Chichester: Advowsons

Pages 164-166

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1935.

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The ecclesiastical history of the parishes in Chichester is somewhat obscured by the fact that the city was, until 1845, a peculiar of the Dean of Chichester and so was outside the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Chichester, saving on the occasion of an archiepiscopal or episcopal visitation. (fn. 1) Except in the precincts of the Blackfriars and Greyfriars, the archbishop's liberty of the Pallant and probably in the bishop's palace and its chapel, the dean exercised episcopal functions, other than those offices which were solely performed by a bishop, such as ordination and confirmation. As he instituted to benefices, we do not get the records of institutions from the episcopal registers which usually afford so much information as to parochial history.

The church of St. Peter Subdeanery, or St. Peter the Great, having regard to its supposed origin as the Saxon minster church, seems to have been considered the mother church of all the churches in the city, except perhaps All Saints in the Pallant, belonging to the archbishop. At the parish altar of St. Peter in the nave of the cathedral church, where the parish services were conducted, the visitations of the city churches were held. In the 13th century we find the churches of St. Olave, St. Andrew in the Market and St. Andrew in the Pallant described as chapels, (fn. 2) presumably to St. Peter Subdeanery. It may be that the other churches were of a like standing, but for the reason given above few early references to them are to be found.

In 1656 the Parliamentary trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers issued a certificate for uniting the parishes of St. Peter the Great, alias Subdeanery, All Saints, St. Bartholomew, and St. Olave, and also another certificate for uniting the parishes of St. Peter the Less, St. Pancras and St. Martin with St. Andrew, but although approved (fn. 3) nothing further was done in the former case, though an incumbent was instituted to the latter.


The advowson of the church of ALL SAINTS IN THE PALLANT belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury until it was ceded to the Crown in 1542. (fn. 4) It had been restored before 1569, when the archbishop collated; (fn. 5) and although Queen Elizabeth in 1592 granted the advowson to the 'fishing grantees' William Tipper and Robert Dawe, (fn. 6) the grant apparently did not take effect. The archbishop collated to the rectory until 1878, since when the benefice has been held with that of St. Andrew in the Market.


The church of ALL SAINTS, PORTFIELD, in the Cemetery Road, was consecrated in 1871.


The church of ST. ANDREW IN THE MARKET, or ST. ANDREW IN THE OX-MARKET (de Bobus) or in Ox Street (in vico boum) (fn. 7) is a rectory and the advowson has always belonged to the Dean and Chapter of Chichester, who still own it. (fn. 8) The parish extends on both sides of East Street from North Pallant and St. Martin's Street almost to the East Gate.


The church of ST. ANDREW IN THE PALLANT mentioned in 1289 (fn. 9) stood apparently at the corner of Baffin's Lane and East Pallant on the site of Baffin's Hall or Chapel. The patronage is unknown.


The church of ST. BARTHOLOMEW or ST. SEPULCHRE (fn. 10) seems to have had the double dedication throughout the 15th century; in 1553 it is thus described, (fn. 11) but the dedication of St. Sepulchre then drops out. It was a rectory until about 1563; subsequently it was held in sequestration and became regarded as a perpetual curacy, and eventually as a vicarage. (fn. 12) The church here which was destroyed at the time of the siege of Chichester in 1642 appears to have been a round church, built in imitation of the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. (fn. 13) The church was rebuilt in 1832. The advowson belonged to the Dean of Chichester, who leased it for lives, (fn. 14) but by 1860 it had passed to the bishop, (fn. 15) who is now patron.


The chapel of ST. JOHN THE EV ANGELIST was erected in 1812. The trustees appoint the chaplain, who has no cure of souls.


The church of ST. MARTIN or ST. MARTIN IN HOGGELANE or THE PIG MARKET, or ST. MARTIN JUXTA CASTRUM, (fn. 16) stood at the northeast corner of St. Martin's Street and St. Martin's Square, the site being marked by a tablet in the wall. The advowson belonged to the Crown from 1260 until 1460 (fn. 17) and probably later. It was afterwards acquired by the Dean and Chapter of Chichester, who presented in 1557 (fn. 18) and held the patronage until the parish was united to that of St. Olave in 1899. In 1802–3 the church was found to be in a bad state of repair and was almost rebuilt in 'imitation of the Gothic style' by Miss Martha Dear at a cost of £1,700. (fn. 19) The work, however, appears to have been badly executed, almost wholly with lath and plaster, and the building again fell into disrepair in 1906, when it was pulled down. (fn. 20) A paper by Mr. E. E. Street gives some structural details of the church and a list of the monuments. The chief point of interest discovered during its demolition was the finding of a mural painting, probably of the late 13th century, representing a bishop with mitre and crosier and his right hand raised in benediction; above are apparently the letters CAR (?) D with an abbreviation for US, (fn. 21) probably for [Ri]cardus. The bishop may well be St. Richard of Chichester. The church had a chancel, nave and bell tower which were out of repair in 1403. (fn. 22) It is described in 1750 as having a small nave, chancel and north aisle, and a spire steeple with two bells. (fn. 23) Only one bell (c. 1450) remained when the church was pulled down, and this was given to the old church of Rumboldswyke.


The church of ST. PETER IN THE MARKET of Chichester had probably a very small parish, as in 1229, on account of its poverty and a population, as it was said, of only two persons, King Henry III, who was patron, authorised its demolition. The two parishioners were to be attached to St. Mary's Hospital and the hospital was to have the ground covered by the church. (fn. 24)


The church of ST. MARY IN THE MARKET, which was a rectory, is thought by Mr. W. D. Peckham to have been identical with the earlier St. Peter in the Market, (fn. 25) which is described as in South Street. (fn. 26) The advowson belonged to the Hospital of St. Mary, with which it was connected at an early date. The bishop collated in 1503 when the deanery was vacant. (fn. 27) In 1403 the warden of St. Mary's Hospital, as rector, was presented for not repairing the chancel of the church and the bell tower was then also out of repair. (fn. 28) The church fell into disuse in the middle of the 16th century, and by 1553 was void and unserved. (fn. 29) In 1582 it was said to be desecrated and ruinous. The parish was united to that of St. Peter Subdeanery. (fn. 30)


The church of ST. OLAVE is a rectory. The Dean of Chichester presented in 1493 (fn. 31) and at various dates until 1637. (fn. 32) In 1625 the Crown presented, presumably by lapse, as the dean and chapter presented in 1662–3 (fn. 33) and are now accounted the patrons.

The church of St. Olave was perhaps built shortly before the Conquest under the influence of a Danish settlement, possibly established by Earl Godwin. King Olaf or Olave of Norway was recognised as a saint in the year following his death in 1030, but his cult did not reach this country at once. A few Danish names occur among the sub-tenants of haws in Chichester in the time of Edward the Confessor, and among the moneyers of the end of the 11th century. Ketel Esterman, or shipmaster, no doubt a Dane who ingratiated himself with the Conqueror, held houses in the town and property in the eastern suburb, and his descendant, John Sturmi, had land in the Market Place. (fn. 34) A grant of the advowson from Ellis, son of Ralph de la Claye, to Robert de Amberley, canon of Chichester in the time of Master Simon the Dean (1220–30), is recorded. (fn. 35) This may indicate the date of the new chancel and the acquirement of the church by the dean, which occurred before 1260. The patronage was exercised by the deans between 1493 and 1637. After the Restoration the advowson was held by the dean and chapter. (fn. 36) In 1899 St. Martin's parish was united to St. Olave's.


The earliest reference to ST. PANCRAS church is in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas of 1291. The advowson, from the time of the foundation of the church, seems to have followed the descent of the manor of Kingsham (q.v.) until the 19th century. It was purchased in 1816 by the Rev. Preb. George Bliss, who conveyed it in 1833 to the Simeon Trustees, (fn. 37) who still hold it. The church was destroyed at the time of the siege of Chichester in 1642 and was rebuilt by subscription in 1751.


The advowson of the modern church of ST. PAUL belongs to the Dean and Chapter of Chichester.


The church of ST. PETER SUBDEANERY, now called ST. PETER THE GREAT, had its origin apparently in the minster church of St. Peter, to which the bishop and priests of Selsey moved in 1075. Like other Saxon minster churches, it would have served the parishioners of a large district around it. It was probably after rebuilding the cathedral in the 12th century that the parishioners were assigned the nave altar of St. Peter, (fn. 38) from which they were moved, at the end of the 15th century, to an altar of the same dedication in the north transept of the cathedral (fn. 39) which became the altar of their parish church and the mother church of the city. Originally there was access only by the nave of the cathedral, but about 1831 an entrance was made from the churchyard on the north side. The church was served by the subdean, who, by virtue of his office, was perpetual vicar at the altar of St. Peter. He may have been appointed originally by the dean, but since the 15th century the dean and chapter have presented. (fn. 40) The existing church of St. Peter Subdeanery, on the north side of West Street, was consecrated in 1852, when the parishioners ceased to have rights at the altar of St. Peter in the cathedral. The patronage is with the dean and chapter.


The church now known as ST. PETER THE LESS was before the Reformation variously called St. Peter the Great, St. Peter by the Gildhall, St. Peter la Grande by the Gildhall and St. Peter in North Street. The advowson from the earliest record of it has always belonged to the Crown, which still owns it. (fn. 41) The dean and chapter presented by error in the 17th century. (fn. 42) The parish includes the northern half of North Street, with the houses on both sides, and, since the dissolution of the Grey Friars, the site of their house, now called Priory Park. The parish of St. Peter sub Castro was apparently united to it.


ST. PETER SUB CASTRO, or ST. PETER THE LESS, formerly stood on the site of the house called Priory House at the eastern corner of Guildhall Street and Priory Road. In 1366 it was stated that the church of St. Peter sub Castro, which was not assessed by reason of its poverty, was worth in ordinary years 40s. (fn. 43) It was a small oblong building with a door on the south side. (fn. 44) As early as 1260 there was a proposal to unite the rectory to that of St. Martin on account of its poverty, but nothing apparently was done. (fn. 45) The latest date of which there is evidence of the church being in use is 1521, (fn. 46) but it was not finally pulled down until 1574. (fn. 47) The parish was, it would seem, informally united to that of St. Peter in North Street, now St. Peter the Less, and the patronage, which seems to have been held successively by the Crown and the dean and chapter, passed at the union with St. Peter in North Street to the Crown. (fn. 48)


  • 1. With regard to the parishes in the city, see a paper by Mr. W. D. Peckham in S.A.C. lxxiv, 65–97, from which some of the information here given has been drawn.
  • 2. Cath. Doc. Lib. Y, fols. xiv, xix; Boxgrove Chartul.; Cott. MS. Claud. A vi, fol. 87 v.
  • 3. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1656–7, pp. 97, 104.
  • 4. a L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, 443 (15).
  • 5. Add. MS. 39536, fol. 80.
  • 6. Pat. R. 34 Eliz. pt. iv.
  • 7. Cath. Doc. Lib. Y, fol. xix; Add. MS. 6973, fol. 17.
  • 8. See further S.A.C. lxxiv, 80.
  • 9. Cal. Pat. R. 1281–92, p. 320; Cott. MS. Claud. A vi, fol. 87v; S.A.C. xxiv, 81–4.
  • 10. In 1403 it is called St. Bartholomew outside Westgate (Rede's Reg. (Suss. Rec. Soc. viii), p. 124).
  • 11. Chich. Probate Rec. Archbp. Peculiar, Wills, vol. A, fol. 14.
  • 12. a Ex inf. Mr. W. D. Peckham.
  • 13. S.A.C. v, 277–280; vii, 56–60. It is called 'the round church of St. Bartholomew' in two wills of 1495. Add. MS. 39427, fol. 64.
  • 14. Suss. Rec. Soc. xix, 96, 97.
  • 15. Hennessey, Chich. Dioc. Clergy Lists, 46.
  • 16. Cal. Pat. R. 1422–9, pp. 413, 519; Cath. Doc. Lib. Y, fol. 138.
  • 17. Cal. Pat. R. passim.
  • 18. D. and C. Act Bk. i, fol. 110d.
  • 19. Hay, op. cit. 389.
  • 20. Paper by E. E. Street in S.A.C. 1, 47; T. G. Willis, Rec. of Chich. 285.
  • 21. Paper by E. E. Street in S.A.C. 1, 47–60. Mr. Street did not identify the bishop.
  • 22. Rede's Reg. (Suss. Rec. Soc. viii), p. 126.
  • 23. a Add. MS. 5699, fol. 175.
  • 24. Cal. Pat. R. 1225–32, p. 249.
  • 25. S.A.C. lxviii, 266–8.
  • 26. Cath. Doc. Lib. Y, fol. xxviii.
  • 27. Chich. Episc. Reg. FitzJames, fol. 37.
  • 28. Rede's Reg. loc. cit.
  • 29. Chich. Probate Rec. loc. cit.
  • 30. See paper by Mr. W. D. Peckham in S.A.C. lxxiv, 79–80.
  • 31. Add. MS. 39331.
  • 32. Bp. Andrewes' Reg.
  • 33. Add. MS. 39331, fol. 19.
  • 34. See above. Sturman, or Esterman or steersman was the captain of a ship; cf. Brooks, Engl. Naval Forces, 41.
  • 35. S.A.C. lxxiv, 85.
  • 36. Ibid.
  • 37. a Add. MS. 39331, fols. 217, 219.
  • 38. Rede's Reg. (Suss. Rec. Soc. viii), p. 124.
  • 39. See above, p. 111.
  • 40. Chich. Cath. Rec. White Act Bk. fol. 3; inf. from Mr. W. D. Peckham. The relation of the close to the parish of St. Peter Subdeanery is dealt with by Mr. Peckham in S.A.C. lxxiv, 87–9.
  • 41. Cal. Pat. R. 1225–32, and Calendars passim; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 42. Chapter Act Bk. ii, 23; Presentation Bk. fol. i. Note by Mr. W. D. Peckham.
  • 43. a Add. MS. 6069, fol. 6.
  • 44. Deposition Bk. Deans, I, ff. 21–25; S.A.C. lxxiv, 75.
  • 45. Chich. Doc. Lib. Y, fol. 69d.
  • 46. Chich. Episc. Reg. Sherburne, I, fol. 102.
  • 47. S.A.C. lxxiv, p. 76.
  • 48. Inf. from Mr. W. D. Peckham; see S.A.C. lxxiv, pp. 73–9.