By Charles Cooper
During this fantastically crafted historical past, Charles Cooper explores the improvement of the industry city Kingston-near-Lewes, from the time of the Norman conquest to the tip of the 19th century, reading how its medieval prior formed the borders and limits of its current.
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Additional resources for A Village in Sussex: The History of Kingston-Near-Lewes
They held part of their lands directly as their own: their ‘demesnes’, whose product was at the lord’s command. A second part was held by unfree people in return for rents in money and, more importantly in the feudal period, for direct labour services. These were villeins, like the villeins who held Kingston yardlands. The lords controlled their comings and goings, their marriages and their careers, and exacted payments when they died before passing rights to their land to their successors. A third part of the manorial lands was held ‘freely’ – that is in return for rents or military obligations perhaps, but without obligations on the holder to provide work for the lord’s demesnes.
This, incidentally, would make it look much more like the open field village of history textbooks. But the Latchetts and the Hams are comparatively small areas. They amount to no more than 10 per cent of the total arable in 1773. If they and the post-1567 assarts are left out, it would mean that the Conquest open fields were about 80 per cent of the area of the 1773 fields, not a great deal of change in 700, or nearly 800 years, for the lands Marchant drew in 1773 were substantially unchanged in 1831 when the village was at last enclosed.
However, both were small – Kingston held yardlands, substantially less than half the Swanborough holding, and Hyde held only nine yards. And both are remarkable in another aspect: they are comparatively very short of customary lands. Hyde Manor, in fact, consisted simply of demesnes (at least in Kingston – it may be that there were some very few Hyde customary lands in the area between Barcombe and Chailey to the north). Kingston had 12 yardlands in demesnes and only three copyhold yards in addition to them.