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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Ashington originated as a chapelry of Washington: the church was called a chapel c. 1190, (fn. 1) the configuration of the boundaries of the two ancient parishes shows that they were originally one, (fn. 2) and Ashington was still anachronistically described as in Washington in 1351. (fn. 3) A rectory was established c. 1190. (fn. 4) The living of Buncton was united with it at some time between 1411 and 1486; (fn. 5) in 1535 the benefice was known as Ashington with Buncton. (fn. 6) No formal deed of union is known, but in 1687 the union was nevertheless considered valid. (fn. 7) From 1946 Ashington and Wiston rectories were held in plurality. In 1977 the benefice of Ashington with Buncton was united with those of Wiston and Washington, the parishes remaining distinct. (fn. 8)
At the creation of the parish c. 1190 the advowson was settled on Sir Robert of Ashington and his heirs. (fn. 9) It thereafter descended with Ashington manor. (fn. 10) At the union of Ashington and Buncton parishes it was agreed that the patrons of the two churches should present in future in the proportion of twice to once. The scheme worked until the mid 17th century, the Crown presenting on one occasion, in 1619, after the deprivation of the previous incumbent; between 1663 and 1687, however, it gave rise to disputes between the two patrons. (fn. 11) In 1666 Robert Edsaw the elder and his son and namesake conveyed their right of presentation to Prudence, widow of James Butler of Amberley. In 1722 James Morton, lord of Ashington, conveyed his right of presentation to her grandson James Butler; (fn. 12) thereafter the united advowson descended with Ashington manor until 1868, William Charles Keppel, earl of Albemarle, presenting for a turn in 1845. (fn. 13) In 1868 Henry Fitzalan-Howard, duke of Norfolk, sold it to the Revd. John Goring, (fn. 14) after which it descended with Wiston manor. After the union of benefices in 1977 the advowson was to be exercised alternately by Mr. John Goring and his heirs and the bishop of Chichester. (fn. 15)
Demesne tithes of Ashington manor were granted by William de Braose in 1073 to Bramber college, (fn. 16) passing to the college's successor, Sele priory, presumably as part of the income of Washington rectory. (fn. 17) At the creation of Ashington parish c. 1190 it was agreed that the rector should pay a pension of 13d. to the priory, evidently in lieu of the tithes. (fn. 18) Thereafter Ashington's tithes always belonged to the rector, (fn. 19) and after the union of Ashington and Buncton the living included all the tithes of Buncton besides. (fn. 20) In 1291 the living of Ashington was taxed at £2, (fn. 21) but the tax was not paid because of poverty. (fn. 22) Besides tithes the rector in 1340 had glebe, and received all offerings. (fn. 23) In 1535 the value of the united benefice was reckoned at £8 5s. (fn. 24) A rectory house was mentioned at Ashington in the 1570s, when it was in bad repair. (fn. 25) In 1616 it had outbuildings including a pigeon house, with a herb garden and an orchard attached, and 30 a. of land; in addition there were 9 a. of glebe at Buncton. (fn. 26) In 1664 the building was assessed at four hearths, (fn. 27) and in 1732 it had at least seven rooms besides service areas. (fn. 28) It presumably stood in Rectory Lane, as the rectory did later. (fn. 29)
The real value of the living was said in 1724 to be c. £50. (fn. 30) In 1732 the rector owned much agricultural stock, including 16 sheep, (fn. 31) but in 1788 a later incumbent let the rectory house and 26 a. of glebe for 14 years. (fn. 32) About 1830 the average net income of the living was £189; (fn. 33) the rectory house was then said to have been lately enlarged. (fn. 34) About 1847 the glebe in Ashington and Buncton together totalled 42 a., all of which was let except the rectory house. At the commutation of tithes in that year the rector was awarded a rent charge of £288. (fn. 35) The old rectory house was replaced in 1856-7 by a new red brick building (fn. 36) which survived in 1983. The glebe was still let in 1868, (fn. 37) and in 1878, after some exchange with the Revd. John Goring, (fn. 38) totalled 40 a. (fn. 39) A new rectory house was built in the mid 20th century halfway between the church and Ashington water mill; the 19th-century building was a private house in 1983.
A chantry existed at Ashington church c. 1548, (fn. 40) but is not heard of earlier. Roger Massy, rector 1558-81, was perhaps a crypto-papist, since he made the recusant Nicholas Wolf of West Wolves his executor in 1573. (fn. 41) He was living at Ashington certainly in 1563 (fn. 42) and 1579, (fn. 43) and apparently continuously between 1558 and 1571. (fn. 44) His successor but one was said to have resided between c. 1583 and 1601, and unlike Massy was a licensed preacher. (fn. 45) Abdiah Cole, instituted in 1615, was deprived in 1619 for simony. His successor was resident in 1636 but not in 1640, from 1623 also held Oving, and in the 1640s was ejected for pluralism. (fn. 46) Assistant curates were recorded between 1615 and 1634 (fn. 47) and in 1640; in the latter year communion was held more than three times a year. (fn. 48) During the 1640s and 1650s several ministers were intruded, one of whom was a hosier by trade. (fn. 49)
At least two rectors in the later 17th and earlier 18th centuries also held benefices elsewhere. (fn. 50) In 1724 a service and sermon were held every Sunday at Ashington except once a month when they were held at Buncton. Communion was then held three times a year, with 12 or 13 communicants. (fn. 51) An assistant curate was recorded in the later 18th century. (fn. 52) In 1803 the bishop required services to be held every Sunday at both Ashington and Buncton, but the order was rescinded when it could not be proved that services had ever been held so frequently. (fn. 53) Monthly services continued to be held at Buncton, (fn. 54) but after c. 1830 only in summer. (fn. 55) By 1878, however, they were being held weekly in summer, and by 1884 throughout the year. (fn. 56) Henry Warren, rector 1797-1845, also held Farnham (Surr.), (fn. 57) but was resident in the 1810s and 20s. After 1829 assistant curates were again recorded, including two named Warren who were presumably relations of the rector. (fn. 58)
Morning and evening services were held on alternate Sundays at Ashington in 1838, and communion four times a year. (fn. 59) Average congregations in 1851 were said to be 110 in the morning and 150 in the afternoon. (fn. 60) By 1865 communion was being held eight times a year, but the incumbent then held Sunday services alternately at Ashington and at his other church of Warminghurst. (fn. 61) In 1884 there were two Sunday services and monthly communion at Ashington. (fn. 62) In 1865, as earlier, many inhabitants of the north part of Washington parish were attending Ashington church, (fn. 63) and in 1872 that part was added to Ashington for ecclesiastical purposes. (fn. 64) Many Wiston parishioners similarly attended Buncton chapel in 1903, (fn. 65) and Wiston parishioners were being buried there in 1931, (fn. 66) but the detached part containing the chapel remained in Ashington ecclesiastical parish after its transference to Wiston for civil purposes in the 1880s. (fn. 67) After 1946, however, the two parishes were served together. (fn. 68) From 1977 the incumbent of the new benefice of Wiston, Washington, and Ashington with Buncton lived at Ashington; in that year services at Buncton were held twice monthly. (fn. 69)
The church of St. Peter and St. Paul at Ashington (fn. 70) is of stone and flint with stone dressings and comprises chancel with north vestry, nave, south aisle, and south porch. Before reconstruction in 1871-2 it had a short undivided nave and chancel with south porch, and a west bell turret with low shingled broach spire; (fn. 71) the latter is recorded from the 16th century. The nave and chancel were apparently built in the 15th century; contemporary windows are reset in the north, west, and east walls. In the 1570s the steeple and chancel were both in bad condition. (fn. 72) The church was repaired shortly before 1737, the inhabitants of Buncton being compelled after a lawsuit to help pay the cost. (fn. 73) In 1871-2 it was rebuilt to the present plan on a much larger scale in order to accommodate the increasing population of North Washington, soon to be included in the parish; the cost was met by subscription. The nave was reconstructed and extended westwards, the bell turret and spire being removed, and a big new south aisle and porch were built, the old porch doorway being re-used in the aisle wall. A vestry was also added. In style the new work imitated the old. (fn. 74)
There is a bell of c. 1350 (fn. 75) and a reset holy water stoup of the 14th or 15th century. (fn. 76) The medieval font was removed before c. 1950 to St. Michael's church, Partridge Green (fn. 77) There were said to be no monuments in the church in 1775, and only one inscribed gravestone. (fn. 78) In 1983 there were some later monuments. The plate is all apparently 18thcentury. (fn. 79) The registers begin in 1736, (fn. 80) the first register having apparently been stolen in the mid 18th century. (fn. 81)
There was a church at Buncton by the late 11th or 12th century, as is clear from architectural evidence. (fn. 82) Buncton was a parish by 1323 (fn. 83) and rectors were mentioned between 1341 and 1465; in the mid 14th century they sometimes also held Wiston chantry. The parish was united with Ashington at some time between 1411 (fn. 84) and 1486; (fn. 85) retrospective mention was made in the mid 16th century of the parish and the parish church. (fn. 86) The advowson of the rectory was apparently in two medieties appurtenant to the two moieties of Buncton manor in the mid 14th century. (fn. 87) Between 1389 and 1411, however, it was always exercised by Niel Brock. (fn. 88) The living was untaxed in 1291. (fn. 89) In 1341 the rector had glebe worth ½ mark and tithes and offerings worth £3. (fn. 90)
The church, later called a chapel, at Buncton, by 1873 known as ALL SAINTS, (fn. 91) consists of chancel and nave with bellcote. It is chiefly of flint and rubble masonry, with fragments of Roman tile, evidently from the Roman building which existed nearby. (fn. 92) The structure is late 11th- or 12th-century; the north and south doorways are of that date, as is the plain chancel arch of two orders. The chancel lancet windows are later. Both the side walls of the chancel are decorated externally with attached Romanesque arcades in elaborately carved ashlar; their purpose is not clear. The chancel was shortened apparently in the 14th century; the new east wall was built of re-used ashlar masonry from an unknown source, and contains a contemporary two-light window with an ogee quatrefoil above. In 1602 the building was in bad repair, (fn. 93) and in 1636 one wall was said to be near collapse from the effects of ivy. (fn. 94) The bellcote was added in the 19th century. The chapel was not restored until 1906, (fn. 95) and then discreetly.
Medieval fittings are a 14th-century piscina and two possibly 15th-century image brackets on the east wall. In 1602 there was neither font nor pulpit. (fn. 96) There were no monuments in the building in 1775, (fn. 97) and only one floor slab in 1985. There is one bell, of 1812. (fn. 98)