My object in setting forth the information contained in the following pages (which has been drawn from the Sussex Archaeological Collections and other sources), is three-fold:-
Revised and enlarged, May, 1910.
CHIDDINGLY is a parish of 4,395 acres, of which more than one-sixth is woodland. It has been said that the parish may be considered in one respect to equal Rome, the “Eternal City,” in asmuch as it stands upon seven hills--Stone Hill, Gun Hill, Thunders Hill, Burgh Hill, Holmes Hill, Scrapers Hill, and Pick Hill.
Of the history of the Parish previous to Domesday Book (1086) there is little to record. It would appear that the Romans availed them-selves of the ferruginous (or iron) treasures of the upper part of the Parish, where, among the cinders of long extinct iron works, fragments of Roman pottery and also Roman coins have been found.
THE NAME OF THE PARISH is clearly Saxon, its final syllable, “ly,” anciently “lyghe,” being common to several neighbouring places. This termination generally signifies a field or clearing in a woody neighbourhood for tillage or pasture. As to the meaning of “Chidding,” the syllable “ing” is patronymic referring to home or residence. Chiddingly would thus mean the Territory, or abode of the offspring of Caed, or Chid. Several of the designations of the farms and localities in the Parish are of interest. For instance—
FRITH’S FARM.- A Saxon Frith was a wood, but it should be noted that the old spelling of “Frith’s” is “Frights.”
BURGH HILL.- A Saxon Beorh was a hill, but very possibly this was a fortified position long before Saxon times.
PICK HILL.- A Saxon Pic was a top, peak, or point.
EASTER FIELDS, a name quite possibly dating back to the days when our Saxon forefathers worshipped the goddess of spring-Eostre.
NASH STREET.- The term “Street” in Sussex is seldom if ever derived from strata, which was the name given to the Roman paved ways as in Chester-le-Street. “Street” in Sussex means a collection of dwellings-c.f. Chiddingly Street, Gardner Street, Bodle Street- whilst “Nash” is an abbreviated form of the old English term “Atten-ash.” A particular man named John might be described as John Atten-ash---John, who lives near the Ash tree. Then when other houses sprung up, the locality got the name of “Atten-ash Street.”
COLDHARBOUR was the name given in the days of Edward 11. (1307), if not earlier, to those wayside refuges, where travellers could obtain shelter, but no fire or food.
Shortly before the Norman Conquest we know that Aelmar held this district of Edward the Confessor (1052-1066) as an hereditary estate.
The first actual mention of chiddingly is found in Domesday Book, under the name of Cetelingei. Mention of a Mill at Cetelingei is also made. The Water Mill, which is still to be seen at Stream Farm in all probablitiy occupies the site of the Mill which was mentioned in Domesday Book, and is there valued, with the Miller, at four shillings per annum.
The subsidy Roll of Edward 1., 1296, contains the taxation of this and the adjoining Parish of East Hoathly. During the reign of Edward 11. (1307-1327), the Manor of Chiddingly was in the possession of Nicholas de la Beche, who appears to be identical with the Sir N. de Beche, who, according to an account, dated 1311, shared with two other noblemen in the reward of £20 for the somewhat strange service of “dragging the King out of bed on Easter Monday.”
CHIDDINGLY CHURCH. The date, Founder, and Patron Saint are alike unknown. The Church consists of a nave, with Aisles, a North Porch, a Chancel, and at the Western end a Tower which supports a noble Spire, also four angle Pinnacles.
THE TOWER is of 15th Century workmanship, and is built of the stone of the County, as are also the Spire and the rest of the building. Tradition says the stone was procured from a field within the Parish, on the Hilder’s Estate.
THE SPIRE is one of the ancient stone Spires of Sussex, in contrast to the usual shingle (the others are East Preston, Dallington and Northiam. Chichester Cathedral Spire is likewise of stone),and rises to a height of 130 feet. It was struck by lightening in 1897, and partly rebuilt at a cost of £490. Before this rebuilding, the base of the Spire and the whole Southern face of the Tower was covered with a dense mass of Ivy. The new chain which was then fixed around the base of the Spire is 74 feet in length, weighs over three hundredweight, and is capable of withstanding a breaking strain of six tons fifteen hundredweight.
THE CHANCEL was originally in the Early English style, bordering on the geometrical. In 1864, when it was found necessary to rebuild this part of the church, many carved Norman stones were found among the debris at the foot of the walls, proving the existence of a church here shortly after the Norman Conquest. A trefoil headed piscina (or a recess carved in the wall where the cleansing of the Holy Vessels used to be performed) was discovered in the Chancel wall on the South side. The destruction of the North wall of the Chancel failed, however, to disclose any trace of the “Easter Sepulchre,” which is referred to in the wills of William Jefferay, and the Rev. William Tittleton. The Easter Sepulchre was a recess, commonly found in our larger churches, for the enactment of the scene of the resurrection at Easter. The East Window is to the memory of the Rev. J. H. Vidal, who was Vicar of the Parish from 1846 to 1875.
THE NORTH AND SOUTH AISLES each possess an Early English Window of one light at their Western end. When the Sussex Archaeological Society visited the Church in the summer of 1909, it was suggested that the original Church may have consisted of a Chancel and Nave only, and that the Aisles were added by piercing the main walls with the Arcades as they now exist. If this be so, the two aisles can hardly have been added at the same period, as the arranfement of the stones, and even the stone itself, is of entiely different character. The original Church probably existed long before the time of King John (1200), the arches being added early in the 14th Century. On the South side there is a kind of transeptal Chapel, built in the time of James 1., to receive the Jefferay Monument.
THE JEFFERAY MONUMENT.-- This monument, which is 18 feet high and 12 feet wide, and composed of Alabaster, forms the most striking feature of the Church.
It contains in the centre the recumbent figure of Sir John Jefferay, who was called to the Bar in 1546, promoted in May 1575, to be a secondary Judge of Common Pleas, and within a year and a half, advanced thence by Queen Elizabeth to be Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer. He died in 1579, not 1575, as stated on the monument. The second recumbent figure is that of his first wife, Alice, daughter of John Apsley, of London.
On the left is the large upright figure of Sir Edward Montagu, of Bourghton, Northamptonshire, ancestor of the present Duke of Manchester; and on the right, his wife, Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir John and Lady Jefferay. It will be noticed that she is represented with her foot resting on a skull. It was common at this period to include in family groups or statuary all the members of the family, those who had died being embellished with the figure of a skull, as in the picture of “the family of King James 1.” A shoe exactly like the one on the monument formerly belonging to Lady Montagu is now in the possession of Mr. Lane, of Hove. Below these figures stands in the centre the figure of a little girl, Elizabeth, the daughter and heiress of Sir Edward Montagu. She married Sir Robert Bertie, Knight of the Bathe (as the inscription has it), Lord Willoughby and Eresby, who left issue—three sons and one daughter. The monument has been sadly disfigured, and though tradition attributes the dilapidation to the Puritans of the 17th Century, there is really no foundation for this. It is thought by many that the monument more probably suffered from the popular mistake which identified this Sir John Jefferay with Sir George Jeffries, the inhuman Judge of James 11’s reign. This impression is unfortunately still prevelant. From what we can gather of his private and public life, however, Sir John Jefferay was a most just and estimable man, so that it is doubly unfortunate that he should be confused with a man so much his opposite. The Aisles are separated by short, thick octagonal Columns. Across the Chancel Arch the Rood-loft used formerly to run, but of this no trace remains. In the centre of the Nave lies buried John Jefferay, who purchased Chiddingly Place about the close of the 15th Century, and died June 1513, leaving his wife Agnes (who was afterwards buried with him), and his three sons, Richard, Thomas and William. The eldest son of Richard was John Jefferay, afterwards the Sir John Jefferay previously referred to. Removed from the right of the Chancel Arch because partially concealed by the pulpit, and placed near the South door, is a small monument affixed to the wall, containing representations in relief of a gentleman and a lady, two sons ans seven daughters in a devotional attitude. On a tablet below we read—“heer lyeth the body of William Jefferay, Gent. He died on the 29th Oct. An. Salut. 1611, Aetatis suae 68. He married the daughter and heire of Thos. Harvey, citizen and Grocer, of London, by whom he had issue—two sonnes and seven daughters, who are all yet living. He went to the grave in a full age after he had lived in good report and kept howse with his said wife the space of 42 yeares together in this Parish, and had seene many of his children’s children.”
“Thomas Jefferay filius ej’ primog’ patri dilecto memoriae et observantiae ergo posuit Ano 1612.”
The stone slabs near the North wall of the Chancel, from which the brasses have been taken, and which were found in 1864 beneath the pews on the North side of the Chancel, are probably the oldest tombstones in the Church.
Before leaving the Jefferay Monumnet and Tablets, let us go back once more to the main Monument. It will be noticed that the figures on either side stand on circular tablets, not unlike cheeses. Mr Wm. Lashmer, a former inhabitant of Chiddingly, says, "The people hereabouts tell you that these Jefferays were so proud that the ground was not good enough for them to walk upon, and in consequence they had a range of cheeses laid every Sunday from their Mansion to the Church to set their dainty feet upon! The two round tablets upon which the statues of Sir Edward and Lady Montagu stand, do in truth somewhat resemble a couple of gigantic cheeses, and they probably suggested this ‘mighty pretty’ story, which, to the credit of the existing generation, is a tradition only traditionally remembered.” THE CHOIR GALLERY, which was of no historical interest, darkened the Church and completely spoilt the look of the Tower Arch, was removed in 1909. The Ringers Gallery still remains and under this stands the font, which formerly stood in the Jefferay Chapel, and was brought form the Church of South Heighton, near Newhaven, long since destroyed by lightning. Previous to this, a small marble basin served as a font. THE WEST WINDOW, viewed from the outside, has the appearance of having been pushed, as it were, to one side, to make room for the winding stairway, which occupies the south-west angle of the Tower. This window has evidently been shorn of its former beauty by being cut down in height and a bastard arch built across the stone tracery. Below this is a doorway with two blank sheilds in the spandrels, the upper moulding terminating with the Pelham Buckle, the badge of the Earls of Chichester, who are Lords of the Manor of Laughton. On removing a false brick sill and clearing away some two feet of earth in 1908, the full height of this doorway was revealed, as also the original old stone sill.
THE BELLS.--- There are six Bells in the Tower:
(1) The inscription on the Treble is “Miles Graye made me in 1634.” This appears to be the only specimen of his handiwork in Sussex. (2) “Recast by subscription 1774. Thomas Janaway fecit.” (“Fecit” menas “he made it.”) (3) “John Lulham, Robert Storer, Church-wardenes, Roger Tapsell made me 1633.” (4) “T.G., 1617.” These initials stand for Thomas Giles, who had a bell foundry at Lewes, 1615-1621. (There are several Bells in the vicinity of the town bearing his name). (5) “Recast by subscription, Thomas Mears of London fecit 1811.” (6) “Recast by subscription 1773, Thomas Janaway fecit.” It is the custom in this Parish to ring the “Passing Bell” at 8 o’clock on the morning of a funeral, and not on the day of death. Latterly the old custom (dating from 1522) of ringing the tenor bell at 8a.m. on Sunday, by way of announcing to those at a distance that there will be Morning Service, if there is to be a Second Service, has been revived; this second bell is known more popularly as “the dishing up bell!”
A very interesting relic of the Church, viz., a Wooden Chalice, or Sacremental Cup, is now in the possession of Mr. C. Clark, of Eastbourne. The Chalice is dated 1611, is in perfect preservation, is 83/4 inches in height, and 8 inches across, has engraved upon it four emblematic designs in panels: “Lion,” “Unicorn,” “Ostrich with Horse Shoe in Beak” and “recumbant Stag with corona collar and chain,” also the following lines:- O’Tafte what drinke the Lord of Lyfe Doth giue: It is his owne moft deare and precious bloud: Who drinke thereof eternally fhall liue: Who worthily receiue that drinke so good: Such as with honeft and good heart: Do heare his word Sincerely often preacht and read: They grow to affurance of salutaion deare: The fpirit of truth doth them direct and lead: They feele the power of Chriftes death and paffion Working in them the true death of all sinne: And the power of his glorious refurrection: Rayfing them vp a new lyfe to beginne: To them it is a true and certayne token: That they from Chrift fhall neuer of be broken: Hauing true faith working by sincere loue: Their names are written in heaven aboue
RICHARD ALLINN + A B xx11 of October: 1610
The present Silver Chalice doubtless superseded the above, the Patten bears date 1718.
The rails of the Churchyard fence, it will be noticed, are of many different lengths. This is because the tenants of the repective farms in the Parish have to keep up a certain portion of the fence, which varies in length according to the acre-age of the farm. This primitive custom is peculiar to this part of the county, though not confined to this Parish.
Some owls inhabit the roof of the Church, and have a private entrance-door in the West wall of the Jefferay Chapel.
The first mention of the Benefice is in the reign of King John (1199-1216), when a dispute arose concerning the last presentation to the Church of “Chittingely.” In the “Valour Ecclesiasticus,” of Henry VIII.’s reign, the living is estimated at £8 per annum.
William Tittleton, like his contemporary, the Vicar of Bray, held this living in spite of the alteration of creeds, during the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary , and Elizabeth.
Among the Sussex Non-jurors, (i.e., Clergy who on the flight of James II. Refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to William III. And Mary, 1689) was Thomas Eades, Vicar of this Parish. He was consequently deprived of the living, and lived for the next thirty years on his little estate in Whitesmith.
Another Vicar, the Rev. John Herring, who lies buried in the Church Porch, is traditionally remembered as the first person who introduced into this district potatoes, which he brought from Devonshire.
PARISH REGISTERS.--- The earliest of these is lost. The earliest existing one commences 1621, giving Baptisms and Burials, and in 1623 Marriages also. From this date it is complete. Several Puritan Baptismal names occur, as in 1621: “John, the son of Ffreegift Bishopp.” 1631, “Thomas Perse took to wife Faint-not Kennarde. In 1659, April 18, “George Bennett was buried, aged 112 Years. In 1645, May 27, “Dorothy Earle was buried, aged 106 years.
THE PARSONAGE FARM.- Some people wonder why this farm (being private property) is so named. The reason is that it has been connected for many centuries with the Rectorial Glebe. Prior to the Reformation, the Rectorial Glebe and Tithes in this Parish belonged to the Chancellors of Chichester, who likewise owned the Advowson, and provided for the conduct of the Services at the Church. In course of time, these owners of the Great Tithes appointed a resident Priest to carry out the religious duties for them, and to him they gave the title of Vicar (from latin Vicarius, a substitute, one authorized to perform the functions of another) together with certain of the smaller Tithes for Salary. The Rectorial Glebes and Tithes have been divided or sold, and the Advowson has changed hands, but the above farm is still known by its old name.
King Henry VIII., by act of Parliament, took possession of all the Monasteries and other Religious Houses in the land, with all the endowments and tithes which belonged to them, and certain of which had in some cases been apportioned by their original donors to the relief of the poor, and instead of giving the Tithes back to the Parishes from which they had been taken, gave them to his favourites or to whomsoever he chose. The present owners of the Rectorial Tithe and Glebe, having received them from their ancestors, or bought them, are, of course, fully entitled to them.
In 1841 the old Vicarage was a miserable tumble-down shanty, in which lived the village carpenter, who reserved one room for the visiting Curate to find shelter. The present Vicarage was built during the Vicariate of Rev. J. H. Vidal.
The Dicker, or Dyker, was formerly unenclosed ground, and originally a forest. It extended into the Parishes of Chiddingly, Hellingly and Arlington, and consisted originally of a thousand acres. The name seems to imply a multitude of ten (decem). In Domesday, “dicra ferri” means ten bars of iron. At present time, a dicker of leather is ten hides. But another explanation of the name, seeing that in old maps we find “Ye Dyke,” is that it was a region of ditches- the nature of the place would give ground for this view. The Dicker was enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1813.
CHIDDINGLY PLACE (now Place Farm), was bought originally by John Jefferay about 1496, and rebuilt in the form of an “E” as a compliment to Queen Elizabeth by Sir John Jefferay. It must have been one of the finest Elizabethan houses in the County. The East wing is now a barn, and though called “the Chapel,” it has no appearance of having been thus employed. Many of the bricks of this former mansion were sold in the time of the threatened invasion of Napoleon, to build the Martello Towers on the Coast near Eastbourne.
PEKES.- The first mention of Pekes is in the XIII. Century. In a list of the inhabitants of Chiddingly occur the names of “Robert de Pekes” and “William de Pekes”. The nucleus of this old house is the skeleton frame-work of a timber hall, open from floor to roof, divided at intervals by story posts and great curve tie-beams, and still showing upon its rafters the furring of wood-smoke from the original central hearth. This ancient construction may be assigned with every probability to the XV. Century. It then, no doubt, consisted of a central open hall, flanked at either end by two storied wings, in which were contained the buttery parlour and sleeping apartments. Early in the XV. Century, when a greater degree of comfort was called for, extensions and alterations were made, including the old kitchen with its characteristic open fire-place, spanned by a massive moulded arched oak beam.. William Jefferay, a member of the great family of Jefferay, of Chiddingly Place, whose will is dated the 20th August, 1543, was the author of these improvements. The handsome Tudor stone fire-places to be seen in the hall and other rooms are also due to William Jefferay; to him, also, we owe the very interesting lately discovered mural paintings; these are on the wall in a room in the upper story, which probably served as W. Jefferay’s own bedroom. These paintings, at some subsequent date, were covered over with some very fine oak panelling, and it is due to this fact that the paintings are so beautifully preserved. The paintings represented a flower garden, and just below the ceiling is a frieze representing full blown roses, bunches of grapes, with pears and apples; and at intervals, square medallions in which were painted in old black letter writing some quaint verses. Several of these medallions have suffered from age, but on two, the verses can be read. They are as follows:- “In lyfe there ys no fure staye For fleashe as flower doth vade awaye This carcas made of slyme and claye Muste taste of deathe there ys no way While we have tyme then let ys praye To God for grace bothe nighte and daye.”
“Behold the ende ere thou begynne Have minde of deathe and fear of sinne For deathe shall cease thas lyfe hath sowne And lyfe shall springe wheare hath mowne Give grace thearfore O God most hye That we in Christe may lyve and dye.”
In the hall there is a fine carved Elizabethan chimney-piece. A number of the rooms are panelled in oak. The property of Pekes was bought some time ago by the late Honourable Terence Bourke, who very kindly allowed the house to be visited. Anybody so doing was requested to put a small contribution in the money box placed in the hall. The money thus collected went towards the relief of the poor of Chiddingly. The Oast House belonging to the farm was arranged by Mr. Bourke into a very charming residence, which was occupied for some months every summer by Mr. Bourke’s mother, the Dowager Countess of Mayo.
CHIDDINGLY PARK was sometimes an occasional, sometimes it would appear the principal, abode of the Sackvilles, for here in 1556 dwelt the then representative of the family, John Sackville, Esq., who was buried at Withyham. The living remains in the gift of the family, and the Park Farm is the only building now in what was the Park.
IRONWORKS were extensively carried on at the Stream Farm in the 16th century by the Frenches. The pond, whose waters impelled the machinery, still remains, though now but three acres in extent. The articles chiefly wrought were great and small ordnance (cannon and guns), chimney-backs, irons for supporting logs in a wood fire, and smaller commodities. Bells were also cast at the same works. Amongst others, the ancient bells of Old Eastbourne (from the metal of which the existing six bells were re-cast in 1818), were re-cast in 1615 by John Lulham at Chiddingly. There is reason to believe that “The Six Bells Inn” occupies the place of the Inn erected anciently by the Lord of the Manor, for the lodging and refreshment of callers at the Manor, Diocesan or other visitors, and parishioners staying over from Matins to Vespers, as well as for the celebration of “Church-ales,” which were connected with a Feast (the profit of which went to the Church), “Clerk-ales,” (which were connected with a Feast for the profit of the Clerk), “Bride-ales” (Bridals), which had to do with the rejoicings and merry-makings at Weddings.
MUDDLES GREEN would appear to take its name not from the state of mind in which former residents of this part of the parish oftentimes found themselves, but from a man named Muddle, who owned the Village Smithy. The Green, no doubt, years ago was of considerable extent, extending very nearly to the Church. At Muddles Green there lived, at the beginning of last century, Richard Lower and his son Mark Anthony Lower. The former, for some 50 years, kept a school here (the little building is still in existence), and was known as “Dickie Lower.” In 1862 (at the age of 80) he published “Stray Leaves from an Old Tree,” which is recognized as the standard authority on the East Sussex colloquial vernacular.
M. A. Lower was possessed of many natural gifts, and Chiddingly, in spite of his faults in later life, may well be proud of him. At the age of 14 years he painted the Royal Arms, to be seen over the Chancel Arch in the Church, and in after years he became one of the best known authorities in the South of England on Archaeology, Heraldry, Nomenclature, and Mediaeval History.
Mr. Egerton, in his “Sussex Folks and Sussex Ways,” tells a story of a couple down Chiddinglye way, who agreed upon a very satisfactory system of danger signals when things were not quite well with either of them. Whenever the husband came home a little contrary, he wore his hat on the back of his head, and then she never said a word; and if she came in a little cross, she threw her shawl over her left shoulder, and then he never said a word. The reader may smile at this story, but is it not a fact that many a quarrel might be averted if some such simple plan were acted upon by those whose dispositions render them liable to fits of irritability and ill-temper?
This little book must now draw to a close, and it shall suffice therefore to add the words of an Epitaph inscribed upon a wooden rail in the Churchyard, erected in 1825 to Samuel Holman, and Alice, his wife:- “Two pilgrims sleep beneath this peaceful sod, Whose spirits rest in their Redeemer, God; Whose days were spent in harmony and love, In bliss more pure, prepared in realms above; Till the last trump shall wake the slumbering dust, To join the resurrection of the just.”
The Sanctuary was enlarged and the Altar widened by the addition of two bays, and a Cross and candlesticks were provided. Two slate steps were substituted for stone in the Chancel, and two Charles II. Chairs found in the Belfry were placed by the Alter in 1923.
The fine Jacobean pulpit was restored to its original level, and the reading desk and Clerk’s pew at its base were removed. The font, which had at one time stood in front of the big monument, and had later been put under the Tower, was moved to a position near the North (main) door, and the space under the Tower was fitted up as a vestry, curtains being provided in 1924. The old brass candelabra was presented by Miss Reeves and Miss Dayrell, of the Hale, and the two standard candlesticks were the gift of the Hon. Terence Bourke, who died in 1923.
This was designed by Mr. Percy Fielding, and was erected in 1919 in the Churchyard.
Under the cap, in a space hollowed out for the purpose, is a list of all subscribers, and some coins are placed there. It was unveiled by Gen. Sir G. Fielding.
Adjoining the Church is the building used 1849-1906 as a National School. The ground was given for the purpose by the Earl and Countess Amherst. Having become unsafe, it was closed. In 1923, Lt.-Col. And Mrs Agg, of Hilders Court, generously undertook to renovate and enlarge the building, for use as a Village Hall. Mr. Stanley Wood gave the electric light plant. The control of the Village Hall is in the hands of the Parochial Church Council.
As most of the original farm buildings are split up, the repair of the fence is now, 1924, being undertaken by the Parish, thus bringing to an end the old and interesting method referred to earlier in this pamphlet.
Transcribed by Carol Harrison