St Margaret's Pews Owners in 1850

by RW Standing

Arrangement of Seating
[ WSRO Par 6/4/1 ]

The pattern or logic of the seating is obvious at one level, in a division of the classes.  The 'commonality' were relegated to free benches in the South Aisle. The West Gallery was largely reserved for children, the Older's and Sunday Schools in particular, and the barrel organ.  The gentry, or merely affluent, occupied pews in the nave and chancel, with Gratwicke and his household ensconced in Ham chapel or chancel, and a few householders occupied seats in the south aisle gallery. One of the schedules for the old church provides a total of 473 sittings. Of these 105 were children in the west gallery, 234 were rented pews and gallery seats, and 134 were free bench spaces for the common villager.

In 1801, and later, several hundred inhabitants of a large village had no need to excuse themselves from Sunday service, there being no room for them, although an increasing number were Catholics and Nonconformists.

Another pattern appears when the owners names and houses are attached to the pews.  The centre of a Protestant church is the pulpit, or as described in the schedule, 'reading desk', which is drawn with steps in such a way as to suggest a double decker, the pulpit above a desk. With Pechell owning the advowson, his tenants had priority, together with the Duke of Norfolk. Their four Square Pews were directly adjacent to the pulpit, and occupied by families that tenanted the Pechell and Norfolk estates in the village. Church Farm, Avenals and Upper Ecclesden, with Old Place belonging to Norfolk. While Gratwicke in his 'square pew' could view the pulpit through the arch between his chapel and the chancel. The term 'square pew' was probably a mere reference to size, if they had been grand enclosed structures they would have cut off everyone in the chancel from a view of the preacher.

By coincidence or not, neighbouring Aberdeen House, Church House, School House, White Lodge, Conyers, and Watertone [by their modern names] were also neighbours in the chancel, together with several other old farmsteads.

Apart from the Rector's pew being in the nave, convenient to the reading desk and also overlooking virtually everyone in the church, there is no other obvious arrangement of pew lettings. 

It is a moot point whether the new church of 1853 provided more comfortable seating, with plain benches for everyone. At least it appears to have been made more egalitarian, other than in the appropriation of so many seats.  At least those who had taken the trouble to acquire regular spaces for their families may have attended diligently, if only as a polite custom.

At present it is not known what rents were paid for the pews, although it may be suspected a down payment was made in some instances for a long lease or perpetual right, with these mentioned in some house deeds. Henry Baker, for instance, had the right to a pew from 1769 for a cottage he owned, besides one he held as occupier of Conyers.

The List of Owners
A list as scheduled on the Key Plan (see below), together with notes written on individual pews in the plan follows which indicate the space allowed for each person and the number of people that could be accommodated.

Key Plan of Church Pews c1850

As indicated by the Key Plan (above), there were ranges of pews in the chancel and nave, all the same size,  and thereby for the same number of people. A minimum of 19 inches space was evidently allowed to each person, which is why some pews provided more, another person on the pew would have reduced their allowance below 19 inches.

Chancel                          52
4 Square Pews               24
11 Pews in nave             44
Gratwicke Chapel           36
Free Benches               134
Total Body of Church    290
South Gallery                  78
West Do                        105 children
Total of                         473 Church room

1          Mr Rd Amoore               5 persons - 3ft [by 6ft]                north side of communion table
2          Mrs Jams Olliver            5 persons - 3ft [by 6ft]                south side of communion table
3          Miss Loud                      4 persons at 19in - 6ft 6in          north side chancel
4          Mrs Parsons                  [4 pew size the same]               
5          School House                [4]                                           
6          Holmes & Grevatt           [4]                   
7          Lindfield                         [4]                               
8          Mr T Amoore servants    [4]                               
9          Mr Thos Amoore            6 persons                                   north side chancel next to arch
10         Mr Baker                       3 persons at 24in - 6ft                south side chancel
11         Monk                             [3 pew size the same]               
12         Mr J Grant or Free?      [3]                             
13         Mr Heath                       ]3]                               
14         Misses Olliver                [3]                               
15         Laurel Cottage [Smith?]  [3]                               
16         Avenals Farm                6 persons                                 south side chancel next to arch
17         Church Farm                 6 persons                                 nave west of chancel arch
18         Mr Miles Farm                6 persons                                 nave west of Ham chapel arch
19         [Gratwicke]                    3 persons                                  chapel north arch
20         [Gratwicke]                    4 persons                                  chapel north side
21         Mr Gratwicke                10 persons                                 chapel north side
22         Mr Gratwicke servants    5 persons                                chapel east side
23         Mr Best                          4 persons                                 chapel east side
24         [Gratwicke]                    3 persons                                  chapel east side
25         [Gratwicke]                    7 persons                                  chapel south side
---         preaching desk              ---                                              nave north side at chancel arch
26         Mr O Penfold                 4 person 22 ½ in - 7ft 6in          nave north side
27         Mr Baker the bakery      [4 pew size the same]               
28         Ecclesden Farm            [4]                              
29         The Rector                    [4]                               
30         Mrs Baker                      [4]                               
31         Malthouse & Decoy       [4]                               
32         Batcock & Johnson        [4]                               
33         Sayers & Ragless          [4]                               
34         Rose & Snelling             [4]                               
35         Standen & N sayers       [4]                               
36         Mr Edw Smith                 [4]                                            nave north side at tower arch
---         Usborne                         [?]                                            isolated south of 32 and 33
Free Sittings on benches in south aisle   

Plan of Gallery
West Gallery marked as 26ft long and measures 8ft 6in deep, an organ is shown recessed in tower arch
'Gallery for 105 School Children'    '26ft Long'        No seats shown
North end of west gallery a pew or seat is shown about 4ft long
'Rectors Servants'
South Gallery is shown scaling 34ft by 12ft 6in
Pews are shown in three rows mainly marked as  ;
9ft 6in  6 persons at 19 in.  
1          Woolven and Hills
2          Standens house and 3 tenements opposite
3          Mr Bakers and [T] Amoores servants
4          Upper Barpham Farm
5, 6, 7, nothing marked
8          Mr Gratwickes servants
9 to 15 not marked

Notes on the names in the List.
The houses and families so far as these can be identified from census and rate returns, and other sources.
1          Richard Amoore of Aberdeen House Tithe 389
2          Mrs Ann Olliver widow of James of Pound House Tithe 339 - James died 1839 Ann died 1858
3          Miss Loud of White House in Rectory Lane Tithe 392
4          Mrs Mary G Parsons of Church House Tithe 387
5          George Simpson of School House Tithe 385
6          James Grevatt and James Holmes for Kinnoul Tithe 421
7          [Linfield of Gothic house and cottages?]
8          Thomas Amoore servants of Old Place Tithe 451
9          Thomas Amoore of Old Place Tithe 451
10         Henry Baker of Conyers Tithe 383
11         Curtis Monk of Weavers Cottage Tithe 261
12         Mr J Grant or Free?  of ?
13         Robert Heath for Winchester House Tithe 413
14         Kate and F Olliver of Bennington Tithe 427
15         Mary Smith of Watertone House {Laurel] Tithe 391
16         Jane Penfold at Avenals Tithe 265
17         John West Heasman at Church Farm Tithe 395
18         William Miles of Upper Ecclesden Tithe 300
19         [Gratwicke]
20         [Gratwicke]       
21         WGK Gratwicke of Ham Manor Tithe 68H
22         Mr Gratwicke servants   
23         Mr Best [?]        [William Best of Elmgrove Cottages]
24         [Gratwicke]
25         [Gratwicke]
26         Oliver Penfold for Ivy Cottage Tithe 420
27         Wiliam Baker of Rosery Tithe 408
28         George Grant of Ecclesden Manor Tithe 309
29         Henry Reeks family of Rectory Tithe 422
30         Mrs Baker of Conyers?
31         ? Mills at Decoy Tithe 164 - James Grant at Malthouse Tithe 353
32         William Batcock of Saddlers Tithe 414   Mrs Elizabeth Johnson of Eachways Tithe 374
33         William Sayers? -  Henry Ragless of Anns Cottage Tithe 406
34         George Rose? of Thorpe Cottage Tithe 419, Robert Snelling cottage north of Eachways Tithe 375
35         Thomas Standing of Pigeonhouse Tithe 356 Nathaniel Sayers of Yew Trees Tithe 370
36         Edward Smith of Vine Cottage Tithe ....


Gallery for 105 School Children
1          Henry Woolvin of Elmgrove and Hills ?
2          Thomas Standing family and ?
3          Servants of both Henry Baker and T Amoore
4          Charles Hersee tenant of Duke of Norfolk at Barpham Farm
8          Mr Gratwicke's servants of Ham             
[On another list there are also the names, Mrs J Olliver servants;  Compton in lane; MIlls (Priors Lease); Mr T Amoore and Snelling;  Compton;   Mrs Jarrett]

[The second list has names of those for whom sittings were needed]
Sittings to be provided for
Lower Barpham farm
Mr Stephens house                   [William Stephen of Roundston Hose]
Mr Bellchambers house             [James Bellchamber of Hanglerton Farm]
Mr Evans house                        [?]
Mr Harwoods house                  [Henry Harwood miller of]
M Pesketts house                     [Zebedee Peskett's south of Red Lion]
Mr Bests house                         [William Best Elmgrove]
Mr Jas Grant servants
Mr H Grant
The Lamb
The Lion
Pellings house                           [beer shop at Saltings and Bow]
Mr Normans house                    [John Norman of Elmhurst]
Hammonds house                      [John Hammond of Brockets]
Green [blacksmith)                    [James Green of Blaber Cottage]
Nyes house                               [Rosery ?]
G Smiths house                         [George Smith of Vine etc]


RW Standing
August 2007