The early history
Built in 1634, tradition has it that Bateman’s was first owned by a Wealden ironmaster. There were several forges in the area, supplied by iron found in thick clots embedded in the local sandstone, so it is completely plausible. Kipling certainly believed and was inspired by the idea.
The Wealden iron industry
- 500 BC - Iron was worked in Sussex from pre-Roman times
- 450 - 1250 There is a gap in the records of Sussex iron
- 1235 - The Sheriff of Sussex required to supply 30,000 horseshoes
- 1400s - Blast furnaces, producing cast iron, in France and Germany
- 1500s - Blast furnaces were introduced to England
- 1543 - The first cannon was cast in Buxted
- 1548 - About 50 ironworks in Sussex were listed at this time
- 1700 - 1800 Sussex iron industry was declining
- 1810 - The last Sussex iron was ‘cooked’ at Ashburnham
'A good and peaceable place'
Rudyard Kipling could see beyond the shabby farmhouse that Bateman's had become: its history never ceased to inspire him throughout the 34 years he lived here.
'Behold us,' he wote in November 1902, 'lawful owners of a grey stone, lichened house - A.D.1634 over the door - beamed, panelled, with old oak staircase and all untouched and unfaked.'