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 parish of Rusper existed by the mid 13th century when there was a rector. (fn. 1) The advowson belonged to the Camoys family, lords of Broadwater, by 1287, (fn. 2) and descended with that manor until the mid 15th century. (fn. 3) At the partition of the Camoys inheritance before 1457 the advowson passed with a moiety of Hawksbourne manor in Horsham (later the whole manor) to the Lewknor family, (fn. 4) Sir Roger Lewknor presenting in 1509 and 1515. Before 1560 it passed to the three daughters and coheirs of the same or another Sir Roger Lewknor, whose husbands or heirs still had it in 1577, and Cecily Lewknor, widow, presented for a turn in 1590. (fn. 5)
Between 1617 and 1664 the advowson continued to descend with Hawksbourne, (fn. 6) but by 1674 it had passed to Paul Priaulx, a London merchant. (fn. 7) In 1694 Peter Priaulx sold it to John Stone of the Nunnery, who settled it in 1711 on his son-in-law Thomas Marchant. Marchant in 1721 sold it to his presentee William Martin, who in 1739 sold it to James Wood of Ockley (Surr.); Wood left it at his death in 1759 to his son John, whom he had presented in 1743. (fn. 8) At John's death in 1791 it passed to his nephew Henry Wood of Henfield, (fn. 9) who left it in 1815 or 1816 (fn. 10) to his son Peter, rector since 1792. At Peter's death in 1853 (fn. 11) it descended first to his niece Ellen and her husband the Revd. R. Green, who made the next presentation, and then after 1870 to Peter's nephew Henry Rideout (d. 1876), who left it to his son the Revd. Gilbert Rideout, who presented himself. (fn. 12) At Gilbert's death c. 1898 it passed to Miss E. A. F. Edgeworth, from whom it passed c. 1931 jointly to the bishop and members of the Mosse family. By 1980 the bishop alone was patron. (fn. 13)
The rectory was valued in 1291 at 10 marks, (fn. 14) and in 1341 there were a house and glebe. (fn. 15) In 1535 the living was said to be worth £9 10s. 9d. (fn. 16) A century later the rectory house stood north of the church; most of the glebe, comprising 31 a., then lay east or north-east of the village, away from any road and accessible only on the sufferance of neighbouring landowners. (fn. 17) It was later apparently exchanged, for c. 1840 the glebe consisted of 44 a. north-west of the church and rectory house. (fn. 18) In the early 17th century the rector was said to enjoy all the tithes of the parish in kind, (fn. 19) but in 1696 Nunnery and Langhurst farms, as former monastic land, each successfully claimed to pay a modus instead, (fn. 20) and they continued to do so in 1842. (fn. 21) The rectory house in 1712 seems to have been a large building, with at least two parlours, a study, five chambers, and two garrets, (fn. 22) but a century later it was described as 'indifferent'. (fn. 23) A new rectory house, of brick in Gothic style, was built in the mid 19th century. The net income of the living c. 1830 was £202. (fn. 24) In 1842 the tithes and moduses were commuted to a rent charge of £294. (fn. 25)
Three rectors spanned the period 1560-1673. Nicholas Lewknor, instituted 1560, (fn. 26) was resident in 1563 (fn. 27) and 1579; in 1586, however, perhaps through age, he was said not to read the homilies as he should and to carry out the services inaudibly. (fn. 28) There was an assistant curate in 1589. (fn. 29) Joseph Browne, instituted 1590, was a licensed preacher. (fn. 30) William Priaulx, instituted 1633, also a preacher, served throughout the upheavals of the Interregnum and its aftermath. (fn. 31) In the 1630s he had an assistant curate, (fn. 32) and in 1662 was said to be constantly resident. (fn. 33)
William Martin, rector 1721-42, was resident in 1729 though he was buried at Ockley (Surr.). (fn. 34) In 1724 there was a service with sermon every Sunday morning and communion four times a year for 20 or 30 communicants. (fn. 35) The rector in 1762 also resided. (fn. 36) Peter Wood, rector 1792-1853, seems always to have lived at his other cure of Broadwater, (fn. 37) Rusper being served by a succession of curates of whom the last followed him as rector. (fn. 38) In 1816 the curate's stipend was £80 and he had the use of the rectory house. (fn. 39) Communion was celebrated six times a year in 1844 and by 1884 monthly. (fn. 40) Attendances on Census Sunday in 1851 were 150 in the morning and 200 in the afternoon. (fn. 41) The parish became nationally known as the result of the difficulties experienced by E. F. Synnott, rector from 1914, an Irishman and a forthright exponent of 'muscular Christianity'; during the First World War he also farmed 400 a., and from 1916 he acted as chaplain to the artillery camp at Roffey in Horsham. (fn. 42)
For c. 30 years before 1963 the Methodist chapel at Faygate was also used for Anglican services; in that year c. 12 attended a monthly service conducted by a lay preacher. (fn. 43) The building was later bought by the Church of England and dedicated in 1966 to St. Francis, as a daughter church of Colgate parish church in Lower Beeding. After the congregation had declined it was closed c. 1979. (fn. 44)
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALENE, formerly ST. MARY, (fn. 45) is of sandstone and consists of a chancel with north vestry, aisled and clerestoried nave, timber south porch, and west tower. Apart from the tower the building is of the mid 19th century.
The nave and chancel of the medieval church included windows of the 13th and 14th centuries; (fn. 46) there was apparently no chancel arch. (fn. 47) A north aisle was added later, presumably by 1395 when a north altar was mentioned. (fn. 48) The aisle and nave were separated not by a stone arcade but by two octagonal wooden posts presumably carrying a beam. (fn. 49) The tower apparently existed by c. 1400, for the arch between it and the nave that existed until the mid 19th-century restoration was 14th-century in style. (fn. 50) The tower was reconstructed in the late 15th century, bequests being made for its construction in 1489 and 1503. (fn. 51) In 1852 it had a pyramidal cap. A timber-framed south porch was added in the 16th century or early 17th. (fn. 52)
The fabric of both nave and chancel was said to be in good order in 1724. (fn. 53) At some time before the mid 19th century box pews and a west gallery were installed. (fn. 54) In 1854-5 the body of the church was entirely rebuilt to the designs of Henry Woodyer in memory of J. S. Broadwood of Lyne House in Newdigate (Surr.) (d. 1851) and at the expense chiefly of his four sons. At the same time the tower was restored and heightened at the expense of J. S. Broadwood's brother Thomas, of Holmbush in Lower Beeding, its pyramidal cap being replaced by a battlemented parapet. The stone for all the new work was brought from Holmbush. (fn. 55)
The only surviving medieval fitting in the church is the monumental brass to John Kingsfold and his wife, of c. 1370. (fn. 56) Another brass commemorates Thomas Chaloner (d. c. 1533) and his wife. (fn. 57) The chest sometimes described as medieval (fn. 58) is 17thcentury, and a candelabrum in the north aisle, said to have been found in the rectory pond and to be medieval, (fn. 59) is apparently Victorian. (fn. 60) Post-medieval fittings include another candelabrum in the nave presented in 1770 by Edmund Mills of Court House, (fn. 61) and six bells cast by William Eldridge in 1699, (fn. 62) which replace four mentioned in 1553. (fn. 63) A post-Reformation boarded screen of three arches, like that at Warminghurst, was removed during the restoration of 1854-5. (fn. 64) In 1553 there were a silver chalice and a cup. (fn. 65) The registers begin in 1560. (fn. 66)