Saddlescombe farm 1600 - 1850
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The 16th century brought huge changes to England. Religious orders were disbanded and properties around the country were seized by Henry VIII. Saddlescombe wasn't immune and the Knights Hospitallers saw their 200 year tenure abruptly end in 1536. The next 300 years saw Saddlescombe change beyond recognition but what you can see today is a result of this evolution. Very few farmsteads on the South Downs have such a collection of ancient buildings and it's this that makes Saddlescombe so special.
The beginning of modern Saddlescombe:
Henry VIII gave Saddlescombe to one of his most trusted courtiers, Sir Anthony Browne of Cowdray at Midhurst and it remained in that family for the next 300 years. However, the owners never lived here and it was always leased to a tenant farmer.
The Browne family rebuilt the house circa 1600 and the earliest part of the present manor dates from that time - probably occupying the site of the previous medieval house. The farm's oldest surviving barn was also built then and the Well may have been in operation (it was reputedly dug by the Knights Templar).
50 years later, another wing was added to the house, enlarging and updating it. This wing is known as the Tudor Scullery.
The farm tenants at Saddlescombe
From the 1650s, the names of tenant farmers who actually lived here are known: William Wakeford, then John Friend, followed by Nicholas Friend in 1720. Mr Friend was sometimes mentioned in the diary of local farmer Stephen Marchant:
'1720 September 5th, A dry day. The boys harrow’d, rol’d and gather’d pares. I were at Shoreham market receiv’d 34s of Mr Friend for two bushels of clover seed. Call’d at Sadlescombe with Mr Friend there was Mr Turner and Mr Cockersum.'
Three generations of the Bine family (all named Stephen) held the Saddlescombe lease from the mid-1700s, and these tenant families can be identified in the records of Newtimber Church (the parish church for Saddlescombe) where the Bines' graves are still prominent in its churchyard.
Saddlescombe keeps on growing
A fashionable Georgian extension of the house was added during the Bines' tenancy, probably by 1780, completing the farmhouse you see today. Two more threshing barns, a wheelwright and possibly a blacksmith were in use by then too.
In 1825, the Browne descendants sold Saddlescombe to Lord Egremont of Petworth and the last Stephen Bine to hold the tenancy died in 1849.