By Charles Cooper
During this fantastically crafted historical past, Charles Cooper explores the advance of the industry city Kingston-near-Lewes, from the time of the Norman conquest to the tip of the 19th century, analyzing how its medieval prior formed the borders and bounds of its current.
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Extra info for A Village in Sussex: The History of Kingston-Near-Lewes
The enclosures are clearest at the western end, particularly in the Great and little Barley Crofts (marked ‘d’ and ‘c’ by Marchant). These crofts project into the open fields that flanked the village and suggest strongly that there had been exchanges of strip lands between earlier holders and considerable reorganization of lands at some past time. When? It is not possible to say. It may have happened in the earlier Tudor years – but that can only be a guess. There are other places too where enclosure and consolidation of strips appear to have happened: around Kingston Manor house for example, or at the other end of the street on the corners where it joins the way that leads in one direction to Ashcombe and in the other to Well Green.
The Saxon social distinctions on which the Normans built the system were by all accounts less clearly structured. It is true that the Domesday Book classifies people in the simple feudal hierarchy, but then Domesday is in a sense the first (of many) documents we have from the civil service (some would say still the most useful), and civil servants prefer things to be tidy. Whether or not Norman manors conformed to this pattern, it is plain that they changed radically with the times. The changes are part of Kingston’s story, but their broad outlines are easy to sketch.
Why then, if villagers were competent to run their land should lords on more distant demesnes bother too much? The villeins who did homage at Swanborough or Iford Manor courts may have seen them as important places OPEN FIELDS AND MANORS 39 for ordering village affairs, but the lords of those manors probably cared more for rents and labour supply than about the mundane affairs of the village. For the lords of Hyde Manor and Kingston (who probably was the dominant partner), the story was different.
A Village in Sussex: The History of Kingston-Near-Lewes by Charles Cooper