(Part 3, Chapter 1, Section 2) ( Bk. Index )

Ecclesden Manor House

The House
The Baker family and House
Tenants and Servants
Later Owners and Tenants
Walter Butcher
The Farm
Farm Stocks and Crops
Farm Buildings and Houses
Manorial Mills

The House

The manor house was first recorded in 1324, and enlarged or rebuilt in the mid 15th century, when its roof covering was Horsham stone slabs. The only well established enlargements and alterations thereafter took place in the 1870s when Col. Freemantle added an east bay, and dormers to the roof. There is a tradition that John Foster rebuilt the house in 1634, but the basis for this is dubious. In 1593 Sir Thomas Palmer was licensed to alienate or sell part of the manor lands and a house to John Baker.

Fig. 1

Painting of Ecclesden Manor House, reputedly in about 1700.
By anon.

This view is of the south aspect.


Comparison may be made with the following modern photograph of the mansion, which has dormers in the roof, and the whole building extended eastwards.


The Mansion c1910

In this photograph the house is much as it is today.

Compared with Fig. 1 it can be clearly seen how a new range of rooms has been added at the east end. The original end wall being at the second chimney.

In 2003, Dr. Annabelle Hughes undertook a survey, and summarised her findings.
"A plan of the main south wing, reconstructing the old layout, has a 'solar parlour' to the west, then a large 'hall', a 'screens passage' with the porch in front, and 'service' bay at the east end, with the later extension east of that.

The plan of the original house was single-pile, three-unit and two storey with useable attic space overall. 
The three units correspond with the solar-parlour/hall/services plan of medieval houses. 

It was built in brick and flint, the brickwork having decorative diaper detail surviving in places with some areas of combined knapped flint, stone mullioned windows and Dutch gable ends ( one overtaken by the eastern addition). 

The panelled hall has a cross-passage at the 'low' end, defined by a framed screen and entered from a double-storey gabled porch on the southern elevation.  The jambs to screen and doors have bolection moulding.  The principal hearth is on the northern side, with a fine stone hearth, with carved spandrel decoration and moulding to high stops.  The chimney stack seems to have been contained within a small northern wing - did this contain the original stair, before the addition of the present staircase hall?

The only timbers visible at ground and first floor are stop-chamfered transverse ceiling girders.  In the roof space there are framed bay divisions with regular, square panels.  The roof has a considerable dropped-tie construction, and has a high enough pitch that the ties do not need interruption.  It is framed with staggered butt-purlins, dormers having been inserted later.

There is nothing immediately apparent in and about the building that indicates any earlier construction on the site - no noticeably re-used timber (except possibly the screen), surviving wings etc.

There are a number of features that contribute towards a dating assessment.
Single pile 3 unit plan
integral chimney
Screens passage
Dutch gable (c1620-1700)
Bolection moulding (c1660)
Dropped tie (c1580-1700)
Staggered butt purlins (c1650+)
Social status of location

This is undoubtedly a 'gentry' house, and of manorial status.  However, although the echoes of  medieval plans could be seen to support a late 16th/early seventeenth date, these must be set against its provincial location (building fashions travelled more slowly) and the size, proportions and materials.  The dropped tie is so deep, that taken with the staggered butt-purlin roof, these alone would argue a mid-17th century dating, or later."

Dr Hughes subsequently added this comment.
"it is feasible that the first John Baker built, or rebuilt on the site, possibly to provide for his new wife in 1590.  However, the original house was considerably remodelled, to the extent of being re-roofed in the mid 17th century.  Although John's heir, Thomas, married into a Berkshire family, apparently his son John was baptised at Angmering in 1630, and still described as 'of Ecclesden' on his Berkshire/Oxfordshire tomb.  Could it be that the link was maintained strongly enough for investment in modernisation of the house to be made possibly by Thomas, but more likely by John, before his death in 1673?  What is definitely doubtful is that the house was built in 1634, or that the Fosters did so."

Fig 2

Plan or map of Ecclesden Manor and farm buildings in 1840.

This is derived from the Tithe Map of Angmering. 

The scale of 3 chains is a distance of 66 yards or about 60 metres.

The house is in plot 309. 
To the east is the windmill which survives as a house and without its sweeps.
From the junction with the High Street a road north continued east to Ecclesden village, which is today reduced to Upper Ecclesden farm.

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The Baker Family and House

The present author researched and published this history of Ecclesden manor house previous to the survey by Dr. Hughes, with similar conclusions about its builders.

At his decease in January 1563, John Palmer owned the manor Eglesden or Ecclesden, amongst other extensive lands in Sussex. [SRS 3]  It was stated the "farm of Eglesden is worth £60 and is in the tenure of Stephen Chatfelde."  It has to be assumed this meant what is today called Ecclesden Manor, which in the 17th century had some 200 acres of land extending down to the manor and parish boundary with Kingston. 

Unfortunately his son and heir, Thomas, was still short of his twenty first birthday and, in the customary way, a third of the estate reverted to the Queen while he remained ostensibly her ward.  John had provided in his will [PROB 11/46] for the manor farm to be part of that third, and it is conceivable that this land was never returned to the family but eventually sold to pay for whatever debts there may have been. Certain it is that the farm did eventually pass from them and into the hands of John Baker, owner of West Preston manor and of freehold lands in Wick. Evidently he acquired the house in 1593.

John Baker had two wives, the first Eden Truelove of East Preston, her father Thomas being no mean magnate, who later spoke of Sir Thomas Bishopp of Parham as his friend.  They were married in 1590, but by 1598 she was dead not having providing him with any children.  Her memorial brass may still be seen on the floor of the chancel in Angmering church, with its nice representation of a Elizabethan lady, and the words:



Fig. 3

Photograph of the Eden Baker brass in Angmering Church.

The plate has below it the inscription noted above.

Angmering is very fortunate in having this memorial surviving in good order, where so many have been lost or defaced. Large nail heads in the figure and inscription could not be original.
What we do not know is whether this is anywhere near the tomb, if indeed it still exists.


Only the next year came his second marriage, to Elizabeth the widow of Philip Gratwicke, by whom she already had daughters who subsequently inherited Ham manor. 


Her new family began with the birth of Thomas Baker in 1600.  The manor and estates descending to him, and after his decease in 1640, to his son.   Such was life in those days that many a parent did not see their children reach maturity, and so it was with her husband John whose end came in 1611 after making his will while "beinge not well in bodie but of good and perfect memorie" This provided for a division of the estates, with West Preston going to his second son, but Thomas to inherit Ecclesden on his coming of age ten years later [PROB 11/118].


It is not known where in Angmering church John was buried, but it must have been with his new wife, and not with Eden.


Some members of the family continued to live at the house and this was where the next generation arrived with John born in 1630, to Thomas and his wife.  However, Thomas was buried at Cunmore in Oxfordshire where his wife's ancestral home was.

John was not destined to live beyond middle-age, and died while visiting a friend near Cunmore, but he could well have resided for much of that time at Ecclesden, since the inscription on his tomb, near that of his father, describes him as being of Ecclesden. The simple Latin inscription in the church, reads in translation. 


"John Baker of Ecclesden in Sussex gentleman died 8th January 1672".


His Sussex estate was reckoned as being worth £300 per annum, including the farms in Wick and elsewhere [J. Edmonds]


Members of the Baker family continued to live at Cunmore, although John junior appears to have been childless, and his estates were devised by his will to his two sisters, Sarah Keate and Margery Rowney.


To say the Baker family owned Ecclesden Manor house, rather than any other farm in Ecclesden, requires a degree of proof.  This is particularly so as Skeet in his excellent history of Angmering makes no mention of Baker.  But then he appears to derive his history entirely from secondary sources, such as Elwes, Castles and Mansions, of 1876.   In this it is recounted how John Palmer acquired the manor house at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and then at some vague date it passed into the hands of John Foster, who was living at Angmering in 1634.  Indeed John Foster did  live in Angmering during the early 17th century, and had the tenancy of the Shelley lands at Old and New Place, as noted in glebe terriers of 1635, and it is conceivable that he also had tenancy of the farm at Ecclesden Manor, although not the house itself. From deposition books it is known that John Foster had arrived in Angmering from Tillington, about 1617, in his early thirties, quite possibly to take over the Old Place farm.


The first evidence is negative in that no mention is made of the Baker family as tenants of Sir Thomas Bishopp of Parham early in the 17th century, and there was very little land not owned by him in Ecclesden, apart from the manor farm.  It is unhelpful that the 1679 Bishopp Estate survey often refers to Ecclesden farm, but omits to mention who owned or occupied it [Acc 4149].


Positive evidence is provided by a survey or terrier for East Preston and Kingston in 1671, where lands to the north were said to border on, "Mr Baker’s parte of Ecclesden Farme”, called “the Lakes”.    The Lakes of Ecclesden, was indeed that part of Angmering south of the Worthing to Littlehampton road [Add Mss 35808].


Then Thomas Baker, who died in 1640, had his property fairly specifically defined as the, “capital messuage of Ecclesden alias Eglesden and demesne lands of the manor of Ecclesden containing 200 acres”.   That is a approximate estimate for the area of the farm as it remained until the 19th century [SRS 14].


Then finally the John Baker will of 1611, requested that "Elizabeth my wife shall have the use and occupation of my dwelling howse in Ecclesden alias Egglesden with the orchard and gardens thereunto belonginge as the same is nowe inclosed with the pale and Pigeon howse thereunto belonginge called or knowne by the name of Rodge for and duringe the nonage of my saide sonne Thomas".   In the 1679 survey the Rodge, as an area of land, can be identified as part of the manor farm adjacent to the Ecclesden mill, now converted to a house. The pigeon house was no doubt the dovecote which is today to the north of the manor house and is a Listed building.


It may be wondered if that recent enclosure of his gardens with a pale or fence, had any wider significance.  A gathering of his lands together into a compact farm, and if any building work relating to the house took place.


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Tenants and Servants

If Dr Hughes is correct, then the present house is a product of three generations of the Baker family.  Certainly it seems very unlikely that subsequent owners would have built, or remodelled, this considerable mansion, only for the use of their tenant farmers.  

A villagers will of 1633 is of particular relevance. John Reade described himself as a husbandman of Ecclesden, evidently having no family to inherit. Small sums were bequeathed to three men and two women he described as his 'fellow servants'. This is strange if he was a farmer who would have employed servants, rather than served with them. The answer is probably that he acted more as a bailiff than a fully independent husbandman, and references to the Baker family support this conclusion. He gave Mr John Baker, Mr Richard Baker, and Mrs Susan Baker, five shillings each, but more to the point gave Elizabeth, Sara, Margery and John, the 'children of my master Thomas Baker' four sheep each. This 'master' died in 1640.

If he was attending the farm for the Baker family, it means John Foster could not have taken over until 1634.  The year the house was reputedly rebuilt, which may have been a coincidence.

In the absence of deeds and rentals for the farm, it is difficult to divine who the tenants were subsequently, or even the owners. Inventories made for probate provide valuable information on houses and farms of the period, but they seldom included names of properties, or exact locations. It is a simple fact that active farmers were often in shorter supply than farms, and therefore a choice of houses.

It is no more than a highly likely that John Edsaw, was living at Ecclesden Manor at the time of his decease in 1721. It is not at all clear who the owners were at this time, but there is record of a James Clark acquiring Ecclesden from the Rowney family in 1700 [SRS19/20]

The Edsaw inventory is a substantial document, but what identifies him as the occupant is the scale of the house appraised, the fact that he also occupied Broomhurst farm in Lyminster, part of the former John Baker estate, and he is stated plainly to have been a yeoman of Ecclesden.

His total goods and farm stock was valued at just under £1500, which is top notch for a farmer at that time.  He had several other small farm tenancies in Angmering, and his stock of 50 cattle included teams of working oxen and horses, over 120 sheep, 2 waggons, and some 180 acres of arable, reflecting the scale of his operation.

As to the house, the rooms are listed with the furnishings and implements of a typical farmstead, and fits in well with a three storey building such as Ecclesden, if the attic rooms are take as one floor. 
John Edsaw Inventory 1721 a yeoman of Ecclesden, appraised at £1478
Ground and First Floor.

Kitchen Chamber over Kitchen
Hall Chamber over Hall
Parlour Chamber over Parlour
Assumed to be in roof.
Servants Chamber, Little Chamber, Maids Chamber, Garret.
In service wing or outhouses.
Cheese House, Small Beer Buttery, Milk House, Brewhouse, Pantry, Drinkhouse.

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Later Owners and Tenants

Fig. 4

Martha Foreman from a painting by Anon

Later accounts said she was a kind-heated woman, despite the stern face pictured. Perhaps this portrait and the painting of her house, were by the same artist, neither of them are at hand to study.

(Photo: Joan Angus)

There are problems with the Skeet history of the house in its later years, and his sources are not provided.
"It descended to the Rev. Philip Brandon, whose descendants sold it to Martha Foreman.  At her death in 1811, she bequeathed it under romantic circumstances to James Grant, whose son George, in 1823, sold the estate to David Lyon, of Goring Hall, a wealthy tea merchant, from whom it passed to a relative, General Sir Arthur Lyon Freemantle, who altered and added to the house in 1872.  It was purchased, together with the farm lands, in 1912, by Walter Butcher Esq. who with great care and taste has restored the ancient edifice to its former worthiness, as an early seventeenth century manor house."

In fact there appears to have been a Foreman dynasty locally. John father and son are buried at Goring, in 1767 and 1732 with presumably his father concerned in transactions at Angmering in 1692. When John made his will in 1733 he referred to his son as 'of Ecclesden' and it is fairly certain this could only have been at Ecclesden farm and manor. In 1780 [land tax] a grandson, John again, was tenant of Rev Brandon. He died in 1793 at Angmering at which time a cousin Martha was living with him, and inherited his property. It was she who soon afterwards in 1796 purchased the farm and house.  An elderly lady of some wealth, she had a bailiff James Grant and when she died, unmarried in 1811, bequeathed the farm to him for life, and then to his two sons James and George. She also had a house in Mincing Lane, London, which was in process of sale for £10,000, the proceeds to go to Mary Grant a daughter of James. [RB156]

It is barely conceivable that the Tithe Apportionment of 1839 was incorrect as to owners and tenants. There is only one caveat, that very long term tenancies were ignored, being virtual freeholds.  However no such lease is likely for Ecclesden and in the tithe James Grant was still the owner of 190 acres and the house. Only the section of 90 acres called the Lakes, south of the Worthing Road, had been sold to Samuel Henty of Kingston. The 1814 Bishopp Estate Map shows the whole of this land as belonging to James Grant, and so this transaction was some time around the 1820s. 

Lacking deeds, it is only from parish rates, and similar sources, that it can be determined that David Lyon did acquire the farm very soon afterwards, by 1841. In any case, if the Goring history by Fox-Wilson is correct, David Lyon was a West Indies merchant, who built Goring Hall in 1834 on his purchase of an estate there. That is ten years after Skeet has him as buying Ecclesden.

Then in 1856 David Lyon leased the farm to Frederick Bushby of Field Place, for 14 years to 1869. We can be sure James Grant lived at the house all of his life, his will proved in 1854. Such copyhold estate as he had, that is not Ecclesden, to be sold. The house thereafter became the home of Thomas Blackman a farm bailiff, and presumably working for Bushby and descending to farm cottages if the census is interpreted correctly. However, John Heasman took over the house and farmed from there until the end of the century, when the mansion was divorced from its farm and let out to the 'gentry', in 1901 Walter Booker, with his numerous servants, 'living on his own means' and it may be assumed remained there until Walter Butcher arrived as the new owner and occupier.
The owner of Ecclesden after David Lyon was his relative Col Freemantle, who died in 1894. It then passed to other branches of the family, with Mrs Pretyman no doubt the person who sold it to Mr Butcher. He immediately set about considerable work on the house and farm, in 1912 building a new farmhouse on the Worthing Road, Roundstone House.

Mrs Pretyman owned an estate reckoned at 300 acres, whether this was an accurate figure or not, it included Ecclesden and also East Kingston. The latter farm was bought by Mr Candy, its tenant, soon after Walter Butcher acquired the Angmering estate.

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The Farm

There is some information about the medieval demesne. In 1324 it had a garden and dovecot, with 300 acres of land, 100 acres of which was at only half the value of the major portion, with a few acres of pasture in addition. [PRO E 106/8/19, m. 6]  It is likely that the estimate was in local acres, giving a far higher acreage than in statute measure. The main block being the arable north of the Worthing road, and the smaller area south of the road in what came to be known as the Lakes of Ecclesden, marshy and ponds rather than vast lakes.

Lacking a medieval survey of any kind, such as a terrier with field names for the demesne, the earliest any map can be constructed is for 1679. [Acc 4149] There is no reason to suppose the manor house had been moved, although rebuilding in the vicinity is not at all improbable, and what has for long been known as Ecclesden manor house, was one and the same as the medieval house. Indeed the presence of a dove house in the property today, dating from the 18th century or earlier, is not conclusive but a broad hint.

The survey describes farms belonging to tenants of Ecclesden manor, and analysis suggests that almost the whole extent of the eastern area of Angmering, known by that name, is covered. The one significant exception being the ancient demesne, sold off by Palmer to John Baker as already related. In 1671 a similar survey of East Preston and Kingston refers to, "Land parte of Ecclesden Farme called the Lakes ... Mr Bakers parte of Ecclesden Farme."

The 1679 survey does not give the name of the owner of the former demesne, only referring to its lands where they border other properties. Extensive common fields belonging to the villagers were described as having "Ecclesden farme Laines on the West". Laine did not mean track or road, but the fields themselves. North of the manor house was the still vibrant village of Ecclesden, and its lands bordered, "Ecclesden farme gates on the South".  Or, "the Rodges belonging to Ecclesden farme on the West". It can be shown fairly convincingly that the erstwhile demesne was the same compact area of nearly 200 acres, as in 1814 and in the tithe map of 1839, although by then the Lakes had been sold off as previously related. 


North part of Ecclesden Farm.

The house was situated directly to the right, or east, of the road junction. Swans Lane no longer exists, and other footpaths have been diverted away from the house. There is a footpath along what was called Portbank. This is where a cliff rose above a sea beach when the sea was at a higher level than today, in an ancient warm period similar to that which is predicted for our future.


Fig. 9

South Part of Ecclesden Farm

Cow Lane to the west side, a footpath today, with the bypass road next to it. Portbank footpath at the north. Several Ecclesden village common or open fields were on the east side of the farm, and the arrows indicate alignment of selions or strips. Lakes of Ecclesden block of fields set between East Preston, Kingston, and Ferring.

None of the enclosures or fields in Ecclesden farm were recorded, but in other parts of Ecclesden they were much as in the 19th century tithe map on which this map has been based..

On arriving at the Tithe Apportionment, exact details of ownership, tenancy, individual fields and cultivation are provided for the first time.

Firstly the manor house itself, or "Homestead", owned by James Grant and occupied by him, together with the paddock and another field - 310, 311. But the bulk of the lands occupied, or farmed, by his son George. Another son, Henry, now owned the windmill with an adjacent field - 314.   

Fig 10 

      North Part of Ecclesden Farm in the 19th Century

Fig. 11      

South Part of Ecclesden farm in the 19th Century

Much the same as in 1679 apart from the Lakes of Ecclesden having been sold.


                Grant James                                                          Grant George
305          The Upper Furze Field                                         G            5-             2-            23
306          Lower Ditto                                                         G            3-             0-            37
309          Farm House outbuildings
                Yards Gardens etc                                 Homestead          3-             1-              8
312          The Great Downs                                               G             6-             3-            23
313          The Great Furze Field                                         G            6-             0-             23
315          The Tinkers Field                                                A           15-             3-            20
327          The Twelve Acres                                               A           12-             1-            37
328          The Forty Acres                                                 A           30-             3-              9
330          Lower Sixteen Acres                                          A           15-             3-            15
336          Upper and Middle 16 Acres                                 A           31-             3-            37
                                                                                                   132a             0r          32p

                Grant James                                                            In hand
310          The Paddock                                                      G             5-             0-            28
311          The Little Downs                                                 G             3-             2-            16
                                                                                                        8a             3r            4p                               
                Grant James                                                            In hand
325          The Strongs Field                                                A           15-             0-            35
326          The Dell Field                                                      A           13-             0-            11
329          Seventeen Acres                                                 A           15-             2-              0
                                                                                                     43a             3r            6p                               
                Grant Henry                                                            In hand
304          Little Furze Field                                                G             2-             2-            35
314          Windmill Cottage outbuildings Plat etc                 G             2-             2-            36
                                                                                                       5a            1r           31p                               

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Farm Stock and Crops

As may be expected on the coastal plain, crops grown were wheat, barley, oats and vetch, with a three course rotation becoming the norm. Little changed for hundreds of years until the 19th century. Breeds of farm stock no doubt improved over time, as did carts and implements, but a couple of carthorses, two or three teams of oxen, over a hundred sheep, and around fifty pigs, was the range and amount of stock fitting to such a large farm.

Fortunately there is one 18th century inventory that can be associated with Ecclesden manor. John Edsaw in 1721, with its anciently established crops of corn. Several barns are mentioned, including a Great barn and a granary. Two hundred acres of land, with two waggons and four dung carts, together with plows and harrows, was proportionate. Fourteen working oxen, and a number of steers, a bull, nine horses, five fattening oxen and twelve cows, two hundred sheep, tegs, and lambs, and over forty hogs, represented the ancient manor farm in full working order.

As may be seen in the 1840 table of lands belonging to the Grant family, the state of cultivation is given. Pasture or grass predominates on the true downland above Portbank, whereas the entire southern section is arable. On the other hand the Lakes area, south of the Littlehampton road, was at least half grass at that time, it has in more recent years been made largely arable. This block of land now belonged to Samuel Henty as part of his Kingston estate.

Mixed farming, although with arable predominate, continued until after the Second World War. Walter Butcher having a considerable herd of Jersey dairy cows. But the estate was broken up by the family of Marshall Foch about 1954, and only some 90 acres remained attached to the house, largely park and pasture.

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Farm Buildings and Houses

Ecclesden Manor house with its erstwhile farmstead, is a Listed set of buildings. There is a brief description of the house and dovecot. It should be observed that only cursory research was undertaken for this.

Grade II*
Built by John Forster in 1634.  Two storeys and attic.  Seven windows.  Faced with flints and some red brick.  Horsham slab roof, partly replaced with tiles.  Casement windows with stone mullions.  Central gable with kneelers and ball finials raised aloft on iron uprights resting on brick and stone piers.  Round-headed doorway with pilasters and keystone over.  Modern additions to north.
C18 or earlier.  Square building of red brick, grey headers, stone rubble and flints.  Pyramidal tiled roof with opening for the birds at its apex, surmounted by another pyramid.

With no architectural survey for the site, it is not know what farm buildings of antiquity still exist, apart from the dovecot, which is at the north end of the farmyard.  A variety of other buildings have been converted to houses in recent years, and may not be easily identifiable for their original purpose.

Buildings shown on the tithe map of 1839 were not identified, apart from houses, and only the mansion itself was shown as a dwelling. Nor does the apportionment description of the property refer to any cottages. But the scale and location of several buildings, compared to those that existed a handed years later, suggest that an early barn and stables did survive, together with an isolated building east of the stables.. 

In 1912 Walter Butcher undertook major improvements to his estate, with the building of Roundstone House that year. Then in 1913 his architect, Maurice Pocock, prepared plans of the manor house farmyard area, including cottages on the west side by the road, although sparsely detailed, it is assumed they are the buildings that still exist.

From the Pocock plans and accurate Ordnance Survey maps of 1876 and 1932, it seems that a single storey building on the east side of the yard, was linked to the mansion when the east wing was built in the 19th century. Detached from that a range of stables extended north, and then returned west along the north side of the yard as cow sheds. The dovecot at the west end of these cow sheds.  On the west side of the site, there are the cottages built by Mr Butcher in  1913. Set back east from these and extending north, perhaps cart sheds, although these were not named. At the north end, and extending east, a large barn.  East of the main site, or yard, at a SW to NE angle, is an entirely detached building, which had the appearance of cottages, but as yet its use is unknown.

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Manorial Mills

Corn mills were one of the perquisites of the manor owner, or lord, in the medieval period. His tenants were expected to use it, on payment of a toll or rent, after the demesne corn had been ground. Where Domesday records a mill, a watermill can be assumed, with windmills arriving in the country slightly later. Surprisingly, there is no mill mentioned in Domesday for either of the two Angmering manors, and perhaps it was not until Fescamp abbey acquired Ecclesden that a watermill was built.
Ecclesden had a watermill in the 12th century which was worth 20s a year in the early 14th century, when the manor also had a windmill worth 40s. But after 1332 only the windmill is mentioned, and it is presumably this mill, or one on the same site, that John Baker acquired in 1582.

With none of the sites defined, only conjecture is possible. The two sorts of mill had quite opposite requirements, and the only possible site for the watermill would have been along the course of Ecclesden stream south-west towards Avenals. On the contrary, the windmill needed open or high ground and the upper slope of Highdown fits the bill, preferably within the manor farm, which points more or less to the site of Ecclesden mill, now used as a house.

Having said that, there is no firm evidence for the windmill in the only useful survey of Ecclesden, made in 1679 for the owner of Angmering. The manor farm was mentioned in relation to other properties, but none of its fields and buildings defined. It did not belong to the lord of Angmering at that time, and no free rent was paid. The only mention of a mill, was in reference to a plot at the “East Hill of Ecclesden near Mill Style”. But this stile was clearly at the parish boundary, and next to a path to Ferring mill on top of Highdown. It was not until the 19th century that the surviving building was built, with a short life and perhaps out of commission by 1859.  Demolition of the cottages next to the mill, and building a new house that utilised the mill base, took place in the 1970s. 

Ecclesden Mill c1870
Ecclesden Mill 1970s

Fig. 12      

Ecclesden Mill c1870

A view of the mill shortly before its sails were blown off in a storm and its short life ended.

View from the south-west with cottages behind the mill.

Fig. 13

Ecclesden Mill 1970s

A view of the mill from the east, when in use as part of the modern house,
but before being capped in 2008.

Most people are aware that Angmering still has a windmill within the parish, and that is Ecclesden Mill, situated on the west side of Highdown just above Ecclesden Manor. This is a brick tower-mill built in 1826 for Henry Grant, the son of James Grant, the bailiff of Ecclesden Manor who inherited the estate in 1811 from the kindly Martha Foreman. This mill took over from the old more famous Highdown Mill in Ferring that was coming to the end of her working life. Ecclesden Mill was originally known as Highdown New Mill. Milling ceased at Ecclesden Mill in 1872 and the sweeps (sails) were blown off in a storm in 1880. Recently she has been lovingly restored and the brickwork has been covered with wooden shingles to protect her. In the Spring of 2008, further work was undertaken with the mill being increased in height and a lead cap added. [Extract from article by NRD 2008]

Going back now to the watermill, even more complex issues are raised, that might tax an expert in this field. This building evidently went out of use in the 14th century, which points to its being inefficient compared to the new windmill. It may not have worth the expense of constructing an efficient leat with a good head of water to provide an overshot wheel, and the stream is not very prolific in the summer.

Unfortunately the course of the stream has been entirely disrupted by modern road works, that pay scant respect to anything else. The extension to Water Lane to create a coach road, early in the 19th century, barely interfered with the stream, the course of which it followed on higher ground. Nevertheless, recalling what it was like and with the aid of maps, it is not presently possible to point to any feature reminiscent of a leat, alongside the natural stream.

There is one oddity that may have some bearing. In 1679, Avenals farm was only described in bare outline, naming its neighbours. Ecclesden had an almost total coverage, except that damage to the document has lost part of the references to brook pastures. It is only from other rentals and deeds that it becomes evident a long finger of pasture, extending almost to Avenals farmhouse, had belonged to Ecclesden. Hollands Mead. What is more, Swans Lane anciently gave access to the other end of Hollands Mead, from the south, when lanes usually meant houses. It is no more than a suggestion that the mead had formerly been pond and leat with the Ecclesden mill, there is nothing on the ground to substantiate this.

It should be noted here also, that considerable work must have been undertaken at Avenals, in the 18th century or before, in damming up what was a single pond. Then, diverting the stream immediately to the west, around what was thereafter a small dry valley, to course down what is today Water Lane.  Next to the pond is what was called Mill Green. Any association with Ecclesden medieval watermill, would seem far fetched.

Archaeological investigations on the line of the bypass, and where Water lane now crosses the east end of Hollands Mead, revealed nothing of medieval interest. A wider survey may be needed in order to discover any mill house and leat, if such ever existed.

Fig. 14

Ecclesden Mill 1960 circa

Inside the mill when it was derelict. The stairs below the roof hatch. 


This chapter is composed from articles, research, and photographs, provided by Neil Rogers Davis and R W Standing

Dec 1st 2008. Including:

1679 Survey                           WSRO Acc 4149

Rentals                                   WSRO Acc 9163

Tithe Maps etc                       WSRO IR/29/35  IR/30/35

Grant and Foreman families  WSRO MP4899

Victoria County History       

and items in the text

RWS Dec 1st  2008

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