THE PAROCHIAL CHARITIES. 123
Commissioners made an investigation, and ascertained that they were occupied by labouring people, whose only right seemed to rest on permission given, as vacancies occurred, by Mr. George Bankin, Steward of the Manor of Brambletye, to whom all applications were made. This had for many years been the custom. The Lord of the Manor claimed no right in connection with the houses, and Mr. Bankin had granted to such persons as he thought deserving the privilege of living in the different tenements, without entertaining the slightest notion of any legal power vested in him to do so. In many cases the privilege had descended from parent to child. The repairs were always done by the occupants, and when Mr. Bankin died those then in residence retained possession and the property became " key hold," the only evidence of ownership being the holding of the door-key. The houses have since been several times sold, but all early title deeds are missing. The general belief that they were the almshouses referred to in the inscription quoted above is strengthened by the fact that the founders lived at Brambletye, and that the Steward of that Manor long exercised the right of nominating the tenants.
The houses in Church Street, which face the churchyard, are described in some of the title deeds as " The Old Almshouses," and it is possible that they once constituted one of the local charities and were the houses referred to in the will dated December 12th, 1579, of John Payne, of the town of East Grinstead, which contained the following:—
Item I give unto James Duffeld, Stephen Ffrenche and George Harman churchwardens of Estegrensted and to their successors wardens there for ever to the only use of the most needy poor persons of Estegrensted all that tenement and orchard which I late leased to one John Hastinges and which was formerly in the possession of one . . . widdow paying the services due to the lord thereof.
He died on January 19th, 1580, and in the report of an inquest held at East Grinstead on March 21st following all the words quoted above are scratched out, as though the testator had altered his mind, or the writer of the