A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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59. THE COLLEGE OF SOUTH MALLING (fn. 1)
Aldulf, prince or duke of the South Saxons, about the year 765, gave lands in Stanmer, Lindfield, and Burleigh for the endowment of a monastery in honour of God and St. Michael, which he had apparently already established at Malling. (fn. 2) He was therefore commemorated in the list of benefactors as the first founder of the college. (fn. 3) The manor of Malling was subsequently bestowed upon the archbishop of Canterbury by Baldred, king of Kent, about 823, but as he was not at the time in full possession of the kingdom the grant was held to be invalid, and had to be renewed in 838 at the council of Kingston by the kings Egbert and Ethelwolf. (fn. 4) Nothing more is heard of the foundation until the Domesday Survey, which shows the canons of St. Michael holding 4 hides of Malling Manor and the estate of Stanmer, rated at 20 hides; as they are here spoken of as canons it is clear that the Benedictine monks—for such the inmates of Aldult's monastery would probably have been— had been replaced by seculars.
About 1150 Archbishop Theobald refounded the college, building a new church, and endowing it with all the tithes of his manor of South Malling and its appurtenances. (fn. 5) Of the collegiate church thus established the nominal head was the archbishop, who held the prebend of Mayfield, but active control was vested in the dean, who was also rural dean of South Malling deanery, containing the churches of Ringmer, Framfield, and Southeram, which were prebendal, Cliffe, Buxted with Uckfield chapel, Edburton, Ifield, Mayfield, Stanmer, Wadhurst, and Glynde. The church of West Tarring with Patching was also at first attached to this deanery, but was after the thirteenth century put under that of Pagham. The dean was required to be constantly resident, and the three canons, who held the offices of precentor, chancellor, and treasurer respectively, had to reside forty days every year, (fn. 6) but this obligation rapidly became merely nominal, the prebends being bestowed upon wealthy pluralists and papal nominees whose sole connexion with the college lay in the payment of stipends to their vicars. (fn. 7) Originally the profits of the churches of Malling, Southeram, and Framfield had been divided between the dean and canons, that of Ringmer being held by each in turn for a year, but under Archbishop Chicheley Malling church was assigned to the dean, Southeram to the precentor, Ringmer to the chancellor, and Framfield to the treasurer. (fn. 8) Two other officials of the church were the penitentiary and the sacrist, who were obliged to reside, and obtained their income mainly from oblations and certain special tithes, though the sacrist's office was further endowed in 1275 with certain lands and rents which had been left by the vicar of Ringmer to found a chantry, but had proved insufficient for the purpose. (fn. 9) Each canon had to maintain a vicar, and the rector of Buxted had to provide a sub-deacon of good character and voice to serve with the vicars. (fn. 10)
The deans and canons from an early period had each a separate manse with a garden, (fn. 11) but the vicars had no fixed residence, but lived in such houses as they could obtain in the neighbourhood, until in 1515 Archbishop Warham ordered the erection of a suitable manse for their use. (fn. 12)
In spite of its antiquity this college has singularly little history attached to it; beyond its frequent occurrence in the archbishop's registers as the place from which letters were dated or where ordinations were held few notices of it occur. The statutes revised by Archbishops Stafford (1443) and Warham (1515) have already been dealt with, and the visitations held in 1298 (fn. 13) and 1376 (fn. 14) contain only injunctions of a technical nature; this absence of history, though disappointing to the chronicler, may be taken as evidence of the satisfactory morality of the establishment. It must be remembered that the prebends were mostly held by ecclesiastics who made no endeavour to reside on the spot, even the deanery being occasionally bestowed upon persons who could not execute the duties, as in 1395 when the pope dispensed Richard Courtenay, the archbishop's nephew, then in his fourteenth year, to hold the deanery of South Malling with canonries of Chichester, Bosham, Lincoln, London, Wells, and Wilton. (fn. 15) The deanery was indeed a sufficiently valuable benefice to attract the attention of Cromwell, who demanded the patronage of it from the prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, during the vacancy of the primacy in 1534. (fn. 16)
South Malling College was valued in 1535 at £45 12s. 5¾d. clear, (fn. 17) and was suppressed in 1547, (fn. 18) its site and possessions being granted to Sir Thomas Palmer, (fn. 19) but recovered by the archbishop in 1553 upon petition showing that the college had only held of the archbishopric as tenants at will. (fn. 20) Surveys were made in 1555 of the dilapidated church with its six bells, its lead, its 'xxix marbyll stones wherein werre Images and scrypturs of brasse,' and its stone and timber. (fn. 21)
Deans Of The College Of South Malling
William de Bosco, occurs 1230 (fn. 22)
Nicholas de Wich, appointed 1261 (fn. 23)
Nicholas Wardedyeu, appointed c. 1327, died c. 1333 (fn. 30)
Richard de Apulderham, appointed and exchanged April, 1371 (fn. 37)
Thomas Ocle, appointed 1371, (fn. 38) exchanged 1375
Giles de Wyngremouth, appointed 1375, (fn. 39) died 1380
Richard Corteney, occurs 1395 (fn. 44)
Henry Winchestre, appointed 1399, (fn. 45) exchanged 1406
Thomas Edmond, died 1481 (fn. 51)
Thomas Brent, appointed 1481, (fn. 51) died 1515
Robert Wykes, appointed 1515 (fn. 52)
John Piers, occurs 1535, (fn. 53) died 1536
Thomas Heritage, appointed 1536, (fn. 54) died 1537
Nicholas Heth, appointed 1537, (fn. 55) resigned 1540
A fragmentary example of the collegiate seal shows that it bore the winged figure of St. Michael. (fn. 58)