Normally the Lewes Eye covers contemporary scandals, but here is one which starts at the beginning of the 20th century and has implications for today
In October 1901 the parish councillors of Glynde in East Sussex wrote a letter of complaint to the Lord of the Manor, Admiral Brand, the owner of the Glynde Estate. Their tone was deferential and cautious, as well it might be, because all of them probably depended on the Estate for their jobs and their homes.
But they felt that they could not accept the fact that “No trespassing” signs had been erected on paths that, they said, had been public ways from “time immemorial”. The erections of the signs was almost certainly organised by Colonel Brand’s estate manager, Tom Pickard. They identified 6 paths on which signs had been erected.
In his reply, Colonel Brand disputed three paths, but admitted that the others were public rights of way. He said that he had only had the signs erected because people from out of the village were using the paths (as they were entitled to do). It seems that the signs were taken down, because, after further discussion about the disputed paths the councillors expressed their satisfaction with the outcome.
Alas the route of one of these paths is lost and it is not on the rights of way map today. The second is on the map. It starts from Glynde Post office and runs over Malling Down. But the third is a different matter. It is described as going past council member William Holford’s house and then on to the downs. Mr Holford was the estate foreman carpenter and he lived in Hillside, a house owned by the estate which is still there today, as is the track past it up onto Malling Down, although it is not on the rights of way map. The house and the track are at the top end of the village.
But by 1936, none of these brave men were still on the parish council. So, when the parish council was asked by Chailey Rural District Council to say what rights of way were in their parish, three newer councillors responded. The chairman was Tom Pickard, who we have already met, and who was still the manager for the Glynde Estate. The other two were either tenants or employees of the estate.
Perhaps unsurprisingly this trio only reported one right of way in the whole parish that was on the Glynde Estate’s land, the one from the post office. They did, however, identify a further route on the Glyndebourne Estate owned by the Christie family, running from Malling Down down to Glyndebourne. These two paths were recorded as rights of way.
In 1952, because of legislation to create the first definitive map of rights of way, the council was asked again about rights of way in the parish. Under the continuing chairmanship of Mr Pickard it put forward the same two rights of way but interestingly, the council unanimously agreed that the path to Glyndebourne continued across the road and through the grounds of Glyndebourne House to the parish boundary with Ringmer, which was just east of the house.
This path can be seen on a number of old maps, including the first edition of the Ordnance Survey six inch to the mile map. It leads to other highways in Ringmer.
East of Glyndebourne House the path is in Ringmer, but Ringmer parish council has no record of it and in 1954 Glynde Parish Council unanimously changed its mind, saying that there was no right of way through Glyndebourne. This change of mind may or may not have something to do with the fact that Mr Pickard had resigned from the council. His place as chairman was taken by the estate manager for the Glyndebourne Estate.
Not much has changed up to the present day. Our former MP, Norman Baker, started his political career in the 1980s by getting elected to what was now Glynde and Beddingham Parish Council, as well as the District. In his autobiography he reports that the then Lord Hampden of the Glynde Estate would not deign to put himself forward for election, but would manage to get himself co-opted onto the parish council.
The Glynde Estate opposed the creation of the South Downs National Park and, in recent years, Glynde residents have again complained that footpaths used by them for many years have been closed off by the estate.
This sort of suppression of rights of way was probably not uncommon and the rights of way would have been lost forever by 2026 without research by the Sussex Don’t Lose Your Way group. An application has been made to add the route from Hillside onto Malling Down to the map, but there is not yet enough evidence to make an application for the path through Glyndebourne.
Thanks to Glynde historian Andrew Lusted for research that supported some of this article. The conclusions are, however, the author’s own.