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A History of Burwash Place

Burwash Place is a large country house which has a long and interesting history, and connections with several notable people, the most illustrious being Rudyard Kipling who is said to have lived there while Batemans, his own home, was being renovated.

Burwash Place, or Fries as it was earlier called, came under Woodknowle, which was earlier known as Wokenwolle Manor. The Manor was freehold, and was held by Knight service of Burwash. It was thought for many years to be linked to Mottingden, now called Mottingsden. The earliest reference to Woodknowle was in 1212 when the land was held by Reynold of Wokynole, by a payment of 5d in the mark (money paid instead of military service). The ownership then became obscure until it is recorded that in 1785 the Reverend James Hurdis, Curate of Burwash lived at Fries. He was Curate of Burwash from 1788 to 1792. He was a well known poet and became Professor of Poetry at Oxford University in 1793. Two of his works were “The Village Curate” published in 1788, which gives an account of the Burwash Forge quoted in Staker’s “Wealden Iron”, and “Tears of Affection”.

The earliest timber framed part of the house may have been 17th century.

By 1900 or so it had become “The Firs”, either a corruption from “Fries” or because of the pine trees on the bank above it. It was then inhabited by a Madame de Los Heros, said to be Argentinean.

Around the turn of the century it became the property of Lt. Col. A.S. Sutherland-Harris who in 1907 married Miss Sybil Crossley of Heatherden, Cross-in-Hand. It is not quite clear when the name “Fries” or “Firs” became “Burwash Place”, but it is thought that it was given this name by Sutherland-Harris. He had served in India and it is probable that he became acquainted with Kipling at this time. It was in 1902 that Rudyard Kipling is said to have lived

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