Grade II Listed Church Cottage, is the oldest property in the village, dating back to the Winter of 1404. Dendrochronology was used to accurately date the building and that also revealed one of the largest oak trees used in the main construction was growing on this land in 1094, over 920 years ago, and 150 years before the first settlers even arrived!
Located at the junction of Station Road and High Street it has a truly remarkable history which has recently been uncovered. However the two questions most often posed relate to its location rather than its history, namely: why is Church Cottage not near a church? and why is Station Road not near a station?
The answers can be traced back to early nineteenth century when this area was known as “Chapel Green” and the land was predominantly given to smallholdings, orchards, and woodland. The cottage was next to the ancient Chapel of Ease and they were connected via a short link on the upper floor, so the curate could walk between them. The cottage was then used as the curate’s accommodation or rented to tenants and was known as “Chapel Cottage.” A cart track ran through this area called Pancake Lane, creating the route for the modern road and the area remained largely ‘green’ and undeveloped until the latter part of the nineteenth century when the Victorian shops and cottages were built.
In 1873 the Chapel of Ease was ratified as a consecrated church and was thereafter known as Loxwood Church. The cottage was then renamed “Church Cottage”, and that remained its name throughout the intervening years. In 1901 a new church was built at Vicarage Hill, near the River Bridge and the decision was taken to demolish the old Loxwood Church shortly afterwards, leaving Church Cottage standing on the site as a sole reminder of its history.
Loxwood was close to four railway stations on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, namely: Baynards, Cranleigh, Rudgwick and Slinfold. The age of the motor car had started, and the villagers wanted to focus the attention away from Chapel Green to the new Loxwood Church at Vicarage Hill and therefore this area of the village needed a new description, to be given a different purpose. The name Station Road was adopted in early 1902 to indicate this was the quickest route to Rudgwick Station and subsequently the historic names of Pancake Lane and Chapel Green were phased out and over time the history of the ancient Chapel of Ease was allowed to fade.
Rudgwick Station closed in 1965, exactly one hundred years after it opened, leaving Church Cottage and Station Road as ‘incongruous descriptions’ that pose questions about their history, that keep the past alive.
The first place of worship
In the 13th and 14th centuries Loxwood was dominated by great farms including; Loxwood Place Farm, Drungewick Manor and the Loxwood Hall Estate, which became known as ‘Greathouse”. Loxwood Place Farm was a moated farmstead and land at the front was selected as the location for the first place of worship to be built for the villagers.
Loxwood was at the furthest point of Wisborough Green Parish. The land was largely uninhabited because Parishioners were expected to attend their Parish church each week, but the three-mile route from Loxwood to Wisborough Green was difficult to navigate in wet seasons and consequently, villagers either travelled out of the Parish to attend the church at Alfold, or they settled nearer to Wisborough Green Church.
A place of worship was needed in Loxwood to encourage settlement and in 1404 eight prominent landowners supported by the Vicar of Wisborough Green, petitioned the Bishop of Chichester Robert Reade, to allow a place of worship to be built in Loxwood.