The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex

The Ashdown Forest Dispute 1876-1882
by Professor Brian Short
published by Sussex Record Society in 1997
Excerpts from this work have been reproduced on this site with the kind permission of Professor Brian Short

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William Augustus Raper
Spencer Tester

Tester, Spencer. 49. Living at Crow's Nest on the Forest behind Barnsden. Born on Whitehouse near Duddleswell. I have worked on the Forest nearly all my life, litter and turf cutting and gravel digging.

I know High Hurst (owner A. H. Hill). Edward Diplock was tenant for many years till his death recently. I cut litter and turf for him more than once. The last time I cut for him was 7 or 8 years ago and litter 6 or 7 years ago.

I know Shadwell Farm. About 25 years ago I cut two loads for Alfred T. Dadswell who afterwards had Strood.

I know Puxty Farm. When I first remember Squire Benham used it. Then Mr. Pays, then Putland, then Patmore who let it latterly to Weinholt and now the Duchess of Norfolk. I cut litter for Benham several times.

I know Claygates. I first remember Gilbert using it he died there. Then his widow carried it on and on her death the son-in-law Clifton till about 2 years ago when Taylor took it. I cut litter frequently [for] Gilbert, Mrs Gilbert and Clifton.

I know Strood. The first person I remember there was Minns, then Obediah Waters, then Smith, then Mr. Benham, then A. T. Dadswell, then Mr. Robert Wilson. I cut for Waters two days when I was a lad. I was working at the time for Mr. Wallis of Newbarn Farm. I cut also for Mr. Benham and Dadswell.

Barnsgate. I first remember Edward and Robert Dadswell, then Page and Card and Lockyear, and then A.T. Dadswell, then Mr. Baker Baker and then Mr. Robert Wilson. I cut litter for Page, Card and A. T. Dadswell.

Barnsden. I first remember Starr who went abroad, then John Moon, then James Moon, then Carr, then Hazelden. I cut a great deal of litter and turf for James Moon and Carr and Hazelden.

Oldlands. I first remember Benjamin Minns when bailiff for Squire Holford. He afterwards used it on his own account, then John Minns and then Mr. Patmore bought it and used it a short time and sold it to Mr. Nesbitt. I cut litter and turf for Benjamin and John Minns. I did nearly all John's cutting.

I know Duddleswell House. I once cut a few brakes perhaps 7 or 8 years ago for Mr. Barchard.

Cophall. I first remember John Page, then Thomas Page, then Tutor and now Pilbeam. I cut a good deal of litter for old John Page. I cut more litter and turf for Thomas Page, also both for Tutor.

I remember when John Walter used Northlands adjoining Wood's nursery and opposite Lampool. I cut litter two or three times for him to go there.

I have dug stone and gravel on the Forest for 40 years for Buxted and Maresfield parishes and for the Duddleswell Turnpike of which George Edwards, Lord De La Warr's Reeve was surveyor. I have always dug wherever I thought fit. I never had any orders to preserve the top spit or to level. I dug up all the track near Crows Nest and also outside Barnsden.

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