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|1801||Mrs Morris & others||1814|
On the earliest surviving South Malling land tax of 1751 Mr Morris was shown as the occupier of Ranscombe Farm. This was Peter Morris, the first generation of a family that occupied the farm until 1860. A Gage estate rent book shows that Peter Morris was paying £110 a year for the farm. By 1796 Anthony Morris was paying £250 a year for Ranscombe Farm and Broyle land in Ringmer. When Anthony Morris died his widow Susannah (neé Medhurst) rented the farm but gave up the land in The Broyle, thus breaking the farm’s link with the land in Ringmer that had been attached to the manor farm of Ranscombe since at least 1543. William Morris was the tenant for one year in 1815 and then Thomas Morris took over from 1816 until 1860 when a valuation was taken of Ranscombe Farm, late Thomas Morris’, the last member of the family to live at the farmhouse.
Two maps were made of the farm for the Gage family in about 1792 and 1822, which show the farmhouse much as it is today. Bills for repairs to Ranscombe Farmhouse in 1796 that have survived in the Gage archive show that George Stanford’s bill for carpenter’s and joiner’s work included work ‘to take down the back of the house and partitions and shoring’ and Stephen Rusbridge, bricklayer, charged £4 7s 10d for weather tiling, 7s 6d for a run of brick steps and 5s for taking down jambs to the chimneys.
The Morrises were succeeded by Robert Matthews, a farmer from Lusby in Lincolnshire, and his family, and the census returns for Ranscombe Farm show them living at the farmhouse in 1861 and 1871. In 1861 the two cottages that then existed for the farm were occupied by labourers who had also come from Lincolnshire, although both had moved on by 1871.
Although he would stay as tenant of the farm for many years, two letters survive that William Medhurst wrote to his landlords complaining about the rent and the hardships of farming at Ranscombe.
On 6 Oct 1880 he wrote to Lord Gage giving 'notice that it is my intention to quit and deliver up possession of all that Farm premises and lands called or known by the name of Ranscombe Farm in the parish of South Malling in the County of Sussex which I now hold of you as tenant on the 11th day of October next.
However, Medhurst was still tenant in 1882 when he wrote a letter, on 6th June, to Walter Feilde Ingram, Gage's agent. He complained about a potential rent increase from £400 a year, and made many observations on the state of the farm and the difficulties it posed for the farmer.
Despite these moans Medhurst did not give up the farm until 1895 when the farm was advertised to be let on 10 August and the farm livestock and implements were auctioned on Wednesday 9th October 1895. The farm was taken over by Edward Moat, who was also tenant of nearby Southerham Farm.
Despite giving up the farm, William Medhurst continued to live at the farmhouse until his death on Tuesday, 25 May, 1915, at the age of 86.
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