Burstow Parish Council

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The History of the Parish of Burstow

About the Parish of Burstow

The Civil Parish of Burstow has a population of approximately 4472 souls and extends over an area of approximately 11 sq. km of green belt land. It is one of the southern parishes in Surrey, sharing a common boundary on its southern edge, with West Sussex, along with its neighbouring parishes of Felbridge, Horne, Outwood, Bletchingley and Horley. The largest settlement in the Parish is Smallfield which is 2.5 miles ENE of Gatwick Airport and the M23 motorway, and 2 miles east of Horley.

The History

Although neither Smallfield or Burstow appear in the Domesday Book, Burstow is known to be have been part of the Archbishop of Canterbury's manor of Wimbledon. The name appears in Wimbledon's records for 1093-96, Peter de Burstow held land for a knight’s fee or knights service, a type of feudal tenure which obliged him to provide military assistance to the Crown in return for holding land.

The first mention of Burstow Church is in a church record of 1121. The north and part of the west walls of the nave, the west half of the north wall of the chancel, are mainly approximately 1210 in architecture; however its listing gives its date as 12th century references, including Nikolaus Pevsner's ‘Buildings of England’.

John Flamsteed, first Astronomer Royal, appointed in 1675 by Charles II was Rector of Burstow from 1684 until his death in 1719. He is buried with his wife in the chancel. A star that commemorates him is in the large window above the altar. His accurate measurements of star positions and movements of the moon, made in the new Royal Observatory, Greenwich, contributed to making possible the safe navigation of shipping around the world.

The tower is a interesting piece of timber construction, 15th-century in date, the supporting beams and posts being "very massive" according to the topographer and historian Malden. All six bells in the tower were recast between 1899 and 1906, when they were inscribed with their dates and with the medieval inscriptions of the makers they replaced.

The land known as Smallfield came under the ‘Manor of Lodge’ of which a narrow belt of the small common field continued eastward to the boundary with Horne. The word 'small' is thought to have originated from ‘smael’ meaning narrow and open. There was no village of Smallfield until Victorian times. Maps before this time show commons interspersed with large houses such as Smallfield Place and Burstow Lodge as well as farms, such as Broadbridge and Bridgeham.

Smallfield Green covered 8 acres and Smallfield Common 317 acres. Weatherhill Common to the west covered 9 acres. Under the Enclosure Acts of 1855, the Green was awarded to the Parish to be used by the Guardians of the Poor. In part, this was to compensate villagers for their loss of rights to the use of the enclosed 'common'. Later it was let out to parishioners for various uses. The eastern section of the Green was sold to Surrey County Council in 1956 for Burstow Primary School. Aurora School now occupies the original state school building in Redehall Road, built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

The western section served for the 'needs of the poor', it was once the site of the dreaded workhouse. For many years it was allotment gardens until the building of Centenary Hall in 1995, formally opened by the now Dame Judy Dench and her late husband Michael Williams. Totally renovated in 2018 to include a new Parish Council office, standalone Gingerbread House Nursery School, meeting room, main Hall and Community Café and also Smallfield Doctors surgery. The common south of Plough Road, was absorbed by the neighbouring farms and to provide a recreation ground.

In the 1830’s Smallfield had its own smithy where horses were shod and other work was carried out in Weatherhill Road. In 1911 the entire parish was described by a topographer as "purely agricultural, with a few brickfields" — which was due to accessible underlying clay in parts of the parish. The village was not very compact; there were a few houses near the church, others spread to north or south or were a few scattered farms.

The Ebenezer Baptist Chapel, stands in Chapel Road, opened in 1851, now a veterinary surgery. Smallfield Evangelical Church, Redhall Road was built in 1890 as a missionary hall in memory of Mrs Jane Ann Tustin of Burstow Hall. The Church of England Church Hall or Rooms was completed in 1912. It is home to an active Sunday School and a for social events and community activities.

Smallfield Hospital was built early in World War II on land beside Broadbridge Lane for use by the Canadian Army to treat their wartime casualties and briefly served as a state-run satellite hospital to Redhill Hospital, now known the East Surrey Hospital. In 1962 it was used in filming a scene of The Password is Courage which starred. In its place is now the 'Canadian' housing estate: Toronto Drive, Ontario Drive and Alberta Drive are named for the many Canadians who used the hospital during the war.

Carey’s Copse was 15 acres of woodland, off Chapel Road which was felled to provide land for post war social housing. Woodside Grange and Woodside Crescent along Weatherhill Road to Broadbridge Lane, was developed in the 1950’s and backs Wheelers Lane.
Weatherhill Common has in the most part is now housing built in the 1970’s The Cravens, Charlotte Grove and in the 1980’s with the addition Hayes Walk. Meadow View off Plough Road was built in the 1990’s.

Burstow Lodge

Sanger's Circus had winter quarters for its animals at Burstow Lodge (at the northern end of Chapel Road) from the early 1900s until around 1940. They once performed before Queen Victoria’s and family. The Sanger family purchased Burstow Lodge in 1900. The site included a practice ring, sheds and barns for the animals and wagons, plus a large building known as the Elephant House, reported to be constructed from salvaged material from the old grandstand at Epson Racecourse. Being so high performances were held for local population during the winter months.

It has been recorded that the elephants were used for ploughing land in the area and were regularly walked through the village as far as the old School where children would to feed them.

With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, it became difficult to continue. Horley auctioneers, Baker & Baker auctioned off the animals, farming stock and equipment. Purchasers included Chipperfield’s, Tom Fossett’s, Belle Vue Manchester. Local Farmers bought the farming equipment which was in short supply. The head groom is said to have purchased the elephants and had his own winter quarters on land now Sangers Drive, Horley. He ran a circus under the name of Lord George Sanger, with whom Morecambe and Wise began their career.


Keeper's Corner

Keeper's Corner is the southerly part of the village. On the south side of the crossroads and opposite it are allotment gardens for the Parish. Keepers Cottage. Built circa 1700 with early 20th century extensions, the small house has lucarne windows and is part timber-frame on a plinth, late use timber frame design , often seen as this is part of the ‘Wealden’ region.

Shipley Bridge

Shipley Bridge forms the western border settlement of the village - A public house in Antlands Lane East forms a narrow main street between both sides of the small community, straddling the M23 motorway. A second residential road is on the Burstow side of the Horley parish border, Green Lane, which leads up to Mushroom Farm and the confluence already mentioned.

Smallfield Place

Smallfield Place once commanded an isolated position on the north eastern edge of Smallfield Common. It was the seat of the De Burstow family from the late twelfth century. During one of the battles of the fourteenth century wars with France, John de Burstow saved the life of Lord Burghersh when he was thrown from his horse. He was rewarded in about 1362 with a ‘small field’ which was originally spelt ‘smaelfeld’.

The present early Tudor stone house was built on the remains of an earlier house. This was possibly twelfth century, as a great post, running up through the centre of the present building, may be a king-post of that period. It may also be one of the rare examples of a standing oak tree being used as a foundation for a timber building. The house was probably extended in stages during the seventeenth century.

The date of 1661 could once be read on the door knocker. The arms of the Bysshe family may be seen in stone above the porch. Edward Bysshe, a great lawyer during the reign of James I was knighted in 1661 and carried out rebuilding work at this time. He also held the title of Garter King-of-Arms.
In the eighteenth century some of the buildings were pulled down and the remainder used as a farmhouse for the Rebow family. It continued as a farm until 1898, when it once again became a ‘gentleman’s residence’.

In 1929 Smallfield Place, with 13 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 38 acres was sold at auction for about £8,000. It had been advertised as having central heating and being ‘lighted by electricity generated by a natural oil engine’.

By the 1950s, the property had been divided into two; the eastern half retained the name of Smallfield Place and the western half reverted to the original name of Crullings.

The properties have changed hands several times over the last half century and once again form one house. It has been carefully restored inside and out by the present owners who have preserved many of the hidden details.

Redehall formerly spelt Redhall

John de Wysham's manor of Redehall consisted in 1332 of 1 messuage, 160 acres (65 ha) of land, 6 acres (2.4 ha) acres of meadow, and 22s. rent in Burstow known as the manor of Redhall near Burstow, which he held, jointly with Hawisia his wife, of John de Burstow, his son John was knighted and gave it to John Pecche, Alderman of London.

Redehall manor passed out of the hands of the Pecches and became the property of the Welles family. In 1650 it was Edward Payne the elder's and Hannah his wife's and it continued to be held by this family until the late 18th century. Thomas Holles Payne, by his will, proved in May 1800, devised the "manor of Redhall, including a capital messuage or mansion-house called Redhall, and a messuage called ‘’Cophall" to Sophia Elizabeth Beard. Although in 1911 the house was surrounded by a broad moat inclosing a considerable area of ground" a development of smaller houses has replaced it.

The War Years

At Keepers Corner a horse trough commemorates the horses that gave their lives during the Boar War.

There is no War Memorial either at the Church or in Smallfield Village. 100 men answered the call to arms during the first World War. A tablet in St Bartholomew’s Church records 21 men that lost their lives. On the 10th September 1914, King George V inspected troops at Shipley Bridge.
During the Second World War, women played their role, making parts for ‘Bren’ guns at the ‘Monotype Corporation’, Salfords. The Women’s Land Army, were billeted at Rede Hall. The Home Guard, Number 2 Platoon of the 7th Surrey Battalion ‘C’ Company (Horley) had their headquarters at the church hall.
A line of pillboxes forms a defence line locally and can still be seen running south east from the A23 Junction, Horley and Cross Oak Lane to Hathersham Farm then east across to Burstow Lodge and Horne. With walls up to a metre thick, strong attempts to clear them from the local fields have proved too costly.

In August 1941 a German Bf 110 crashed in Fishers Field between Redehall Road and Broadbridge Lane. The bodies of the crew were buried in the churchyard, then moved to the German military graveyard at Cannock Chase, Walsall.

In 1941 barrage balloons were erected to form an outer defence ring round London one over the current school playground and another near Ranelagh Cottages in Redehall Road.

A number of bombs landed in the Parish. One landed at the St Bartholomew’s Church, luckily failing to detonate. Others fell at the junction of Broadbridge Lane near Rede Hall, stick bombs hitting New Road, demolishing one home and badly damaging others. No one was killed.

Cllr Debbie Hale
Originally written to support the BPC Neighbourhood Plan


Historic England 2018
Tandridge District Council
Wikipedia Burstow
Veronica Ballard – Snapshots of Smallfield, Smallfield Past and Present (Horley Local History Society)

To view a longer version please click below:

Parish History (Long version)