Location: Hartfield Church
Grid Reference: TQ478357(OS Map)
OS Map: Explorer 18
Distance: 8 miles
Time: 5 hours
Information Available: Wealden District Council
Directions/Transport: 1. For the area by the church, the Buckhurst Terrier gives the following entry: "the heirs of John Charlwood hold by deed a parcel of ground adjoining Hartfeild Churchyard. Rent 2s 1d". The route leaves the churchyard past this plot and through a most unusual gate formed by part of Lych Gate Cottage which dates back to 1520.
2. "But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his bear will always be playing" wrote A A Milne the author of the "Winnie the Pooh" books. He lived at nearby Cotchford Farm, south of the village and close to a shorter walk from Hartfield leading to "Pooh Sticks" bridge.
3. On the opposite side of the river is Hodore Farm where "Simon Wright alias Bowyer holds by deed lands called Howdore 150 acres". The Terrier does not explain why he needed an alias.
4. Lower Parrock was the site of an ironworks and remains of the bank which dammed the Medway to form a hammer pond can still be seen. The works opened in 1513, possibly operated by immigrant French workers brining new skills to the industry (even though the cannon produced were used in wars against France). Plagued by disputes between owners and lessees the works had gone by 1600.
5. On the left is the half-timbered Chartners Farm. In 1598 this was a major estate. "Edmund Herds, yeoman, holds messuage (house) and lands called Chartnes als Charknes and all that site and demeane (manor farmed) lands of the manor of Colbins. Rent £46 18s and 8 fat capons (castrated cocks) alive 1st October". Apart from the considerable rent, the survival of the medieval custom of payment of chickens in kind is rare by this late a date.
6. Behind the former station are the slight remains of a Norman castle, a motte (earth mound) and bailey (surrounding yard) structure. Placed to guard the crossing of the Medway, it seems to have quickly fallen out of use. By the time of the Terrier: "Thos Woodgate, gent, holds one piece of meadow called The Neck of Castle field 2 ac, rent 16s".
7. Just after the Terrier was written, Queen Elizabeth presented the patronage of Withyham church to Lord Buckhurst. However he didn't have long to enjoy it since in 1663 the church was hit by lightning. The resultant fire destroyed the building and was so fierce that the bells melted. However, the church was rebuilt with a new family vault, including a monument to Buckhurst's son Thomas who died before his father in 1675, aged 13, and is shown reclining on a slab contemplating his own skull in his hand.
8. Today the home of Lord Buckhurst is a ruin with only a single tower surviving. Once it was the "scite, capital mansion and mannor house called Buckhurst being within the park called Great Parck of Buckhurst containing 1150 acres by estimacion". The route now returns to Hartfield across part of the "Great Parck", the banks of which still stand several feet high in places.
Bus Information: 291, hourly service, Mon-Sat, between Crawley and Tunbridge Wells via Hartfield. 265, daily bus, Mon-Fri, from Crowborough to Hartfield. No service Sunday. Phone traveline for info
Car Park Information: Street parking in Hartfield
Waymarking: Plastic Wealden Walks waymarking disc
Services: Pubs at Hartfield and Withyham, tea rooms at Hartfield, village shop at Hartfield
Download: The Buckhurst Terrier (272.11 kB)