William Waring (1818-1904) was a major Chelsfield landowner, magistrate and Lord of Chelsfield Manor (although manorial rights and privileges were gradually disappearing during the 19th century). The history and rise of the Waring family is well documented in Geoffrey Copus’ book, “Chelsfield Chronicles 1450-1920”. The brief summary here is based largely on Chapter 8 of his book, which contains a wealth of further information about the family which is not duplicated here. I am indebted to Geoffrey for his material; anyone interested in the history of the Waring family should consult his book. The union of William’s father Thomas Waring (1776-1851) and Sarah Fuller brought together a great deal of land in Chelsfield, including the Manor of Hewitts. Thomas Waring purchased additional land in Chelsfield at every opportunity, including, in 1844, the land and manorial rights he purchased from Robert Crawford at Court Lodge. He passed to his son William (the only child to survive out of eleven siblings), the Manors of Hewitts, Chelsfield, and land in Shoreham and Halstead. William Waring lived at Woodlands, on Hawstead Lane. The house was built for his father Thomas Waring, in 1815. It still stands but the estate now (in 2019) comprises private homes, Browns School and Brinds Well Nursery. In 1843 William married Mary Wall Tasker. They had five sons and six daughters. Mary was the victim of an early identity theft scam, when a fraudster presented forged orders for shawls and woollens to a London merchant in her name and then walked off with the goods. You can read more about it here.Geoffrey Copus writes that William Waring was “a complex personality, taking his duties as a landowner and employer of labour very seriously”. Like many landowning gentlemen of the time, he was very interested in innovation to make land and animals more productive. (The Lubbocks at High Elms had similar interests, even taking their prize pigs up to London for livestock shows.) William supported decent affordable housing for his labourers; he was keen on the innovation of steam ploughing; and he supported agricultural competitions for ploughmen, shepherds and the like. Despite this, he was not prepared to give his farm workers an August Bank Holiday (the holidays pioneered by John Lubbock, first Baron Avebury) as he thought Bank Holidays were not intended for farm workers. William Waring also sought to resurrect the payments and fines that were due to the Manor of Chelsfield under the manorial system and called a meeting of his tenants – a Court Baron – in 1853. Only two tenants attended, but William attempted to collect fines for non-attendance and Quitrents (a payment in lieu of feudal service) from his tenants under the old system. He gave this up eventually, but not until he had managed to secure commutation payments (a form of buy-out) from some of the freeholders. As a landowner William would have influenced the location of Chelsfield Station for the convenience of his own farmland, when the railway was extended to Chelsfield from 1863 onwards. This was unpopular with his neighbours who campaigned for another station at Halstead (now Knockholt Station). He was a Justice of the Peace and sat on the bench at Locksbottom, where Geoffrey Copus records he sat in sessions with Charles Darwin, his neighbour at Downe, on a number of occasions between 1859 and 1862.The Waring story continues with their son Arthur Thomas Waring.
Chelsfield A Community Archive
Waring Farm workers at harvest time
Woodlands, Hawstead Lane
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