A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 7, the Rape of Lewes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1940.
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Patcham is a large parish which now forms part of Brighton, from which it was separated by the parish of Preston. It covers an irregularly shaped area of 4,325 acres in extent, and embraces a series of coombes radiating from the centre of the parish into the Downs which border the valley of the Wellesbourne, rising along its flanks to about the 500-ft. contour. In the south-east corner of the parish is Hollingbury Hill, 583 ft. in height. This is crowned by a large Early Iron Age fortified hill-town of roughly square plan, and covering about 9 acres, (fn. 1) to the north of which, on the north-east side of the parish, the slopes of Tegdown Hill are covered with the traces of early field-systems and the remains of ancient settlements. (fn. 2) The parish was until recently mainly agricultural, but the northward development of Preston has engulfed Patcham's southern outpost of Withdean, and is now encroaching on the village itself. Development is also proceeding at Moulsecombe, on the farther side of Hollingbury Hill, where a model village has been completed, lining the coombe towards Bevendean in Falmer Parish. Thus the population of Patcham, which in 1931 was 5,241, is now much above this figure. The parish has now been absorbed into the Borough of Brighton, (fn. 3) except for the farm of Tongdean in the extreme south-west of the parish, which has been annexed to the Borough of Hove.
There was possibly an old trackway connecting the villages of Portslade, West Blatchington, Patcham, and Stanmer. Along Eastwick Bottom, between the two last-named villages, the track of a sunken road could be clearly seen until a year or two ago. Patcham itself lies at the end of a spur, the village street descending the hill-side towards the bottom of the coombe. At the top of the village is the farm-house of Patcham Court, at one time the manor house, and the large 18th-century mansion called Patcham Place lies at the foot of the hill, whence the village has spread southwards towards Brighton. The early-19th-century Brighton Road was threaded through the lower part of the village, which developed along it, but with the great increase of traffic in recent years Patcham has now been by-passed by a new road west of it.
Patcham Court farm-house is now in a dilapidated condition, but shows traces of having been originally an early-17th-century house of the humbler type. The hall, which has now been divided between two cottages, has an exceptionally large open fire-place. There was apparently only one parlour; that at the lower end, however, may have been destroyed. At the east end of the house is the old brew-house, the fittings of which still remain. South of this is the well, inclosed in a square timber well-house which until recently inclosed the donkey-wheel. This has been destroyed, however, its axle lying outside the south wall of the well-house. A little to the south-west of the house is the pigeonhouse, a massive circular structure of flint with heavy buttresses. The potence remains, and there are still about 550 nesting-boxes, although many have been removed. (fn. 4) On the opposite side of the road east of the house is a large farm, and to the south of this is a very large timber barn, nearly 250 ft. in length.
Withdean Farm, in the south of the parish, has a farm-house showing no traces of antiquity. Moulsecombe Place, in the south-east corner of the parish, is an 18th-century and later building of no interest. A large barn adjoins it on the north-west. At this side of the house are the remains of a half-timber house of about 1500. Part of the north-east side of the house can be seen, and the north corner, but the building is only a fragment of a once larger structure. It is heavily timbered, with large studs set closely together in the walling of the upper floor, which projects on the floorjoists over the wall-face below. The flooring at the remaining angle of the house contains a large dragon beam. The roof and all openings have been renewed, and all the timbers are so badly worm-eaten that the structure appears to be on the verge of complete disintegration.
There was a windmill at Patcham about 1620, held, with land adjoining, by Richard Geeringe. (fn. 5) The present disused tower-mill was built in 1885 at Waterhall, more than 350 ft. above sea-level, by the side of Mill Road leading from Patcham village to the Dyke Road.
The stream called Wellesbourne has its source in Patcham. It exists only in rainy weather, when the well which is its source overflows. Its course is through Preston by the side of the old London Road towards Brighton. Eventually it disappears underground and is carried through a sewer to the sea. During heavy rains in December 1852 the source overflowed and formed a river from Patcham to the north part of Brighton. (fn. 6)
In his progress through Sussex in 1302 Edward I stayed at Patcham on 12 September on his way from Beeding to Lewes. (fn. 7) John Peccham, usually, but erroneously, called Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury (1279-92), who was born in the neighbourhood of Lewes, almost certainly derived his name from this parish. (fn. 8) John Sadler, the Hebrew and oriental scholar (1615–74), was son of a vicar of Patcham and Elizabeth daughter of Henry Shelley of Patcham. (fn. 9) It was owing to Sadler's interest that the Jews obtained the privilege of building a synagogue in London. (fn. 10)
In the time of King Edward the Confessor PATCHAM was held by Earl Harold. William de Warenne held it in 1086, and its assessment had been reduced from 60 hides to 40. Twenty-six haws in Lewes belonged to this manor and yielded 13s. Seven hides of the manor were held by Richard, and a knight of his held a hide and a half. (fn. 11)
With the exception of the land held by Richard and his knight, Patcham, afterward known as PATCHAM COURT, continued as a demesne manor of the Earls Warenne, and descended with the rape until the division in 1439 when the manor was assigned to Joan, Lady Bergavenny; (fn. 12) it has descended with her share of the barony to the Marquess of Abergavenny. (fn. 13)
An estate in Patcham later known as PATCHAM PLACE belonged in the middle of the 16th century to the Shelleys. They apparently acquired it from a family named Scott. (fn. 14) Richard Shelley third son of Sir John Shelley of Michelgrove appears to have been settled at Patcham by 1546. (fn. 15) He was succeeded in 1552 by a son John, whose will was proved in 1587. (fn. 16) Richard son of John was buried at Patcham in October 1594, (fn. 17) and his son Henry apparently sold the estate to Anthony Stapley, for in 1620 Anthony was holding at Patcham a capital messuage and 2 virgates of land, late Shelley's. (fn. 18) Anthony was also holding under a lease for three lives the demesne land of the manor of Patcham containing a dwelling-house, dove-house, and land adjoining, with three laynes of arableland containing 180 acres, and sufficient pasture for 60 head of cattle and 2,200 sheep, at a yearly rent of £22 13s. 4d. (fn. 19) This Anthony Stapley, the regicide, was son of Anthony of Framfield, and came to Patcham about 1615. (fn. 20) He also held part of an ancient freehold called Ryars (fn. 21) and several customary tenures including Stillmans or Stylemans, Deerings, and Salmans, all in Patcham. (fn. 22) Anthony Stapley was a prominent Parliamentarian; he acted as governor of Chichester from 1642 to 1645, signed the death-warrant of Charles I, and was a member of the first Council of State of the Commonwealth. He was buried at Patcham on 31 January 1655 (fn. 23) and his second, but eldest surviving, son John succeeded. (fn. 24) He was created a baronet in 1660 and obtained a post in the Customs. (fn. 25) He had no sons, and in 1700 he and his wife Mary and his three daughters, Elizabeth wife of Thomas Briggs, Mary Dobell, widow, and Barbara wife of Meyrick Jenkin, and his granddaughter Barbara only daughter of Peter and Philadelphia Courthope, sold Patcham Place to John Lilley. (fn. 26) Lilley left it by will in 1707 to his nephew John Allen, who sold it in 1719 to George, Lord Abergavenny, and Anne his wife to her use for her life. (fn. 27) Anne survived her husband, and in 1744 married John, Lord de la Warr. By a prenuptial settlement Patcham Court was settled on Anne, and in the following year Lord de la Warr settled this estate on himself for life with remainder to his sons John and George West in tail male successively. (fn. 28) He sold it in 1764 to John Paine, (fn. 29) and it became the seat of the Paine family for several generations. John Paine died in 1768, and his son John, who succeeded him, died in 1803. (fn. 30) In 1812 the estate was conveyed by Grace Paine, widow, and John Paine, esq., to Nathaniel Kemp. (fn. 31) Much has been sold, but the rest is now held by the trustees of the late Nathaniel Kemp.
WITHDEAN [Whittadena, Wittedena (xi cent.); Wyghtden, Whigdene, Wyghtden Cayliff (xvi cent.); Wigden, Weighden Keyliffe (xvii cent.)] formed part of the original endowment of Lewes Priory. Two hides there with four villeins and a meadow and also the tithes of Earl Warenne's land were granted by the first earl, (fn. 32) and his son added half a hide there in exchange for the house of David of London which he had formerly given to the monks, and a virgate for the soul of his mother and 2 hides for part of his father's stock. (fn. 33) Richard the archdeacon gave 4 hides there. (fn. 34) In about 1095 the second William de Warenne confirmed 8 hides in Withdean to the priory. (fn. 35)
Withdean remained in the possession of the priory until 1537, when it was surrendered to the king. (fn. 36) In the following year it was granted with the other property of the priory to Thomas Cromwell, (fn. 37) on whose attainder it came again to the Crown, and formed part of the grant to Anne of Cleves in 1541. (fn. 38)
After this WIGHTDEAN or WITHDEAN COURT was held of the king as of the manor of East Greenwich by Sir John Spencer, who died in 1610. (fn. 39) It passed to his only child Elizabeth wife of William, Lord Compton, (fn. 40) and they made a conveyance of it in 1612. (fn. 41) Charles Callis Western held the manor in 1791 (fn. 42) and William Roe bought it from him in 1794; (fn. 43) it then descended with Withdean Kayliffe.
In 1265 certain lands in Iford, Ditchling, and Withdean were held of Osbert de Kailly by John dela Bise. (fn. 44) These seem in the course of time to have come to the family of Okehurst and to have been used to endow the chantry of William Okehurst in Chichester Cathedral in 1467. (fn. 45) On the suppression of the chantry this land in Withdean was acquired in 1548 by Henry Polsted of Chilworth, Surrey, (fn. 46) who died in 1556 leaving a young son Richard, but bequeathed the manor of WITHDEAN KAYLIFFE to his nephew Anthony Elmes, (fn. 47) who conveyed it in 1557 to Richard Polsted, esq. (fn. 48) In 1577–8 Francis Polsted and Audrey his wife, together with Alice Randyll, widow, conveyed it to Brian Annesley. (fn. 49) He died in 1604, holding Withdean Kayliffe of the king as of his manor of Woking in Surrey (fn. 50) and bequeathing it to his elder daughter Grace wife of Sir John Wildgose of Iridge in Salehurst. (fn. 51) They settled the manor in 1619 on Anthony May and Alexander Fowle and the heirs of Anthony May. (fn. 52) Sir Annesley Wildgose, son of Sir John, died before his father, leaving a son Robert, who was aged about 19 in 1634, (fn. 53) but already by 1626 it appears that the manor had been divided among the daughters of Sir John, (fn. 54) since in that year Sir John Fowle and his wife Anne (one daughter) and Sir John Wildgose and his wife Grace made a conveyance of one moiety of Keyliffe alias Wightdeane-Keyliffe. (fn. 55) Sir John Fowle died seised of half the manor in 1637, this having been settled by Anne his wife upon their son Annesley. (fn. 56)
One-half of a half of the manor was conveyed in 1654 by Sir William Boys or Boyse, of Hawkhurst, Kent, and his wife Cordelia, another daughter, to John Busbridge and William White, and (fn. 57) two years later William and Cordelia, with Robert Fowle, Samuel Boys, John and Thomas Boys, Grace Caldicott, widow, Elizabeth Fowle, widow, and Matthias Caldicott and Cordelia his wife, and others, conveyed half the manor to Roger Shoyswell and William Levett. (fn. 58) In 1657 Robert Fowle sold the whole manor to John Raynes and Richard Gunn, (fn. 59) who seem to have divided it. By 1694 Thomas Medley, who had married Susan Raynes, was holding the Raynes moiety, and this descended to George Medley, who was holding it as late as 1786. (fn. 60) The other moiety was in the hands of Thomas Gunn in 1694 and seems to have passed to Henry Farncombe, who held courts in 1720 and 1754; it was sold in 1756 by John and Charles Scrase to Thomas Western, who bequeathed it in 1763 to his son Thomas Walsingham Western. (fn. 61) The whole manor was conveyed in 1794 by Thomas Walsingham Western, clerk, and Mary his wife and Charles Callis Western to William Roe, a distinguished Civil Servant. (fn. 62) His son William Thomas Roe was succeeded by his daughter, the wife of Sir Charles Ogle. She died in 1886, and her daughter, Mrs. E. V. M. Curwen, in 1889. (fn. 63) The whole estate has now been sold for building.
Part of the land which Richard and his knight held at Patcham in 1086 was at MOULSECOMBE [Mulescumba (xi cent.); Molescumba (xii cent.); Mowsecombe, Mullyscombe (xvi cent.)]. Richard was later known as Richard the Archdeacon and he gave 1 hide at Moulsecombe to the Priory of Lewes. (fn. 64) William, 2nd Earl Warenne, gave to the monks 3 hides in Moulsecombe and whatever Richard the Archdeacon held of him and his father. (fn. 65) This estate was confirmed to the priory by Ralph, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1121. (fn. 66) At the Dissolution tithes from Moulsecombe valued at 30s. belonged to the priory. (fn. 67) The prior's possessions in Moulsecombe were granted in 1538 to Thomas Cromwell, and after his forfeiture to Anne of Cleves in 1541. (fn. 68) A farm called Mouscombe belonged to Sir Edward Culpepper, who died in 1630 leaving a son William his heir. (fn. 69)
A copyhold estate called Moulsecombe in Patcham belonged for many generations to the Webb family, who are said to have owned it 'since the Conquest'. (fn. 70) They certainly appear to have been connected with the place in 1490. (fn. 71) Moulsecombe was by 1835 an estate of 1,000 acres, when it had passed to the Tillstones. (fn. 72) It belonged in 1870 to E. S. Tillstone. (fn. 73) The estate has been sold to the Brighton Corporation for building.
The parish church of All SAINTS, which is mentioned in Domesday Book, stands on the hill-side on the east side of the village green. It consists of a nave and chancel with western tower, a modern north aisle to the nave, and modern vestries to the north of the chancel. The nave has a south porch, which may be medieval, but the date of this, as well as those of the other older portions of the church, are difficult to determine owing to the condition of the walling, which is of flint rubble with stone dressings, the whole of which has been covered externally with Roman cement. This has fallen off the north-west and north-east angles of the building, exposing the green-sandstone quoins. The chancel arch and the remains of the old north door of the nave suggest that this at least is of the 12th century, and the chancel, too, is possibly of that date, although all its visible features are 14th century. The tower appears to be 13th century. The additions on the north side of the church were made in 1898.
In the south wall of the nave the westernmost window is a modern two-light, replacing a single-light which existed in the last century. East of the porch is a 14th-century window with two foliated lights and an ogival quatrefoil above, apparently contemporary with the east window of the chancel, which is a three-light window with reticulated tracery. Both these windows have scroll-roll drip-mouldings, terminating with horizontal stops, those of the chancel being of corbel form. The two windows on the south side of the chancel are 14th-century single lights with trefoiled heads, all much restored. The south porch is entirely cement-covered, and its simple pointed arch appears to be post-Reformation. The tower is plain, and its broach spire modern, the top of the tower having been embattled as late as the last century. The whole of the lower part of the tower is thickly covered with ivy. There is a small lancet window lighting the tower-space and another in each of the four walls of the belfry story. The southwest angle is supported by a pair of buttresses, and the ends of the south wall of the nave are also supported by southward-projecting buttresses, all of which appear to be post-Reformation, possibly of the same date as the porch. At the north-west angle of the nave may be seen the remains of a corbel-table of uncertain antiquity, but which may belong to the end of the 12th century.
The south doorway of the nave is of the 14th century, and has a very simple pointed arch with a discontinuous impost. The tower arch is pointed, with neither responds nor imposts. The original north door of the 12th-century nave has been removed to the wall of the modern north aisle, in which its jambs and arch may be seen. Its position is marked externally with modern stonework. The north arcade is of three bays, and its piers and arches are in modern brick and stonework. The chancel arch is 12th-century, with a plain unmoulded semicircular arch. The impost mouldings are restorations. On either side of it, in the east wall of the nave, are shallow round-headed recesses, to-day completely covered with plaster, but possibly original. The two westernmost windows of the chancel, the northern of which is now covered externally by the modern vestry, are set low, and may be 'low-side windows'. (fn. 74) The chancel has a 14th-century piscina in the usual position, with a trefoiled head. The internally fluted basin projects slightly from the wall-face. On the north side of the nave is a very crudely executed wall memorial to Richard Shelley, who died in 1594.
Over the chancel arch are the remains of a painted 'Doom', (fn. 75) which was discovered in 1883 when the church was restored. The church had previously been restored in 1825–30, and in 1856. The last restoration was in 1898, when the northern additions were made. The font is modern.
There are three bells, of which one is dated 1639. The others are uninscribed, but the larger must have been recast since 1724, when it was noted as cracked. (fn. 76)
The church possesses a silver communion cup with paten cover; neither has a hall mark, but the paten is dated 1568. There is another paten, of foreign origin, bearing the name of Herbert Stapley and the date 1666. (fn. 77)
There was a church in William de Warenne's manor of Patcham in 1086, (fn. 78) and it was given by William, 2nd Earl Warenne, to the Priory of Lewes, with the land and tithe belonging to it. (fn. 79) In 1391 the prior and convent petitioned the Pope to be allowed to appropriate this church among others, a perpetual vicar having been instituted there. They gave as their reasons for desiring this appropriation their losses of land, meadow, and pasture through inundations, and the ransom they had been obliged to pay for their prior, who had been taken captive by French and Spaniards and long held to ransom in France, the burning of their crops and the capture of their serfs by the French. (fn. 80) Prior John Oke in 1400 granted as a pittance to the subprior and convent the fruits of Patcham Church and a rent of 26s. 8d. from it. (fn. 81) After appropriating the rectory, the prior appears to have been remiss in providing suitable vicars and keeping up the church buildings, and in 1426 the Archbishop of Canterbury was commanded to inquire into a complaint by the parishioners that the church buildings were in ruins, that divine worship had been greatly diminished, that the cure of souls was much neglected, and that the hospitality formerly shown to the poor by the rectors had been withdrawn. (fn. 82) The archbishop was empowered to annul the appropriation if necessary; but this was not done, and the Prior and Convent of Lewes remained impropriators and patrons of the living until the Dissolution. (fn. 83)
King Henry VIII granted the advowson to Thomas Cromwell in 1538, (fn. 84) and after his attainder both the advowson and the rectory were granted to Anne of Cleves on 17 January 1541. (fn. 85) After her death they again reverted to the Crown. Queen Mary granted the rectory and church in 1558 to John, Bishop of Chichester, but under Queen Elizabeth they were restored to the Crown. (fn. 86) From that time the advowson remained in the Crown, until 1870, when it was sold to the Rev. James Gillman of Wandsworth. He died in 1877 and his son Alexander William Gillman transferred the advowson to trustees. (fn. 87) It has recently been acquired by the Martyrs' Memorial Trust.
The rectory was granted in 1560 to Thomas and Edward Middleton, (fn. 88) and it afterwards passed to the Shelley family. In 1664–5 Henry Shelley and Cordelia his wife sold the rectory to Sir John Stapley. (fn. 89) From that time the rectory passed with Patcham Place. (fn. 90)