In 1536 Henry VIII had seized West Horsley Place and given it to his cousin Henry Courtenay. Less than three years later Thomas Cromwell seems to have persuaded the king that Courtenay was plotting against him, and he was promptly beheaded. Ownership reverted to the king and nine years later the property was given to Sir Anthony Browne, a long-serving courtier and confidant of the king. He too only managed to enjoy the house for a couple of years, as he died in 1548. The property passed to his son, also Sir Anthony, who soon became the 1st Viscount Montague. West Horsley Place remained in Montague ownership until the start of the Civil Wars when it was taken by the Parliamentarians and given to the Raleigh family.

Sir Anthony Browne (1487 - 1548) is, however, a figure of considerable interest both nationally and locally, in Surrey. He was the only son of Sir Anthony Browne of Betchworth, Standard Bearer of England, and of his wife Lady Lucy Nevill, daughter and co-heiress of John Nevill, Marquis Montacute, and widow of Sir William Fitzwilliam. Browne was married twice: firstly in 1528 to Alice (Alys) Gage, daughter of Sir John Gage, KG, Constable of the Tower. By her he had seven sons including Anthony, who was created Viscount Montague, and three daughters. Some time after 1540, his wife having died, Anthony Browne married Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald (better known as ‘Fair Geraldine’), daughter of Gerald Fitzgerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, and Lady Elizabeth Grey. Their two sons died in infancy. After the death of Browne the young widow married Edward Fiennes, Lord Clinton and Saye, Earl of Lincoln, and was buried with him at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

Sir Anthony Browne’s first official appointment was in 1518 when he became Surveyor and Master of Hunting for the Yorkshire castles and the lordships of Hatfield, Thorne and Conisbrough. Quite what his duties were in this role we do not know. He then became one of the group of officials sent to hand over the town of Tournai to King Francis I of France following the Treaty of London and on the 1st July 1522 Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, knighted him. In 1525 he was made Lieutenant of the Isle of Man. We do not know if he spent any time there as by1527 (not yet aged 30) he was ambassador to France. This post seems to have involved occasional visits rather than permanent residence abroad. In 1528 and again in 1533 he was sent to France by Henry VIII. On the first occasion it was to invest Francis I with the Order of the Garter; on the second to accompany Francis to Nice for a conference with the Pope concerning the divorce of Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon.

In 1536 there were uprisings in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, known as The Pilgrimage of Grace. These were in protest against Henry VIII's break with Rome. The king sent Sir Anthony, amongst others, to suppress the protests and, perhaps in part, to test his loyalty. Browne, a life-long Catholic, executed the task and maintained the king's trust from then on.

In 1537 he was present at the christening of the future King Edward VI and was one of the knights who guarded the silver font used on that occasion. Browne was elected to parliament as Knight of the Shire for Surrey in 1539 and in the same year was appointed Master of the King’s Horse, an appointment for life. In 1540 he was made a Knight of the Garter and given ownership of Battle Abbey and the priory of St Mary Overy in Southwark, both confiscated in 1538 as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. The house which he built at Southwark was for generations the London residence of his descendents, the Viscounts Montague.

In 1543, on the death of his maternal half-brother Sir William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, he inherited further estates including the Priory of Easebourne and the estate of Cowdray, both close to Midhurst. Part of the magnificent mansion of Cowdray had already been built by William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, but much was added by Browne.

More locally, in 1544, the Manors of Send, Jury and East Clandon, together with Brede, Sussex, which included a considerable part of the town of Hastings, were also granted to Browne. The properties in Send and Ripley had belonged to the Augustinian Newark Priory, the ruins of which can still be seen on the banks of the Wey between Ripley and Pyrford. The dissolution year of Newark Priory was 1539. At that time there were nine canons in residence as well as 41 servants and farm workers. The valuable items of silver were all sent to the Master of the Jewels in the Tower of London to be melted down. Other ornaments and utensils, corn, hay, cattle and farm equipment were sold for under £100. Browne was initially appointed ‘farmer for the crown’ to administer the estate. Once he was given the manor he removed the good building material from the priory site and used it to rebuild his house at Byfleet.

Other fine properties which passed to Browne were the chapel and the vicarage of St Mary Magdalene in Ripley, and Chapel Farm, just behind the church. He also got Newark Mill, various farms in West Horsley, Ripley, Ockham, Woking, Pyrford, Wisley, Send Barns Farm in the village of Send and the buildings now known as Cedar House and Tudor House in Ripley – then known as George Farm. In the 20th century part of this farm became the Georgelands housing estate off Newark Lane, Ripley.

The document – ‘Letters Patent’ – granting the Manor of Send and Ripley to Sir Anthony has survived with its splendid royal seal and can be seen at the Surrey History Centre in Woking.

There is no evidence that the family ever lived in the parish and they appear to have taken little interest in its affairs: Manorial Court records indicate that they were generally represented by their Steward and did not attend in person. Despite this the Manor of Send and Ripley was held by the Montagues for around 150 years, though apparently with some breaks during which other names than Montague appear as Lords of the Manor in Manorial Court Records (these records are available at the small local history museum next to the Village Hall in Ripley). In 1712 Send and Ripley was sold by the 5th Viscount to the Onslows, a family with substantial property ownership in this part of Surrey, including Clandon Park. They held it until 1924 when the copyhold system of tenancy from the Lord of the Manor ended. Nowadays Surrey County Council is technically Lord of the Manor of Send and Ripley and, as such, responsible for Ripley Green, at 65 acres the largest village green in England.

In 1540 Sir Anthony Browne was sent to the court of John of Cleves in Flanders to act as proxy at the marriage of Henry VIII with Anne of Cleves. In 1543 he accompanied the Duke of Norfolk in an expedition against the Scots and in the following year, as Master of the Horse, he attended Henry VIII at the siege of Boulogne.

During the last illness of Henry VIII Browne took responsibility for telling the King of his approaching end. Henry appointed him guardian to Prince Edward and to Princess Elizabeth, made him one of his executors, and left him a legacy. On the King's death Browne broke the news to the young Prince, and when as Edward VI he made his public entry into London, Browne, Master of the Horse, rode beside him.

But Browne survived Henry VIII by only one year and died at his house at Byfleet on 6th July 1548. He was buried with great pomp at Battle, under a splendid altar tomb which he had prepared himself.

Sir Anthony Browne was a distinguished courtier and statesman and appears to have had the full confidence of Henry VIII whose favour he continued to hold despite the fickleness of his monarch. The Montague title became extinct after the death of the 9th Viscount in 1797.


1. Sir Anthony Browne, artist unknown c. 1550

2. A details from The Encampment of the English Forces Near Portsmouth, part of the Cowdray engravings. (Sir Anthony is shown riding the white horse behind the King. )

3. Sir Anthony Browne's coat of arms

4. Elizabeth FitzGerald, unknown artist, c.1575

5. Coronation Procession of Edward VI, Samual Hieronymous Grimm, 1785