Parishes: Ditchling

Pages 102-109

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 7, the Rape of Lewes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1940.

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Dicelinga (viii cent.); Dyccanlyngum (ix cent.); Dicelinges, Diceninges, Digelinges (xi cent.); Dychenynge (xiii-xvi cent.); Dytcheling (xvii cent.).

The parish of Ditchling has an area of 3,844 acres. It is a long, narrow strip little more than a mile wide, and about 6 miles long from north to south. The height varies from 124 ft. in the extreme north to 813 ft. at the top of Ditchling Beacon in the south. A ridge runs along the north-western boundary, culminating in the crest of Lodge Hill, 275 ft., just above the village. The village is situated in the centre of the parish at the crossing of the roads from Haywards Heath to Brighton and from Hurst to Lewes. The road leading south from the village divides almost at once, the right-hand branch going to Clayton and the main Brighton road, and the other branch straight on to the foot of the Downs. The church stands on an eminence in the north-western angle of the cross-roads, with the schools behind it, and the Court Farm and the pond to the west. There is an extensive common at the north end of the parish, with St. George's Retreat, a convent of the Sisters of St. Augustine, and a mental home, in the north-east angle. Near the northern end of the common is Jacob's Post, the remains of an ancient gibbet. The road from Burgess Hill to Chailey crosses the Haywards Heath road on the common and leads to the brick and tile works known as the Potteries on the eastern boundary. The Southern Railway line from Haywards Heath to Lewes also crosses the common. The Pound is situated just to the south-west of the railway bridge, and adjacent is a Roman Catholic Community of Dominican Tertiaries engaged in various crafts, including the St. Dominic's Press. Fragbarrow lies to the south of this. On the east side of the road from the village to the common are cottage homes for retired Thames lightermen and watermen, founded in 1889. Court Gardens Farm is on the west side of this road.

The southern third of the parish is downland, rising steeply to the Beacon and extending southward to the boundaries of Patcham and Stanmer, and including the farms of Lower Standean and Piddingworth.

In East End Lane is an old meeting-house, dating from 1740: 'Mark Rutherford' was once connected with it and it is still used as a Free Christian chapel. The Baptist chapel in East End Lane is now disused, but there is a Mission Hall in South Street.

By the East Sussex Review Order of 1934 a small part of the parish on the north-west was transferred to the Urban District of Burgess Hill.

The village lies along High Street and West Street, which cross towards the south. East End Lane branches off High Street north of the cross-roads and joins the Westmeston road outside the village. High Street shows chiefly Georgian brick and later shop fronts, but there are several older houses.

'The Bowries', in the north part on the west side, is a Jacobean house of two bays with a modern extension to the north. It has wide fire-places and a blocked window with two diagonal bars, to a former staircase, facing the street. 'Old Forge' lies next to it on the south, and is a 16th-century house. The street front has a plastered first-floor over a Georgian brick base, but the close-studded jetty remains at the north end of the building. There is a central chimney-stack with wide lintelled fire-places to the hall of two bays, now divided, and to the parlour on the north, also a bread oven. Several old doors are retained.

Opposite, a little off the road, are 'Ricksteddle' and 'Pear Tree Cottage', which form one house of four bays dating from the 16th century. This is possibly a disguised hall-house with two central bays open to the roof originally. A central chamfered king-post with struts is visible in the attics, and a great braced beam below. In the early 17th century a chimney stack was built between the two eastern bays.

'Rowles Croft' on the west side of the road has a doorway with a triangular pediment of the mid-18th century. 'Colstock' and the cottage north of it form a 16th-century house with 17th-century chimney-stack, serving double, lintelled fire-places; there are exposed ceiling-beams, one moulded in the hall, but the street front shows brick and tile. South of these stands 'Chichester House', with a Doric doorway. Next to it is an interesting timber-framed house of three stories and three bays, set at right angles to the street, now Barclays Bank, with 'Bank Cottage' above. The street front has a high-pitched gable and exposed timberframing; a wooden plaque is dated 1573. The ground floor has chamfered joists, but the two upper floors show more original work. The oriel to the street is modern, but an original four-light window with filletedroll head and mullion remains in the south wall. In the same room is a wide lintelled fire-place with two ovens; the fire-place backing it has four smaller recesses, and on the floor above is a similar but smaller fire-place to the west. Lloyds Bank, next door but one, to the south, is timber-framed, with modern brick-noggings; on the ground floor a chamfered beam is exposed internally.

'Gatlands' stands on the south-west of the cross-roads and is a timber-framed house dating from c. 1580–1600. The original house consisted of two bays, and a third was added soon afterwards. The east front on High Street shows a straight joint in the framing, and the added south bay has studs on the ground floor; below the window there is a carved head with curly hair and beard. This side has been much altered; the north end shows more features of interest. The ground floor was rebuilt after damage by traffic, but the timber-framing is original above, and the overhanging gable is carried on a moulded beam supported on curved brackets with leaf-carving in the spandrels and thistle pendants. The end beam and joints, exposed internally, show that the first floor also projected here originally. There is an oriel window of four lights on brackets, with roll- and cavetto-moulded jambs, sill, and mullions. The middle bay, or hall, has a wide fire-place with a seat on one side. In the middle of the partition between the hall and south bay, and facing to the latter, is a post with scrolled and moulded head. West of this south bay is the kitchen, with a runnel in the brick floor, and north of it is the well of the original staircase.


'Anne of Cleves House', facing the church, has lately (1936) been reconverted from cottage property and restored. It is in the main an Elizabethan timberframed house, facing north and south, with a crosswing at the west end and a porch-wing at the east, projecting northwards. The north face of the porch, on the street, is of brick; the entrance has a moulded four-centred arch with ogee-moulded label, all in brick. This appears to have been retained from an earlier Tudor house, of which it formed the entrance to a courtyard. Above first-floor level the wall has been repaired; stone quoins with curved brackets remain at the base of the gable, but the finials are additions. The sides of the porch are timber-framed; the east side has two panels with ornamental braces on the first floor, south of an inserted doorway and external stair; on the west side on ground level is a large Elizabethan window from a house at Ipswich, and south of it an original door with old lock and latticed hinges. The north front of the house shows the timber-framing in square panels. The western cross-wing has a moulded bay window of seven transomed lights; the window east of it is modern. (fn. 1) The first floor overhangs, supported on a moulded beam resting on the bay and on curved brackets. An oriel window of seven similar lights projects farther on brackets and coved panels, and this projection, with lateral coving, supports the gable. The latter has square panels with ornamental braces; the window (fn. 2) and barge-boards are modern, but the apex pendant and the ornamental brace pendants are original. West of the cross-wing is an outshot aisle of two stories, the upper overhanging. The east bay of the hall has a lower roof than the western. The central chimney-stack bears a series of attached square shafts with overhanging caps and slightly splayed bases under a fillet.

The south elevation shows a plastered flint facade common to the cross-wing, western outshot, and eastern stair turret; the latter is roofed separately and has chamfered brick windows, two-lights, at two levels. The wing has an inserted Italian Renaissance porch, a two-light west of it, a four-light window above, and a wooden-framed two-light in the attic. Further east a brick outshot with a low aisle roof conceals the south wall of the hall.

The east end of the hall shows some old bricknogging and has a great external stack with splayed offsets to the north.

The main block contains three bays, with the outshots to west and south. The central chimney-stack serves the hall and parlour, and the external chimney the eastern-most bay, which is floored at a lower level and may be a 17th-century addition. The fire-places are of the usual lintelled type, that in the parlour having moulded head and jambs. There is a passage on either side of the central stack, and a staircase, of wooden newel form, in line with it on the south; the southern outshot conceals original four-light windows and a battened door. Several old doors remain elsewhere, with traceried heads (quatrefoils), and probably from the earlier house. The room above the parlour contains some wall-painting on the east and south walls, and another moulded fire-place.

There is a 16th-century brick-lined cellar, with four-centred cupboard recesses under the west part of the house.

In East End Lane there are several cottages of late16th- and early-17th-century date. 'Mulberry Cottage', on the north side, shows a Georgian brick front but the central chimney-stack and wide double fireplaces are of the 17th century. 'Cherry Tree Cottage', next east, has a lead plaque of 1579 on the south elevation. Internally the timber-framing is visible, and there is an oak-lintelled fire-place on each floor, an iron fireback carved with the three feathers and 'Ich Dien', and two original battened doors, one with strap hinges. 'Eastways Old Cottage', on the south side, is probably contemporary, though refaced with brick and tilehanging; some original catches remain to the casements. 'Walnut Tree Cottage', on the north side, also dates from the late 16th century. The walls show Georgian brick refacements, but timber-framing is visible internally and stop-chamfered beams on both floors. There is a staircase and some panelling of the early 18th century.

'Pardons', opposite, has a Georgian front in whitewashed brick, sash windows, and door hood on brackets. There are casements with old fastenings in the rest of the house, which probably dates from the 17th century. 'The Old Cottage', on the south side, has a 17th-century chimney serving wide fire-places, and a later brick front, and 'East End', opposite, is probably contemporary.


The estate of DITCHLING was one of those held by Alfred the Great, and at his death in 900 was bequeathed to his kinsman Osferth. (fn. 3) Of the latter nothing is known, but the property must have reverted to the Crown, for it formed part of the demesne land of Edward the Confessor. Under King Edward, and probably before, the manor appears to have stretched northward in a narrow strip right up to the borders of Surrey, (fn. 4) and it included 4 hides of land in the East Grinstead district, around Fairlight, with the only iron mine recorded in Domesday Sussex. These 4 hides, with the mine and 6 woods, lay in the rape of Pevensey and were given by William the Conqueror to the Count of Mortain. (fn. 5) William de Warenne was given the remaining 42 hides but by 1086 the manor was assessed for 33 hides only. (fn. 6) Warenne held Ditchling as a demesne manor, with the exception of 10½ hides which he leased to 5 men, who appear to have held them together as one estate. (fn. 7) The main manor of Ditchling therefore descended with the rape (q.v.), passing on the division of the barony in 1439 to the Lords Bergavenny. The present lord of the manor is Guy Larnach-Nevill, 5th Marquess of Abergavenny.

Nevill, Marquess of Abergavenny. Gules a saltire argent charged with a rose gules.

In 1312 John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, obtained the grant of a weekly market on Tuesday at his manor of Ditchling, and a yearly fair there on the vigil, feast, and morrow of St. Margaret (fn. 8) (20 July). In the 18th century a fair was held on Lady Day, 25 Mar., and after the change in the calendar on 5 April. There was also one on 12 Oct. for pedlary. (fn. 9) They were still held in 1835, (fn. 10) but had lapsed before 1888. (fn. 11) In this manor the custom of Borough English obtained. (fn. 12)

The PARK of Ditchling is first mentioned in 1274, when trouble arose between the men of Ditchling, under Walter the Park-keeper, and Matthew de Hastings, the sheriff of Sussex; (fn. 13) but it seems to have been imparked before 1216, since Earl John claimed and established that King John had granted privileges of freewarren and chase to his family. (fn. 14) It lay to the southwest of the village, extending up on to the Downs and into the parishes of Keymer and Clayton. (fn. 15) This John de Warenne kept a stud of horses in Ditchling Park, and at his death in 1304 the stud was purchased for the use of Edward, 1st Prince of Wales and afterwards Edward II, and continued there, in the charge of John de Dychenynge, 'Keeper of the Prince's Colts'. In 1305 the Prince wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert de Winchelsey, asking him for the loan of a good stallion for the improvement of the stud. (fn. 16) In 1439 the extent of the Park was 300 acres. (fn. 17) It was still enclosed in 1576, when it was granted by Henry, Lord Bergavenny, to Margaret daughter of George, Lord Bergavenny, the wife of Henry Poole, and her sons John and Francis for their lives. Henry Poole died in 1580, (fn. 18) and Margaret and her father leased the greater part of the Park to Anthony Stapley. There was a lawsuit in 1597 with William Overy, (fn. 19) who claimed also to have a lease, with some justification. (fn. 20) At that time, however, it had 'houses, buildings, lands, meadows and pastures' within the pale limits, and in 1632 it is said to have been long disparked and converted into a farm, the tenants of which had for more than a century occupied Westwick. (fn. 21) Apparently, however, it was retained by the Stapleys, for in 1691 the property, still called Ditchling Park and containing 300 acres, was sublet by Sir John Stapley of Ringmer to Richard Webb of Ditchling, with the exception of all oaks and ashes beyond those needed for 'firebote, housebote, haybote, palebote, and hedgebote to be spent on the premises'. (fn. 22) The Park Farm still forms part of the Abergavenny estates.

Another stretch of ground in the north of the parish, to right and left of the Common, is referred to as the 'Chase of Frekeburgh and Shortfrith' in the 15th century, and in 1439 formed part of the dower of Beatrice, Countess of Arundel. (fn. 23) It had an area of 500 acres, extending into Burgess Hill on the west and Wivelsfield on the north-east. In the 11th century this tract was all waste feeding ground for the cattle of the demesne and for those of Ditchling Garden, (fn. 24) but by the end of the 15th century it was broken up into farms. (fn. 25)

DITCHLING GARDEN Manor, extending into Chailey parish, had its origin about 1095, when the second William de Warenne gave to the Priory of St. Pancras at Lewes, 'a garden with houses and the land which is between the two roads, with the wood adjoining it, and two hides there, for my brother Rainald at his request'. (fn. 26) The monks were also given the right to pasture their cattle with the demesne cattle in Shortfrith and Fragbarrow, and their men's beasts with those of the Earl's tenants on the Common. (fn. 27)

The profits of the manor were kept in the hands of the Prior of Lewes for the use of the house. (fn. 28)

At the dissolution of the monastery in 1537 the last prior, Robert, surrendered the manor to Henry VIII, (fn. 29) and in the following year the king granted it to Thomas Cromwell, (fn. 30) and subsequently to Anne of Cleves. (fn. 31) At her death in 1557 it reverted to the Crown, and in 1560 was granted by Queen Elizabeth to Sir Edward Gage, (fn. 32) son of the Sir John Gage who was Chamberlain to three monarchs. Sir Edward died in 1568 leaving the manor to his seven younger sons and their heirs male to hold in common. (fn. 33) In 1577 five of these sons settled it on Thomas, one of the brothers, and his heirs. (fn. 34) Thomas Gage of Firle and his son John incurred heavy fines for recusancy, (fn. 35) and in January 1581 Thomas sold the manor, with the exception of a barn and a piece of land, to John Eversfield of Worth and his son Thomas. (fn. 36) John died seised of it in 1595 (fn. 37) and his son Sir Thomas in 1616, (fn. 38) but Thomas Eversfield, son of the latter, (fn. 39) with William Eversfield, sold Ditchling Garden in 1621 to Sir Edward Sackville, (fn. 40) who appears to have passed it on to his elder brother Richard, Earl of Dorset, for the latter leased it in 1623 to Sir George Rivers, (fn. 41) and died seised of it in the following year. (fn. 42) Richard's heirs were his daughters Margaret and Isabel, but what happened to the manor subsequently is not clear. In 1650 it was conveyed by Purback Temple and Sarah his wife to Thomas Gratwick, (fn. 43) but not long after came into the possession of Thomas Beard, who held courts there from 1656 until 1679. (fn. 44) In 1696 and 1699 courts were held by Thomas Beard, junior, and from 1702 to April 1714 by Thomas Midmer. In that year Ditchling Garden was evidently sold to Thomas Godley, who held a court there in November (fn. 45) and continued in possession until 1742, when he, together with John Legas and Judith his wife, sold the manor to Dr. Richard Russell. (fn. 46) Between 1758 and 1760 it passed to Dr. Russell's son William Russell, who assumed his mother's surname of Kempe, (fn. 47) and he held it until 1787. (fn. 48) In 1788 it was owned by John Ingram, (fn. 49) and the present owner is Mr. Charles James Ingram.

Ingram. Ermine a fesse gules with three scallops or thereon.

PIDDINGWORTH [Pidelingeworth, Pedelyngworth (xiii-xv cent.); Pillingworth (xvii-xix cent.)], a small estate on the Downs in the extreme south of the parish, was held of the Castle of Lewes for a third of a knight's fee. (fn. 50) There is mention of a Martin de Pidelingeworth in 1201 and 1204, (fn. 51) and Nicholas de Pydelyngworth was living in 1283. (fn. 52) In 1290 Joan widow of Nicholas held a messuage and 60 acres of land in Ditchling as her dowry, part of the inheritance of Robert le Causays and William son of Robert de Mulstone, presumably her husband's heirs, who then sold the reversion to Gilbert Sykelfot. (fn. 53) About the same time William de Mulstone sold most of his land at Pillingworth to Gilbert, (fn. 54) who evidently became lord of the whole property. (fn. 55) He and Joan de Pydelyngeworth were both living in 1296, (fn. 56) but Gilbert's son John was in possession in 1327 and 1332. (fn. 57)

The subsequent history of Piddingworth is obscure. (fn. 58) In 1421 a messuage and 200 acres of land in Ditchling, very probably Piddingworth, were claimed against Robert Oxenbridge and others by Thomas Stonkylle and Alice, and John Yoo and Margaret, as heirs of Gilbert Sykelfot, their wives being descendants of Isabel wife of John de Kyngstone, daughter of Gilbert; (fn. 59) but the result is not recorded.

Piddingworth is subsequently found in the possession of the Earls of Arundel, the overlords, in 1425 and 1440. (fn. 60) After the division of the rape what appears to have been this manor descended with Ditchling manor to the Lords Bergavenny until in 1523 it is said to have been granted to John Alchorne the elder, with remainder to his elder son John and his heirs male, or failing them to Thomas the second son and his heirs male. (fn. 61) The younger John died before his father, leaving two young daughters, Joan and Agnes, whereupon his brother Thomas took possession of the property, claiming that, in addition to the settlement above made, his father had actually willed the property to him. (fn. 62) Thomas Alchorne died seised of it in 1559, leaving a widow Margaret, and was succeeded by his son Nicholas. (fn. 63) He was followed by another Nicholas Alchorne, whose mother Alice was holding a third of 'Pillingeworth Farm' in dower about 1615. Tuppin Scrase agreed to buy the property from the Alchornes in 1624, but the transfer was delayed because Nicholas did not produce his mother's release of her share. (fn. 64) It then contained 600 acres. (fn. 65) An owner of the name of Alderson is mentioned as succeeding Tuppin Scrase, (fn. 66) but John Wheeler died seised of it in 1643, leaving it to his son John, a boy of 10. (fn. 67) In 1709 John Westbrook, grocer, of London, left the manor, with 375 acres of land, to his son Durban, whose brother and heir William died in 1750. John Westbrook, apparently William's son, held the estate at his death in 1788. (fn. 68) In 1810 it was conveyed by George Nicholls and Philippa his wife to John Hamshaw, (fn. 69) and some time before 1843 it was acquired by the Earl of Chichester, (fn. 70) whose Park of Stanmer it adjoins, and with whose descendants it has since remained.

Alchorne. Argent an elk's head caboshed and a chief indented sable.

The reputed manor of DYMOCKS is said to have been part of the impropriate rectory of Ditchling, and its tenements lay to the east of the road to the Common. (fn. 71) It is first recorded in 1569, when two-thirds of it were held by Henry Warren alias Deane, and the other third by Richard Michelbourne. (fn. 72) This Henry died in 1595, leaving his property to his daughter Agnes Warren, (fn. 73) and she married William Bassano, who was holding two virgates in right of his wife about 1624. (fn. 74) Richard Michelbourne's virgate descended from father to son for four generations, all called Richard, the fourth Richard dying in 1638, leaving a son William. (fn. 75) In 1695 John Honey devised his customary lands called 'Dimox' to his cousin Walter Lucas of Southwark. (fn. 76) In 1763 Joseph Constable bequeathed an 'undivided moiety of the manor or reputed manor of Dymocks' to his kinswoman Elizabeth Dobson, wife of John Dobson of Lindfield. (fn. 77) By her will of 1769 she left her land in Ditchling to her son John, (fn. 78) who was lord of the manor in 1784–5, (fn. 79) after which no more is heard of any manorial rights.


The church of ST. MARGARET stands on a knoll in the centre of the village. The walls are of flint with sandstone dressings. All except the tower were re-pointed for the Coronation of George VI (1937). The roofs are mostly tiled, with some Horsham slates.

The nave may date to the 11th century, but no old features remain. In the late 12th century a south aisle was added, and in the second half of the 13th century the chancel was rebuilt, or transformed into a central tower, and a long chancel added beyond; flanking the tower were contemporary transepts, but the north one was rebuilt in 1863. In the early 14th century the south or Abergavenny chapel was added to the chancel. The west doorway and the south porch date from about 1400.

The chancel (29 ft. 3 in. × 17 ft. 1 in.) was built c. 1260–70. The east wall has no plinth, but an external roll-moulded string-course under the east window; there is a modern buttress at the north-east angle. The window has three lancet lights with chamfered mullions and early bar tracery, two cinquefoils with a smaller quatrefoil above, restored. The outer arch is equilateral with roll-and-fillet mouldings, the hood has an undercut roll and carved stops; there are internal jamb-shafts with stiff-stalk capitals and triple-roll bases resting on a roll-moulded string; the lights have similar jamb-shafts but their moulded enclosing arch rests merely on the splayed jambs; the rear-arch is obtuse-pointed; its hood has carved stops, the bust of a queen to north, a king to south, the outturned curls of the latter helping to fix the date; the window is richly moulded internally. Chalk is exten sively used, and there have been some repairs, especially in the light order. Tall niches flank the east window internally, and have slender jamb-shafts. The north niche has a pointed trefoiled head with roll-and-fillet mouldings, but the head of the south niche was renewed in the 14th century as a cinquefoiled ogee. All the capitals extend inwards to support the inner mouldings of the arch; they are of stiff-stalk type, with the exception of that farthest south, which was probably renewed with the arch it supports. There are three lancets in the north wall, plainly chamfered externally but splayed to segmental-pointed rear-arches, elaborately moulded and supported on jamb-shafts with foliated capitals. The roll-and-fillet again occurs in the arch and hood, the latter having head stops except in the easternmost window, which has stiff-leaf carvings. The other stops are, from west to east, a mutilated face with curled hair, a queen with strawberry-leaf crown, a man, a lady with wimple; the triple-roll bases stand on a stepped roll string, restored, as are some of the bases. Between the two westernmost windows is a contemporary doorway, partly blocked; the outer arch is equilateral, moulded with roll-and-fillet, supported on engaged rolls with capitals and corroded triple-roll bases, the hood being an undercut roll; the rear-arch has a moulded segmentalpointed head and restored chamfered jambs; the same moulding occurs in the hood, which is continued down to the string-course. The easternmost window has its bases at a slightly higher level, and under it is a modern aumbrey. There is a piscina and credence with two restored cinquefoiled heads enclosed in a pointed arch; the west has a cinquefoiled drain. West of it is a sedile with equilateral chamfered head; on the east it has a roll-moulded capital, shaft, and tripleroll base. West of these a wide arch was cut in the early 14th century to give access to the Abergavenny Chapel; (fn. 80) it is of two chamfered orders, the outer segmental-pointed, the inner obtuse-pointed and dying into the wall. There is a chamfered rebate to the east jamb on the south side. Original moulded wall-plates remain to north and south.


The south or Abergavenny chapel (30 ft. × 13 ft. 10 in. (E.); 14 ft. 7 in. (W.)) was built about 1300. The east wall is in line with that of the chancel, but has a chamfered plinth; (fn. 81) a buttress of two stages supports the junction. The window is not central to the modern gable; it has three trefoiled ogee lights, chamfered mullions, and reticulated tracery; the segmentalpointed rear-arch is restored. In the south wall are two other 14th-century windows, of two lights with one ogee quatrefoil in the head. As in the east window, no hood or outer arch remains. Both windows have internal jamb-shafts with naturalistic foliage, scroll- and rollmoulded abaci, and triple-roll bases. The easternmost window has a semicircular rear-arch and hood, of similar mouldings to those of the chancel windows, possibly re-used from the destroyed south windows of the chancel; there are head stops to the hood, a woman to east, a bearded man to west. The westernmost window has a similar hood but slightly pointed, and head stops; the arch, however, is plainly chamfered. East of these windows is a restored ogee-headed piscina and west of them a doorway, blocked externally, with an image bracket on the inner face of the blocking; the rear-arch is segmental-pointed, the hood an undercut roll with returned ends but terminating abruptly by the west wall. This wall is flanked by buttresses of two stages. The west arch is similar to that into the chancel.

The central tower (13 ft. 6 in. × 15 ft. 6 in.) is contemporary with the chancel, c. 1260–70. It rises to the height of the nave roof, and is finished with a pyramidal cap. The tower arches are obtuse-pointed to east and west, equilateral to north and south; they are of two orders and supported on composite piers, with capitals and bases to each order. The east arch serves as chancel arch, the shafts being shorter, their bases resting on a double-roll-moulded string and lofty plinths; this arch shows an elaboration of the general scheme, the orders being moulded with roll and triple fillet, partly restored; the outer order is in chalk; there are moulded hoods, that on the east face having a moulded head stop to north, an uncarved block to south; the capitals have stiff-stalk foliage to north, a palm-leaf variety to south. The other arches have two plainer chamfered orders, moulded bell capitals with roll and fillet, similar scroll- and roll-moulded abaci, and chamfered bases; but the east piers have foliated capitals to match the chancel; between the shafts are chamfers stopped at top and bottom; in the east this chamfer has a carved demi-capital joining it to the chancel arch. The tower shows more of the original flint facing than any other part of the church. On both east and north faces can be seen the line of an earlier roof. The top stage has on the north and south an equilateral-headed window. In the spire are modern louvres to east and west, clock faces (1897) in dormers to north and south.

The 13th-century north transept (14 ft. 11in. × 13 ft. 6 in.) was rebuilt in 1863 with a late-14thcentury window of three cinquefoiled lights reset in the west wall. The original transept can be seen in Grimm's drawing of 1787, (fn. 82) Sharpe's of 1802, (fn. 83) and Dumbrell's sketch of 1860, a copy of which hangs in the vestry.

The south transept (13 ft. 6 in. × c. 12 ft.) is contemporary with the tower and chancel. In its south wall is a late-15th-century window of three cinquefoiled lights, a chamfered label and segmental-pointed rear-arch, hollow-chamfered as are the mullions. The west arch to the south aisle is obtuse-pointed.

The nave (28 ft. 9 in. (N); 29 ft. 7 in. (S) × 18 ft. 4 in.) is of the 11th century, but no features of that date remain. The north wall was rebuilt in 1863 (fn. 84) and three modern traceried windows inserted. The late12th-century south arcade is of two bays with obtusepointed arches and slightly projecting imposts with hollow-chamfered under-edge; the jambs are slightly chamfered but the soffits are plain. The west wall is original, without plinth, and has to north and south buttresses of two stages and chamfered plinth, added c. 1400. The west doorway was inserted at the same period; it has an equilateral arch of one cavetto- and wave-moulded order, and a chamfered hood with returned ends; the rear-arch is restored, with chamfered jambs and segmental head. Above is a modern traceried window replacing a tall flat-headed mullioned window. (fn. 85)

The south aisle (28 ft. 11 in. × 9 ft. 6 in.) is of 12thcentury date, but has few remaining features. The south wall has a modern lintelled doorway and in the west wall is a narrow modern window (fn. 86) and inserted oval stone. The roof pitch seems to have been altered at the time the nave west wall was built.

The south porch is restored early-15th-century work. The outer doorway has an obtuse-pointed arch of one double-ogee order and chamfered hood.

The roofs are modern; in the early 19th century a chancel beam with dog-tooth was removed. The floors are of stone. There is a step at the chancel arch, and two at the altar rail.

The chest dates probably from the 13th century, repaired. The original glass remains in the 14thcentury east window of the Abergavenny chapel.

In the porch are three sepulchral slabs of c. 1300 with floriated crosses. A mural monument to Henry Poole (d. 1580) is concealed behind the organ in the north transept. It consists of two arched panels above, two oblong divisions below, with coats of arms; the dexter base coat was destroyed when a flue-pipe was inserted. (fn. 87) There is an 18th-century pitch pipe framed on the chancel north wall.

There are eight bells, of which five dated from 1766, (fn. 88) but three of these were recast in 1884. The other three date from 1914.

The plate includes a cup (1567 hall-mark), paten cover, chalice (1857), two patens (1854 and 1899), and a flagon (1857). (fn. 89)

A sundial south of the church commemorates the coronation of George V (1911); the dial, dated 1719, was formerly in the garden of the Ranger's House in the Park. (fn. 90)

The registers date from 1556 (marriages and burials), 1557 (baptisms).


William de Warenne, founder of the Priory of St. Pancras, Lewes, gave to that house the full tithes of all his demesnes, (fn. 91) and his son William granted them the church of Ditchling with a hide of land, about 1090. (fn. 92) In 1291 the church was valued at £16 13s. 4d. (fn. 93) Early in 1346 licence was given to the Prior of Lewes and the Bishop of Chichester to form a prebend, annexed to the priory, from the advowsons of West Hoathly, Ditchling, and Clayton churches. (fn. 94) The scheme, however, was not carried out owing to 'certain impediments', and in 1353 the prior obtained leave to appropriate the churches to the priory. (fn. 95) The last rector is recorded in 1382 and the first vicar in 1415. (fn. 96) At the valuation of 1535 the vicarage of Ditchling was assessed at £11. (fn. 97) The farm of the rectory with the chapel of Wivelsfield was in the tenure of John More at a yearly rent of £10. (fn. 98) After the Dissolution the rectory and advowson were granted in 1538 to Thomas Cromwell, (fn. 99) and to Anne of Cleves in 1541. (fn. 100) After the death of the latter in 1557 they appear to have been given to Cardinal Pole, but in 1563–4 they were acquired by Thomas Reeve. (fn. 101) In December 1564 they seem to have been conceded to Sir Richard Sackville, but in February 1565 were finally granted to the Chancellor of the cathedral church of Chichester. (fn. 102)

In his hands they remained until the death of Chancellor Ashburnham in 1843 when, by a previous agreement, the advowson of Ditchling fell to the Bishop. (fn. 103) In 1852 it was given to the Bishop of Oxford, who in 1855 exchanged it with the Crown for another, and in 1863 the Lord Chancellor sold it to Richard Hunter, (fn. 104) who held it until 1882; after which his trustees sold to George and Thomas Herbert Norton, who conveyed it to the Rev. F. C. Norton. (fn. 105) The latter sold it a few years before his death in 1921 to the Rev. Prebendary R. J. and Mrs. Lea, who are the present patrons.

The RECTORY MANOR, which was held of the barony of Lewes, and which about 1608 consisted of some fifteen tenements in Ditchling and Patcham, (fn. 106) remained with the chancellors of Chichester Cathedral, except for an interval during the Commonwealth. (fn. 107) In 1861 the Rectory Manor was vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 108) The great tithes, however, seem to have been acquired by Sir Richard Michelbourne, who sold them to Thomas Turner in 1637. (fn. 109) They descended in the Turner family, from whom they passed to the Attrees, (fn. 110) and subsequently to the Misses Dumbrell, who are the present lay rectors.

The foundations of what is believed to have been the old Rectory House, and the tithe barn, were found when levelling the ground for an extension of the churchyard, to the north of the church. (fn. 111) The old vicarage was built in the reign of Charles I, but much enlarged by the Rev. F. C. Norton. It is now a private residence under the name of Dymocks Manor.


Walter Lucas by will dated 27 April 1742 gave to the churchwardens and overseers a rent-charge of £2 12s. issuing out of his messuage at Ditchling, to be distributed in bread to the poor of the parish. The charge is regularly paid and distributed in accordance with the directions in the will.

Sprott's Charity. Sprott bequeathed to certain trustees property at Ditchling and Westmeston for the relief of the poor of Ditchling. The charity is now regulated by a Scheme of the High Court of Chancery dated 7 March 1778 and Schemes of the Charity Commissioners of 30 July 1897 and 20 Dec. 1910, which provide for a body of trustees to administer the charity and direct that 20s. a year should be paid towards the repairs of Ditchling Church and the remainder of the income should be applied for the relief of the poor. The property has been sold under the authority of the said Commissioners, and the endowment now produces £64 6s. 8d. annually in dividends.

Miss M. A. Boddington by will proved 23 Nov. 1897 gave to the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds for investment £150, the income, which amounts to £3 6s. 8d., to be paid to the trustees of Sprott's Charity to be applied for the benefit of poor widows residing in Ditchling. She also left a similar sum, the income therefrom to be dispensed by the vicar and churchwardens to the poor of the parish.


  • 1. It replaces an entrance to one of the cottages.
  • 2. This replaces a smaller three-light.
  • 3. Birch, Cart. Sax., no. 554.
  • 4. It is known later to have extended to Crawley Down and Copthorne, which provided waste for the northern part of the manor (Bk. of J. Rowe (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv), 54). This would connect it with East Grinstead, and its hidage can hardly be accounted for otherwise.
  • 5. V.C.H. Suss. i, 419.
  • 6. Ibid. 436.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Cal. Chart. iii, 194.
  • 9. Cheale, Hist. of Ditchling, 41.
  • 10. Horsfield, Sussex, i, 237.
  • 11. Roy. Com. on Market Rights, 208.
  • 12. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 76 and 77.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1272–81, p. 69; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 213.
  • 14. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 750. William de Warenne succeeded to the estates in 1202: G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 15. Tithe Award; Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 40.
  • 16. Suss. Arch. Coll. ii, 82–92.
  • 17. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 191.
  • 18. Cheale, Hist. of Ditchling, 98, quoting Will.
  • 19. Chan. Proc. Ser. ii, 285 (35); Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 32.
  • 20. Ibid. 40.
  • 21. Add. MS. 5683, fol. 114.
  • 22. Portman Deeds, Lewes, no. 252.
  • 23. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 32; Add. MS. 5683, fol. 113.
  • 24. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxviii, 35.
  • 25. Add. MS. 5683, fol. 114; Cheale, Hist. of Ditchling, 98. Frekeburgh became Fragbarrow, and Shortfrith is now the estate of St. George's Retreat.
  • 26. Lewes Chart. (Suss. Rec. Soc.), i, 15, 21, 32. This appears to be a fresh gift, 'added and given' by the second William to his father's endowments, yet the first William gave right of free pasture to 'the monks' men who live at Ditchling' (p. 8), which points to their already having land there in 1089. The present Court Gardens farm is exactly 'between the two roads', i.e. that leading to the Common, and the lane leading north from Oldland Mill. This property is still exempt from tithe, as ancient monastic land.
  • 27. Ibid. i, 35.
  • 28. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 329.
  • 29. Feet of F. Div. Co. Mich. 29 Hen. VIII.
  • 30. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (i), g. 384 (74).
  • 31. Ibid. xvi, g. 503 (32).
  • 32. Pat. R. 2 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 11.
  • 33. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), clii, 144.
  • 34. Feet of F. Suss. Hil. 19 Eliz.
  • 35. Gage Muniments (Lewes), iii, box 19, nos. 28, 29; box 35, no. 22, &c.
  • 36. Ibid. iv, box 35, no. 16.
  • 37. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxliv, 103.
  • 38. Ibid. Misc. 518 (15).
  • 39. Comber, Suss. Gen. (Horsham), 90.
  • 40. Feet of F. Suss. East, 19 Jas. I; Recov. R. Hil. 19 Jas. I, ro. 38; Ibid. East. 19 Jas. I, ro. 63. William Eversfield released his right in the following year; ibid. Hil. 19 Jas. I.
  • 41. Feet of F. Suss. Trin. 21 Jas. I; G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
  • 42. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccccv, 153.
  • 43. Feet of F. Suss. Mich. 1650.
  • 44. Add. MS. 5683, fol. 139.
  • 45. Ibid.
  • 46. Feet of F. Suss. Trin. 16, Geo. II.
  • 47. Recov. R. Trin. 33–4, Geo. II, ro. 160; Cheale, Hist. of Ditchling, 12.
  • 48. Add. MS. 5683, fol. 139.
  • 49. Ibid.; Tithe Award.
  • 50. Chan. Inq. p.m. 18 Hen. VI, no. 28; Suss. Rec. Soc. iii, 7; xxxiv, 193.
  • 51. Curia Regis R. i, 382; iii, 159.
  • 52. Assize R. 1260, m. 2.
  • 53. Suss. Rec. Soc. vii, 1052; Anct. D. (P.R.O.) B. 8114.
  • 54. Cat. Anct. Deeds, ii, B. 2888.
  • 55. Add. MS. 5684, fol. 60; Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 190.
  • 56. Ibid. x, 52.
  • 57. Ibid. 179 and 293; Wrottesley, Ped. from Plea R., 308.
  • 58. Rents there were acquired by Roger and Sir Edward Dalyngrigge in 1359 and 1377 respectively: Cat. Anct. Deeds, ii, B. 2889, B. 2852.
  • 59. Wrottesley, Ped. from Plea R. 308.
  • 60. Chan. Inq. p.m. 18 Hen. VI, 28; Add. MS. 5684, fol. 60.
  • 61. E. Chan. Proc. 853 (38, 39). It is described as lands in Rotherfield, Ditchling, and Streat.
  • 62. Ibid.
  • 63. Suss. Rec. Soc. iii, 7; Wood MSS. Hove Public Library.
  • 64. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), 414 (68).
  • 65. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 42.
  • 66. Ibid. 196.
  • 67. Ibid. xiv, no. 1084.
  • 68. Add. MS. 5684, fol. 60; 39500, fols. 135, 140–1.
  • 69. Feet of F. Suss. Trin. 50 Geo. III.
  • 70. Tithe Award.
  • 71. Cheale, Hist. of Ditchling, 9. The name is preserved in the field, now built over with cottages, to the west of the police station. Richard Dymmoke occurs in 1327, and John Dymmok in 1332 and 1363; Suss. Rec. Soc. x, 179 and 293; Cal. Fine vii, 258. Richard son of John Dymmok sold land here to Roger Dalyngrigge in about 1375: Anct. D. (P.R.O.), B. 8109, 8110.
  • 72. Add. MS. 5683, fol. 116.
  • 73. Suss. Rec. Soc. xiv, no. 5.
  • 74. Ibid. xxxiv, 43.
  • 75. Ibid. xxxiii, no. 108; xiv, nos. 725, 727.
  • 76. Ct. Rolls, Barony of Lewes (Wood MSS.).
  • 77. Coll. Deeds N. Lewes, 356.
  • 78. Ibid. 362.
  • 79. Gamekeepers' Deputations, Lewes.
  • 80. Before 1863 there was a low coped wall the height of the string-course.
  • 81. The plinth is continuous as far as the south transept.
  • 82. Add. MS. 5672, fol. 14. See also 5677, fol. 49, for Lambert's drawing of 1777.
  • 83. In the Library of the Society of Antiquaries.
  • 84. The blocked north doorway was destroyed in 1863 and the old font and Jacobean pulpit removed.
  • 85. R. H. Nibbs, Churches of Sussex 1851).
  • 86. A late-12th-century west window was destroyed in 1863: W.E. Meads, article in Sussex Express, 16 Oct. 1931.
  • 87. For inscriptions in church and churchyard see Suss. Arch. Coll. xxviii, 132–47; lxxi, 146–7.
  • 88. Ibid. xvi, 207.
  • 89. Ibid. liv, 238.
  • 90. In 1888 an ancient well was found in the churchyard, probably belonging to the old Rectory house: ibid. xxxvi, 242.
  • 91. Lewes Chart. (Suss. Rec. Soc.), i, 8.
  • 92. Ibid. 15, 34.
  • 93. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 136.
  • 94. Lewes Chart. i, 67; Cal. Pat. 1345–8, p. 41.
  • 95. Ibid. 1350–4, p. 380.
  • 96. Cheale, Hist. of Ditchling, 76.
  • 97. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 335.
  • 98. Ibid. 326.
  • 99. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (i), g. 384 (74).
  • 100. Ibid. xvi, g. 503 (32).
  • 101. Pat. R. 6 Eliz., pt. iii.
  • 102. Ibid. 7 Eliz., pt. ii, m. 23.
  • 103. Add. MS. 39333, fol. 92. The advowson was frequently leased to various persons: ibid.
  • 104. Ibid.; Add. MS. 39469, fol. 97.
  • 105. Ibid.; Chich. Dioc. Cal.
  • 106. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxiv, 232.
  • 107. Close R. 1659, pt. vii, no. 13; Add. MS. 5683, fol. 114.
  • 108. Suss. Arch. Coll. xiii, 248.
  • 109. Suss. Arch. Coll. xxv, 217.
  • 110. Horsfield, Hist. of Suss. i, 238.
  • 111. Cheale, Hist. of Ditchling, 27. This piece of land was the Rectorial Glebe (Tithe Award).