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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'Slindon', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953) pp. 234-237. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp234-237 [accessed 5 March 2024]
This parish now contains 2,959 acres, of which 343 acres formerly constituted the extra-parochial district of The Gumber. (fn. 1) The ground slopes from the south, where the height along the Boxgrove-Arundel road, on the edge of Slindon Wood and Common, is c. 130 ft., to the north, where an elevation of 650 ft. is attained at the north-east corner of the parish. At this point the Roman Stane Street, which crosses the parish diagonally over the open down and common of Gumber, leaves the parish. There is much woodland.
The village is built chiefly about a ring or loop of roads east of the parish church, with a tail at the south end. The majority of the buildings are of flint with brick dressings and few are earlier than the 18th century. Several are dated; such as 1707 (with initials S/LS), 1719 (with initials J M), 1728 (the former smithy, with initials W.B. for William Bateman), &c. The oldest house is just west of the north side of the loop on the south side of the road. This also is of flint with early-17th-century brick dressings; the windows are mullioned with brick labels. The east half of the house is covered with roughcast and has a 17th-century rebated central chimney-stack above the tiled roof.
South of the main village on the south side of the road to Chichester is a flint-and-brick house with a chamfered brick plinth and tiled roof and central chimney-stack of thin bricks. The lower windows of the north-east front have moulded brick labels but are otherwise altered. Over the entrance is a stone panel inscribed 1647 with initials MG EV WC, and on the north-west end another with the same date and initials SS HG.
Slindon House (fn. 2) stands in an extensive park. There was a house of the Archbishops of Canterbury here in the 13th century. It was an occasional residence of Stephen Langton, who died here in 1228, (fn. 3) and Archbishop John Pecham spent much time here, holding ordinations in the chapel in 1288 and 1291. (fn. 4) Archbishop Chicheley confirmed the election of Thomas Ludlowe as Abbot of Battle in 1421 in the chapel. (fn. 5) In 1539 Cranmer exchanged it with Henry VIII for other property, and from 1555 to 1597 it was held by Anthony Kempe, the house being rebuilt either by him or by his son Sir Garret Kempe.
Of early work little is now visible, although during repairs of 1870 an arch, probably of the 13th-century house, was discovered on the west front to the left of the entrance, 'half underground and only big enough for a man to creep through … either early English or decorated work, plain and massive'; (fn. 6) it had to be built up. Some 16th-century work can be seen in the porch, (fn. 7) in certain windows on the west, (fn. 8) and more at the back, where less restoration has taken place. There are angleturrets on the south; in 1791 they were circular with 'onion' cappings, and square labels to the windows, but in the pre-restoration (1921) photograph the south-west turret, still circular, is crenellated; today the turrets are octagonal with Jacobean-type 'onion' caps.
The great hall was also restored c. 1921 by the late Mervyn Macartney, F.S.A., F.R.I.B.A. Then 'most of the modern interior enrichments of the dining and drawing-rooms, including flat ceilings of carton-pierre, pilasters of plaster and classical arches of stucco—all of poor early 19th-century work—have been swept away in the recent works and more appropriate plenishings substituted'. (fn. 9) The latter include pseudo-Tudor beams to the hall, but the 18th-century screen remains, and flanking the fire-place are two door-cases with segmental pediments probably dating from the late 17th century. Some 18th-century fire-places are retained in the house.
The square gate-house, of flint and stone, with buttresses, cannot be later than the 15th century.
SLINDON, which had been held before the Conquest by Azor, was held of Earl Roger by Hugh in 1086. It was assessed at 8 hides and was then in the Hundred of 'Benestede' (later Avisford), which was in the Rape of Arundel. (fn. 10) Shortly after the date of Domesday the manor must have been given to Christ Church, Canterbury, as in 1106, after the honor of Arundel had escheated to Henry I, he, at Anselm's request, restored Slindon, to be held as 2 knights' fees, to the Archbishopric of Canterbury, (fn. 11) and it was therefore annexed to the archbishop's hundred of Aldwick (or Pagham). From this time it remained in the hands of the archbishops till 1542. In 1451 the manor was farmed by Robert Huberden at £26 13s. 4d., (fn. 12) and in 1535 it was valued at £37 18s. 11d. (fn. 13) Of this sum fixed rents accounted for £20 10s. 6d., the farm of the demesnes £4 15s. 4d., perquisites of courts £4 11s. 4d., and the farm of the mill £1 6s. 8d., this being presumably the windmill which was rebuilt in 1456. (fn. 14) In 1542 Slindon was among the manors exchanged to Henry VIII by Archbishop Cranmer. (fn. 15) Ten years later it was granted to Sir Thomas Palmer (fn. 16) but evidently returned to the Crown when Sir Thomas was executed for supporting Lady Jane Grey's claim to the throne, (fn. 17) as it was granted in 1555 to Anthony Kempe, who died seised of it in 1597. (fn. 18) His son Sir Garrett Kempe was succeeded by his eldest son Philip, but as the latter left no male issue Slindon passed to his brother Garrett. In 1660 it was apparently asserted that the heir of Sir Garrett was Philip Eyre, son of Thomas Eyre and Katherine daughter and heir of Philip son of Anthony Kempe, (fn. 19) and that therefore, under the terms of the original grant, the manor should have reverted to the king, who at once granted it to Walter Fowler. (fn. 20) This grant, however, did not take effect, and the manor descended to Garrett Kempe's grandson Anthony, who died in 1753 at the age of 81. His daughter and heir Barbara had married James Bartholomew Radcliffe, Earl of Newburgh; (fn. 21) on the death of their son Anthony James, 5th Earl of Newburgh, in 1814 without issue, Slindon passed to his cousin Francis Eyre and in 1852 to his daughter Dorothy Eyre, claiming to be Countess of Newburgh, (fn. 22) and her husband Col. Charles Leslie. They left no issue and the property passed in 1870 to Charles Stephen Leslie, son of Col. Leslie by his first wife. He died in 1916 and his son Charles had sold the Slindon estate before his death in 1930. (fn. 23) It was bought by Frederick Wootton Isaacson and bequeathed by him in 1949 to the National Trust.
From early times there was a park at Slindon, and it is constantly mentioned as an adjunct of the manor. As it adjoined the Forest of Arundel disputes arose as to the respective rights of the earls and archbishops. In 1259 these were settled by an agreement between the archbishop and Sir John FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel: the archbishop was not to hunt in Arundel Forest, except that in passing through he might take once a year one deer with greyhounds but without using bows. The earl renounced all sporting rights in the wood of Slindon and agreed to pay yearly to the archbishop's larder at Slindon 13 bucks or harts of grease and 13 does or hinds. The places called Overs and Baycumbe in the wood of Slindon were not to be inclosed, but to remain open so that deer could pass freely, and the earl should not inclose any part of the forest adjoining the wood. This arrangement was confirmed by Edward I in 1274. (fn. 24) In 1344 Archbishop John appointed Roger de Spyney, his huntsman, keeper of the park, warren, and out-woods of Slindon, receiving weekly a bushel of wheat, and ½ bushel of barley for his groom, and 13s. 4d. yearly for his robe and shoe-leather. (fn. 25)
The church of THE BLESSED MARY (fn. 26) stands in the middle of the village; it consists of chancel with north organ chamber, nave, north and south aisles, north and south porches, and west tower flanked on north and south by clergy and choir vestries. It is built of flint rubble with ashlar dressings; these are mainly chalk and Caen in the late-12th-century work, Binstead in the 13th-century, and Pulborough in the 15th, while the 19th-century alterations are in Bath stone; the roofs are tiled, but the low broach spire is shingled. (fn. 27)
The 11th-century church, which is mentioned in Domesday Book, (fn. 28) consisted of chancel and nave, and must have closely resembled that of Tangmere. Late in the 12th century a south aisle of two bays was added; and early in the 13th a transeptal chapel was thrown out on the north. (fn. 29) About the same time the chancel was altered, or rebuilt, to be remodelled, and probably extended eastward, later in the same century. The nave and south aisle were extended to their present length, (fn. 30) and the north chapel replaced by an aisle, in about the 15th century; at the same time a small tower was built, or begun, north of the present tower; it was demolished when the present tower was built, perhaps in the 16th century. The church was restored in 1866, when the aisle walls were rebuilt and the choir vestry added; (fn. 31) later an organ chamber was added, and a clergy vestry built on the foundations of the former tower; the present south porch was added still later.
The chancel has two buttresses to the east and three on each side; of these the southern at each end is perhaps 15th-century, the rest are modern. The lower part of the east wall is ancient, above is a group of five modern lancet windows in 13th-century style; these replace a pair of lancets in a timber-framed wall. (fn. 32) In the south wall is a piscina with pointed trefoil head, stone credence shelf, and single drain, probably late13th-century. On each side in the east bay is a pair of lancets under a segmental pointed rear-arch; in the next bay on the south side is a single lancet under a segmental rear-arch; what was clearly the corresponding window on the north has been partly reused in the north wall of the organ chamber, the arch into which occupies its place. The piercing of the latter has been responsible for the disappearance of a 'recessed tomb with a very flat four-centred arch', (fn. 33) the effigy from which is now in the south aisle. In the west bay on each side is a lancet with exterior rebate, having its sill at a lower level than the windows farther east. A little east of the southern of these is a narrow blocked lancet with high sill and, apparently, concentric splay; this is early13th-century, (fn. 34) while the other side windows are of a later date in the same century. The roof is modern, ceiled with boards in wagon form.
The present chancel arch is in the style of the 13th century, and dates from 1866, by which date the medieval arch had disappeared. (fn. 35) The first two bays of the south arcade date from the end of the 12th century. Each arch is pointed, of two square orders; the outer rests on a square respond, the inner on an attached shaft with scalloped capital and square abacus, continued on to the respond to form an impost; the bases are damaged or modern reproduction, and the lower part of the eastern shaft has been cut away. The western arch of the arcade, of the 15th century, is of two chamfered orders, dying away into semi-octagonal responds with no capitals, but with square bases and rather bold chamfer stops. The eastern arch of the north arcade is of the early 13th century, pointed, of two orders, the outer square, the inner moulded with three rolls; this rests on corbels of the Clymping type, the abacus being continued as impost on the square respond. Next to this, high up, is the one window remaining from the primitive fenestration, a high-silled round-arched opening with concentric splay and no provision for glazing; this was discovered and opened up at the restoration. The other two arches of the arcade are of the 15th century, and resemble the western arch of the south arcade.
In the west wall is the door now opening into the tower, a plain pointed archway with its door checks on the west side, formerly the west door of the church; above this Jackson found the remains of a Perpendicular west window. (fn. 36) North of the tower door is another doorway of like design but with the door checks on the east side, once giving access to the 15th-century tower, but now blocked. The nave roof framing is modern, with three rather slight tie-beams, and is ceiled with boarding in wagon form.
The east window of the south aisle is square-headed, of two lights with trefoil heads, modern, but perhaps a reproduction of the ancient one; in the south wall are two modern windows, each a pair of lancets. Between them is the south door, a plain modern pointed archway. The roof is modern. The north aisle resembles the south; (fn. 37) its east window is certainly a reproduction of the former one, shown in the Sharpe drawing of 1805. The stonework of the north doorway, like that of the rest of the aisle, is modern, but the door itself is medieval, with close rectangular framing and feather-edge boarding; the hinge straps are also medieval, or a close reproduction, there is a massive stock lock with barrel key, which is not, however, the original lock. Before 1866 there was a tomb niche in the east bay of this aisle of which no trace remains.
The tower has diagonal buttresses with sloping offsets at both west angles; in the ground stage are modern doorways south and north; over the latter is visible a blocked one-light window shown in Jackson's plan. The next stage has a single lancet in the north wall only; the top stage (modern, replacing 'a belfry and spire of painted deal') (fn. 38) has triple lancets in 13th-century style north and south, and a single lancet west; it is covered with a low broach spire.
Both vestries and both porches are entirely modern.
At the east end of the south aisle, on a modern base, is the effigy removed from the former tomb in the chancel. It is of oak, 5 ft. over-all, and represents a man in the armour of the early Tudor period; any indication of mail in the collar and skirt must have been painted only. It probably represents Anthony St. Leger, who died in 1539. (fn. 39)
The font is of the 13th century, and has a square basin supported on five shafts rather more slender than those of the typical font design of the period.
At the west end of the south aisle are ancient benches; in the chancel is a chair of the early 18th century with needlework back, and in the vestry are a table of the 17th century and the Royal Arms as borne between 1714 and 1800.
Of the three bells two were cast by Brian Eldridge in 1651 and 1657 respectively, and the other by Thomas Wakefield in 1616. (fn. 40)
The communion plate includes a silver cup with a conical bowl, without hall-mark but inscribed 'Ex Dono I.D., 1728'. (fn. 41)
The registers begin 1558.
Till it was demolished in 1804 'Our Lady Chapel at the church gate in Slindon' (fn. 42) stood immediately inside the churchyard, being latterly used as a dwelling-house. It appears to have dated from the 13th century. (fn. 43)
There was a church at Slindon at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 44) This was probably rebuilt some seventy years later, as about 1154 Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury and Legate, dedicated the church of Slindon and made a grant of land for its endowment. (fn. 45) Theobald also granted the church to Lewes Priory, (fn. 46) and in a charter confirming to Lewes Priory a large number of churches which had been granted to it Bishop Seffrid II (1180–1204) included the church of Slindon. (fn. 47) It is probable, however, that Theobald's gift, possibly because it had not been ratified by the Chapter of Canterbury, did not take effect, as there is no trace in the chartulary of the priory of such a gift or of the monks having had any interest in the church, which seems always to have been attached to the manor. In 1243 Henry III presented to the living, during a voidance of the see of Canterbury, (fn. 48) and a vicarage seems to have been ordained at this time. (fn. 49) In 1291 the rectory was worth £10 and the vicarage £4 13s. 4d. (fn. 50) During the 14th century, however, the vicarage seems to have been reunited to the rectory, which was valued at £14 13s. 4d. in 1535. (fn. 51) The Kempes, being Roman Catholics, seem usually to have sold the right of presentation, which was exercised by Laurence Allcock (1683), Thomas Carter (1708), Thomas Groome (1729), (fn. 52) Henry Peckham (1738), John Pannell (1764), and Maurice Smelt (1781). (fn. 53) In 1863 Charles Leslie sold the advowson to William Catt, who later took the name of Willett, and he sold it in 1865 to William Joshua Tilley. On his death in 1870 it passed to his son-in-law James Shand, who sold it in 1876 to the Rev. William Chauntler Izard, (fn. 54) rector of Slindon since 1865. From his son and successor the Rev. Arthur Izard it has descended to the Misses Izard, the present patrons.
Clara Toogood by her will dated 30 July 1890 bequeathed £25 to the vicar and churchwardens of Slindon, the income to be applied for such charitable purposes in the parish as they may see fit. The annual income amounts to 9s. 8d.
The Jane Izard Memorial. By a Declaration of Trust dated 10 March 1893 made by Ellen Shand a sum of £200 was settled upon trust, the income to be remitted to the vicar and churchwardens to be applied in gifts of clothing to be distributed annually among the deserving poor just before Christmas. The annual income amounts to £5.
Poor's Money. It is stated in the printed Parliamentary Reports of the Former Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities dated 1836 that £15 was found many years since on the person of a beggar who died by the roadside and the interest of it has always been appropriated by the parish officers for the use of the poor. The charity is now administered by two trustees appointed by the parish council and the yearly income amounting to 15s. 8d. is applied for the benefit of the poor.