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Site Name: Ashburnham (Dallington) Furnace OS Reference: TQ 6857 1711
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Parish: Penhurst Former Parish:
Hundred: Foxearle District: Rother
County: East Sussex River Basin: Ashbourne
Site Type: Gunfoundry, Boring Mill, Furnace Period: Modern
Century: 19, 18, 17, 16 Geology: Ashdown Beds
Geology notes:
Earliest known date: 1550 Latest known date: 1813
Dating evidence: Built before 1554 by John Ashburnham (KHLC U1475/B3/6) and owned by him in 1574. The date could be as early as 1549, when Ashburnham was employing aliens (TNA E179/190/233). He was in dispute with a creditor in 1581-2 (BL Harl. 703, f.12b, TNA STAC 5/08/36). Thomas Hay and Thomas Glidd were in occupation from 1579 until their partnership ended in acrimony (TNA, STAC 5/G4/28). Sold in 1611 to William Relfe (ESRO ASH B488), in 1640 to John Gyles and Benjamin Scarlett (ASH B607), via Joan Gyles to Anthony May, her son (ASH B740). The furnace was recorded as working in 1653 and as discontinued but stocked in 1664. Guns were being cast here for George Browne in 1665 (TNA WO 47/7 f. 77v), who had agreed a lease of the furnace with Anthony May from Michaelmas 1664 (ESRO SAS-CO/1/714-718). Thomas and Maximilian Western occupied it 1677-1701 (ESRO ASH 4501/983; 1178 f.94-5 219). Contrary to statements by other writers, the Crowley Hanbury partnership declined offers to take a lease of the furnace in the early eighteenth century, as from 1708 until the early 1720s accounts show the furnace to be in the hands of William Rea of Monmouth, and the other members of the (Foley) Forest of Dean partnership (Hereford RO E12/F/P5, partnership schedule). The furnace was managed locally for Rea, together with Westfield forge (q.v.), by Thomas Hussey. Iron sows were sent from the furnace to Bewdley, Worcs. (Herefs. RO, E12/F/VI/Bf/28 9; DFU5 18). Output in 1709-10 was 458 tons in pigs and castings (E12/F/VI/DFf/5), and in 1717 was 350 tons p.a. Hussey may have continued to have a management role until his death in 1735, a projected lease by him and his partners failing to be carried through (Hodgkinson 2019). From about 1739, Ashburnham was occupied by the Crowleys, and from the 1750s until the 1790s Crowley & Co and their successors, Millington & Co, were casting guns for the Board of Ordnance (until 1783) and for the merchant trade at the furnace (ESRO ELT Dallington; Suffolk RO HAI/CD/2/3; Hodgkinson 1993, 94-5; Brown 1994, 47). Incidental references until 1757 (ESRO SAS RF 15/25 - Fuller letterbooks) when the surviving run of yearly accounts begin (ESRO ASH 1815, 1817). The final years (1793-1813) are covered by less detailed accounts (ASH 1818, 1820, 1822-3). It closed in early 1813 (Beswick et al 1984, 226 7).

An ordnance trunnion mark of 'A' is associated with this furnace.
Site Description: Bay:
L 70m, H 2m/4m good condition; revetted in masonry to half height on downstream side. 23m from E end a stone and brick tunnel (now blocked) leads through bay to wheelpit; 23m from W end is a spillway with sluice gate.
Water System:
Pond; now dry, supplemented by pen ponds. Wheelpit tailrace culverted to join overspill stream which passed below working area to join Upper Forge pond 160m to S. Trackway to furnace fords overspill stream; several bears revet ford banks. W of spillway a now-dry leat from pond passed through or under bay to serve second working area. A leat, approx. 4.5km, and believed to have been constructed in the 1730s, brought water from above the former furnace pond at Penhurst (q.v.) to supplement to supply for Ashburnham (see Beswick and Ennever).
Working Area 1:
Immediately below bay, served by wheelpit (see above). Some broken cannon moulds found (BWIRG 12, 7).
Working Area 2:
90m S of bay. Served by dry leat which was culverted under present stone-revetted causeway near 'Pay Cottage'. Wheelpit just S of causeway. Thence the race ran through a culvert, which curves to pass beneath the length of the house called 'Furnace' emerging to run along the present ditch to flow into the tail of the Upper Forge pond 75m to S. There are two inspection holes, one at each end of the house. Just before this point a bank runs along E side of tail-race, turning E at right angles to join W bank of main stream. This probably secured working area 2 from possible flooding from the Upper Forge Pond. Bank contains many broken cannon moulds.

‘From the testimony of two or three other inhabitants, who though not engaged in the works had opportunities of observing them, we gather the following facts: When the works were abandoned there were two fires, a larger and a smaller; to serve these there were two pairs of bellows blown by means of wheels turned by water power, the current of which may still be seen. The lower furnace was much the larger, and there the ore (brought from the neighbouring woods) was smelted, and poured into moulds in which it was shaped into such form as might be required. Here were made fire backs, brand irons, and sometimes cannon and shot of various sizes; but, as a rule, the molten iron was shaped into pigs for general purposes. At the upper and smaller furnaces, near the present water gate, the guns were bored, and afterwards tested by the discharge of balls, many of which are still from time to time dug from the banks of the opposite wood in which they had been embedded.’
(from Whistler 1888, 3-5)
Scheduled Monument Number: 1002219 (ES 387) HER Reference: MES3297 (ANA)
Bay Height (m.): 4 Bay Length (m.): 70
Classis Britannica tiles: No Samian pottery: No
Cylindrical slag plugs: No Two-finery forge: No
Excavation?: Yes  
Excavation Details: see Crossley 1977
Description of site vegetation:
Slag Heap Area (m. sq) : Slag heap grade (Hodgkinson 1999):
Persons Involved in Discovery:
 
References: Hulme, E. W.. (1929) Statistical History of the Iron Trade of England and Wales, 1717-1750. Transactions of the Newcomen Society. 9. pp. 12-35
(for this site see page(s) 22)

Whistler, R. F.. (1888) Penhurst: being some account of its iron works, manor house, church etc.. Sussex Archaeological Collections. 36. pp. 1-18
(for this site see page(s) 3-6)

Brown, R. R.. (1994) Wealden ironmasters and the Board of Ordnance after 1770. Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group. Second series, 14. pp. 31-47
(for this site see page(s) 33-4, 36)

Goring, J. J.. (1978) 'Wealden Ironmasters in the Age of Elizabeth', in E. W Ives, R. J. Knecht & J. J. Scarisbrick (eds.) Wealth and Power in Tudor England. The Athlone Press. London. pp. 204-27
(for this site see page(s) 208)

Hodgkinson, J. S.. (2019) A projected lease of Ashburnham Furnace. Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group. Second series, 39. pp. 25-27

Smith, T. G.. (2019) Ashburnham Furnace: the final blow. Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group. Second series, 39. pp. 28-32

King, P. W.. (2020) A Gazetteer of the British Iron Industry, 1490-1815. BAR Publishing. Oxford
(for this site see page(s) 25)

Brown, R. R.. (2011) Pieces of the Weald in Oman. ICOMAM Magazine. 6. pp. 49-54
(for this site see page(s) 54)

Straker, E. (1931) Wealden Iron. Bell. London
(for this site see page(s) 364-72)

Beswick, W. R., Broomhall, P. J. and Bickersteth, J. D.. (1984) Ashburnham blast furnace: a definitive date for its closure. Sussex Archaeological Collections. 122. pp. 226-7

Lower, M. A.. (1849) Iron Works of the County of Sussex. Sussex Archaeological Collections. 2. pp. 169-220
(for this site see page(s) 205-6)

anon.. (1975) Inventory of Iron Sites visited by WIRG. Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group. 1st series, 8. pp. 8-44
(for this site see page(s) 39-40)

Cleere, H. F. and Crossley, D. W.. (1995) The iron industry of the Weald. Merton Priory Press. Cardiff
(for this site see page(s) 310-11, 382)

Crossley, D. W.. (1977) Ashburnham Furnace, Penhurst. Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group. 1st series, 12. pp. 7-8

Beswick, W. R. & Ennever, C. C.. (1981) The Penhurst-Ashburnham Leat (Aqueduct Channel). Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group. 2nd series, 1. pp. 4-7

King, P. W.. (1995) Ashburnham Furnace in the early 18th century. Sussex Archaeological Collections. 133. pp. 255-62

Brown, R. R.. (1993) Notes on Wealden furnaces in the records of the Board of Ordnance, 1660-1700. Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group. Second series, 13. pp. 20-30
(for this site see page(s) 21)

Crossley, D. W.. (1975) The Lists of Furnaces and Forges of 1664. Wealden Iron, Bulletin of the Wealden Iron Research Group. First series, 8. pp. 2-7
(for this site see page(s) 3)

Hodgkinson, J. S.. (1993) The Wealden Iron Industry in the Period of the Seven Years' War 1750-1770. University of Brighton unpublished MA dissertation http://wealdeniron.org.uk/research.htm
(for this site see page(s) 74-5, 94-5)

Persons with known connections to this site: Ades, Adrian - iron worker in 1595
Ades, John - iron worker in 1595
Ashburnham, George - Owner 1812-13
Ashburnham, John - Owner 1710-37
Ashburnham, John - Owner/ironmaster 1562-92
Ashburnham, John - Owner 1683-1710
Ashburnham, John - Owner/ironmaster 1592-1611
Ashburnham, John - Owner 1737-1812
Ashburnham, John - Owner bef 1554-62
Ashburnham, William - Owner in 1710
Aynatt, Thomas - ?founder in 1619
Banister, John - Manager/ironmaster c.1739-40
Bartlett, Samuel - iron worker in 1813
Benne, John - iron worker in 1550
Betts, John - moulder 1760-70
Bourdell, John - iron worker in 1549
Browne, George - Lessee/ironmaster 1664-?
Butcher, Richard - supplier of iron ore in 1761
Chapleyn, Phyllypp - iron worker in 1549
Clerke, Guillam - iron worker in 1549
Collins, Edward - supplier of iron ore in 1761
Crowley, Ambrose - Lessee/ironmaster c.1739-54
Crowley, John - Lessee/ironmaster 1754-5
Daw, John - supplier of iron ore 1757-61
Diamond, John - gun founder bef 1685
Diamond, Thorpe - founder/moulder in 1751-60
Dowlse, Nicholas - iron worker in 1576
Dowste, Frauncysce - iron worker in 1576
Duke, John - ?Tenant/ironmaster 1706-8
Frenchman, Sampson - iron worker in 1525 & 49
Fuller, James - iron worker in 1595
Gaine, James - founder 1757-60
Garret, Thomas - founder in 1662
Gascoigne, Theodosia - Lessee/ironmaster 1755-bef 1782
Glidd, Thomas - Co-lessee 1579-83?
Grewe, Phyllypp - iron worker in 1549
Griaunt , Clement - iron worker in 1552
Gyles, John - Owner/ironmaster 1640-54
Hallaway, John - ironworks clerk 1757-60
Hanmer, Roger - Manager in 1757
Hart, John - gunfounder in 1676
Hay, Thomas - Co-lessee 1579-83?
Hill, Thomas - Purchaser of ordnance in 1756
Hobday, William - iron worker in 1813
Hoyse, Antony - iron worker in 1550
Hussey, Thomas - clerk 1708-17; ironmaster 1717-35
Hyland, John - supplier of iron ore in 1761
Hyland, William - supplier of iron ore 1759-60
Jarrett, Thomas - gun borer in 1761-70
Johnson, Thomas - founder ?1738-70
King, John - ironworks clerk 1763-70
Lambert, John - Lessee/ironmaster in 1574
Langleys, John - iron worker in 1550
Lemote, Peter - iron worker in 1595
Lemotte, John - iron worker in 1549 to 1576
Lenarde, James - iron worker in 1572
Mary, Nicholas - iron worker in 1550
May, Anthony - Owner aft 1655-71
Morrys, George - iron worker in 1550
Pelham, Anthony - Lessee in 1550
Pynyan, Gilbert - iron worker in 1572
Rea, William - Lessee 1708-17
Relfe, John - Owner/ironmaster 1639-40
Relfe, William - Owner/ironmaster 1611-39
Roberts, Joan - Owner 1654-?
Rummins, William - founder ?-1813
Scarlett, Benjamin - Co-owner/ironmaster 1640-55
Scarlett, Thomas - Co-owner ?-1655 & 1671-?
Sede, Mychaell - iron worker in 1572
Sellem, John - iron worker in 1572 to 95
Skinner, Richard - founder 1676-88
Tankerye, Roger - iron worker 1549-52
Tottoe, Adam - iron worker in 1576
Twort, William - supplier of hair in 1761
Valeant, John - iron worker in 1549 to 52
West, John - supplier of iron ore in 1761
Western, Maximilian - Co-lessee/ironmaster 1696-1701
Western, Thomas - (Co-)lessee/ironmaster 1677-1701
Weston, William - cutting ciphers in 1761
White, Simon - iron worker 1551-2
Wimble, William - founder 1623-38
la Mell, Stephyn - iron worker in 1550
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