West Grinstead: Churches

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1986.

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A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland, 'West Grinstead: Churches', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham, ed. T P Hudson( London, 1986), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol6/pt2/pp100-102 [accessed 21 July 2024].

A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland, 'West Grinstead: Churches', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Edited by T P Hudson( London, 1986), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol6/pt2/pp100-102.

A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland. "West Grinstead: Churches". A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Ed. T P Hudson(London, 1986), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol6/pt2/pp100-102.


A church apparently existed at West Grinstead c. 1100. (fn. 1) The living was a rectory by 1215. (fn. 2) Its advowson descended until the mid 16th century, like the overlordship of West Grinstead manor, with Bramber rape, (fn. 3) the Crown presenting during forfeiture or wardship in 1215 (fn. 4) and between 1369 and 1380, (fn. 5) and the bishop of Chichester, presumably by lapse, in 1511. (fn. 6) Thomas Shirley, the lord of the manor, however, presented by a grant, apparently from the Crown, in 1585 and 1587, (fn. 7) and was dealing with the advowson in 1602. (fn. 8) In 1608 the bishop presented by lapse. Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, presented between 1621 and 1640, (fn. 9) but in 1654 the advowson was said to be appurtenant to the manor. (fn. 10) Ralph Mill, Thomas Beard, and Thomas Pellatt presented for a turn in 1672, and Walter Coles in 1677. (fn. 11) In 1678 or 1679 Henry Howard, duke of Norfolk, sold the advowson in trust for the Revd. Thomas Woodward. Thereafter it descended in the Woodward family, six members of which served consecutively as rector of West Grinstead, presentations being made by their trustees. (fn. 12) In 1826 William Peckham Woodward sold the advowson to George Wyndham, earl of Egremont. (fn. 13) Thereafter it descended in the Wyndham family until c. 1922 when Charles Wyndham, Lord Leconfield, conveyed it to J. P. Hornung of West Grinstead Park. It passed from the Hornung family to the bishop c. 1981. (fn. 14)

The rectory was valued in 1291 at 25 marks, making it the third richest unappropriated benefice in Storrington deanery. (fn. 15) Tithes of certain lands in the parish belonged to Sele priory in 1241, (fn. 16) but conversely West Grinstead rectory was endowed with great tithes from parts of Hoecourt manor and Burwell's farm in Lancing from an unknown date until the early 19th century; in 1635 the endowment also included the best fleece of tithe wool from the same two estates. (fn. 17) In 1341 the rector had 82 a. of arable and an unstated amount of pasture, and also received offerings and mortuaries. (fn. 18) The medieval rectory house possibly occupied the same site as its successor, the modern Glebe House, east of the church. (fn. 19) Until 1511 the glebe estate also included a building called the church house near the church. (fn. 20) The living was valued in 1535 at £25 17s. 2d. (fn. 21) In 1635 the glebe comprised a house with a courtyard in front, and 105 a. which formed a compact estate around it and extended northwards to the modern road from near Knepp Castle to Partridge Green. (fn. 22) The estate remained much the same in size three centuries later. (fn. 23) Because of its size the rectory estate was sometimes leased by incumbents in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 24) The real value of the living was said in 1724 to be c. £180 a year, (fn. 25) and by c. 1830 £791 net on average. (fn. 26) At the commutation of tithes in 1836 the rector received a tithe rent charge of £1,082. (fn. 27) In 1922 the rectory house and estate were sold to J.P. Hornung. (fn. 28) A new rectory house was built shortly before 1933 on the Partridge Green road c. ⅓ mile (500 metres) north of the old one.

The north range of Glebe House, so renamed by 1933, (fn. 29) is early 17th-century, with a plan suggesting a single-storeyed hall and screens passage. What was presumably the hall, west of the entrance, and a room beyond it in the north-west corner of the building, have moulded ceiling beams of 17th-century date, and the six-bayed north front, of brick on a brick and sandstone plinth, has original casement windows in stone mullioned frames. The roof, of Horsham slates, has four gabled dormers. A rear wing at right angles at the east end of the building was depicted in 1787, (fn. 30) and may also have been 17th-century. In 1637 the house had a hall, two parlours, a study with 16 shelves for books, and at least eight bedrooms, (fn. 31) and in 1664 the rector was taxed on 10 hearths. (fn. 32)

The north-west room on the ground floor has 18thcentury panelling. In the early 19th century the former rear wing was apparently incorporated in a new range, which has a nine-bayed south front of brick partly on a stone base, with blind aracading at both ends. In 1830, as a result of these improvements, Glebe House was described as one of the best parsonages in the county. (fn. 33) The building was further altered in the later 19th century (fn. 34) and in the 20th.

There was a moat in 1635, (fn. 35) parts of which may have survived in 1983. In 1817 the house was surrounded by pleasure grounds and gardens, including a 'lawn' of 17 a. stretching north to the turnpike road; (fn. 36) they survived in the early 20th century, (fn. 37) but in 1982 the former lawn was ploughed.

William de Estaniaco, rector between 1289 and 1308, held other benefices both in England and abroad though only a subdeacon. (fn. 38) Two later 14thcentury rectors were king's clerks, Albert of Prague being also rector of Hartfield and domestic chaplain to the margrave of Meissen. (fn. 39) A chantry in the church endowed by Sir Henry Roos at his death c. 1504 was apparently never established. (fn. 40) There was an assistant curate in 1525. (fn. 41)

All incumbents after 1558 were graduates. Henry Wilshaw, rector 1558–85, was chaplain to Lord Arundel and held other benefices, including that of Storrington, where he was living in 1579. (fn. 42) In that year, as earlier, curates served West Grinstead, though the rector then preached the quarterly sermon himself. (fn. 43) Several 17th- and 18th-century rectors held other benefices, sometimes residing on them rather than at West Grinstead (fn. 44) and serving through curates. (fn. 45) George Heath, instituted in 1640, who was also a prebendary of Lincoln, joined the king at Oxford in 1642 and was ejected from the living, (fn. 46) which was acquired in the following year, allegedly through bribery, by John Tredcroft, a strong puritan. (fn. 47) Heath was restored after 1660. (fn. 48)

Communion was held four times a year in 1640, (fn. 49) and also in 1724 when there were usually c. 50 communicants. At that date two Sunday services were held, with a sermon in the morning. (fn. 50) Between 1754 and 1839 the last three members of the Woodward family who held the living seem always to have resided. (fn. 51) About 1830 there was a curate besides. (fn. 52) By 1838 communion was being held seven times a year, and by 1865 about 14 times, though for only c. 18 communicants. (fn. 53) Assistant curates were often recorded after 1839. (fn. 54) By 1903 communion was held three times a month. (fn. 55)

During the later 19th century provision was made for worship in the hamlets of Dial Post, Jolesfield, and Partridge Green. The schoolroom at Dial Post was licensed in 1869; (fn. 56) in 1884 it could seat c. 100. (fn. 57) In the early 20th century it was used only in summer, a monthly communion being celebrated in 1903, and services being held in the afternoons in 1907. (fn. 58) The school was still used for services in the 1960s, but after its closure in 1966 they were held first in the village hall (fn. 59) and later in another building. (fn. 60) The schoolroom at Jolesfield common was licensed for services in 1873, (fn. 61) and in 1884 an iron mission room was put up there, at which services were held every Sunday three years later. (fn. 62) The church of St. Michael and All Angels, Partridge Green, was built to replace it in 1890 on a site given by the Revd. John Goring, and consists of chancel, nave, west tower with pyramidal cap, and south porch. Designed by Habershon and Fawkner, it is in 13th-century style, of flint with stone dressings externally, but with red brick exposed inside. (fn. 63) There are memorials to members of the Frank and Burrell families. (fn. 64) A priest's house was built nearby at the same date, but was sold c. 1946. (fn. 65) There was a curate in charge in 1903, when communion was held four times a month, (fn. 66) and in 1917. (fn. 67) Curates continued to serve until 1952, after which the church was served by the rector of West Grinstead. (fn. 68)

In 1982 weekly Sunday services were held in the mornings at West Grinstead and in both mornings and evenings at Partridge Green. (fn. 69)

The church of ST. GEORGE, so called by 1491, (fn. 70) is of sandstone, rendered, with a Horsham stone roof, and consists of a chancel with south chapel, nave, south tower with short spire, south aisle, and north porch.

The west part of the north wall of the nave, with herringbone masonry and two roundheaded windows, seems to date from c. 1100. Early in the 13th century additions were being made to the south; the tower was built first and then a south aisle with an arcade of three bays. The south doorway, of two orders, was reset.

The present chancel was built in the later 13th century, presumably replacing an earlier one; there is no structural division between it and the nave. The present south chapel was rebuilt, as a manorial chapel, in the later 14th or 15th century, an earlier doorway being resited in the south wall. That chapel was called the Lady chapel in 1442; (fn. 71) the wide arch between it and the chancel is 16th-century. Other late medieval work includes a three-light window in the north wall of the nave and the finely carved north porch of timber on a brick base, both of which are 15th-century. The nave and chancel have a singleframed braced collar roof, possibly 14th-century. (fn. 72)

The parishioners undertook to maintain the chancel in exchange for the grant from the glebe estate in 1511 of the church house. (fn. 73) Chancel, south chapel, and tower were all in poor condition in the 1620s. (fn. 74) The church was newly ceiled apparently in 1712, (fn. 75) and further improvements to the interior were carried out at the incumbent's expense shortly before 1835. (fn. 76) A major restoration was not undertaken until 1890, when the walls were underpinned and partly rebuilt, and the roof entirely renovated. (fn. 77)

Medieval fittings include an oak dug-out chest and a 12th-century marble font on a later medieval stem; the pyx balance in the chancel roof described in 1892 had by then been covered over. (fn. 78) The pews are partly 16th- or 17th-century, and partly 19th- or 20th-century copies. Many of the former have contemporary numbers and bear the names, in lettering apparently of the 1820s, (fn. 79) of the farms for the owners or occupiers of which they were reserved. The west gallery erected in 1723 for the 'singers' (fn. 80) may have survived until the restoration of 1890. The pulpit, with an inlaid sounding board, is 18th-century. Fittings of c. 1890 include the east window by C. E. Kempe (fn. 81) and the chancel rood screen which incorporates part of the medieval screen discovered during the restoration. (fn. 82)

The church is rich in monuments. There are brasses in the south chapel to Philippa Halsham (d. 1395), and to Sir Hugh Halsham (d. 1442) and his wife Joyce; (fn. 83) the inscriptions survived in the later 18th century, but by 1830 had been defaced. (fn. 84) There are monuments both there and elsewhere in the church to members of the Caryll and Burrell families; they include one by Flaxman to Sir William Burrell the antiquary (d. 1796), (fn. 85) whose voluminous collections on Sussex history were bequeathed to the British Museum. (fn. 86) The south aisle has monuments to members of the Ward family of Champions Farm, including a striking one by Rysbrack to William Powlett (d. 1746) of St. Leonard's house in Lower Beeding, and his wife Elizabeth, née Ward.

Bells were mentioned in 1518. (fn. 87) They were replaced in 1795 by six new ones which were recast in 1910. (fn. 88) The plate is early 18th-century. (fn. 89) The registers begin in 1558. (fn. 90)


  • 1. Below.
  • 2. Rot. Litt. Pat. (Rec. Com.), 155.
  • 3. e.g. S.R.S. vii, pp. 79–80; B.L. Add. MS. 39334, ff. 260–3; Cal. Pat. 1550–3, 364.
  • 4. Rot. Litt. Pat. (Rec. Com.), 155.
  • 5. B.L. Add. MS. 39334, f. 260.
  • 6. Ibid. f. 261v.
  • 7. Ibid. f. 263v.
  • 8. S.R.S. xx. 475; cf. ibid. xiv, p. 205.
  • 9. B.L. Add. MS. 39334, f. 264 and v.
  • 10. Cal. Cttee. for Compounding, iii. 2282.
  • 11. B.L. Add. MS. 39334, f. 265 and v.
  • 12. Ibid. Add. MSS. 5698, f. 202v.; 39334, ff. 265v.–268; W.S.R.O., PHA OG 13/2; cf. S.A.C. xxxix. 59–60. One such trustee was described as patron in 1724: W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/3, p. 18.
  • 13. W.S.R.O., PHA OG 13/2.
  • 14. Burke, Peerage (1935), 1449; Chich. Dioc. Dir. (1922 and later edns.).
  • 15. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 134.
  • 16. Magd. Coll. Oxf. Mun., Grinstead and Stanford 1 (TS. cat.); cf. Sele Chartulary, p. 64.
  • 17. V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 43, 50; W.S.R.O., Ep. I/25/3 (1635); Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 313. It was said in 1592 that the inhabitants of Hoecourt had at one time been buried at W. Grinstead: V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 50. In 1535 the rector paid 4s. a year to the vicar of Lancing, presumably in compensation: ibid.; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 320.
  • 18. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 388.
  • 19. Below.
  • 20. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/10/1; above, local govt.
  • 21. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 320.
  • 22. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/25/3 (1635); ibid. Par. 95/6/3, a copy made in 1663 which supplies some lacunae.
  • 23. Ibid. Par. 95/6/4; cf. ibid. PHA OG 13/2; ibid. TD/W 142.
  • 24. Ibid. Add. MS. 4384; ibid. Ep. I/23/5, f. 56v.; P.R.O., E 134/21 Chas. II East./7, rot. 3.
  • 25. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/3, p. 19.
  • 26. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, 275.
  • 27. W.S.R.O., TD/W 142.
  • 28. Ibid. Par. 95/6/4.
  • 29. S.C.M. vii. 211. Ibid. 211–17 describes and illustrates the ho.
  • 30. B.L. King's Maps XLII. 44a.
  • 31. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/29/95/29.
  • 32. P.R.O., E 179/258/14, f. 23v.
  • 33. Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 313; S.A.C. xxii. 12–13.
  • 34. S.C.M. vii. 214.
  • 35. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/25/3 (1635).
  • 36. Ibid. PHA OG 13/2.
  • 37. O.S. Map 6", Suss. XXXVII. NE. (1898, 1914 edns.).
  • 38. Cal. Papal Reg. i. 508; ii. 45; Cal. Close, 1296–1302, 97.
  • 39. B.L. Cott. MS. Galba B. i, f. 22; Cal. Pat. 1367–70, 290; 1377–81, 481; cf. Graesse, Orbis Latinus.
  • 40. S.R.S. xlii. 236.
  • 41. Ibid. 240.
  • 42. B.L. Add. MS. 39334, f. 263; W.S.R.O., Ep. I/23/5, f. 56v.; S.A.C. xlv. 1.
  • 43. B.L. Add. MS. 39362, f. 174; W.S.R.O., Ep. I/23/5, f. 56v.; S.A.C. lxi. 112; S.R.S. lviii, p. 67.
  • 44. B.L. Add. MS. 39334, ff. 263v.–266; Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 317; W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1640).
  • 45. B.L. Add. MS. 39362, ff. 174v.–176; S.R.S. v. 91.
  • 46. B.L. Add. MS. 39334, f. 264v.; W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 4386; Walker Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 357.
  • 47. Walker Revised, ed. Matthews, 357; Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 491; A. Fletcher, County Community in Peace and War, 106.
  • 48. Cf. W.S.R.O., Add. MSS. 4386–7; P.R.O., E 179/ 258/14, f. 23v.
  • 49. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1640).
  • 50. Ibid. Ep. I/26/3, p. 19.
  • 51. Ibid. Par. 95/1/1/5; Par. 95/1/2/1; B.L. Add. MS. 39334, ff. 266v.–268.
  • 52. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, 275.
  • 53. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/2 (1838); Ep. I/22A/2 (1865).
  • 54. e.g. ibid. Ep. I/22A/1 (1884); B.L. Add. MS. 39362, f. 178; Chich. Dioc. Kal. (1873), 118–19.
  • 55. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/2 (1903).
  • 56. B.L. Add. MS. 39457, f. 10.
  • 57. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/1 (1884).
  • 58. Ibid. Ep. I/22/2 (1907); Ep. I/22A/2 (1903).
  • 59. W. Suss. Gaz. 13 June 1974.
  • 60. Local inf.
  • 61. B.L. Add. MS. 39457, f. 12.
  • 62. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1887); above, introduction.
  • 63. Chich. Dioc. Kal. (1891), 157; Nairn & Pevsner, Suss. 293; W. Suss. Gaz. 20 Mar. 1975; W.S.R.O., PH 4549– 50; N.M.R., Goodhart-Rendel ch. index.
  • 64. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1903).
  • 65. Local inf.
  • 66. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1903); W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/2 (1903).
  • 67. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/2 (1917).
  • 68. G. H. Woolley, Sometimes a Soldier, 180; W. Suss. Gaz. 20 Mar. 1975; local inf.
  • 69. Local inf.
  • 70. S.R.S. xlii. 233.
  • 71. Ibid. 236.
  • 72. The ch. is illus. at Suss. Views (S.R.S.), 177; W.S.R.O., PD 2013, f. 28.
  • 73. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/3, pp. 18–19; cf. above, local govt.
  • 74. S.R.S. xlix. 69, 76, 82, 95.
  • 75. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/10/1.
  • 76. Horsfield, Hist. Suss. ii. 252.
  • 77. Chich. Dioc. Kal. (1891), 157.
  • 78. S.A.C. xxxviii. 49 and facing p. 56.
  • 79. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/1/1/4, ff. 173v.–168v., a list dated 1828 of the fms. and hos. to which pews were appropriated, perhaps made at the date that the names were painted. The statement that the ch. had been newly pewed shortly before 1830 must be wrong: Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 314.
  • 80. B.L. Add. MS. 5698, f. 202.
  • 81. Nairn & Pevsner, Suss. 370.
  • 82. S.A.C. xxxix. 50.
  • 83. Ibid. lxxviii. 72–6.
  • 84. Ibid. xxiii. 161–2; Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 314–15.
  • 85. S.A.C. xcvii. 84–5.
  • 86. Horsfield, Hist. Suss. ii. 250.
  • 87. S.R.S. xlii. 236.
  • 88. Elphick, Bells, 407–8.
  • 89. S.A.C. liv. 215.
  • 90. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/1.