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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Stedham is a long, narrow parish, being nearly 6½ miles from the county boundary on the north to its southern boundary, where the Midhurst branch of the old London and South Western Railway crosses the parish, with an average width of about ¾ mile. Detached portions of the old parish were annexed to Chithurst and Iping in 1879, and the northern part has been united to Linch for ecclesiastical purposes. (fn. 1) The acreage was 2,493 acres, and the population in 1931 was 592. The land is undulating, falling from 300 ft. in the north to 100 ft. at the village, which lies on the south bank of the River Rother, and then rising again to 200 ft.; it is largely covered by woodland, scrub, and common.
The Hall, north of the church, is a building of stone and timber-framing dating from about the middle of the 16th century but with later alterations, enlargements, and renovations.
The original house was of H-shaped plan facing south-east; the north-east wing was lengthened in the 17th century for a kitchen, now the dining-room, and then or subsequently the space between the wings behind the main block was filled in and the stair-hall added against the kitchen. A wing, with the present kitchen and offices, extends north-eastwards from the former kitchen: the lower two stories of stone are said to be ancient (17th-century?). The top story of timberframing is modern. The detached old brewhouse south-east of this range has been remodelled.
The south-east front of the main house has wings projecting about 5 ft. The lower story is of ashlar, mostly restored but ancient below the chamfered plinth. The middle doorway has a four-centred head with a square label; the windows are mullioned and have transoms. The upper story is of restored timberframing and has mullioned oak windows with wing lights to the upper halves. The windows to the wings project on shaped brackets, and the gable heads are jettied.
The north-east and south-west sides have the old masonry to the lower story and projecting chimney-stacks. The south-west has restored timber-framing to the upper story, but on the other it is replaced by modern brickwork. The upper brickwork of the south-west chimney-stacks is old, but the diagonal shafts have been rebuilt. At the back end is a small modern porch-wing. The north-west end of the south-west wing has a jettied upper story and projecting gable-head, all more or less restored. Several of the fire-places are ancient. That to the middle hall is of brick with moulded jambs and a four-centred arch in a square head. In the back wall of the room is an old stone doorway. The north-east fire-place is of stone, with chamfered jambs and a four-centred arch; the south-western, in the drawing-room, probably the oldest, is also of stone, with moulded jambs having moulded bases and an arched and square head. The dining-room (former kitchen) has a 9 ft.wide fire-place with restored stone jambs and the old stop-chamfered cambered oak bressummer. This room is lined with early-17th-century panelling. The old ceiling-beams, where exposed, are square.
A dressing-room over the drawing-room is lined with a high dado of panelling, said to be dated 1628 at the back and formerly in the drawing-room. The main staircase may incorporate some late-17th-century material. It has 6-in.-square newels with moulded heads, and 3-in. turned balusters. A stone with the date 1519, brought from elsewhere, is reset in the north-eastern extension.
A cottage overlooking the small green south-west of the church is of 17th-century timber-framing and has a central chimney-stack of rebated type.
A farm-house 3/8 mile south-south-west of the church is a late-16th-century building of small-coursed square stonework with ashlar dressings. The front entrance has a four-centred head and next it is a three-light mullioned window; the other windows are of modern alteration. The central chimney-stack is of thin bricks.
Minsted is about 1¼ miles south-south-west of the church. The main house appears to be entirely modern but a small detached building immediately north of it is of the 16th century. The walls are of coursed square and stone rubble with a chamfered plinth, mullioned windows with labels and, in the gabled west wall, a four-centred doorway. The upper story is covered with tile-hanging.
The bridge over the Rother, west of the Hall, may be in part of the 17th century. It has six semicircular arches, of which the southern are of stone and the three northern of brick. The piers have V cut-waters on the west side: on the east side are modern square raking buttresses. The walling generally is of old stone rubble.
Crouch House Farm, 5/8 mile north-west of the church, is a renovated late-16th-century house with a jettied upper story to the front retaining some of the original heavy timbers and many modern thinner timbers. The overhang is on the ends of old beams with curved brackets and modern joists. The entrance has an arched head. The windows are modern. The roof, formerly thatched, is slated and has a rebated central chimney-shaft. There is a wide fire-place and a reduced one in the stack. The interior generally is modernized. The basement and the other walls are of stone rubble.
In 960 King Eadgar restored to his thane (minister) Wulfric certain lands in Berkshire and Sussex, the latter including 'Steddanham'. (fn. 2) By the time of Edward the Confessor STEDHAM had come into the hands of Earl Godwin, of whom it was held by Edith; and in 1086 it was held of Earl Roger by Robert (fitz Tetbald). It was assessed at 14 hides; there were 3 mills, woodland yielding 40 swine, a quarry worth 6s. 8d., one haw in Chichester, and a church. A Frenchman held 1 hide and 4 acres of this estate. (fn. 3) Robert's estates later became the honor of Petworth, and the overlordship of Stedham came with that honor to the Percies. One knight's fee in Stedham was held in 1302 by the prior of the hospital called God's House in Portsmouth, (fn. 4) to whom it had probably been given by one of the Percies, and remained in the possession of that house until its dissolution. The manor was retained by the Crown until 1557, when it was granted with the advowson to William Denton of Cowdray, (fn. 5) whose executors held the advowson, and presumably the manor, in 1579. (fn. 6) By 1592 it had been acquired by the first Viscount Montague, (fn. 7) whose son sold it in 1611 to William Coldham. (fn. 8) In this family it remained until 1680, (fn. 9) but by 1684 it had passed to Thomas Grey of Woolbeding, who in that year settled it on his daughter Jane on her marriage with Dowse, son of Sir Dowse Fuller. (fn. 10) Jane died in 1715, leaving a daughter Margaret, wife of Samuel Pargitter. (fn. 11) Their son Samuel Pargitter Fuller sold the manor, with a messuage in which Viscount Montague formerly lived, and a water-mill, to Sir John Peachey in 1741. (fn. 12) His grandson Lord Selsey sold to John Utterson in 1799, (fn. 13) and in 1808 Edward Vernon Utterson sold the manor to (Sir) Charles William Taylor, (fn. 14) from whose son it was bought in 1866 by Sir John Hawkshaw, F.R.S. (fn. 15) It was subsequently acquired by Mrs. Scrimgeour and is now held by Mrs. J. A. Scrimgeour.
An estate in Stedham called the manor of HALL was conveyed to Edmund Ford by John Peche, grocer of London, and Anne his wife in 1545, (fn. 16) and a similar conveyance was made to Ford by Henry Wyndesor and Eleanor his wife in 1549. (fn. 17) No more is heard of it until 1662 when Richard Stringer of Petworth bequeathed to his son Richard his tenement known as the manor of Hall alias Bridgefoote Farm. (fn. 18) The younger Richard left his lands in 1676 to endow a free school at Petworth, (fn. 19) but the manor came into the hands of Laurence Alcock, of whom it was bought by Roger Hopkins before 1686, in which year he made his will leaving it to his wife Anne for life and then to his niece Mary, widow of Roger Hopkins, and to any son she might have by a later husband or to her two daughters. When the will was proved in 1689 Anne was dead and Mary married to John Jenman. (fn. 20) In 1709 the manor was conveyed to John Saunders by Richard Ewen and Mary, Richard Challen junior, Richard Challen senior and Anne, and William Hewett and Mary. (fn. 21) It is next found being conveyed by John Knight and Susan to William Pruett in 1788, (fn. 22) after which nothing is on record.
The church of ST. JAMES (fn. 23) stands south of the River Rother and west of the road leading to the bridge. It now consists of a chancel, flanked on the north by the organ-chamber and on the south by the tower, the ground floor of which serves as vestry, of a nave, a north aisle, and a south porch; it is built of local sandstone ashlar, and roofed with tile. It is mentioned in Domesday Book (fn. 24) and probably then consisted of chancel, axial tower, and nave; the chancel was probably lengthened in the 13th century and a west porch added in the 17th. The tower was rebuilt in 1673; (fn. 25) and in 1850 the chancel, nave, and porch were pulled down and the rest of the present church built, being consecrated in January 1851. (fn. 26)
The former chancel (fn. 27) was about 32 ft. by 16 ft. external measure; it had in the east wall a lancet triplet under a single enclosing arch, in the south wall a singlelight window and a small doorway, both with trefoiled heads, and a lancet window, the lower part blocked, perhaps a low-side window; the north side had two single lights. (fn. 28) The former nave (about 37 ft. by 22 ft. external) had in the south wall a window with two trefoil-headed lights under a square label, the rear-arch being segmental-pointed; then a single small round-headed window with concentrics play, evidently 12th-century; then another two-light trefoil-headed window. (fn. 29) In the north wall was a square-headed window with three round-arched lights of equal height, perhaps 17th-century, and a 12th-century window like that opposite. (fn. 30) There is no recorded doorway in either the north or south walls (though the St. Christopher on the north wall would seem to postulate a south door); in the west wall was nothing but a doorway protected by a porch dated 1671. (fn. 31) On the south wall of the nave was a mural painting of St. George over one of three woman saints, on the north wall was a Last Judgement, a small picture perhaps representing the baptism of Christ, a large figure of St. Christopher and, perhaps, the Assumption. (fn. 32)
The present chancel has a lancet triplet under a single rear-arch in the east wall, and a single lancet window in both north and south walls. The chancel arch and that opening into the organ chamber are each of two orders resting on square responds. The tower arch is segmental-pointed, much depressed on account of the tower floor, with a shallow outer order, of about equilateral form, on the chancel side only. On the east face of the tower the join of both former chancel walls is traceable; the drawing in the Sharpe collection shows a shallow buttress, now removed, at the west end of the south side. In the east wall is a plain, pointed arch of one order, the jambs projecting inwards beyond the spring of the arch; a similar but rather larger arch occupies the west wall. These are of 1673, and formerly opened into the chancel and nave respectively; in the eastern has been inserted a single-light window with ogee trefoil head, perhaps from the destroyed chancel; in the western is inserted a modern doorway with a door, perhaps 17th-century and the former west door, of two layers of planking. In the south wall is a two-light square-headed window of 1673, above which, on the outside, is a stone bearing that date. The second stage of the tower has a small, square window on the south side only; in the third stage are single-light windows with elliptical arched heads in the east and west walls, in the south wall is a larger window, now covered by the clock dial. There is a plain parapet over a small cornice, and the tower is capped by a shingled octagonal pyramid.
The organ chamber, the nave of four bays, the span-roofed north aisle, and the south porch are in the style of the 13th century and date from 1850.
The font is cup-shaped on a slender stem; it is perhaps 12th-century, but has been re-tooled. Beside it stands a shallow stone bowl, about 15 in. across, date and use unknown. There is a large church chest (5 ft. by 2 ft. 4 in. on plan) with front formed of three planks and framed ends, having a till and a second, secret, till below it, there are three carved roundels on the front, and the remains of no less than five locks; this is of the 13th century, restored in parts. The other fittings are modern.
There are five bells, (fn. 33) of which three are by Thomas Wakefield, 1618; one by R. Phelps, 1719; and one by Joshua Kipling, 1741.
The communion plate includes a chalice and paten of 1778, and a contemporary silver tankard-shaped flagon. (fn. 34)
The registers begin in 1538.
In the churchyard are a number of early grave-slabs, several with double-Y ribs on the upper side; these, and one or two bearing wheel crosses were found built into the former church. (fn. 35)
There is a large yew-tree south-west of the church.
In about 1140 Reynold de Windsor with his wife Aveline (heiress and probably granddaughter of Robert fitz Tetbald) (fn. 36) confirmed to the Priory of Lewes the grant made by Aveline and her former husband Alan of the church of Stedham with the chapel of Heyshott belonging to it. (fn. 37) The advowson remained in the hands of the priory but the church was not appropriated, continuing as a rectory from which a yearly pension of 40s. was payable to the monks. (fn. 38) It was valued in 1291 at £16 13s. 4d., (fn. 39) and in 1535 at £17 18s. 5d. (fn. 40) After the Dissolution it was included in the grant of the Priory's possessions to Thomas Cromwell (fn. 41) and upon his attainder reverted to the Crown. The advowson seems then to have been granted to William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, who died in 1542, as in 1549 Mabel, Countess of Southampton, was patron. (fn. 42) On her death it presumably returned to the Crown, as the advowson was included with the manor in the grant made to William Denton in 1557. (fn. 43) It then descended with the manor until 1799, when Lord Selsey sold the manor to John Utterson but expressly reserved the advowson. (fn. 44) This remained with his descendants until about 1875, when it was sold to N. P. Simes. In 1888 he conveyed the advowson of Stedham to Mrs. Scrimgeour, retaining that of Heyshott, and Mrs. J. A. Scrimgeour is the present patron. (fn. 45)