Scrap The Plan

History of the Marsh


The earliest documentary reference to Nutfield Marsh stretches back to 1086 in what is now known as the Domesday Book. Where the parish name “Nutfield’ comes from is not entirely clear. It may possibly be derived from ‘the field where nut trees grow’, other suggestions relate to the ‘field’ part of the name being connected with the resulting clearings associated with the digging for fuller’s earth. The earliest form of the name appears in Domesday, where it is notfelle. One view is that not means north rather than nut, another possibility is that the name originated as neatfield. Neat is an old word meaning ox or cow so Nutfield could be the clearing of the oxen. I personally find the idea of a field full of nut trees the most appealing!

In medieval England all land was held from the king, the Domesday book shows the Countess of Boulogne held the estate, or manor, of Notfelle (Nutfield). Her husband, the Count of Boulogne, held Acstede (Oxted) and Wachelestede (Godstone). Although it is unlikely that the Countess came very frequently to view her property in Nutfield.

The extent of the parish by the mid-19th century was probably not very different from that of the Domesday manor, although there have been several boundary changes in more recent times. The original much more extensive stretches of common land have gradually been absorbed over the years into the surrounding farmland until all that is left today is around 16 acres.

Of the many pieces of land on Nutfield Marsh cultivated over the centuries, only two fields remain for growing crops, at Chilmead Farm and Mercers Farm. Now unconnected to the farmed land, the listed farmhouse at Chilmead remains but the one at Mercers was virtually demolished fairly recently and rebuilt as a number of smaller dwellings and the extensive outbuildings converted into homes. Sadly, the present owner of both pieces of farmland appears to have more interest in quarrying it than farming it.

The dairy cows have long gone from the Marsh and the former milking parlour at Mercers Farm now houses people. The old farm buildings at Chilmead Farm have also been converted into homes, the barn where calves once sucked milk from the fingers of my two excited young daughters is now someone’s lounge.