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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East Marden is a very small parish on the Downs. It contains 938 acres and measures about 1½ miles from east to west and about ¾ mile from north to south. In the south-west and as far as where East Marden village itself lies, the parish is between 250 and 300 ft. in height. The rest is above 300 ft. and above 500 ft. in the south-east, where is East Marden Down. Except for a small stretch in the north-east, the hills are here bare of trees. A road winding across the parish from North Marden to Stoughton passes through East Marden village from north to south, and another winding from Compton to Chilgrove passes through the village from east to west. A cottage south of the church is dated 1728, and none of the other buildings, including the Manor House, appears to be earlier than this.
In 1881, by Local Government Order, six detached portions of Stoughton parish were added to East Marden, and a detached part of East Marden to Compton parish. By the West Sussex Review Order of 1933, the former parishes of East and North Marden were united to form the single parish of Marden. (fn. 1)
Land in East Marden was given, with the church, to the cathedral of Chichester in the 12th century to form a prebend, possibly by Geoffrey son of Azo and Agnes his wife, who subsequently gave to the prebend of East Marden land in Horslie which Aldred once held of them. (fn. 2) This constituted the prebendal manor of EAST MARDEN. In 1341 the rector (i.e. prebendary), in addition to a manse and I virgate of land, had rents to the value of 6 marks, and the perquisites of the court of his tenants were valued at 26s. 8d. (fn. 3) After the Reformation this manor, like most prebendal estates, was usually leased by the prebendaries for three lives; among the lessees were the families of Juxon, Brereton, Longcroft, and Woods. (fn. 4) W. Layland Woods, who was apparently lessee in 1870, (fn. 5) shortly afterwards bought the fee simple of the manor from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and had been succeeded by J. W. Woods before 1876. (fn. 6)
Early in the 13th century Robert de Elnested gave to his younger son William 1 hide of land in East Marden. (fn. 7) William sold this to his brother Simon, Rector of Elsted, who gave it in 1236 to Boxgrove Priory. (fn. 8) William's elder brother Bartholomew had confirmed the gift to him, and in 1244 Prior Anketill granted to John de Gatesden for life land in East Marden and on the Downs which had been given by Sir Bartholomew de Elsted. (fn. 9) The priory's estates in this parish seem to have passed after the Dissolution with Saffreys in North Marden (q.v.).
The church of ST. PETER (fn. 10) stands on a spur of the Downs north of the village, and consists of a nave and chancel with no structural division between them, a south porch, and a vestry north of the nave. It is built of flint rubble with ashlar dressings and, in the modern work, some brick, and is roofed with tile. The chancel and nave both appear to be of the 13th century, though extensively refaced in the 19th; the porch is of the 17th, the vestry of the 19th.
In the east wall is a plain lancet triplet, the centre light slightly higher than the others, with concentric splays; below the sills a moulded string-course runs across the east wall only. In the south wall are two lancets of similar design, and in the north two more; the exterior stonework of all these is a modern renewal, the interior is of the 13th century. In the north wall, partly covered by modern panelling, is a trefoilheaded niche, presumably a credence and coeval with the windows. The roof has two ancient tie-beams, the underside of the rafters and collars is ceiled with modern boarding.
In the south wall of the nave at its junction with the chancel is a shallow modern buttress; next to it is a window, also modern, of one light with semicircular head, the exterior jambs incorporating some worked stones, perhaps from a 13th-century lancet. Next is a plain square-headed doorway with wooden frame, perhaps 18th- or 19th-century. The south-west angle has a modern clasping buttress of brick. In the north wall is a lancet resembling those of the chancel, but wholly ancient; west of this is the north doorway, now opening into the vestry; this has a plain pointed arch without imposts and a semicircular rear-arch, and is, like the lancet, of the 13th century. The north-west quoin is of the same date; the west window (modern) resembles the south window of the nave; west of this and of the north-west quoin are two low modern buttresses, partly of brick. The roof has five ancient tie-beams; the underside of the rafters and collars is ceiled in plaster; the two western tie-beams support a bell-cote, of which the sides are boarded and the pyramidal roof tiled.
The porch, probably of the 17th century, has an outer doorway of brickwork with jambs of square section and a four-centred arch.
The font is goblet-shaped, perhaps 12th-century, standing on a modern octagonal base. The other fittings are modern.
There is one uninscribed bell. (fn. 11)
The communion plate includes an Elizabethan cup with a conical bowl decorated with floral strap-ornament, and a plain silver paten of 1685. (fn. 12)
The registers begin in 1691.
The prebendary, as rector, had the right of presentation to the vicarage, but after the Reformation the advowson seems often to have been leased with the rectory, presentations being made by various persons. (fn. 13) Under the Act of 1840 the advowson passed to the Bishop of Chichester.
The prebend was valued at £8 in 1291, (fn. 14) but the vicarage is not mentioned. In 1535 the vicarage was rated at £5 in addition to 30s. paid to the prebend, (fn. 15) then worth only £4 15s. clear. (fn. 16)