Chamber Mead

called Charman Mead, 1577,
Cherlemannesmede common, 1408,
and Cherlmannemade in 1263 (Meadow of the ceorl man or ceorlmen).

Chamber Mead
Chamber Mead
Image Courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2011

As indicated by the heading to this article, the land under consideration has been known by a number of names over the years. One first needs to explain that 'Ceorl' from Old English and 'Churl' in Middle English came to mean a Medieval English peasant. The Place Names of Surrey, 1934, suggests the Ewell common called Cherlemannesmede in 1408 was a 'Meadow of the ceorlman or ceorlmen,' comparing it with Cherle - manemede of 14th century St Thomas, in Lambeth.

The laws of King Ine or Ina of Wessex [Link to Wikipedia], which were drawn up between 688 and July 693, survived as a copy attached to regulations implemented by King Alfred. Their terms have been considered in Reeves' History of the English law, published in 1869. Ina's legal code contained a number of provisions
"relating to 'ceorls' (pronounced 'churls') or husbandmen, whom the Latin version calls 'coloni', and who are throughout distinguished from 'theows' or slaves, who held no property and could pay no penalty, and as to whom it had been provided that if they ran away they should be hanged (Ina, 24). These 'ceorls' then, were the 'coloni' of the Roman-British period; and the villains or villeins of later times, the originals of our modern copyholders. They held tenements on servile tenure, afterwards secured by custom, the tenure being that of rendering services in the way of agricultural labour or supplies...
The ceorls evidently belonged to manors, and held pasture land of the manor in common, as copyholders do still. 'If ceorls have a common meadow, or other partible land to fence, and some have fenced their part, some have not, and cattle come in, and eat up their common corn or grass, let those who own the gap compensate the others who have fenced their part, the damage which then may be done...'" [Ina 42]
In addition to such enclosed areas of grass (a 'gaers tun', intended for hay, winter fodder,) or apportioned 'gedal maedu' (arable share-land often lying on a riverside), enjoyed in common, ceorls might also hold a self-contained individual farm called a 'worth'.

It would seem, therefore, that Cherlesmannesmede could have represented a land division dating from Anglo Saxon times associated with a homestead which became known as The Worth Court.

Ewell was held by King Edward the Confessor on his death, 5 January 1066 and remained a royal manor until granted to Merton Priory in 1121.

Feet of Fines arising from the Surrey Eyre of 1263 in Surrey Record Society Vol. 40 (2006) include:-
"Final concord made on 27 January 1263 at Guildford between Eustace prior of Merton [1249 -1262], plaintiff by his attorney Richard de Heyford, and Philip le Juvene of Ewell, deforciant, about a road which the prior claimed within Philip's capital messuage in Ewell, and about common pasture rights in Westfield also claimed by the prior. The prior has surrendered and quitclaimed for himself and the priory all claim on both. For the future Philip will be able to enclose and profit from Westfield without impediment from the prior. If the beasts of the prior or his men trespass on Philip's field or cause it damage, they will be driven out rather than impounded, and compensation will be made for the damage. In return for this, Philip agreed that the prior should be free to drive his beasts alongside Philip's mill to reach the Kingston-Reigate road and a pasture called Cherlmannemade. Also Philip paid the prior 40s."
The Register or Memorial of Ewell (1408) recorded in terms: - "And next to the close called Fitzneel is a croft enclosed of the fee Waleton [Wallington], which Thomas Hayton holds next to the king's highway by which the tenants of the Lord Prior have to go to the Common called Cherlemannes mede."[Fitznell's Cartulary contains a similar reference to 'the common path' in Wallington Fee Terrier Deed 474 on page 64. Thomas Hayton appears in a list of the tenants of the Manor of Ewell occupying "a free tenement called Botayles fee" (held of the Lord Prior [of Merton]), otherwise Bataille's manor house]. On the conjectural map of medieval Ewell drawn during 1913 by the late Margaret Glyn, the Prior's 'mede' is shown on one bank of the Hogsmill river with Kingsmead, in demesne land of The Worth Court (Ewell's manor house on elevated ground overlooking the water-meadows), on the other. Later maps indicate the stream to be fordable at this point.

Plan of the Parish of Ewell, Surrey as in 1408
Plan of the Parish of Ewell, Surrey as in 1408 - Click to enlarge
This plan was drawn by Margaret Glyn and can be found in the
'Register or memorial of Ewell, Surrey' (1913) by Cecil Deedes.

A document in Westminster Abbey Muniments from the time of Henry VII (1485 - 1507) - www.mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk/doc_library/WAM1912_Ewell.pdf - refers to property held "...iuxta viam regiam que ducit de Ewell versus Communiam prioris de Merton in Ewell..." [next to the king's highway which leads from Ewell to the Common of the Prior of Merton in Ewell].

In 1538, on dissolution of the monasteries, Merton Abbey was surrendered to the Crown. The manor of Ewell then remained in royal hands until 1563 when Queen Elizabeth sold it to Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel.

Thomas Taylors Survey [SHC: 2238/10/158]
"of all the Hereditamentes whatsoever of Ewell as being parte holden of the Lordship of Ewell with the particular bounders of the same takeyn September and October 1577 and in the of our Souereigne Lady Elizabeth by grace of god Quene of England Fraunce and Ireland Defender of the faithe etc." recorded that "The Churchwardens of Ewell holde to thuse of the parishe the Common meade called Charman meade divided in twoo partes abutting upon the Ryver of Ewell of thest and North partes and upon the said Northcroftes last specified of the south parte with a pece of waste ground at the southend of the said meade which is used as there Waye to the said meade. The first crops of which meade the said Churchwardens after tymes lett and take the proffites thereof to thuse of the Churche and afterwards the same is used as common grounde for the said parisshoners conteyning by estimacion vj acres di."
Evidently the meadow had been acquired by the Parish of St Mary, Ewell, (presumably from the Earl of Arundel as lord of the manor) after the assets of Merton Priory were dispersed, and by the 16th century its name had become corrupted.

In the 18th century this land held for charitable purposes is mentioned frequently in minutes of St Mary's Vestry meetings, for example: -
"At a Vestry held at the Parish Church of Ewell on Easter Monday the 12th Day of April 1773 it is hereby agreed by and between Mr. Wm. Jubb and the Inhabitants of the said Parish to Lett unto Mr. Wm. Jubb that Parcel of Ground commonly called Charman Mead for the Term of Twenty One years from the Date hereof at the Yearly Rent of Eleven Pounds Five Shillings."
Within the next 25 years, the field name became corrupted for a second time to the version which survives to the present day - Chamber Mead
"At a Vestry held in the Parish Church of Ewell on Easter Monday, April 17th 1797 Chamber Mead was let to Mr. Wm. Broadbent for the sum of thirty seven Pounds Per Year being the highest bidder for the term of fourteen years from Lady Day Last....It was likewise then determined that the Road to Chamber Mead leads through Wm. Martin's farm entering in between the house occupied by James Hill & Mr. Martins barn proceeding in the lane as far as Norcroft Stile and from thence into Hill Field - the road to turn short to the right keeping under the east hedge to the nearest part of Chamber Mead. The road to be fenced off at the expense of the parish fifteen feet wide including hedge and ditch..."
"At a Vestry held in the Parish Church of Ewell November the 28th 1810 Chamber Mead was let to Mr. William Cawthorn for the sum of Sixty Eight Pounds Per Annum (being the highest Bidder) for the term of fourteen years ... At the same Vestry it was perfectly understood by the Gentlemen present that the Road leading to Chamber Mead through Hillfield meadow occupied by Mr. Stephen Martin shall be fenced of 15 feet wide including Hedge and Ditch at the Expense of the Parish whenever the said Mr. Martin or his Landlord (Mr. Calverly) requests it to be done."
"Ewell, Friday Sept. 22 1826. At the annual Vestry held this day... the parish officers ... were directed to pay Mr. Charles Hall half the expense of making the projected improvement in draining Chamber Mead. The whole expense is estimated not to exceed twelve pounds."
"Ewell. December 9. 1851 At a Vestry held this day. Sir J.R. Reid Bart in the Chair. To take into consideration a letter received by the Parish Officers from Mr. Hall, complaining that Mr. Gardener had encroached upon the Watercourse in Chamber Mead & refusing to pay Rent for the same until reopened...In reference to the Minutes of Vestry of Decr. 9th Mr. Gadesden reported that he had devoted much time to an endeavour to remove the difficulty created by Mr. Gardener having laid a quantity of chalk in the ditch dividing the Parish meadow called "Chamber Mead" from Sir H. Bridges land but without success, Mr. Gardener refusing to remove the injury complained of by Mr. Hall."
"Ewell April 27th 1854 At a Vestry held this day The Revd. Sir G L Glyn Bart Vicar in the Chair. ...And to lay before the Vestry the report of the Surveyors appointed to value the Land belonging to this Parish, and to arrange about letting the same as per resolution Vestry 23 March last. And to determine upon what steps should be taken in reference to the stopping up the water course in Chamber Mead....[Later] resolved that a Committee be appointed to arrange with Sir H. Bridges the terms on which the question in dispute between the Parish and himself may be referred to arbitration and that such terms of arrangement be submitted to some future Vestry for approval before acting thereon, consisting of Sir J. Reid, Bart. Jas Gadesden Esq & J S Blake Esq. [And]That this Vestry taking into consideration the continuous damage resulting to Chamber Mead by the closing of the water course by the order of Sir H. Bridges and in order to avoid such injury without prejudice to the question in dispute. The Parish Officers be authorised and directed to reopen the same."
After much debate, "Resolved that the Parish Officers have no instructions from this Vestry to defend an action of Law from Sir Hy. Bridges' Solr. respecting Chamber Mead."
"Ewell 8 April 1858 At a Vestry held this day, the Rev Sir G.L. Glyn Bart. Vicar in the Chair. Resolved that the Parish Solrs: Mess. Everest & Co. be employed to reply to Mr Lewins letter dated April 7 in reference to a Minute of Vestry of April 1st & that Mess. Everest & Co. be desired to protect the Interests of the Parish in claiming a road to the Parish Property Chamber Mead over the Wimbledon & Epsom Railway for Carriages & Horses and a bridge for foot passengers for the Footpath leading to the marsh."
A level-crossing of the railway line appeared on the first edition OS Map connecting to Chamber Mead and the Hogsmill ford by a zigzag track.

Extract From OS Map c1860s - click image to enlarge
Extract From OS Map c1860s - click image to enlarge
Garbrand Hall and Fitznells names were transposed on this map

In A Short History of Ewell and Nonsuch, Cloudesley S Willis observed: -
"By the side of the barn [since demolished, which stood in the yard of Fitznells manor house] runs the road crossing the railway to Chamber Mead. It was called Northcroft Lane, and in the survey of 1408 it was noted as 'the king's highway by which the tenants of the Lord Prior have to go to the Common called Cherlemannes mede.'... Mr Picknell, senior, drove over this road every year to preserve the right of way - 'to keep up the old charter', was the saying."
At a Vestry meeting in January 1883, a letter was discussed from Mr. A.W. Gadesden, who offered to purchase Chamber Mead for as much as would, when invested in 3½ per cent annuities, produce £30 a year, the sum at which the field had hitherto been let. The offer was accepted and the Local Government Board consented but thought a right of pre-emption should be reserved so as to be exercisable by the sanitary authority at any later date. On 4 December 1884, Chamber Mead had been conveyed to Mr. Augustus William Gadesden of Ewell Castle for consideration of £1,000 [SHCOL_BG3/30/4]. After he Local Government Board confirmed that the Guardians could apply money received for Chamber Mead for "any permanent advantage to the parish", funds were invested in consols (a form of Government bond) and the resulting income used in relief of the poor rate.

By 1932, the level-crossing of the railway, which provided vehicular access from the former Fitzneels/Northcroft Lane towards Chamber Mead, had been closed and a foot-bridge erected at the end of Old School House Lane. A short stretch of the ancient way is represented by Walnut Fields, bearing a notice 'Warning No Access': there remains, however, a pair of large gates in the angle iron and chain link boundary fence of the Salesian Sports Ground.

As Mark Twain is supposed to have observed, 'History does not repeat itself but it does rhyme'. The Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve Development Plan of 2006 remarked: - "Traditionally, much of the land beside the Hogsmill would have been managed as either permanent pasture or as hay meadow. As a demonstration of the latter management technique, part of the area known as Chamber Mead, which has not been cut for some time, will be developed as a hay-meadow area." Stepping stones provide a crossing of the river downstream of the old ford.

Stepping Stones across the Hogsmill
Stepping Stones across the Hogsmill
Image Courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2011

Brian Bouchard © November 2011

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