A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1986.
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One of the two churches mentioned as at Steyning in 1086 is thought to have been at Warminghurst. (fn. 1) The place name is recorded as Werningcherch in 1188, (fn. 2) and architectural evidence confirms that a church existed in the later 12th century. (fn. 3) Fécamp abbey had tithes in Warminghurst in 1207, (fn. 4) and Warminghurst church was described in 1284 as a chapel annexed to the abbey (fn. 5) and in 1324 and 1563 as a chapel of Steyning; (fn. 6) it had presumably been so before 1284 and was thus included in the exemption of Steyning's chapels from ordinary jurisdiction in 1192 (fn. 7) and in the appropriation of Steyning to Fécamp c. 1260. (fn. 8) The connexion with Steyning had lapsed by 1616, when Warminghurst was called a free chapel. (fn. 9) The benefice was called a vicarage in the late 14th century, (fn. 10) but in 1378 a stipendiary chaplain was serving it. (fn. 11) That arrangement continued until 1538 or later, the lords of the manor paying the chaplains, (fn. 12) although in 1503 (fn. 13) and 1518 (fn. 14) the incumbent was styled rector. From 1546 to 1589 the church was served by curates, (fn. 15) whose successors were sometimes styled rectors until the mid 18th century but thereafter again curates. (fn. 16) From 1724 the living was sometimes called a donative. (fn. 17) From 1706 to 1804 it was held in plurality with Thakeham, (fn. 18) and from the early 19th to the early 20th century with Ashington. (fn. 19) It was in sequestration by 1885, and the church was closed c. 1920; from its reopening in 1933 to 1978 it was served from Thakeham, with which the living was united in 1940. (fn. 20) It was finally closed and declared redundant in 1979. (fn. 21)
The chaplains before the Reformation were presumably appointed by or for Fécamp abbey and its successors as appropriators of Steyning, the Crown presenting in 1390 during the war with France. (fn. 22) In 1540 the Crown granted the advowson to Anne Cobham with remainder to Edward Shelley. (fn. 23) It then descended with the manor until 1619, with the park estate until 1721, and with the reunited manor until 1903 or later. (fn. 24)
In the Middle Ages the benefice was not taxed on spiritualities, (fn. 25) and in 1374 any rectorial income appears to have gone to the bailiff of Warminghurst as rector of Steyning. (fn. 26) In 1378 the tithes were said to be worth 26s. 8d. (fn. 27) Tithes, possibly rectorial, were being collected in 1574, (fn. 28) but in 1676 the park estate was exempt from tithe except for a modus of 2d. paid to the rector. (fn. 29) By 1848 the duke of Norfolk had merged the tithes from his estate, covering most of the parish, into his freehold; as impropriator he was receiving from the rest £11, converted in that year to a £15 rent charge. (fn. 30) No glebe or parsonage is known. (fn. 31)
The chaplain's stipend was £5 in 1378. (fn. 32) That may have included the 26s. 8d. which he was paid in the 15th century in lieu of the tithes, and the 66s. 8d. wages which he received from 1444 or earlier to 1538 or later. (fn. 33) In addition he received occasional regards, as 2s. in 1473, (fn. 34) 13s. 4d. in 1474, (fn. 35) and 3s. 4d. in 1477, (fn. 36) and from 1447 6s. from tithes of Rowdell in Washington, which were divided between the rector of Warminghurst and the vicar of Washington; Fécamp abbey had already been receiving the Warminghurst share in 1294. (fn. 37) The curate's income after the Reformation is obscure. The cure attracted a stipend in 1579, (fn. 38) and from c. 1590 to 1651 a modus of 6s. 8d. from Rowdell, which the curate sought in the latter year to increase to £6 in lieu of tithes in kind. (fn. 39) By 1636 the farmer of Barpham Wick in Angmering was obliged to pay 5 qr. of barley or its cash value to the curate of Warminghurst each year. (fn. 40) The duke of Norfolk was paying in 1847 a stipend of £52 10s.; in 1851, as in 1868, it was £52. (fn. 41) It was augmented by Queen Anne's Bounty in 1880 (fn. 42) but in 1903 the gross income was only £17 10s. (fn. 43)
In 1548 there were small endowments to maintain a light at the high altar, another at the sepulchre, and a lamp. (fn. 44) Richard Bridger left a heifer in 1554 to maintain a taper before the sepulchre. (fn. 45)
David Thickpenny, curate in 1571, was also curate of Thakeham. (fn. 46) Benedict Wady, incumbent from c. 1576 to 1592 or later, was described in 1579 as no preacher but diligent in reading the service. In 1584 he was said to reside at Warminghurst and to have no other cure; all householders then took communion and attended church every Sunday. (fn. 47) William Pratt, incumbent 1593-1618, was rector of Itchingfield from 1599. (fn. 48) There is some evidence of recusancy in the late 16th and early 17th century, (fn. 49) and in the 1620s some parishioners were refusing to pay church rates. (fn. 50) In 1636, however, all adults were conforming. (fn. 51) Communion was being held thrice yearly in 1640, when 82 attended at Easter. (fn. 52) Robert Leeves, a graduate presented in 1641, (fn. 53) survived through all changes until his death in 1693. From 1660 he was a prebendary of Chichester, and from 1661 held other benefices, although he was described in 1662 as constantly resident. (fn. 54) His successors were generally absentees, or lived at Thakeham, and assistant curates were recorded from 1690 to the mid 19th century. In 1724 communion was held four times a year for c. 20 recipients; there were afternoon services every Sunday. In 1762 a weekly sermon was preached. Roger Clough, incumbent 1789-1804, was lord of the manor and patron. (fn. 55) Henry Warren, his successor until 1835 or later, was rector of Ashington and employed curates at Warminghurst. (fn. 56) From 1845 there was generally no resident curate; the incumbents of Ashington served Warminghurst in person. From 1847 to 1884 one full Sunday service was held weekly; on Census Sunday 1851 the morning service was attended by 70, although afternoon services were said to have larger congregations. In the early 19th century communion was still quarterly, but in 1847 and 1865 bi-monthly, with averages of 20 and 15 communicants respectively, and in 1884 and 1903 monthly. (fn. 57) After the church was reopened in 1933 it was used as a chapel for Boy Scout camps in the neighbourhood. (fn. 58)
The church of the HOLY SEPULCHRE, so called by 1870 (fn. 59) and probably from the 13th century, (fn. 60) is built of stone, partly rendered, and of brick. It consists of chancel and nave divided only by a later screen and tympanum, north vestry, and south porch; a bell turret with broach spire surmounts the west end. The earliest part of the building is the bell frame; a dendrochronological date of c. 1158 implies use in the later 12th century, and the bell itself dates from c. 1200. (fn. 61) The building to which it presumably belonged was rebuilt or remodelled in the later 13th century as the present single-celled nave and chancel with opposed north and south doorways, the former now blocked; the side and west walls originally had lancet windows. A late 13th-century incised consecration cross was found south of the east window in 1900. (fn. 62) The trussed rafter roof with curved braces may be original.
In the later 16th century a west door and window were inserted, and a brick porch, with east and west entrances, was built for the south doorway. Henry Shelley (d. 1623) added before 1619 a north chancel chapel, of coursed rubble with brick quoins, to serve as a family vault. (fn. 63)
James Butler restored the church in the early 18th century. (fn. 64) It was presumably then that the heads of the lancet windows were rebuilt in brick and made semicircular and the west window blocked and replaced by a round one in the gable, and perhaps then that the north door and south porch doors were blocked. (fn. 65) A three-arched timber screen was inserted to separate nave and chancel; it has a plaster tympanum bearing the arms of Queen Anne, repainted in 1845. (fn. 66) The communion rails, communion table, and pulpit, and perhaps the font and font-cover crane, also date from Butler's restoration, and the roof may have been ceiled at the same time. The church was repewed c. 1770; (fn. 67) the pews, with Gothic traceried ends, survive. By 1880 the north chapel was used as a vestry. (fn. 68) The church roofs were extensively repaired in that year, and an organ was given in 1883. (fn. 69) The east window may have been restored about that time. After its closure c. 1920 the church suffered from vandalism; the roof was repaired and new rectangular leaded windows inserted c. 1932. (fn. 70) During the Second World War the church again fell out of repair; it was restored to the designs of J. L. Denman in 1959-60, when the plaster was removed from the nave ceiling to expose the roof timbers. (fn. 71)
Monuments include the brass of Edward Shelley (d. 1554), two wall monuments to 18th-century members of the Butler family, and an incised slab to Robert Leeves (d. 1693). Three hatchments commemorate members of the Butler family. There were two bells in 1724, (fn. 72) but by 1870 only one, (fn. 73) presumably that of c. 1200 which survived in 1980. (fn. 74) The plate includes a chalice, two patens, and a flagon given by Grace Butler in 1713. (fn. 75) The registers begin in 1714 and appear complete. (fn. 76) Extracts from lost registers of baptisms 1560-70, marriages 1562-1648, and burials 1560-1708 were printed in 1853. (fn. 77) Transcripts survive for some years from 1571. (fn. 78)