A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The parish, containing 1,013 acres of good wheat-growing land, measures some 2 miles from north to south, with an average width of rather over ½ mile. In the north the canal coming south from Chichester joins the western branch of the Chichester—Arundel Canal, of which the eastern course is derelict. The road from Chichester to Sidlesham runs to the west of the church and passes Kipson Bank just before leaving the parish. There is no village.
Some 73 acres of commons and common fields were inclosed in 1871, and a further 16 acres in the following year. (fn. 1)
The Manor House, south of the church, is a building about 80 ft. long facing north. It is of two stories and attics with walls of Mixon Rock rubble with angles of free stone ashlar and brick; a plinth has a brick top member. It dates from about 1660 to 1680, but the stone angle dressings to the lower story at the east end are earlier, probably medieval. The windows are tall and narrow with casement frames and transoms of wood; there is a range of nine equally spaced to the upper story, with their heads close under the eaves of the tiled roof. The lower story has eight windows with a middle doorway covered by a modern porch. These have flat gauged brick arches. Most of the wall facing is concealed by creepers. The central chimney has been rebuilt above the roof and the fire-places have been reduced. The ceilings have chamfered beams. At the back is a coeval staircase wing. The whole site was surrounded by a rectangular moat, of which there are extensive remains.
Kipson Bank on the west side of the Sidlesham road, ½ mile south-west of the church, is an 18th-century brick house with a tiled roof. An adjoining outbuilding may be earlier. A number of loose stones in the grounds—none showing definite workings—are relics of the house formerly on the site.
A windmill shown on the Ordnance Map opposite has now disappeared, but near its site is a late-17th-century building of red and black bricks; it has a thatched roof.
The manor of HUNSTON, assessed at 4 hides, was held before the Conquest by six free men; in 1086 it was held of Earl Roger by William. It then included a mill worth 20s., two salt pans, and 1 haw in Chichester. (fn. 2) With William's other lands it formed part of the honor of Halnaker and the lordship of the fee, or half-fee, passed to the St. Johns (fn. 3) and in 1348 to the Poynings family. (fn. 4) In 1518, however, the manor was said to be held directly of the Earl of Arundel. (fn. 5)
Robert de Haye, to whom Henry I had given the honor of Halnaker, in 1105 gave the church of Hunston with its lands and tithes to the abbey of Lessay (Normandy). (fn. 6) In 1187 his grandson William de St. John confirmed to Boxgrove Priory this gift, (fn. 7) but the manor seems to have been held in fee by a younger branch of Robert's family, as Roger Hay gave to Boxgrove, on behalf of his wife Emma, the mill of Hunston with 4 acres of land and all the waterworks (esclusagium) 'as the sea stretches beyond the mill'. (fn. 8) The confirmation of this gift by William de St. John (II) was witnessed by Roger's son Thomas. (fn. 9) His other son, and heir, Roger Hay died seised of what was apparently half the manor (fn. 10) before 1230, when his nephew Roger son of Thomas was suing William de St. John for half the manor of Hunston, (fn. 11) and five years later he conveyed a ½ knight's fee in Hunston to Ralph de Ralegh and Mabel his wife in exchange for lands in Yorkshire. (fn. 12) Ralph subsequently confirmed to Boxgrove Priory the gifts of Roger Hay and Roger his son, namely that virgate which is called 'atte Oke (de quercu)', (fn. 13) and 4 acres which Nicholas de Bolkestrode (fn. 14) held, and right of way through his estate (territorium) of Hunston, going with a horse and four-wheeled cart on the causeway of the mill. (fn. 15) About the same time Prior Ansketil leased the mill to Ralph de Ralegh. (fn. 16) In 1262 Ralph's son Robert de Ralegh, being impleaded by Everard de Midelton and Agatha his wife for the manor, called German son of Roger Hay to warrant his father's gift. (fn. 17) On the death of Robert in 1278 German Hay claimed against John de Rokesle and Lora the custody of the land and heir of Robert, who held of him the manor of Hunston as 1 (or ½) knight's fee. (fn. 18) This heir was presumably John de Ralegh, who evidently owned the manor in 1296 (fn. 19) and sold it in 1307 to William le Taverner and Maud his wife. (fn. 20) William le Taverner was lord of Hunston in 1316, (fn. 21) but by 1327 it had come into the hands of Sir William de Hunston, (fn. 22) who held ½ fee there in 1329, (fn. 23) as did William's son Godfrey (fn. 24) in 1336. (fn. 25) The Taverner interest apparently continued in some form, as in 1343 John le Taverner conveyed to William son of Godfrey de Hunston and Joan his wife 2/3 of the manor of Hunston and other lands, with the reversion of ⅓ held for life by Philip Wychard and Sybil his wife, (fn. 26) evidently the widow of Sir William. (fn. 27) William son of Godfrey held the (whole) fee in 1347, (fn. 28) and it descended to Thomas Hunston who held it in 1428. (fn. 29) Soon after this date the male line of this family died out, and in 1438 John Styllefeld was holding the manor in right of his wife Alice daughter of Thomas Hunston (fn. 30) and conveyed it to Edmund Mille, Richard Hamond, and others probably trustees. (fn. 31) Alice daughter of John Styllefeld married William Whitney, (fn. 32) who granted a moiety of the manor to John Benfeld. (fn. 33) In 1448 John Benfeld conveyed 'the manor' of Hunston to William Sydney and Edmund Mille. (fn. 34) Then in 1493 John Williams and Margery his wife, who was granddaughter and heir of John Benfeld, (fn. 35) conveyed half the manor to John Erneley. (fn. 36) This came to his son William Erneley, who in 1538 settled the manor of Hunston on Bridget daughter of Thomas Spring of Lavenham, whom he married. (fn. 37) He died in January 1546 and Bridget married Sir Henry Hussey, (fn. 38) whom she survived, holding courts of the manor in 1556. (fn. 39) She had been succeeded before 1558 by Richard, (fn. 40) younger son of William Erneley by a previous wife and heir of his brother Francis. (fn. 41) He died between 1604 and 1609, when another Richard, probably his son, held his first court. (fn. 42) The later history of this manor is not known and it seems likely that it was acquired by the owners of what had been the other moiety of the original manor.
The second moiety of the manor was presumably the 'manor' conveyed to Edmund Mille by John Styllefeld in 1438 and by John Benfeld in 1448. (fn. 43) Edmund by his will, proved in 1453, left the manor to his son William Mille, (fn. 44) who was lord of a moiety of the manor of Hunston in 1494. (fn. 45) It then came into the hands of Sir John Dawtrey, whose mother was Alice daughter of (? William) Mille. (fn. 46) He settled the manor of Hunston on himself and his wife Isabel daughter of Ralph Shirley and died in 1518, leaving a son Francis, then aged 8. (fn. 47) Sir Francis in 1548 sold the manor to Thomas Bisshopp, (fn. 48) who died seised thereof in 1560, (fn. 49) as did his son Sir Thomas in 1628. (fn. 50) It then descended in this family to Sir Cecil Bisshopp, who was created Lord Zouche in 1815 and died in 1828. His daughters, Harriett Anne wife of Robert Curzon and Katherine Annabella wife of Sir George Brooke Pechall, (fn. 51) held the manor in 1835. (fn. 52)
William de St. John in 1187 confirmed to the monks of Boxgrove Priory all his demesne of Kipston. (fn. 53) In 1354 William de Hunston assigned to William de Gates certain rents in his 'manor' of Kipston, (fn. 54) but there is no other reference to any manor here. A messuage and garden in Kipston were conveyed in 1555 by Thomas Budde to Owen Chadwick alias Evans, (fn. 55) who sold them in 1569 to Thomas Rose of Westerton, (fn. 56) and in 1599 William Rose conveyed them to Edward Rose of West Itchenore. (fn. 57)
The present church of ST. LEDGER (fn. 58) was wholly rebuilt in 1885 and now consists of chancel with north vestry, nave, and south porch, in the style of the 13th century.
When visited by Sir William Burrell in 1776 it consisted of nave, south aisle, and chancel. (fn. 59) The chancel had been rebuilt by Charles Randall Covert, vicar from 1719 to 1759. (fn. 60) A drawing and description in the Gentleman's Magazine (fn. 61) for 1792 shows that it still retained a 12th-century south door, with cheveron moulding, partly mutilated for a modern porch. The nave roof was carried over the south aisle, which had an arcade of three pointed arches on slender round columns, and a west window of two lancet lights. The west wall had a plain (? 18th-century) rectangular door, and no window; there were two clumsy modern buttresses against it. It terminated in a stone open turret containing two bells. The church was then 'in so decayed a state that its utter ruin seems unavoidable before long'.
There are two bells, (fn. 62) one uninscribed, and the other with the initials GW CW.
The communion plate includes a plain silver cup and paten cover, which are probably Elizabethan. (fn. 63)
The registers begin in 1678.
As already mentioned, Robert de Haye in 1105 gave the church of Hunston to the abbey of Lessay, and it remained in the hands of that abbey's cell, the Priory of Boxgrove, until the Dissolution. In 1316 William le Taverner, as lord of the manor, claimed the right to present at every third vacancy, but the case was decided against him. (fn. 64)
In 1291 the rectory was worth £5 4s. 8d. and the vicarage £4 13s. 4d.; (fn. 65) and in 1340 the vicar was said to have a messuage and garden worth 6s. 8d. and arable land worth 17s. yearly. (fn. 66) At some subsequent date the endowment of the vicarage must have been augmented, as in 1535 it was returned as worth £9 4s. 5d. in addition to a payment of £1 6s. 8d. made to Boxgrove priory, (fn. 67) apparently for farming the rectory. (fn. 68)
The rectory and advowson were granted in 1544 to Thomas Bowyer and Joan his wife, (fn. 69) and since that time the advowson has descended with that of North Mundham (q.v.), H. B. Fletcher being patron at the time of his death in 1941.
There was a Brotherhood of Our Lady attached to the church in 1538, (fn. 70) and it was no doubt from its property that the comparatively large sum of £7 was confiscated as devoted to superstitious uses in 1548. (fn. 71)
The Rev. John Charles Ballett Fletcher by his will dated 28 April 1884 bequeathed to the incumbent and churchwardens of this parish a sum sufficient to produce a sum of £10 per annum which he directed should be expended at their discretion for the benefit of the poor of the parish.