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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There was a church at Warnham in the 12th century, as the surviving font indicates. (fn. 1) Before c. 1200 William de Braose granted it to Rusper priory, the grant being confirmed at that date by the bishop. (fn. 2) A vicarage (fn. 3) was ordained in 1247. The priory presented vicars between 1247 and 1527, except in 1526 when John Stilman presented for a turn. In 1540 the Crown evidently granted the advowson to the priory of Canterbury cathedral, (fn. 4) whose successors the dean and chapter (fn. 5) exercised it thereafter until 1839, except on three occasions: in 1555 when Elizabeth Copley presented for a turn, and in 1557 and 1648 when the Crown presented. In 1874 the dean and chapter exchanged the advowson with C. T. Lucas of Warnham Court, (fn. 6) whose descendant C. J. Lucas still had it in 1981. (fn. 7)
The vicarage was endowed in 1247 with all the small tithes of the parish, the corn tithes of the lands of Robert Blund and William of Denne, all hay tithes and mill tithes, and offerings, Rusper priory retaining the other corn tithes and mortuaries. (fn. 8) In 1291 the vicarage was valued at £4 6s. 8d., (fn. 9) and in 1535 at £10 0s. 11d. including glebe. (fn. 10) The buildings belonging to the vicarage were in decay in 1579, (fn. 11) but in the earlier 17th century were described as a house with a barn and a cottage adjoining; there were also two herb gardens and an orchard of 1 a., the whole estate lying west of Church Street. At the same date the endowment included all the small tithes, hay and mill tithes, offerings, and mortuaries, together with the corn tithes of land called Pines, part of Denne manor, presumably the same land that had belonged to William of Denne in 1247. (fn. 12) The vicarage house had at least seven rooms in 1685, (fn. 13) and was in good repair in 1724, when the living was said to be worth c. £47. (fn. 14) A century later the net annual income averaged £191. (fn. 15) At the commutation of tithes c. 1840, which was made compulsorily, (fn. 16) the vicar's share of tithe rent charge was £316 11s. 1d. (fn. 17) In 1869 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners granted an augmentation of £48 a year (fn. 18) and three years later a capital sum of £1,500 to build a new vicarage. (fn. 19) The striking new building, of red brick with stone dressings, was designed by W. J. Green and finished in 1873; (fn. 20) the old vicarage, a two-storeyed building apparently of the 17th century or earlier and described as indifferent in 1830, was demolished in 1876. (fn. 21) In 1882 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners took back the augmentation of 1869 in exchange for the rectorial tithe rent charge from certain estates in the parish, and in the same year (fn. 22) they added the rectorial glebe of 5½ a. which lay west of the vicarage house (fn. 23) to the endowment of the vicarage. A new vicarage house was built in 1970 behind the Victorian building, which was later converted into flats. (fn. 24)
John Short, (fn. 25) vicar from 1527, was a former monk. An assistant curate was recorded in the 1550s, (fn. 26) and John Fowler, vicar 1560-1, may have been master of Collyer's school, Horsham. (fn. 27) The next two vicars resided in 1563 and 1579, (fn. 28) and the second of them continued to serve the cure for at least 13 years after he had resigned it in favour of Matthew Allen, vicar of Horsham, in 1584. (fn. 29) Later incumbents, apart from those appointed during the Civil War and Interregnum, were all graduates. Thomas Holland, instituted 1626, was a canon of Chichester and held other Sussex livings, (fn. 30) but was resident in 1629, 1640, and 1643; in 1640 he preached weekly. (fn. 31) William Avery, instituted 1648, was apparently deprived for a time, (fn. 32) but was reinstated in 1660 and served the cure until his death in 1684; he was resident in 1662 and at the time of his death. (fn. 33) Avery's successor but one was also master of Collyer's school, Horsham. (fn. 34) In 1724 there was a weekly service and sermon, (fn. 35) the vicar then also serving Okewood chapel in Wotton (Surr.). (fn. 36) Samuel Shuckford, vicar from 1747, as a canon of Canterbury was evidently an absentee; (fn. 37) in 1753 he resigned the living to a namesake (fn. 38) who resided certainly in 1762 and apparently in 1772 and at his death in 1797, but who also held Eartham near Arundel from 1788. (fn. 39)
From 1797 to 1806 Warnham was usually served by a curate. From 1806 to c. 1825 the vicar Evan Edwards (d. 1839) served the cure himself, but during the last 14 years of his life he generally served through curates. (fn. 40) In 1838 there were two full services on Sundays and communion four times a year; by 1844 communion was celebrated monthly and by 1865 fourteen times a year. (fn. 41) Attendances on Census Sunday in 1851 were 254 in the morning and 244 in the afternoon. (fn. 42) James Wood, vicar 1839-81, may have established the clothing club which flourished between 1849 and 1920, (fn. 43) but in the 1870s was licensed for absence because of ill health. (fn. 44) His successor but one, Richard Bowcott, a prebendary of Chichester, was a very popular preacher who attracted young people from Horsham to his morning sermons in 1888. (fn. 45) Among other activities he set up a mission room seating 120 at Kingsfold in 1884, (fn. 46) at which Sunday afternoon services were held in 1888 (fn. 47) and services at least weekly between 1917 and 1926, (fn. 48) and which still existed in 1957. (fn. 49) Assistant curates were recorded between 1892 and 1905, (fn. 50) Sir Henry Harben of Warnham Lodge building a small curate's house before 1903. (fn. 51)
The church of St. Margaret, formerly St. Mary, (fn. 52) of local sandstone, consists of a chancel with north and south chapels, nave with transeptal south tower and north and south aisles, and west porch. Only the Purbeck marble font survives from the church which existed in the 12th century, though the position of the tower suggests planning perhaps of that date. (fn. 53) The church was rebuilt in the 14th century, as is shown by part of the north wall of the north aisle, part of the south chancel wall, and parts of the north and south arcades. Most window tracery has been renewed. The north chapel, later known as the Caryll chapel, (fn. 54) is apparently contemporary; after being used as an organ chamber, it was restored as a chapel in 1925. The south chapel was built as the chapel of Our Lady of Pity and the Trinity, with money left by Richard Michell of Field Place (d. 1524 or 1525). (fn. 55) Later known successively as the Michell chapel and the Field Place chancel, (fn. 56) it was converted for use as a vestry in 1862, (fn. 57) and was used as both vestry and organ chamber in 1982. The present tower, between the south chapel and the south aisle, was built at the same time as the chapel, money being left for that purpose too by Richard Michell. (fn. 58)
The church was extended westwards in 1847-8, the south aisle also being widened and the south arcade mostly rebuilt. (fn. 59) At the same time the singing gallery over the chancel arch and a galleried pew over the north aisle, which had been lit by a dormer window, (fn. 60) were removed and a new west gallery, itself later removed, was built. In 1885-6 the chancel was extended eastwards and almost entirely rebuilt at the expense of C. T. Lucas; a west porch was built at the same time.
Most internal fittings are of the 19th and 20th centuries, but the restored parclose screen on the north side of the chancel includes 14th-century work, and the pulpit has a possibly 18th-century hourglass bracket. The many monuments to past landowners of the parish include one of alabaster, with traces of original colouring and gilding, to Sir John Caryll (d. 1613) and his wife and family, and others of white and coloured marbles to Sir Henry Harben (d. 1911) and C. T. Lucas (d. 1895). The side of a medieval altar tomb, decorated with three shields with quatrefoils, survived in the pavement of the south aisle in 1830. (fn. 61)
Four of the eight bells were made in 1704 and the others in 1842 and 1885; all were recast in 1897. The plate includes a set given by Timothy Shelley in 1771. The registers begin in 1559. (fn. 62)