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.


'Graffham', A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953), pp. 58-60. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

. "Graffham", in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953) 58-60. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

. "Graffham", A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953). 58-60. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

In this section


The parish, which lies some 6 miles south-east of Midhurst, contained 1,714 acres, since increased to 2,137 acres by the inclusion of portions of Fernhurst and East Lavington; and under the West Sussex Review Order of 1933 the parish of Selham has been annexed to it for civil purposes. (fn. 1) The southern boundary is on Graffham Down, where the highest point is reached, 763 ft., at an ancient earthwork where the parishes of Graffham, East Dean, Singleton, and Heyshott meet. The church lies at the foot of the Downs, with most of the village along the road sloping down from it to the north. The northern half of the parish is mostly woodland and common; in the more open parts the soil is clay with a subsoil of chalk and marl, suitable for cereals. Red ochre has been worked in the parish, (fn. 2) and in 1341 there were evidently potteries, as the rector received yearly 12d. 'from the men who make clay pots'. (fn. 3)

In the village is the Empire Hall, built by Lord Woolavington for use as a free library and for entertainments.

A two-storied house south of the church, now two tenements called 'Victory Cottages', has 17th-century timber-framing in the upper story of the east front. The lower story has white stone walling and some flint, with brick dressings at the angles and to the windows. The back of the house is also of flints and white free-stone. At the north end is a timber-framed outbuilding and at the south end a very short modern extension. In front is an 18th-century brick porch; the inner doorway has a brick label. The tiled roof, probably formerly thatched, has modern gabled dormers. The central chimney-shaft of thin bricks is of the local rebated type. The fire-places have been reduced. The lower ceilings are open-timbered, with chamfered main beams.

A cottage ¼ mile north-east of the church also shows some 17th-century timber-framing. Two others farther north are also of the 17th century, and perhaps more typical of this district in their material. The southern, of two tenements, has a little timber-framing at the north end of the east front, but it is mainly of white stone and at the south end a little flint. The two lower windows have brick jambs and conjoined brick labels. The upper windows have old brick lintels. The gabled south end has a projecting chimney-stack with a chamfered plinth and crow-stepped sides and a rebated shaft. The northern cottage also has a little timber-framing but is mostly of a very dark brown ragstone and a little flintwork. It has a 17th-century brick central chimney-shaft.


Before the Conquest GRAFFHAM was held as an alodial manor by six thegns; in 1086 its 10 hides were held of Earl Roger by four Frenchman—Robert (son of Tetbald), (fn. 4) Ralph (de Chesney) 4 hides, Rolland 2½ hides, and Ernald 2 hides. (fn. 5) The overlordship of the whole descended with the honor of Arundel, but Robert's lands constituted the subordinate honor of Petworth and his estate here is probably represented by that portion of Graffham which, with Bignor and Buddington (q.v.), formed 3 fees, held of Petworth from the middle of the 12th century until about 1350 by the family of Sanzaver, whose estates then passed to the Earl of Arundel. (fn. 6) This may be the knight's fee in Graffham which Robert Wispillun was claiming against Isabel de Grafham in 1221. (fn. 7) The manor was held of Ralph Sanzaver at his death in 1314 by William de Wauncy and Thomas de Kepston (fn. 8) and presumably represents the fee held of his father Ralph in 1284 by John le Camoys, John Dawtrey, Thomas de Kepston, and Remi (?). (fn. 9)

The 2 hides of Graffham held in 1086 by Ernald became attached to his manor of South Stoke in the Rape of Arundel. (fn. 10) This was, in the 12th century, in the hands of the family of Cauz, of whom Hugh de Cauz occurs in 1166 as holding 3 knights' fees of the Earl of Arundel (fn. 11) and in 1168 as concerned with land in the hundred of Easebourne, presumably at Graffham. (fn. 12) Godfrey de Cauz had succeeded by 1186, (fn. 13) and Robert by 1206, in which year Hugh de Neville (of Essex) claimed those fees against him as having belonged to his great-grandfather Gilbert Rufin in the time of Henry I. (fn. 14) Hugh obtained the fees, for which he did homage to the Earl of Arundel, but granted the manor of Stoke to Robert and his wife Agnes and the heirs of their bodies, with contingent remainder to himself. (fn. 15) When the Arundel fees were divided in 1244 the 3 fees in South Stoke, Warningcamp, Up Waltham, and Graffham, then held by John de Neville, were assigned to the pourparty of Roger de Sumery and his wife Nichole. (fn. 16) It is possible that Robert de Cauz left a daughter, (fn. 17) as in 1270 there is mention of Denise de Cauz, mother of Robert Trotemenu, (fn. 18) and this Robert was holding ½ fee in Graffham of John de Neville in 1282 by service at the court of South Stoke. (fn. 19) A later John de Neville in 1357 sold the manor of South Stoke with its appurtenances in various parishes including Graffham to Richard, Earl of Arundel. (fn. 20)

Part of Graffham was held as a member of the manor of Woolavington, in the Rape of Arundel. It is so named in 1269 in connexion with the grant to Robert Waleraund of lands late of John de Gatesdene, with the custody of John's heir, subject to the dower of his widow Hawise. (fn. 21) It is not, however, mentioned in the list of properties acquired by John and confirmed to him in 1242, (fn. 22) and may have been the property of Hawise through her previous marriage with the first John de Neville. (fn. 23) The manor of Woolavington had come into the hands of the Earl of Arundel by 1315, when he made a grant of it for life to William Paynel, (fn. 24) who next year appears as lord of Graffham. (fn. 25)

The 4 hides of Graffham held in 1086 by Ralph (de Chesney) became the manor of WONWORTH. Ralph's son Roger de Chesney gave to Lewes Priory the church of 'Mellers', now Madehurst, and the tithes of his demesnes in Graffham, (fn. 26) which grants were confirmed by his sons Hugh and William, (fn. 27) and at a later date the priory was receiving in Graffham the tithes of the part, and in Wonworth 2 sheaves of the tithes of the old demesne. (fn. 28) In about 1170 William, Earl of Arundel, confirmed an agreement made between Hugh's son Ralph de Chesney and the Abbot of Eynsham concerning Ralph's lands in Graffham and Madehurst. (fn. 29) Ralph's daughter and heir Lucy married Guy de Dive, (fn. 30) who died about 1214 leaving an infant son William, during whose nonage King John granted his land in Graffham and Madehurst first to Peter Picot and then to Hasculf Paynel. (fn. 31) In 1243 a knight's fee in Graffham and Madehurst, held by William de Dive, was assigned in dower to the Countess of Arundel, and next year to the pourparty of John FitzAlan. (fn. 32) In 1248 there is a reference to William de Dive's court of Wonworth, (fn. 33) and in 1272 John died seised of the manor of Wonworth in Graffham, held of the Earl of Arundel as 1 fee, (fn. 34) his heir being his son Henry. The manor was settled on John Dyve and Margery his wife in 1310 (fn. 35) and was held, as ¼ fee, by Henry Dyve in 1327, when he died leaving a widow Marcia (to whom this manor was assigned in dower) (fn. 36) and a son John, then aged 7. (fn. 37) In 1330 the fee in Graffham and Madehurst was held of Edmund, Earl of Kent, by the heir of Henry Dyve, (fn. 38) but no more is known of it until 1357, when Sir William Breton and Joan his wife, who was previously wife of John Dyve, failed in a (probably collusive) suit for the manor against Richard, Earl of Arundel, (fn. 39) to whom they definitely sold the manor of Wonworth and Graffham in 1378. (fn. 40)

The whole of Graffham had then come into the hands of the Earls of Arundel, the original overlords. It was among the manors assigned in 1425 to the Countess Beatrice in dower, (fn. 41) and in 1428 she was returned as holding ½ fee and a ¼ fee in Graffham. (fn. 42) Graffham, Wonworth, and Woolavington all remained in the possession of the FitzAlan family until 1578, when the three manors were conveyed by Henry, Earl of Arundel, John, Lord Lumley, and Jane his wife, daughter of the earl, to Giles and Francis Garton. (fn. 43) Giles Garton, who is described as an ironmonger and citizen of London, (fn. 44) died in 1592 and the manors descended to his son Peter Garton, having been conveyed to him and Judith, his wife, daughter of Thomas Shurley of Isfield, at the time of their marriage, by the marriage settlement. In 1606 Sir Peter Garton died seised of all three manors. (fn. 45) They all three descended successively to the three sons of Sir Peter, who died in 1619, (fn. 46) 1633, (fn. 47) and 1641 (fn. 48) respectively. In 1675 (fn. 49) on the death of William Garton the three manors came to Robert Orme, who had married William Garton's sister Mary. His son Garton Orme died in 1758 (fn. 50) leaving a daughter and heir Charlotte, who was married to Richard Bettesworth, and the manors descended to their daughter Charlotte who was unmarried in 1764, when she presented to the living of Graffham, (fn. 51) but subsequently in 1778 married John Sargent, (fn. 52) M.P. for Seaford in 1790. Their son John Sargent was presented by his father to the living of Graffham and instituted on 11 Sept. 1805. (fn. 53) Through his daughter Emily, who married Samuel Wilberforce, afterwards Bishop successively of Oxford and Winchester, the manors came into the Wilberforce family, where they remained until 1903 when they were sold by Reginald William Wilberforce to James Buchanan, afterwards Lord Woolavington. After his death in 1935 the manor of Graffham was bought by Capt. the Rt. Hon. Euan Wallace, M.P.

Garton. Sable three pointed staves two in saltire and one in pale argent bound together with a band or.

Wilberforce. Argent an eagle sable.


The church of ST. GILES (fn. 54) stands at the extreme south end of the village, under the Downs; it is built of flint rubble with ashlar dressings, and roofed with tile, the spire being shingled. It consists of a chancel, flanked by a chapel on the south and by a sacristy and organ-chamber on the north, a nave with north and south aisles, and a western tower. The church is mentioned in Domesday Book; (fn. 55) in the late 12th century it consisted of chancel, nave, and north and south aisles shorter than the present; a tower was added in the 13th; the whole, with the exception of the nave arcades and the tower, was rebuilt as a memorial to Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and was reconsecrated in 1875; the tower was pulled down because considered unsafe, and was rebuilt in 1887.

The chancel and south chapel are entirely modern in 13th-century style, as are the sacristy and organchamber; the doorway, however, leading to the sacristy is ancient work of about the 15th century refixed; it has plain chamfered jambs and an arch of anse de panier form resting directly on them. Both the woodwork and the furniture of the door are contemporary, the lock being somewhat elaborate. Besides the usual wards and tumbler, a second tumbler at the rear end of the bolt prevents its withdrawal till the tumbler has been raised; and this cannot itself be raised till a lock-plate has been turned to the right position and secured by a catch. The lock is perfect; the handle that turns the lock-plate and that which operates the catch which holds the second tumbler up are in the form of the heads of a king and of a lady wearing a horned head-dress.

The south arcade is of three pointed arches of one order; the two western are of the late 12th century, the eastern, of narrower span, is of the 19th. The west respond has a plain impost, the pier next to it is cylindrical, with scalloped cap and moulded base of the 12th century; the next pier eastwards is a modern copy, replacing a former respond; the east respond is plain, without impost. The north arcade is similar. The roof has two tie-beams carrying king-posts braced in all four directions, a collar purlin, and trussed rafters; the part east of the eastern tie-beam is modern, the rest ancient. The aisles are entirely modern, in 13th-century style.

The west tower, rebuilt in 1887, incorporates the former west doorway, having nook-shafts with moulded caps and bases, and an arch of a single moulded order. Its other details are modern.

The font is cylindrical, probably of the 12th century; the other fittings are modern.

There are three bells: (fn. 56) one, of the 15th century, inscribed—SANCTA KATERINA ORA PRO NOBIS; another cast by Thomas Wakefield and Roger Tapsell in 1621; the third by Bryan Eldridge, 1642.

The communion plate is modern, consisting of silvergilt chalice, paten, and flagon of 1845, (fn. 57) perhaps given by, and certainly during the incumbency of, Henry Manning (afterwards cardinal), (fn. 58) who held the living with that of Woolavington from 1833 to 1851.

The registers begin in 1655.


The advowson followed the descent of the Woolavington member of Graffham. It formed a part of the dower of Eleanor, widow of Sir John Arundel, in 1422. (fn. 59) The living is now in the gift of the Hon. Mrs. MacdonaldBuchanan, the daughter of Lord Woolavington.

The rectory was valued at £10 in 1291, (fn. 60) and was still returned at the same gross value in 1535. (fn. 61) In 1341 the rector had 12 acres of glebe, and there were tithes of apples (26s. 8d.), bees (2s.), and from a mill (12d.). (fn. 62) Tithes of Graffham were granted by Roger de Chesney to the Priory of Lewes and confirmed by William de Chesney about 1150, and in 1294 the Prior of Lewes was awarded the tithes in a case against the rector of Graffham, who had unjustly withheld them. (fn. 63)


  • 1. Kelly, Directory of Suss. (1938).
  • 2. V.C.H. Suss. ii, 232.
  • 3. Ibid. 252.
  • 4. Amount not stated, but presumably 1½ hides.
  • 5. V.C.H. Suss. i, 423.
  • 6. Farrer, Honors and Knights' Fees, iii, 24–6.
  • 7. Pipe R. 5 Hen. III.
  • 8. Farrer, op. cit. 25.
  • 9. Ibid. Land in Graffham was held by the Dawtreys in 1524 and 1575: Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv, 321; iii, 97, 99.
  • 10. Suss. Arch. Coll. lix, 15.
  • 11. Ibid. 11.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Ibid. 12.
  • 14. Curia Regis R. 37, m. 1.
  • 15. Ibid. 46, m. 2 d.; Suss. Rec. Soc. ii, 115.
  • 16. Cal. Close, 1242–7, p. 251.
  • 17. Farrer (op. cit. 48) argues that Robert left no issue, as in 1227 Hugh de Neville had licence to lease the manor of South Stoke for ten years to the Bishop of Chichester. But this might have been during the minority of Robert's heir.
  • 18. Assize R. 913, m. 13. The name Trotemenu was a nickname sometimes given to a horse. William Trotemenu who occurs at Graffham in the subsidy lists for 1296 and 1327 (Suss. Rec. Soc. x, 101, 117) figures in 1332 as William Trot (ibid. 241).
  • 19. Farrer, op. cit. 49.
  • 20. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii, 2189.
  • 21. Cal. Inq. p.m, i, 206.
  • 22. Cal. Chart. R. i, 265–6.
  • 23. Suss. Arch. Coll. lix, 18.
  • 24. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii, 1411.
  • 25. Feud. Aids, v, 141.
  • 26. Cal. Docts. France, 510.
  • 27. Lewes Chartul. (Suss. Rec. Soc. xl), 75, 78.
  • 28. Ibid. 84.
  • 29. Chartul. of Eynsham (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), no. 86.
  • 30. Suss. Arch. Coll. lxv, 30.
  • 31. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), 242.
  • 32. Farrer, op. cit. 63.
  • 33. Suss. Rec. Soc. ii, 460.
  • 34. Cal. Inq. p.m. i, 792.
  • 35. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii, 1293.
  • 36. Cal. Close, 1327–30, p. 377.
  • 37. Cal. Inq. p.m. vii, 27, 88.
  • 38. Ibid. 230.
  • 39. De Banco R. Trin. 31 Edw. III, no. 228.
  • 40. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii, 2881.
  • 41. Cal. Pat. 1422–9, p. 282.
  • 42. Feud. Aids, v, 156.
  • 43. Suss. Rec. Soc. xx, 501.
  • 44. Elwes and Robinson, Manors of West Suss., 104.
  • 45. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxxxvi, 102.
  • 46. Ibid. ccclxxv, 56.
  • 47. Ibid. dxxvi, 7.
  • 48. Ibid. ccccxcviii, 24.
  • 49. Elwes and Robinson, loc. cit.
  • 50. Ibid.
  • 51. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 52. Dict. Nat. Biog. s.v. Sargent, John.
  • 53. Ibid.
  • 54. This is the modern invocation; the authority for it is unknown.
  • 55. V.C.H. Suss. i, 423.
  • 56. Suss. Arch. Coll. xvi, 210.
  • 57. Ibid. liv, 194–5.
  • 58. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 59. Chan. Inq. p.m. 10 Hen. V, 77.
  • 60. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 134.
  • 61. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 324.
  • 62. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 361. There seems to be no other reference to a mill in Graffham.
  • 63. Lewes Chartul. (Suss. Rec. Soc. xl), 78.