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
Noah Birley

Birley, Noah. About 60. Living at Marshalls Farm, Maresfield. Stockman. I was born on a little property adjoining Ashdown Forest and Homey Common opposite Old Forge, containing altogether about 30 acres. The Nutley and Maresfield turnpike now cuts it in two. I lived there with my Father till I was married 30 years ago and then I lived at Old Forge adjoining till 18 years ago, when I moved to Lampool close by for 4 years and then to Marshalls where I have lived for the last 14 years.

My Father lived on the place and used it till his death some years. I married and then the old house was pulled down. My Father used to tell me that he had lived on the place and used it ever since he was married. There were 5 children older than I am so that he must have had the place more than 65 years ago. My Father used to tell me that he had had litter and turf for fuel and had turned out his stock from the time he first went there. I lived with him till I was 30, except 3 or 4 years when I was apprenticed to Langridge the blacksmith at Colemans Hatch. I was over 20 when there. As soon as I was big enough I used to go out with my Father on the Forest and help turn the turf and rake up the litter he cut and when I grew older I cut turf and litter myself. I know my Father had litter and turf off the Forest and turned out from the time I can first recollect anything till his death.

My Father owned a little freehold portion of the land which he sold in his lifetime to Sir John Shelley who owned the rest and when he died the house was pulled down and the land laid on to Marshalls. Sir John used Marshalls about 10 years and then let the whole to Mr. Ford, who was succeeded by Mr. Ray, the present tenant, about 14 years ago. I do not know whether Sir John or Mr. Ford had litter. Mr. Ray has had litter off the Forest to my knowledge.

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