St Margaret's Church - 15thC to 19thC Changes

by RW Standing

1      The Early Church

The Parish Church of St Margaret West Angmering being in so defective a state as to be incapable of substantial Repair was by a Faculty duly obtained from the Lord Bishop of Chichester pulled down (with the exception of the Tower and Chancel Arch and portions of the East and North and South Walls of the Chancel) and a New Church erected on the same site with the addition of a North Aisle at the sold expense of William Gratwicke KInleside Gratwicke Esquire of Ham
The pulling down of the Old Church commenced the 14th of February 1852 and the New Church was opened for Divine Service by the Lord Bishop of Chichester on Easter Sunday the 27th March 1853
            Henry Reeks, Rector of East Angmering and Vicar of  West Angmering
            WGK Gratwicke Esq )
            Thomas Amoore       )     Churchwardens
            SS Teulon, Architect      F Cushing of Norfolk, Builder

[WSRO Par 6/1/2/2]

It is interesting that ten years previous to the rebuilding , Mr Gratwicke, the only "gentleman" in the parish other than the Rector, had been rejected by the ratepayers for the post of Guardian, associated with the workhouse, and was the only local person who wished to abandon the Gilbert Union constitution in favour of the new poor law.  Perhaps he was also a church reformer who exerted his will on the parish. However, the vestry resolution to proceed with the work was carried unanimously by the ratepayers, by all ten them, according to the faculty application.

Present day Angmering comprises three ancient parishes, each of which had their church. The buildings at  Barpham and East Angmering decayed and were demolished before artists could provide us with illustrations of such common rural scenes Loss of the superstructures has enabled archaeologists to dig down into the earliest foundations of these two churches, and their reports suggest Saxon or Saxon-Norman origins. Not at all unlikely in this densely settled coastal plain of Sussex.   [Notes on the archaeology of Barpham and East Angmering will be found in other articles]

Whether West Angmering - present St Margaret's - had such a Saxon beginning is pure speculation, unless the proposed refashioning of the interior allows for archaeological excavation in the chancel to establish early remains.

When a site was provided for the church, no doubt by the West Angmering lord of the manor, a location central to the village on the extreme eastern boundary of his manor was logical enough.  But it may be wondered how it was that the building came to be set at an angle and not more nearly east to west. Almost certainly the narrow strip of land that comprised God's Acre, happened to be on that alignment and the builders found this near enough.

It is unfortunate that the total rebuilding which took place in 1853, apart from the tower, destroyed almost all of that long sequence of improvements and additions to the building, typical of most Sussex churches, which can be read like a history book.  We are left with the rebuilt chancel and chapel arches, and a few chance notes by historians, but most significantly plans and five invaluable exterior drawings dating from 1789 to 1851. There is no knowledge of any investigation of the site of the Palmer Chapel before it was built over by the vestry or office and boiler house.

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2      Five Pictures and a Plan

Pictures of the old church at Angmering were all made before the age of the camera, and so there are no photographs to compare them with. Some understanding of the technique and viewpoint of the artist is necessary in order to interpret the pictures.

By good fortune there are five views drawn from different angles, and these can be compared as to points of agreement and divergence.  Naturally all views include the tower, from various angles. Then there are two views each of the north, east, and south sides of the church, and three of the west end. The church plan of c1850 is invaluable in interpreting these artists drawings.

Grimm 1789
British Library   Additional MS Burrell 5674 fol 32
"A tinted view of the north-west end of Angmering Church; drawn by S.H. Grimm.  ca. 1791."
Drawing title:     "N.W. end of Angmering Church"
Signature left:    "S.H. Grimm fecit 1789"
Inset right:         inset drawing of the foundation stone in the tower [1507 in Latin]
This drawing is one of the smaller sketches and may well have been finished in his studio, with the possibility of mistakes being made in some detail.  This kind of error is probable for East Preston, where the roof of the chancel is made to appear continuous with that of the nave. Although listed as 1791 it clearly has the inscription S.H. Grimm fecit 1789.  The viewpoint of the artist was from within the old churchyard, approximately at the east end of the present church hall, looking at the north wall of the nave and the west side of the tower.  He would have been looking upwards to the top of the tower, and its roof would not have been visible. Therefore, although the tower is drawn as if viewed straight on, the roof is not shown. The tower is made to appear entirely stonework, rather than flintwork with stone quoins, and its proportions are wholly too massive.

Petrie 1805
SAC     "The Sharpe Collection  ... 1797 - 1809  mainly by Henry Petrie FSA" Petrie 1805. Copyright: SAS
Only a description is in the book, the drawing is in the SAC collection at Upper Dicker.
"Angmering NE  in 1805   28 x 17cm       No 7"
Drawing title, "Angmering 1805"
Although not signed the SAC consider it to be stylistically a Petrie drawing; he was in the neighbourhood in 1805.
This watercolour is from the north east and appears to be a fairly accurate view of the east end of the chancel, north wall of the nave, and east side of the tower.  Having a distant perspective it does show the pyramid roof of the tower above the battlements.  The only criticism of this drawing is that no attempt was made to show the stone quoins or indicate the flintwork between, it may as well have been whitewashed.
The SAC description is erroneous in part, supposing the nave to be a north aisle.  No 'beacon' is evident.
"Delicately finished work using pen and watercolour for details of Horsham slabs, nave roof, and part of chancel roof, window tracery and tower .... Large and solid W tower with two stage buttresses with offsets showing at NW corner, parapet which is crenellated with low tiled pyramidal roof and possibly part of a beacon just showing.  ...... clock on the E wall [tower] down to the join of the N aisle with the tower.  In N aisle wall two windows each of 3 lights that nearest tower plain the eastern one under a square label with stops. ...... Two buttresses [on N wall] another square [window between them] Remains of blocked arch in chancel wall ...."

Holbrooke 1806
WSRO  Add Mss 23938
Book of drawings 12.5 in x 8in wide with no biographical note on Fred Holbrooke
First page heading:        "Compiled from actual Survey and the Churches in the Vicinity of Worthing sketched in the Summer of 1806 FH"
Drawing title   "Angmering Church" no signature evident.
A view from the south.
The facing page has notes by the artist:
"The church consists of a nave, south aisle and chancel.   The tower is low, square and embattled, supported with buttresses and built with flint.   There is a very fine Yew Tree in the church yard.   The whole edifice is marked by a ….. which excites attention.   There is a marble slab to the memory of Gratwickes family.   William Gratwicke Esq has a pleasant seat in the parish.   The rector of this Parish the Revd Wm Kinleside has rebuilt the Parsonage in a Gothic style.  He married the only daughter of Mr Gratwicke."
A view of the south side of the whole church, and acute angle of the west side of the tower.  The artist some distance away at the south west end of the old churchyard. Judging from other drawings by this artist he is not very reliable in detail, and the west tower window is clearly simplified with no mullions and tracery shown. The roofs of the nave and chapel, and their wall junction, are shown as if the chapel was set back to the north by a few feet, but in fact plan has this south wall continuous as does the Anon drawing of c1850. The proportions of the building are not quite correct.

Anon c1850
WSRO  Anon  Par 6/7/13
No inscription naming the artist, date, or the building, which is however obviously St Margaret's church.
View from the south west
A very amateurish artist, perhaps a parishioner since the drawing is in the parish archives.
The artists viewpoint south west of the churchyard after it was extended a short distance south in 1837, and on lower ground.  It shows the boundary wall of the churchyard, but with no reliable proportions or shape. Nevertheless, despite being badly proportioned the church is drawn with detail in the windows that appears to be more realistic than that of Holbrooke. The south side of the aisle and Gratwicke chapel, together with south and west sides of the tower are illustrated.

Borrer 1851
WSRO  Borrer PD2012   fol 80
Two volumes of photocopied drawings - not originals.
Original size of pages 12 in x 8 in wide, 128 folios mostly drawings but some schedules of drawings etc
First page title:  "Parish Churches of Sussex  'Truth and Good are one, And Beauty dwells in them' Akenside   Volume II Rape of Arundel and Part of Bramber."
View from the east
Drawing title: "Angmering   July 3 1851"
There is no signature but either Miss Walwyn or A.D. Borrer would have been the artist.
This was drawn from the present car park, and shows a stile where the lychgate now is.  The view includes both the east end of the chancel and the Gratwicke chapel on the south side, and also the east side of the tower but no useful detail for the north side of the nave. It appears to be fairly accurate. It is the only one of the illustrations that correctly picks out stonework, with flint between, to the tower so as to suggest what Godfrey overstates as 'chequer work'.

Anon c1850 Plan
WSRO  Par 6/4/1
Dimensioned plan of the church circa 1850 by unknown surveyor.
8 feet to 1 inch scale.  Drawn to schedule pew sittings, but is a section at door level with windows in some detail.
Plans of 1837 also exist, but these have no window and external wall detail, and merely confirm the general size and layout of the church as in the 1850 plan. These were prepared by architect George Harrison for the Church Society, ostensibly showing existing seating arrangements and proposed replanning.

Lady Farnborough c1807
Victoria & Albert Museum "Long" E21080-1957
Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough, 1772-1837
A book of sixty pages with drawings of places in Sussex including the Angmering-Rustington area
At present in the British Galleries and not available for research
It is only a reasonable probability that local church illustrations would be included

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3      The Architecture

Taking the views together, and comparing them with the plan, and to documentary sources, some small part of the architectural history of the old church may be deduced.

3a        The Tower
As is well known this is the only substantial survival from the ancient parish church.  It exhibits the usual good proportions of a late medieval tower, with a height about three times its width.  In a district deficient in good stone, it has thick rubble wall faced with knapped flint with quoins [corners] and windows in stonework.

Guide to the Church of St Margaret Angmering 
Edited by Walter H Godfrey for Sussex Arch Society [pub 1950-60s]
Tower. Photo: Ray Whitehouse
"The fine west tower was erected in 1507, the date being cut in gothic lettering between two crosses and the arms of Sion Abbey, which no doubt bore the major cost of its reconstruction. It may be that this was the date of the beginning of the work, for we find legacies by Ralph Shirley of Wiston (1510) to the church 'late fallen down', and by John Brooke of Rustington (1516) to 'the stepyll" while legacies towards the bells occur still later.

This tower, which has diagonal buttresses to the west, is faced with flint and green sandstone, arranged in a chequer pattern, but on the south side the stone is re-used Caen stone, probably from the twelfth-century building.
The tower has a rectangular staircase turret, attached to its north-east angle, that rises well above the battlemented parapet of its walls and has a longer axis east to west than north to south.
The tower has three stories, the tall ground floor having a western window of three cusped lights above the door, the head of which is modem. The inscription panel is between the door and window.
The tower arch to the nave is very high, of three orders, the centre one dying in to the plain arch jambs.
There is a door to the stair turret and an opening higher up the stair looking on the north aisle which communicated with a north gallery which was removed in 1934.
The ringers' stage, now the clock chamber, is lit by a single quatrefoil in a circle in the south wall (apparently substituted for a two-light window} and at the belfry stage there is a two-light window under a square head to each face.
The roof is not visible but from its apex rises a tall staff with a boldly designed weathercock as vane."

Since then there have been considerable alterations, most notably the insertion of a bellringers floor below the west window in 1990, placement of the organ in the tower arch, and relocation of the font. This has been of benefit to the ringers, who have a shorter pull than when they rang from the ground floor.  Aesthetically it is a great loss.  The fine tower arch is largely obscured, and no longer can the west window be seen framed in the arch and lighting the nave, in the way intended by the tower builders.

Although built in 1507, we have a testimony that some part of the church had collapsed previously.  Possibly the Caen stone in the lower stage of the tower was from a collapsed belfry, and indeed some part of the original may still exist in the present structure. 

From the church illustrations there can be no doubt that the original Syon tower has seen some changes. As the quoted Church Guide [Godfrey] mentions, on the south side a clover leaf [quatrefoil] window has replaced a two light window with label,  similar to others that remain.  The flint infilling of the old window can clearly be seen to the left of the new window.  This alteration may have been by Teulon in 1853, drawings of the church immediately afterwards do not show the tower fully, but there does seem to be a round headed window just showing.Church Plan c1850 annotated with text references

A more major alteration has been to the turret, on the north side.  On inspection, the top few feet is built of brick with flint external facing.  The difference between old and new flintwork can be seen.  This top section with its battlements was constructed between 1805 and 1851, not by Teulon. The original turret was no higher than the tower and topped by a hipped tiled roof. Edwin Harris, in his historical notes of 1912, suggests that it had some connection with the clock and its bell.  This conundrum has yet to be resolved. As mentioned in two other articles, the peal of six bells dates from 1783, replacing five of medieval origin, and it is possible the clock was installed in that same year. It is shown in the 1805 drawing, on the east side of the tower, and so its installation had no direct connection with the turret enlargement.

3b        The North Elevation of the Nave and Chancel
The two drawings that illustrate this aspect of the church are the earliest, 1789 and 1805, with the advantage that the views are from west and east of the churchyard.  In 1789 Grimm made the tower appear squat and fat, as if built entirely of stonework, and the north wall of the nave improbably low. In 1805 Petrie produced a view from the east of what appears to be architectural precision. In general detail they agree with each other and with the c1850 plan, except that in 1805 a window is shown at the west end of the nave where before was blank wall.

What appears to be trustworthy is that the wall was of the same height to both nave and chancel, and continued through in line.  A two light gothic style window was inserted in the west end of the nave before 1805. East of that probably a genuine Perpendicular window of three lights with a square label over.  Next to it, by the pulpit, a small low level two light window. This window is obscured in the 1805 drawing by a two stage buttress at the east end of the chancel. This buttress and another some seven feet further east enclosing a two light window with a square label, lighting the chancel. That left nearly twenty feet of chancel wall to the east corner of the church and a third two stage buttress.  Both drawings show what Godfrey and others assumed to be a blocked doorway in the chancel wall, originally communicating with the Palmer chapel. In fact at around eight feet wide it was almost certainly an arched opening, similar to that in the Gratwicke chapel, providing those in the chapel with a view of the chancel.  It may be assumed the buttresses were remnant of the chapel walls. Assuming the Petrie drawing shows the arch accurately, it was four centred pointed, which dates it approximately. 

3c         The Palmer Chapel
In 1540 John Palmer acquired ownership of the former Syon manor of Angmering, and with it the patronage of its church.  On making a will in 1563, he requested that his body be laid to rest in West Angmering chapel, with the large sum of £20 bequeathed for its repair "with all spede possyble".  This chapel was no doubt the building that opened from the north side of the chancel, and which became ruined after the Palmer family sold their manors, and was demolished in 1774, according to Dallaway [History of ... Sussex 1819]

Now it seems improbable that Palmer could have built this chapel, and shortly afterwards found it necessary to fund repairs.  It was almost certainly an existing building of pre-Reformation date.  What more likely than the chantry chapel of St Mary at West Angmering, with John Worthiall the last incumbent, mentioned in 1548 [SRS 36 and 52].  Time enough for it to become neglected prior to John Palmer taking it in hand as a family mortuary, if indeed Syon had not neglected it since 1460.

The earliest church drawing was made only 15 years after the 1774 demolition, with no clue as to the extent of the chapel, or how constructed. Burials and headstones were already taking over the site.  It is only the blocked arch that points to a 15th century date for its building.

Church Inspection 1724
The Repairs of the Chancel belong to Cecil Bishop the Impropriator of the Tythes of West Angmering which is
in good Order  Another Chancel on ye North side ye Repair of which belong to Sr John Shelley & is very
Although Bishopp of Parham took over the Palmer manors, the greater part of West Angmering was acquired by Shelley, and with it the chapel.

History of the Western Division of ... Sussex    Rape of Arundel   Dallaway 1819
On the north side of the church, was a small sepulchral chapel, so appropriated by the family of Palmer.  It had fallen in decay, and was taken down in 1774 by Sir John Shelley. 

Guide to the Church of St Margaret, Angmering - Walter H Godfrey
On each side of the chancel were flanking chapels, built to receive the tombs of the two local families, the Palmers on the north and the Gratwickes on the south. The Palmer Chapel had disappeared before 1805, the approximate date of the drawing in the Sharpe Collection, which shows a blocked doorway in the north wall of the chancel which at one time communicated with it. It is said that it was pulled down by one of the Shelley family who owned New Place and the memorials removed to Michelgrove.

Another incentive for the Palmer family to repair West Angmering church was the union of east and West Angmering parishes in 1573.  Now the church on the opposite side of the road became redundant, and funds, and perhaps material from that church, could be concentrated on the surviving building.

SRS 58 Chapter Acts 1 April 1574
On the same day they confirmed the union of the Rectories of Eastangmeringe and Westangmeringe
[footnote] Dated by the Bishop 9 April 1573 at the petition of Sir Richard Humfrey Vicar of West Angmering the consent of Thomas Palmer knight patron of both benefices being given 26 March 1574

3d        The West end of the Chancel and Chapel
For views of the east end of the church, we have the benefit of the 1805 drawing and 1851 by Borrer. These portray the large three light windows of the Gratwicke Chapel and Chancel, which appear to have been exactly the same and similar to the present windows.  Hood moulds over pointed windows with panel tracery. If these windows were in as fine a condition as the Sharpe drawing suggests, it is a wonder they were not kept in 1853.

The Chapel and the chancel have separate roofs abutting at a central gutter. Behind them rises the Horsham slab roof covering both nave and south aisle in one.  Beyond that is the tower with its clock facing towards the village, pyramid roof, and mast with weathercock.

Borrer had his viewpoint outside the churchyard, in what is now the car park.  Instead of a lychgate, a much more rustic entrance included a three bar farm gate on the right, and a stile south of that with steps up to gate height.  Each side the churchyard walls was no doubt in flintwork although it is difficult to tell.

Guide to the Church of St Margaret, Angmering - Walter H Godfrey
Judging from the [Sharpe 1805] drawing just mentioned it would seem that the main features of the chancel dated from the fifteenth century, since it had a good east window with rectilinear tracery and north windows of the same date.

3e        The South Elevation of the Aisle and Chapel
For the south elevation, the frontage with its entrance porch and the tower left, and Gratwicke chapel right, it is unfortunate that the two least reliable drawings must suffice - Holbrooke of 1806 and the anonymous parishioner of about 1850.  As previously mentioned, nothing supports the impression given by Holbrooke that the chapel was recessed back from the nave.

It is fairly certain, from both drawings and the plan, that the entrance porch was a poor boarded hut of no visible merit.  Peculiarly the entrance must have been from the east side under the eaves.  This porch covered the ancient doorway into the east end of the nave,  the stone work of which may have been reused in the present church.

Each side of the porch tall diamond paned widows rose up to the underside of the nave roof.  Holbrooke makes them appear quite domestic, but Anon does at least suggest stone mullions and jambs.  It may be suggested that medieval windows were heightened and reconstructed to provide light to the gallery, to the south side of the nave, constructed in 1737. In fact there is an 1838 account in the vestry book which mentions various works, including a new window for about £5, which may have been such an alteration.

At least the Gratwicke chapel had a recognisable Perpendicular style window, of two lights with a square hood mould.  An indeterminate pointed widow in the west wall of the nave, and a peculiar small square low window in the south wall, where the present porch is, completed the picture.

The 'fine yew tree' east of the church is illustrated.  It is there to this day, but how old is unknown, together with an over abundance of other trees overgrowing the tombstones.

3f         Gratwicke Chapel
The Gratwicke Chapel was re-dedicated to St Nicholas in 1933, by the bishop of Chichester, in order to preserve the name of East Angmering Church, which was located approx 100 yards to the east of St Margaret's. 

An interesting point about the chapel, is that although it was until recently named the Gratwicke Chapel and the family burial place, so far as can be judged it was built long before that family became ascendant in Ham. It may originally have been founded for the village of Ham, to be maintained by them and lords of the manor, together with the south aisle. However, Ham was in West Angmering parish and the 1724 church book does not distinguish this chapel from the general church, or note it as being maintained by Ham or Gratwicke.

Thomas Gratwicke Will 1711
In the Name of God Amen I Thomas Gratwicke of Ham  ......  And my Body I commit to the Earth to be buried in Ham Chancell in Angmering Church in such decent and Christian manner ....

3g        The Roof
Although not stated in so many words, the illustrators are unanimous that the entire roof was covered with Horsham stone slabs.  No other stone roofing was available. This beautiful but heavy 'healing' was replaced on almost every church that was restored in the 19th century, by dull mechanical clay tiles, with perhaps a token course of slabs left at the eaves. These slabs were laid in sizes diminishing towards the ridge. No doubt their vast weight contributed to the bulging and instability of the south wall reported in 1851.

The second point of agreement is that the nave and south aisle was under one roof, the ridge of which was at the south corner of the tower, almost at the height of the clock.  There is a difference in the quality of flintwork on the east face of the tower, with the best work above the line of the old roof.  This indicates that the nave roof was of the same date or earlier than the tower.

East of the nave the chapel and chancel were under separate roofs, a lead gutter at their junction.  The nave roof might have been carried through over the chapel, but with the nave maintained by the parishioners, chancel by the patron, and chapel presumably by Ham manor, it were better to keep these structures distinct.

In fact this explains why church roofing, in old illustrations, so often has a joint line at the junction of nave and chancel, maintenance was seldom coordinated. The same would not have applied to the Palmer chapel, since that family were the patrons of West Angmering maintaining both the chancel and attached chapel. The location of this chapel at the extreme east end of the chancel would have presented an unusual appearance whichever way the roof was aligned, perhaps like Cuckfield with a lean to roof and window facing east.

It is interesting that Borrer has timberwork showing at the end of the nave and chapel, at roof level. These tend to indicate what would be expected, a wagon roof truss, or similar - necessary where the window extends above eaves level.

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4      The Interior

4a        Layout
There are a number of plans for the modern church, in the Church Guide and recently for the proposed re-ordering, and these are accurately surveyed. For the old church there are plans dating from 1837 and c1850, which were drawn up to show the layout of pews and general furnishings, and were accurate enough for that purpose.

The advantage of a modern plan, where the church has been rebuilt on old foundations, is that the carefree way in which medieval builders set out buildings is immediately evident.  With the nave as the original structure, it was easy enough for the south aisle to be squarely related to it.  But the chancel manages to "weep" to the north, or is angled away from the nave in that direction, despite which the chancel arch is set at a contrary angle and should have caused a "weep" south.  It was imagined this symbolised the crucified body, but in fact chancels vary widely in their alignment. 

What the modern plan confirms is that the nave was about 16 feet wide, whereas the south aisle was notably more at 19 feet. It may be observed that the ridge of the old church would not have been directly above the arcade, which supported the roof timbers, but this was of little moment in crown post construction. Indeed one side of the roof could have been slightly steeper than the other side.

The Gratwicke Chapel remains the same size as before 1853,  the width of the south aisle by nearly sixteen feet. 

An  interesting feature is that the chancel is and was unusually long in relation to the nave, at over at over 29 feet,  the nave being only 34 feet, with the chancel arch between making the whole church over 66 feet.  But then, with a large chapel south of the chancel and, until about 1774, a mortuary chapel on the other side, an elongated chancel was needed to assert itself architecturally. That in itself leads to speculation that a smaller presbytery may exist below the floor.

The tower or belfry was built directly in line with the north side of the nave, and is 11 feet and 6 inches wide inside, but nearly 20 feet long.  It is the spiral staircase, or turret, which projects out at the north side like a large buttress, and rises above the tower. The walls of the tower are necessarily substantial compared to the main building, due to its height.

4b        Origins

History of the Western Division of ... Sussex    Rape of Arundel   Dallaway 1819
The present Church, appendant to the vicarage, has a nave and south aisle, the dividing arcade of which exhibits the style of Henry the Sixth time, with the benches of carved oak remaining.

Guide to the Church of St Margaret, Angmering - Walter H Godfrey
Judging from the [Sharpe 1805] drawing just mentioned it would seem that the main features of the chancel dated from the fifteenth century, since it had a good east window with rectilinear tracery and north windows of the same date....but it seems clear, from what remains of the chancel arch (now much restored) that this dated from the late twelfth century, which would place the original nave and chancel in the transition from Norman to the first period of Gothic.  The existing arch to the Gratwicke Chapel suggests that this chapel was part of the fifteenth century re-building of both the chancel and the south aisle of the nave which preceded the present one, but the responds of the arch and the south door to the nave, which has evidently been moved (perhaps more than once) and retooled, may also originally have been formed in the twelfth century.

Therefore tenuous evidence has the nave and chancel dating from the Norman period, as would be expected.  The 12th century south door stonework no doubt moved from the nave in 1450, into which it had provided direct access, to the south aisle, and was re-used in 1853. The south aisle and 'Gratwicke' chapel were both built in about 1450. In fact the whole church would seem to have been refashioned in that period with new windows in the current style.  It may be no coincidence that West Angmering was transferred from Fescamp to Sion in 1460.

The nave-aisle roof would have been built at the date of the arcade in about 1450.  A theory that it was constructed in the 18th century, together with the gallery, is not supported by any faculty of that date.  Indeed there are examples of this kind of roof at both Findon and Ashurst, as well as in other counties.  We can imagine it having magnificent crown post timber work, with a timber plate a few feet above the three arches of the arcade supporting the posts.  These posts would have risen to a tie beam just below the ridge.  It is unlikely that a ceiling hid this view, and beams would have spanned in turn across the nave and south aisle.  Only vastly superior buildings such as Westminster Hall could boast roofs able to span the total distance of nave and aisle.

Building the south aisle and arcade virtually necessitated a new nave roof, and so a single span rather than two was probably the economic decision.  The arcade minimised need for heavy timbers, and an expensive lead gutter was not required.

4c         Medieval Relics
Controversy over church reordering today, is nothing compared with past events, in particular the Protestant revolution.  Present parishioners carried back to the early 19th century would barely recognise the building from outside, and the interior would be a revelation, while the medieval interior would stupefy.

When work began in 1853 it is reported that traces of a doom were discovered on the chancel arch. Medieval artists spiced their religion with humour, and in it the men were all going to Hell and the women to Paradise.  Much of the other wall spaces would also have been painted with biblical scenes, before a puritanical brush whitened everything.  An ornate timber screen with rood loft above, divided parishioners in the nave from priestly ritual in the sanctuary. Much of the rest of the church would have been covered with pictorial religion.

As previously quoted, Dallaway in 1819 referred to benches of carved oak remaining. This is vague enough, but it does suggest the possibility of late medieval benches with carved ends, similar to those at Burpham and elsewhere.

Fonts are often the oldest objects in a  church, and there are drum fonts surviving from the Saxon period. Nothing is known of the original Angmering vessel, but it may wondered if when turned out in 1853 it may have made its way to some farm or house for a more mundane use, ending a thousand years of Christian ritual.  They were usually placed in the nave opposite the entrance, but after St Margaret's acquired a south aisle it was moved to a location within the central arch of the arcade - if the 1837 plan is to be believed. But, perhaps as a result of the new furnishing it was then relocated in the Gratwicke chapel, and the c1850 plan does at least suggest it was octagonal, which suggests 13th century or later, but beyond that all is silent.

Eden Baker brass

1662 Presentment
To the 3 Article wee have a Font of Stone with a good Cover there unto standing in a Convenient place
towards the Lower end of our Church.

All fonts were required to have locked covers to protect the hallowed, and often impure, water. Some of these were very ornate.

Fortunately many memorials were saved from the old church in 1853, but whether they were replaced in the old positions is not stated. The Church Guide [Godfrey] contains a schedule of these which need not be repeated here.  They will be found in all parts of the building including the tower. There is a question as to some memorials in the chancel floor which are hidden, and not recorded.  A 'brass' in the nave at the chancel step (see illustration on left (SAC Vol. 76)), is particularly vulnerable if replanning exposes it to trampling feet.  A figure of an Elizabethan lady with the inscription:

Here lyeth the bodye of Eden Baker late
wife of John Baker of Eglesden & daughter
to Thomas Truelove and Ales his wife who
for her wisdome vertue and modesty the like
hath seldome bene sene  She deceased the xxiii
day of Aprill 1598 beinge of ye age of 23 yeare

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5       Protestant Furnishings

5a        The Pulpit
By the 18th century the church, and certainly locally, was quite positively Protestant. If nothing else that meant opposition to ritual, the Pope, and any kind of enthusiasm. It meant patriotism, parliament, and parish snobbery.  Schools gave instruction in the 'Protestant Religion', and the Ten Commandments took the place of rood and doom in local churches. Tolerance in religion meant nothing more, otherwise the Church of England would not have survived.

Our eyes have been cultivated by nearly two hundred years of the Oxford Movement, and the seating arrangements, and associated snobbery, in the 18th century appear quite extraordinary. With use of the whole chancel as an extension of the nave, its pews pressed round both sides of the communion table at the east end.  The Gratwicke chapel had become a grand family pew, and ranging down below that were the closed pews about the pulpit belonging to the principal farms.  This three decker pulpit was placed adjacent to the north pier of the chancel arch, central to the congregation, whose benches and pews were directed towards it and their preacher. Other principal families rented pews in the chancel and nave.  For the commonality, free benches were provided in the south aisle, extending through into the south part the nave.  Even more space came to be provided in galleries at the west end of the nave and along the south wall of the aisle.

5b        Galleries and Musicians
At an unknown time, probably in the 17th century, a west gallery was provided for the nave.  This may well have been occupied by the band, in the days before organs were reintroduced.  Pews and benches at that period faced towards the central preaching desk, and only part of the congregation needed to face about towards the band when it played.  It is known that a band existed right through to the incumbency of William Kinleside, which lasted until 1836.  He, by the way, was the father of William Kinleside Gratwicke of Ham, who built the new church.  Rev. William was a keen musician and played the cello, which was passed on to the next Rector.

A barrel organ was also in use, but this reputedly only had eight tunes, which must have palled rather.  Plans of the church show the west gallery, with what must have been this small instrument set back in the tower arch. These instruments often had sizeable pipework.  It was not until 1860 That WGK Gratwicke presented the first keyboard organ, no doubt in connection with the formation of the Association of Parochial Choirs.

In 1737 another gallery was inserted  in the south aisle, measuring eleven feet by thirty four feet, the length of the south wall, as specified by the faculty and shown on plans.  This linked to the west gallery, and access must have been provided through the tower arch and also by a stairs to the side of the Gratwicke chapel arch. The height of the south aisle wall is uncertain but was just adequate in to provide head room away from the rear of the gallery, and to ensure those who sat in its pews had an adequate view of the preaching desk or pulpit through the south arcade arches.

These galleries were supported on what were no doubt timber posts.  Four of these supporting the south gallery were very substantial, perhaps ten inches square, but a gallery plan does not show them continuing up as roof supports. It is however conceivable that they did do so, if needed to take load off the south wall reported to be buckling in 1853.  The end of the gallery projected half way across the Gratwicke chapel arch. On the other hand, the older west gallery had smaller posts, and was extended through the west arch of the arcade to meet the new gallery when it was built.

5c         Pews and Benches
Invaluable plans of the church, with pews and benches detailed, were prepared by the architect George Harrison in 1837 for the Church Society, evidently when it was decided to rearrange and renew the seating.  The 18th century had seen the church largely occupied by box pews, with limited free benches.  The replanning retained all the Gratwicke pews, and those by the communion table, and four square pews next to the chancel arch.  But the south aisle was provided with north facing free benches, and new closed pews were provided elsewhere, all still facing towards the pulpit or reading desk next to the chancel arch.

In fact there is an 1838 account in the vestry book which mentions various works, including a new window for about £5, and altered seating to the 'old gallery' - the west no doubt - at another £5, but also a large residue of £100 to be paid by subscription for unspecified work. Details about that sum would have been in account and minute books that are no longer with us. The contribution made by the Church Society is not mentioned.

Rebuilding the church in 1853 increased useful floor area by a third, with or without the galleries, and the new north aisle did have a gallery until removed in 1934.  On this basis it might be expected that the seating capacity must have increased substantially, but this is not so, for now the chancel returned to a semblance of the medieval presbytery, as a place of ritual.

There is some dissention about the figures, but the architect Teulon estimated that after 1837 as many as 498 places were available including those for children.  A notice which had been displayed in the church recording the 1837 re-pewing, provides numbers but is almost impossible to interpret..  One of the schedules for the old church provides a total of 473 sittings. Of these 105 were children on the west gallery, 234 were rented, and 134 free on benches. The adults were calculated as occupying 19 or 20 inches of pew length. Presentments by the Rector after 1853 has the new church providing only 400 sittings of which 150 were unappropriated

It is not entirely clear how the pews were distributed, but certainly many of them belonged to households rather than individuals.  There is at least one house the deeds of which include ownership of a particular seat.  But more conclusively it was often house names that were listed on a seating plan of about 1850. Quite apart from Mr Gratwicke's large box in his chapel, and the rector in the nave, notable places included Ecclesden farm [Manor], The Decoy, and School House.  But in particular the principal farms owned by Mr Pechell, lord of the manor, Avenals, Church Farm, Mr Miles' Farm [Upper Ecclesden], and the Duke of Norfolk's Upper Barpham seat on the south gallery. In other cases the farm tenant is named but with a pew that clearly descended with the property, as with Mr Amoore of Old Place another Norfolk farm.

Four of the principal farm's had 'square pews' centred around the pulpit - Old Place and Avenals just inside the chance,  Church farm and Upper Ecclesden against the south pier of the chancel arch. Some other notable families occupied the chancel, including Mrs Olliver of Pound House, Henry Baker of Conyers, and owners or occupiers of the large residences near the church, such as Watertone [by its modern name], White House, and Church House. The term square pew, was used factually for a large enclosure, although nothing tall and canopied was likely in that location, having numerous other ordinary closed pews behind them.  For that matter the same can be said about Gratwicke's large enclosure on the north side of his chapel, with servants seats on the other sides.

The one most important family missing from the pew rent list, is that of Pechell, as owners of East and West Angmering manors. The explanation is simply that they lived at Castle Goring, and no doubt went to church in that parish.  It was their tenants who occupied many of the pews.

Another great feature of Protestantism was the use of biblical texts, and the Commandments, painted on the walls or on panels - usually next to the communion table.  Quite probably the texts around the chancel arch after the rebuilding, were reproduced from what was already there. 

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6      The Artists

As with so many churches and buildings in Sussex, the earliest drawing of St Margaret's is that prepared by SH Grimm for the proposed history of the county by William Burrell that was never completed. 

William Burrell [of Sussex]
William Burrell (1732-96) was born in the City of London.  His father was a considerable merchant ... William entered Westminster School ... proceeded to St. John's College, Cambridge ... and graduated L.L.D. in 1760.... he was admitted as an advocate in the Arches Court of Canterbury and ... Fellow of the College of Advocates ... Doctors' Commons. [Retiring in 1774]  ... His wife, a woman 20 years his junior was Sophia ... daughter of Charles Raymond of Valentines in Ilford, Essex ... her father was made a baronet with reversion to Burrell [and] just before he died  ... bought Knepp Castle in Shipley ...  That gave the Burrell's a country residence in Sussex ... Burrell now devoted his energies to the history of Sussex ... In 1775 he first commissioned pictures from James Lambert and his nephew James and in 1778 from S.H. Grimm.  Burrell suffered a stroke in 1787 ... nevertheless continued research until 1791 ... It was presumably in the late 1780s that he offered his collection to the publisher John Nichols, but Nichols declined to print them... So Burrell bequeathed it by his will of November 1790 to the British Museum.  Burrell died ... on 20 January 1796 ...

S.H. Grimm
[SRS 85] The pictures by Grimm are arguably Burrell's greatest contribution to Sussex history ...if the views had not been captured by Grimm's brush they would have been lost to us beyond retrieval.
Samuel H. Grimm (1733-1794) [of] Switzerland.  In the 1750s he was a pupil of the painter Johann L. Aberli in Berne. In or soon after August 1765, Grimm moved to Paris where he joined the circle of J.G. Willie, a leading engraver ... in February 1768 he left Paris for London. There  he took lodgings ... with a printseller at ... Covent Garden, where he remained for the rest of his life.  [Amongst clients for his work was] Gilbert White for his Natural history ... of Selborne (1789) a months work in 1776.  His work in Sussex for Burrell, resulting in nearly 900 finished watercolours ...  Some are large and highly finished pieces, the majority small with at most blue and brown colour washes added, as views worked up from sketches in the field, including almost invariably one or two people at work. 
Grimm died of mortification of the bowels on 14 April 1794.

Henry Petrie
[Sussex Depicted SRS 85] The most significant of the antiquaries was Henry Petrie (1772-1842). He did some teaching at his father's school in Stockwell in Surrey, but was otherwise a scholar pursuing his own, unpublished, researches, possibly wit the support of the 2nd earl Spencer who was collecting a fine library at Althorp. The exceptional knowledge he gained of the manuscript sources for English history secured his appointment as keeper of the Records of the Tower in 1819. Between 1800 and 1809, he made several hundred watercolours, mostly of churches and castles in Bedfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Those of Sussex, dated between 1802 and 1809, alone amount to over 400 views of which those of churches are in the possession of the SAS, and those of the religious houses and secular buildings were still (in 1999) with the dealer who had bought the entire collection in 1975.

Fred Holbrooke
No information on this artist has been found, the book of his drawings does not provide any information, other than the slight clue that he may have been a resident of the Worthing area. All but two of the churches he illustrated were in the neighbourhood.

It may be assumed that this collector or artist was a member of the well known Sussex family. William of Henfield, 1781-1862, was a noted naturalist.  Those drawings with signatures have either A.D. Borrer, and more often E.R.W - Miss Walwyn. 

The artist in the Parish collection of Mss is entirely unknown.  George Smith a portrait artist lived nearby the church, but it is assumed he was a competent painter.

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7      Some Documentary References

History of the Western Division of ... Sussex    Rape of Arundel   Dallaway 1819  Cartwright 1832

West Angmering (the present church) was a vicarage by the ordination of Bishop John Climping in 1260, of which the impropriation was made to the abbey of Fescamp in Normandy and was transferred, as above related, to the nunnery of Sion having been valued in the Nonae Roll at 12 marks, 6s 8d, with a glebe of 20 acres of arable land.  The advowson was included in the grant of the manor to Sir Thomas Palmer, after the suppression of that convent.
The present Church, appendant to the vicarage, has a nave and south aisle, the dividing arcade of which exhibits the style of Henry the Sixth time, with the benches of carved oak remaining.
On the north side of the church, was a small sepulchral chapel, so appropriated by the family of Palmer.  It had fallen in decay, and was taken down in 1774 by Sir John Shelley.  At the west end is a low tower embattled, over the entrance door of which is carved an escocheon being a plain cross (the arms of the nunnery of Sion) .... built in 1507 ....

SAC 83
References to Sussex Churches in the Ecclesiologist. extracted by OH Leeney, parishes A to E
 [Footnote] "The tower, though of no great height, is a fine late Perpendicular structure; the masonry is an irregular chequer of flint, green sandstone, and (on the south side) of Caen stone with Norman tooling recognizable in places, pointing to an earlier structure. The west doorway, partly of Caen, has been partly renewed in Bath stone. An inscription over the doorway, between two Calvary crosses, with arms of Sion Abbey (Middlesex), gives the date 1507, cut in an oblong piece of Caen stone."

Wills in SRS 41
Ralph Sherley of Westmeston   1509-10 Feb 11   To the parisshe church of Westangmeryng late fallen down ijs iiijd
John Brooke of Rustington   1516 Oct 1   I bequeth to the Stepyll of West Angmeryng ijs
Thomas Hamper   1554-5 Mar 20  To the reparacions of the churche of Westangmeringe xijd

SRS 52             Dean and Chapter 1472-1544
No 55    On the same day [in 1523] the decree uniting the chantry of St Mary of Westangmeryng with Wyndham Hospital was confirmed

Note  Chantries dissolved in 1547

SRS 36 Chantries
p62       2nd year Edward 6th [1548-9}
John Worthiall incumbent of the late Chantry of St Mary in Angmerynge co Sussex Yearly revenue 40s
Pension 40s

SRS 58             Chapter Acts 1546-1618
No 922              At the petition of Jonas MIchaell clerk the Chapter certified ... that they found in their registers the record of the union of the Churches of Estangmering and Westangmering by Richard [Curtis] late Bishop dated 9 April 1573                      -                        26 May 1593
No 783              Chapter Acts 1 April 1574
On the same day they confirmed the union of the Rectories of Eastangmeringe and Westangmeringe
[footnote] Dated by the Bishop 9 April 1573 at the petition of Sir Richard Humfrey Vicar of West Angmering the consent of Thomas Palmer knight patron of both benefices being given 26 March 1574

WSRO Wills
Frokbrok Thomas 1562
In the name of god Amen this is the last will of me Thomas Frokbrock of ... Westangmeryng
Item I give to the repayring of the steeple of the parishe [12d]

PRO Wills
John Palmer died 1563
John Palmer of West Angmering,            01 February 1562/3        PROB 11/46
[Notes made by Dr Hughes 2002]
Body to be laid in Westangmorynge chapell
£20 to mending of chapell "with all spede possyble"

Church Inspection Angmering 1602
Angmeringe       The seats want pavinge or plankinge in the bottom, there is a littell Chauncell one the Northe side of the [...] that hath neede to be repared the coveringe selinge glas windowes and pavinge

Church Inspection Angmering 1636
The Churchyard wants fencing round about
The Walls of the Channcell want plaistring and whiteing
There is a place on the left hand of the Channcell which wants paveing
The Seats on the left side of the Channcell want to be paved or Boarded in the Bottome
There wants a dore to the Pulpett

A Presentment bill made by the Churchwardens and Sidmen of the parish of Angmering ...  1662
Concerning Churches Chappells etc.

To    the 1 Article wee answere that our church is well kept and repaired as by this Article is required
To the 2 Article our Steeple hath not been pulled downe nor any of our bells sold
To the 3 Article wee have a Font of Stone wth a good Cover there unto standing in a Convenient place
towards the Lower end of our Church alsoe a desent Communion Table with a Carpet to spread there
upon & a Faire Comunion Cup and Flaggon there unto belonging.
To    the 4th Article wee have a Convenient Pew for our Minister to read divine Service in a Pulpit
wth a Comley Cloth and Cushion for the same ......

Church Inspection 1724
Transcribed in 1977 from Ep1/26/3 p2 a book containing copies of 26/4 returns
4          The Church in good Order excepting ye ivy with which the Roof is over run without, appears too much within & that the Walls  are some wt foul 
            No poor box 5 bells All the Utensils for the Communion Table Desk and Pulpit in good Order
5          The Repairs of the Chancel belong to Cecil Bishop the Impropriator of the Tythes of West Angmering wxh is in good Order  Another Chancel on ye North side ye Repair of which belong to Sr John Shelley & is very ruinous

EpI/17/39   f160
 [30th June 1738]
A business of granting a faculty or licence to the Inhabitants and parishioners of the parish
of Angmering (within the Archdeaconry and diocese of Chichester) for their holding and
quiet enjoying of a Gallery or Seatroom by them lately erected and built in the South Isle of
the said parish Church in Length four and thirty feet and in breadth Eleven feet or thereabouts
promoted by the Inhabitants aforesaid against all persons whatsoever having Interest therein

SRS Vol 75
Religious Census of 1851

For Angmering, Rev Reeks provided the information that the church had a capacity of 480 people, just about the same as the church schedule quoted. 
On Sunday 30th March 1851 the weather was 'unfavourable' with 245 attending morning service, 140 general congregation and 105 children. Evening service 299,  including 205 general congregation and 94 children This Rev Reeks compared with an average attendance of 305, including 105 children.

SAC 43
A Doom was discovered at the restoration of the church 1852-3 over the chancel arch which has been practically rebuilt.  In the composition the whole of the women were going to bliss and the men to misery.  JLA 1854  [J Lewis Andree a contemporary observer]

Sussex Church Music in the Past
by KH Macdermott L.Th.  ARCM
Rector of Selsey       1922

Angmering once has a musical Rector for 61 years in the person of the Rev. Wm Kinleside, whose incumbency lasted from 1776 to 1836.  he played the cello himself and encouraged his church band in every way.  Often he drove in his chariot, a ponderous old coach with a pair of sleek horses, to Chichester to attend the concerts held there; and when we know that the coach probably took at least 2 ½ hours to do the 15 miles journey from Angmering to Chichester, we must indeed admire the musical enthusiasm of the worthy Mr Kinleside.

RW Standing
August 2007



  1. Ray Whitehouse for photo of Church Tower (2007)
  2. Petrie drawing and Eden Baker brass by courtesy and kind permission of the Sussex Archaeological Society - website: )
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