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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The parish of Hangleton covers an area of 1,120 acres of Downland, and forms a rectangle, approximately 2 miles from north to south and three-quarters of a mile broad, lying between the parishes of Portslade and West Blatchington, north-west of Brighton. The area was all farmland until a year or two ago, when building development from the southern parish of Aldrington began to spread over Hangleton, so that its 1931 population of 109 is now very much augmented. Under the Hove (Extension) Order of 1927 Hangleton was included within the borough of Hove, but it remains a separate parish. (fn. 1)
The original village was situated on an ancient trackway which, coming from London and crossing the main range of the Downs at Saddlescombe, passed down the spur known as Round Hill and thence turned south-westwards, through the present village of Portslade, to reach the estuary of the River Adur near where Southwick village is to-day. (fn. 2) Hangleton village was founded on the southern slopes of Round Hill, just where the ancient route turns towards the west. The old road, which is believed to have had an Early Iron Age origin, was still in use as a highway as late as 1635, but it has now ceased to exist north of Hangleton Church, to-day the sole relic of the original village, which lay to the north-east of the church, the site being still marked by mounds and known as Stoney Croft. The summit of Round Hill, which is 445 ft. in height, is covered with the remains of early field systems. Among them is a tumulus, probably of the Bronze Age, excavated in 1926, but found to have been previously rifled. (fn. 3)
The old road descends the hill-side on its way southwestwards from the church to Benfields, thence climbing the opposite hill, in a deeply sunken track, to leave the parish on its way to Portslade. Benfields lay on the end of a spur overlooking the valley between Portslade and Hangleton, and is now marked by a farm. (fn. 4) Across the old road lie the manor-house, its farm, and the few cottages which house the population of the old part of Hangleton.
The oldest portion of Hangleton Manor-House, (fn. 5) judging by a doorway in its south wall, is the long low building to the west of the main house. This doorway appears to be of 15th-century date and is the only original feature in this wall. The north side of this building is partly covered by a large modern garage, but the four two-light windows nearest to this, although deprived of their label-moulds, seem to be original features of the mid-16th century. A number of old doors and windows have been inserted into the walls of this building, probably from other parts of the structure. The western range is now a hollow shell with a modern roof, and nothing remains of any medieval interior arrangements, but it may represent, approximately, the shell of the 15th-century manor-house. The north wall of this range is continued, without any change in its appearance, to form the front wall of the house proper. The four windows previously referred to suggest that this wall was rebuilt when the present house was constructed, and the remains of similar windows, east of the porch, originally lighting the hall and the chamber above it, tend to confirm the mid16th century as the date when this was done. Furthermore, 12th-century carved stones from Lewes Priory, destroyed for its materials in 1537, are built into the front wall of the house, immediately above the east side of the hall door. The rebuilder of the house is thus probably Richard Bellingham, who held the manor from 1540 to 1553, and whose initials appear on one of the fire-places.
The main lines of the plan, except for the staircase block, probably date from this period. The general arrangement of the plan was a hall having a great parlour at one end, and at the other a kitchen approached from the hall by a passage between the buttery, over a cellar, and the staircase. Hall and parlour each had a chamber over it, and there was probably another over the kitchen. The hall door may be of this date, and also that now at the head of the stairs, which was once external and faced south, as a scratch dial is cut on its present south jamb. This door was probably originally at the south end of the screens, opposite to the hall door. The kitchen gable, with its upper window and door below, and possibly the porch are also of this period.
Shortly after the middle of the 16th century the house seems to have undergone alteration. The present scullery, with a chamber over, was formed out of the old western range; the porch-room window is of this date, as is also that to the buttery and the blocked six light window to the chamber over this. The south window to the chamber over the parlour, and the east window in the north half of the parlour itself, now the library, are also contemporary, as are the porch doorway and the heavy oak screen at the west end of the hall, dividing this from the buttery. This screen has a heavily moulded central doorway, now blocked, which once led to the kitchen passage, and south of this another door which leads to the present passage, but once gave access to the stair. At the head of the present stair is the old stair-lobby, surrounded by heavy halftimber partitions in which may be seen the remains of doorways with four-centred heads; one of these leads to the foot of the attic stair, with its stop-chamfered newel and steps cut out of solid blocks of oak; another leads to the porch-room. The re-set fire-place in the drawing-room part of the great parlour may be of this date; it has an interior of pressed brick, as have others of the fine fire-places in this house.
At the end of the 16th century the house was again altered and improved. The fine screen in the hall, and the elaborate plaster ceiling over its dais, date from this period. The chief constructional addition, however, was the staircase block, with its great stair. The house was almost entirely refenestrated, the east wing being re-roofed to provide a sort of 'long gallery' with windows at either end. The east wall was designed to form a 'front', with a row of three large new windows on the upper floor. In the first half of the 17th century the dais end of the hall was cut off to form the present smoking-room, into which an old fire-place was re-set. The subdivision of the chamber over the great parlour possibly occurred at this time, as its fire-place is early17th-century in style. The parlour itself was probably not divided, however, until the 18th century, when two large windows were formed in it and in the smoking-room, also at one time divided.
The south gable shows the single-light window of the 'long gallery' above a five-light early-Elizabethan window with a transom, which lights the first floor. Below is a rather later four-light window with a transom. The east front has three contemporary windows on its first floor. The centre window below is the earlyElizabethan window, of five lights with a transom, to the parlour. The two side windows on this floor are 18th-century makeshifts, between the northernmost of which and the centre window is a late-18th-century garden door. On the north front may be seen the lateElizabethan windows of the hall, each of five lights with a transom, the easternmost raised to clear the dais. Next the porch are remains of the original hall windows and on the west side of the porch is the buttery window with the remains of a chamber window above it. Two late windows come next, the lower lighting the kitchen and the upper showing signs of curtailment. The other windows on this front are all insertions, except for the four westernmost. The modern garage blocks those farther west. The back of the house is covered with stucco, through which appear an assortment of windows of all periods. The south side of the western range shows a similar medley of insertions, with, however, the one original 15th-century door mentioned earlier.
The chief feature of the interior of the house is the fine screen in the hall, in the usual five bays marked by fluted Corinthian pilasters with well-carved caps. (fn. 6) The northernmost door was filled with panelling in the early part of the 17th century. In the three panels forming the attic above the cornice is inscribed a version of the Ten Commandments. The dais end of the hall is now inclosed in the smoking-room, which has a fine plaster ceiling, covered with geometrical designs with bosses bearing heraldic emblems. (fn. 7) The fire-place here is of stone, with a four-centred arch, now surrounded by Jacobean panelling. The drawing-room fire-place is of freestone, with a four-centred arch and a long panel over it carved with a sort of burlesque-Renaissance design of heraldic animals. The fire-place in the chamber over is equally crudely carved but more restrained in design, with geometrical patterns. That in the chamber north of this, however, is of remarkable excellence both in design and execution. It is made of a hard grey stone and has a delicately moulded Berkeley arch, with long spandrels, also carved, the sinister containing what is apparently a torch, over which is a capital B, the opposite spandrel having an R to match it. (fn. 8) The quality of the material and workmanship, the refinement of the design, and the employment of the Berkeley arch, suggest that this fire-place is not of local workmanship. The chamber over the hall has a similar fire-place, but with plain spandrels and embellished in late Elizabethan times with a fluted frieze of white freestone with roses upon it. The hall fire-place is now merely a brick recess, with a Jacobean door-head built into its back, but in the westernmost cottage in the gatehouse is an oak chimney-beam of considerable span which may have been removed from either the hall or kitchen of the house itself; it is of the 16th century, with a four-centred arch with deeply cut spandrels.
The grand staircase is of unusual design. Rising from ground to first floor, it is built around a large square newel, solid up to the string, but then replaced by a hollow square of slender balusters, four a side. On the first floor, backing on to the well balustrade, is a low seat passing along the two sides of this. In the hand-rail, at points over each newel, are holes for candles, closed by wooden plugs when not in use. A fluted frieze surrounds the well.
It was possibly intended originally that the house should stand at the back of a square courtyard formed by walls joining the house to the gatehouse block which remains parallel to it and a short distance to the north. This block, probably intended for stables, is now divided into a number of small cottages. The gateway itself is formed in well-cut ashlar, with large voussoirs in the Renaissance manner, has a simple chamfered three-centred arch, and a hood-mould returned horizontally and stopped, and formed of a Classical cornice without its bedmould. The gate passage slopes steeply down through another similar arch, entering the courtyard between two large buttresses, the eastern of which has a rectangular scratch-dial on the south face. The south wall of the gatehouse has been raised and altered at its western end. No original windows are visible externally, though the reveals of some remain inside the cottages. The date of the building is probably in the second half of the 16th century.
A few yards to the south-east of the Manor House is a circular pigeon-house, flint-built, with a conical tiled roof, and possibly dating from the end of the 17th century. (fn. 9) It has boxes for 526 nests. The potence is of unusual form, being constructed like an exceptionally tall field-gate, with six rails and a diagonal strut. It thus is a ladder as well as a potence, and also provides perches for the birds.
It was stated in 1603 that there was only one house in the parish and about sixteen communicants, (fn. 10) but it would seem that both Hangleton Place and Benfields must have been in existence at that time. In the religious census taken in 1676 Hangleton contained twenty-six conformists and one nonconformist. (fn. 11) There were five families in the parish in 1724, the largest being Quakers. Services in the church were held only once a fortnight by the rector of Southwick and there had been no Communion within the memory of man. (fn. 12)
Henry Shales, rector of Hangleton, was charged in 1583 with having been a seminary priest in Rome or France, and preaching heretical doctrines; he was debarred from preaching and resigned the living in 1585. (fn. 13)
In 1086 HANGLETON was held of William de Warenne by William de Watevile for 8½ hides. Azor had held it in the time of King Edward and it was then assessed for 14 hides and one virgate. The estate had been part of Kingston Bucy, a manor of William de Braiose. (fn. 14)
The overlordship of this manor descended with the rape until the death of Beatrice, Countess of Arundel, in 1439, when it was assigned to the Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 15) In 1608 the manor was said to be held of Thomas, Earl of Arundel and Edward, Lord Bergavenny. (fn. 16) The share of Lord Bergavenny may have been certain land in Hangleton, part of the manor of Patcham (q.v.). (fn. 17)
Hangleton passed to Ralph de Chesney, who is believed to have married the daughter of William de Watevile. (fn. 18) It did not pass with Ralph's other manors to the Says, but had returned into the hands of William de Warenne II before 1098, (fn. 19) and came subsequently to a family called Cockfield. (fn. 20) About 1180 Earl Hamelin de Warenne confirmed an agreement made between Adam de Cukufeld and the monks of St. Pancras, Lewes, concerning 10 librates of land in Hangleton which the earl had given back to Adam. (fn. 21) In 1199 Adam's widow Lucy and her son Adam recovered land in Hangleton of which they had been unjustly disseised by Wolwin, reeve of Blatchington, and Peter Ketel. (fn. 22) Lucy was still alive in 1201; (fn. 23) Adam was dead by 1214, (fn. 24) and his son Robert, who confirmed to the nuns of Delapré (Northants.) a gift of land made by his grandmother Lucy, (fn. 25) held one knight's fee in Hangleton in 1242. (fn. 26) Robert de Cockfield in 1250 granted a messuage and two carucates of land in Hangleton and Aldrington to his son Robert in exchange for an annuity of £20. (fn. 27) Robert de Cockfield held Hangleton and half of Aldrington in 1284–5, (fn. 28) and in 1291 he granted it to Luke de Poynings, retaining for himself a life interest. (fn. 29) Michael son of Luke, who succeeded him in 1294, was summoned to Parliament in that year as Lord Poynings, and Hangleton manor passed with the title and the manor of Poynings (q.v.) until the death of Robert, Lord Poynings, in 1446. (fn. 30) His estates passed to his granddaughter Eleanor, wife of Sir Henry Percy, Eleanor died in 1484 and her grandson Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, conveyed the manor in 1531 to Humphry Ratcliffe. (fn. 31) By him the manors of Hangleton and Aldrington were sold in 1538 to Richard Bellingham (fn. 32) of Newtimber. (fn. 33) Richard gave Hangleton Manor in his lifetime to his eldest son Edward Bellingham by his first wife Parnel, daughter of John Cheyney, and his will, dated 20 October 1550, directed that his second wife Mary, daughter of William Everard, should release to Edward all her dower rights in Hangleton. (fn. 34) Richard's will was proved 22 February 1553. His son Edward also conveyed the manor, during his own lifetime, to his son Richard and daughter-in-law Mary, daughter of Richard Whalley. (fn. 35) Richard was holding it in 1565, (fn. 36) and died in 1592. (fn. 37) Mary survived her husband and afterwards married Barnard Whitstone. Edward Bellingham, son and heir of Richard and Mary, with his brother Richard conveyed the reversion after the death of Mary to Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, in 1597. (fn. 38) A previous conveyance made by Edward Bellingham in 1594 to John Whalley and Henry Shelley for the purpose of barring the entail (fn. 39) led to litigation with Lord Buckhurst, who wished to be assured that this conveyance, of which he was ignorant at the time of the purchase of the manor, would not be to his prejudice. (fn. 40) Barnard Whitstone and Mary granted an annuity of 100 marks from the manor to Robert Bould in 1599, (fn. 41) and in the same year conveyed their interest to Thomas, Lord Buckhurst, then High Treasurer of England. (fn. 42)
The Whitstones remained as tenants of Hangleton Manor (fn. 43) under the Sackvilles until at least 1602, in which year it was found on inquiry that Barnard, as farmer of the manor, was answerable for the whole of the common fine payable to the hundred from Hangleton parish, and that the farmer of Benfield (q.v.) had never paid any part of it. (fn. 44) From 1600 the manor descended with the Sackville portion of the barony of Lewes (q.v.) until the death of Baroness Buckhurst on 9 January 1870. Her eldest son having predeceased her, her second son Charles Richard Sackville-West, Earl De La Warr, succeeded. He died unmarried in 1873. (fn. 45) His next brother Reginald, who had become Lord Buckhurst on the death of his mother, then succeeded to the Earldom of De La Warr, and the Sackville estates passed under the terms of the settlement of the family estates to his younger brother, Mortimer Sackville-West. (fn. 46) He was created on 2 October 1876 Lord Sackville of Knole, with special remainder, failing his issue male, to his two younger brothers Lionel and William Edward. As he died childless in 1888 his next brother Lionel Sackville-West succeeded. He died unmarried on 3 September 1908 and was succeeded by his nephew Lionel Edward, third Lord Sackville, whose brother Sir Charles SackvilleWest succeeded in 1928, and is now lord of the manor.
A second manor in Hangleton, later known as HANGLETON AND BENFIELDS alias HANGLETON-BENFIELDS, probably had its origin in the 'Esmerewic' of Domesday Book, held by Nigel of William de Warenne as 1½ hides, and held before the Conquest by Azor. (fn. 47)
The manor was held of the barony of Lewes by the service of three knights fees, (fn. 48) and on the partition of the barony in 1439 these fees were assigned to Edmund Lenthall. (fn. 49) The manor was held of George, Lord Bergavenny, in 1503, (fn. 50) and in 1579 it was said to be held of Henry, Lord Bergavenny, as of his manor of Ditchling (q.v.) by fealty and rent of 12d. (fn. 51)
Nigel, the tenant in 1086, was succeeded by a son Ralph, who with his wife gave to Lewes Priory his tithes in Hangleton. This grant was confirmed between 1091 and 1098 by William de Warenne. (fn. 52) A family descended from Ralph and Nigel bearing the name 'de Hangleton' was afterwards in possession of part of this manor. About 1147 Simon de Hangleton witnessed a deed of Rainald de Warenne. (fn. 53) He or another of that name had property at 'Ordlawswick' about 1170. (fn. 54) About 1200 Ralph son of Simon de Hangleton confirmed to Lewes Priory all tithes of sheaves of his lordship in Hangleton which the monks had by gift of his ancestors. (fn. 55) Richard de Hangleton was a witness to a charter relating to Patcham about 1215. (fn. 56) In 1242–3 these three fees in Hangleton were held jointly by Cardo de Hangleton and Ralph de Meyners. (fn. 57) Richard son of Cardo (fn. 58) de Hangleton in 1272 conveyed to Richard de Benfield a messuage and 110 acres of land in Hangleton and all the land there which Joan widow of John de la Rede held in dower. (fn. 59) This apparently did not include all the land held by this family, for in 1315 and 1321 Richard de Hangleton sought to recover his land in Hangleton which had been taken into the king's hands for his default against John de Benfield. (fn. 60) In 1320 Richard acquired a messuage and 150 acres in Hangleton and Aldrington from Juliana de Putlegh (fn. 61) and in 1335 he settled a messuage and 180 acres of land upon himself and his wife Alice. (fn. 62) Richard died before 1349 when his cousin and heir Alice de Roydon had a grant of land in Aldrington, for life, with remainder to her daughter Juliana. (fn. 63) No further reference has been found to the ownership of this family in Hangleton.
Ralph de Meyners, who shared the three fees in Hangleton with Cardo de Hangleton in 1242–3, was dead before 1247, when his sisters Agnes widow of William de Benfield and Isabel wife of Philip Newbaud shared his estates, Hangleton falling to Agnes. (fn. 64) In 1272 Richard de Benfield, who was probably son of Agnes, (fn. 65) acquired further land here from Richard de Hangleton. (fn. 66) Richard de Benfield was still alive in 1288, (fn. 67) and was succeeded about 1296 by John de Benfield, (fn. 68) who died in 1325 holding 'Benetfeld'. It is doubtful whether this included any land at Hangleton, as the name Benfields was not applied to this manor till a good deal later. (fn. 69) On the other hand, it may have covered the Benfield lands, both in Hangleton and Twineham (q.v.). (fn. 70) Another John de Benfield paid subsidy for a manor of Hangleton in 1412, (fn. 71) from which time it descended with the manor of Twineham Benfield (q.v.), being released by John's granddaughter Margery, then the widow of Thomas Austin, to Sir Walter Pawneford in 1471–2. (fn. 72) Two years later she made a conveyance of the manor of Hangleton alone to trustees. (fn. 73) Margery afterwards married John Williams, and in 1485 they and John Thwaytes son of Margery conveyed lands in Hangleton and elsewhere to William Covert. (fn. 74)
The manor then descended with Twineham-Benfield (q.v.) until the death of Thomas Covert without issue male in September 1643, when his younger brother John claimed the estates as next heir under his uncle's will. (fn. 75) Thomas left two daughters Ann and Diana wife of Robert Baynham. His widow Diana married George son of Endymion Porter, and she disputed her brother-in-law's succession, on the ground that her husband Thomas Covert had granted the manor in 1642 to her and her daughters for forty years after his death. (fn. 76) Judgement was probably in her favour for in 1647 she was dealing with the manor. (fn. 77) In 1664 Sir John Covert and his niece Diana Baynham, then a widow, conveyed the manor of Hangleton and Benfields to Harman At wood. (fn. 78) Possibly by this conveyance Sir John released his claim, for in 1665 Diana Baynham conveyed the manor to Edwin Baldwin. (fn. 79) Diana wife of John Palgrave made a further conveyance in 1670, and in 1679 sold the manor to Thomas Sherman. (fn. 80) Thomas and his wife Susan and others conveyed it in 1701 to William Northcliffe the younger, and others. (fn. 81) Northcliffe's widow left the manor by her will to Henry Southwell, who in turn bequeathed it to his brother Edward Southwell of Wisbech in the Isle of Ely, and he was owner of the manor in 1784. (fn. 82) Edward Southwell's sister Jane married Sir Clement Boehm Trafford, of Dunton Hall, co. Lincs. She died in 1809 and her son Sigismund Trafford who assumed the name Southwell inherited the manor. (fn. 83) He died in August 1827 and the manor seems to have passed to his sister Mrs. Jane Baker, who owned it in 1833 and died about 1849. (fn. 84)
The church of ST. HELEN stands on the summit of a hill close to the site of the vanished village. The old road passes by it to the east, and north of it once stood the parsonage house. It consists of nave, chancel, and west tower. It is built of rubble masonry, much of which, in the nave, is laid herring-bone, and has stone dressings. The nave is 12th-century, with the tower an early-13th-century addition. The original chancel was entirely removed about 1300, and a new chancel provided.
The north doorway is blocked, but is contemporary with the nave, and has a semicircular head. East of it is the head of a very small 12th-century window, now blocked. Its place has been taken by a late13th- or early-14th-century lancet, much restored, a little farther east. On the north side of the chancel are two single-light windows with trefoiled heads. The threelight east window is modern. The south side of the chancel has two single-light windows with trefoiled heads, the westernmost of which forms a 'low-side window'. (fn. 85) The south side of the nave has a single-light window at the east end, similar to that opposite, and west of it is the head of the disused 12th-century light. The south door is apparently contemporary with the nave, but has a segmental head.
The tower is quite plain and unbuttressed, and its western wall is lit by two lancets in the lower stage and belfry, much restored. The battlemented parapet is modern. A pyramidal cap roofs the tower.
At the south-east corner of the nave is a small piscina, of 14th-century date, with ogee head, and next to it may be seen the old re-entrant quoins of the original south-east angle of the nave, showing that the chancel arch, together with the whole east wall of the nave, was removed in the 14th century. Just east of the south door is a plain stoup.
At the south-east corner of the chancel is the 16thcentury tomb of an unknown person. It is in the Roman Doric style, and consists of a stone panel depicting husband and wife in Elizabethan dress kneeling opposite one another with five sons and six daughters ranged behind them. Below are what appear to be the representations of coffins, four on the daughters' side and one on the sons'. The panel was probably originally painted, as nothing now appears on the scrolls issuing from the mouths of the figures. Above the panel is an entablature, supported by a column on each side, the shafts of which have been removed.
The church, which was restored in 1876, possesses a communion cup of the year 1568, and a paten of 1715. (fn. 86)
The registers date from 1666. (fn. 87)
Hangleton was one of the churches granted by William de Warenne II in about 1093 to the priory of Lewes for the souls of his father William, his mother Gundrada, and his brother Rainald. (fn. 88) The church was confirmed to the monks by Henry I, by Bishop Ralph (1091–1125) and Bishop Seffrid (1180–1204), and by Ralph Archbishop of Canterbury in 1121. (fn. 89) The prior retained the advowson until 1523 (fn. 90) but it was not included among those conveyed to the king in 1537. (fn. 91) In 1291 the church was valued at £10 (fn. 92) and in 1535 at £11 14s. 1d., at which time the rector Henry Horneby appears also as vicar of Portslade. (fn. 93)
In 1568 Edward Bellingham presented to Hangleton. (fn. 94) On 9 June 1585 the church was for a short time united to that of West Blatchington. (fn. 95) Richard Bellingham, lord of the manor of Hangleton, died seised of the advowson in 1592. (fn. 96) The reversion was sold with the manor in 1597 by Edward and Richard Bellingham to Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, (fn. 97) and has since passed with the manor, the present patron of the joint livings of Hangleton and Portslade being Lord Sackville.