Nuthurst: Church

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1987.

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A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland, 'Nuthurst: Church', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town, ed. T P Hudson( London, 1987), British History Online [accessed 14 July 2024].

A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland, 'Nuthurst: Church', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town. Edited by T P Hudson( London, 1987), British History Online, accessed July 14, 2024,

A P Baggs, C R J Currie, C R Elrington, S M Keeling, A M Rowland. "Nuthurst: Church". A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town. Ed. T P Hudson(London, 1987), , British History Online. Web. 14 July 2024.


There was a church at Nuthurst in the 12th century, as architectural evidence shows. (fn. 1) A parish had been created by 1207. Between that date (fn. 2) and 1231 the advowson belonged to Fécamp abbey, which exchanged it in the latter year with the bishop of Chichester. (fn. 3) On various occasions between 1365 and 1670 the Crown presented during a vacancy of the see, and in 1613 Henry Beale of Nuthurst for a turn. The Crown presented in 1647. (fn. 4) In 1852 the advowson was transferred to the bishop of London, (fn. 5) who was still patron in 1980. (fn. 6)

A chantry existed in Nuthurst church in the earlier 16th century; when dissolved c. 1548 it had a clear yearly income of 16s. 8d. (fn. 7)

The living of Nuthurst was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291; in 1341 the rector had glebe worth £2 a year. (fn. 8) The income remained under 12 marks in the 15th century, (fn. 9) but by 1535 was £9 10s. 9d. net. (fn. 10) In the early 17th century the glebe comprised 50 or 60 a. on the east side of the village and a rectory house west of the church, which in 1640 had at least five rooms besides offices. In addition to the tithes of the whole parish, the rector in 1636 enjoyed those of the St. Leonard's ironworks, which lay just beyond the Lower Beeding parish boundary. (fn. 11) In 1724, when the living was said to be worth £70, the rectory house was in poor condition and undergoing repair, (fn. 12) and in 1737 the incumbent applied to demolish its south part. (fn. 13) By 1801 it had become ruinous, but after repair in the following year (fn. 14) it served as the residence of the curate in the 1840s. In 1845 the tithes of the parish were commuted at £480. (fn. 15) A new rectory house east of the village, of red and blue brick with stone dressings, was built in 1859 to the designs of Benjamin Ferrey. (fn. 16) The old building was later destroyed. The 19th-century rectory was sold c. 1948, (fn. 17) a new rectory house being built north of the church before 1957. (fn. 18)

Two assistant curates were recorded during the reign of Mary I, (fn. 19) and two successive rectors deprived. (fn. 20) Barnard Mason, rector 1556-9, also served Horsham; (fn. 21) his successor was a former monk, (fn. 22) who resided in 1563 (fn. 23) but was not a licensed preacher. (fn. 24) Many incumbents before 1852 were protégés of successive bishops of Chichester. Walter Robert, who had been rector in 1382, (fn. 25) was a clerk and an executor of Bishop William Rede. (fn. 26) Between the 17th and 19th centuries many incumbents were prebendaries of Chichester, (fn. 27) and four were also archdeacons, one of them, Roger Andrewes, rector 1606-9, being the brother of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes. (fn. 28) Some 17thcentury incumbents held other preferments too. Christopher Greene, rector 1613-25, was vicar of Fittleworth and a prebendary of Canterbury, yet resided at Nuthurst in 1622. (fn. 29) A later 17th-century rector also held Wiggenholt, (fn. 30) while his successor, William Gulston, held a benefice in Wiltshire, afterwards becoming bishop of Bristol. (fn. 31) The three 17thcentury rectors for whom probate inventories survive, (fn. 32) however, may be presumed to have been resident. In 1640 communion was celebrated four times a year, (fn. 33) and the predictable orthodoxy of episcopally appointed incumbents was taken further in the early 1640s by George Edgley who circulated pamphlets against parliament. (fn. 34) A minister, evidently appointed by the civil authorities, served between 1649 and the date of his death in 1656, his successor being ejected in 1662. (fn. 35)

During the 18th century and earlier 19th incumbents were generally not resident, the parish duty being performed by curates. In 1724 there was a service every Sunday and communion three times a year with c. 25 communicants, the cure then being served by the rector of Itchingfield. (fn. 36) From 1726 to 1771, almost continuously, Nuthurst was served by one and the same curate; (fn. 37) Thomas Newhouse, rector 1736-73, lived apparently at his other cure of Duncton. (fn. 38) After 1800, on the other hand, curates rarely stayed long, 11 being recorded in 30 years between 1822 and 1851. (fn. 39) About 1830 the curate's stipend was £100, (fn. 40) and in 1845 it was £135. (fn. 41) W. J. Blew, curate 1832-40, may have had Tractarian sympathies then, as he certainly did later. (fn. 42) Communion was celebrated eight times a year in 1844, (fn. 43) and on Census Sunday seven years later 80 attended the morning and 50 the afternoon service. (fn. 44)

By 1865 there was communion every other Sunday, and in 1884 there were three Sunday services. (fn. 45) In 1885 the church choir adopted cassocks and surplices, and the High Church character which that implied was also expressed later in interior fittings added to the church, especially the rood erected in 1915. (fn. 46) The later 19th century was also a time of building mission chapels. Inhabitants of outlying parts of the parish had sometimes attended neighbouring churches in previous centuries. (fn. 47) In 1859 a mission chapel was licensed at Copsale to serve the south-western part; by 1895 it had a dedication to the Holy Nativity. A plain brick building comprising a nave, chancel, and bell turret, it provided 115 sittings; in 1862 a service was held there every Sunday evening. In 1881 a chapel, called by 1895 the church of the Good Shepherd, was put up at Mannings Heath, evidently partly to counter the Methodist influence there. The building, of red brick in Gothic style and comprising a nave and chancel with turret and south porch, had 100 sittings, and was built by a local resident, Miss Bigg, who also provided a house for the curate in 1894. (fn. 48) In 1884 there were three Sunday services there. (fn. 49)

In 1903 there were only a weekly Sunday afternoon service and a monthly Sunday morning one at the Copsale chapel, provision which the rector felt to be inadequate. (fn. 50) The chapel was restored and enlarged c. 1915 at the expense of a local resident, (fn. 51) but it had been demolished by 1965. (fn. 52) The chapel at Mannings Heath, however, was still used in 1981. In 1929-30, when its interior fittings had a strongly High Church character, there was a service there almost every day, but by the 1950s the frequency had dropped to between one and four times a month. (fn. 53) In 1981 services at the chapel and at the parish church were complementary, weekly evensong being held at Mannings Heath and communion most frequently at Nuthurst. (fn. 54)

The tithes of Sedgewick, or Little Broadwater, were apparently always the property of the rector of Broadwater. (fn. 55) One inhabitant presumably of Sedgewick is recorded as having been buried at Broadwater in 1562, but others evidently preferred to use Nuthurst or Horsham church. (fn. 56) For some time after the annexation of the area to Nuthurst for civil purposes, however, it remained ecclesiastically part of Broadwater. (fn. 57)

The church of ST. ANDREW, of which the dedication is recorded from 1506, (fn. 58) is built of sandstone and consists of a chancel and a wide nave with north vestry, south porch, and timber-framed and shingled west bell turret. The north chancel wall is 12th-century as a surviving window indicates; in the same wall is a pair of 13th-century lancets. The chancel was extended eastwards in the 13th or 14th century, as another window shows, and apparently widened at the same time. The nave was apparently built in the earlier 14th century, and originally had at its west end a low timber tower with shingled spire. (fn. 59) In 1856-7 the church was restored, largely at the expense of J. T. Nelthorpe of Sedgewick Park; the nave was extended westwards, the tower being replaced by the present turret, and the panelled ceilings installed before 1830 were removed. (fn. 60) The chancel was further restored in 1867, (fn. 61) and later restorations took place c. 1887 (fn. 62) and in 1951, (fn. 63) the last being by H. S. Goodhart-Rendel. The north vestry, almost art nouveau in style, was built in 1907. (fn. 64)

Medieval fittings are a dug-out chest possibly of the 13th century, a dole cupboard possibly of the 14th, some stained glass in the east window, (fn. 65) an altered 14th-century font, and the inscription only of a brass to the rector Thomas French (d. 1486). (fn. 66) The pews incorporate some mid to late 17th-century panelling. Most fittings, however, are 20th-century, including the chancel screen and rood, choir stalls, altar, and baptistry fittings. (fn. 67) There are also many wall monuments to the successive families which have owned Sedgewick Park since the 18th century, besides others to the Aldridges of St. Leonard's house in Lower Beeding. Of the three bells one is dated 1661 and the other two 1719. (fn. 68) The plate includes a silver-gilt cup of c. 1661 and paten of 1662. (fn. 69) The registers begin in 1559. (fn. 70)


  • 1. Below.
  • 2. Letters of Pope Innocent III, ed. Cheney and Cheney, pp. 127-8. The rector of 1130 mentioned by Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 363, has not been traced.
  • 3. S.R.S. xlvi. 72.
  • 4. Cal. Pat. 1364-7, 179; 1416-22, 314, 363; 1429-36, 45; B.L. Add. MS. 39491, ff. 112-15.
  • 5. Lond. Gaz. 4 June 1852, pp. 1578-9.
  • 6. Chich. Dioc. Dir. (1980-1).
  • 7. S.R.S. xxxvi. 118-19.
  • 8. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 134; Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 392.
  • 9. B.L. Add. MS. 39491, f. 107.
  • 10. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i. 319.
  • 11. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/25/3 (1615, 1635); Ep. I/29/143/27; cf. Ep. I/29/143/58. Ibid. TD/W 92 gives the total acreage as 70 a.
  • 12. Ibid. Ep. I/26/3, pp. 14-15.
  • 13. Ibid. Ep. I/40/5.
  • 14. Horsham Mus. MS. 400.
  • 15. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/68/3/29; ibid. TD/W 92.
  • 16. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1862); Albery, Souvenir Guide.
  • 17. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/41/93.
  • 18. Ibid. MP 846, f. [3]; O.S. Map 6", TQ 12 NE. (1961 edn.).
  • 19. S.R.S. xliii. 260.
  • 20. B.L. Add. MS. 39491, f. 112. Following two paras. based mainly on ibid. ff. 112-17.
  • 21. S.R.S. xliii. 257.
  • 22. Cf. Studies in Suss. Ch. Hist. ed. M. J. Kitch, 110.
  • 23. S.A.C. lxi. 112.
  • 24. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/23/6, f. 11.
  • 25. S.R.S. xliii. 259.
  • 26. Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. to 1500.
  • 27. Cf. Le Neve, Fasti, 1541-1857, Chichester, s.v. Chas. Alcock, Rog. Andrewes, Jas. Barker (d. 1736), Jerome Beale, Geo. Edgley, Wm. Gulston, John Millé, Thos. Newhouse, Barré Phipps, Josiah Pleydell, John Rives, Thos. Valentine.
  • 28. S.A.C. xlv. 2-3; Le Neve, Fasti, 1541-1857, Chichester, 16-17. Wm. Andrewes, rector from 1625, was a nephew of both Rog. and Lancelot: Alum. Cantab. to 1751.
  • 29. S.R.S. xlix. 51.
  • 30. Walker Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 359.
  • 31. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1668-9, 407, 412; Alum. Cantab. to 1751.
  • 32. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/29/143/27, 34, 58; cf. Ep. I/22/1 (1636, 1640).
  • 33. Ibid. Ep. I/22/1 (1640).
  • 34. A. Fletcher, County Community in Peace and War, 281.
  • 35. Walker Revised, 359; W.S.R.O., Par. 143/30/1, f. 9v.; Calamy Revised, ed. A. G. Matthews, 197-8.
  • 36. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/3, p. 15; the rector, Jas. Barker, evidently lived at his other cure of Cocking: Par. Reg. of Cocking, Suss. ed. W. H. Challen, 107.
  • 37. B.L. Add. MS. 39362, ff. 80-1.
  • 38. Le Neve, Fasti, 1541-1857, Chichester, 32 n.; cf. e.g. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22/1 (1762).
  • 39. B.L. Add. MS. 39362, f. 82.
  • 40. Rep. Com. Eccl. Revenues, 278-9.
  • 41. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/68/3/29.
  • 42. D.N.B.
  • 43. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/2 (1844).
  • 44. P.R.O., HO 129/87/1/3/4.
  • 45. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/1 (1884); Ep. I/22A/2 (1865).
  • 46. Ibid. Par. 143/1/1/1B, ff. 103, 105. G. K. Boyd, rector from 1892, was later vicar of the Anglo-Catholic St. Andrew's, Worthing: Crockford (1907). For his successor, Suss. in 20th Cent. 330.
  • 47. e.g. S.R.S. xxi, passim; cf. W.S.R.O., Ep. II/14A/1 (1856), Lower Beeding.
  • 48. B.L. Add. MS. 39457, f. 1; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1862, 1895). For Methodism at Mannings Heath, below, nonconf.; educ.
  • 49. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/1 (1884).
  • 50. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/22A/2 (1903).
  • 51. Ibid. Par. 143/1/1/1B, f. 105.
  • 52. Ibid. MP 846, f. [6v.].
  • 53. Ibid. Par. 143/3/1; Par. 143/7/2.
  • 54. Notice board at ch.
  • 55. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/25/3 (1635), Broadwater; ibid. TD/ W 21.
  • 56. S.R.S. xxi. 195, 325.
  • 57. W.S.R.O., Par. 143/6/1.
  • 58. S.R.S. xliii. 258.
  • 59. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/26/1, f. 3; B.L. Add. MS. 5698, f. 214; Dallaway & Cartwright, Hist. W. Suss. ii (2), 363.
  • 60. B.L. Add. MS. 39364, ff. 216-18; Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1862); Dallaway & Cartwright, op. cit. 362.
  • 61. B.L. Add. MS. 39364, f. 219.
  • 62. W.S.R.O., Par. 143/1/1/1B, f. 103v.
  • 63. Nairn & Pevsner, W. Suss. 285.
  • 64. Date on bldg.
  • 65. There was much more stained glass in 1830: Dallaway & Cartwright, op. cit. 362-3.
  • 66. S.A.C. lxxix. 80-1.
  • 67. e.g. Suss. in 20th Cent. 75.
  • 68. Elphick, Bells, 359.
  • 69. S.A.C. liv. 210.
  • 70. W.S.R.O., Par. 143/1.