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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Itchingfield was not the name of a vill for taxation purposes in the Middle Ages; the parish seems to have been in the vill and tithing of Dishenhurst, which had its own headborough c. 1790. (fn. 1)
No courts of the manor of Sullington-in-Itchingfield are known, although c. 1800 the manor covered about half the parish. (fn. 2) A court roll of Muntham manor, including the Findon portion, for 1297 survives; business was entirely tenurial. (fn. 3) Court rolls of the Itchingfield portion for 1625-49 survived in the late 19th century; the manor received quitrents from land in West Grinstead, Shipley, Storrington, and Thakeham. (fn. 4)
There was an almshouse, i.e. a poorhouse, in the parish in 1662, (fn. 8) in 1724, when it housed two families, (fn. 9) and in 1852 when one occupant paid rent. He was evicted in 1853, and the almshouse was converted to a vestry room in 1854. (fn. 10) The almshouse was a two-bayed timber-framed 16th- or 17thcentury building in the churchyard; (fn. 11) it still stood in 1984. In 1812 the parish took a lease of a cottage at Barns Green for the poor for 20 years. (fn. 12)
In 1222 John de Keinon conveyed the advowson to Robert le Savage. (fn. 17) It then descended with Broadwater. (fn. 18) The coheirs of Thomas Camoys, Lord Camoys, presented jointly in 1441. (fn. 19) At the partition of the Broadwater inheritance before 1457 the advowson of Itchingfield was assigned to Roger Lewknor. (fn. 20) Sir Thomas Lewknor forfeited it on his attainder in 1484, (fn. 21) but Sir Roger Lewknor was patron in 1520 and 1540. (fn. 22) He died in 1543 leaving as his heirs his three daughters Catherine, who married successively John Mill and William Morgan, Mabel, who married Anthony Stapley, and Constance, who married successively Thomas Foster and Edward Glemham. Their claim to the advowson descended with Warningore, in Chailey and East Chiltington, until 1616, when it was settled on Catherine's grandson John Mill. (fn. 23)
Meanwhile, however, the Crown presented in 1546 by lapse (fn. 24) and in 1547 granted the advowson to Sir Richard Blount, Lieutenant of the Tower. (fn. 25) The Crown again presented in 1557, and the bishop by lapse in 1566. In 1590 both Richard Blount and the Lewknor coheirs presented; the dispute was settled for that turn by the coheirs' agreeing to present Blount's nominee. The rival claims, however, were maintained, Constance Glemham presenting in 1599 and Richard Blount in 1618. (fn. 26) Richard Blount, grandson of Sir Richard, died in 1628 leaving as heirs his four daughters, (fn. 27) three of whom, Mary, wife of Sir Lewis Lewknor, Martha, later wife of Sir George Ayloffe, and Anne, wife of William Duck, agreed to a settlement in 1634 whereby they and John Mill were to enjoy alternate turns. (fn. 28) Mary and Martha in fact presented that year, and Alice Eburne, presumably as Mill's assignee, in 1637. (fn. 29) Sir Richard Onslow made a settlement presumably of a share of the advowson in 1647 and bought the Ducks' share later that year. (fn. 30) Sir Robert Mill still held a share in 1664. (fn. 31) Arthur Onslow of Clandon (Surr.) presented in 1673 and Richard Onslow in 1696, although Sir John Mill claimed that turn. In 1723 Thomas Onslow, Lord Onslow, had two thirds of the advowson and Denzil Onslow one third; they sold it to trustees for Thomas Lavender, who was admitted rector in 1725. Lavender sold it in 1752 to John Copley, and he in 1766 to Edward Tredcroft. (fn. 32)
By will proved 1768 Edward Tredcroft left the advowson to his son E. W. Tredcroft, who was admitted twice as rector, in 1776 and 1794, on the presentation of his brother Nathaniel. (fn. 33) E. W. Tredcroft by will proved 1822 left the advowson to George Palmer with remainder to the children of Anne Cartwright, one of whom, George Cartwright, joined with Palmer in selling it to the rector, Edward Elms, in 1835. Elms sold it in 1843 to Samuel Cartwright, whose son William was presented by trustees in 1845. The advowson was then settled on William's wife and children, who sold it in 1852 to Louisa Scott. She presented her brother Thomas Scott in that year, and in 1862 John Haworth Milne, who bought the advowson. He sold it in 1871 to Marcus Moses of Dublin, who presented his son John Moses and left him the advowson by will proved 1882. (fn. 34) Between 1910 and 1920 the advowson passed from John Moses to the bishop, with whom it remained in 1974. (fn. 35)
Tithes in Itchingfield were confirmed to Sele priory c. 1245; (fn. 36) they were valued at 6d. in 1255. (fn. 37) The tithes seem to have derived from Sharpenhurst; in 1285 John le Hunt of St. Leonard's Forest in Lower Beeding agreed to pay a modus of 9s. to Sele in lieu of corn tithes. (fn. 38) In 1412 Sele received a pension of 1s. 1d. from Itchingfield church for Sharpenhurst tithes. (fn. 39) No later evidence of tithes owned by Sele or its successors in Itchingfield has been found.
The rectory was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291. (fn. 40) The income in 1340 included £2 13s. 4d. from glebe, 8s. 8d. from offerings and mortuaries, and 11s. 8d. from various small tithes. (fn. 41) In 1535 the living was worth £7 10s. 4d. net. (fn. 42) There were 60 a. of glebe in 1616. The rector in 1635 was allegedly entitled only to small tithes, but in 1664 he also received great tithes except for two thirds of those from Shiprods farm. (fn. 43) They belonged to Ferring prebend, and had been redeemed by c. 1830. (fn. 44) The living was valued at £280 in 1838, (fn. 45) and the tithes were commuted in 1844 for £390, excluding £5 for the tithe from Shiprods. The glebe was then 77 a. (fn. 46) The net income was £445 in 1884. (fn. 47) Part of the glebe was conveyed for an enlargement of the village school in 1886. (fn. 48) There were still at least 66 a. in 1893. (fn. 49) The rectory house mentioned in 1616 (fn. 50) was rebuilt in brick c. 1800 by E. W. Tredcroft and enlarged by his successor Edward Elms before 1830. (fn. 51) It stood south of the church on the lane to Muntham. (fn. 52) It was sold c. 1963 and a modern rectory built. (fn. 53)
Lands given to endow a clerk to help the mass priest were sold in 1571. (fn. 54)
From the 14th to the 16th century rectors were undistinguished but generally resident. (fn. 55) Assistant curates were mentioned in 1548 and 1552. (fn. 56) Although in 1579 and 1584 the parson was diligent and a preacher (fn. 57) he employed an unlicensed substitute in 1587. (fn. 58) Between 1637 and 1845 there were only six rectors, all graduates, and most were usually resident, although curates were mentioned in the later 17th century. (fn. 59) Alexander Hay, rector 1696-1725, was a St. Andrews graduate, and was suspected of housing Scottish rebels after 1715. From 1700 to 1706 he was also headmaster of Collyer's school, Horsham. In 1724 he preached weekly and catechized in summer; communion was thrice yearly, with c. 30 communicants. (fn. 60) Thomas Lavender in 1762 resided and preached weekly. (fn. 61) The scandalous E. W. Tredcroft, rector 1776-1821, at first resided but from 1797 employed a curate. (fn. 62) Communion was held five times a year in 1844, eight times in 1865. (fn. 63) On Census Sunday 1851 morning service was attended by 105, and 85 came in the afternoon. The 'dirty state of the country' reduced winter congregations. (fn. 64) By 1884 communion was held monthly and at the great festivals; only c. 10 communicated except at Easter, though in fine weather c. 70 came to Sunday morning service and c. 170 to evensong. (fn. 65) Soon afterwards the rector quarrelled with the owner of Muntham, who allegedly encouraged a rival Sunday school; as a result church attendance was still low in 1903. (fn. 66) Mission services were held in the village hall at Barns Green in 1917. (fn. 67)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS, so called by 1513, (fn. 68) is built of coursed rubble and has a chancel, nave with south aisle, and timber west tower with spire. The north and west walls of the nave with the west doorway and one small north window are of the late 11th or the 12th century. The chancel, which is not divided from the nave, has windows of 12thcentury character in its north and south walls, but they may have been introduced, and it has been so much rebuilt that they are not a certain indication of its age. A small 12th-century aumbry or lamp niche (fn. 69) in the north wall of the chancel has also been reset. A traceried window was placed above the west door way in the earlier 14th century, and chancel and nave were covered by a continuous single-framed roof in the late Middle Ages. A much restored early 16thcentury window in the south aisle is perhaps that formerly in the south wall of the nave. The chancel screen and rood beam, although much restored, are of similar date. Money was left for the church works at Itchingfield in 1503. (fn. 70) The tower, which is buttressed by narrow aisles, is probably early 16thcentury; money was left for its repair in 1513. (fn. 71) It is built on four vertical main posts strengthened with parallel scissor braces and has walls of close studding infilled with vertical planks.
A gallery was built in 1708. Alexander Hay rebuilt the chancel in 1713, when a number of plain squareheaded windows were put in, and in 1717 apparently provided an altarpiece, another gallery, and a pulpit. A further gallery was built on the north side of the church in 1727. (fn. 72) A partition, pierced by an arch on Tuscan columns, which separated nave from chancel in 1850, (fn. 73) may also have been erected during Hay's incumbency.
The church was restored and enlarged under the direction of Sir Gilbert Scott in 1865-6. He demolished a plain wooden south porch, the galleries, and the screen, and added the south aisle with a threebayed arcade and the shingled spire. Scott refaced or rebuilt the south and east walls of the chancel with sandstone from St. Leonard's Forest, adding diagonal buttresses at the eastern corners and several new windows. The old altar stone was rediscovered and set in a wooden frame. A human skull found on a tiebeam of the roof during the restoration has been thought to be that of a Scotsman vainly sheltered by Hay in 1715, (fn. 74) but was probably part of the Golgotha of the rood. (fn. 75) A round Sussex marble font was discovered c. 1830; the present late medieval octagonal font was by then already in use. (fn. 76) An organ was provided in 1884. (fn. 77) In the chancel are mural tablets to the rectors Alexander Hay (d. 1725) and Thomas Lavender (d. 1776). (fn. 78)
Money was left for a new bell in 1530. (fn. 79) There were three bells in 1724, (fn. 80) evidently those dated 1629, 1675, and 1686 which were rehung in 1866; two more were then added. (fn. 81) The plate in 1662 included a silver cup and cover and a flagon, presumably the pewter one listed in 1724. (fn. 82) It was replaced by a new set given in 1838 by Sir Timothy Shelley. (fn. 83) The registers date from 1700 and are complete. (fn. 84)