Smallfield Surrey owes its origins to the wars between England and France many hundreds of years ago, for it was during the reign of Edward III that the estate of Smallfield Place was given to John de Burstow by Lord Burghersh as a reward for the assistance he had given when his lordship was thrown from his horse while in battle.
The moated manor was built around 1600 out of local sandstone and roofed with Horsham stone. It is one of the most important examples of domestic buildings of this time in the country.
The Bysshe family later became owners and Edward Bysshe enlarged the house. He was a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn during the time of James I and his father had been member of parliament for Bletchingley in the 1620s and again in 1640. Bysshe himself was also a member in the last Parliament of Oliver Cromwell in 1654 and in and five years later Richard Cromwell’s parliament.
The first Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed accurately calculated the solar eclipses of 1666 and 1668. He was responsible for one of the earliest recorded sightings of the planet Uranus, which he mistook for a star and catalogued as 34 Tauri.,
He was buried in the Church of St. Bartholomew at Burstow in Surrey where he had been Rector, though largely an absentee Rector, since 1684.
Plaques in this old church commemorate his work as Astronomer Royal and as Rector of the Parish of Burstow for more than 35 years.
The house can be seen from the road and it is a formidable Jacobean property with mullioned bay windows and on the porch it is embossed with the Bysshe arms.
The building is a magnet for female ghosts. A woman appears from a wall in the dining room, while another dressed in blue drifts about in the drawing room. The third female form has been seen outside the house; dressed in wedding lace, she vanishes near the pond.
Nearby is yet another old home of the Bysshes and Shelly the poet was descended from one of the Bysshe family.