The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex

The Ashdown Forest Dispute 1876-1882
by Professor Brian Short
published by Sussex Record Society in 1997
Excerpts from this work have been reproduced on this site with the kind permission of Professor Brian Short

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William Augustus Raper
Charles Tester

Tester, Charles. 68. Laborer working for Mr. Nesbitt. Born at Duddleswell 21 December 1811. Father Charles Tester was a laborer. I have lived in this part [of] the Forest all my life. My Father (now dead) used to cut litter every winter and dig stone and gravel for anyone who wanted them. When I was about 9 or 10 years old I used to go out with my Father on the Forest and take up the litter as he cut it. When I was bigger I used to cut myself. When I was a boy John Page owned and occupied a small farm close by (Summerford Farm). When John died he was succeeded by his son Thomas Page and on his death Tutor hired Cop Hall and used it till about 2 years ago when Page's daughter Mrs Pilbeam came to it. When Edward Page died his widow and sons used it till her death a year or two ago since which Norman hired it one year and Mrs Page's sons now use it.

My Father and I cut regularly for John Page and Thomas Page till the latter died at Cophall and for Edward Page and his widow at Summerford, from my earliest recollection. I know Tutor always had litter I used to see him carrying it and saw large stacks of it in the yard. They have always had litter down to the last year or so to my knowledge.

My Father cut turf regularly for John, Thomas and Edward Page up to their deaths. I have seen turf taken in to both farms at different times since.

We used to cut as much as 10 load of litter a year for Thomas Patching near Groombridge (he had no rights). And we cut for Abraham Hall near Withyham, Thomas Hall near Groombridge and Obediah Hall near there (all tenants of Lord De La Warr) and for Peter Avis near the Halls (also a tenant of my Lord's). These we cut large quantities for.

I have cut litter at various times during my life for Oldlands and my father before me. The last time I cut for Oldlands was for John Minns either 9 or 10 years ago and all my life I recollect seeing litter going in to Oldlands from time to time.

The first tenant of Puxty Farm that I remember was Mr. Humphrey. I recollect he used to have litter and peat. My Father cut and dug there and I helped load them on his wagon. That was when I was quite a young man and must have been over 50 years ago.

I know Pickfords Farm joining Ashdown and belonging to Colonel Harcourt. The first tenant I remember was Wildish (dead). (I believe his father used it before him.) Whitewood now uses it. My Father and I used to cut litter and turf for Wildish up to his death.

I remember my Father used to cut litter for Gilbert at Claygates. I remember the Forest used to be driven. Edward Page of Summerford and other farmers used to drive - not my Lord.

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