Stories of the Stanmer Estate

Thomas Jones stayed on the stanmer estate until he died. He told his son, Frederick Jones, many stories here are just some them along with other stories told by other members of the estate:

When a herd boy my father saw behind the scenes at Stanmer. His master at the farm was a noted smuggler and employed his houses conveying excisable goods from Shoreham and Appersgap to Ditchling. After, the estate w0od team was pleased with the illicit nights booty. In a small cave east of Stanmer village was a hiding place, this cave has since fallen in. I have heard my father say that on one occasion he went up into the loft above the stables where the wood team usually stood in the stable yard and saw over 40 tuns of Dutch brandy concealed under the hay.

Stanmer House and Pond

Stanmer House and Pond

All the farm men, gardeners keepers and woodsmen went to the coast and earned 5 shillings bringing home two kegs of over proof brandy. Bow Beard an old man who worked in the garden of the mansion, has told me many an incident connected with the popular contraband trade for which Stanmer and Falmer had a notoriety. Hyland another gardener had a brother at Shoreham, who had a smuggling shack and many was the fierce tussles they had with the preventive men! Not always coming of best. The old clerk at Falmer had a sword cut, one of the Stanmer men a broken arm. One of the cottagers obtained a bottle of brandy from one of the long line of packhorses that passed through the hamlet, this when found out caught fire and the top house of the village had a narrow escape from being burnt down.

On a hot summers night Will Beard was coming over Hollingbury hill on his way home with two kegs of brandy slung with a strap over his shoulders. On nearing a field of corn he went a few yards into the standing wheat and laying down bored a small hole in a keg, inserted a wheat straw and had too deep a draught. Resting and falling asleep he woke up in the middle of the next day as a result of his drunken nap. He had to lay still till dark with no food and a dreadful headache.

Leppard the underkeepers wife lived at the upper lodge she sat on a tun by the fire while the excise officers searched the house, of course they were dissappointed in their search. This was my old friend Jack Leppards mother.

When a bricklayer’s labourer Tom Jones made mortar for a man named Thomas Baker. One of his first jobs was assisting in building the park wall from the lodge to Colddean. During one lunch hour the initials of his master were cut into a brick by Tom Jones and this was the first brick laid on assuming work. It was in the middle band a hundred yards or more from Colddean. Many a time when walking to Brighton for the Countess I have searched on this old brick and recalled my fathers early tussles.

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