A Brief History of
THE RAVENSWOOD

Ravenswood was built in part during the reign of Henry VI in the year 1426, though of this original structure little remains and that that does, is now confined mainly to the core of the present building, which the majority of, was erected during the mid and latter years of Queen Victoria.

The original building, smaller in comparison with the present edifice, was when first built a dwelling house forming part of a considerable farm estate. It consisted of a main tenement, which at this date was probably thatched, with stables outbuildings and a parcel of adjoining land and was referred to in early records as ‘Baylewikce’. The estate was owned by Thomas Comberhatch, a Sussex Yeoman, who had commissioned the house, as a place of residence for the bailiff of his estate. The name ‘Baylewikce’ is probably a perversion of the modern day ‘Bailiwick’ which refers to the territory of a bailiff. Then it may have also applied to the home of one.

In 1450, one Issac Mowbraye occupied the house and is described as a ‘Bayliffe of Comberhatch’. By 1490, the estate was in the hands of Margaret Comberhatch and ‘Baylewikce’ was occupied by the widow Mowbraye, who lived here and paid a quit rent to the estate. In 1538, the estate passed to Henry Martyne, nephew of Mary Comberhatch. By 1540, ‘Baylewikce’ was occupied by Nisell Potter and his wife Beth. Potter is recorded as an overseer by appointment, to Henry Martyne. In 1545, Potter, “did make complaint of one John Bulmar, a cottager of the demesne, that he did not come to clean the roads for two weeks, by the terms of the statute”. Bulmar was fined 1 shilling. In 1548, Potter made complaint of one Lucie Denham “that she did permit her hogs to stray onto the estate, without rings, so that they tore up hedges”. She was fined 9 pence and ordered that her hogs be ringed.

In 1603, the house is mentioned in the will of Ursula Dawlinge, when she made the estate over to Richard Dawlinge, a descendent by marriage, in which she gives up the house away from the estate, to one Giles Hoigges (Hodges) for services to her estate. With it, she gave 6 keene (cows), various items of household ‘stuffe’ pewter, brass, linen and several articles of lace. Around 1630, the house, now a private dwelling no longer attached to the estate, was altered extensively, servants quarters and tower were added.

In 1665, the house was in the hands of Ralph Jackson, who had once been an envoy of Charles II, when the king was exiled in France. By 1668, it was owned by William Posian, a Sussex Yeoman. When he died it passed to his widow Dorothy and eventually to his daughter Elizabeth in 1703. In 1706 she married Thomas West of Old Coombe Farm in the parish of West Hoathly and in 1708 sold this house to Peter Daddswell. In 1739 by the instruction of his will the house passed to Celia Jane Grigsby. This action angered members of the Daddswell family for although he had provided for his children in his will, Grigsby was of no genetic descendancy, and there followed lengthy arguments at law between her and Daddswell’s children Charlotte, Jeffrey and George, as to who was the rightful owner. However the legalities fell in favour of Grigsby who lived out the rest of her life here, dying in the year 1794, a spinster of the parish.

During the length of time that Grigsby owned the house it remained uncared for and by 1798, it had fallen into a state of dilapidation and disrepair. It appears to have remained empty for some years, Grigsby had no legal heirs or descendants that the property could pass to, so there was no documents concerning the house between 1798 and 1839. In that year the property was auctioned and purchased by the firm of May and Sons builders of East Grinstead, who gradually demolished and rebuilt the house. In 1846, it was purchased by Richard Gower. In 1854 additions were made to the house and again in 1863, during which time it remained in the hands of the Gower family. In 1878 further alterations and additions were made by the company of Harris and Son, builders of East Grinstead. During this period Princess Beatrice, youngest daughter of Queen Victoria owned and occupied the house for a number of years and later Queen Wilhelmina, of the Netherlands occupied it.

The 20th century saw many changes to the house, by both construction and ownership. During the 1950’s the last remnants of the earlier building disappeared when the tower was rebuilt. In 1968 the house opened as a licensed casino and in 1974 after further alterations, the house opened as a Hotel and Restaurant.

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