A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
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Old Shoreham church was built before the Conquest and was recorded in 1086. (fn. 1) William de Braose included the tithes of Erringham and Shoreham in his grant to the church of St. Nicholas, Bramber, c. 1073, (fn. 2) and the parish church of Shoreham (i.e. Old Shoreham) was part of his grant of 1080 or earlier to the abbey of St. Florent, Saumur. (fn. 3) The abbey's daughter house, Sele priory, replaced St. Nicholas's, Bramber, (fn. 4) and had the advowson of Old Shoreham (fn. 5) with a pension of 5½ marks from the church. The vicar of Shoreham recorded in 1222 may have been of Old or of New Shoreham. (fn. 6) In the later 13th century the rectors of Old Shoreham were sinecurists, (fn. 7) and a vicarage was endowed in 1309; (fn. 8) in 1400 or 1401 Sele priory appropriated the rectory, (fn. 9) following licences of 1397 and 1400. (fn. 10) The rectory, together with the advowson of the vicarage established either in 1309 or at the time of the appropriation, passed with others of the priory's possessions to Magdalen College, Oxford. (fn. 11) The vicarage was united with that of New Shoreham in 1897; (fn. 12) in 1949 the college transferred the patronage of the combined vicarages to the bishop. (fn. 13)
Old Shoreham church was valued at £24 in 1291. (fn. 14) The income which the vicar received under the endowment of 1309 was not taxed in the early 15th century because of its poverty, (fn. 15) and later in that century he seems to have received a salary of £6 a year from the prior of Sele. (fn. 16) The vicarage was worth £7 18s. 6d. a year net in 1535, (fn. 17) and £13 6s. 8d. (apparently gross) in 1612. (fn. 18) Queen Anne's Bounty augmented the vicarage with £200 in 1761, (fn. 19) and in 1831 the average net value of the living was £58 a year. (fn. 20) In 1844 the vicar was awarded a rent-charge of £155 for the small tithes, Magdalen College receiving £310 for the great tithes. (fn. 21) In 1873, when the net annual value of the living was £140, the vicar received a voluntary augmentation of £150 from the college, which in addition had made a beneficial lease to him of the rectorial rent-charge. (fn. 22) The rector's house was mentioned in 1229. (fn. 23) In 1636 there was a small vicarage house, with 1/8 a. which was the whole vicarial glebe, on the west side of the village street adjoining the rectorial glebe southeast of the church. (fn. 24) It was presumably enlarged soon afterwards, for the vicar's house had 9 hearths in 1662, (fn. 25) but it was apparently not occupied in 1670; (fn. 26) in 1676 the churchwardens presented that the parsonage (sc. vicarage) had been for many years totally ruined and fallen down. (fn. 27) The house was uninhabited from c. 1700 and a new one was built in 1723, (fn. 28) but by 1828 there was no vicarage house. (fn. 29) William Wheeler, vicar 1843–55, built a large stone house in the Tudor style close to the New Shoreham boundary by Mill Lane. That house was used as the vicarage after the union of the two benefices in 1897 but by 1931 had become a private house called Shoreham Court, (fn. 30) later converted into flats.
The church at New Shoreham was recorded c. 1096, when Philip de Braose added it, as the church of the port, to the possessions which his father William had granted to the abbey of St. Florent. (fn. 31) About 1130 the abbey allowed Philip the right to nominate the chaplain of New Shoreham chapel, (fn. 32) which in 1146 was recorded as subordinate to Old Shoreham church. (fn. 33) A grant of c. 1195 referring to the chapels belonging to Old Shoreham church and witnessed by the chaplain of New Shoreham may suggest that New Shoreham then remained a chapelry, but it seems to be named as a parish of itself c. 1170 and c. 1190, (fn. 34) and by the mid 13th century had become independent; under a papal licence of 1250 the church, taxed at 15 marks in 1255, was appropriated to Sele priory which in 1252 made an agreement with the vicar of New Shoreham for the endowment of his vicarage. The pope ordained the vicarage, with a slightly more generous endowment, in 1261. (fn. 35) The rectory and the advowson of the vicarage passed with those of Old Shoreham to Magdalen College, Oxford; (fn. 36) as already mentioned, the vicarages were united in 1897, and the bishop was patron from 1948.
When the vicarage was endowed in 1261 it received a house, all the tithes of some produce, and a third of other tithes and offerings, of which a division was to be made each Saturday. (fn. 37) The rectory was taxed at £10 in 1291 and the vicarage at £5; (fn. 38) excluding great tithes the income of the vicarage was put at £13 13s. 5d. in 1341 compared with £8 15s. 4d. for the rectory. (fn. 39) Apparently with the decline of the prosperity of the port the value of the living fell: in 1374 the rectory was said to be worth £4, (fn. 40) and the vicarage may have been correspondingly reduced, for in 1405 New Shoreham was one of seven churches in the diocese exempted from payment of the clerical tenth. (fn. 41) Although the vicarage was assessed at £6 in 1535 (fn. 42) it was said in 1548 not to exceed 5 marks a year. (fn. 43) During the Interregnum the minister of New Shoreham received an augmentation of his living, (fn. 44) the poverty of which is likely to have been the reason for the failure to fill it and for its sequestration from c. 1662 to 1713. (fn. 45) In 1713 the Crown presented by lapse a vicar who was induced to accept the living by the promise of annual payments from the parishioners. (fn. 46) After six augmentations by Queen Anne's Bounty between 1777 and 1819 the vicarage was worth on average £127 a year net c. 1830. (fn. 47) From 1851 the vicar received a rent-charge of £30 in place of his tithes; it was then said that no tithes of grain, wood, or hay had been paid to the titheowner, allegedly the duke of Norfolk, since 1828 or earlier. (fn. 48) The gross annual value of the vicarage was £120 in 1851, excluding a voluntary payment from Magdalen College as patron and impropriator, (fn. 49) which in 1873 added £380 a year to the net annual income of £100. (fn. 50)
The house of the vicar of New Shoreham recorded in 1261 (fn. 51) may have been on the site of no. 25 Church Street, opposite the south-west corner of the churchyard, where the vicar's house appears to have been in 1636 (fn. 52) and was in the late 18th century. (fn. 53) The name Manor House given to the 18th-century building there has no historical justification. St. Mary's House, an 18th-century house opposite the north-east corner of the churchyard, was the property of Nathaniel Woodard, curate of New Shoreham, who kept a boarding school there from 1848 until 1857, when he moved it to new buildings at Lancing; (fn. 54) by 1873 the house had replaced that in Church Street as the vicarage, and by 1931 was used as the vicarage for the united benefice. (fn. 55) St. Mary's House ceased to be the vicarage when a house in Church Street was acquired in 1947. (fn. 56)
Whether Old Shoreham was served in the 14th century by its rectors, its vicars, or chaplains is uncertain. (fn. 57) The rector recorded in 1355, (fn. 58) who is not known to have been non-resident, remained until he exchanged the living c. 30 years later. (fn. 59) In the second quarter of the 16th century apparently (fn. 60) and in 1563 there was a resident vicar, (fn. 61) but in 1577 the vicar, Richard Sisson, was presented also to New Shoreham, where he was buried in 1607. (fn. 62)
In 1636 Old Shoreham was served by a curate. (fn. 63) In 1662 the vicar was the same as in 1642, (fn. 64) but his successor seems to have lived on his rectory of Keymer (fn. 65) and neglected Old Shoreham. (fn. 66) In 1686 the vicar, Simon Winch, was said to be absent and totally negligent of the cure; he seems to have disappeared. (fn. 67) The living was sequestrated, (fn. 68) like New Shoreham, and from 1695 the sequestrator of both livings was John Gray, rector of Southwick. (fn. 69) Old Shoreham remained in Gray's care until 1751 and, though vicars were instituted, (fn. 70) continued to be served by curates until 1828; from then it shared an incumbent with New Shoreham until the Puseyite vicar William Wheeler became a Roman Catholic in 1855. (fn. 71) In 1851 Old Shoreham had two Sunday services with adult congregations of 44 and 68 on Census Sunday. (fn. 72) Wheeler's successor at Old Shoreham was J. B. Mozley, a Tractarian who was later Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. (fn. 73) The two parishes had separate vicars until the union of the benefices in 1897. (fn. 74)
At New Shoreham the vicars in the 14th century were assisted by chaplains, (fn. 75) and in 1348 an otherwise unknown chapel of St. John the Baptist was recorded, (fn. 76) perhaps a successor of the Hospitallers' chapel or alternatively a misnaming of it. In 1374 the prior of Sele as impropriate rector was said to be bound to find a chaplain to celebrate daily in the church of New Shoreham. (fn. 77) Vicars did not stay long: there were eight in the years 1381–92 and three in the years 1439–41. (fn. 78) In the second quarter of the 16th century the vicar seems to have been resident. (fn. 79) In 1548 the vicar, aged 70, who had also served as priest of the chantry of St. Mary founded at an unknown date, was granted because of the smallness of the vicarage a pension of £4 a year, 6s. 8d. less than the income of the chantry. (fn. 80) The vicarage was vacant and the cure unserved in 1563. (fn. 81) In 1577 the vicar of Old Shoreham was presented also to New Shoreham. (fn. 82) A later vicar, William Nicholson, bible scholar of Magdalen College and later bishop of Gloucester, was succeeded in 1615 after only one year by a former demy of Magdalen, William Greenhill, who remained until 1633 and was later prominent as a nonconformist. (fn. 83) Evidence of puritanism in New Shoreham may be seen in the use of the forename Repentance and in the connexions of seamen involved in Charles II's escape in 1651. (fn. 84) In 1636 the vicar was resident. (fn. 85) Thomas Hallett, vicar in 1651, became a nonconformist minister after the Restoration, (fn. 86) and for 50 years the living was unfilled and served by curates mostly with benefices near by. (fn. 87) The vicar presented in 1713 later went to law with some of his parishioners: he alleged that they had failed in their undertaking to augment his living, they that he had not kept his promise to preach twice each Sunday, and a witness said that whereas until 1722 there were two daily services and communion once a month, thereafter the vicar served two neighbouring parishes and no-one preached at Shoreham. (fn. 88) Later in the 18th century New Shoreham was usually held in plurality with Washington. (fn. 89) In 1828 one man was presented to Old and New Shoreham, and that arrangement was continued in 1843 on the admission as vicar of William Wheeler, (fn. 90) who became a Roman Catholic in 1855. Meanwhile he had given charge of New Shoreham in 1846 to his curate Nathaniel Woodard, the High Church founder of the Woodard schools. Woodard's educational activities appear to have diverted him very soon from the cure, (fn. 91) but by 1850 many people had seceded from the parish church because of the Puseyism there. (fn. 92) Similar motives may have influenced the character of the Protestant Grammar School which in 1851 belonged to G. H. Hooper, (fn. 93) a relation of an earlier vicar of New Shoreham. (fn. 94) In 1851 there were three Sunday services with adult congregations of 311, 138, and 273 on Census Sunday. (fn. 95) New Shoreham was held separately until the union of the benefices in 1897. (fn. 96) In 1976 the vicar had an assistant and other additional clergy.
At Old Erringham the remains of a chapel of ease suggest that it was built in the 11th century. There are no certain documentary references to the chapel; (fn. 97) the chapels belonging to Old Shoreham church c. 1195 (fn. 98) may have included Old Erringham or New Shoreham church, or the supposed former chapel next to Court Farm in Old Shoreham in 1616. (fn. 99) The chapel at Old Erringham is likely to have gone out of use either when the hamlet was depopulated in the later Middle Ages or at the Reformation. Part of Old Shoreham parish went to form the new parish assigned to St. Giles's church, built in 1906 in Kingston. (fn. 100)
The church of ST. NICOLAS, Old Shoreham, so called c. 1080, (fn. 101) is of rubble with dressings of freestone and has a chancel with two north vestries, central tower with transepts, and nave. The north and west walls of the nave, and perhaps parts of the south wall also, survive from a small preConquest church which seems to have had a chancel, nave, and west tower. (fn. 102) In the mid 12th century the chancel was replaced by a tower, which was flanked by transepts with eastern chapels, and a new apsidal-ended chancel was added. The upper stage of the former west tower was removed and the south wall of that tower and the nave were reconstructed on a single alignment as part of a westward extension of the nave. An early doorway in the north wall of the tower was blocked at that time and a new doorway opened in the north wall of the nave, but the principal entrance was by an enriched doorway in the west wall of the south transept. Further architectural ornament occurs on the crossing arches and on the external arcading of the tower.
The chancel was rebuilt, longer and wider, in the earlier 14th century, and a north chapel replaced the former apse to the transept. The south apse may also have been removed at that time. The most notable medieval fitting is a timber screen of c. 1300 which is now below the chancel arch. (fn. 103) A tie-beam which has been ascribed to the 12th century is probably of the 16th century or early 17th. The farmer of Erringham was presented in 1605 for not repairing the chancel aisle belonging to Erringham; (fn. 104) that may have been either the north chapel or the north transept or both: by 1769 the north chapel had largely fallen down and the north transept was roofless. (fn. 105) The repair and restoration of the church were begun in 1840 to designs by J. M. Neale and J. C. Buckler. Shortage of funds and bad weather delayed work, which was still in progress in 1844. (fn. 106) The transepts were restored and reopened to the crossing, and two north vestries were built on the site of the north chapel.
Monuments in the church include those to members of the Poole, Blaker, Monke, Bridger, and Head families. There were two bells in 1724, (fn. 107) but in 1976 the single bell was of 1800. The oldest plate is of the 18th century. (fn. 108) The registers begin in 1566 but there are gaps in the late 16th century and mid 17th. (fn. 109)
The church of St. Mary De Haura, (fn. 110) New Shoreham, had that name c. 1096. (fn. 111) It is faced with flints and has dressings of ashlar. The surviving building is the eastern end of a large cruciform church and has an aisled and clerestoried nave (formerly the chancel) which incorporates a sanctuary, west tower with transepts, and west porch. Construction of the original church probably began in the late 11th century at the eastern end. It had a chancel with an apse whose footings are below the present third bay, north and south chapels of uncertain plan, a short crossing tower with transepts, and an aisled nave of six bays. There is a structural break between tower and nave, and the latter may not have been completed until the mid 12th century. A new chancel (later the nave) of five bays was begun in the later 12th century and not completed until the early 13th. During that time there were several changes in its architectural design and decorative style but the overall design was retained. It provided for low vaulted aisles and a spacious vaulted central area with triforium and clerestory. At a late stage in its construction, probably at or soon after the building of the vault, two flying buttresses were added to each side and they are supported by massive additional buttresses. The two upper stages of the tower are contemporary with the new chancel. The scale of the building has given rise to the suggestion that it was planned as a collegiate church, (fn. 112) and although no evidence survives of such an intention, the new chancel was built at about the time when New Shoreham won ecclesiastical independence from Old Shoreham and was near the height of its importance as a port.
Later medieval additions included a large porch on the south side of the nave, several new windows, and a rood-screen with an altar on the loft, against the nave arch. The church is shown as complete in a rough representation of it made after 1605, but in 1686 when the chancel floor was unpaved and the bells out of use the passage into the body of the church was described as utterly ruinate. (fn. 113) Perhaps the already neglected nave was put beyond repair by the storm of 1703 which greatly damaged the town. (fn. 114) A brief for repairs to damage to the sum of £2,203 was issued in 1714, (fn. 115) and it was presumably between then and 1720 that the eastern bay of the nave, aisleless, was converted into a west porch, a fragment of the former west wall being the only other part of the nave to remain above ground. (fn. 116)
Some work was done on the church c. 1830, (fn. 117) but it was not until 1876 that there was a thorough restoration, under Arthur Loader, who put new windows into the aisles and opened up the north transept, clerestory, and tower arcades. (fn. 118) The north transept was dedicated in 1947 as a war memorial chapel. There are nine monuments of between 1832 and 1943 to members of the Hooper family. The font is of the late 12th century, and incised marks of perhaps the same period on the columns of the arcades are thought to be masons' marks, Templars' crosses, and crusaders' crosses. The plate includes pewter vessels of the 17th century. The four bells of 1686 (fn. 119) had been increased to five by 1724, (fn. 120) and were replaced by six in 1767. One was removed, four were recast in 1896, and two more were added to make up the eight in 1897. The registers begin in 1566 and are virtually complete. (fn. 121)