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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'Thakeham: Nonconformity', A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2: Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) including Horsham (1986), pp. 48. URL: Date accessed: 27 November 2014.


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Two women of the Parker family were presented as recusants between 1621 and 1624, (fn. 88) but by 1640 there were no papists in the parish (fn. 89) and no later evidence of Roman Catholicism has been found.

There were 20 nonconformists in the parish in 1676, (fn. 90) probably including Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Independents. A Quaker lived in Thakeham in 1659; another quarrelled with the incumbent in 1660, (fn. 91) and in 1662 there were 5 Quaker families. (fn. 92) The meeting was then held at John Shaw's house in Shipley, but by 1673 took place at a house in Thakeham. After 1682 meetings alternated between Warminghurst and Shipley, until in 1691 John Shaw gave a house on his land in Thakeham. By 1694 it had been converted as a permanent meeting house and the meeting was transferred there. (fn. 93) The society flourished in the early 18th century, (fn. 94) and although in 1724 no Quakers were recorded, (fn. 95) 10 still attended the meeting in 1786. The meeting house closed in 1793; (fn. 96) it was reregistered in 1837 (fn. 97) but not reopened until 1869. (fn. 98) The building is a timber-framed house, built between 1672 and 1679; (fn. 99) the meeting room is in the south wing, from which two bays of the first floor were removed in the late 17th century to create a gallery. The house, by 1869 known as the Blue Idol, was extended in 1893 and again in 1935. In 1923 part of it was opened as a rest house. (fn. 1) The rest house and meeting room were still in use in 1981.

There were two Baptist families in Thakeham in 1662, meeting in a private house, (fn. 2) and two Baptist men in 1724. (fn. 3) The cause survived in 1729, (fn. 4) but no more is known of it.

Four ejected ministers were preaching at Thakeham in 1669, and at least one of them served a conventicle of 20 to 30 people. (fn. 5) In 1672 two houses were licensed for meetings, one Congregational, the other Presbyterian. (fn. 6) The Congregational group, connected with one at Steyning, was in difficulties by 1691 (fn. 7) and was not mentioned thereafter. The Presbyterian society, connected with that at Petworth, (fn. 8) was re-registered in the same house in 1712. (fn. 9) In 1724 there were two Presbyterian households in the parish. (fn. 10) The group apparently survived until 1739. (fn. 11)

Other nonconformist centres included a building at Furze common for Independent Methodists, registered 1856, closed by 1866, (fn. 12) and the Open Brethren's Gospel Hall there, registered 1926, closed by 1964. (fn. 13)


88 S.R.S. xlix. 17, 68-9, 76, 95; Cal. Assize Rec. Suss. Jas. I, p. 103.
89 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1640).
90 S.A.C. xlv. 147.
91 Marsh, Early Friends, 78, 92. Thanks are offered to Mr. J. H. Pierse for assistance with the acct. of Thakeham Friends and for access to docs.
92 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1662).
93 Ibid.; S.A.C. lv. 77, 80; Marsh, Early Friends, 127; H. D. C., Thakeham Meeting Ho. & Blue Idol Guest Ho. ed. J. H. P[ierse] (1981), 2-3, 5; P.R.O., RG 6/1591, ff. 4, 5; 'Little Slatter, Thakeham, & West Chiltington Burial Ground: Notes on Descent of Properties' (TS. in possession of Mr. Pierse), 3-4.
94 Marsh, Early Friends, 142; S.A.C. lv. 80, 96; Caplan, 'Outline of Nonconf. in Suss.' i. 28; ii. 23.
95 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/3, p. 19.
96 H. D. C., Thakeham Meeting Ho. 5.
97 P.R.O., RG 31/7, no. 5.
98 S.C.M. xiii. 790; W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/2 (1847).
99 Friends Ho., Lond., Friends Trusts Ltd., Dorking and Horsham monthly meeting, deeds relating to Thakeham (Blue Idol) meeting ho.
1 H. D. C., Thakeham Meeting Ho. 14.
2 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1662).
3 Ibid. Ep. I/26/3, p. 19.
4 E. Kensett, Hist. Free Christian Ch. Horsham, 1721- 1921, 33.
5 Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 42, 459, 535, 538; S.A.C. li. 3; Caplan, 'Outline of Nonconf. in Suss.' i. 39-41, 52; Orig. Rec. of Early Nonconf. ed. G. L. Turner, i, p. 30; ii, p. 1029.
6 Cal. S.P. Dom. 1672, 299, 579.
7 Caplan, 'Outline of Nonconf. in Suss.' ii. 9; Freedom after Ejection, ed. A. Gordon, 115.
8 Caplan, 'Outline of Nonconf. in Suss.' ii. 9.
9 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/17/36, f. 41v.; P.R.O., RG 31/1, Chich. dioc. (suppl. return, 1960), p. 9v.
10 W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/3, p. 19.
11 Caplan, 'Outline of Nonconf. in Suss.' iii. 19.
12 G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 7297.
13 Ibid. no. 50149.