Protestant nonconformity


Victoria County History



T P Hudson (Editor), A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland

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'Steyning: Protestant nonconformity', A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1: Bramber Rape (Southern Part) (1980), pp. 244-245. URL: Date accessed: 29 November 2014.


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Ten parishioners who refused to contribute to the purchase of parish books in 1587 were probably Puritans. (fn. 71) The visit of George Fox to the town in 1655, when he was allowed by the constable to hold a meeting in the town hall, (fn. 72) led to the establishment of a Quaker community, which by 1662 had at least six members. During the 1660s their acts of civil disobedience included refusing baptism, marriage, and the payment of church-rate (fn. 73) and tithes. (fn. 74) At least two private burying-grounds were in use in the 1660s and 1670s. (fn. 75) In 1678 a meeting-house was acquired at the north end of the town, (fn. 76) together with a common burying-ground where c. 50 people were buried during the next 50 years. (fn. 77) In the 1720s and 1730s the Quakers declined, and a representative from Steyning last attended the quarterly meeting at Horsham in 1736. (fn. 78) The meeting-house, a stone and brick building of 17th-century appearance, (fn. 79) remained in Quaker hands until at least 1886; (fn. 80) in 1829 there were occasional meetings of Quakers from outside the town. (fn. 81) In 1958 meetings were being held in another building, (fn. 82) but in 1967 Quakers once again owned and met in the meeting-house. (fn. 83)

One Anabaptist was recorded in the town in 1643 and two in 1662. (fn. 84) A Baptist congregation which existed in 1717 (fn. 85) had four members in 1724. (fn. 86) A place of worship which could contain 80 people (fn. 87) was fitted up in High Street c. 1804; (fn. 88) in 1810, however, there was only one Baptist family left in the parish, (fn. 89) and the chapel closed soon afterwards. (fn. 90) There were 10 dissenters in all in the parish in 1676 and 11 in 1724, including two Presbyterians. (fn. 91)

A chapel for Wesleyan Methodists called Trinity or Rose Villa chapel was built in 1835, apparently by the Revd. Edward Lambert of Brighton, who owned it c. 1841. (fn. 92) In 1844 the congregation is said to have had 33 members. (fn. 93) Average attendance in 1851 was 30 in the mornings and 150 in the evenings, (fn. 94) when many Anglicans probably attended. (fn. 95) Throughout the 19th century there was no resident minister. (fn. 96) A Sunday school flourished between 1875 and 1884; in 1878 about 50 children attended. (fn. 97) In the same year a new chapel of flint and yellow brick was built near by in High Street; (fn. 98) it was still in use in 1976.

The Salvation Army used the former Wesleyan Methodist chapel for some years after 1883. (fn. 99) By 1958 it had been taken over by Plymouth Brethren, (fn. 1) and it was still used for worship of a similar character in 1976. The building is stuccoed with a three-bay pilastered and pedimented façade. Another congregation of Plymouth Brethren worshipped in a barn in Jarvis Lane in 1875 and 1958. (fn. 2)


71 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/23/7, f. 33.
72 S.A.C. xvi. 72-3.
73 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1662).
74 S.C.M. vi. 502.
75 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1662); S.A.C. lv. 86.
76 E.S.R.O., Quaker rec. 9/1, f. 25.
77 S.C.M. vi. 503.
78 E.S.R.O., Quaker rec. 1/2.
79 S.C.M. vi. 501, 503.
80 T. W. Marsh, Early Friends in Surr. and Suss. (1886), 37.
81 W.S.R.O., QCR 1/11/W 1/127.
82 Ibid. MP 172, f. 15.
83 Grigg, Memories of Steyning, 5.
84 S.A.C. xxxvi. 139; W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1662).
85 S.N.Q. xv. 219; S.A.S. newsletter, xxi. 117.
86 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/3, f. 17.
87 Ibid. Ep. I/41/64.
88 Ibid. Ep. I/17/44, f. 25; cf. Evans, Worthing (1805), 57.
89 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/41/64.
90 Wiston Archives, pp. 184-5.
91 S.A.C. xlv. 147; W.S.R.O., Ep.I/26/3, f. 17.
92 H.O. 129/86/2/2/3; W.S.R.O., TD/W 118; E. W. Griffin, The Widening Way (Worthing, n.d.), 14.
93 Griffin, Widening Way, 15.
94 H.O. 129/86/2/2/3.
95 Cf. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/2 (1856).
96 e.g. ibid. (1847, 1865, 1903).
97 Ibid. Ep.I/22A/1 (1878, 1884); Ep.I/22A/2 (1875).
98 G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 23944.
99 Ibid. no. 27229.
1 W.S.R.O., MP 172, f. 15.
2 Ibid. Ep. I/22A/2 (1875); MP 172, f. 15.