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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The former parish of Botolphs (fn. 1) lay on the west bank of the river Adur, 4 miles above its estuary at Shoreham. The ancient parish comprised 920 a.; (fn. 2) in 1933 it was joined to Bramber parish, (fn. 3) with which it had been united for ecclesiastical purposes since 1526. (fn. 4) The present article deals with the ancient parish; church history after 1526, however, and the history of education, in which the two parishes were also closely connected, are treated under Bramber. Botolphs, like its neighbours, Bramber and Coombes, was elongated in shape from east to west, being c. 2 miles wide at its widest point. Its boundaries corresponded to the bounds of the Saxon estate of Annington as defined in 956. (fn. 5) The soil of the parish lies on chalk, except where overlaid by alluvium. (fn. 6) In the west the land rises to c. 450 ft., a prominent feature of the landscape being the serpentine dry valley called Winding Bottom. (fn. 7) The east part of the parish was formerly part of the wide tidal estuary of the Adur, later gradually reclaimed. The process had begun by the mid 13th century, (fn. 8) and was helped by the silting of the river. The land gained by inning and silting was often flooded in later centuries, (fn. 9) but the improvement of the river banks and drainage in the mid 20th century removed that threat, and made possible the conversion of former brookland pasture to arable. (fn. 10)
The parish contained what seem to have been two separate settlements, one around Annington farm, and the other around Botolphs church. The former was presumably called Annington; the latter seems likely to be the settlement called Old Bridge (de Veteri Ponte). They were probably never physically connected, despite their proximity, since the lower-lying land between them was subject to flooding. (fn. 11) Annington was perhaps the older settlement, since it occupies higher ground out of reach of flooding; moreover, the capital messuages of the three chief estates of the parish, Annington manor, Marlotts, and the Sele priory estate all lay there. (fn. 12) The place-name Botolphs or St. Botolph's is recorded from the mid 13th century. (fn. 13) It is clear, however, that by at least the 14th century the two settlements had come to be considered as one vill described in various ways, including Annington and St. Botolphs, Annington alias Old Bridge, and 'Old Bridge namely St. Botolphs'. (fn. 14) The name Botolphs, replacing Old Bridge, had established itself as the name of the parish by the mid 15th century. (fn. 15) Annington remained the tithing name in 1524; (fn. 16) later the tithing was called Annington and Botolphs on two occasions, (fn. 17) but by 1664 it too had come to be called Botolphs. (fn. 18) Phonetic spellings show that the name was formerly pronounced Buttolphs or Buttles. (fn. 19) Both settlements have shrunk considerably in size. Disturbances in the ground around Botolphs church probably represent former dwellings, (fn. 20) and traces of houses have been found in the field opposite the church on the west. (fn. 21) Already by 1334 the tithing of Annington had the lowest tax assessment in Steyning hundred, (fn. 22) and the decline of the parish is well indicated by the decay and subsequent demolition of the 13thcentury north aisle of the church. (fn. 23) In 1811 there were only 5 houses in the parish. (fn. 24)
Fifteen villani and 34 bordars were listed in 1086, (fn. 25) apparently indicating a larger population than is ever recorded later. Thirteen taxpayers were listed in 1327 (fn. 26) and 37 in 1378. (fn. 27) In 1524 only 9 inhabitants were assessed for subsidy, (fn. 28) and there were 15 adult male parishioners in 1642. (fn. 29) In 1724 there were said to be only 7 families. (fn. 30) The population in 1801 was 36, the lowest of any parish in the rape. During the 19th century it rose to two peaks, of 81 in 1831 and 94 in 1881, each succeeded by a sharp drop because of agricultural depression. It had again risen to 83 by 1921 but dropped to 64 by 1931. (fn. 31)
The ancient east–west road along the crest of the downs seems originally to have crossed the Adur estuary at Botolphs, where the 25-ft. contours on either side of the valley come closest to each other. (fn. 32) The place-name Old Bridge indicates a crossing, and the theory receives support from the dedication of the church to St. Botolph, a patron saint of travellers. (fn. 33) Since the first reference to the place-name that has been found is of c. 1080, however, (fn. 34) it presumably refers, not to a Roman bridge, as has been suggested, (fn. 35) but merely to one that existed before Bramber bridge, then newly built. No traces of a bridge have been found, and it seems possible that, as in documents referring to Bramber, the word pons here means not a bridge but a causeway, perhaps leading to a ford. The 'causeway stiles' mentioned in the early 16th century seem to have lain at the east end of Annington street, (fn. 36) perhaps at the point where the modern road turns south and an old road continues east on an embankment. (fn. 37) Botolphs street, as well as Annington street, seems to lead towards a putative crossing site in that area. The diversion of traffic by way of Bramber bridge was probably the chief cause of the decline of the village. Moreover, the shortest road from Steyning to Lancing did not pass through the village, as the modern road does, but bypassed it on the west. Two downland roads from Steyning to Lancing and Worthing also passed through the parish. (fn. 38)
The Horsham–Shoreham railway line, opened in 1861, (fn. 39) passed very close to the church, and until its closure in 1966 was a prominent feature of the parish.
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
The manor of ANNINGTON, part of the large possessions of the kings of Wessex in the neighbourhood of Steyning, was granted by King Edwy to one Edmund in 956. As the description of the bounds indicates, it was already at that date coterminous with the future parish of Botolphs. (fn. 40) In 1066 the estate was held by Norman. By 1073 it had been granted to William de Braose, who held it in demesne in 1086. (fn. 41) About 1160 Gillian de Merle, daughter of Philip de Braose (d. 1134 x 1155), held land in the parish. (fn. 42) By the early 13th century the manor had apparently been divided between under-tenants, for when in 1214 Iseult Biset, widow of Hugh de Munpincun, claimed dower there, one moiety was said to belong to Clemence de Munpincun and another to Herbert de Merle, (fn. 43) evidently a descendant of Gillian. The former moiety was perhaps the same as that settled on Philip de Mandeville in 1235. (fn. 44) About the same period the mesne lordship of the manor was granted by John de Braose (d. 1232) to John de Gatesden, later lord of Broadwater, (fn. 45) and thereafter it was held of Broadwater by knight-service, suit of court and 3s. 4d. rent. (fn. 46)
The division into moieties remained. By the 15th century what had presumably been the Munpincun moiety belonged to the Green family, being held successively by William, Richard (fl. 1423–54) and John Green, the last-named of whom had it in 1493 and apparently earlier. (fn. 47) Thomas Green (d. before 1515) was succeeded by his two daughters Elizabeth, wife of John Levett, and Sibyl, wife of Richard Nore. By a partition of their inheritance in 1521 John and Elizabeth Levett received the moiety of Annington manor. John's son John had succeeded by 1526, (fn. 48) and at his death c. 1535 (fn. 49) was followed by his son John (d. 1554). (fn. 50) The last-named John's son Laurence (d. 1586) was succeeded by his sister Mary, who afterwards married Thomas Eversfield. (fn. 51) Thomas (d. 1612) (fn. 52) was succeeded by his son Nicholas (d. 1629), (fn. 53) whose son John was living at Botolphs in 1652. (fn. 54) After that date the moiety, regularly described as Annington manor, descended with Charlton manor in Steyning, until its sale by Charles Eversfield in 1818 to Charles Goring, (fn. 55) after which it descended with Wiston.
The old manor-house of the Eversfield moiety presumably lay on the south side of the street, where the demesne farm buildings remained in 1977. (fn. 56) A new five-bay house of brick was built north-west of the village in the early 19th century. (fn. 57)
Herbert de Merle's moiety of the manor presumably passed to his son William, who held land in Annington c. 1260 (fn. 58) and in 1279. (fn. 59) Agatha de Merle, perhaps William's widow, held land at Annington in 1300, described as ½ knight's fee. (fn. 60) The estate was later usually known as MARLOTTS, but on one occasion was called Annington manor. (fn. 61) In 1316 and 1327 it belonged to Robert Mauleverer. William Merlot or Marlott held it in 1346 as ½ knight's fee, (fn. 62) and died c. 1378, (fn. 63) being succeeded by his son William (fl. 1402). William's son William held ½ fee in Annington in 1428, and the latter's son Richard held land there in 1484. (fn. 64) From the Marlotts it passed, apparently by sale, (fn. 65) to the Slutters. William Slutter, the largest taxpayer in the parish in 1524, (fn. 66) had it by 1528, (fn. 67) and his father John had apparently held it before him. (fn. 68) William also owned in 1528 an estate called Faggers, (fn. 69) held of Ewelme manor in Steyning, which thereafter descended with Marlotts. At William's death in 1546, the two estates, estimated at 260 a. and 40 a. respectively, passed to his son John, (fn. 70) whose son William had both in 1598. (fn. 71)
By 1654 the lands had come to Edward Manning (d. 1688), whose son John sold them in 1705 to Charles Eversfield (d. 1749), lord of the other moiety of the manor, who sold them in 1717 to John Crawley. On Crawley's death c. 1724 they passed to his niece Priscilla, whose husband Adrian Moore devised them to William Edgell, who settled them on his niece Priscilla on her marriage with Richard Wyatt (fn. 72) in 1765. Another estate included in that settlement seems to be the former demesne lands of the Eversfield moiety, which were afterwards held with Marlotts. Edgell Wyatt, presumably Richard's son, had all those lands in 1790 (fn. 73) but later sold them to John Penfold (d. 1803), whose son Hugh died in 1850. (fn. 74) In the mid 19th century the estate comprised nearly the whole parish. (fn. 75) Hugh's executors sold it c. 1864 (fn. 76) to Henry Padwick, and another Henry Padwick, presumably his son, sold it c. 1920 to the tenant farmer W. J. Garlick, who had sold it by 1938. (fn. 77)
Sele priory's estate in Botolphs was also sometimes called Annington manor. (fn. 78) William de Braose (d. between 1093 and 1096) granted the reversion of it at some time before 1087 to the abbey of St. Florent, Saumur, and it was confirmed to Sele priory, a cell of St. Florent, in the early 12th century. (fn. 79) Later it was held of Bramber honor as ⅓ or 2/3 fee. (fn. 80) In 1341 the demesne lands apparently comprised 18 a. (fn. 81) but in the mid 19th century, when it was in the hands of Magdalen College, Oxford, Sele priory's successor, the whole estate was calculated as the same area. (fn. 82) Since it had consisted of at least 65 a. in 1528, (fn. 83) it is clear that the boundaries were obliterated during the long period in which it was occupied with other lands. The college successfully claimed more land and was awarded 57 a. (fn. 84) By 1913 the lands had been engrossed by the Annington estate. (fn. 85)
Annington Old Farmhouse, the manor-house of the college estate, is a 17th-century timber-framed building faced with flint and brick and some tilehanging, with later additions to the west; one room has 18th-century panelling.
Fifteen villani and 34 bordars had four plough-teams in 1086, and there was one plough on the manorial demesne. Five plough-lands were recorded, (fn. 86) which evidently, as in Bramber, occupied the central section of the parish, with hill pasture to the west and brookland pasture to the east. Common pasture in both areas was mentioned in 1374 as being attached to the Sele priory manor. (fn. 87) A common marsh called Sudwisse, recorded c. 1260, appears to have straddled the boundary between Botolphs and Bramber. (fn. 88) There were also belonging to the manor distant pastures for transhumance in the north of the county, mentioned by name in the charter of 956; (fn. 89) some continued to be held of the manor in later centuries. (fn. 90) The valuation of the ninth of fleeces and lambs in 1341 was greater in proportion to that of sheaves than in neighbouring parishes, indicating a greater predominance of sheep-rearing in Botolphs. Hemp and apples were other crops mentioned at the same time. (fn. 91)
By the 16th century (fn. 92) most of the parish was divided between three estates, the Levett, later Eversfield, moiety of the manor, Marlotts together with Faggers, and Magdalen College's estate, the first two being sometimes occupied together. As a result of declining population and the engrossing of estates, few smaller tenants remained. In 1598 the Eversfield moiety had at least four tenants, Marlotts and Faggers at least two, and there were also a freehold and a copyhold tenant of Magdalen College's manor. All apparently paid money rents, and those who held of Marlotts owed heriots.
In 1528 most of the arable land in the parish lay in a number of common fields and furlongs to the north, west, and south of the settlements of Annington and Botolphs. North, Middle, and South Court fields surrounded Annington on three sides; among the other fields were Dore piece to the east, and Botolphs Dene and Coke-a-Nersh to the south and west. (fn. 93) Of c. 375 a. which they comprised, c. 165 a. belonged to the Levett moiety, c. 105 a. to Marlotts, and c. 65 a. to Magdalen College. Except for 1 a. belonging to Steyning chantry, (fn. 94) the other tenants held land only in the fields near Botolphs church and in Botolphs Dene on the south side of the parish, as if those fields were originally distinct from the others. Most parcels were less than 1 a., and almost all less than 2 a., in area. Commoning on the stubble after harvest was prohibited before Holy Rood Day (14 September). The fields remained uninclosed at the end of the century, but much land had by then been exchanged between the Levett moiety and Marlotts to consolidate those estates.
There was also common pasture in the 16th century both on the downs and in the marsh, though there were only two commoners. William Slutter of Marlotts was said to have 245 sheepleazes on the downs in 1528, and his grandson William c. 1,000 in 1598. Magdalen College was said to have 125 in 1528, and between 160 and 200 in 1598. Similarly, in 1528 William Slutter had ten bullock-leazes in the marsh and Magdalen College six. The common marsh at that time seems to have comprised only the 16 a. later described as the old marsh. In the mid 16th century more marshland was inned, at the expense of William Slutter of Marlotts and the farmer of Magdalen College's estate. The area concerned was apparently more than 50 a., since Annington marsh was described as 73 a. in 1598, (fn. 95) when Thomas Eversfield attempted to claim the new land as common marsh attached to his moiety of the manor. At that date William Slutter was said to be entitled to put 6 oxen in the marsh, and Magdalen College 6 or 8 oxen, 4 cows, and 2 horses. After St. Andrew's day (30 November) the cattle were replaced by sheep, William Slutter having 117 sheep-leazes and the college an unstated number. There was also several brookland pasture in Botolphs as in Bramber at the same date. (fn. 96)
The three chief estates of the parish were often occupied together in the 17th and 18th centuries, (fn. 97) and in 1754 the six surviving free and copyhold tenements of the Eversfield moiety, comprising c. 40 a. and all still owing heriots in kind, were held by one tenant. (fn. 98) By 1815 the entire parish was in the occupation of Hugh Penfold. (fn. 99) A century later it was still occupied as one farm, (fn. 100) but during the 1930s the estate was sold in a number of lots, and in 1976 c. 4 farms had land in the area of the ancient parish. (fn. 101) With gradual consolidation and engrossing during the 17th and 18th centuries (fn. 102) the common fields had largely disappeared by the 1850s. The glebe land, however, still lay in the same small scattered strips as in previous centuries, and the names and shapes of some other closes recalled the common fields. No pasture-rights remained, (fn. 103) though there had still been some common pasture for sheep on the downs in the early 18th century. (fn. 104)
Wheat, barley, peas, tares, hops, oats, and flax were grown in the 17th century. A farmer who was presumably the chief farmer of the parish had 772 sheep in 1631; other flocks of 65 and 108 sheep are recorded later in the century. (fn. 105) In 1801 1,183 sheep were recorded in the parish. (fn. 106) During the earlier 19th century most of the downland in the parish was broken up for arable, (fn. 107) evidently in imitation of what had been done at Applesham farm in Coombes. Some had been returned to pasture by 1913 when mixed farming, including dairying and cattleraising, was being practised. (fn. 108) In 1938 the land was said to be chiefly pasture, (fn. 109) but by 1976 dairying had given way to the raising of beef cattle, with some sheep. Much of the downland was once again being cultivated, while with the improvement of the river banks and better drainage the former brookland in the east part had been turned over to arable. One farm also practised intensive eggproduction. (fn. 110)
A windmill at Annington was mentioned in 1288, (fn. 111) but no later record has been found.
Salt-extraction was an important medieval industry, its extent being indicated by the numerous salt mounds which survived in the parish until the mid 20th century. (fn. 112) Two inhabitants paid the 1378 poll-tax at the craftsman's rate, (fn. 113) and there was a brewer in Annington tithing in 1538. (fn. 114) In the early 19th century all the parishioners in employment were supported by agriculture. (fn. 115) No tradesmen are recorded in the parish in the 19th or 20th centuries, though in 1913 the Annington estate was large enough to support its own blacksmith and carpenter. (fn. 116)
Courts of Annington manor, i.e. the Green, later Levett, and afterwards Eversfield, moiety, are mentioned as having been held between the 14th century and 1597. During the 15th and 16th centuries the court dealt with the regulation of common pasture, and on one occasion it was called a view of frankpledge. (fn. 117) In 1597 the court was held at the manor-house, called Green's house, (fn. 118) in Annington, at least six suitors attending. (fn. 119) An ale-taster was mentioned in 1501, (fn. 120) and a headborough in 1538. (fn. 121) By the mid 18th century the court had apparently ceased to meet, the regulation of tenancies was conducted out of court by the steward, and officers were no longer appointed. (fn. 122)
There were two churchwardens on some occasions in the 16th and 17th centuries; on others then and usually since, there has been only one. (fn. 123) In 1728 the same man served as churchwarden and overseer. (fn. 124) In the early 19th century the poor in Botolphs were supported without a rate by the sole proprietor, Hugh Penfold. (fn. 125) Botolphs was included in Steyning union in 1835. (fn. 126) In 1894 it became part of Steyning West rural district. (fn. 127)
The church of Botolphs is identical with the 'lost' church of St. Peter of Old Bridge (de Veteri Ponte) mentioned frequently in the Middle Ages. (fn. 128) As noted above the place-names Old Bridge, Annington, and Botolphs had become synonymous by at least the 14th century. The ancient parish of Botolphs was identical in area with the Saxon estate of Annington, (fn. 129) and the existence of a separate parish of Old Bridge has not been proved. (fn. 130) Similarly there is no evidence for two church buildings, (fn. 131) or for two endowments; indeed there is a reference of c. 1300 to tithes from 'Old Bridge, namely St. Botolphs', (fn. 132) and in 1469 the rectory estate of St. Peter's of Old Bridge was described as in the vill of Annington and Botolphs. (fn. 133) Moreover the two churches are never mentioned in the same document, and references to St. Peter's cease roughly when references to St. Botolph's begin. In particular, St. Botolph's is not included, as St. Peter's is, among churches granted and confirmed between the 11th and 13th centuries to Sele priory, (fn. 134) which later owned it; yet from architectural evidence, Botolphs church was in existence before the Norman Conquest. (fn. 135) What appears to have happened is that a church dedicated to the obscure St. Botolph was renamed after the Norman Conquest in honour of a more orthodox saint. The same thing happened at Steyning (q.v.) and at many other places. (fn. 136) The old name was retained locally, occurring frequently between the late 12th and 14th centuries, (fn. 137) and gradually ousting the new one, which, however, lingered in official use until the mid 15th century. (fn. 138)
The church was granted by William de Braose c. 1080 to the church of St. Florent, Saumur. (fn. 139) It was apparently already parochial by that date. By c. 1100 it had passed to St. Florent's English cell, Sele priory. A priest is recorded c. 1150, (fn. 140) and a vicarage had been ordained by the mid 13th century. (fn. 141) In 1526 the benefice was united with Bramber because of poverty, (fn. 142) in implementation of a proposal of forty years earlier. (fn. 143)
The advowson of Botolphs belonged to Sele priory from the late 11th century until the late 15th, when it passed, with the other possessions of the priory, to Magdalen College, Oxford. (fn. 144) In the late 14th century it was in the hands of the Crown because of the war with France. (fn. 145) The archbishop of Canterbury collated for a turn in 1438, (fn. 146) and the bishop of Chichester in 1443. (fn. 147) The church was not taxed in 1291, presumably because of poverty. In 1341 the vicar had as glebe 10 a. of arable and some pasture land, together with small tithes worth 6s. 8d. and 3s. 4d. from offerings and mortuary dues. (fn. 148)
The church of ST. BOTOLPH is built of flint rubble with ashlar dressings, and has a chancel, nave with south porch, and west tower. The nave is probably 11th-century and has a pre-Conquest chancel arch. (fn. 149) A north aisle with a three-bay arcade was added in the 13th century, and the chancel was rebuilt in the 14th century, when larger windows were also put into the south side of the nave and the west tower was built. The north aisle was still standing in 1776, when it was in bad condition, (fn. 150) but had been demolished apparently by 1821 (fn. 151) and certainly by 1830. (fn. 152)
Traces of mural paintings were recorded in 1897. (fn. 153) The three bells were made in 1536 by John Tonne. (fn. 154) The pulpit is Jacobean, and the font, comprising a square bowl on a brick plinth, is possibly 18thcentury. The plate includes two silver communion cups with hall-marks for 1683 and 1704. (fn. 155) The registers begin in 1601, (fn. 156) though during the 18th and early 19th centuries Botolphs entries were made at the back of the Bramber registers. (fn. 157)