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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'West Itchenor', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953) pp. 204-205. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp204-205 [accessed 4 March 2024]
This small parish, of 546 acres, lies at the mouth of Chichester Harbour, whose waters bound it on the north and west. At its south-east corner the parish is curiously intermixed with that of Birdham. From the church lanes lead north to the little Custom House and the ferry to Bosham, and south to East Wittering.
In the short main street terminating at the north end in a quay on Chichester Channel are two or three old buildings of which the most interesting is the Old Rectory, about 350 yds. north of the church on the east side of the road. This is a small timber-framed and thatched house that has recently been much restored. It is of 15th-century origin and had a hall-place facing west with wings north and south of it, all under one long roof. A few ancient timbers remain in the front suggesting a south 'screens' and two bays of about 7 ft. each. The remains of the original middle truss consist of a cambered tie-beam on shaped story-posts; in the beam are the mortices for the former arched braces; the two end partitions have curved braces or struts. A floor with chamfered beams and a chimneystack with a wide fire-place were inserted in the 16th century. The front of the north wing has a jettied upper story on the ends of wide flat joists, and a few old timbers remain in the upper part. The other wing, projecting a little, has been wholly restored with old timbers: it had been reduced in height. The other wall-faces are of brick and tile-hanging.
A house farther north, on the other side of the road, has early-18th-century walls and dentilled eavescornices, end chimneys, and tiled roof. The ceilings have chamfered beams. The middle entrance has side pilasters and an entablature.
The Itchenor Sailing Club-house on the east side of the north end of the road, setting back, is probably of the late 17th century. The walls are plastered.
Before the Conquest Itchenor was part of Earl Godwin's manor of Bosham and was held of him, as 1 hide, by Lewin. In 1086 it was held of Earl Roger by Warin, (fn. 1) who also held Rumboldswyke and other estates. Its early history is obscure, but it seems to have come to the family of Esturmi, or Sturmy. (fn. 2) Hugh Esturmi gave land in West Itchenor to Boxgrove Priory for the performance of his anniversary service, and John his son gave, with his body, 5 acres and a gore of land there in the field called Haluewerde. (fn. 3) John seems to have left two daughters, Sara and Alice. Sara confirmed these gifts; (fn. 4) she married Godfrey de Godswewd and in 1243 joined with her sister Alice in conveying the advowson of the church of West Itchenor to Tortington Priory. (fn. 5) Alice subsequently married Thomas de Cheney, with whom she confirmed the gifts to Boxgrove Priory, (fn. 6) and it is probable that she inherited her sister's share of the estate, (fn. 7) as in 1346 the manor of [WEST] ITCHENOR was settled on Sir William Cheney and Amice his wife for life, with remainder to their son John. (fn. 8) The manor is next found in the hands of Richard Ryman of Appledram, who in 1522 settled it on himself and his wife Joan, (fn. 9) having apparently inherited it from his father John Ryman. (fn. 10) Richard died in 1540, Joan surviving him. (fn. 11) Any manorial rights that existed seem to have been allowed to lapse, but the estate was probably bought from Cox Ryman and his son William with their Appledram property in about 1654 by Thomas Smyth of Binderton, (fn. 12) as he in 1688 left a messuage and farm of 120 acres in West Itchenor to Sir William Thomas of Folkington, who promptly sold the property to Dr. Thomas Briggs of Chichester. (fn. 13)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS (fn. 14) is built of rubble with ashlar dressings and covered with tile; the north, east, and south faces of the bell-cote are shingled, as is its cover. The church consists of a single chamber, without structural division between nave and chancel, built in the 13th century; a south porch and a bell-cote are modern additions.
The east window is a plain lancet triplet of the 13th century, the lancets being rather widely spaced. In the south wall was formerly a two-light window with square head and hood-mould, shown in a drawing of 1805 (fn. 15) but now removed; west of this is a small lancet coeval with the east group; next is a single-light window with trefoil head and rather wide splay, perhaps 14th-century. In the north wall is a square wall-locker with door rebates, and two 13th-century lancet windows. West of the step which marks the division between nave and chancel, on the south side is a square-headed window of two lights with uncusped elliptical heads, probably 16th-century. The south doorway is round-headed (but probably 13th-century) of a single order with hood-mould resting on plain jambs, the voussoirs and hood-mould being rendered in cement. In the north wall is another lancet of the 13th century and a modern two-lights window copied from the one on the south side. This occupies the place of the ancient north door, which the Sharpe drawing shows to have been round-headed; below the window sill the exterior jambs are traceable. The west window is of two trefoil-headed lights under a square head, of the late 14th century, over this is a modern circular window. The bell-cote rests on two heavy buttresses against the west wall, on an arch between them, and on the west wall itself. The whole of the roof-framing is modern, as is the porch.
The font (13th-century) has an octagonal bowl with a shallow arcading of pointed arches, carried on five shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The other fittings are modern.
In the porch are two taper-sided tomb-slabs of the 13th century, one having an elaborate floriated cross standing on steps, the other was probably similar, but the upper part of the cross has perished.
There are three bells: (1) of the early 16th century, inscribed SANCTA MARIA; (2) dated 1665; (3) uninscribed. (fn. 16)
The communion plate includes a silver Elizabethan cup with a conical bowl, inscribed—FOR . ECH . ENE . RPAR . IESE. It is probably of 1568 and of local workmanship. (fn. 17)
The register begins in 1561.
In about 1175 Hugh Esturmy obtained leave from the Bishop of Chichester and the prebendary of Wittering to build a chapel at Itchenor, the priest of which should be presented to the bishop and should pay 5s. on New Year's Eve to the prebendary. (fn. 18) Between 1180 and 1197 Bishop Seffrid II allowed the chapel to be converted into a parish church with its own graveyard; Hugh and his heirs were to present the rector, who should pay 6s. 8d. yearly to Seffrid the Treasurer and his successors in the prebend of Wittering, to whom the rector should do fealty. (fn. 19) In 1243, as already mentioned, the advowson, with 5 acres of glebe, was conveyed to Tortington Priory, (fn. 20) with which it remained until the Dissolution. The church was valued at £5 6s. 8d. in 1291 (fn. 21) and at £6 14s. 1d. in 1535. (fn. 22) After the Dissolution it was retained in the hands of the Crown (fn. 23) and is still in the gift of the Lord Chancellor.