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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Selham is a small parish, its original area being only 423 acres. A detached portion was annexed to Lodsworth in 1870; subsequently the hamlet of South Ambersham, an outlier of the Hampshire parish of Steep, was annexed for ecclesiastical purposes to Selham, and by the West Sussex Review Order of 1933 the civil parish was itself annexed to Graffham. (fn. 1) The ground slopes down from an elevation of nearly 200 ft. on Selham Common in the south to just under 50 ft. on the banks of the River Rother, which forms the northern boundary of the parish. Except for a patch of woodland on the edge of the Common the land, which is sand overlying gravel, is open. The church lies near the north-east corner of the parish, and just south of it is Selham Station on the line to Midhurst, which crosses the parish.
In 1086 SELHAM, which had been held of Earl Godwin by Codulf, was held of Earl Roger by Robert (son of Tetbald) and of him by Fulk. It was assessed at 4 hides and there was 1 haw in Chichester attached to the manor. (fn. 2) With Robert's other lands it became part of the honor of Petworth, and in 1195 when Brian son of Ralph and Gunnor his wife remitted to Henry de Percy their rights in the honor, they retained a fee which Philip de Seleham held. (fn. 3) This they were to hold of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who held of Henry de Percy. (fn. 4) Philip was son of the Sir Ralph de Seleham who gave the advowson of Selham to Rusper (see below), and about this time he, at the request of his father's brother Philip, gave to Boxgrove Priory 1 virgate, of which half was in Selham in the tenure of Hugh Shortnose (cum curto naso) and the other half in 'Mehers' (?Midhurst or Madehurst), the grant being confirmed by Brian son of Ralph and Gunnor. (fn. 6) In 1229 Philip gave one-third knight's fee in Selham to Ives, Prior of La Chaucee (Calceto, or Pynham, the small Augustinian priory founded by Queen Adeliz); in return the priory were to provide him for the rest of his life with clothing and food such as one of their own canons received, and to maintain his horse and groom. (fn. 7) By 1341 the priory held lands in the parish of which the tithes were worth 15s.; (fn. 8) and in 1428 the Prior of Calceto was holding a knight's fee in Selham. (fn. 9) Calceto was one of the small priories suppressed by Cardinal Wolsey, with papal permission, to provide endowments for his educational foundations, and its estates including the manor of Selham were granted to the Dean and Canons of Cardinal's College, Oxford, in 1526. (fn. 10)
After the fall of the Cardinal, Selham came into the king's hands and remained there until in 1530, by an exchange (fn. 11) of lands between the king and the heirs of the Marquess of Montagu, Selham was settled upon his fourth daughter Lucy, who was the wife of Sir Anthony Browne and grandmother of the first Viscount Montague, to whom the manor of Selham descended. It was annexed to the Cowdray Estate and thereafter followed its descent. It formed part of the jointure of Mary, the wife of Anthony Browne, son of the first Viscount Montague, and mother of the second viscount, who was successively married after the death of her first husband to Sir Edmund Uvedale and Sir Thomas Gerard, with reversion at her death to her son the second viscount, (fn. 12) who predeceased her. As Lady Mary Uvedale, widow, she held a court at Selham in 1612 and again, after she became Lady Mary Gerard, in 1631. She afterwards surrendered her right and granted the manor to her grandson Francis, Viscount Montague. (fn. 13) The present lord of the manor is Viscount Cowdray.
Although no lands in Selham figure among the estates of Boxgrove Priory in the Valor of 1535, a grant made to Henry Audley and John Cordall in 1545 included lands in Selham called Flerder Lande (fn. 14) between the way from Easebourne to Lodsworth on the south and Trayfeld, or Trayfelles Hethe, on the north and east, late belonging to Boxgrove Priory. (fn. 15)
In 1683 Richard Peckham of Up Marden and Thomas Peckham of Arundel, in consideration of the marriage of Richard Cooper with Mary daughter of Thomas Peckham, made a settlement of various lands, amongst them a messuage called Howicke (fn. 16) in Selham and Lodsworth, 8 acres called Hollonds in Selham, 20 acres called Heringe Hoake, property in Selham purchased of William Yaldwyn or Yalden, called Longe otherwise Slongeland and Reydon, messuage, barn, and 10 acres called Millands in Selham (presumably near the mill, (fn. 17) mentioned in the Domesday Survey), (fn. 18) 7 acres called More otherwise Morey, 4 acres called Howick Grove, and a grove called Hillond Grove, all in Selham. (fn. 19)
The church of ST. JAMES (fn. 20) consists of chancel, nave, south chapel and north porch; it is built of rubble, plastered, a little herringbone work being visible in the chancel walls and in the south wall of the nave; the porch is of brick and the roofs of tile. The chancel and nave are of the 11th century, the chapel was added probably in the 14th. There was, at one time, a western tower, (fn. 21) which had been destroyed by 1791, the date of Grimm's drawing; (fn. 22) the chapel and the west wall of the nave were rebuilt, and the porch added, in the 19th century.
In the chancel the east window, of three lancets with a common rear-arch, and a single lancet in each of the north and south walls, are modern insertions. The roof-framing has two moulded tie-beams with braced king-posts and collar purlin, a collar links each couple of rafters; this is perhaps of the 15th century. The chancel arch is semicircular, of one order, moulded on the west side. Its responds are square with a threequarter-round shaft attached. These have bases of approximately Ionic form and capitals, each of which consists of three members. The lower-most (about 12 in. high) on the north side has a crude reproduction of the bell of a Composite capital, that on the south an intertwined snake and monster, the head of the latter taking the place of a volute. The next member (8 in. high) on the north side has interlaced ornament, and on the south an anthemion; the uppermost (6 in. high) has on the north an anthemion and a moulding, and on the south a monster and a looped ornament. The general design shows marked signs of Byzantine influence, that of Jerusalem rather than Constantinople. South of the chancel arch is a plain squint, presumably coeval with the chapel. The arch opening into the latter from the nave is of two orders with square responds, perhaps of the 14th century. In the north wall of the nave is a modern window of two uncusped lights surmounted by a roundel; west of this is the original 11th-century doorway, 2 ft. 10 in. wide and 8 ft. 1 in. high. The jambs are square, with no door rebate; a plain semicircular arch rests on slightly moulded imposts. In the west wall is a modern window with pointed head and two cinquefoil-headed lights. (fn. 23) A modern stone bell-cote surmounts this wall. The roof consists of couples of rafters with braced collars; there are no principals, but four massive tie-beams; the whole is clearly medieval, and possibly coeval with the walls.
The south chapel was completely rebuilt in the 19th century; it has small clasping buttresses to both south quoins, a one-light trefoil-headed window to the east, and two diminutive lancets to the south. The porch is a plain building of brick.
The font is tub-shaped, probably coeval with the church, it rests on a low hexagonal base and has a plain oak cover of the 17th or 18th century.
The other fittings are modern.
There is one bell, uninscribed. (fn. 24)
The communion plate consists of a silver chalice of 1568, ornamented with two bands of engraving, and a paten cover which bears the date 1568 in pounced figures. (fn. 25)
The registers begin in 1565.
The advowson of Selham Church was granted to Rusper Priory by Sir Ralph de Selham, certainly before 1204, as the grant of the advowson was confirmed by Seffrid II, Bishop of Chichester, (fn. 26) who died in that year, and probably before 1195, when Ralph seems to have been dead. (fn. 27) It remained among the possessions of Rusper until the Dissolution, when it was, in common with the other possessions of the priory, granted to Robert Southwell and Margaret his wife, (fn. 28) who, in 1538, had licence to alienate the advowson of Selham church to Thomas Bowyer, to whom they accordingly conveyed it in 1540. (fn. 29) In 1551 Thomas Bowyer sold it to Stephen Bord, (fn. 30) who in 1556 (fn. 31) settled the advowson upon his younger son Thomas, who seems to have sold it in 1591 to Thomas Higgons. (fn. 32) In 1613 the advowson of Selham was left by Richard Taylor, (fn. 33) a fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, to his college; he had purchased the advowson from William Bennett, woollen-draper of Arundel and also a member of the college, who had inherited it from his brother Thomas (d. 1611). Brasenose College presented to the living as late as 1915. (fn. 34) The living is now in the gift of Viscount Cowdray.
The church was valued at £5 6s. 8d. in 1291; (fn. 35) and in 1341 it was stated that the rector had a messuage and garden and 24 acres of glebe, worth 13s. 4d., while his tithes included those of the mill (5s.), of honey (12d.), and of apples (13s. 4d.). (fn. 36) The gross value of the rectory in 1535 still remained at £5 6s. 8d., from which 5s. was payable to the Prioress of Rusper. (fn. 37)