This building has been a public house for over two hundred and fifty years and is one of the oldest in the area. However, the story starts two hundred years earlier in c1575, when the building was constructed as a farmhouse, probably part of the Brewhurst Estate.
The first record of Loxwood is from c1248 when the area was known as “Loxwood End”, the furthest point of Wisborough Green Parish. The early industry was farming, thought to have been centred around Brewhurst Mill with the main settlements on the higher ground near the village pond.
By the middle of the 16th century cottages had been built on the hill leading up to the centre of the village. Near the village pond was Loxwood Place Farm, opposite was a Chapel of Ease, and there were other large farms and houses in the outlying areas. At that time the road had not been constructed and the cottages were likely to have been part of farms accessed by simple tracks.
In c1568 a house, believed to have been the millers, was moved from a field half a mile east of Brewhurst, known as Baldwins Knob, and rebuilt next to the Chapel of Ease. The farmhouse was constructed in c1575 and although it is just speculation based on timing, there may have been a connection between the miller’s house being moved from the remote field at Baldwins Knob, and the new farmhouse being built closer to Brewhurst Mill and to the developing village.
There was a ford river crossing nearer to Brewhurst Mill and that connected to Nep Lane which ran by the side of the new farmhouse and continued up through the fields to join the Rudgewick Road. Nep Lane is an example of an early track leading from the Brewhurst Estate which supports the theory that commercial activity was evident in this area from the earliest times.
The Bridge Ale House
In c1600 the first river bridge was built in the position of the current bridge and that provided easier access to the farmhouse. The bridge became part of a drove road from Newbridge that was routed through the centre of the village and over time the drove road replaced Nep Lane as the main road through Loxwood.
In 1700, Abraham Mills and his wife Sarah owned the farmhouse which they had inherited from Abraham’s brother John Mills. John Mills was a very common name but that reference may tie in with the construction of the ancient Grade II Listed Brewhurst Bridge in 1672, which has the initials J M, thought to be John Mills, inscribed in one of the downstream curbs. Later in the 1700’s the farmhouse had been acquired by the Onslows and in the Land Tax Records it is recorded as “Bridge House”.
In 1757 a turnpike road from Alfold linked to the ancient drove road and a toll house, known as “Toll Gate Cottage” was built between Bridge House and the river bridge. Bridge House was then recorded as “The Bridge Alehouse” and it had presumably been converted to a pub because of the location next to the toll house and turnpike road. In 1791 the river bridge was widened and rebuilt in brick to cater for the increased traffic, namely animals and wagons! Around that time Hall House near the village pond was trading as The Drovers Arms and it was Let to local landowner John Hemmings at £15 per year.
The Wey and Arun Junction Canal
Denzil Onslow then sold the Bridge Ale House to John Hemmings and by 1801 it was trading as “The Onslow Arms Inn”. This proved to be a shrewd move by John Hemmings because within a few years the canal was constructed and brought along the back of the pub. The canal bridge became a busy loading and unloading area, and with the Brewhurst Estate, the Brewhurst Mill and the toll house all at this point, the location for a pub couldn’t have been any better!
The story of the Onslow Arms and its transition from farmhouse to village pub is a fascinating tale that starts just after the Reformation Period of Henry VIII, when Loxwood was developing, and has links to many of Loxwood’s prominent villagers. The Onslow Arms has been at the heart of the village community for centuries and the full story of this historic building will be revealed here later this year.
Loxwood Bridge & Toll House