Steyning: Roman Catholicism

Page 244

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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Eleven parishioners did not receive communion in 1571 and 13 in 1579, including members of the Leeds family of Wappingthorn. (fn. 1) John Leeds (d. 1606), recorded as a recusant since 1569, (fn. 2) was said by an informer to be keeping priests at Wappingthorn in 1594. (fn. 3) His son Thomas, who at first conformed, later embraced his father's faith and settled in Belgium. (fn. 4) Since later owners of Wappingthorn conformed, Roman Catholicism gradually died out in Steyning. Eleven possible recusants were recorded in the parish in the 1620s, (fn. 5) and three in 1669. (fn. 6) In 1767 there were only two. (fn. 7)

A Roman Catholic community had reappeared in the parish by 1948, when the town hall began to be used as a temporary mass centre. A converted barn at Penlands farm on the road to Bramber was opened in 1951 as the church of Christ the King, and Steyning was made a separate parish in 1968. (fn. 8)


  • 1. W.S.R.O., Ep. 1/23/1, f. 19; Ep. 1/23/5, f. 48; cf. ibid. Ep. 1/23/6, f. 10; Ep. 1/23/7, f. 40.
  • 2. V.C.H. Suss. ii. 25.
  • 3. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1591-4, 504, 510, where he is erroneously called Thos.
  • 4. G. Anstruther, Seminary Priests, ii. 188-9.
  • 5. Chwdns. Presentments, i (S.R.S. xlix), 17, 68, 111.
  • 6. Cath. Rec. Soc. vi. 317-19.
  • 7. H.L.R.O., papist return (ex inf. Mr. T. J. McCann, of W.S.R.O.).
  • 8. E. E. Reynolds, Par. of Christ the King, Steyning (n.d.).