Kingswood Warren

The hamlet of Kingswood as part of Ewell parish - an outlying manor and "liberty"

Kingswood Warren By Allom
Drawn by T. Allom. Engraved for Brayley's History of Surrey by E. Radclyffe

Kingswood Warren

It is a curious fact that from Saxon times Kingswood, a distant enclave measuring less than three miles long and one mile wide and containing about 1800 acres, surrounded by Banstead, Chipstead, Gatton and Reigate, had been attached to the manor of Ewell probably as a royal game preserve. Being a feudal "liberty", it was an area in which the tenants of a lordship had certain freedoms from the lord's control. Its descent was outlined in 1848 by Edward Wedlake Brayley in The Topographical History of Surrey as follows: -

Under the account in the Doomsday Book of Aetwelle, or Ewell, is this passage: -

'The men or jurors of this Hundred declare that 2 hides and 1 virgate, which belonged to this manor in the time of King Edward, have been detached from it, the Bailiffs having appropriated the lands to their friends, as they did likewise a tract of wood and one croft." This, as remarked in Manning and Bray's Surrey, was probably no other than that tract of land which lies on the southern extremity of this parish, and still retains its ancient name of King's-wood. Salmon conjectured that Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, added this land to the neighbouring manor of Banstead, which belonged to him. But whoever may have appropriated the land, it must have reverted to the Crown as early as the reign of Henry II, who gave it, together with Selwood (both as portions of the manor of Ewell), to the Prior of Merton. In 36 Henry III, the right of free- warren here was granted to the prior; and in 1291 Edward I. granted a license to enclose Kingswood, therein stated to be a hamlet in the parish of Ewell, and beyond the bounds of the forest of Windsor.

After the dissolution of the priory of Merton in 1538 this manor reverted to the Crown, and, together with the capital manor of Ewell, was annexed to the honour of Hampton Court. Queen Elizabeth, by letters-patent dated 1563, granted it, with the mansion-house, &c., to William, Lord Howard of Effingham, Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household, the Lady Margaret his wife, and their heirs male. That nobleman died in 1572-3, but Lady Margaret Howard survived until 1581, when the estate came into the possession of her son Charles, Lord Effingham, afterwards Earl of Nottingham, who was sometime Lord High Admiral of England, and acted as Lord High Steward of England at the coronation of James I. His lordship died in 1624, at Haling House, near Croydon. The eldest son of this peer having died before him, leaving no male issue, this manor, as well as his titles and his other entailed estates, devolved on his son Charles, who died without issue in 1642, and was succeeded by his half-brother, Charles Howard, jun., who also died childless in 1681, when the title of Earl of Nottingham became extinct. On the decease of the second consort of the second Lord Nottingham in 1650-1, the manor of Kingswood, which she had held in dower, is supposed to have come into the possession of Sir John Heydon. That gentleman was the son of Sir Wm. Heydon, a military officer who lost his life in the expedition to the Isle of Rhe in 1627; and in consideration of his services, his son, in 1630, obtained a grant, under letters-patent, of the reversion of the fee-simple of this manor to trustees for his benefit. It seems probable that Sir John Heydon had sold his reversionary interest in this manorial estate, for Mr. Manning says he 'continued so short a time in possession that his name does not appear upon the rolls'.

Sir Thomas Bludworth, Knt., Alderman of London, held a court-leet and court-baron here, as lord of the manor, in 1660. He died in 1682, and was succeeded by his son, Charles Bludworth, Esq., who held the manor till 1701. Thomas Harris, Esq., was the next proprietor, and held his first court in 1708. His son, Thomas Harris, gent., of Banstead, was lord of the manor in 1730: from him it passed to his nephew, John Hughes, whose father, Isaac Hughes, Esq., of Banstead, held a court in the name of his son, then an infant, in 1746. The manorial estate was sold by Mr. Hughes, in 1791, to Wm. Jolliffe, Esq., who, dying in 1802, left it to his son, Hylton Jolliffe, Esq.

There was formerly a chapel in the hamlet of Kingswood, but the time of its foundation is uncertain. It is not noticed in the Valuation of Ecclesiastical Benefices by Pontissara, Bishop of Winchester, towards the close of the reign of Edward I., nor in that of Bishop Beaufort, in Henry VI; but in the deed of endowment of the vicarage of Ewell in 1458 it is expressly mentioned, it being stipulated that the Vicar of Ewell for the time being should be under no obligation to celebrate mass in this chapel, or go to the hamlet of Kingswood to perform any offices of the Church; but the Prior of Newark, who held the rectory, should provide a priest to do duty as chaplain of Kingswood. It was further ordained by this deed that on the decease of any inhabitant of Kingswood, if the corpse were removed to Ewell for interment, the vicar should meet the funeral procession at Provost's Cross, on the south side of Ewell, which is alleged to have been the custom from ancient time. ['This shews,' says Manning, 'that though there was a place of worship at Kingswood, there was no place of interment; and indeed, to this day, the inhabitants of this Hamlet marry, christen, and bury, at the Church of Ewell, and contribute to the repairs of the same.' -Surrey, vol. i. p. 462.] In the return made to Cromwell's commissioners in 1658, it is stated that the living of Chipstead was worth £112 per annum, and that the liberty of Kingswood (a member of Ewell), was fit to be united to that parish, lying five miles from the parish church of Ewell, and within two of Chipsted church; paying all taxes with Chipsted, except church, and poor; having 12 families, and the tithe worth £28 a year. Nothing further, however, was then done, but about the termination of the same century the great tithes of this liberty were purchased and annexed to the vicarage of Ewell by Henry Compton, Bishop of London. At what time divine service was discontinued in the chapel mentioned is not recorded, but a small district church was erected in 1835. It was substantially built in the Norman style of architecture, and was consecrated and dedicated to St. Andrew. Mr. Alcock, the then lord of the manor, gave £250 towards the building of a parsonage-house, and two grants of £200 were made from Queen Anne's Bounty. The ecclesiastical district annexed to Kingswood includes a part of the adjoining parish of Banstead."
What Brayley did not explain is that sales by John Hughes in 1791 comprised: -
a) Kingswood Manor acquired by William Jolliffe [Feet of F Surr. Hil 30 Geo III] The transaction is reflected in The Times, 9 July 1791, when that real estate and Kingswood Common were included in an auction of copyhold and freehold lands at Banstead Chipstead & Kingswood, Surrey

b) As shown by the same edition of the newspaper to have been offered by private contract freehold of "The Old Warren situated contiguous to Walton and Kingswood Commons and the turnpike road between Banstead and Reigate....consisting of a very compact farm containing upwards of two hundred acres, with a good dwelling house, stables, granary etc. Also about two hundred and thirty acres of woodlands in hand with a neat newly-built bailiff's cottage etc. The estate is particularly suitable for the Sportsman or Gentleman Farmer; it is at present well-stocked with game but may be rendered one of the best nurseries and most productive spots for game in the whole country. [Recomended] to those gentlemen who may intend to bid for the Kingswood Estate [at Auction] the uniting of the two estates would form a compact possession of about one thousand acres."
About the same time, Thomas Jeudwine acquired Pit Place with other land in Epsom and later events suggest that he was the successful bidder for Old Warren Farm, in the liberty of Kingswood, Ewell.

Hyllton Jolliffe of Merstham, having inherited his father William's estates in 1802 held Kingswood Manor in 1804 [Recov. R Trin. 44 Geo III] and leased the manor house and lands as "Kingswood Farm" on 6 September 1806.

The tenant of "old Warren Farm, Parish of Banstead, hamlet of Kingswood", as recorded in Thomas Jeudwine's will dated 10 May 1815, became John Alcock, Attorney, of the Temple. He was alleged to have failed to pay rent or complete an agreement to purchase the real estate (said to have been made about 1810). After Alcock died, "at Kingswood Lodge" on 2 May 1814, Jeudwine took action against John's brother, Joseph Alcock of Putney and Roehampton, Clerk in the Treasury at Whitehall, to compel specific performance in the belief that he had been appointed Executor. It appears that payment into Court was eventually arranged by Joseph Alcock effectively making him purchaser of old Warren farm otherwise "Kingswood Warren" alias "Kingswood Lodge". Joseph Alcock died on 2 August 1821 and his residuary estate seems to have devolved upon his fourth and only surviving son, Thomas.

In 1835 Thomas Alcock bought the Kingswood manorial estate from Col. Hylton Jolliffe, of Merstham, and he became the first Lord of the Manor to reside in Kingswood and to take an active interest in the welfare of its residents. Having re-united the two estates, he set out to extend and update the old house in the Warren, in order to turn it into a country-seat worthy of his new position. His mansion, "embattled and ornamented with turrets in the castellated style", was completed in 1837 as depicted below on an old postcard.

An old postcard of Kingswood Warren
An old postcard of Kingswood Warren

A similar image together with further illustrations of Kingswood Warren, including a coloured copy the engraving in A Topographical History of Surrey, may be viewed at

He had been M.P. for Newton in Lancashire 1826-1830 and contested Ludlow in 1837 and 1839. He was M.P. for East Surrey from 1847 to 1865. In addition to the new "Kingswood Warren", Alcock was responsible for the building of nearby St Andrew's church. Thomas Alcock died at Malvern in 1866 and is buried in St Andrew's churchyard.

This article was researched and written by Brian Bouchard © 2009
Member of Leatherhead and District Local History Society

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