116 HISTORY OF EAST GRINSTEAD.
In 1537 the Manor was granted to Thomas, Lord Cromwell. A few years later it came by exchange into the hands of William, Earl of Arundel, who held it for about 12 years and then granted the Manor to the Crown in exchange for other lands. From,the Royal hands it passed to the Sackvilles, who have long since sold all the lands, but have retained the manorial rights. In 1567, according to an inquest held at Cokefield to ascertain the estates of Stephen Bord, Lord Bukherst was then the owner of this Manor; Stephen Bord holding Racies of the Manor by fealty and rent of 3d., and numerous records since show that it has never left the possession of the family. The last Court-leet was held at the Crown Hotel, East Grinstead, about 20 years ago, when the only tenant who put in an appearance to do homage and be sworn in on the silver rods was Mr. Head, of Kingscote Nursery. He paid a penny and had a glass of whiskey and a cigar in return. The custom of Borough-English is believed to have at one time prevailed in connection with this Manor—a custom whereby entailed property went to the youngest son. The Plawhatch estate was originally part of the Manor.
This was a fairly large Manor owned in the 12th and 13th centuries by an important family bearing the same name as the estate. In the reign of Henry VII. it belonged to John Aske, whose family had long held it, but who was convicted of high treason and forfeited his possessions to the King, by whom the Manor was granted, under a patent dated August 23rd, 1536, to Sir John Gage and his heirs. It was charged, at one time, with 6s. a year, due to the King in respect of his Forest of Ashdown.
Sir John Gage, K.G. (1481-1557), of Firle, was Constable of the Tower of London and an eminent statesman and general. His tomb may still be seen in the church of West Firle, with the recumbent figures of himself and his wife beautifully sculptured in marble.