Water is obviously a key resource at any point in history, and this blog will focus upon its influence upon the history of Harting. Water obviously matters in terms of domestic consumption, for drinking, washing, cooking etc., but it also was the prime source of power, particularly until the advent of electricity. For water powered mills, and then later iron furnaces.

That part of Harting south of the Downs was pretty much water free, and so here the only solution was either to import it, catch it from the rain, or dig down for it in very deep wells. This is one reason why settlement was pretty sparse in these areas. But north of the Downs there was a fairly plentiful supply, and in particular from two streams that flowed from the base of the chalk. One of these streams flowed through West Harting Manor, and the other largely through East Harting Manor, although the latter also began in the west.

The two streams as traced from the 1632 map of West Harting Manor. The eastern stream can be seen starting within the deer park (outlined in yellow) but soon flows into East Harting Manor and is lost to our 1632 map

The eastern stream starts within the deer park attached to the Manor House of West Harting, just to the south-west of the modern village of South Harting. Its source is a spring running out of a little combe just to the west of The Warren, the water now flowing via a small pond down into South Gardens just below the lowest of the existing ponds there. However the 1632 map shows the spring being immediately dammed into two larger ponds, separated by a path, which then flow down to a building at the end of the now missing fourth pond of South Gardens. It is this building that is likely to be a mill, and probably a mill whose predecessors date back to Saxon times. In the Domesday Book, the reference to Harting includes a grand total of 9 mills, of which this was almost certainly one. The current ponds in South Gardens, also probably spring fed from the highest pond, may well have developed slightly later as fish ponds – the watery equivalent to the living larder provided by the deer park. After leaving South Gardens, the stream crosses the Chichester road and thus enters into East Harting manor, and out of the range of our 1632 map. Its lower course will be discussed in a later blog.

The origins of the East Harting manor stream, showing the spring-fed ponds feeding the mill (the upper shapes shaded green) and the later fish ponds of South Gardens (the three lower green shapes).

The West Harting manor stream originates from a spring near Ditcham, again at the foot of the Downs. It flows under the Petersfield Road (B2146) and through what is now Torberry Farm. From there to the River Rother, where it ends, it has an eventful journey, being dammed at least four times for various purposes.

Nowadays the highest dam is that at Hurst Farm, where a mill still exists, although no longer in use. This mill does not appear on the 1632 map, but is there by the date of the 1st Ordnance Survey edition of 1808. Further down stream there was an earlier mill, confusingly called “New Mill” which ironically now no longer exists. It used to lie in Goose Green, in angle between the road to Ryefields and that to Manor Farm, with the mill building located at the eastern end of a small rectangular pond, and several other buildings forming a small hamlet to the west.

New Mill at Goose Green. North is to the right. The mill is the rather faded building at the right hand end of the pond, with two more structures above, presumably one being the miller’s house.

Further downstream again we find what is now called “Harting Pond”, a much larger body of water. There is no sign of a building on the 1632 map in the vicinity of the pond’s dam, and no writing to indicate what its original purpose was. The most likely explanation is that it was the site of another of Harting’s nine medieval mills, but without further evidence this remains uncertain.

Harting Pond, lying next to the West Harting to Durford road. It is a much larger pond than either that of Hurst Mill or New Mill, but its function is not given on this 1632 map

We are on firmer ground with the next pond, although this time, conversely, no pond survives, but a name does. For on the 1632 map the words “Furnace Pond” are written over the area between channels of the West Harting stream, just as it exits the modern parish and enters Rogate, to the north-west of Nyewood. As the name suggests, this was not the site of a mill, but rather of an iron furnace, or more properly an iron hammer. The buildings of the hammer probably lay at the far eastern edge of the pond, inside the parish of Rogate, with the water backing up all the way to Parlour Copse or even Down Park Farm. Iron hammers tend to work in partnership with iron furnaces, with the latter extracting the ore from the rock and the former hammering it to produce a more marketable iron product. The pair for this hammer lay to the north in what is still called Harting Combe, although it lies now in Rogate parish, for here the site lay over the Weald clay, in which the ore can be found, whereas the hammer is over the Gault Clay, which does not contain ore.

The site of “Furnace Pond” to the north-west of Nyewood, on the border of the modern parish. By the date of this 1632 map the furnace has ceased working

The hammer and furnace were in operation from about 1588-1608, a relatively short period, perhaps suggesting that they were not very profitable, certainly compared to the many others that lay further into the Weald to the east. If you want to see the site of a furnace that lasted much longer and survives much better, then North Park Furnace at Fernhurst is the place to go (they have an annual Open Day in September which is well worth a visit ( http://www.fernhurstfurnace.co.uk).

Shortly after the hammer, the West Harting stream empties into the Rother, just to the west of Habin bridge, by Mizzards. And so also ends this blog ,except to observe once again that water meant power in centuries past, and a power that you could just keep on exploiting, building more and more dams to control and use its flow to power mills and furnaces. And the power was not just in the water, for whoever owned the water could make significant sums of money as a result of selling the produce of those mills and furnaces.

Harting in 1632

The 1632 Caryll map offers us a fascinating snapshot into life in Harting at this time, or at least to half of Harting, since by this date the old manor of Harting had been split into two – West and East. The term “manor” can be a bit confusing, so it is worth just saying a few words about it. Nowadays we tend to talk of the “manor” as being a building, but actually originally it was an area of land held by one authority, who may well have lived in the “manor house”, i.e. the principal house within the area of the manor. Back in the medieval period the “manor” of Harting was the possession of the Hussey family, but when the male descendants of that family ceased in the late 15th century, the manor got split between two daughters and their husbands, and then descendants, so that by 1568 it had become divided into two halves, West Harting and East Harting, with the dividing line running pretty much north-south along the line of the Nyewood – South Harting – Uppark roads. West Harting had become the possession of the Sir John Caryll who had the 1632 map of his lands drawn up, while East Harting was owned by Sir William Ford, whose wife was actually another Caryll.

West Harting manor included all of what we now refer to as West Harting village, together with the western half of South Harting village, which was rather uncomfortably split down the centre of the High Street between the two manors. When you compare the number and spread of houses shown on the 1632 map with those existing today, what is most striking is the shrinking of West Harting, for there was a significantly larger number of houses four hundred years ago, than there are now. But actually, apart from that, there is surprisingly little change in settlement and landscape. The bulk of the population growth in Harting has actually been in the eastern manor, with the village of Nyewood appearing in the 19th century and the growth of eastern half of South Harting in the 20th century.

The two manors of Harting, with buildings shown on the 1632 map as red dots – South Harting is in the centre, and West Harting is the very dispersed spread of buildings in the northern half of the manor

I will return to look at West Harting in a later blog, but for the moment we will stick to the main course, which is the central village of South Harting. This was the location of the manor house itself, which lay just to the west of the current church, on the site of what is now Church Farm. It was, in its time, a very impressive set of buildings, with a large crenellated gatehouse facing onto the High Street. Not only did it have a large private garden, of which South Gardens still retains the name, but it was also set within its own private deer park, which extended westwards to the slopes of Hemner Hill, southwards to the summit of the Downs and northwards to the current Petersfield Road

The Manor House of West Harting, with its “South Garden”, containing four ponds (the northern of these is now empty of water)

As you can see the Manor House was part of a large complex of buildings, which I may discuss in more detail in a later blog, but the main building is the tallest shown, to the west of the church, with the gatehouse, almost equally big, situated to the north of the church. Between the church and the Manor House lies a walled garden, which now forms part of the churchyard, still enclosed within the same wall. The building lying at the south-west corner of the largest pond (the northern one) may well have been a mill, powered by the water held back in the upper three ponds. This building does not survive

The Manor House of West Harting, with its deer park to the west (outlined in yellow)

The deer park was not a large one by contemporary standards, but would have been well stocked with deer, probably numbering in the hundreds. Its purpose was to act as a living larder for the benefit of its owners, and also as a source of gifts to those they wanted to favour. By the date of our map, such parks were losing their original function, and being turned over to agriculture – hence the subdivisions into fields, which would not have existed a century or so before. The park as a whole was surrounded by a fence, known as the “pale”, to keep the deer in, and this fence is still marked on the map, even though the park has ceased to be a proper deer park.

In the next blog we will look at another aspect of the 1632 map.