The Parish of Rumboldswyke lies on the outskirts of the City of Chichester. Since 1880 it has come within the civil administration of the City, previously it was a separate parish that came within the ecclesiastical control of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral.
The parish registers dating from 1670 are kept at the County Records Office, those before then are lost, possibly destroyed in the period of the Civil War and the years of the Commonwealth that followed. The church was originally known as ‘The Church of Our Lady’ but following the erection of a shrine to St Rumbold in about 1400 it became known, as St Rumbold’s, a name that persisted until the early 20th Century when it reverted to its original dedication as St Mary’s.
The Romans founded Chichester; it was a walled town and the centre of local trade and administration. When the Romans left Britain in 410 the town was neglected and buildings fell into disrepair, Selsey became the more important local community. Sussex, the kingdom of the South Saxons was one of the last regions of the country to embrace Christianity, and it was to Selsey in 680 that Wilfrid, later to become Saint Wilfrid, brought the faith. He became the first of a line of Bishops overseeing Sussex.
The little hamlet of Rumboldswyke was sited alongside the road that ran from the East gate of Chichester to Selsey, and it is tempting to believe that Wilfrid regularly passed through our parish on his travels. The name of Rumboldswyke is of Anglo-Saxon origin, it derives from the Old English ‘Rumbold’s Wik’ a ‘wik’ being a farm, It seems probable therefore, that the earliest habitation could have been a pre-conquest settlement around property owned by Rumbold, a farmer whose name has been perpetuated locally for over a thousand years.
Architectural evidence indicates that St Mary’s Church was built in the late Saxon period about the turn of the first millennium. It is of the characteristic two cell design favoured in Anglo-Saxon churches with a chancel at the east end for the priest and containing the altar, with a larger nave to the west for the worshippers. A chancel arch joins these two spaces, which at St. Mary’s is of 11th century Norman construction. The plan below shows the church in 1900.
After the 1066 conquest the Normans removed the Bishopric of Selsey to Chichester where the new cathedral was built. The manor of ‘Wicke’ is mentioned in Doomsday Book where it notes that in 1086 it was held under Earl Roger de Montgomery, who also owned much property locally including the City of Chichester. He sublet it to ‘five men as five manors’.
In this period priests were often of humble origin, poorly educated and unlikely to be of wealth. They carried out their duties of baptising, marrying and burying the parishioners who could mostly be categorised as peasants. The priests would have farmed the glebe land owned by the church to supplement their income. A mill is mentioned as being in the parish in 1228 and again in 1340 when the vicar received the mill tithes of two shillings a year.
By the thirteenth century Rumboldswyke was a small hamlet, members of the de Wykes family are recorded as being the Lords of the Manor of Rumboldswyke from 1274 until 1317 Other records show that as early as in 1250 the street from Chichester to Rumboldswyke, now the Hornet, was known as Newick Street.
The earliest written mention of the church is in a document dated 1324, when Bishop Langton excommunicated the Bishop of Exeter over a dispute at Bosham. It was ordered the the sentence be read out in parish churches in Chichester and ‘in the churches of Fishbourne, Rumboldswyke and St Pancras’.
There was a small lazar-house or leper hospital within the parish in the early 14th Century. At that time William de Kainesham gave money to the ‘lepers of Wikes’ in his will and in 1374 John de Bishopstone, the Chancellor of the Cathedral gave in his will to the ‘Hospital of Newykestrete’, thought to be the same establishment.
The names of the earliest priests of the parish are not known the first on record being that of “Dominum Ralph” shown in Bishop Rede’s register of 1397.
An entry in the diocesan records dated 1400 states that ‘The Priest of the Church of our Lady at Wyke applies for permission to erect an altar to St Rumbold’ At that time many pilgrims were making their way to the shrine of St Richard in the Cathedral, the coincidence of a holy saint’s name with that of the parish must have seemed to good an opportunity for Father Ralph not to exploit, hoping maybe to benefit by getting them to visit his church bearing alms. An altar to St Rumbold was erected on the South side of the nave of St Mary’s, there is a aperture in the wall with a piscina still to be seen there.
There has been much speculation as to the identity of Saint Rumbold, research is not helped by there being two other saints with similar names, St. Rumwald and St. Romauld, also the fact that Rumbold is also known variously as Rumold, Rumald, Romuld, Rombold or in France Rombaut. St Rumwald is largely legendary saint who was a prince, the son of King Aldfrith and Queen Cuneburga, in the kingdom of Northumbria. He is said to have been only three days old when, upon his Baptism, he declared the profession of faith and then died. He must be considered therefore to be the subject of highly dubious traditions. The Saint commemorated at Rumboldswyke is therefore most likely to be St Rumbold of Mechelin.
Rumbold was of Irish birth and described as a pious man, he is reputed to have crossed the Channel in a coracle covered in ox-hides landing on the Continent near Boulogne. From there he travelled to Rome where he was ordained by the Pope as a missionary bishop and sent to Brabant, to ‘preach the faith to the idolaters’. In Brabant he settled at Mechelin where, having saved the life of the son of a local count from drowning, he was given land by the count on which to live. According to legend, Saint Rumbold founded an abbey and converted the local people to Christianity. On June 24th 775 he was violently killed by two men, one of whom he had had occasion to admonish. His body was thrown into the river but recovered, Pope Pius II raised him to the status of a Saint and a great Cathedral was built at Mechelin to receive his relics.
Little is known of the parish during the middle centuries, what there is best told by listing what is known about those who have served as rector.
In these times it was the practice for the Cathedral choir to be made up of a dozen or so ordained priests known as the vicars choral, besides singing their duties included carrying out the daily round of services held in the Cathedral. To supplement their income the vicars choral were often given appointments in local parishes and as the patronage of the living was in the hands of the Dean and Chapter many of the Rectors of Rumboldswyke during this age were so employed. They would have lived in the Cathedral precincts, either in the Vicars’ Hall or in the houses in Vicars’ Close, this is confirmed by noting that, on their demise, they were often buried in the Cathedral’s Subdeanery Churchyard.
1441 William Bolde, vicar. Bolde was present for the 1441 visitation to the parish by Bishop Praty but at the 1478 visitation by Bishop Storey it was reported that the church was then being ‘served’ by Thomas Cokkes, a friar and vicar choral from the Cathedral.
1481 William Bykton, vicar, also served as the Chaplain to the St George’s Fraternity in Chichester.
1535 John Aungell. In 1534 Henry VIII declared himself the head of the Church in England, he conducted a survey, known as the Valor Ecclesiasticus, to evaluate all the property that belonged to the Church. In this document John Aungell is named as Rector. This is the first time the parish’s priest is shown as a rector.
1551 John Mekyns [also shown as Mekings] was a vicar choral in the Cathedral. In July 1551 he was brought before the Dean and Chapter charged with having uttered insulting words in the Close against Anthony Clerke, the Prebendary of Firle and to have struck him with his fist, Mekyngs was given a warning. However his misdemeanours must have persisted, for in 1555 he was deprived of his position as Rector; unfortunately why this was is not recorded.
1555 Thomas Thorpp was admitted to Cathedral as a vicar choral in 1550, he was given the Rectory of Rowmbolles weke in 1555 on the deprivation of John Mekyngs. He later became clerk to the Cathedral Chapter, he died in 1563.
1563 John Wheale, on Thorpp’s death Wheale took his place as a vicar choral in the Cathedral and in August succeeded him as Rector of ‘Roumbollesweke’. Wheale leased out the fees for all ‘weddings, churchings and buryings’ in the parish for five years to David Strange a smith from Chichester for the sum of £7 6s 8d. Maybe as a result of these entrepreneurial skills he was appointed as the Cathedral sub-treasurer in 1566.
After Wheale’s death William Weaye, a former lay vicar at the cathedral, was brought before the Chapter found to be in possession of certain ‘superstitious and ungodly books’ including ‘A Great Legend’ and ‘The Pilgrimage of Perfection’ they were delared to be ‘Romish’ publications at a time of catholic persecution. He claimed that he had pledged the books to Wheale for 5s 4d in 1567 and that after her husband’s death Wheale,’s widow had come to him asking for the money owing, Weaye told her to sell the books. Later Wheale’s son sold him the books for 3s.4d and at the same time Weaye purchased other books and a super-altar from young Weale. Weaye was deprived of his position in the Cathedral.
1569 William Skelton, MA. On the death of Wheale, William Skelton was installed as a canon in the Cathedral with the position of Prebendary of Exciet in September 1569. At the same time he was appointed as Rector of Rumboldswyke., he died in 1571.
The first Poor Law Act was passed in 1572 followed by the second in 1598, these made it the responsibility of the parish vestry to levy a parish rate which was to be applied to the relief of the poor of the Parish. The administration of this duty fell upon the churchwardens
1574 John Taylor had been admitted, together with his son, as a vicar choral in Cathedral 1571. In 1573 he became the clerk to the Chapter and the Cathedral Succentor. He died in July 1589 and was buried in the Subdeanery Churchyard where he was shown as being ‘Rector of Fyshbourne and of Wyke’. The income from Fishbourne was £5 a year and from Rumboldswyke £4.
1589 Clement Woodcocke, a scholar of King’s College Cambridge. He was appointed as Cathedral Organist and Master of Choristers in 1571 and admitted as a vicar choral in 1574. Records show he was paid 13s 4d a year for his duties at the Cathedral. He was appointed Rector of Rumboldswyke in May 1589 and died in 1590 and he was buried in the Subdeanery churchyard. There still exist several pieces of music composed by Woodcocke particularly three settings of ‘In Nomine’.
1590 Edward Tickeridge. Tickeridge had been a vicar choral at the Cathedral for one year when appointed as rector. In 1594 he was admonished that, by serving elsewhere, presumably at Rumboldswyke, he caused the Cathedral to have insufficient vicars choral for their Sunday services. He died in 1596 and was also buried in the Subdeanery Churchyard.
1596 Godfrey Blaxton MA.was one of the nine sons of Henry Blaxton the Cathedral Chancellor and a staunch supporter of Richard Curteys the controversial Bishop. In 1580 Godfrey was appointed as a chorister and in 1593 he became the Rector of St Peter the Less in North Street and a vicar choral He was chosen to be rector of Rumboldswyke 1596. He simultaneously held the rectories of West Thorney and St Peter the Great, Chichester. In 1600 the Rector came before the Chapter when he was told to cease his ‘Tippeling, vitteling and entertaining strangers by day and by night’, particularly at the house of George Mekyns, son of the parish’s former rector. He resigned from Rumboldswyke in 1606 on being appointed sub-treasurer to the Cathedral. In October 1630 Blaxton was charged with neglect of his duties and summoned to appear before the Chapter. The verger had some problems in finding him and it was December before he eventually served the summons in the Crown Inn. Blaxton was declared ‘contuminous and suspended from his duties. In 1610 he was appointed Rector of Eastergate and Yapton. He died in 1633.
1607 William Shortred MA, another Cathedral dignitary who, in 1592, had been appointed as the Prebendary for Hova Ecclesia. He came to Rumboldswyke in 1607 although he retained his position as Vicar of Washington, he resigned in 1609 but remained as Vicar of Washington. He also continued as Prebendary and was still in that office in 1636. It was in Shortred’s time as rector that John Clarke, an itinerant bell founder, cast the first bell on the Church in 1607, this bell was housed in a timber bell cote.
1606 William Cox MA, was the son of Dr Francis Cox, a Cathedral Prebendary. William had been admitted as a chorister in 1582. He came to Rumboldswyke as Rector in 1609. In 1611 he was installed as the Prebendary for Somerley and resigned his Rumboldswyke post in 1614. He became a residentary canon in 1616, and in 1617 was appointed Cathedral Communar, he died in 1632. He was An accomplished composer of church music and the anthem ‘Deliver us, O Lord’ often ascribed to Weelkes, the Cathedral organist, is now thought to have been by Cox.
He was said to have resigned his position ‘by lapse’ in October 1613 when lay sequestrators were appointed to administer tha parish
1614 John Taylor, son of a former Rector, he had been admitted as a vicar choral in the Cathedral with his father in 1571. Appointed to Rumboldswyke in April 1614 he was also the Rector of Fishbourne. In Jan 1630 the Chapter warned Taylor and William Eames, the Cathedral organist, for not performing their duties. In 1631 he was again warned for not arriving in time or keeping his place in the choir during services. He died in 1636 and was buried in the Subdeanery churchyard.
In 1617 Elizabeth Gubbit, a widow, gave £20 to be used for the poor of the parish, this was invested in a property in Tower Street, Chichester, and was still producing about a pound yearly in 1960 when it was amalgamated into other parish charities
1636 Robert Randall BA. Randall had been appointed as a Cathedral chorister in 1615 but dismissed in 1616 as being ‘insufficient in singing and unlikely ever to be otherwise’. He was presented to Rumboldswyke in 1636 on death of John Taylor, but was ejected in 1642 during the Civil War.
During the time of the Commonwealth government the churchwarden of Rumboldswyke and other local churches was William Cawley.. Cawley was born in 1602. His father was a brewer, and three-times Mayor of Chichester.
In 1628 Cawley was elected Member of Parliament for Chichester, but Parliament was dissolved within a year In 1640, he was again elected, this time as MP for Midhurst. Two years later, when the Civil War started, he was a strong supporter of the Parliamentary cause.. During the Civil War Chichester was besieged by parliamentary troops, the Cathedral was severely damaged and the churches of St Bartholomew at Westgate and St Pancras at Eastgate were completely destroyed. In December 1648, Cawley was a member of the court appointed by Parliament to try Charles I and was one of the MPs who signed the King’s death warrant. Parliament was dissolved in 1653 under orders from Oliver Cromwell, when it was recalled in 1659, after Cromwell’s death Cawley was re-elected as MP for Chichester.
After the restoration of the monarchy Cawley was not pardoned and so fled to Switzerland, where he died in 1666. Cawley had a pulpit built In St Mary’s so that the puritan ministers, who were intruded as rector, could deliver republican tirades. Cawley had a carved panel attached to the pulpit announcing that he had paid for it, this panel is now set into the wall of the study in Brandram House.
1647 John Robotham, the first of several puritan ministers intruded by the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, during the Commonwealth. It is noted in records that Robotham’s yearly income of £24 was supplemented by a £46 grant from the Rectory of Oving and £15 from the parish of Burpham.
1651 John Symonds is shown as ‘Minister of Rumboldswyke’ on a document dated November 1851 and again in 1657. He was another of the Rectors ‘intruded’ into the parish by the Lord Protector, Richard Cromwell.
1658 John Gipps was the Chaplain of Magdelen College, Oxford from 1657-60 Gibbs was intruded into the parish by Richard Cromwell in November 1658. He was simultaneously the vicar of St Peter the Great and other churches in Chichester during the Commonwealth. He left the parish in 1659 after a year in office. He died in 1669
1659 William Stanton, little is known of Stanton, the last of the intruded rectors during the Commonwealth.
1661 Joshua Peytoe MA. Upon the restoration of the Monarchy Joshua Peytoe [or Peito] was presented as Rector by the Dean and Chapter. This was done on the basis that the benefice was void by the cession of Robert Randall. They refused to recognise those rectors admitted during the Commonwealth period. He died in September 1661 having held office for only 5 months.
In 1662 the Act of Settlement and Removal affected the ‘poor’ that is persons with property valued at less than ten pounds or nine tenths of the population. Under this law they were not allowed to move from one parish to another without a certificate from their home parish agreeing to meet the cost of their upkeep if thy fell upon hard times. In practice such certificates were rarely given
1662 Edward Cotton, a vicar choral Cotton was appointed in May 1663, he died in November 1669 and was buried in the Subdeanery churchyard. A sequestrator was appointed on his death.
1670 Roger Collins, another vicar choral, Collins was appointed as rector ‘to preach and expound in Rumboldsweeke’ he was simultaneously the incumbent of St Olave’s in Chichester where he served for 45 years from 1673 to 1693. He had married Wilmot Duffield at Tangmere in 1665, they were the grandparents of William Collins the Chichester poet. He resigned in 1693 and died in 1707 and there is a memorial plaque to him on the wall of St Olave’s [now the SPCK bookshop].
The church registers of St Mary’s before 1670 are lost, possibly destroyed during the Commonwealth. It may be that the churchwardens were reluctant to purchase a new book until certain that the earlier books would not be found. It appears that Father Collins kept details on scraps of paper until a new book was obtained in 1678. As a result the earliest entries are not in chronological order, being written up as the notes were found.
During the period from when St Pancras Church was destroyed in 1642 until it’s rebuilding in 1751, many marriages and baptisms from that parish took place at St Mary’s.
From an entry in the register we learn that in 1678, William Cooper, a resident of the parish, was brought before the diocesan consistory court by the churchwardens of Rumboldswyke for allowing a Quaker meeting in his house.
1694 Edmund Lane MA, Lane was instituted by the Bishop as Rector in March1693 following his presentation by the King & Queen [William & Mary] this gave rise to a suit in the Dean’s Court against Lane by the Dean who at that time had the right of presenting rectors to the Parish. Roger Collins the former rector was appointed as a sequestrator in March 1694, possibly during the litigation concerning Lanes appointment. At the time of his death in July 1706 Lane he was also the Vicar of North Mundham and is buried in that churchyard.
1707 Thomas Evans MA, a vicar choral was presented in March 1707 by the Dean and Chapter following Lane’s death. He died in August 1727, aged 49, and is buried in the Nave at North Mundham Church. W.D Peckham, the antiquary, who transcribed the Rumboldswyke registers in 1935, noted that Evans handwriting was the worst he had encountered in his long career of deciphering ecclesiastical records.
1727 George Knibb STB was instituted in November 1727 and resigned in November of the following year.
1728 John Smyth BA was Rector for 56 years, Smythe was admitted as a vicar-choral of the Cathedral in October 1727 and was instituted to Rumboldswyke on 2nd November 1728. From 1732 he was simultaneously Rector of St Pancras and in 1736 he was appointed as Rector of Earnley, holding all three appointments until his death. Probably apocryphal but it is said that Smythe formed the pathway that became Whyke Lane and the Whyke Lane Twitten as he travelled on horseback, between the two churches. In 1759 Smyth gave a fine silver cup to the church, it is still the most prized item in the parish plate. He died in October 1774 and is buried in St Mary’s churchyard.
A parishioner of this time was Joseph Lambert, who lived in the Hornet, described as a flaxdresser of Chichester and a Yeoman of Rumboldswyke he left the sum of £2 a year for seven years to the School at Ditchling, his place of birth, and a like sum to the ‘School in the parish of Rumboldsweek, for teaching poor boys to read’. He died in 1764 aged 63 and is buried in the churchyard of St Mary's alongside his two wives Ann who died in 1755 and Elizabeth, died 1796. His daughter Elizabeth, baptised at St Mary’s in 1759 was also twice married, she too is buried in the churchyard together with her two husbands, Edward Float, died 1785, and John Stubington, died 1824. She herself died in 1802 aged 43.
1774 William Walker MA instituted in December 1774 Walker was Rector for 54 years. As a result the Parish had just two incumbents in a period of a hundred years. Walker was also Rector of St Pancras from 1785-1825. He played an outstanding part in the life of Chichester and was a leading promoter in the foundation of the Chichester Infirmary, later the Royal West Sussex Hospital. During this time he also served as the Bishop’s chaplain
The Poor Law Act of 1797 gave the parish the responsibility of providing a workhouse for the poor of the parish. In practice this responsibility was shared with adjoining parishes. Those receiving relief were required to wear a badge with the letter ‘P’, for pauper and the name of their parish on their sleeves. In the case of Rumboldswyke there is no entry in the parish books to indicate that this law was enforced. In 1804 the vestry meeting was concerned in finding such accommodation for two women of the parish, Anne Elliott and Anne Holloway.
In 1779 John Page who had been MP for Chichester from 1741 to 1768 was buried in St Mary’s churchyard, his gravestone can be seen in the footpath to the front of the church.
At the June vestry meeting in 1797 anxiety was expressed by the parishioners about the ‘rotton and decayed’ state of the bell turret. Thomas Smith, the churchwarden was instructed to put it into a proper state of repair. He arranged this at a cost of £44 18s 11d, of this £29 was for the carpenter £6 bricklayer and 11shillings for beer for the workmen. The fabric of the church was again the cause for concern in 1799 when the dampness in the walls was addressed by reducing the ground level around the building and a course of brickwork be ‘passed around the Church’. Internally the walls were plastered and white washed, the accounts included 14s 4d for beer for the workmen.
1828 William Watkins, became Rector on Walker’s death, he had been the Rector of Racton in 1817 and had been a curate at Rumboldswyke since 1822. He died in office in 1865. In 1846 the railway was been built through the parish with a crossing gate in Whyke Road during the same period the expansion of the south east sector of Chichester meant that Rumboldswyke was no longer the hamlet that it had been at the start of Watkins’ time in office.
1865 Stenning Johnson BA Stenning Johnson was born in Chichester in 1818. He was a member of a well-known local family including senior partners in the firm of solicitors Johnson, Raper and Freeland, his uncle, William Johnson, was Recorder of Chichester. A follower of the Oxford Movement and friend of Archdeacon Manning, he was a priest vicar in the Cathedral. When aged just 29 he was appointed to the living at West Itchenor in 1847.
When Johnson came to Whyke the population of the Parish was still increasing. Through his efforts St Mary’s Church was extended to cater for the enlarged congregation, in 1866 by the removal of part of the North wall and the building of a North Aisle. During his time at Rumboldswyke he lived at No.11 North Pallant, a property owned by the Dean and Chapter who, at that time, were the patrons of the parish. He lived there with his wife, her sister, three daughters and a son. The 1881 census shows that they had a staff of two servants and a cook. Johnson resigned from his post in 1883.
When working on the floor of St Mary’s in June 1959 builders unearthed some cut stones, part of the wall that was demolished for the 1866 extension. No sign was found of the medieval font that disappeared about that time.
The map below shows Rumboldswyke in about 1875.
1883 Thomas Peele Brandram, MA. of Oriel College Oxford came from a wealthy family, his grandfather Rev Andrew Brandram had been the secretary of the Bible Society and minister of the Savoy Chapel in London. Thomas obtained his degree in classics and mathematics in 1862. Thomas Brandram was a man of great vision for the parish. When he came to Rumboldswyke he was 42 years old and to take the appointment he had to resign his post as priest-vicar and Succentor in the Cathedral. He had also been a lecturer at Chichester Theological College and was said to have been a fine musician. He lived in No.1 Vicars Close in the Cathedral precincts prior to his appointment; in the 1881 census he had two living in servants.
0n appointment his immediate need was to provide a parsonage house within the parish. He successfully petitioned the Dean and Chapter to release Glebe land to the north of the railway line and very soon a substantial new house was erected to his own design at a cost of £1600, half of which he provided from his own funds. The property is now known as Brandram House and is in private ownership. He also founded the Rumboldswyke Infant School that replaced the parish school that had been sited in Whyke Road opposite St Mary’s Church. The new school was built on former glebe land now occupied by Rumbold’s Close in Whyke Road and was said to have designed the buildings himself.
During Brandram’s time at Rumboldswyke the problem in meeting the needs of the growing congregation experienced by his predecessors became more apparent.
In 1888 St Mary’s graveyard was extended and in 1890 the chancel of St Mary’s was extended to provide an organ chamber. At this time half of the 200 pews in the church were assigned to householders who paid a rent for the privilege. No person could sit in them until the service had started and the pew holder could be assumed by the churchwardens to be absent.
The parish of Rumboldswyke became part of the Chichester City Corporation’s area in 1893 taking in the newly built areas around Lyndhurst Road, Caledonian Road etc. The enlarged parish was named as Whyke. Brandram instituted discussion on providing a new church to act as a chapel of ease for St Mary’s. The Rector’s Sister Miss Maria Brandram lived at the Rectory and seems to have been active in assisting her brother. The parish magazines for 1894 have a note that Bible Classes for girls above Sunday school age were held each Sunday afternoon (2.15 in the vestry) conducted by Miss Brandram. In October classes were announced in Cookery, Laundry Work and Dressmaking, those interested were to apply to Miss Brandram.
For some time the rector’s 14 year old niece, Ina, lived with the family, in September 1894 it is noted that 'Ina Dorothy Brandram has obtained the Certificate of the Associated Board of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music in the highest division for Pianoforte'.
Father Brandram carried on working until his death on 24 April 1896. His memorial brass on the wall of the North aisle in St George’s states that despite suffering from a fatal disease for over a year Father Brandram had carried on his work until death. He is buried in St Mary’s churchyard.
1896 Charles Lax Farthing, When Brandram’s successor, Charles Farthing, took the living he was told that he was expected to build the planned new church to meet the continuing growth of the parish. He was in his fifties when he came to the parish, Prior to his appointment he had been a curate at St Leonards-on-Sea for six years. Before that he had held several curacies and one incumbency.
It is said that he enlisted the Bishop’s support for a new church by the expedient of getting him soaking wet on the way from the old vestry when attending a confirmation at St Mary’s.
The architectural firm of J.E.K.and J.P.Cutts of Southampton Street, London was chosen to prepare a design. They were a well-known practice experienced in the field of church building. The story of the church’s building is told in Adrian Higham’s booklet ‘A new Church for Whyke’ produced to mark St George’s Centenerary in 2004.
In 1898 the present stone bell turret on St Mary’s was erected, the former wooden turret was removed and the bell given to St Nicholas’s parish church in Brighton. It was replaced by a bell from St Martin’s Church in Chichester, cast in 1450, and removed on the demolition of that church in 1904. In 2002 this ancient bell was removed to St Wilfrid’s Church in Sherburne Road, Chichester.
Building of the new church commenced in 1901, the Mayor of Chichester laid the foundation stone on September 28th 1901; construction took two years to complete and Bishop Wilberforce consecrated the building on St Michael’s Day, September 29th 1902. It had been paid for, largely by very small gifts, from the pockets of the local people. Initially it was a very basic structure, without porches or choir vestry, and with only the small organ that had been removed from St. Mary’s. It was intended that the old church would no longer be used, except for funerals. Thus Charles Farthing became the first Rector of St. George’s Church in the parish of Whyke.
In 1904 the Rev and Mrs. Farthing retired to St Leonard’s. When Mrs. Farthing died in 1912 Charles Farthing paid for the West porch to be built in her memory, thus completing the architects’ original design for the church. The East Window and the Lady Chapel panelling in St George’s were erected as memorials to Charles Farthing.
1904 Clement Morgan Saunders. In 1904 the patronage of the living was transferred to the Bishop, Clement Saunders, then in his fifties, was the Bishop’s first appointment. Church attendance continued to increase during Saunders’s tenure and he prepared the way for the building of the new vestry to be added to St George’s. His curate, Rev H.P.Berkley, established the St George’s Scout Group in 1909, meeting in St Mary’s vestry
1909 Dr. Ernest A. Glover DD. In 1909 the Bishop appointed Dr. Ernest A. Glover to the parish. Age 43 at the time of his appointment Father Glover was a graduate of Exeter College, Oxford, and had obtained a doctorate of Divinity in 1906. In 1924 he became a Doctor of Law. It was said that soon after his appointment to the parish he was offered a bishopric, which he declined. His previous appointments had included serving as chaplain to the Bishop of Grahamstown in South Africa and prior to coming to Whyke he had been Rector of East Marden, North of Chichester, from 1902.
During his 25 years at Whyke, Father Glover was responsible for the completion of the Church by the addition of the Vestry in 1909 and later the porches and the rood screen. He established the Catholic tradition of worship in St. George’s, using St. Mary’s for funerals and for services just four times a year. A contemporary account of worship at St George’s tells of ‘incense, vestments banners, processions, plainsong music, very solemn prayers for the departed and a truly magnificent atmosphere’.
In 1914 Dr Glover founded the Society of the Sacred Cross. A number of laywomen joined together for church work and shared a house at No.65, Lyndhurst Road. From this beginning some of the sisters went on to form themselves into a regular community living under vows. They established themselves in Tymawr, a house near Monmouth in the Tintern Valley. A more detailed history of the order will be found under a separate heading.
In 1934 the church celebrated father Glover’ completion of 25 years ministry at St George's, Canon Fisher, the Rural Dean presented a cheque for £85, given by the parishioners to the Rector as a testimonial it was signed by 450 names
That year the annual children's outing was to Worthing. They presented the Rector with a pipe and a pouch of tobacco.
In October 22 1934, Elizabeth Glover, the Rector’s wife died suddenly. Her memorial window in the Lady Chapel was dedicated in March 1935. Dr Glover retired from St George’s in 1936 to live in Bournemouth, he died in August 1950 age 84. A silver-gilt chalice which belonged to Dr Glover was bequeathed by him to St George’s.
The obituary below is from the Chichester Observer, April 1915:
ENGLAND’S OLDEST CHURCH WARDEN: MR. JOHN McKAY’S INTERESTING CAREER.
The City has lost a remarkable personality with the death, on Saturday, of Mr John Mckay, for many years churchwarden of St George’s, Rumboldswhyke. Mr McKay passed his 95th birthday just two days before his death. He had had an interesting career. He was born in Edinburgh on March 29th 1812 of pure Highland blood, being the only son of Win. Mckay of the parish of Reay, Caithness. His father, a soldier, died when he was very young, and before he was 13 Mr Mckay also joined the Army. He served under George IV., through the reign of William IV., and the first part of the reign of Queen Victoria. Mr McKay was one of the troops who lined the route of Queen Victoria’s coronation procession. He went to South Africa, where many years of his life were passed, and he took part in the earlier fighting with the Zulus and other native tribes. Mr Mckay spent the last 40 years of his life in Chichester, where he and his family were highly respected. The funeral took place yesterday (Wednesday). Mr McKay’s maternal grandmother lived to the age of 103, and Mr Mckay himself was in possession of all his faculties to the last and only took to his bed on the Wednesday before his death.
John McKay’s son Jack McKay died in Jan 1956 he joined the choir at the age of 8 and sang there for 77 years.
1936 Cecil F D Trimming (right) trained at Chichester Theological college being ordained in 1911, he served the parish as rector for nine years, half of them during the war. In the Church Magazine in 1940 Father Trimming outlined the arrangements for taking the children to the air raid shelters in Rumboldswyke School should the warning sirens sound during a service.
1945 Richard C. Ratcliff MA . Father Ratcliff came to Whyke towards the end of WW2. He had been ordained in 1933 at Southwark Cathedral and served as a curate at St Andrews, Stockwell Green in South London. He had had a distinguished academic record at Oxford and it was widely expected among those who knew him, that he would pursue an academic career. It was no surprise to the when after four years at Stockwell he was offered the post of vice-principal at Dorchester Theological College, however the War intervened. He was sent with 100 evacuees, between the ages of 5 to 14, to Haywards Heath. When the parish priest fell ill Father Ratcliff found himself taking the services at St Richard's Church. Bishop Bell later moved him to St Martin’s in Brighton whose vicar had become a military chaplain.
In 1941, after bombs had destroyed St Martins, he moved to Torquay to serve as curate at All Saints Church, Tor. The congregation at that time was swelled by student teachers from the National Training College that had been evacuated fro London. Among these students was Eunice, they became engaged and were married at Haywards Heath. He was offered the living at Whyke and was instituted here in the spring of 1945. He came, with his new bride, to a parish suffering from the effects of five years of war, and in which the memory of Dr. Glover was still very much alive.
In July 1947 Father Duncan, who had been a Honorary Assistant priest at St George's for 22 years died, age 78, he had celebrated Mass just one week before. He had first come to St George’s in the time of Father Glover.
In 1955, with his curate, Father Ivor Smith-Cameron Father Ratcliffe decided that an alternative to the early mass/high Mass pattern might help in evangelizing the recently built Whyke Estate.
As a result the younger members of St. George’s, led by Fr Ivor, set about rehabilitating the Old Church, once more to be known as 'St. Mary’s, the Church of Our Lady at Whyke'. A simple Sung Eucharist was instituted there at 9.15 on Sundays.
When St. George's Church was opened in 1901 the old organ of St. Mary's was taken there and did service until 1949. The fact that St. Mary's had no organ was of little consequence since the Church remained virtually unused until the incumbency of Father Ratcliff. With the re-opening of the old church an instrument was again needed. At this point (1953) the Vicar and Churchwardens of St. Peter the Great made a gift of the small, one manual, instrument by William Hill which had belonged to St. Andrew's Church in East Street, Chichester. This instrument was quite derelict as a result of bomb damage. It was salvaged, repaired and re-erected in the N.E. comer of the nave of St. Mary's during the winter of 1954-55.
During the late evening of January 6th, 1960, a fire broke out in the organ as a result of which the instrument was totally destroyed and the church badly damaged. Steps were immediately taken to replace the instrument and repair the Church. An Organ Fund was opened and an appeal made for money to purchase another old instrument formerly belonging to the Central Foundation Girls School in London. By the end of Sunday, February 14th, the day of the appeal, a total of £ 131.11s.0d. had been subscribed, enough to buy the organ, pay for its carriage and contribute towards the cost of repairs. The 'new' organ was dedicated on Saturday 24 September 1960 by Bishop Gwyer followed by a recital on the instrument by John Birch, the Cathedral Organist.
A new organ had by then been installed in St. George’s, and the old organ was put back in St. Mary’s, it subsequently caught fire, and another old instrument was found in London. St Mary’s Church re-opened for worship in Sept 1961.
Father Ratcliffe re-established links with the Society of the Sacred Cross, the community founded in Whke by Father Glover in 1922 and now living in Wales. these links were strengthened when the Rector’s sister, Prue, joined the community where, as Sister Prudence Mary, she became bursar.
The Church Hall was built during Father Ratcliff’s time in office following extensive fund raising led by Father Ivor. In Dec 1958 the Rector started the digging of the foundation trench for the Hall. Father Ratcliff left Whyke in 1961 to become Chaplain to St Margaret’s School at Bushey, a public school for girls under the Clergy Orphan Fund. After four years at Bushey he was offered the living of Boxgrove, where he served as Rector from 1965 to 1975. After his retirement he moved to the bungalow at Apuldram the he and Eunice had purchased at the time they left Whyke. However bishop asked him to become the priest in charge at Apuldram, a post he held until his final retirement when to the delight of his former parishioners he and Eunice came to St George’s to worship.
Mention has been made above of Father Ivor Smith-Cameron who was curate at St George’s from 1952 to 1958, Father Ivor was a charismatic priest who is still remembered by many of the older worshippers. Since leaving the parish Ivor Smith-Cameron , who was born in India has worked in London for most of his ministry, and since 1972 in the Diocese of Southwark where he is a cathedral Canon, he now ministers as an honorary deacon at All Saints Church, Battersea. He was the first Asian to be appointed chaplain to HM the Queen. In 2003 he was made an honorary doctor of Divinity at Serampore College University in West Bengal, India.
He is pictured here laying the foundation stone for St George's Hall.
1961 R.C.Ridge Mander BD. Ronald Charles Ridge Mander was born in London on 3rd November 1913. He trained to be a Church of England (Anglican) minister at Kelham Theological College in the1930s He had parishes in the East End of London and the West Country before becoming an army chaplain in the war, serving in Africa, India and Burma.
After the war he lived in London, where he was a chaplain to l students, here he met, and in September 1955 married, Mary his wife. After a period as Rector of Paddington, in 1957 he became rector of Nuthurst, near Horsham,
He came to Whyke in December 1961 with Mary and their son Christopher and daughter Clare, another daughter Anne was born during their time at the Rectory. A popular priest he was responsible for adding a Sung Eucharist at 9.00.
Father Mander left the parish in 1967 to teach R.E. at The Maud Allen School in Littlehampton. He had been ill with a chest condition that put him in the King Edward VII Hospital in Midhurst for several weeks. His doctors told him that the Chichester air was bad for him and he needed to live by the sea, hence the move. The school soon became the Littlehampton Comprehensive School with over 2000 pupils Father Mander was Head of R.E. and a housemaster at the time of his retirement in 1974 with 400+ pupils in his house.
He is shown here in wartime uniform.
In 1963, during Father Mander’s incumbency, alterations to St George's included insulation board ceilings covering the former matchboard, the lowering the altar by one step and extending the remaining steps to for a raised sanctuary. The choir screen was removed leaving side panels to form a pulpit and lectern. The rood figures were painted and the chancel steps were extended across the whole width of the chancel
In 1989 there was a service in Chichester Cathedral to mark the 50th anniversary of his ordination together with his contemporaries who trained at Kelham. Ronald Mander died on 28th February 1994 aged 80 and Mary on 9th February 2004 aged 73, both are buried in Nuthurst.
1968 John Chad Gibson AKC came to Whyke at the age of 62 from the Parish of Stedham with Iping where he had been rector. Previously he had served for twelve years as a Chaplain at an approved school, he left in April 1972 to be assistant curate at a Leamington parish. In Sept 1975 Father Gibson appeared on TV as a contestant in Mastermind, he came second on the subject of ‘The Physical Geography of Great Britain’.
1972 A.Garth Collin came to Whyke in his forties, he had trained at Rochester Theological College and had been three years Priest in Charge at the Church of Ascension Haywards Heath, followed by three years as curate at All Saints Hove. At his induction on 22 July 1972 Father Collin was given the brief to bring the congregations of St George’s and St Mary’s together; to this end he alternated the Sung Eucharist between the two churches each Sunday. He left the parish in May 1975 to become Chaplain at St Richard’s Hospital Chichester In his last newsletter he complained about the few people that had attended the Good Friday service At a farewell party for the Rector & Mrs Gibson, a present of £70.00 was given by the parishioners.
A mention should be made of Victor H Vick who served five rectors as churchwarden from January 1938 to May 1974, on his retirement he was given the honorary position of Emeritus Churchwarden of Rumboldswyke Parish. His wife, Mrs Elizabeth Vick, who died in March 1949 age 67 ran the infants Sunday school for 20 years.
1975 David Jackson Brecknell MA, of Keble and St Stephen’s House Oxford, had served as deacon at St Peter’s Streatham and as assistant priest in parishes at Sneinton. Notts, and Solihull, Birmingham before holding the position of vicar of St Paul’s Furzedown, SW London. He came to St George’s in November 1975.
When in 1981 the parishes of Whyke and Portfield were combined All Saints church was closed. It was subsequently sold and became a mechanical music museum. Its churchyard still remained the responsibility of the enlarged parish
During Father Brecknell’s period in office the old rectory was sold and the present one built on adjoining land. He also supervised a major re-ordering of St George’s Church. A gas-fired hot air heating system was installed to replace the old boiler, a new audio scheme was provided and the lighting of the church was upgraded. The parts of the old rood screen that remained after the 1963 alterations were removed and the crucifixion figures above the screen were re-installed on the west wall of the nave.
For the whole twenty years of his time at Whyke Father Brecknell was a Governor of Rumboldswyke and Central Schools, and for most of it Chairman of the Church Schools Maintenance Fund, the Treasurer was his churchwarden, Peter Upton, whose memorial is in the porch of Saint George's.
Fr Brecknell's wife Juliet pursued her career as a Nursing Sister and Nursing Officer at Saint Richard's and Worthing Hospitals, retiring in 1995. Their children Rachel, Harriet and Charles sang in the choir, and all attended Bishop Luffa School. Rachel was married in Saint George's in 1992.
Father Brecknell retired in 1995 and now lives in Boxgrove where he plays an active part in the activities of St Blaise’s Church. The Brecknells are keen sailors taking part in many local sailing events. During the interregnum following the departure in 2006 of his successor, Father Paul, Father Brecknell returned to take several services at St George’s.
1995 Paul R Seaman B.Ed. Father Paul Seaman was installed as Rector on December 5th 1995. Before entering the priesthood Father Paul trained as a schoolteacher at Bishop Grossetest College Lincoln where he was also a choral scholar at Lincoln Cathedral. After a period of teaching he trained for the priesthood at Chichester Theological College, where the principal was John Hind, now our Bishop.
Father Paul served at Reading and Brighton before coming to St Georges. During his time at St Georges he instituted many major changes. The Millennium was marked with an exhibition held in the Church, which commemorated the life of Christ. It was assembled by the co-operation of the four local primary schools, the first time that they had worked together in this way
In 2002 the decision was made to sell the Church Hall to provide funds for an extension the church. The hall was in need of roof repairs, decoration and costly work to meet health safety and disabled persons’ legislation. The Hall was sold to a developer for £250,000 and a block of ten flats known as St George’s Court has been constructed on the site.
A new extension was built and the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Reverend John Hind dedicated it, named the Centenary Centre, on September 29th 2002, a hundred years, exactly to the day, after the original dedication of the church by Bishop Wilberforce in 1902. At the same time alterations were made to the Church to provide an office, toilets, improved choir and sacristan’s facilities as well as external improvements.
Father Paul left in November 2006 to take up the appointment of Vicar at the church of St Mary the Virgin, East Grinstead.
2007 Stuart Cradduck BA [Hons] BTh [Oxon]. At Mass on Sunday 13 May,2007 the Churchwardens were very pleased to announce the nomination of the next Rector and Incumbent, Father Stuart Cradduck.
Father Stuart sent this message to the parish on his appointment:
"I grew up in the West Cumbrian coastal town of Whitehaven and ventured south to Chichester in 1994 for university where I studied Music and met my wife Laura. In 1997 I embarked on a Theology Degree at Cuddesdon College, Oxford. Laura and I were married in1999 and I was ordained in Portsmouth Cathedral in June 2000. We spent three years in the parish of St Alban’s, West Leigh where I served my title as curate. In 2003 I took up my current post as Minor Canon with responsibility for Young People at St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church. I am responsible for the pastoral care of a quarter of the city under the pastoral network and consider visiting and serving the congregation and community to be an integral part of my ministry. I am currently responsible for singing all the choral services and I have had the responsibility of leading the annual pilgrimage to St Alban’s shrine. This year the pilgrimage will welcome Archbishop Desmond Tutu with thousands of pilgrims from around the country and abroad. May 2005 saw the arrival of Thomas our son. We now await the arrival of Cradduck number two. Laura and I look forward to the next chapter in our lives and it is with excitement and great happiness that we find ourselves returning to Chichester."
Father Stuart’s Induction was held on Thursday 4 October 2007 among those present were a large contingent from St Albans, including the Dean, the Very Reverend Jeffrey John and from his previous parish at West Leigh. Father Stuart celebrated his first Sunday Mass at St George’s on 7 October 2007. The Cradduck’s daughter, Elizabeth Mary [‘Ellie’], was born shortly before Father Stuart’s induction.
Contributed by Ken Green