Henfield: Roman Catholicism

Pages 156-157

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1987.

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Thomas Bishop (d. 1560), lessee of the rectory estate and Henfield park, left money for the maintenance of the Catholic faith at Henfield church. (fn. 1) In 1569 Mrs. Bishop, presumably his widow, was failing to attend church and receive communion. (fn. 2) Bishop's son and namesake, despite his official position, was a recusant in 1594. (fn. 3) His house, Parsonage House, is said to contain a hide. (fn. 4) There was one papist in the parish in 1724, (fn. 5) and one female papist in 1767. (fn. 6)

In the early 20th century Catholics in the parish walked to church at West Grinstead. (fn. 7) In 1928 a mass centre was established at Red Oaks south of the parish church, served by the Southwark diocesan travelling mission. A wooden oratory was built nearby in 1932. By 1940 there was a resident priest, and in 1968 Henfield became a separate parish. The brick church of Corpus Christi, again nearby, was opened in 1974. (fn. 8)


  • 1. S.R.S. xlii. 310.
  • 2. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 25.
  • 3. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1591-4, 510.
  • 4. Recusant Hist. xvi (2), 212.
  • 5. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/3, p. 43.
  • 6. H.L.R.O., papist return (inf. from Mr. T. J. McCann, W.S.R.O.).
  • 7. Inf. from Mrs. M. Holt, formerly of Henfield.
  • 8. Dioc. of Arundel and Brighton Newsletter (Winter 1974), 9; O.S. Map 6", TQ 21 NW. (1963 edn.); W.S.R.O., MP 159, f. [15v.].