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Four tollhouses ... 6

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

Kennington Turnpike (South London) and tollhouses c1790, attributed to Paul Sandby, Lambeth Archives.

Sadly we have little information and no positively-identified photographs of the following four toll houses although they all had an important part to play on the local turnpike network. As in the earlier articles, this information is based on comprehensive research by Dr Brian Austen of the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society in 2011.

The tollhouse was opposite here on the south side of the road

Anstye [location TQ 291232]

South west of Cuckfield is Ansty which also owes its origins to being on a medieval droving road. It later became Ansty Cross as it sat on a crossroads and it too saw the 1770 London-Brighton turnpike travel through it. In 1825 it was joined by another turnpike which ran east-west across Sussex and later became the A272.

A sidebar is shown across the Hurstpierpont and Cuckfield Trust just to the south of the junction on the 1843 Cuckfield tithe map, and it is possible that this was either under the control of the Trust or that they benefitted from tolls collected here by the Brighton and Lovell Heath Trust.

Warninglid [location TQ 267259]

Situated at Warninglid crossroads, where five roads met, on the south east side, with bars across the turnpike and across the road to Slough Green and Cuckfield. The plot was two perches in extent. The gate was also known as Pitt’s Head. The tollhouse, as it protruded into the road, was demolished after the Trust was wound up, but the garden remained until the 1930s when the road was converted to a dual carriageway.

Slough Green [Location TQ 284260]

Situated at the junction of the B2114 road from Cuckfield to Handcross and the B2115 leading through Warninglid to the A279 Lower Beeding to Handcross road. Maps of 1824 and 1843 show the tollhouse on an island site with gates across both of the roads.

The gate was of some importance and was farmed with the Crawley gates for £1,960 in 1811. It probably operated throughout the life of the Trust. When the Trust was wound up it was sold to Captain Dearden of Nymans for £75.

No illustrations of the house are known and it may have been demolished soon after the termination of the Trust. But the tithe map of the Staplefield area dated 1943 suggests a hut in the middle of the road, probably with the tollkeepers living in the nearby houses in the position shown by the larger black block on this map.

The 1770 London-Brighton turnpike headed north from Burgess Hill through Ansty to Cuckfield then went north Whitemans Green before following the ridge westwards to Slough Green then headed north to Staplefield then Handcross.

We find a couple of references in the diary kept by Edward Bates Diary, the local clockmaker to this toll house:

1810 Slough Green & Crawley gates let to Dymoke Wells (the coach owner) for 1 year for £1895."1811 Slough Green & Crawley let to Wells, Pitt & Co (the coach owner) for 1 year for £1895.

Bigges Farm

Staplefield Road [location circa TQ 284272]

Also referred to as Holmstead Hill and situated just to the north of Slough Green. A side bar was created across a lane running eastwards from the B2114 which with another lane to Mizbrook’s Farm could have been used to avoid the toll at Slough Green.

A cottage was provided for the collector on the north of the side lane at its junction with the B2114, on a plot 1 perch in extent. The revenue collected must have been small as in November 1854 Thomas Holden, the collector, received no remuneration except the tolls collected.

Could the photo shown below be the old toll house?

Could this be the old Bigges Farm tollhouse? If so, then it's been physically moved 250 yards north.

Other articles on Cuckfield Connections about toll houses and turnpikes:

1819: Notice: auction of Mid Sussex Turnpike Tolls

Detested but essential turnpikes ... 1

The tollbooth at Whiteman's Green ... 2

Fury at Butler's Green tollhouse ... 3

Bolney tollhouse - keeps moving ... 4

Four tollhouses ... 6

1867: The challenges of maintaining Cuckfield roads after the abolition of turnpike gates


The article draws on the comprehensive research by Dr Brian Austen in ‘Turnpikes To Brighton’ P46 in Sussex Industrial History, Journal of the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society, No 41, 2011

Tolhouse location information taken from 1874 Ordnance Survey maps, six-inch to the mile, and superimposed by the author onto a modern street map from The Bigges Farm location is as marked on the Ordnance Survey sheet XXV surveyed: 1874 to 1875, and published: 1879.

Early print (top): from Lambeth Archives, an Early view of Kennington Turnpike and toll houses c1790, attributed to Paul Sandby.

Notice the shuttered tollbooth shuttered windows, the lighting, the obligatory toll keeper’s name board above the door, the convenient pub for travellers opposite. the separate gate for people on foot. Sometimes gates had vicious spikes and were taller to stop skilled horsemen willing their steeds to jump over them. Also note the drinking water pump to the extreme left and the lighting.

Ansty Cross photograph by the author.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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