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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In 1196 Steyning hundred apparently belonged to Fécamp abbey (SeineMaritime). (fn. 1) John de Braose however claimed in 1229 that the hundred and its profits were his and had belonged to his ancestors, (fn. 2) and in 1255 his son William was holding the hundred courts. (fn. 3) The lordship of the hundred afterwards descended with Bramber rape, (fn. 4) presumably because the overlordship of most of the lands within it belonged to the Braoses and their successors. In 1316 the abbot of Fécamp was said, probably erroneously, to be lord. (fn. 5) The abbey nevertheless retained hundredal jurisdiction over its own lands within the hundred. Shortly before 1275 the abbot's men of Charlton tithing were withdrawn from suit at the hundred court, (fn. 6) and later both Steyning borough and Charlton manor had their own leet jurisdiction. (fn. 7) In 1538 (fn. 8) and later, (fn. 9) however, representatives of both borough and manor 'showed their heads' at the hundred court out of respect, making no presentments and paying no common fine.
The hundred comprised the parishes of Botolphs, Bramber, Coombes, Steyning, Washington, and Wiston. In 1086 it was also said to include Clapham, Findon, Offington (in Broadwater), Sullington, and Buncton (in Ashington). (fn. 10) Washington was said, evidently erroneously, to be in Brightford hundred in 1278. (fn. 11) Places in the north of the county were listed as belonging to Steyning hundred from the late 13th century: Ifield and Horsham apparently in 1288, (fn. 12) Warnham and Shortsfield (in Horsham) in 1296, Rusper and Nuthurst in 1327, (fn. 13) and Coombes in the Wold and Washington in the Wold, the Wealden outliers of those two manors, in 1524. (fn. 14) The northern tithings were afterwards split off to form a separate hundred, Singlecross hundred, first mentioned in 1498, (fn. 15) and finally separate by 1598. (fn. 16) Wyckham tithing in Steyning, which included Wappingthorn, (fn. 17) was in Steyning hundred in 1288, (fn. 18) but is always afterwards found in Grinstead hundred. (fn. 19)
There are court rolls for Steyning hundred for 1538, 1598, and 1600. (fn. 20) In the mid 13th century a hundred court was held twice a year by William de Braose's steward. (fn. 21) A road encroachment was presented c. 1307. (fn. 22) In the 16th century jurisdiction also extended over stray beasts, breaches of the assize of bread and of ale, and the maintenance of bridges and ditches. Officers were also elected for the several tithings. The amount of business apparently declined between 1538 and 1598. (fn. 23) The court was still held twice yearly in 1600 (fn. 24) and 1651, (fn. 25) but in 1792 it may have been held only once a year. (fn. 26) A bailiff of the hundred was mentioned in 1383. (fn. 27) A constable and an alderman were elected at the court in 1598, (fn. 28) and there was an under-constable in 1556. (fn. 29) The last reference to a constable is of 1822. (fn. 30)
The original meeting-place of the court is unknown, though it was presumably near Steyning town, which lies in the centre of the hundred. A possible site is the place called Heathen Burials, later Heathens' Burial Corner, on the Steyning-Bramber boundary, where the sheriff's tourn of Heathen Burials mentioned in 1279 and later may have been held. (fn. 31) An alternative possibility is a place near the Steyning-Wiston boundary marked by a field-name, the Hundred Acre. (fn. 32) In 1651 and in the 18th century the court was held at Steyning, during the latter period at the Chequer inn. (fn. 33)