Alien houses: Ballivate of Warminghurst

Page 124

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.

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Edward the Confessor gave to the abbey of Fécamp the extensive manor of Steyning, which included the chapelry of Warminghurst, and William the Conqueror added the manor of Bury in 1085. (fn. 1) To manage this important property the abbots were accustomed from an early period to send one of their monks to act as their proctor or bailiff, his residence being at Warminghurst. Although usually, and correctly, referred to as the 'ballivatus' of Warminghurst, this grange and chapel were occasionally dignified with the title of 'priory,' as in 1380, when the king presented to the living of West Angmering 'by reason of the alien priory of Warminghurst being in his hands,' (fn. 2) and again about 1414, when the prior or farmer of the priory of Warminghurst was ordered to give the earl of Arundel 100 oaks from the priory woods for the munition of Calais. (fn. 3)

Under the bailiff's control were the churches of Steyning, East and West Angmering, Burpham and Clapham, worth in all £73 13s. 4d., and temporalities to the value of £145; whether he was also responsible for the abbey's valuable estates at Brede in the extreme east of the county is not quite clear. Being aliens the abbey's estates were constantly seized into the king's hands, but were usually farmed to the bailiff at a heavy rent—250 marks, besides an additional 50 marks for the privilege of custody, being exacted in 1337, (fn. 4) and as much as 500 marks in 1341. (fn. 5) The bailiff was ordered in 1377 not to send any 'aport' or contribution to Fécamp without leave, (fn. 6) and in 1400, when it was found that the bailiff had taken timber from the woods of Warminghurst and was building a ship of 80 tons at Shoreham, the ship was seized while still on the stocks and given to one John Marsh. (fn. 7)

When the lands of the alien houses were finally seized by the crown in 1414, the property of Fécamp was granted to the great nunnery of Syon.


  • 1. Cal. Doc. France, 38.
  • 2. Pat. 4 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 11.
  • 3. Acts of P.C. ii, 337.
  • 4. Close, 11 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 36.
  • 5. Close, 15 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 22.
  • 6. Close, 10 Edw. III, m. 2.
  • 7. Pat. 2 Hen. IV, pt. i, m. 9; Memoranda R., K.R. East. 3 Hen. IV, m. 16.