Tag Archives: hartfield

Wandering: East Grinstead to Groombridge

2 Apr

Today’s weather was almost perfect for walking, spring is well and truly here, in fact it almost felt like summer. At home the temperature reached 20°c, the highest of the year so far, but I wasn’t at home, I was out walking the Forest Way Country Park with my friend Chris.

The name country park is a little misleading, painting pictures of large open spaces, instead this country park is actually a long thin strip of land, another disused railway line, and an extension of the Worth Way which we walked just over a couple of months ago.

The route runs from East Grinstead, West Sussex to Groombridge, East Sussex and is about 10 miles in length. Apart from the distance it is not a particularly challenging walk, the path is mostly level and well surfaced with only a few wet patches which were easily negotiated.

East Grinstead was a little awkward to negotiate, the actual railway line is now a busy road with no pavements so the path makes its way unsignposted through the streets of the town. This was the only part of the route that required a map because once on the railway line proper it was just a case of keeping on heading the same direction. There is a section of the path between Forest Row and Hartfield with is almost as straight an arrow for over two miles.

The route can be quite easily (and almost equally) divided into three sections by the villages along the route the first being Forest Row, which the route just clips on the northern side of the village. Next along the line is Hartfield, which at first glance doesn’t seem to be very large, but it does have two pubs which are almost neighbours. We stopped here briefly for refreshments before heading off at a rapid rate to catch the bus from Groombridge.

The first half of the route was largely devoid of anything of railway interest, besides a few bridges, but further on Hartfield and Withyham still have station buildings and remains of platforms in evidence. At Groombridge the disused railway line meets the present railway line, but it wasn’t trains we were looking for but a bus. A rather quick walk up the hill got us into Groombridge with literally minutes to spare before the bus was due. As it happened we needn’t have rushed because the bus was 10 minutes late.

What really pleased me was to see so many Millennium Mileposts along this route. I think there were seven in all, in varying conditions. The one below is at Forest Row and has been carefully painted and looks stunning. In the absence of trig points I am finding “collecting” these mileposts to be equally rewarding!


Which WREN is which?

30 Nov

I was updating the details for my 4x great-grandfather Benjamin WREN last night, when I came across another potential stumbling block with the identity of his parents.

I knew from the census that Benjamin was born around 1803 in Framfield, Sussex. In the Sussex Family History Group Data Archive there is a baptism for a Benjamin WREN in Framfield on the 7th Jan 1803. His parents were Thomas and Sarah WREN, so whilst I was there I looked for other children of Thomas and Sarah.

I came up with another ten children, the earliest was Mary, baptised in 1768, and the last child was Hannah, baptised in 1810. I cursed my ancestors for giving me so much work to do when I wanted to get to bed, but something didn’t seem right.

The forty year time span seemed unlikely, and the last two entries were for Thomas senior and Sarah. So, much like the situation with the HOLMANs in Burstow, Surrey, it seemed like I had a couple of different Thomas and Sarah’s here producing children at the same time.

When I checked the Sussex Marriage Index things became a little clearer. There are three marriages of Thomas WREN to a Sarah around that time in Framfield. Firstly a Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD in 1764, then a Thomas WREN married Sarah CORNWALL in 1783 and lastly Thomas WREN married Sarah COLEMAN in 1800. The final marriage was by licence, which reveals more helpful information. Thomas WREN was a widower aged 60 and Sarah COLEMAN was a widow aged 36, both were from Framfield.

So it looks like Thomas WREN married Sarah HARTFIELD, had several children including a Thomas in 1772, but he was not the middle Thomas. Then Thomas’ first wife died and he married Sarah COLEMAN who was many years younger than him, carried on having children.

The question is which set of Thomas and Sarah’s were the parents of my Benjamin WREN? I can rule out Thomas WREN and Sarah HARTFIELD, as presumably she had died before Benjamin was born, because Thomas had re-married by then, but it seems like it could be either of the other two.

My next step will to have a look at burial records for Framfield, and hopefully the burials for Sarah WREN will help separate the two. There is also the possibility that one of the Thomas’ left a will which might help differentiate between the two.

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