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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The medieyal parish of Linch consisted of two parts: the main settlement was round the church, whose site is now marked by Linch Farm, and extending on to the Downs which rise steeply above it to the south; entirely separate and distant some 7 miles to the north, and stretching northwards for 2 miles to reach the Hampshire border, was the Wealden outlier of the manor, probably corresponding to the 'woodland yielding 10 swine' in 1086. (fn. 1) The parish was never populous; in 1428 there were only six householders besides the rector, (fn. 2) and by the 16th century the southern portion seems to have been almost deserted, and such population as there was was concentrated round Woodman's Green at the south end of the northern portion. Already in 1550 we find reference to 'Lynche in the parish of Bepton', (fn. 3) though that condition of affairs was not in fact reached until 1882, when the southern portion was attached to Bepton parish, outlying parts of Stedham and Woolbeding being about the same time absorbed in the northern parish of Linch. (fn. 4)
The actual green which gave its name to Woodman's Green has been taken into the estate of Hollycombe, (fn. 5) where Sir Charles Taylor, who bought it from John Utterson about 1800, built a small house from the Nash's designs, afterwards purchased by Sir John Hawkshaw; (fn. 6) but a few small houses of no great antiquity mark its site. Woodman's Green Farm, south of the church, is a house of the late 16th century, built of stone rubble with brick angle-dressings. On the northwest side are two projecting chimney-stacks, gathered in at the sides to take brick shafts which have square pilasters. In the east gable-head is an original stonemullioned window of three lights with a moulded label; the windows of the two stories below it have been modernized. The interior has been largely modernized and the fire-places reduced, but there are stop-chamfered beams on both floors, and a fine early-17th-century stair with square, chamfered newels, turned balusters, and a triple-roll-moulded rail with lateral decoration.
LINCH, which had been held by Ulvric of King Edward, was held in 1086 by Robert (fitz Tetbald) under Earl Roger. It was assessed at 5 hides, and there was 1 haw in Chichester attached to it. (fn. 7) With Robert's other lands it formed part of the honor of Petworth in later times.
From the end of the 12th century a group of 5 knights' fees was held of the Percies, lords of Petworth, by the family of la Zouche, and of these 2 fees were in Linch, Stopham, and Yapton. (fn. 8) These 2 fees are found in the hands of Ralph de Stopham in 1234. (fn. 9) He was one of the coheirs of Brian de L'Isle (de Insula), being son of Brian de Stopham (d. c. 1230) (fn. 10) and grandson of Amabil, one of Brian de L'Isle's three sisters. (fn. 11) Her husband was presumably the Ralph de Stopham (fn. 12) who was nephew of Urse de Linces, (fn. 13) and it seems likely that Brian de L'Isle had inherited these fees from his mother, the sister of Urse. Ralph de Stopham was still a minor at the death of Brian de L'Isle and was therefore in ward to Roger la Zouche; (fn. 14) he died in 1271, leaving a widow Eve and a son Ralph. (fn. 15) This Ralph died in 1291, when the manor of Linch, valued at £15 15s. 2¼d., was assigned to his widow Isabel in dower. (fn. 16) His daughter and heir Eve, then a minor in ward to the king, (fn. 17) subsequently married William de Echingham, to whom Edward I, when staying at his house in Udimore in November 1295, granted free warren in Linch and elsewhere. (fn. 18) Eve died without issue before 1326, when her heir is alleged to have been Sir William le Moyne, (fn. 19) but between 1337 and 1340 John atte See of Denton, son of Joan, daughter of Brian de Stopham, (fn. 20) claimed and recovered the manor against John de Lancastre and Mabel his wife, widow of William le Moyne, and Adam Husee, to whom William le Moyne had granted it. (fn. 21) In 1340 John atte See granted the manor of Linch to Edward St. John 'le neveu', (fn. 22) which grant was confirmed in 1343 by Alan la Zouche. (fn. 23) In 1364 Edward St. John and Joan his wife settled the manor on themselves and the male heirs of his body, with contingent remainder to John, son of Richard, Earl of Arundel. (fn. 24) Accordingly, after their deaths (fn. 25) without male issue, it did so pass so that in 1412 Sir John Arundell, Lord Maltravers, was holding the manor of Linch, valued at £9, (fn. 26) and he died seised thereof in 1421. (fn. 27) After this the manor descended with the earldom of Arundel (fn. 28) until 1582, when Philip, Earl of Arundel, sold it to Anthony, Viscount Montague, (fn. 29) since which time it has followed the descent of Cowdray (q.v.). Certain manorial rights, however, were acquired by Lt.-Col. Henry Lascelles with his manor of Woolbeding (q.v.) and after his death in 1913 passed to his widow. (fn. 30)
The ancient parish church, which is mentioned in Domesday Book, (fn. 31) stood in the present stackyard of Linch Farm, now in Bepton parish, west of the farm-house. No trace of it remains above ground, but in the 18th and 19th centuries quantities of human bones were found there, (fn. 32) and also a medieval stone coffin. (fn. 33) In 1443–4 a rector was instituted, (fn. 34) but the church was unserved owing to poverty in Bishop Story's time (1478–1503). (fn. 35) At some uncertain date a chapel-of-ease was built at Woodman's Green, in the Wealden outlier of the parish; it may, perhaps, have been this which was served by the 'perpetual chaplain' who occurs in a Visitation of 1521, (fn. 36) and by the clerk instituted to the rectory in 1524–5. (fn. 37) In 1551 'the former church of Lynche, having no parishioners, is ruined and desecrated'. (fn. 38) Speed's map of 1610 marks 'St. Luke's chapel' at Woodman's Green, but this also became ruinous before 1635, and was only rebuilt in 1700. (fn. 39)
The present church of ST. LUKE consists of chancel with south organ chamber and vestry, and nave with south porch; of which the nave represents the building of 1700 and the remainder 19th-century additions. It is built of local sandstone and roofed with tile.
The chancel (17 ft. 6 in.), the organ chamber, and the vestry west of it are modern, in 13th-century style. The nave (39 ft. by 17 ft. 3 in.) appears to be the building of 1700, but all features are modern, in 13th-century style, except the south doorway, which has a plain fourcentred arch bearing the date 1700. In one of the north windows are two panels of stained glass, perhaps Flemish of the 16th century. One represents the Ascension, and has the inscription HEINRICH VĀ DABE?USEN; the other represents the Descent from the Cross, and has the inscription WIRYR HEYNRICH STOYF PRESEPITASIO.
There is a church chest inscribed PETER BETTESWORTH CHURCH WARDEN 1710. The font and other fittings are modern.
There is one bell of 1814. (fn. 40)
The communion plate includes a silver chalice made in 1705 and given to the church in that year by John (Williams), Bishop of Chichester. (fn. 41)
The registers begin in 1701.
The church of Linch is first mentioned in 1291, when it was valued at £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 42) In the same year the king recovered 5 marks damages against Isabel, widow of Ralph de Stopham, who claimed to hold the advowson in dower, for opposing his presentation to the church as guardian of Eve, daughter of Ralph, whose grandmother Eve had presented in right of her manor of 'Westlynches'. (fn. 43) The advowson continued to descend with the manor, being included in the transfer of the latter by the Earl of Arundel to Viscount Montague in 1582. (fn. 44)
By 1535 the value of the benefice had fallen to £4, from which deductions of 3s. 4d. for a pension to the Prior of Shulbrede and 7s. 4d. payable to the bishop and archdeacon had to be made, and the church was classed as a chapel. (fn. 45) At the dissolution of the chantries in 1548 there was some doubt whether it should not be included in that classification, but it was noted that the incumbent 'is named parson of the parish of Lynches and so inducted'. (fn. 46) In 1713 it was reported that Mr. Henry Baker, rector of the chapel of Linch, had no parsonage and lived in Fernhurst, 2 miles distant by roads that were impassable in winter. (fn. 47) He had no tithes, but received £22 yearly from Lord Montague. The rectory in 1826 was in the hands of Charles George, Lord Arden, son of the 2nd Earl of Egmont, (fn. 48) and after his son George James had succeeded his cousin as 6th earl in 1841 it was reunited to the Cowdray estate. (fn. 49)