Peter Brown Family History

Parish of West Hoathly, Sussex


The area was already settled by the 11th century, when St Margaret's Church was founded. Names recorded at that time include Hadlega and Hodlega—later standardised to Hodlegh and Hothelegh, then (West) Hoathly. This Anglo-Saxon word signifies a heath-covered clearing. The parish lay on the edge of the dense woodland of the Ashdown Forest.

At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, the land covered by the present parish was held by the manors of Ditchling and Plumpton to the southeast. The rectory of the church was associated with Lewes Priory. By the 16th century, the manor of Gravetye was in existence. Gravetye Manor house, built in 1598, still stands in extensive grounds 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the village.

In 1556, West Hoathly resident Ann Tree was burnt at the stake in East Grinstead for refusing to renounce Protestantism; she was one of 17 "Sussex Martyrs" who suffered this fate. A brass memorial in the church commemorates her. (see also Thomas Dungate)

'The Priest House', at the south end of the street on the west side, is a 15th-century house facing approximately east owned for a long period by the Browne families from the early 1500's.

The Manor House is on the west side of the street opposite the church . It was built as a dower house in 1627 by Catherine Infield of Gravetye (see Richard Infield) and was later inherited by John Watson and then John Brown.(see John Brown 1546 ref 1D)

A list of properties in West Hoathly that were owned by various Family Group Names can be seen on this link.

St Margaret's Church and a List of Rectors of West Hoathly


The church is dedicated to St. Margaret of Antioch, virgin and martyr, who was honoured in the Eastern church from an early date, and from the 7th century in the West. She is believed to have been martyred during the persecutions of the 4th century but nothing is known for certain about her life. The foundations of this church were laid over 900 years ago, when a Norman baron ordered it to be built here in 1090, a few years after the Doomsday Book was compiled. He gave the church to Lewes Priory, which was in charge of both church and people living here for over 400 years.

Three cast-iron grave-slabs are affixed to the wall in the vestry: one to Richard Infeld, died 11 September 1619, aged 51; another to his son Richard Infeld, 11 March 1624, both of Gravetye; and the third containing a brass plate to Agnes daughter of the earlier Richard and wife of Henry Faulconer, 22 September 1635. see Richard Infield

Map showing Hodelygh 1600