A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
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This small parish, of 2,184 acres with a population of 385 in 1931, lies south of Midhurst, the village being 1½ miles east of Cocking Station. Its western boundary is formed by a stream running north-east from Cocking mill-pond, and the southern by the ridgeway on the crest of Heyshott Down, where are a remarkable series of 'covered ways' and other earthworks. (fn. 1) From here, where a height of 760 ft. is reached, the ground drops sharply in less than a mile to about 180 ft. in the village. The northern part of the parish, with Heyshott Common and The Roughs, is mostly woodland and scrub, and there is a large block of woodland, Hoe Copse, west of the village.
The village contains little of architectural interest; a house south of the church has walls of 17th-century timbering and a central chimney-stack of that period. In the hamlet, and former tithing, of Hoyle, northeast of the village, are some stone houses, not apparently of great age. On the exact boundary of this parish and South Ambersham is Hoyle Manor (fn. 2) or, more correctly, Farm, a 16th-century house built of squared stone rubble with free-stone dressings. The entrance, in the east front, is four-centred, and the windows are mullioned and have moulded labels. The principal living-room has an open-timbered ceiling with boldly chamfered beams, and a brick fire-place with fourcentred head, over which is a fine carved mantel of six arched panels separated by strips of fluting and crowned by an ornate carved frieze. A contemporary staircase leads to bedrooms which have Jacobean and later panelling; and in a partition wall is exposed part of the original wattle-and-daub filling.
Dunford House was bought about 1845 for his residence by Richard Cobden, M.P., the warm advocate of Free Trade and opponent of the Corn Laws, who was born in the parish on 3 June 1804; it has been given by Mr. and Mrs. T. Fisher Unwin to the Cobden Memorial Association. Conferences and meetings are held there. The Cobden Club and a small library and reading-room were opened there by Mrs. Fisher Unwin, who was formerly a Miss Cobden. In 1933 the school house was enlarged and a large room there is used as the village hall.
Heyshott does not appear in the Domesday survey, but in the reign of Henry I Jocelin, brother of Queen Adeliz, granted part of HEYSHOTT with Hambledon to his elder daughter Eleanor and the remainder of the parish to his younger daughter Alice. (fn. 3) It was a member of the honor of Petworth and the overlordship was held by the Percy family. In 1231 William de Percy, the grandson of Jocelin, gave the manor of Heyshott to his younger brother Henry and the heirs of his body, with the right to alienate lands of the manor to the value of £20. (fn. 4) The manor was to be held by the render of a pair of gilt spurs or 12d. at Easter; and William also gave him the woods of Leweredescumb, Loppescumb, and Pachescumb, reserving hunting rights therein. Eight years later Sir William took these woods back, giving his brother in exchange a rent of 20s. payable by John, son and heir of William de Percy of La Cradele, (fn. 5) from 1 virgate which Isabel le Assefalde once held. (fn. 6) Henry died in 1245, when 2/3 of his lands, held in socage, in Heyshott and Sutton were granted to his widow Isabel to hold until his heir came of age. (fn. 7) That heir was presumably John de Percy, who had a charter of free warren for Heyshott in 1252. (fn. 8) He is mentioned in 1276 as lord of Heyshott (fn. 9) and in 1278 as having rights of warren in Heyshott. (fn. 10) By 1288 he was dead and these rights were exercised jointly by his heirs Lambertle Taylur, Richard de Beselyngford (sic), and Philip de Tyford. (fn. 11) A lawsuit of 1297 shows that Agnes de Percy, Richard de Boselinthorpe and Isabel his wife, and Philip de Thetford and Alice his wife held jointly ⅓ of the manor of Heyshott, by descent from John de Percy, brother of Agnes and uncle of Isabel and Alice. (fn. 12) Agnes de Percy, as 'sister and heir' of John, gave the woods of Leverchecomb and Loppescoumb to Sir Henry, son of Sir Henry de Percy, in exchange for land elsewhere. (fn. 13) She may have been married to the Lambert le Taylur mentioned above and subsequently to Robert Bon Johan, (fn. 14) who in 1304 granted his manor of Heyshott to Sir Henry de Percy and in 1306 with his wife Agnes sold to Henry, son of Henry de Percy, a messuage, 3 carucates of land, and 60 acres of wood in Heyshott (probably identical with the 'manor'), with warranty against the heirs of Agnes. (fn. 15) If so, her descendants took her name, as in 1347 Henry, son of William de Percy, son of Agnes de Percy, remitted to Sir Henry de Percy of Petworth all claims to the manor derived from his said grandmother. (fn. 16) While part of the manor had thus passed to the senior Percy line, Philip de Theford and Alice in 1299 granted ¼ of the manor to Stephen le Chaumberlyn and Lora his wife for their lives, with reversion to the heirs of Alice. (fn. 17) Stephen must have died not long after this, as in 1302 his son, William le Chaumberlyn, held a moiety of the manor of Heyshott by the yearly render of a pair of gilt spurs. (fn. 18) At the same time Lora is entered as holding ½ fee in 'Hallingelond'. (fn. 19) She is presumably the widow of Stephen and identical with Lora de la Bysse who in 1306 sued William de St. George for seizing her swine at le Mershe in Heyshott. (fn. 20) In 1313 Lora de la Bysse was sued by Richard de Moselingthorpe and Isabel for committing waste in Isabel's lands in Heyshott which she held only for life; (fn. 21) but next year Lora held Heyshott of Henry de Percy as ½ knight's fee, (fn. 22) and in 1324 she bought ¼ of the manor from John de Moselingthorpe, (fn. 23) son and heir of Isabel. (fn. 24) William le Chaumberleyn in 1340 settled the moiety of the manor on himself and his wife Joan for life, with remainder to his son William and the heirs male of his body, and contingent remainders to his younger sons Thomas and John. (fn. 25) William was dead by 1347, when his widow Joan is mentioned, (fn. 26) and his son William dying without issue, the property passed to Thomas, from whom it was acquired in 1391 by Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, (fn. 27) who thus held both moieties of the manor. His estates were forfeited for rebellion (fn. 28) and in 1412 Heyshott, valued at £20, was in the hands of John Norbury; (fn. 29) four years later the 2nd earl (son of 'Harry Hotspur') recovered his estates, (fn. 30) and in 1428 Thomas Percy was returned as holding a knight's fee in Heyshott, formerly of Henry Percy and John (sic) Chambyrleyn. (fn. 31) Throughout the 15th century the manor of Heyshott remained in the Percy family and in 1534 the Earl of Northumberland sold it to Sir Anthony Browne, apparently for his half-brother William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, (fn. 32) as at his death the earl was seised of the manor of Heyshott, which he settled, with one water-mill there, upon his illegitimate son, Thomas Fitzwilliam, otherwise Fisher, with reversion to Sir Anthony Browne. (fn. 33) Further additions were made to the earl's Heyshott lands, by the grant (fn. 34) in 1537 of the land there originally granted to Durford Abbey by Jocelin, the brother of Queen Adeliz, in the 12th century; (fn. 35) and in 1541 of lands there late of the priory or hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England, (fn. 36) which lay about Hoyle Farm. (fn. 37) Sir Anthony Browne died seised of the manor in 1548. (fn. 38) It has been alleged that the Earl of Southampton gave the manor of Heyshott to William Gray 'a Northern gentleman who had command in the warres under him'. (fn. 39) If so, this would appear to be a lease of the demesnes. In 1577 Viscount Montague conveyed the manor to Francis, Earl of Bedford, (fn. 40) who two years later sold all the land, common, and waste of the manor in Heyshott to John Lloyd, Edmund Gray, and John Feilder. (fn. 41) In 1615 William Gray released his rights to George Cocquerell and Agnes Feilder, widow. (fn. 42) Cockrell's Pond Copse perhaps commemorates the Cocquerell tenancy of Heyshott. George Coquerell in 1669 conveyed the manor to his son George on his marriage with Margaret Yalden; in 1710 the younger George's sister and heir Martha married the Rev. Charles Randall Covert and they sold the manor to Richard Goodwin who devised it at his death in 1756 to his sister Mrs. Jane Roundean. (fn. 43) She married William Vigor of Taplow, Bucks. A few years later (1761) the manor of Heyshott was sold to Lord Egremont, (fn. 44) from whom it has descended to Lord Leconfield.
Probably the earliest reference to Heyshott mill is that contained in an undated grant, (fn. 45) made perhaps between 1240 and 1245, by William Percy to Henry de Barton, of 20s. of rent given him by his brother Henry Percy in the manor of Heyshott, of which 10s. came from a mill and the other 10s. from land which Beatrice, widow of John Colman, once held of Henry Percy. This rent was the subject of several transactions between 1307 and 1342, (fn. 46) when Walter Crochon, desiring to disinherit his son, granted the rent to two chaplains, who regranted it to Henry Percy. The whole land from which the rent came was known as Colman's Land, a name which survived into the 17th century. In 1594 Thomas Aylewyn died seised of Colman's Lands in Heyshott, (fn. 47) and in 1677 a messuage and lands called Colemans or Hollands, Charles Closes, Redmans, and Mountfield in Heyshott, purchased of Richard Aylwin, were settled with two trustees for his son Richard by John Farrington the elder of Chichester. (fn. 48)
William Aylinge, yeoman, at the time of his death in 1583 held extensively at Heyshott, including 2 acres of meadow called Harpe Mead lying under the castle wall of Arundel but within the manor of Heyshott. (fn. 49)
In 1629 Sir Richard Grobham died seised of a tenement called Heyshott Farm otherwise Upper Court. (fn. 50) He died without issue and the property appears to have come into the possession of Sir William Thomas of Folkington, (fn. 51) who in 1676 mortgaged to William Dyke of Frant ⅓ of a messuage or farm called Heyshott Farm and ⅓ of a water-mill called Costers Mill and lands belonging thereto in Heyshott, Woolavington, and Easebourne.
The church of ST. JAMES (fn. 52) consists of chancel with north vestry, nave with western bell-cote, north aisle, and south porch; it is built of flint rubble with ashlar dressings, and is roofed with tile.
In the early 13th century it consisted of chancel, nave, and narrow north aisle; in the 19th century the chancel was rebuilt, the aisle widened, and the vestry and porch added.
The chancel (apparently a modern reproduction of its predecessor (fn. 53) ) has diagonal eastern buttresses in two stages with offsets; in the east wall is a window with three trefoiled lights under a common arch, in the south is a three-light window with segmental arched head and Perpendicular tracery, in the north is a single lancet, now covered externally by the vestry, and a plain pointed doorway leading to the latter; the roof has a single truss with principals, collar, king-post, and diagonal struts. The chancel arch, also modern, is of two orders, pointed, with square responds and corbels to carry the inner order, in the Early English style.
The nave has one buttress at the south-east corner, an intermediate one on the south side, a pair at the south-west corner and a single one at the north-west; these are all of two stages with sloping offsets and appear to be 13th-century. In the south wall is a window of two trefoil-headed lights with semi-Perpendicular tracery, perhaps late-14th-century, but much restored; the south doorway is a plain pointed arch of one order, with segmental rear-arch, perhaps 13th-century. The north arcade, of three bays, has pointed arches of two orders resting on two cylindrical piers with moulded capitals and bases; the latter are partly covered by the present floor, the former have abaci of Romanesque rather than Gothic profile, but are probably of the 13th century; the east respond is in the form of a halfpier, the west is square, the arch dying away into it. The west window resembles the south. There are four ancient roof trusses; the two eastern tie-beams each have braced king-posts supporting a collar purlin, the two western carry lengthwise timbers supporting the bell-cote; the underside of the rafters is ceiled with plaster; the sides of the bell-cote are boarded, and the pyramidal roof shingled.
The north aisle is modern; the east and west windows are copies of the west window of the nave, in the north wall are three lancets. In the midmost of these are four scraps of ancient stained glass, white with yellow stain, perhaps 15th-century. The uppermost is a mitred head with long hair, the next the upper part of an angel blowing a wind instrument, the next the upper part of an angel playing on cymbals, the lowest an angel playing on a crowd. The span roof is in three bays with trusses like those of the chancel.
The south porch (modern) is a plain building of stone.
The font is a single block, its upper part is tubshaped, its lower fashioned into four capitals, perhaps originally 12th-century, later adapted to be set on five shafts, but now resting directly on a plain base. The cover is oak, of the 17th century. The other fittings are modern.
Over the south door is the Royal Arms as borne 1714–1800.
The registers begin in 1690.
On the south side of the churchyard are three yew trees, of no great size.
The church of Heyshott was presumably founded as a chapel to that of Stedham; it was so styled in 1291 (fn. 57) and it continued attached to Stedham (fn. 58) (q.v.) until 1882, when it was constituted an independent rectory in the gift of the bishop of Chichester.