The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Colin Godmans Farm    Sheffield Forest  Fletching  
Photograph of Colin Godman in 1925
Photograph of Colin Godman in 1925
The Smuggler's House - Colin Godman
Here is a small square house constructed of ancient stonework that commands a fine position overlooking a valley of pasture-land in the vicinity of Sheffield Forest. From its windows, on a clear day, it is possible to distinguish many details on the distant range of Downs that lie between Clayton and Lewes, and I have often thought that a beacon-fire on those hills may have acted as a signal to those who dwelt within this house in the Middle Ages.
The name of the place is Colin Godman, but so far I have met no one who could give any authentic explanation of it. I have successfully traced a bare outline of its story from the reign of Henry VII until comparatively modern times ; but for any earlier information we must still be guided by. local hearsay. Those few neighbours, mostly cottagers, who have lived near by for a considerable number of years, relate a tradition that long, long ago the place belonged to a man called Colin Godman and that, with the conservative spirit of Sussex, the same name has clung to the place ever since. This personage, having a Christian name usually connected with those who reside in the North of England, and possessing a surname that is represented by a very well known old Sussex family, seems to be a will o' the wisp that is indeed .difficult to locate. That he was not related to any of the Sussex Godmans seems apparent ; for if so, they would possess some record about him.
The country-folk also aver that this place was formerly connected with some Spanish monastic order and that at one time it was used as a smuggler's hidingplace, where sacks of wool for export to distant countries lay concealed in the large cellars beneath the house.


Books and other documents
PublishedTitle, author and references
1925Some of the Smaller Manor Houses of Sussex by Viscountess Wolseley ⇒ p. 162

Historical records

1550HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
However, in John Boyer or Bowyer, who died possesed of lands called "Collen Godmans", Legswode and Mallsland in Fletching, and of Deneland in Horsted Keynes, and a fulling-mill and lands called Motkyns Kechyn in Rotherfield and Hartdfield, we have a real personality to deal with. ......... He leaves to Dennis, his wife, 100 marks sterling, as well as his new house in Hartfylde Street ........... His wife Dennis and his eldest son William are appointed executors, and apparently the latter was the heir to Colin Godman and the other lands.

1597FreeholderRichard Awcock, of ChelworthColdgodmansBuckhurst Terrier
Richard Awcock of Chelworth holds by deed tenement and land called Coldgodmans, 80 acres
Rent 12s. 1d., 2 hens, 10 eggs, and two days' work in Harvest.

1597FreeholderRichard MichelborneCollin GodmansBuckhurst Terrier
Richard Michelborne, gent, in the right of his wife, holds by deed tenement and land called Collin Godmans, 30 acres
Rent 7s., 1 hen, 5 eggs, and one day's work in Harvest.

1607HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
In 1607, Richard Michelbourne of Broadhurst .. Left "Colin Godmans" and other lands in Fletching to his third son John

1617HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
Colin Godman is passed to John Bannaster

1621HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
We find it as "Colegodmans" when Thomas Awcock dies in 1621

1702HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
The family of Bannister is again connected with it [Colin Godman] in the Court Rolls of Sheffield Park in 1702. ..Within its pages are recorded from 1702 onwards, the changes that took place, and how after the death of James Bannister, the acres and house of Colin Godman passed apparently to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Peak Elphick, she being a customary-tenant

1717HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
Elizabeth's surrender of it [Colin Godman] took place apparently at her death in 1717, when all the land was taken over by Anthony Trumble, "the gent steward of the Manor of Sheffield".

1737HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
John Awcock, who dying on 1737, is reported to have held "Colegodman" freely of the lady of the manor, then, presumably, Ann Lady Bergavenny.

1756HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
On the death of Peak Elphick in 1756, Colin Godman passed to Thomas Geer

1776HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
Thomas Geer resigned it [Colin Godman] in 1776 to John Baker Holroyd

6th Jun 1841CensusRichard Smyth, M, Head, age 65 to 69, born Sussex; occupation FarmerRichard SmythCollingodmans1841 Census
Fletching, Sussex
6th Jun 1841CensusSarah Smyth, F, [Wife], age 50 to 54, born SussexSarah Smyth
6th Jun 1841CensusAlfred Smyth, M, [Son], age 20 to 24, born SussexAlfred Smyth
6th Jun 1841CensusHerbit Clarke, M, age 15 to 19, born Sussex, occupation: servantHerbit Clarke
6th Jun 1841CensusAnne Slacks, F, age 15 to 19, born Sussex; occupation ServantAnne Slacks

30th Mar 1851CensusHead; occupation: farm labourerSolomon Stapley, farm labourerCollingodmans1851 Census
Fletching, Sussex
30th Mar 1851CensusWifeCaroline Stapley
30th Mar 1851CensusSon; occupation: farm labourerWilliam Stapley
30th Mar 1851CensusSon; occupation: farm labourerJohn Stapley
30th Mar 1851CensusSonJames Stapley
30th Mar 1851CensusDaughter; occupation: scholarElisabeth Stapley
30th Mar 1851CensusDaughter; occupation: scholarEmily Stapley
30th Mar 1851CensusSon; occupation: scholarSamuel Stapley
30th Mar 1851CensusSonJoseph Stapley

1874Directory entryOsborn John George, farmer, Colin Godman's farmColin Godman's farmPost Office Directory

c 1875West of Nutley, Sussex - c 1875Part of the 6 inch to 1 mile map of Sussex produced in 1875 by Ordnance SurveyColin Godmans

3rd Apr 1881CensusHenry Martin, M, Head, married, age 54, born Fletching; occupation: farmerHenry Martin, farmerColinford Farm1881 Census
Fletching, Sussex
3rd Apr 1881CensusMary Martin, F, Wife, married, age 56, born FletchingMary Martin
3rd Apr 1881CensusBenjamin Martin, M, Grd Son, age 2, born FletchingBenjamin Martin

3rd Apr 1881CensusJohn G. Osborne, M, Head, married, age 44, born Maresfield, employs 2 men and 1 boy; occupation FarmerJohn George OsborneColin Godmans Farm1881 Census
Fletching, Sussex
3rd Apr 1881CensusMary A. Osborne, F, Wife, married, age 43, born ChaileyMary A. Osborne [Smith]
3rd Apr 1881CensusWilliam T. Osborne, M, Son, single, age 14, born ChaileyWilliam T. Osborne
3rd Apr 1881CensusCharlotte F. Osborne, F, Daughter, single, age 11, born Chailey; occupation ScholarCharlotte F. Osborne
3rd Apr 1881CensusHarry F. Osborne, M, Son, single, age 4, born Chailey; occupation ScholarHarry F. Osborne
3rd Apr 1881CensusMary Smith, F, Mother In Law, widowed, age 76, born Brenchly; occupation AnnuitantMary Smith
3rd Apr 1881CensusThomas C. Hoadley, M, Servant, single, age 16, born Ticehurst; occupation: farm servantThomas C. Hoadley

1882Directory entryOsborn John George, farmer, Colin Godman's farmColin Godman's farmKelly's Directory

1910Colin GodmansColin Godmans photographed by F. W. Spry, LittlehamptonPrivate collection

1925HistoryColin Godmans FarmWolseley's Manor Houses
Doctor Thomas Martindale the present [1925] of this interesting house

1925Colin GodmanColin Godman, Ashdown ForestWolseley's Manor Houses

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