temperature rose and the wood ignited, then closed to allow the ‘coling’ to take place without oxygen. The burn usually took from five to ten days, and the temperature reached 500o to 600oC.
Once the kiln was lit, the colliers slept in shifts, as the kiln had to be watched continuously. Any break in the earth covering had to be closed immediately, otherwise air would enter and the whole kiln burn up, leaving ash instead of charcoal. The progress of the burn was monitored by the smoke seeping out through the covering, and could be regulated by opening small vents in crucial places to admit a small amount of air if one part was not burning properly, and by putting up screens against the wind if one side burnt too fast.
Burning was carried out regularly on the same sites for long periods. Fresh clay was usually dug to cover the kiln each time, and became baked during the burning. Repeated burns left a circular area with a deep and very unusual soil composed of a mixture of burnt clay and fine charcoal debris.
As well as being used in blast furnaces, charcoal was in great demand for use in towns. It was lighter and much less bulky to transport than wood, and could be burnt in braziers to heat food and warm rooms which had no chimney.
Jane Lilley – 2016