(Part 4, Chapter 2, Section 21) ( Bk. Index )

[ Some Other Notable Houses and Properties ]

21. Roundstone House

A Curate's House at Roundstone Crossroads


Angmering is a large parish, and those who live in or around the old village may imagine some outlying houses as belonging to other places. For Roundstone House, this was even more pronounced, with the Curates of East Preston living there for half a century.

When this house was built, it was only yards to the east of Roundstone Crossroads, a place of morbid repute, with the parish of East Preston immediately to the south. As from 1846, with the coming of the railway, it changed in use and name to the modern Roundstone Railway Crossing. Previous to that the house stood in serene isolation with a panorama of countryside stretching to Highdown in one direction, and towards Preston Place in the other direction, only disturbed by the occasional passing cart, or other horse drawn conveyance, directed by the finger post to one of the villages or towns in the neighbourhood.

Roundstone House c1980

Roundstone House
The South Front in 1980


For many a house, the history of the land on which it stands, is as interesting as that of the house itself. Both intrinsically, and  as an explanation of why it was built there in the first place.  For Roundstone this was in the early 19th century. It has to be assumed its name derived from that of the crossroads and lane, the place of the round stone, which tradition suggests was a mill stone. But this was not the first name the house had, the oldest recorded is Ivy Cottage, which is self explanatory and of no special note.

The folk stories that attempt to explain the millstone belong to another chapter in Angmering’s history. One that may not often be heard was recorded in 1947.
 "The name is derived from a large round stone [millstone] which used to be where the signal box now stands.  There was a joke played on the unwary presumably by the youth of the village ... The victim was told that if a hand was put into the hole five nails would be found.  Of course the nails were on the fingers and thumb of the hand inserted."  

Unlikely though it seems, the earliest known of the fields surrounding where the house was built, is when they may have been associated with Ham Manor. For, although the estate and golf course, which is the modern representative of that manor, is a compact enough area, its ancient lands spread their fingers far into Angmering. It certainly included many of the fields to the east of Station Road. If some early deeds are correct,  in the early 17th century, the fields adjacent to the site of Roundstone House were in that part of Ham which belonged to Roger Gratwicke, with one of them later descending to William Older and to the Older School Charity.

But it is to the well known Pigeon House, in the High Street, that we must go to for the origin of the Roundstone site itself.  Richard Adams was the owner of Pigeon House, and in 1661, what was already a small enough farm attached to the house, was cut in half when he sold eleven acres to Thomas Baker of Baytree Cottage, East Preston. [Acc 4149]

“This Indenture [12 Oct 1661] between Richard Adams of Angmering ... yeoman son and heir of Richard of Angmering yeoman deceased and Thomas Baker the elder of East Preston ... yeoman ... [£200 paid by Baker for freehold]   All those Four Closes .... arable meadow pasture lying together ... 11 acres in East Angmering abutting Highway from Littlehampton to Tarring on the south, and lands of Roger Gratwicke ...  east, west and north.”

Therefore, in the 1679 Survey, there is the peculiar circumstance of two Pigeon House farms. The one still attached to that house, but the divorced portion now in the hands of Mary Baker.

“Allso Mary Baker Spinster holdeth freely of the Lord of this Mannor as of the said Mannor to her and her heirs for ever One Tenement being Twelve acres of Land heretofore parcell of the aforesaid Lands called Pigeon House land bounded by the Lands of Olliver Weekes Esq on the North and East, by Preston Lane on the South, and by Lands late William Oulders on the West.”

In 1731, a ‘deed of partition’ divided the small Baker estate between two sons of John Baker, of East Preston. And it must have been soon afterwards that one of these halves was sold to John Bennett of Hangleton in Ferring. As a result Pigeon House farm had now split into three sections, although what it had been in medieval times is pure speculation. [Acc 4149]

c1795 Rental
The two sections at Roundstone.
East Court        John Baker owner and occupier   freehold Pigeon House    2s 9d quit rent [to the lord of the manor]
East Court        John Bennett owner and occupier freehold Pigeon House 3s 3d quit rent
John Bennett had the slightly larger portion, worth £2 10s in land tax, compared to £1 15s.

The Baker field went its own way. But, at last, the house which is the subject of this history, appeared on the field to the west which belonged to Bennett.  The exact date is not presently known, and neither the OS map of c1810 or the Bishopp map of 1814 have it marked, but the fact of its being there soon afterwards is certain.

It can be assumed that the last in a long line of Bennetts, with the first name John, found what we would consider an excellent medieval house, Hangleton Farm in Ferring, rather old fashioned. Fortunately, instead of rebuilding, he provided himself with a modern residence at Roundstone, although giving it the modest title of Ivy Cottage. Although his field was six acres, the land set aside for the house amounted to less than half an acre, which is what has descended with it to this day.

The Cottage

The frontage of this house presents an appearance that its builder might still recognise as little changed. A hipped and slate covered roof, below which a central entrance was flanked by sash windows on both floors and also above the door. The bay window on the east side of the door probably added later, but whether the wall was originally whitewashed may never be known.

A modest and almost square building, in the tithe map of 1839, was extended by a small west wing by 1876. Then, soon after 1898, a much larger wing was added to the north side. Today the house is several times its original size.

It began life as Ivy Cottage, but this was clearly inappropriate for the residence of a clergyman in charge of a parish, albeit only a curate. So it began a new life as Roundstone House in 1864, or soon afterwards, being almost the only house in Roundstone Lane at that time. It should be mentioned that the OS map of 1876 was out of date in having it marked as Ivy Cottage, whereas the 1871 census has the new name for this residence of Rev. Palin.

Roundstone House

John Bennett was certainly in residence at Ivy Cottage by the late 1830s. Although, in 1839, the tithe map has his farm as a mere six acres in Angmering, the bulk of his land being at Ferring, and in all a good sized holding at 66 acres.  In the 1841 census, he was still in his thirties, with a wife Charlotte, daughter Fanny, and servants. Within ten years he may have become ill, for he made his will in 1851 and died two years later, having returned to his old house at Hangleton. The Bennett dynasty had come to its end.

1839 Tithe Map
Bennett John                 Plot 544            0.40625 House outbs yard garden
Bennett John                 Plot 545            5.425                grass   
            Total                                         5.831 acres             

Roundstone Tithe 1839
Roundstone Tithe 1839

Roundstone House Site
Tithe Map 1839, with the Baker and Bennett fields
that comprised part of the Pigeon House farm sold in 1661 and subsequently divided between Baker and Bennett

Roundstone House site Map
Tithe Map1839 with the original small house in Plot 544
and the adjacent Bennett field 545

Ivy Cottage thereafter became the residence of his Belchamber relatives. In 1851 Sarah a widow and her family, and in 1861 Caroline, the wife of a mariner, no doubt at sea when the census was conducted. Living there also, was her father James Bennett.

It was during that period the house changed ownership, and no doubt after 1853.  A date coincident with Mr Reginald A Warren coming to Preston Place. He having married Ann the daughter of William Olliver of Courtlands, Goring, owner of the family house in East Preston. Mr Warren, a solicitor, started out as a man with influence, and ended his life as the Squire, owning a large estate that straddled East Preston, Rustington, and Angmering, including Roundstone House.

East Preston and Kingston were, until 1913, included in the vicarage of Ferring. But, in 1863, the Ecclesiastical Commission apportioned a yearly grant of £100 to the vicar for the provision of a curate to serve East Preston in particular. These curates were in need of a guaranteed dwelling, of suitable status, and Ivy Cottage was provided for them, although some distance away from the parish church.

As a result the residents at what now became Roundstone House are fairly well known, and for fifty years Angmering had curates living in the parish, but with no connection to its church.

1864  -  1867            Frank Ley Bazeley BA
1867  -  1869            H R Morres
1869                        Gregory Bateman MA

1869  -   1871           Charles William Palin MA
As often the case with curates, they stayed for a few years until moving on to greener pastures, with Charles William Palin, being the fourth in only seven years. Aged 49 in 1871, with a wife and one servant, he could barely have become known before leaving two years later.

1871                        Henry Fulham Which MA

1872  -  1884            Samuel Sharpe Walker MA
Rev. Walker was the only one of these priests to be buried at East Preston, ten years after his retirement in 1884.  He also has the distinction of a stained glass window to his memory, which can be seen in the chancel.
He was described in 1881 as curate, not only for Ferring vicarage, but also Rustington, with a wife and four children, born as far away as the Isle of Man and Cambridge, where one was an undergraduate.

1884  -  1886            Robert Henry Tripp BA
1887  -  1888            Edward Rawley Morris

1889  -  1900            William Ridgly Nightingale MA
Aged 47 in 1891, and living with his mother, Rev. Nightingale was also the chaplain at the workhouse.  He had a servant named Ann Patti, who came from the United States, and so perhaps his previous career had been more varied than is presently known.
His influence on Angmering, if not ecclesiastical, was of some significance in social and sporting life. In 1896, the Cricket Leage was founded, and he was elected chairman. The curates thereafter being playing members in matches between local village clubs.

1900  -  1905            Frederick William Booty MA
Another small household in 1901, with Rev. Booty aged 35 and his wife Amy, and the one servant Mary Cheesman of the well know Angmering family.

1905  -  1908            James Louis Crosland    [Vicar of Rustington 1908 — 1941]
During their brief sojourn at the house the curates created a social enclave for East Preston in Angmering. Entertainments there supported the church and the village school, as in 1906.
“Illuminated Promenade Concert at Roundstone – At the invitation of the Rev JL Crosland, an enjoyable Concert took place in the grounds of his residence at Roundstone on behalf of the School funds on Wednesday evening. The grounds had been prettily decorated with fairy lamps, and Japanese lanterns by Messrs B St L Blaauw and F Hennell, but owing to the rough wind considerable difficulty was experienced in keeping the illuminations alight. The musical programme included contributions by the Rev JL Crosland and GR Leefe, Mrs Candy, Miss Devonport, Mrs Hills, and Messrs F Hennell and G White. About £7 was realised by the effort.” [WG Aug 1906]

1908  - 1913            Ernest Trevor Williams MA
ET Williams, was the last curate to live at Roundstone because, in 1913, East Preston with Kingston were separated from Ferring, and a vicarage house was built near the church for him, when he was installed as the first Vicar of the combined parishes. After taking over the incumbancy, he achieved a measure of fame or notoriety in support of the Oxford Movement, against much opposition from those nurtured in Protestant beliefs at the village school and generally in England at that time.

With the decease of RA Warren in 1911, the great estate built up by the Squire began to decline. His family had no interest in farming, and land was now being taken over for another kind of estate. Within twenty years virtually all his property had been sold, and with it Roundstone House. The Howick family were named as residents there at the end of the Great War, but beyond that there is no need for this history to go.

RWS 24/5/09