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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Didling is a small parish of 824 acres, 2 miles in length with an average breadth of 2/3 mile, lying under Didling Hill. The land falls abruptly from 700 ft. on this hill to 260 ft. at the village, in the centre of the parish, and to less than 150 ft. in the north. By West Sussex Review Order (1933) the civil parish was added to Treyford.
The village is on a road leading from Treyford to Iping, the church lying above it to the south at the foot of the Downs. A wooded tongue of land stretching southward on to the Downs is part of Winden Wood, and there are two small woods called Bushey Wood, north of the village, and Didling Hanger, at the southeast.
The village is very small, consisting of a farmstead and a few other smaller buildings north of the church. Two small houses on the east side of the road to the north are of the 17th century. The southern, 'Home Mead', is now mostly of stone and flint rubble, but the north side shows a little timber-framing in the upper part. The west end, on a steep declivity above the road, is of squared stone rubble and has 17th-century brick angles to the upper story. A plain square chimneyshaft is of 17th-century bricks. The other, 'Hillside', close north of it, has a north front of 17th-century square framing with gabled dormers to the upper story in the tiled roof. There is also a little framing at the back. The west end towards the road is tile-hung. The central chimney-stack is of rebated type. The fire-places are reduced, but there are old open-timbered ceilings.
The manor of DIDLING was a member of the manor of Trotton (fn. 1) (q.v.), and descended with it to Sir Roger Lewkenor. On his death in 1546 Didling manor was assigned to his widow Elizabeth, (fn. 2) who married Richard Lewkenor. (fn. 3) The manor passed to Katherine, daughter of Sir Roger and Elizabeth, and her husband John Mill, of Greatham. Their grandson John Mill, and his wife Anne, in 1616 joined with Constance Glemham (Katherine's sister) (fn. 4) and her son Anthony Foster in conveying the whole manor to trustees. (fn. 5) This John Mill was created a baronet in 1619. (fn. 6) He was M.P. for Southampton 1624–6 and Sheriff of Hants in 1627–8. As a Royalist he petitioned to compound in 1648, but he died in July of that year, and composition was not effected till after his death. (fn. 7) His son John had died before him and he was succeeded by a young grandson, John Mill. (fn. 8) John married, about 1660, Margaret, daughter of Colonel Henry Sandys, and after his death in 1670, Margaret held the manor till her death in 1707. (fn. 9) Her only son John had died about 1697, and her grandson Sir John in 1706, and she was succeeded at Didling by her grandson Sir Richard Mill, bart. (fn. 10) He died at Wolbeding in 1760 and was followed successively by four sons. (fn. 11) The youngest, the Rev. Sir Charles Mill, died in 1792, having sold Didling manor shortly before his death to Lord Robert Spencer. (fn. 12) Before 1860 the manor had been purchased by Lord Leconfield, (fn. 13) whose grandson is now lord of the manor.
The church of ST. ANDREW (fn. 14) consists of chancel and nave, both originally of the 13th century, and a modern porch. It is built of rubble, plastered, with ashlar dressings; some modern repairs are in brick, the roofs are tiled.
In the east wall, which is of modern brickwork, are refixed a pair of 13th-century lancet windows with exterior rebates and pointed rear-arches; north of them is a plain image-bracket. Two similar lancets in the north wall have segmental rear-arches. In the south wall, which appears to have been rebuilt in the 14th century, are two single-light windows with trefoil heads and segmental pointed rear-arches. There is no chancel arch. The roof has two modern tie-beams; there is plaster ceiling under the rafters and collars.
In the south wall of the nave is a square-headed single-light window of perhaps the 16th century; west of this is another single-light window of which the jambs may be 14th-century, the roughly circular, but asymmetrical, head is probably much later. In the north wall is a doorway, the opening of which has the form of a rectangle with rounded upper corners; the head of it being a lintel, not an arch; it is of the 16th century. The west wall is in brick, the bricks themselves being perhaps of the 17th century, but possibly not in their original places; in this wall is a modern single-light window with four-centred arch head. There is a modern stone bell-cote on the wall. The nave roof has two tie-beams; a third close to the west wall, which perhaps formerly supported a timber bell-cote, has been cut away; the rafters are ceiled in plaster.
The porch (modern) is of wood on a brick base.
The font, perhaps 12th-century, is tub-shaped on a round base. The benches are of pre-Reformation date, but modern solid backs have been substituted for the original open back rails; the altar rails and pulpit incorporate much woodwork of the 17th century.
There is one bell, dated 1587. (fn. 15)
The registers are included with those of Treyford (q.v.).
The church of Didling seems to have been built by Alan de St. George about 1220, at which time he endowed it with a croft beside the Midhurst road containing 6 acres, and another 2 acres, to support a resident chaplain who should serve the church and also celebrate thrice weekly at the chapel of Dumpford (in Trotton). He also gave to the Dean and Chapter of Chichester, as patrons of the church and chapel, an inclosed garden to build on and a strip of land for their barn. (fn. 16) By another charter he granted a meadow to the church and to Sir William, the vicar. (fn. 17) The rectory, therefore, must from the first have been held by the dean and chapter. In 1291 the benefice was among those untaxed, because of their poverty; (fn. 18) and in 1340 the great tithes were valued at 40s. and the rector (? vicar) was said to have glebe and small tithes and offerings also worth 40s. (fn. 19) The dean and chapter were still presenting to the vicarage in 1402, 1405, and 1411, (fn. 20) but already in 1356 Didling was referred to as a chapel, (fn. 21) as it was again in 1481, (fn. 22) and in 1535. (fn. 23) By this last date the benefice had in fact been united to that of Treyford, (fn. 24) an arrangement which still continues.
In 1647 the inhabitants of Didling and neighbouring parishes petitioned the Committee for Compounding to allow them the salary of a minister from the estates of John Lewkenor, a delinquent who farmed the tithes from the Dean and Chapter of Chichester. They stated that the revenues of the vicarage were so small that it was impossible to support a preacher from them. (fn. 25)