Population of Angmering

The population of Angmering has fallen and risen many times over the centuries. In 1334 East Angmering was referred to as a town when granted a charter to hold a market and a fair. However, within 20 years its population had probably been decimated by the Black Death (bubonic plague) which struck so many villages and towns. The village of Bargeham in the north of the parish was virtually wiped out by the plague.

It is interesting to note the rise in population by 1841 when medicine and health standards started to reduce mortality rates, the fall of the population in the mid-19th Century, possibly resulting from emigration programmes, and the rising population early in the 20th Century when there was a growth in the market gardening industry. Growth is also seen after both WW1 and WW2.

Population statistics before 1801 are unreliable but can be approximately determined from the Subsidy Rolls, Protestation Returns, Religious Cenuses and taxation records by applying accepted criteria for multipliers to account for wives and children.

Records of Angmering's population are shown below:
Year Approx Population
1332 580
1524 390
1641 460
1676 310
1724 320
Year Population
1801 708
1811 793
1821 897
1831 828
1841 1002
1851 1012
1861 953
1871 1019
1881 955
1891 990
1901 1022
1911 1026
1921 1122
1931 1266
1951 2025
1961 2850
1971 4816
1981 5381
1991 5591
2001 5812
2011 7788
2014 c 8000
2021 8864
2023 c 10,100

With the massive new developments around the parish that have been approved or are in progress, it is estimated that the population of Angmering will grow to about 13,000 by 2026/27.

Angmering Population
by R W Standing

Angmering was not an island, but close set with other parish and village neighbours, between the downs and sea. Most of these were smaller in area and population, with Angmering as something of a market centre to them. Not until the 19th century did Littlehampton or Worthing in Broadwater parish, expand beyond village proportions. The chief town continued to be Arundel, with its lordly castle, markets and fairs.

Only with the first modern census of 1801 can any dimensions be given to these places. Arundel with 1850 people, over twice the size of Angmering with 708, and Littlehampton 584. Nearby villages included, Clapham at 197, Patching 192, Ferring 238, East Preston 170, Rustington 261 and Poling 170. That is to say, while Angmering was a satellite village to the town of Arundel, it in turn represented a third of its own satellite group. Was this the case earlier, in the 16th to 18th centuries?

By good fortune there is a sort of census, made at a time when church registers suggest the population was at a long time low, in 1724 [EpI/26/3]. In this the clergy were required to state how many families there were in their parishes. The term 'family' we would understand as household, including everyone in a house, relatives and servants. In some places estimates may have been made, in other parishes rate books had the answer at hand.

Trusting the census, we find for 1724. At Arundel 188 families, and Littlehampton 30. For local villages, Angmering 64, Clapham 21, Patching probably similar, Ferring and Kingston 37, Preston 20, Rustington 38 and Poling 21. In other words the relationships are much the same as in 1801, although Angmering dominates its area rather less with 30 per cent of local population.

The actual population represented by the families is a matter of contention. An average of 5 persons to a family is considered fair, and in 1801 an average family in the district [Poling Hundred] was just over 5. Therefore we may estimate the population of Angmering in 1724 at 320 or rather more. Half what it was to become by 1801.

Going back another century to 1641, when registers suggest the local population was higher than in 1720. Another good census can be found in the Protestation Returns [SRS Vol V, when inhabitants had to declare their Protestant faith]. From these the numbers of adult men in each parish can be counted. With children representing a large proportion of a families in those days, the number of men needs to be multiplied by a figure between 3 and 4.

There is no return for Arundel, but Littlehampton has 37 names. Angmering 142, Clapham 49, Patching similar, Ferring and Kingston 71, Preston 28, Rustington 53, and Poling 32. Thus we have Angmering once again representing a third of its neighbourhood. We can estimate the actual population of Angmering at between 430 and 560. Les than in 1801 but assuredly more than in 1724.

If we now look at figures from the parish registers, giving the numbers of deaths in various crisis years during the 17th to 18th century. These can be related to a good estimate for the population of Angmering, so the impact of the crisis can be imagined. Bearing in mind that towns such as Arundel fared worse.

In 1608-9 around 30 deaths represents 6 per cent of the village, which is bad enough but far less than the catastrophe in Chichester and other places. In 1638-9 around 40 deaths represents 8 per cent, but when we consider that over three years over 100 died, representing a fifth of the population, the drastic effects can only be imagined. In 1658 we have worse figures, and combining three dreadful years a total of around 110 deaths in a depleted population was indeed serious. Two years around 1670 another 77 died. In three years around 1679 nearly 90.

When we get to the 18th century we know the population was down to 350 people and less. Therefore although in 1720 the burials recorded were only 28 in number, this still signifies 8 per cent or more of a now small village.

Fortunately improved climate, agriculture, and a decline in plague and other epidemics in the later 18th century brought a rapid recovery. In another hundred years the problem had become over population.

RW Standing

Last updated 23 February 2023