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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Aldrington has been identified as the 'Ederyngtune' given by King Alfred in his will to his younger son, (fn. 1) and as the Roman station of Portus Adurni, (fn. 2) but it seems unlikely that either of these identifications is correct.
The ancient site of Aldrington village seems to have been at the mouth of the River Adur, (fn. 3) the scour of which, combined with coastal erosion, has caused the disappearance of the village. The road from it apparently followed the usual course of those in neighbouring villages and led inland towards the Downs, upon the lower slopes of which were the common fields and pasture of the inhabitants. This road seems to have passed northwards towards the ancient site of Hangleton village, and is apparently represented to-day by Portslade Station Road, which forms the western boundary of the parish.
In medieval times the erosion seems to have been considerable, at least 40 acres being lost between 1291 and 1340. (fn. 4) Only two houses were assessed to the Hearth Tax of 1665, (fn. 5) and the great storms of 1703 and 1705 almost completed the destruction of the village, the population of which in 1801 was two persons only. (fn. 6)
At the end of the 19th century, however, the new maritime village of Portslade-by-Sea was founded on the west of the old street of Aldrington, and building development spreading into Aldrington parish, coupled with the western development of Hove, have together combined to obliterate the individuality of Aldrington, which since 1893 has been incorporated with the Borough of Hove; but it is still a separate parish, with an area of 796 acres. The area is to-day practically entirely built upon, and has a large population. There is a station on the Brighton-Shoreham line of the Southern Railway, known however as Portslade.
The basin forming an eastern extension of Shoreham Harbour and running some distance into Aldrington was begun in 1851 and its construction was the cause of protracted litigation between Hugh Fuller, and later Hugh Ingram, owners of that part of Aldrington, and the Harbour Commissioners. (fn. 7)
The old parish was in 1911 divided into two ecclesiastical parishes. Since then there have been three mission districts formed, two of which have now become parishes. These are the North Aldrington district, of which the bishop is patron, and the Bishop Hannington Memorial district, which on 5 May 1939 became a separate parish, with trustees as patrons. The third is the Holy Cross district, which is part of St. Philip's parish. (fn. 8)
Before the Conquest ALDRINGTON was divided into two parts. One was part of King Edward's manor of Beeding, and was held by villeins, and the other was part of the manor of Broadwater held by Wigot. Both Beeding and Broadwater were in William de Braiose's rape of Bramber after the Conquest, but Aldrington itself was in the rape of Lewes, and became part of the fief of William de Warenne, who gave both parts to Godfrey de Pierpoint. Godfrey held them as separate estates, assessed at 9 hides and 7 hides and ½ virgate respectively, but in the two there was but one hall (aula). (fn. 9)
Aldrington continued to be divided, part being held as of the manor of Portslade (q.v.). (fn. 10) In 1247 the manor of Portslade with Aldrington was granted in dower to Margaret, Countess of Kent, widow of Hubert de Burgh, by her step-son, John de Burgh. (fn. 11) In 1284 one-half of Aldrington was held with Portslade. (fn. 12) This land of West Aldrington (fn. 13) passed with the manor of Portslade to the Edwards family, is mentioned in a conveyance of the manor in 1664 by Abraham Edwards, (fn. 14) and is probably represented by Aldrington Farm, consisting of 574 acres, belonging in 1835 to Hugh Fuller, (fn. 15) after whose death in 1858 it came into the hands of Hugh Ingram. (fn. 16)
The rest of Aldrington must have come into the hands of Ralph de Chesney soon after the Domesday Survey, for William de Warenne, the second, confirmed to the monks of Lewes a hide of land in Aldrington given them by Ralph de Chesney, the younger, for the soul of his wife, (fn. 17) and Ralph, Bishop of Chichester, confirmed to them the tithe of Ralph de Chesney's land in Aldrington. (fn. 18) Ralph evidently retained some land at Aldrington which was sometimes described as the manor of EAST ALDRINGTON (fn. 19) and became annexed to his manor of Hangleton (q.v.), and passed with it to Richard Bellingham of Newtimber. By his will proved in February 1535 (fn. 20) Richard left part of his land at Aldrington to his younger son Edward by his second wife Mary, daughter of William Everard, on condition that Mary gave up all claim to Hangleton Manor. This land at Aldrington comprised three fields called the Laynes and other land in the occupation of Henry Matthew and Henry Haull, with 400 sheep leazes from Michaelmas to Lady Day. (fn. 21) This land passed as a capital messuage or farm in Aldrington on the death of Edward Bellingham in 1605 to his son Sir Edward. (fn. 22) It was subsequently held with half the manor of Ovingdean by Sir Edward Bellingham on his death in 1637, (fn. 23) but it is not mentioned afterwards in conveyances of the manor of Ovingdean (q.v.). (fn. 24) It may have been identical with a freehold estate held in 1785 by Mr. Challen, with half Ovingdean. (fn. 25)
This land at Aldrington bequeathed to his younger son did not include the whole of Richard Bellingham's estate in the parish, for some land there passed to his eldest son, also named Edward, and remained part of Hangleton Manor, passing with it to the Countess of Plymouth, afterwards Lady Amherst, (fn. 26) who died in 1864. This was part of the estate known as the Red House Farm. (fn. 27)
The land given to the priory of Lewes by Ralph de Chesney, together with a hide given by Godfrey de Pierpoint, (fn. 28) remained with the priory until the Dissolution. In 1387 30 acres of land in Aldrington were held of the prior by Sir William Fifhide. (fn. 29) In 1535 the priory held assized rents at Aldrington, pertaining to their manor of Atlingworth and Portslade. (fn. 30) In 1537 the prior granted all his tenements there to the king (fn. 31) who in 1538 gave them to Thomas Cromwell. (fn. 32) In 1571 a so-called manor of ALDRINGTON was in the hands of the Queen, and 20 acres of land belonging to it, formerly Prestalls, were held in socage by John Edmondes who was succeeded in that year by his son Walter. (fn. 33)
The parish church of ST. NICHOLAS, which stands a little to the east of Portslade Station Road, consists of a nave of five bays, a chancel having a large vestry on the south, and a baptistry at the west end of the nave. The south aisle of the nave is the old church, and has at its western end a tower with a broach spire. All except the south aisle and tower were built in 1936. The new work is of flint with stone dressings, and is in a modern Gothic style. The nave has arcades to both north and south, but the north aisle is not yet built.
The old church, now the south aisle, with its west tower, is of late-13th-century date. It was rebuilt in 1878 after having long lain in ruins. The church was already neglected in 1586; (fn. 34) ten years later the rector had removed the font to his own house, fearing it might be stolen, as the church lay open without a door. (fn. 35) In 1603 the bell was sold to Henfield to be used for making a new bell for that parish; (fn. 36) and in 1638 the church was reported to be 'very ruinous'. (fn. 37) By the beginning of the 19th century most of the side walls had fallen. (fn. 38) It consisted of a nave and chancel under one roof, and a small west tower, all constructed of flint with stone dressings. The north wall was removed when the church was enlarged in 1936, and much of the remainder of the walling is restoration, but the east wall below the heads of the windows, the lower part of the tower, and the bottom courses of the south wall are original. The south wall has six single-light 13th-century windows with obtusely pointed heads. Some of the interior jamb-stones appear to be original. The east wall has a pair of similar lights close together, much of the stonework being original. There is a curious indecipherable carving at the junction of the springing of the scoinson arches. Above these two windows is a modern sexfoil. The south door is a restoration, as is also the tower arch, although the bases of this appear to be original. The tower has pairs of buttresses at the angles, and a modern shingled broach spire. The registers date from 1878.
The church of ST. PHILIP stands on the road joining the old churches of Aldrington and Hove, and about midway between the two. It is of brick with stone dressings and was built in 1895, in a sort of Gothic style. It consists of a nave of five bays with aisles to north and south, an apsidal west baptistry, and a south porch. The chancel has an apsidal south chapel, and vestries and organ loft on the north. The registers date from 1911.
Hubert de Burgh, Justiciar of England, is said to have given the church of St. Leonard [sic] of 'Aldertone' to the use of the fabric of the church of St. Radigund of Bradsole, with reversion after completion of the works to the use of the sacrist to find lights for ever in the church of St. Radigund, saving to David the parson his portion while he lived. (fn. 39) This gift must have been revoked, for the advowson was held by Hubert's widow, Margaret, Countess of Kent, from 1247 (fn. 40) and it descended with that part of Aldrington that was appurtenant to Portslade Manor (fn. 41) at least until 1664, when it belonged to Abraham Edwards. (fn. 42) The Rev. John Citizen was patron in 1718 (fn. 43) and in 1750 he gave the advowson to Magdalene College, Cambridge, (fn. 44) who sold it before 1879, in which year the Rev. Henry Manning Ingram presented himself to the living. The patronage was transferred from him to the Bishop of Chichester by Order in Council dated 22 March 1911, in which year the separate ecclesiastical parish of St. Philip's was formed from St. Leonard's parish. The bishop is now patron of both parishes. (fn. 45)
The Bishop of Chichester in 1402 licensed the rector of Aldrington, upon his resignation of the living, to build himself a cell in the churchyard to the north of the Cathedral Church at Chichester, and to live there as an anchorite, having free access to the Lady Chapel in the church. (fn. 46)