Collegiate churches: Arundel

Pages 108-109

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

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Richard earl of Arundel, having divorced his first wife, obtained papal dispensation to marry Eleanor, daughter of the earl of Lancaster, although related within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity, on condition of founding three chaplaincies, worth 10 marks, in the parish church of his chief place of residence. Permission was given shortly afterwards for the chaplaincies to be established in the castle of Arundel instead of in the parish church. (fn. 1) In 1354 the earl obtained a further papal licence to increase this chantry and convert it into a college, but for some reason he did nothing more until 1375, when, feeling the approach of death, he made his will, and left 1,000 marks for the foundation of a chantry within the castle, to consist of six chaplains and three boys able to read and sing, all of whom were to reside in 'the Northbaillie in the new tower called Beaumont's tour,' the further provision being made that if any chaplain were disabled by illness he should have his sustenance in the priory of Tortington, to which house the earl left 200 marks for this purpose. (fn. 2)

Upon consideration the earl's executors decided that a castle exposed to the chances of war offered poor security for the permanency of a religious foundation, and the community of alien monks in the priory at the parish church of Arundel having withdrawn to their mother house of Séez and left their cell desolate, the new earl obtained leave in 1379 to send representatives to treat with the abbot of Séez for the conversion of the priory of Arundel into a collegiate church. (fn. 3) The following year the royal licence was obtained for the foundation of the college, subject to an annual payment to the king of 20 marks so long as the war with France should last, (fn. 4) a payment which was annulled in 1383, when the earl gave the manor of Sevenhampton in Somerset to the king. (fn. 5)

The property which had belonged to the priory included the advowsons of the churches of Arundel, Yapton, Rustington, Billingshurst, Kirdford, Cocking, and half Littlehampton, the manor of Yapton, and various lands and rents. (fn. 6) To this was added in 1381 the advowson of Goring and 208 marks of rent, (fn. 7) which was in 1386 partly converted into lands of the equivalent value, including the manors of Bury and West Burton. (fn. 8) Thomas, earl of Arundel, on his death in 1415, left the sum of 500 marks to the college, (fn. 9) and in 1423 certain of his feoffees paid £100 for leave to alienate to the same church the manors of South Stoke, Warningcamp, Climpsfold, Pipering, North Mundham, Angmering, and Houghton, and other lands amounting to the value of about 100 marks. (fn. 10) A bequest of less value but of some interest was that of Bishop William Reade, who in 1385 left thirteen books to the college with a sum of 20 marks to be expended in chaining the books firmly in the library. (fn. 11)

The college consisted of a master, vice-master, precentor, ten other chaplains, two deacons, two sub-deacons, and four choristers, a fifth chorister being apparently added at a later date. Elaborate injunctions were given for the conduct of the services and of the lives of the members, but as they were on the usual lines of such establishments they need not be detailed here. (fn. 12) While the college was free from gross scandals its management appears to have suffered from the prevailing laxity of the fifteenth century; a visitation in 1442 shows that the numbers had fallen to eight, the rules were ill-observed, the buildings out of repair, jewels lost, and debts to the amount of £40 incurred. (fn. 13) In 1478 the numbers were still insufficient and the services slackly celebrated. (fn. 14) The choir of the church of St. Nicholas being the chapel of the college, while the remainder of the church was parochial, there was some doubt as to the relative responsibility for repairs incurred by the college and the parish, until in 1511 an agreement was drawn up relative to 'le crosse yles,' the repairs of the south aisle (i.e. transept), commonly called the chancel of the parish church, being assigned to the college, those of the north aisle and the nave to the mayor and burgesses, and those of the central tower, with the bells, to the two parties in common. (fn. 15)

Arundel College survived the dissolution of the monasteries and appeared to be still secure as late as the autumn of 1541, when Henry VIII granted to the master and fellows the suppressed priory of Hayling and the possessions of the dissolved preceptory of the Hospitallers at Poling and Shipley, in exchange for the manor of Bury. (fn. 16) But before the end of the next year its dissolution was suggested by Lord Maltravers, son of the earl of Arundel, who wrote to the king offering £1,000 for the college property to enable him to pay his debts, and undertaking to obtain the consent of his father and of the master and fellows. (fn. 17) This latter task possibly proved more difficult than Lord Maltravers had anticipated, as it was not until after his succession to the earldom in 1544 that the college fell, being surrendered in December of that year. (fn. 18)

Masters of the College of Arundel (fn. 19)

Adam Ertham, first master, (fn. 20) died before 1383

William Whyte, occurs 1383, died 1420

John Colmorde, appointed 1420, occurs 1443

Edward Poynings, occurs 1447, died 1484

John Neele, appointed 1484, died 1497 (fn. 21)

John Dogett, occurs 1499, died 1501

Henry Ediall, appointed 1501, died 1520

Edward Hygons, D.D., appointed 1520, occurs 1535

Alan Percy, occurs 1539, surrendered 1544

The seal of the college is a pointed oval: the Trinity, in a canopied niche with tabernacle work at the sides. In base, a shield of arms: quarterly, I, 4, quarterly, uncertain; 2, 3, chequy, for Richard Fitz-Alan, earl of Arundel, founder. Legend:—



  • 1. Cal. Papal Pet. i, 99.
  • 2. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Sudbury, fol. 92b.
  • 3. Pat. 3 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 12.
  • 4. Ibid. pt. iii, m. 12.
  • 5. Pat. 6 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 3.
  • 6. Pat. 9 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 11.
  • 7. Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 24, 3.
  • 8. Pat. 9 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 35.
  • 9. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Chicheley, fol. 287.
  • 10. Pat. 1 Hen. VI, pt. iv, m. 13.
  • 11. Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Courtenay, fol. 213.
  • 12. The statutes are printed in full by Tierney, Hist. of Arundel, 752-72.
  • 13. Chich. Epis. Reg. Praty, fol. 82.
  • 14. Ibid. Story, 30b.
  • 15. Ibid. Sherborn, fol. 155.
  • 16. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, 1056 (69).
  • 17. Ibid. xvii, 861.
  • 18. Ibid. xix (2), 734.
  • 19. Tierney, op. cit. 639-40.
  • 20. Brass in Arundel Church.
  • 21. Will in P.C.C. Horne, 19.