History of the Green

 

Recorded ownership of the fields that are now the Millennium Green start with Duke Bertoald, Chieftain of the South Saxons. He granted the fields to monks of St Denys in gratitude for restored health when he founded St Denys Church c. 792 AD.Image courtesy of St Denys Church

Water would have been essential to the small settlement of Rotherfield and the Millennium Green fields, with their numerous springs, must have been important to the community.

Despite the grant to the monks, ownership of the fields remained with Duke Bertoald, passing to his heirs, and eventually by descent to the Clares and Nevilles.

A 1597 map from Eridge Manor shows the fields as leased to farmers save for the central area, suggesting the use for water still remained.

In 1839 two of the fields (Lower Springfield and Springfield) were still owned by Earl Abergavenny, but the other two fields had been acquired by George Wickens, landlord of the George Inn. They were variously arable and meadow, although hops were grown further down the hill.

It seems that George Wickens’s fields passed to the Kings Arms Inn. In 1851 the innkeeper there was Edward Scott. The land that is now the Millennium Green became known as Scotts Farm.

By 1910 the western end of New Road had been laid. A number of the older houses had a sewerage system that emptied on to the lower fields of the Green.

Information on the supply of drinking water to Rotherfield is murky, as was probably the water. An attempt was made between 1896 and 1900 to create a well head to take water from the spring in Spring Field. The reservoir is still there. Water was to be pumped from that well head to a well next to the Kings Arms.

It seems that the spring did not meet standards, and eventually a better supply was brought in to the village from Maynards Gate.

The Abergavenny Estate sold their fields in 1937 to G H Kelsey Ltd. Part was sold on to Mrs Wallis of Scotts Farm in 1953, the rest being acquired by Whitbreads, who now owned the Kings Arms. The Wallis family had been in occupation of the whole since 1937.

The lowest fields (Upper and Lower Champs) were bought by J H and F W Green Ltd in 1964.

In 1999 the newly formed Rotherfield Millennium Green Trust purchased the fields that are now the Millennium Green, to be held in perpetuity for the use of the people of the Parish. Finance for the purchase was provided by a grant from the Millennium Commission, valuable assistance from Rotherfield Parish Council, and generous donations from local individuals, businesses and institutions.

(This summary is taken from a paper compiled by the late Ella Carr in 1999. For further details please contact the Secretary to the Trust, John Richardson at hiljohnric@me.com