The Tower in the Marsh
The buckle badge of the Pelham family can be seen at many locations on this walk around Laughton. However, at Laughton church, the Pelham coat of arms is shared with that of another family, the Colbrands. This walk takes in both their houses and is largely through the Pelham’s older hunting park, the poachers of which got very short shrift.
“What time ye French Sought to have Sackt Seafoord
This Pelham did Repell them back Aboord”
LENGTH – 4.5 miles
TIME – 2.5 hours
START – Laughton Shop and Post Office situated at the junction of the B2124, Church Lane and Shortgate Lane, BN8 6PG (NGR 503 132).
PARKING – Parking in layby on north side of B2124 adjacent to village shop or by village hall in Church Lane.
TOILETS – No public toilets available.
REFRESHMENTS – Pub at Laughton. Village shop at Laughton
This walk contains stiles.
This poem and the buckle on a sign in the middle of the green, represent the colourful Pelham family, whose own history dominates that of this area. During battle in 1356, Sir John Pelham managed to capture the king of France. The English king was so impressed that he removed the buckle of his sword belt and handed it to Sir John as a reward. It henceforth became the badge of the Pelham family and can be seen throughout this walk on houses, churches and even milestones.
Both the Pelham buckle and the family coat of arms can be seen on the tower doorway at the western end of Laughton church. Unseen below the church lies the family vault containing the remains of over sixty Pelhams including two Prime Ministers. One of these, the Duke of Newcastle, rebuilt the chancel and donated a new set of bells to the church in 1724, which he had cast on the spot by a travelling founder, possibly in the area now forming the pond immediately west of the church.
The Pelhams brought the moated manor of Laughton in the 14th century. In 1534 Sir William Pelham decided to rebuild the outdated medieval house in the latest style – brick. He constructed a large manor house, the tower of which still survives. The house was also notable for its fashionable terracotta mouldings, amongst the best in the country. However, it was never finished. Sir William died in 1538 and by 1595 the family had completely abandoned the waterlogged site and moved to Halland.
Surrounding Laughton Place was the “old park”, the first hunting park of the Pelhams, the eroded boundaries of which can just be located today. In 1541 Lord Dacre of Herstmonceux Castle and others “did illegally conspire in what manner they could best hunt in the Park of Nicholas Pelham…with dogs and nets”. On the way, they attacked three of Pelham’s men near Hellingly, one of whom subsequently died. Pelham pushed for the full penalty of the law and got it. Lord Dacre was executed, the first member of the gentry to be so punished for the murder of a commoner.
The walk now passes just to the north of Colbrans Farm, the name commemorating the “second” family of Laughton, the Colbrands. Rising from humble beginnings in medieval times (widow Colbron was taxed a mere 1s 4¾d in 1332), this family were eventually well enough off for their coat of arms to feature as the second heraldic device on the Laughton church tower door. Despite the site having been occupied since Saxon times, the present house only dates from 1820. Chamber’s Court which forms part of the estate, is said to be named after the visit of Edward I in 1276, when he was entertained by the then owner, Sir Hugh de la Chambre. Perhaps the King felt that this accommodation was preferable to the damper location of the Pelham house?
Whilst we have taken reasonable endeavours to ensure the information is up to date and correct, you will be using the information strictly at your own risk. If you come across any inaccuracies whilst you are on your walk, please contact Wealden District Council’s Community and Regeneration team.
The self-guided walk descriptions are provided to help you navigate your way, however we recommend that you plan your route prior to walking the route and that you carry an Ordnance Survey map of the area being walked and follow your position on the map as you proceed.
Please note, we cannot be responsible for the conditions of the footpaths and land and you are responsible for your own safety.