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Research by Ann Voller
The old Bexhill parish contained just under 8,000 acres and the main industry was farming, as with most rural areas. This is a vast subject and much information is available at the East Sussex Record Office in Lewes. We do get a good view of the situation from looking at the Tithe Map of 1839, so we will take a look at the middle 19th century.
There were a great many farms, some were large, covering many acres, especially on the far west side of the parish where the land is mainly marsh, and others were very small containing no more than 5 or 6 acres.
These farms were mainly mixed, others such as Pebsham and Glyne Manor were known for their dairy herds.
Hops were also grown, but on a very small scale. Out of the 8000 acres there were only 67 acres of hops. Most of the oast houses have now gone, but one or,two remain, either converted into dwellings or derelict.
The Tithe Map
Originally, Tithes, (meaning tenths) were paid in kind (crops, milk etc), comprising a tenth of the yearly produce from farming and cultivation, and made by parishioners for the support of their parish church and its clergy. By 1836 the government had decided to substitute money payments for payments in kind.
Each parish had a map drawn covering the whole parish and showing all fields, woods, waterways and buildings. This map was sometimes coloured; the buildings coloured red were residential and the ones coloured grey were non-residential, such as farm buildings, stables etc. each plot had a number.
A schedule or apportionment went with this map listing the following information against each plot number. It was listed alphabetically in landowner order and not numerically in plot number order.
Landowner, Occupier, Plot Number, Description (i.e. whether a cottage and garden or if a field, the field name); Type of cultivation, acreage and Tithe payable.
These maps and schedules give the local and family historian valuable information on the layout of the parishes and the people who lived and worked there at that time.
The Tithe Map for the Bexhill parish was drawn by John Adams of Hawkhurst in 1839 and the Tithe Schedule was made in 1843.
List of farms growing hops in the mid-19th century
|Barnhorn Hill||Rev William Gordon||Thomas Christmas||7 acres|
|Ingrams||Sarah Lushington||George Thomas||4 acres|
|Actons||Sarah Lushington||George Thomas||3 1/2 acres|
|Buckholt||Sir P. Ackland||Walter Duke||15 acres|
|Turkey Road||Sir P. Ackland||James Spray||2 acres|
|Little Worsham||Messrs Moorman||James Russell||1 1/2 acres|
|Pebsham||John C. Pelham||John Barton||10 1/2 acres|
|Upper Worsham||John C. Pelham||John Barton||10 acres|
|Freezeland||Mary Hammond Snr||Mary Hammond Jr||5 acres|
|nr Watermill Lane||Fred. Wren||Himself /td>||9 acres|
The above acreages are rounded off for ease of printing. The exact figure in all is 67 acres 0 roods 5 perches, which in today’s measurements is approximately 27 hectares.
The break-down of acreages for the whole parish
|Total area subject to tithes||7,201||2||33|
|Meadow or Pasture||3,069||0||35|
|Roads and unenclosed waste without the Down||117||1||2|
In addition an extraordinary charge was made upon Hop Grounds of ten shillings per Imperial acre , and in proportion for acres less than one acre.
The Friesian Herd
The Friesian Herd was begun in Holland and they were recognised as the premier milk animal. They were first introduced into this country in 1884 at Liskeard in Cornwall. There was an established herd of Friesians at Pebsham Farm before the end of the last century. The owner and breeder was Mr Henry Pye Ratcliffe. This herd along with Mr Albert Parks herd at Sidley was among the first in this part of Sussex. Mr Ratcliffe was one of the founder members of the British Friesian Cattle Society, now the Holstein and Friesian Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Mr Ratcliffe was instrumental in compiling the first Herd Book.