The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Gills Lap    Ashdown Forest    

Books and other documents
PublishedTitle, author and references
1902Historical Notes of Withyham, Hartfield and Ashdown Forest by C. N. Suttonp. 376
1927The Sussex Highlands ⇒ p. 26

Historical records

c 1875Gills Lap, Newbridge & Chuck Hatch, South West of Hartfield - c 1875Part of the 6 inch to 1 mile map of Sussex produced in 1875 by Ordnance SurveyGills Lap

1890HistoryGill's LapFirmin's Guide

We will next pay a visit to Gill's Lap, where is a clump of fir trees frequently resorted to by picnic parties during the summer, though the view from it is not equal to what may be seen from other parts of the forest. Its notoriety, as the spot upon which a murder was committed more than 100 years ago, is, perhaps, the attraction.

In a tale entitled Gill's Lap is given an in-teresting account of the trial of a youth for this murder. The strong circumstantial evidence produced and the providential rescue of the accused from the sentence of death by the timely, though unexpected, appearance of a favourable witness, are dramatically related.

The shortest route is through the Warren, but we will go by the public road.

Our way is over the Beacon Hill and across the Common, following the road past the Crow and Gate Inn, which is incidentally mentioned in the tale of Gill's Lap. A little way beyond this inn the pedestrian may cut short the distance by going over the forest-waste to the Duddleswell Road, but our course is by the carriageway road. We soon come to a part of the road which is sheltered by the trees growing on both sides of it. The branches almost meeting overhead form a canopy, giving the roadway the appearance of an avenue. On the left we pass Heron's Ghyll, the residence of the late Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, and then a Roman Catholic chapel. Further on, a road turns sharply to the right; this leads us down a rather steep descent to Old Land, where years ago a Roman settlement was discovered, and where ironworks were carried on. Beyond this we reach the little hamlet of Fairwarp, and are soon in the Duddleswell Road. Turning up this road to the right we ascend for a considerable distance until we arrive at a signpost which points to Hartfield; we take this road on the left, and some little way beyond will be seen a circular clump of fir trees above the road. This is the spot known as Gill's Lap.

We may continue on to Hartfield, and through Withyham and Lye Green back to the Cross. But this is a long way round. So retracing our steps as far as the Duddleswell Road we will turn to the left and proceed on as far as Greenwood Gate on the right This is one of the entrances to the Warren, but on payment of 1s. for the carriage to pass through the gate we may have a delightful drive through this estate, and descending into the valley and up the opposite hill will arrive at the Beacon Road again. If we have no desire to pass through the Warren we can continue on the Duddleswell Road, over Church Hill, and by Mardens Hill to Crowborough town, and thence to the Cross.

c 1899Gills Lap and Wrens Warren, Sussex - c 1899Part of the 6 inch to 1 mile map of Sussex produced in 1899 by Ordnance SurveyGills Lap

1904ReflectionsGill's LapHighways & Byways

Between Withyham and Hartfield in the north, and Crowborough Beacon and Wytch Cross in the south, is some of the finest open country in Sussex, where one may walk for hours and meet no human creature. Here are silent desolate woods - the Five Hundred Acre Wood, under Crowborough, chief of them - and vast wastes of undulating heath, rising here and there to great heights crowned with fir trees, as at Gill's Lap. A few enclosed estates interrupt the forest's open freedom, but nothing can tame it. Sombre dark heather gives the prevailing note, but between Old Lodge and Pippinford Park I once came upon a green and luxuriant valley that would not have been out of place in Tyrol; while there is a field near Chuck Hatch where in April one may see more dancing daffodils than ever Wordsworth did.

c 1920Newbridge Mill, Colemans Hatch and Gills LapNewbridge Mill, Colemans Hatch and Gills Lap, Ashdown Forest photographed by Francis FrithGills LapPrivate collection

1924Gill's LapGill's Lap, Ashdown ForestPrivate collection

c 1925Gills LapGills Lap, Ashdown ForestPrivate collection

1927The Roundel of Firs at Gills LapThe Roundel of Firs at Gills Lap, Ashdown Forest photographed by A.H. StickellsAmbrose Henry Bensley StickellsThe Sussex Highlands

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