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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Architectural evidence indicates a church at Albourne by the 12th century. (fn. 1) The benefice was a rectory by 1291. (fn. 2) Between 1958 and 1971 it was held in plurality with Woodmancote, and between 1971 and 1976 with Hurstpierpoint. After 1976 it formed part of the united benefice of Albourne with Sayers Common and Twineham. (fn. 3)
The advowson evidently descended with the manor until the later 13th century, when Thurstan de Brock (fl. 1291-6) sold it to the bishop of Chichester; in 1295 the bishop conveyed it to the dean and chapter. (fn. 4) In 1390 Sir William Percy, John Halsham, and the rector of Pyecombe, possibly as trustees, presented for a turn. (fn. 5) From 1398, however, the advowson again descended with the manor until 1510. (fn. 6) George Nevill, Lord Bergavenny, presented in 1512 and 1529, and his son and heir Henry in 1550. The bishop presented for a turn in 1525, and Henry Fowle in 1578. From 1593 or earlier the advowson again descended with the manor until 1639, when it was retained by Mildmay Fane, earl of Westmorland. He was succeeded in 1666 by his son Charles, (fn. 7) who conveyed it in 1683 to Robert Fagg. (fn. 8) After Fagg succeeded his father in 1701, (fn. 9) manor and advowson again descended together until the 20th century. (fn. 10) In 1976 Mr. John Goring gave the advowson back to the bishop, (fn. 11) who in 1984 shared the right of presentation to the new united benefice with Exeter College, Oxford. (fn. 12)
The living was valued at £6 13s. 4d. in 1291; (fn. 13) in 1341 there were 13 a. of glebe including meadow. (fn. 14) In 1535 the living was valued at £7 14s. 1d., (fn. 15) and in 1603 it was worth a little over £16. (fn. 16) Total income was only £6 5s. in 1724, (fn. 17) though in 1675 the tithe income had been said to be worth £40 a year. (fn. 18) In 1603 the Bishopshurst demesne farm paid a modus of 13s. 4d. (fn. 19)
The glebe in the early 17th century and later comprised a house south-west of the church and 12-13 a. around it. In 1635 the land was leased, (fn. 20) and for c. 60 years up to 1724 the house was occupied by some poor parishioners, the rector evidently living outside the parish. (fn. 21) The Old Rectory has a low western range which is certainly of the earlier 18th century and may have been in part of still earlier origin. Late in the 18th century a new three-storeyed main block was built on the east side, of timber framing and plastered externally, the older range being used as its kitchen and service rooms. During the 19th century the staircase was renewed, bay windows were added to the east front, and the exterior was tilehung, the east front in mathematical tile headers. At the same period a large new block was added in the south-west angle between the two older ranges, and the east end of the kitchen range was given an extra storey.
About 1830 the average net income of the living was £255; the Bishopshurst demesne farm and the lands belonging to the prebend of Windham were then exempt from tithes, (fn. 22) the former, as before, paying a modus. The tithes were commuted in 1839 for £312 10s. (fn. 23) The rectory house was sold in 1958. (fn. 24)
A late 13th-century rector held twelve other benefices besides Albourne, (fn. 25) and a successor in 1317 was accused of park breach at Slindon. (fn. 26) William Herry, a Carmelite friar, was deprived of the living in 1478. (fn. 27)
The rector in 1563 was resident, (fn. 28) and a successor in 1603 held no other benefice; (fn. 29) he was, however, deprived in 1609. The next two rectors were both chaplains to the patron, Lady Despenser, each holding a living in Kent besides, and Thomas Fane, rector from 1622, was evidently her relation. At least three other 17th-century rectors were pluralists; (fn. 30) two of them held Woodmancote, (fn. 31) while the other, Edmund Negus, was presented in 1675 for failing to provide a surplice or to repair the rectory house at Albourne. (fn. 32) In the 18th century and earlier 19th several rectors held Twineham. Ralph Healey, rector from 1720, who had previously served as curate, (fn. 33) was apparently resident c. 1726; (fn. 34) in 1724 he held Sunday services alternately in morning and after noon, and celebrated communion three times a year for c. 15 communicants. (fn. 35) His successor John Goring was evidently related to the patron, as he lived at Albourne Place. Charles Nash, rector 1758-77, was living at Lewes in 1776, (fn. 36) but the rector in 1808 claimed to reside constantly; morning and evening Sunday services were then being held alternately at Albourne and Twineham. (fn. 37) A curate served c. 1830, since the then rector resided on his other living of Wiston. (fn. 38) On Census Sunday 1851 two services were held at Albourne, congregations at each being between 80 and 90; (fn. 39) by 1856 communion was being celebrated six times a year, a frequency increased by 1903 to monthly. (fn. 40) Between 1958 and 1983 the rector lived outside the parish, but from 1983 he lived in the village. (fn. 41)
The church of ST. BARTHOLOMEW (the dedication is recorded from 1442), (fn. 42) is of flint with stone dressings and consists of chancel, nave with north aisle and bell turret, and south porch. It was largely rebuilt in the 19th century.
The chancel walls are late 11th- or early 12thcentury; the south chancel window is of that period, and a matching north window existed in 1851. (fn. 43) The chancel arch, with chevron mouldings, is a 19thcentury copy of the original one, some stones of which are incorporated in the churchyard wall. The east wall of the chancel has Norman imposts, which may be the remains of an apse; the wall was rebuilt in the 13th century, with a lancet window, (fn. 44) later renewed.
A brick south porch was built in 1641, possibly at the expense of John Juxon of Albourne Place, since its flanking pilasters and crow-stepped gable matched that building in style. (fn. 45) The chancel was 'beautified' by the rector shortly before 1724; (fn. 46) possibly about that date the ceiling mentioned c. 1776 was added. (fn. 47) A west gallery was begun in 1723 or 1724, (fn. 48) and also existed c. 1776. (fn. 49) A bell turret with a pyramidal cap was depicted in 1777. (fn. 50) About 1827 a north transept was added at the expense of Charles Goring. (fn. 51) The church was entirely rebuilt, except for part of the chancel, in 1853; the architect was Gilbert Scott, and the cost was defrayed by the Revd. J. Goring. (fn. 52) A north aisle of three bays replaced the transept, the chancel arch was rebuilt in new stone, and a new bell turret and south porch were put up.
The plain octagonal font is medieval, and there is a 13th-century piscina in the east wall. The single bell is late 13th- or early 14th-century. (fn. 53) In 1724 there was another bell besides. (fn. 54) The plate includes a silver cup and paten cover of 1571. (fn. 55) The registers begin in 1550. (fn. 56)