Nutley and Ashdown Forest
“NUTLEY” the name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon, Knut, a nut and leag, indicating a part of the Forest of Ashdown comparatively open but abounding with hazel.   ( History of Sussex by M.A. Lower).
NUTLEY. A hamlet in the Parish of Maresfield but which has outgrown the parent, is on Ashdown Forest, and its history is the history of Nutley. Ashdown Forest is part of the great forest known from earliest history as stretching through Kent, Sussex and on to Hampshire. The Forest of Anderida or Forest of Pevensel, as it is called, because Pevensey Castle was the residency of the Barony with its tangled undergrowth and fine old trees, was in turn a favourite retreat for Ancient Britons, Saxons and Romans, as well as wild beasts. Bede speaks of it in 731 as “ thick and inaccessible a retreat for large herds of deer and swine together with wolves and wild boars”. In the year 893 the Saxon Chronicle gives its dimensions as 120 miles by 30. We first find mention of Ashdown Forest, the part of this great forest with which we are concerned, in 1372, when Edward III granted about 14,000 acres, lying between Tunbridge Wells and East Grinstead to his third son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in exchange for the Earldom of Richmond, under the name of the Free Chase of Ashdown. Why it is so called, no one seems to know, did the ash tree once flourish, and by its luxuriance, lend its name?   But we find hardly a single ash standing or any trace of one. For the next 300 years Ashdown Forest or Lancaster Great Park, as it was sometimes called, was strictly preserved as a Royal hunting ground. In 1560 the mastership of the Forest and Keepership of the wild beasts therein was granted to Sir Richard Sackville, as an ancestor of the present Earl De La Warr. This was the first connection of this family with the Forest. From a survey in 1658, we find the Forest was divided into seven wards, and with each a lodge.
1.     South Ward and West Ward. No details. 2.     Pippingford, Sir John Franke, Keeper. 3.     Hindleape, Francis Hesmond, Keeper. 4.     Broadstone, John Norman, Keeper. 5.     Coombe Deane, James Kingsland, Keeper. 6.     White Deane, John Norman, Keeper. 7.     Duddleswell, Robert Brooks, Keeper.          “Maresfield, Old and New by Rev. Ward Petley” Under an Act passed in the reign of James I all Royal Forests were deforested, their palings were cast down and the deer dispersed. After Charles II had come to the throne in 1660, action was begun to dispose of Ashdown Forest by sale or grant. The Commoners of the Forest who saw their ancient rights in jeopardy cast down the fences which were being set  by the new owners. After an action in the King’s Bench, the whole matter was referred to a Royal Commission  which issued its Award in 1693. Under this new award the owners were quieted in possession and 6400 acres of land in the Forest were set aside in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the Commoners. The Manor of Duddleswell, which includes the Forest, was by this time in the possession of the Earl of Dorset, the ancester of Lord De La Warr, the present Lord of the Manor. After the law action in 1881 between the Lord of the Manor and the Commoners, it was agreed by all parties that a board of Conservators should be set up, elected by the Commoners, guarding against encroachments, and preserving the Forest in its natural condition. In 1885 an Act of Parliament confirmed these arrangements and authorised the Board to pass the necessary bye-laws for regulating the Forest. The income of the Board is derived partly from a Forest Rate of 6d. an acre levied annually on all lands possessing forest rights and partly from licences and wayleaves granted jointly by the Conservators and the Lord of the Manor.