The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex

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The Ashdown Forest Dispute 1876-1882
by Professor Brian Short
published by Sussex Record Society in 1997
Excerpts from this work have been reproduced on this site with the kind permission of Professor Brian Short

Related document
William Augustus Raper
Thomas Osborn

Osborn, Thomas. 56. Born on Clapwater Farm, Fletching. My grandfather used Woodcock Farm under Sir Thomas Wilson and when I first remember he used to turn his stock from Woodcock on to the Forest and used regularly to have litter and turn from the Forest. I used to go out with the teams on to the Forest for a ride when I was a child and when I was big enough I went as carter boy and afterwards as mate with my grandfather Osborn's horses.

My grandfather died at Woodcocks when I was 19 and the following summer I went to work for old Mr. Harry Card at Fords Green on a farm of about 30 acres which he owns. I was 6 months with him and then I went to live at Alchorn's Farm, about 60 acres, in Fletching and Maresfield (Shelley property) which my maternal grandfather Gibbons and afterwards my Father and afterwards my uncle George Horn farmed and I remained there till 23 years ago when I took Whitehouse Farm at Duddleswell belonging to Lady Shelley which I farmed 9 years. Then I took Fairwarp Farm for 14 years till last Michaelmas when I removed back to Whitehouse Farm. After my grandfather Osborn died Sir Thomas Wilson and after him Sir Spencer have used Woodcocks Farm themselves.

I remember Alchorn's Farm as long as I can remember anything and I used to go to and fro before I went to live there. I know that from my earliest recollection down to the time I came to Whitehouse they always had litter and turf for fuel there without interruption. Alchorn's house and buildings have since been pulled down and the farm added to Hole Farm.

My grandfather Osborn now dead used to tell me that he lived with his father at Courtlands Farm in Maresfield and Fletching and that ever since he could remember they used to have litter and turf for fuel from the Forest. I know of my own knowledge that while I was living at Woodcocks they had litter at Courtlands Farm.

Blackvenn Farm adjoins Woodcocks and when I lived at Woodcocks I knew old Mr. Verrall's men used to carry litter past every year. While at Whitehouse Farm I always had litter and turf for fuel every year and the same while I was at Fairwarp Farm, except that this last summer was so wet we were not able to dry any turf .

I never heard of any disturbance about litter or turf cutting till this Lord De La Warr's time.

[Osborn's evidence from Notebook 5 is inserted here to bring both statements together. It should be noted, however, that three years separate the two statements.]

Thomas Osborn aged 53 farms Fairwarp Farm in Maresfield containing about 30 acres for 11 years. Before that farmed Whitehouse about 33 acres under Lady Shelley for 9 years. Owns house and 4 acres at Duddleswell, copyhold of Duddleswell Manor, quarterly rent 6d., and bought it about 18 months ago. Never had any stone off the Forest. Always understood that the Lord of the manor was entitled to charge 6d. a load for stone etc., off the Forest. Has had turf and litter for all 3 places without paying anything. Has never had any gravel, marl or wood.

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