A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
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From before the time of the Conquest, the manor of [EAST] LAVANT belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In Saxon times it was reckoned as 18 hides, but by 1086 this was reduced to 9½; 3 hides of this were held of the Archbishop by Ralph. There was also a holding of I hide outside the Rape at Walesbeach, in East Grinstead, which had formerly been attached to the manor. (fn. 1)
The manor remained in the hands of the archbishop down to the time of the Reformation. In 1314 the archbishop was granted the right to hold a yearly fair there on the eve and feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin (7–8 September). (fn. 2) The archbishop's property here was valued at £15 6s. 2¾d. in 1291, (fn. 3) and in 1535 the manor was on lease for £32. (fn. 4)
In 1542 the manor passed to the king by reason of the surrender by Thomas Cranmer of East Lavant, Aldwick, and several other manors, together with their advowsons, in return for a grant of much property late of the Priory of Christ Church, Canterbury, and other monasteries. (fn. 5) In 1560 the manor and advowson were granted to Richard Baker and Sir Richard Sackville. (fn. 6) In 1579 Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, conveyed them to Thomas Compton and John Morley. (fn. 7) The latter's son Sir John was dealing with the manor in 1616 (fn. 8) and died possessed of the property in 1624. (fn. 9) The manor then descended with Halnaker [q.v.] to Mary, Countess of Derby, who with her husband in 1705 conveyed the property to Thomas May and John Raphson. (fn. 10) Dallaway says that the manor was in the hands of Lord Willoughby de Broke between 1752 and 1775, (fn. 11) and was sold to the Duke of Richmond, with whose successors it has remained.
While East Lavant was retained in the archbishop s hands, or farmed, WEST LAVANT was subinfeudated at an early date. In 1210 the fees of the Arch bishop of Canterbury included two ½-fees in 'Lovintone' held respectively by William de la Faleyse and John de Lovintone. (fn. 12) This John was son of Sir William son of Emfred who was son of William Treiponters, who bequeathed to Lewes Priory, with his body, all tithes from his demesne in West Lavant. (fn. 13) By 1231 John had been succeeded by his son William de Westlovinton, (fn. 14) joint tenant with William de la Faleyse in 1242, (fn. 15) from whom the ½ fee was acquired in or before 1259 by John de Mildeby. (fn. 16) The latter in 1271 granted to his son John a messuage and a carucate of land in West Lavant, retaining a life interest therein. (fn. 17) The later history of this portion of the fee is unknown.
The ½ fee held by William de la Faleyse in 1210 and 1242 descended to Peter de la Faleyse, who in 1271 settled a messuage, 2/3 carucate of land, meadow, and woodland in West Lavant on himself and his wife Alice. (fn. 18) He died about 1281, in which year his widow did homage to the archbishop for this ½ fee, (fn. 19) as did Alice de la Faleyse, presumably their daughter, in 1289. (fn. 20) Alice seems to have had an elder sister Christiane, who died without issue, (fn. 21) and she must have been the Christiane who with her husband Simon de Cumbe in 1286 made a settlement of a messuage, a carucate of land, meadow, and woodland in West Lavant, (fn. 22) which property Alice conveyed to Richard le Bruton, or Breton, in 1289. (fn. 23) Richard died in 1302 seised of a messuage, 103 acres of land, &c., held of the Archbishop of Canterbury as ¼ knight's fee, and left a son William, then aged 6. (fn. 24) In this same year 1302 John de Stoke did homage to the archbishop for ½ fee in West Lavant. (fn. 25) After this no trace of the fee has been found.
After the changes of the 16th century, it emerges as a single manor in 1546; in this year Thomas, Lord Wriothesly, and his nephew Sir John Wallop transferred it to Mary Anne, daughter of the said lord. (fn. 26) Anne Ferrer, widow, who died in possession the following year, must be this Mary Anne. (fn. 27) Her son and heir was Thomas Morford, whose name appears in fines concerning the manor down to 1576. (fn. 28) After this, it came back to the Wallop family, and John Morley acquired it of Henry Wallop and Elizabeth in 1605–6; (fn. 29) it was among Sir John Morley's possessions at his death in 1622. (fn. 30) After this it changed hands several times until the end of the 18th century. (fn. 31) Thus, Edward Leigh transferred it to Stephen Yeoman in 1647; Michael Harvey and his wife Agnes to George Nevill in 1669–70, but finally to John Miller in 1704–5. Sir John Miller sold it to the Duke of Richmond, and it is now part of the Duke of Richmond's property in Lavant.
The church of ST. MARY (fn. 32) consists of chancel, with clergy vestry to south and organ chamber to north, nave, south tower, north aisle, and choir vestry. It is built of rubble, except the tower and some of the modern work, which is brick, and is roofed with tile.
The present nave is of the 12th century, the north aisle was added in the 13th, and the tower in the 17th; in 1863 the north arcade was altered and the chancel reconstructed; the vestries and organ chamber are of even later date.
The chancel is of three bays and has buttresses to the east, north, and south; it was much altered, or more probably completely rebuilt, in the 19th century. (fn. 33) The Sharpe drawing of 1804 shows the east window as three lancets under a common arch; the present window is of three lights with Geometrical tracery. On the south side are two windows, each of two cinquefoiled lights under a square head, one is probably a reproduction of a window shown in the Sharpe drawing, the other entirely modern; west of these is the (modern) doorway leading to the clergy vestry. On the north is one window similar to those on the south; the arch opening into the organ chamber occupies the place of the tomb now in the tower. The chancel arch (in the Early English style) and roof are modern.
On the south side of the nave is a modern arch of two orders with square responds, leading into the tower this replaces a former brick arch, removed in 1863. West of this are traces of a doorway with pointed head, now blocked and plastered over, perhaps 13th-century. (fn. 34) West of this is a modern two-light window, and next to it is a small one-light window with segmental arched head, perhaps 17th-century. The north arcade is of four bays, the second and third being of the 13th century, with square responds and attached shafts to the east and west, and one cylindrical pier with moulded capital and base between them; the arches are pointed, of two orders. The first and fourth bays reproduce the design of the ancient responds, and were pierced in the 19th century through what was formerly solid wall east and west of the arcade. There are 12th-century buttresses at both west corners of the nave; between them is a 12th-century round-arched doorway of two orders; the outer order has nook shafts, scalloped capitals, and, in the arch, two lines of cheveron ornament flanking a roll moulding; the inner order has plain jambs, the abacus of the nook-shafts continued as an impost, and a single roll moulding on the arch. Over this is a 15th-century window with slightly modified Perpendicular tracery. The roof framing is modern, and is ceiled in plaster below the rafters.
The tower is of chalk rubble faced with ancient brickwork, four courses of which measure 10½ in. There are small clasping buttresses at each south corner. In the east wall, set in a modern recess, is a niche tomb of the 14th century, removed from the north wall of the chancel to make room for the opening of the organ chamber. This has dwarf shafts with capitals carved with foliage, from which springs a segmental pointed arch, moulded and having four openwork cusps, now broken. Over this is a straight-sided pediment with foliaged crockets and finial; the tympanum is plastered. On each side, over the capitals, is a small carved human figure, much mutilated; above these are slender pinnacles ending in crocketted pyramids, the southern a modern restoration. In its former position this may have served as the Easter Sepulchre. In the south wall of the tower was originally a brickwork doorway having, on its outer face, a semi-elliptical arch with imposts and keystone, evidently 17th-century work. This is shown blocked in the Sharpe drawing of 1804, and has now completely disappeared; in its place is a modern two-light window with Geometrical tracery. From a plan of church sittings of 1824 it appears that there was then a doorway in the west side of the tower; this is now blocked, and on the inside face of the wall is a brass plate with the inscription: GULIELMUS WESTBROOKE HOC FECIT ANNO DOM. 1671. This possibly refers to the building of the tower. (fn. 35) The two upper stages each have a single-light round-headed window to the east, south and west; there is an oversailing parapet and pyramidal roof.
The north aisle has a three-light window in its east wall, and four small lancets in its south; these, and the doorway to the vestry, are modern; there is a 13th-century lancet in the west wall.
On the north side of the chancel is a row of five stalls with carved misericordes, one of these is carved with foliage, three with heads of laymen, and one with the head of a bishop; this is perhaps 15th-century work. In the nave is a panel with the Royal Arms as borne by the house of Stuart. The font (fn. 36) and other fittings are modern.
On the floor of the church is a slab of Sussex marble carved with a cross and the marginal inscription PRIEZ QI PASSEZ PAR ICI PVR L'ALME LVCI DE MILDEBI. (fn. 37)
In the chancel, affixed to the wall, is a brass with a long inscription commemorating Jane (May) wife of Dr. Joseph Henshawe. (fn. 38) She died 1639; Dr. Henshawe became Dean of Chichester at the Restoration, Bishop of Peterborough in 1663, and on his death in 1679 was buried at East Lavant.
The church possesses two flutes, one dated 1821 and the other contemporary, and a pitch-pipe. (fn. 39)
There is one bell, by William Eldridge, 1673. (fn. 40)
The communion plate includes a fine silver cup of 1618 with an exceptionally tall bowl of Elizabethan type, with a paten cover; also a pewter flagon and a small pewter plate. (fn. 41)
The registers begin in 1653.
South of the church is an ancient yew tree, now hollow.
The history of the advowson has followed that of the manor. While the archbishops held the manor, the church was a peculiar of the see. Therefore the king presented to the living in 1294, during the voidance of the see of Canterbury. (fn. 42) When the king again presented in 1368 for the same reason, the church was described as 'of the immediate jurisdiction' of Canterbury. (fn. 43) The grant of 1560 to Richard Baker and Sir Richard Sackville included the advowson. (fn. 44) It seems that, after 1579, the exercise of the advowson was temporarily divided from the ownership of the manor, although it cannot have been granted away absolutely. The list of those making presentation from 1638 to 1828 corresponds with the ownership of the manor only in the cases of the two Sir William Morleys, 1638 and 1676, and James, Earl of Derby, 1721 and 1726. The other patrons were: 1663, the Crown; 1682, the Archbishop of Canterbury; 1752, Henry Peckham, Esq.; 1786, Lord Willoughby de Broke. (fn. 45) The last-named, when selling the manor in 1775, retained the advowson, (fn. 46) which remained with his successors until 1877, (fn. 47) when it was acquired by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, then patron of Mid Lavant, and now of the united benefices.
Lady Derby. This parish is entitled to participate in the Charity of Mary, Countess Dowager of Derby, to the extent of the appointment of four poor widows or aged maidens of the Church of England to the Almshouses in the parish of Boxgrove belonging to the charity.
Elizabeth Hardy by her will dated 12 August 1857 bequeathed to the poor of Mid Lavant £100 and to the poor of East Lavant £100. By an Order of the Master of the Rolls dated 5 July 1862 a sum of stock of the value of £200 was transferred into the name of the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds to pay the dividends thereon to the vicars and churchwardens of the respective parishes for the benefit of the poor thereof. By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 15 March 1901 the charity shall be administered by a body of trustees consisting of the incumbent for the time being of Lavant St. Mary with St. Nicholas and two representative trustees appointed by the parish council of Lavant. The annual income applicable for the poor of each parish amounts to £2 10s. 8d.