Chipstead Village


Tracing Chipstead's two Saxon manors

The Domesday Book refers to two manors in Chipstead but there is uncertainty as to where they were. This article argues that the smaller one, Pirbright Manor which was owned by Chertsey Abbey, is in the south and east of the parish.The other, Chipstead Manor, is in the north and west.

Tracing Chipstead’s two Saxon Manors

The first mention of Chipstead is in a Saxon charter kept in the British Museum. This records that in the year 675 five hides of land (about 500 acres) were given by the Saxon Frithwald to the newly established Chertsey Abbey. Frithwald has just conquered this part of the country for the Mercians and was likely to be wanting to placate the Kentish men he had defeated. The five hides of land are next seen in the Domesday Book of 1086 under a section dealing with all of Chertsey Abbey’s holdings. This land subsequently became known as Pirbright Manor.

As a separate entry in the Domesday Book there is reference to a second larger manor in Chipstead, let us call it ‘Chipstead Manor’. This comprised 15 hides (about 1500 acres). Before the Norman Conquest it had been held on behalf of Edward the Confessor by the Saxon Wulfnoth but was now one of the many properties held by the powerful Norman baron Richard of Tonbridge.

The measure of a ‘hide’ was an economic value rather than a fixed amount of land. As such it is quite imprecise but is approximate to 100 acres. This would mean that together the two manors made up about 2,000 acres which is about the area of the Parish of Chipstead before changes to it were made in the twentieth century.

Today we do not know which part of the parish was Chipstead Manor and which Pirbright Manor. The purpose of this article is to explain why I believe that Pirbright Manor was some, or all, of the green area in the map below and was made up primarily of Pirbright Farm and Gatwick Farm as shown in the 1847 Chipstead Parish Tithe Map together with Noke Farm which, by 1847, had been acquired by the Shabden estate. The remaining land, shown in yellow, was I believe Chipstead Manor.  

The rationale in support of this is as follows:

  1. The Book of Fees records that In 1242 a substantial area of land in Chipstead was held by Peter de Perefrith. Perefrith, who had a close relationship with Chertsey Abbey, also held land in Pirbright (near Guildford) and from this date the Chipstead land was known as Pirbright Manor. Perefrith’s land is recorded as being a quarter of a fee (ie a ‘Knight’s Fee’ – another very imprecise measure based on the value of the land needed to support a knight). A knight’s fee is variously estimated at between 1,000 and 5,000 modern acres. A quarter of a Knight’s Fee is therefore between 250 and 1,2500 acres – a mid-point is not so far from the five hides mentioned in the Domesday Book. It seems reasonable to assume that the ‘Pirbright Farm’ shown on the 1847 Tithe Map of Chipstead was originally part of Pirbright Manor.

  2. In the 1240s Perefrith disposed of some of his land in Chipstead and it may be that this was the same land that was farmed by Richard de Gatwick in the fourteenth century (the de Gatwick family came from near Charlwood and give their name to Gatwick Airport). Evidence to support this is that sixteenth century Chertsey Abbey records show that the abbey was entitled to tithes from Pirbright and Gatwick. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that the ‘Gatwick Farm’ shown on the 1847 Tithe Map was originally part of Pirbright Manor.

  3. In 1252 Perefrith gave land to Joan Lovel (the likely source of the name Love Lands). In 1303 an inquiry before the Archdeacon of Surrey ascertained that Chertsey Abbey enjoyed the tithes of the Manors of Pirbright and Love Lands and this was confirmed again in 1321. We do not now know precisely where Love Lands was but today there is a Lovelands Lane close to Gatwick Farm. Lovelands Lane runs from Babylon Lane in the direction of Mugswell. It might be that Love Lands was the site of the settlement that today is called Mugswell and was formerly called ‘Monks Hole’ (perhaps an oblique reference to the monks of Chertsey Abbey).

  4. For much of the eighteenth-century John Tattersall was Lord of Chipstead Manor. After his death, in 1788 his extensive lands in Merstham, Chaldon and Chipstead together with the title Lord of Chipstead Manor were sold to William Joliffe. Encouragingly the farms that Joliffe owned are in the yellow section of the 1847 the Map.

  5. Noke Farm is adjacent to St. Margaret’s Church and is thought to be the site of a very early moated Pirbright Manor-house of which the periodic pond in the strip of wood along Hogcross Lane is all that remains. It was acquired by John Fanshawe of Shabden in 1786.   

Aspects of my analysis where there is a degree of uncertainty include:

  1. Pirbright Farm is shown as being owned by the Joliffes in the 1847 Title Map. However, we know that the farm was acquired by a previous owner of Tattershall’s property in 1704 and would therefore have been transferred in the 1788 sale.

  2. I have tenatively suggested that Medieval Love Lands may have been where Mugswell is now located - this is a guess. It may also have been an area of land just to the south of Mugswell. Today there is a Lovelands farmhouse on Lovelands Lane (its farmland probably spread into Kingswood). Whichever location is correct it seems that Love Lands will have bordered Gatwick Farm thus strenghtening the link bewtwwn Pirbright and Gatwick Farms and Chertsey Abbey..

  3. It seems possible that the building of St. Margaret’s Church would have been funded by Chertsey Abbey and built on Pirbright Manor land. However, there is no record of the abbey providing such funding and the advowson (ie the right to appoint the rector) of St. Margaret’s was in the power of the Chipstead Manor during the Medieval period. Locating the church on Chipstead Manor land but close to its border with Pirbright Manor might have been a compromise arrangement.

  4. It is interesting to speculate as to the source of the 43 acres of Glebe created when the Old Rectory was located in Mugswell in 1450. While it is tempting to think that this would have been located on land linked to Chertsey Abbey this seems unlikely. By 1450 the structural links between Chipstead and Chertsey Abbey were weak and it seems much more likely that the Glebe would have been donated by Chipstead Manor which, with its right to advowson, was responsible for the church.

One of the great attractions of history is that we can rarely be certain about events and circumstances in the distant past. However, clues often remain upon which people can build theories. Hopefully my proposition that the location of the land given to Chertsey Abbey in 675 can be broadly equated with the area covered by the Victorian Pirbright and Gatwick Farms and the earlier Noke Farm is not too wide of the mark. If I am correct the ancient link with Chertsey Abbey will be to the area around the village of Mugswell rather than what we now think of as the village of Chipstead.

Jon Grant 2020