By Charles Cooper
During this fantastically crafted heritage, Charles Cooper explores the advance of the industry city Kingston-near-Lewes, from the time of the Norman conquest to the top of the 19th century, analyzing how its medieval earlier formed the borders and limits of its current.
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Paperback variation 1994
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Extra resources for A Village in Sussex: The History of Kingston-Near-Lewes
This can be taken as a rough guide to the proportion of villein landholders in earlier times. If the demesne lands are left out of account 54 yardlands remain. Just 41 of these, over three-quarters of the village lands, were copyholds. And this is likely to be an underestimate of the villein proportion in the early medieval population of the village. In the first place, it is quite likely that some villein customary lands of earlier ages had been enfranchized as freeholds in the centuries intervening up till the Elizabethan time: and second, in earlier times 34 A VILLAGE IN SUSSEX it is likely that freeholdings in the village consisted generally of larger blocks of yardlands than individual villein holdings.
The same type of pulling together of yardlands may have produced the eighteenth-century Alfreye’s, though here the evidence is less clear. Title deeds of 1617 describe ‘Tenement and two yardlands with one mesneland once Budds; two tene35 ments with four yardlands once Richard Aboore, called Alfreys’. It is not clear whether the whole group of lands were called Alfreys at the time or whether the name applied only to the four-yardland group. Alfreys probably referred to the whole group and these were certainly the six 36 yardlands of 1700.
The Hyde survey shows that all the lands Dorset came to hold directly at some point towards the end of the sixteenth century had been 58 held by individual copyholders as late as 1567. In short, in earlier times Swanborough Manor had claimed lordship over a large amount of customary land (28 yardlands to be exact), and a large proportion of the customary lands in the village fields – so also the manor held sway over the majority by far of the Kingston villeins in an earlier age. It is notable that there were no Swanborough demesne lands in the Kingston open fields.