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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The parish, containing 1,331 acres, lies to the west and north of Chichester, in which borough it is now included. Most of the population is grouped along the Chichester-Portsmouth road; a lane running north from this road by Salt Hill forms its western boundary, which is continued south of the road by the Fishbourne channel of Chichester Harbour, into which the River Lavant flows, forming its southern boundary. It was called East, and later New, Fishbourne in distinction from Old Fishbourne in Bosham. In the north of the parish are a number of entrenchments of uncertain date, (fn. 1) with parts of which the parish boundary coincides. This district was heavily wooded in early times and constituted part of the Broyle, which Henry III in 1227 gave to the Bishop of Chichester. (fn. 2)
The Old Rectory on the west side of the road to Appledram is a mid- to late-16th-century house facing east. It was originally timber-framed but late in the 17th century was refaced with stone and flint rubble with brick dressings. The roof with hipped ends is tiled. At the south end is a massive projecting chimneystack of 16th-century brick, gathered in with crowstepping to a rebuilt square shaft. The fire-place is modern. The old timber-framing remains in parts of the walls internally and the ceilings have chamfered beams and some of the original heavy joists. A winding stair behind, encased with 18th-century brickwork, has the ancient central octagonal newel with a moulded head.
A thatched cottage (two tenements) in Mill Lane, ¾ mile to the west, has flint and 17th-century brick walls and a central chimney-stack with a wide fire-place and plain shaft of thin bricks.
There were two water-mills, one on the stream at the head of the Fishbourne Channel, and the other lower down the channel, which was a tide mill. The former was probably that acquired by Séez Abbey in 1270, (fn. 3) frequently referred to in later records (fn. 4) and called 'the Fresshemyll' in 1462 (fn. 5) and in 1565. (fn. 6) This mill is still working. The other occurs as 'the Salt Mill' from at least 1460 onwards. (fn. 7) 'Fishbourne Salt Mill' is marked on Budgen's map of Sussex in 1924, but the site of the derelict Salt Mill marked on the O.S. map is just within the parish of Bosham.
Fishbourne was held as 6 hides in the time of Edward the Confessor by Earl Tostig, the brother of King Harold. In 1086 it was held by the Abbey of Séez (Normandy) of Earl Roger, (fn. 8) by whom it had been given to them. (fn. 9) In 1272 the abbey received a grant of free warren in their demesnes here, (fn. 10) and in 1291 they acquired 28 acres in Fishbourne from William de Braclesham. (fn. 11) After the seizure of the property of alien religious houses the Sussex estates of Séez, including Fishbourne, were granted in 1416 to the nunnery of Syon (Middx.). (fn. 12) After the dissolution of that house FISHBOURNE, for the first time called a manor, was annexed to the honor of Petworth in April 1540, (fn. 13) being at that time in the hands of Thomas Lane under a lease for forty years dating from June 1529. (fn. 14) It is said to have been held of the Crown in chief by 'Sir Thomas White and others' in 1558, (fn. 15) but in 1560 the manor of NEW FISHBOURNE was granted to John Fenner, (fn. 16) who died on Christmas Day 1566, (fn. 17) having in the previous year sold to Bartholomew and Francis Dodd; and they in 1570 sold the manor to Francis Bowyer, alderman of London, and Elizabeth his wife. (fn. 18) Francis Bowyer died 14 June 1581, holding the manor of the Queen, valued at £20, by knight service, his wife surviving. (fn. 19) Their son Sir William Bowyer settled the manor on himself and his wife Mary in 1605, (fn. 20) but four years later settled it on his son Henry on his marriage with Anne daughter of Nicholas Salter. (fn. 21) Sir William outlived his son, dying in 1615, when his heir was Henry's infant son William. (fn. 22) In 1633 this William Bowyer, with Anne Harris, widow, his mother, (fn. 23) was dealing with the manor, (fn. 24) which he then sold to William Cawley. (fn. 25) At the Restoration Cawley's estates were forfeited and Fishbourne was among the manors given to James, Duke of York. (fn. 26) Cawley seems, however, to have sold, or possibly mortgaged, it in 1639 to John Biggs of Portsmouth, (fn. 27) whose widow married John Tredcroft. Previously William Bowyer had apparently leased 'for 1000 years' part of the estate to John Comber, who died in 1623 and left the lease to his young son Thomas Comber. (fn. 28) Thomas died in 1634, leaving the lease to his daughter Katherine. (fn. 29) His elder brother John Comber in 1683 acquired the manor of New Fishbourne from Sir John Biggs, (fn. 30) to whom it had been left in 1662 by his step-father John Tredcroft, rector of West Grinstead. (fn. 31) John Comber in 1684 bequeathed his manor of Fishbourne to his nephew (Sir) Thomas Miller. (fn. 32) In this family it descended, Dame Susannah Miller holding the manor in 1785, and Sir Thomas Miller in 1788. (fn. 33) The Rev. Sir Thomas Combe Miller, 6th bart., of Froyle, sold the manor to Edward Stanford between 1870 (fn. 34) and 1876. (fn. 35) He died about 1882 and his widow bequeathed it to Major-General Byron. (fn. 36)
The church of SS. PETER AND MARY (fn. 37) stands in fields south of the Chichester by-pass road and immediately north of the manor. It consists of chancel, nave with bell-cote, aisles, north porch, and, adjoining it, what was originally a small vestry, now used as a store. It is built of flint rubble with freestone dressings, except the eastern part of the north aisle, the porch and the former vestry, which appear to be of brick, stuccoed, and is roofed with tile.
In the late 18th century (fn. 38) it consisted of chancel, nave, and bell-cote only; the chancel was certainly, the nave probably, of the 13th century. Early in the Gothic revival a transept was thrown out to the north and the porch and vestry added. The south aisle was added, according to an inscription under the east window of it, in 1847, and, about the same date, the transept was extended westwards to form a north aisle, and the nave was lengthened westwards.
The east window of the chancel is modern, of three lights with net tracery, replacing a small two-light square-headed window, shown in a drawing of 1804 in the Sharpe collections. In each side wall are two lancets, the sill of the western being slightly lower than that of the eastern; these appear ancient, but have been much restored. In the south wall is a piscina, and in the north a wall locker, apparently coeval. There is a trussed rafter roof, probably ancient, but ceiled with plaster. There is no chancel arch, but in its place a modern arched truss of wood.
The south aisle arcade is of three bays with square responds with corbels, and with round piers, in imitation of 13th-century work; the corbels and caps are carved. The Sharpe drawing of 1804 shows no feature in this wall except a single-light window near the east end. The north arcade resembles the south, but the caps are moulded and the respond corbels have been left blank for carving. The roof, except for the modern western addition, resembles that of the chancel. Over the west doorway are two modern lancets with a circular window over them. There are clasping buttresses at each west corner.
The south aisle has two-light windows east and west, and three single-light windows on the south side. The north aisle has a single-light window in both the east and north walls, and a two-light window in the west.
The font and other fittings are modern; there are two or three scraps of painted glass of, perhaps, the 17th century in the chancel windows.
There are two bells, one uninscribed, the other with scratched initials, probably made locally in the 17th century. (fn. 39)
The communion plate includes a silver cup of 1737 and a paten of 1813. (fn. 40)
The registers begin in 1589.
The church was valued at £4 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 41) and the advowson of the rectory belonged to Séez Abbey and was therefore frequently in the king's hands during the wars with France. (fn. 42) With the lands of Séez in this parish it was granted to Syon Abbey (fn. 43) and at the Dissolution came to the Crown. The advowson was included in the grant of the manor to John Fenner and in his sale to the Dodds, but it seems to have come into the hands of the Crown at the seizure of Cawley's estates, as the king presented in 1670 (fn. 44) and the living has remained in the gift of the Crown until the present time. (fn. 45)
In June 1646 a grant of £15 yearly from the issues of the rectory of Oving was made to the minister of Fishbourne, whose income was only £40. (fn. 46)
Poor's Land. This charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 12 October 1934. The scheme provides that the churchwardens of the parish shall apply the income in payments, under one or both of the heads set out in the scheme, for the benefit of poor persons resident in the ancient parish of New Fishbourne. The endowment consists of land producing an annual income of 6s.