West Wittering history

Who do we think we are?

Forget Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Inspector Morse, Vera Stanhope or any other fictional detective stories.  If you want to engage in a real ongoing historical detective story, West Wittering Church is the place for you!

The history of our church is embedded in its fabric – the structure of the building, its stonework and woodwork, windows and monuments.  It speaks to us from ancient documents, it whispers to us from oral tradition and some of its story is lost in the mists of time.

In this article, we’re going to travel through time from the earliest known reference to a church at Wittering, to the Norman church we now see

Current Norman Church

and finally on to developments in the twenty-first century.  Along the way, we’ll consider some of the many interesting features in our church and some associated historical detective work!  We’ll also touch on events going on in the wider world at different stages of the church’s history.  In the references at the end of the article, you’ll find some links to a few interesting internet sources which you may enjoy visiting.

Our church family history starts in Anglo-Saxon times(1).  However, before we get going in earnest, let’s set the context by briefly reminding ourselves of some key background dates and events.

From the Romans to the Dark Ages 

The Romans ruled Britain from AD 43 to around 410 (2).  Although for most of the fourth century Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire, it seems likely that Christians in Britain were in a minority and that pagan practices still persisted (3).  The years 400 to 600 are the ones known familiarly as the Dark Ages.  A dearth of historical facts makes it difficult to know what really happened during that period. However, it is plain that by scarcely traceable stages the ordered society of Roman Britain was destroyed or changed (4).  It was during this time that Anglo-Saxon raids and settlements brought the main Christianised areas under pagan control (5). The letters ’ing’ in a place give a good indication that it dates back to a Saxon settlement; for example, Worthing, Ferring, Steyning and Wittering (6).

St Wilfrid: conversion of the South Saxons

In the 680s Sussex converted to Christianity (7).  The Venerable Bede describes how Bishop Wilfrid came to the kingdom of the South Saxons (Sussex) and taught them the faith and administered baptism.  Wilfrid was an exile from his northern diocese because of the hostility of the local king but he had a warm reception in Sussex from King Aethelwealh.  The king gave him “eighty-seven hides of land to maintain his exiled followers.  The land was called Selsey, that is, the island of the seal.  This place is surrounded on all sides by the sea except on the west where it is approached by a piece of land about a sling’s throw in width”.  Along with the land, Wilfrid was given all the stock on the land and 250 male and female slaves, all of whom he released from slavery.  He founded a monastery on the land and established a Rule of life (8).

Growth of the monasterium

From the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity in the late sixth and seventh centuries to around 900, the main form of religious expression in England was monasticism (9) and many monasteria were established, including one at Wittering.  In order to gain insight into the possible nature of our local monasterium we need to pause and understand the meaning of this important term and consider a few of the key features of monasteria.

The Latin word monasterium may be translated as ‘monastery’ which implies an enclosed community, living by a clear Rule and primarily engaged in contemplation.  However, in Anglo-Saxon England the term monasterium was a very broad term used to describe a wide range of establishments that had a church and housed at least a small religious congregation (10).  So a monasterium could be a small community of men living at a distance from the secular community, on a small piece of land with perhaps a wooden church or oratory.  The term could also refer to a large well-endowed group of men and women, living in an enclosed area and organised round one or more stone churches.  Despite the many variations in monasteria, however, their inmates were differentiated from secular households in one important respect: they had made a decision “to devote their collective lives to religion…” (11).

In general terms, the monasterium “was the focus of all Anglo-Saxon piety: it satisfied the devotional aspirations of pious men and women, served the spiritual and often the charitable needs of its lay neighbours and fulfilled a valuable social function as a focal point in its own locality” (12).  Major reasons for supporting these religious foundations were to secure God’s favour for concerns in this world and salvation in the next, both for individuals and wider groups (13).  Taking account of all the variations implied in the word monasterium, modern historians prefer to translate the Latin noun, not as ‘monastery’ but as ‘minster’ (14,15) or ‘religious community’ (16).

Most minsters were situated near water, either the sea or rivers.  Peninsulas were especially popular for they provided natural boundaries, “enabling the minsters to be in the world but not quite of it” (17).  Besides living in sites separate from the lay world, members of the minster communities also had an appearance which was different from the laity.  The major distinguishing feature for men was the tonsure which, in the petrine form, involved shaving the crown of the head as a symbolic reminder of Christ’s crown of thorns (18).  The tonsure was combined with a distinctive form of dress.  Women also assumed a distinctive dress on entry to the religious life; this included the veil which marked them out from other women (19).

Royal foundation of the minster at Wittering

An Anglo-Saxon Charter provides the first indication of a church at Wittering.  In it Aethelberht, King of the South Saxons makes a grant of land at Wittering to Diosza.  The following is a translation from Latin:

“In the name of God the highest!  I, Aethelberht, king of the South Saxons under the eternal reign of the Lord, for the good of my soul grant to the venerable man Diosza certain lands of my realm for building a monastery [monasterium], eighteen hides in the place which is named Wittering, with all things pertaining thereto, fields, woods, and fishing rivers…” (20).  The charter was signed by the king; other signatories included Bishop Sigeferth (21).

For his part Diosza agreed to “give the land of this grant, which king Aethelberht ceded to me, to my most beloved sister under the rights of my jurisdiction; also with the consent of the venerable bishop Sigfrid [Sigeferth], that it be in her power after my death to have and to give to whomsoever she wishes” (22).

These arrangements were confirmed by King Offa of Mercia and his queen, probably at a later date (23) after Offa’s conquest of Sussex in 771 (24).

This gift of land for the monasterium by King Aethelbert to Diosza and Diosza’s gift of it to his sister can only be dated by reference to the time during which Sigeferth was Bishop.  He was consecrated in 733 so the transaction must have taken place after that date but before his death which was at some point between 747 and around 765 (25).  The transaction has been dated at around 740 (26) but it can be seen from the above that it could have been later, up to around 765.

From this charter it appears that Diosza transferred responsibility for founding the minster at Wittering to his sister.  Interestingly, a similar transaction between a brother and sister seems to have occurred with a minster in Berkshire.  The nobleman brother and his sister appear to have founded that minster and the sister was abbess.  Her brother joined the community as a monk under her authority (27).  In English monastic enclosures, men and women were often physically separated in double houses (28) with overall control usually resting with a woman (29).  These double houses were very common in the seventh and eighth centuries (30).

All of this evidence suggests that the first worshippers on the site of our present church were members of a religious community, probably of nuns and monks presided over by an abbess.

First members of our church family

Let’s pause and think about these first members of our Wittering church family.  The charter reads like a foundation charter for a new minster on a new site (31) so this enterprise would have been a step into the unknown and would have required great courage and faith.  They had no way of knowing that around 1200 years later there would still be a Christian community worshipping on the site.  However, they were people who had made a decision to dedicate their lives to God and no doubt once the endowment was settled they would have been fired up with enthusiasm, eager to get started and establish the new community as soon as possible.

Eighteen hides was a reasonable endowment and would certainly have been enough land to provide food and other produce to support more than a handful of nuns and monks (32).  The centre of the community would have been a church and all the evidence suggests that this first church, like most Anglo-Saxon churches, would have been built of wood.  The Anglo-Saxons had no tradition of building in stone and many of their churches were made of wood (33).  From the later seventh century stone gradually came to be used more widely for building as a result of continental and Mediterranean influences.  However, wood continued to be used throughout the Anglo-Saxon period (34).

In the pre-Conquest period almost the whole of the northern part of Sussex was a thick forest, with small clearings (35).  There would have been a shortage of wood by the coast but it would have been possible to bring in wood from outside Wittering to build a small church, which was all the community needed to get established.  Stone in the form of flint, rubble and beach boulders was available locally but even if skilled stone masons could have been found, it would have taken much longer and cost much more to build a stone church.

Now, those of you who know West Wittering Church will be familiar with the stone cross which we display in a glass case in the Lady Chapel and which forms the basis of our Parochial School’s badge.  We need to consider how this could fit into the picture.

The stone cross

In 1875, major repairs were carried out which involved rebuilding parts of the Norman walls of the church.  Embedded in the masonry of these walls was a block of sandstone, weighing 16 pounds.  On each side of the block is incised a cross within a circle.  There is a mirror in the glass case so you can see both sides of the stone.  The cutting on the side facing you is much better than the other, suggesting a later date.  Parts of the stone are heavily eroded indicating that it was exposed to the weather for a long time before being embedded in the wall of the church.  The stone was examined by a former Inspector of Ancient Monuments and he made his report in 1959.  He suggested that the design of the crosses could date from the beginning of Christianity in Sussex and that the stone was first used as a gable cross on the church founded by the charter of 740.  The stone was later incised on the other side and reused, probably in the late Saxon period when the church had been damaged in the Danish wars (36).

We have already concluded that all the evidence points to the first church being built of wood, so the stone cross must have come from a later stone building.  What may be significant here is the fact that from the 770s onwards, small family minsters such as the one at Wittering started to go into the Bishop of Selsey’s hands as pious charitable gifts (37).  There is evidence suggesting that the Wittering minster may have come under the control of the local bishop by 796 (38) and it is just possible that this transfer provided the context in which a new, stone church was built on this site.  By 796 the community would probably have been going for over thirty years and it would have been clear that the foundation would endure beyond the lifetimes of its founders and members.  If a stone church had been built at this time, we could make a guess that our Saxon cross came from this church (39).

However, this is only a guess and the fact remains that new timber churches were still being built in different parts of southern England in the tenth and even eleventh centuries.  The shift to widespread stone building was driven by economic growth as well as by the wider availability of craftsmen skilled in stone building (40).

So we do not currently have sufficient evidence to be certain when the first stone church was built at West Wittering (41) and therefore we cannot be certain of the origins of our stone cross.  But we can, perhaps, be sure that the craftsmen who incised the crosses on the stone put their best work into it and although it became lost for a time, buried in the walls of the present church, it was rescued and is now valued as part of our Christian heritage.

There are many other examples of Christian heritage left to us by the Anglo-Saxons.  The lovely little seventh-century church at Escomb, County Durham, has been described as probably providing “as graphic an idea of the appearance of the typical Saxon stone church as is possible from surviving examples” (42). For a video visit to this sacred site, click on the link at reference (43).

For an example of Anglo-Saxon religious poetry you may like to read the poignant Dream of the Rood which was probably written in the eighth century (44).

The Benedictional of St Aethelwold is a book of blessings made for his use while he was bishop of Winchester from 963 to 984.  It is “an outstanding masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon book painting” (45).  See links at (45) and (46) to view the gorgeous artwork on the British Library website.

Viking raiders

The term ‘Viking’ means ‘sea-borne adventurer’ or ‘pirate’ and is applied by historians to the Danish and Norwegian invaders of much of north-western Europe during the ninth century.  From 835, there are records of raids in the south of England and all the evidence suggests that the Vikings wanted “movable wealth” in the form of precious objects and coins, or manpower which could be sold into slavery or ransomed.  Monasteries were accessible and undefended sources of treasures and manpower, which is probably why they were attractive targets for Viking raiders (47).

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles provide us with insight into these raids.  Thus in 994 “on the Nativity of St Mary Olaf and Swein came to London town with 4-and-ninety ships, and then they were determinedly attacking the town, and they also wanted to set it on fire…”.  In the event the raid was unsuccessful and so “they travelled from there and wrought the greatest harm which any raiding-army could ever do, in burning and raiding and slaughter of men, both along the sea coast in Essex and in the land of Kent and in Sussex and in Hampshire.  And finally they took themselves horses, and rode widely as they wanted, and were wreaking indescribable harm” (48).

In 1006, “after Martinmas the raiding-army came to its secure base in the Isle of Wight, and there provided themselves everywhere whatever they needed” (49).  One can only imagine the terror of the people of Wittering as they looked across the water to the Isle of Wight, knowing that Viking warships were anchored there preparing for the next wave of raids.

By 1011 the Vikings had overrun great swathes of England including all the South Saxons.  An attempt was made to pay off the raiders, promising tax and provisions in return for peace and cessation of the raids.  “…nonetheless for all this truce and peace and tax, they travelled about everywhere in bands and raided and roped up and killed our wretched people” (50).

These accounts suggest that the Vikings came raiding in the vicinity of Wittering and it seems almost inconceivable that the church escaped plunder and burning.

The above records are also interesting for a completely different reason: they give us an insight into some of the Christian festivals celebrated at that time.  These are festivals we still celebrate today: the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8th as well as Martin, Bishop of Tours (Martinmas), on November 11th.

Rebuilding under King Cnut: baptismal font

In 1016 all the English accepted Cnut as king.  He reigned until 1035 and during that time there was much needed peace in the land (51).  Assuming the church at Wittering was attacked by Viking raiders, it has been suggested that rebuilding or restoration would have taken place during Cnut’s reign and that the stone building would have been a “simple parish church” appropriate for the needs of the village (52).

It is thought that our plain, tub-shaped baptismal font dates from this time (53).  However, it is not uncommon to find our font described as ‘Norman’ (54) or ‘twelfth-century’ (55) presumably because the present church building dates from that time and because some Norman fonts are also plain and tub-shaped.

This view would not be shared by a nineteenth-century author with a wonderfully robust and colourful style of writing:

“A rude block of stone, hollowed out at the top, with scarcely a moulding or a particle of sculpture upon it, requires in truth a critical and experienced eye to guess at its probable antiquity.  For it is manifest that the date of the church in which it may be placed is the most unsafe and unconvincing evidence that can be followed in deciding that of the Font.  The sanctity rightly and reasonably attached to the consecrated instrument of a Holy Sacrament caused the careful preservation of Fonts unchanged by centuries of re-building and alteration.  Thus we cannot doubt that a considerable number of Fonts now exist in England wherein the Saxon infant received the waters of salvation from the hand of that ancient priest whose bones, for aught we know, may moulder under the pavement of a church reconstructed on its original foundations…” (56).

We also have some convincing geological evidence about a group of early Sussex fonts, which includes the West Wittering font and supports its Saxon origins:

“There is a large group of early fonts, of tub, pudding-basin, or cup shape, nearly all in a hard freshwater Chara limestone, of Eocene age, a stone no longer to be dug or quarried in Sussex, presumed to have been brought originally by sea from the Isle of Wight or Purbeck, and almost always found in West Sussex churches of pre-Conquest date and foundation” (57).

Freshwater limestone was widely used in south-western Sussex in pre-Conquest times and it may have come from a source closer to home.  It is “of immensely old formation, belonging to the Eocene age, and prominently associated with the Bracklesham beds of the Selsey peninsula… It is found in most of the sea-coast churches, and for some distance inland in the western part of Sussex, as at West Wittering…” (58).

The coming of the Normans

Following the Conquest in 1066, the Normans enlarged and improved existing parish churches and built new ones as required (59).  However, even before the Conquest, church rebuilding was taking place.  These mid-eleventh to early twelfth-century buildings reflect an ethic of clearing away and starting again.  One likely impetus for this ‘fresh start’ approach was the greatest importance now being attached to the orientation of both small and large churches (60).  A new build provided the opportunity of securing a more accurate east to west alignment.

The walls of Norman churches were generally thicker than those built in Anglo-Saxon times and were usually constructed of small stones with a rubble core (61).

Norman church at West Wittering

The walls of West Wittering church were built of rubble, part flint, part beach boulders and also ashlar (62).  Ashlar comprises stone blocks set in horizontal courses, each course being the same height, though successive courses may be of different heights (63).  If you stand on the outside of the nave, between the tower and the porch, you can see several areas where the flints are arranged in a herringbone pattern.

The nave is twelfth century, probably the first half of that century.  The south aisle was added late in the twelfth century, around 1180 (64,65). This was achieved by cutting into the south wall of the nave and creating five pillars and four arches leading to the new aisle beyond (66).  The capitals on the pillars have some worn but attractive decorative carved work.  The effect of the new aisle would have been to widen the church to accommodate a growing village population (67) and it also meant that processions round the church could take place (68).

In around 1200 the south aisle was continued eastwards and the Lady Chapel added (69,70).  The Chapel was linked to the chancel through two arches supported by a Purbeck marble pillar (71).  During the thirteenth century the chancel was reconstructed and probably extended (72,73).  The comparatively rare priest’s door in the north wall of the chancel (best view is from outside) is early thirteenth-century (74).  West of the priest’s door is an interesting thirteenth-century window, the sill of the western light being much lower than that of the eastern (75).

On the south side of the main altar is a thirteenth-century piscina which was used for washing altar vessels.  The flanking tower on the north of the nave was added in the thirteenth century (76).  It contains a very ancient and fragile ladder to the tower, made of roughly hewn blocks of wood with the bark still evident in places.  The date of the ladder is unknown but it is estimated to be thirteenth-century.  Fitted against the tower walls is a massive timber framework which supports the structure carrying the bells (77).  An ancient bell winch, now on display in the clergy vestry, is thought to be older than the timber framework and seems to be something of a rarity (see Note 78).

Changes in the diocese post-1066

We need now to catch up with what had been going on in the diocese in the eleventh and twelfth centuries because our church family history is in important ways bound up with the history of the diocese.

The minster, dedicated to St Peter, which St Wilfrid founded in the 680s, served the diocese of the South Saxons until the late eleventh century.  Then in 1074 or 1075 a decision was approved to move the episcopal see from Selsey to Chichester.  Soon the building of the new cathedral was underway on the site of the former Anglo-Saxon minster of Chichester (79).

The diocese was small and not very well endowed and therefore the cathedral chapter that could be supported was relatively small.  However, by the twelfth century there were the same four dignitaries the cathedral has today: dean, precentor, chancellor and treasurer.  In 1197/8, twenty-three canons holding prebends were in existence (80).  A prebend was an endowment to support a canon.  It might be a manor, or a rectory or rarely a sum of money (81).

The Prebendary of Wittering

The Prebendary of Wittering was rector and patron of the living until the patronage passed to the Bishop of Chichester in 1840 (82).

The first reference to the Prebendary of West Wittering was between 1174 and around 1180.  The Vicarage of West Wittering was first mentioned a little later, between 1187 and 1197.  At some point between 1224 and 1244 Bishop Ralph de Neville reserved this prebendary for a canon who was capable of lecturing in theology in the Cathedral Close (83).

There are 38 misericords in Chichester Cathedral.  They date from about 1330 and one of them is for the Prebend of Wightring.  The carving shows:

“A monster with cloven hooves on its hind feet, claws on its front feet, and long, drooping ears.  It is devouring a serpentine creature.  The tail of the larger beast appears to be holding a third creature with a bull’s head and a fish-like body” (84).

It goes without saying that you visit this misericord at your peril!

St Richard of Chichester

Richard of Wyche was Bishop of Chichester from 1244 to 1253 and was canonised in 1262 (85).  He had a country retreat in West Wittering – Cakeham Manor – and it seems certain that he would have visited West Wittering Church.  His biographer, for example, noted that if a parishioner died when St Richard was in residence at one of his manors, he made it clear that he himself would bury the person.  “He knew not only how to feed and give drink to the needy…but also both to clothe and shoe the naked and the sick and with his own hands to commit the bodies of the dead to the ground” (86).  It is also recorded that when the Bishop’s bailiff, Richard of Cakeham, was suffering severe pain from gout to the extent that he could scarcely move his feet, St Richard sent him a pair of boots which he used to wear himself.  After wearing St Richard’s boots the bailiff admitted that no trace of his illness remained (87).

The Lady Chapel altar frontal illustrates two other miraculous episodes from the life of St Richard, both associated with Cakeham Manor.  On the left is a depiction of Bishop Richard feeding the poor and hungry.  On this occasion, when he was staying at Cakeham Manor, a great crowd of poor people gathered about him and there was not enough bread to feed them.  So the decision was made to cook part of the bean harvest, although it was recognised that the beans would only feed one third of the hungry crowd.  Richard saw the cooking in progress and was told it was being done to make up for the bread deficit.  Whereupon he raised his hand in blessing resulting in a proliferation of the cooked beans.  Each man received food for a day and after that the remaining food was shared out (88).

The episode depicted on the right of the frontal relates to a Candlemas procession which took place out of doors, near to Bishop Richard’s chapel at Cakeham Manor.  A gust of wind blew out the candles being carried by the Bishop and everyone else.

They carried on with the procession with unlit candles and then the others in the procession suddenly noticed to their astonishment that the Bishop’s candle, and only his, was alight again.  When Richard saw his candle was alight again, he was also amazed and asked, “Who lit my candle?”  The attendant told him that no one had, whereupon Richard told him to keep quiet and not to tell anyone, for “he did not wish to take for himself the light of vainglory from this miraculous light…” (89).

There is a local tradition that St Richard may have built West Wittering Church or part of it, such as the Lady Chapel.  Thus in the 1930 West Wittering Women’s Institute Book it states, “The church is said to have been either built or re-built by St. Richard about 1245” (90).  There are several problems with this.  First of all, the estimated dates when the different parts of the church were built suggest that much of the church was completed by 1245.  The thirteenth-century developments were only the reconstruction of the chancel and the building of the tower.

The second problem is that although Richard was appointed as Bishop in 1244, because of a long dispute with the Crown his income was withheld and it was not until July 1246 that the king relented.  He gave Richard a mitre and in November 1247 made him an ex gratia payment of £100.  Richard never received the income owed to him in his lifetime (91).

The third problem is that there appears to be no documentary evidence of Richard giving money for building any part of West Wittering Church.  There is evidence that he was extremely diligent in raising money for the fabric of Chichester Cathedral and in his will he left the sum of £40 for the Cathedral fabric (92).  There is also evidence that he established a hospital for poor, aged or disabled priests (93).

However, we would be unwise to disregard this local tradition because at very least it suggests a strong affinity between the parishioners of West Wittering and St Richard.  In order to explore a possible source of that affinity, we need to consider the marble slab which now lies in the Lady Chapel.

Marble slab in Lady Chapel

During the 1875 restoration of the church the floor of the sanctuary was taken up.  Some old stone slabs were removed leading to the discovery of a thirteenth-century Purbeck marble slab.  The slab was upside down and probably in the process of removal it was broken in two (94).  This is the slab which now lies in the Lady Chapel on the north side of the altar.  It has the appearance of a coffin lid.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries stone coffins “were in general use for the interment of deceased personages of eminence and wealth…”  In some instances stone coffins were placed so that their lids formed part of the pavement of the church.  In this way coffins were not only the resting places of the remains of the diseased but also formed their monumental memorial.  Stone coffin lids were often incised with a cross and an emblem of the vocation or rank of the deceased; for example, a sword for a knight, a pair of shears for a wool merchant, a chalice, paten and book for a priest and a pastoral staff for a bishop or abbot (95).

If you look at the slab in West Wittering Church, you’ll see that it is incised with a cross and a bishop’s pastoral staff.  You’ll also notice that this is a diminutive slab, too small for the coffin to have accommodated a full-sized bishop.  This has led to speculation that the slab may have been the lid of a coffin for a Boy Bishop.

In the Middle Ages there was a widespread custom of annually appointing a Boy Bishop in cathedrals and churches with choir schools.  The boy was appointed on St Nicholas’ Day (December 6th) and he held office until Holy Innocents (December 28th) (96).  From this a local tradition seems to have developed that the slab was the coffin lid of a West Wittering Boy Bishop who died in office and was buried in his parish church (97).

Let’s pause now, think this through and do a little detective work!  The West Wittering slab measures around 44 inches in length.  Allowing for the thickness of the stone, the inside of the coffin would have been shorter, say 38 inches.  So a child laid to rest in the coffin would have been about 36 inches tall.  Today in the UK, the average height of a boy aged 2 is 35 inches; that of a boy aged 2½ years is 36.9 inches (98).  Nevertheless, we have to consider the possibility that boys in the Middle Ages might not have been as tall as those of today.  So a medieval boy who was 36 inches in height might have been older than a modern boy of the same height.

Some surprising research has shown that men from the early Middle Ages were nearly as tall as modern men.  Average height then declined a little during the twelfth century and through the sixteenth century, and reached an all-time low during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (99,100).

So if there were a West Wittering Boy Bishop he would probably only have been a little shorter than a modern boy of the same age.  The crucial question then is this: would a boy of, say, three years old have been capable of fulfilling the functions of a Boy Bishop?  The evidence indicates that he wouldn’t have been able to cope.  Being a Boy Bishop didn’t just involve dressing up as a bishop.  In most churches the Boy Bishop and his boy attendants took the services, except the Mass, and it seems that an invariable part of the proceedings was the delivery of a sermon, learnt off by heart by the Boy Bishop, and delivered from the usual pulpit (101).

Another theory is that the marble slab is the lid of a reliquary – a receptacle for a relic connected with a saint.  It is interesting to compare the style of the cross on the slab with that of the pilgrim crosses carved on the pillar at the back of the Lady Chapel (102).  Some of the pilgrim crosses, like the one on the slab, have rounded knobs i.e. cross pommé style (103).

The pilgrim crosses definitely point to the existence of a nearby shrine in medieval times and as St Richard was a local saint who was canonised in 1262 it seems likely that the marble slab was the lid of a reliquary which once contained a relic of St Richard from the Cathedral or from Cakeham.  It has been suggested that the reliquary might once have rested on the ledge behind the altar in the Lady Chapel (104).

The existence of a shrine to St Richard would have created a sense of affinity between the saint and the folk of West Wittering, which over centuries of oral tradition could have developed into the notion that ‘our St Richard’ built the church, simply because it was known that he cared about the villagers and was generous in helping them in their need.  Perhaps all that really matters is that St Richard knew West Wittering Church, loved its parishioners and is part of our church family history.

Tudor times

In about 1510 Bishop Sherburne added the brick tower to Cakeham Manor so that he could enjoy the sea view (105).  It is possible that the ancient misericord in the chancel of West Wittering church, with its carved Tudor roses and mitred head, may have been provided by Bishop Sherburne (1508–1536) for his own use (106).

There are two fine canopied tombs on the north wall of the chancel at its east end.  Both relate to the Ernley family and are known as the Ernley tombs.  The larger one on the left, depicting the resurrection, dates from about 1530 to 1535, the smaller one from 1545 to 1550.  In both the face of Christ has been destroyed.  On the lower part of the right hand tomb is a depiction of the Annunciation and a rare Lily-Crucifix comprising a tiny figure with arms outstretched on the stems of a lily as though crucified (107).

Sussex Wills (108) provide interesting glimpses into life in the church during the 1500s.

John Aylemer’s will in 1521 tells us about the lighting in the church: “I bequeth to every one of the iiij [4] principall Lyghtes in the churche of West Wightring ijd [2 pence]”.

Clement Love’s will in 1525, mentions the Lady Chapel, singing and a Rood (large crucifix).  He specified that “I will there shalbe an honnest preest to singe in our lady chapell a hoole yere for me and my wife with my frendis and my children…”.  He also instructed that “My body to be buriede in the chirch of West Wightryng before the Holy Rode in the sowth part of the chirche” and “I bequeth to the Roode Light of West Wightryng vjd [6 pence]”.

In 1540 – 1541, Thomas Forder specified, “I will that my executores shall have at the daie of my buriall x [10] masses and so lykwise at my monithes mynd and so lykwise at the day of my yeares minde to be said or songe in the parishe church of Westwightering for my soule and all christians and…my executors shall dispose at every time half a quarter wheate and halffe a quarter malte to be disposed in the churche emonge my poore nyghbours to praye for my soule”.

In 1542, John Brode made a bequest: “To the mayntenance of the chirche a shepe”.

The will of Richard Yemon in 1543 mentions the dedication of the church: “My body to be buryd [within] ye churche of Seynt Peter and Paule at Westwittring by my father”.

The will of Thomas Love in 1543 shows there was a ‘Sacrament Light’ in the church: “I will a taper of halfe a pownde to be made and to burne before the Sacrament at masse tyme as long as he will last”.  Today we still have a light (electric) burning above the aumbry in the Lady Chapel where the Reserved Sacrament – the consecrated Bread of the Eucharist – is kept.  Thomas Love’s will also mentions the diocese: “Thomas Love of the parysh of Westwyttering in the diocese of Chychester husbandman…My body to be buryed [within] the churcherd of Westwytering”.

John Grenfelde obviously had a warm relationship with his father and in his will of 1544 he touchingly specified, ”My body to be berred in the church yerd of Westwytteryng ny unto my father and other of my frendes”.

In 1551–1552, John Selwyn specified, “I will that my executors Distribute yerelye upon goodfrydaye the number of ij [2] busshelles of wheat to be made in small loves of bread to be gyven to the poor and delyvered at the church lyghten gate of Westwethrynge immedyatly after the servys is ended and so to contynue by the space of iiij [4] yeres after my decease”.

Robert Hoskyn had plainly thought carefully about providing for his wife after his death.  His will in 1546 specified, “I will to the churche of Weste Wytryng one cow to be delyvered after the deceasse of Johan my wyffe soo that the said Johan shall pay no rentes for the said cow during her lyffe and after the decesse of my said wyffe my executours to delyver the sayd cowe into the church yard and to be delyvered in the church wardens handes befor the parishe…I will that the cowe that I had of Raynolde Robertes whiche ys a cow of the churche of Weste Wytryng to remayne to Johan my wyff paying the yerly rent for her and to kepe the saide cow as long as it shall please her, William Hoskyn and Thomas Hoskyn being suerties for the sayd cow”.

In 1559, John Frye specified: “I do geve to my parishe churche towarde the newe makeynge of the greate [bell] xxd [20 pence]”.  This shows that there was already a bell in the tower, presumably installed there in the thirteenth century when the tower was built and when it is thought the wooden ladder to the tower was installed.  The will was proved in 1560.

There were a number of bequests to the ‘poor men’s box’, or ‘chest of the poor’ or the ‘common box’.  A few of the bequests were made by women, for example, in 1557 Eve Ealmer made a bequest of 12 pence.

We musn’t leave the Tudor period without recalling that in 1534 the English Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy that recognised Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the Church of England.  This ended the jurisdiction of the pope.  Then began the “tempest of the Reformation” from which no one would escape, “neither high nor low, neither rich nor poor: all were to be engulfed by a bewildering tide of events that cut through the very fabric of their everyday lives.  One year the faithful would be exhorted to go on a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of a saint…the next the shrine would be levelled to the ground and carts would carry away its treasures” (109).  We know that in 1538 the great pilgrimage shrine of St. Richard in Chichester Cathedral was destroyed and plundered and that parish churches did not escape (110).  If we are correct in our belief that there was a shrine to St Richard in West Wittering Church, this is probably when it was destroyed.

Siege of Chichester in 1642

During the reign of Charles I and the Great Civil War, Cromwell’s army besieged Chichester.  A full account was written by Dr Bruno Ryves (or Reeves), one of the King’s chaplains, who later became Dean of Chichester (111).  Here are some extracts which provide vivid insights into what happened:

“The rebels under the conduct of Sir William Waller, entering the City of Chichester on Innocents Day 1642, the next day their first business was to plunder the Cathedral Church”.  Dr Ryves describes the soldiers who “brake down the organs, and dashing the pipes with their pole-axes, scoffingly said ‘ Hark how the organs go.’  They brake the rail about the Communion Table, which was done with that fury, that the Table itself escaped not their madness, but tasted of the same fate with the rail, and was broken in pieces by them”.  “On the Tuesday following they had a solemn thanksgiving for their success in gaining that city….After the sermon was ended, as men not inspired by the holy spirit, of which they so much boast, but possessed and transported by a Bacchanalian fury, they ran up and down the church with their swords drawn defacing the monuments of the dead, hacking and hewing the seats and stalls, scratching and scraping the painted walls…”.

The soldiers did not stop at the Cathedral.  In the words of Dr Ryves: “Having therefore made what spoil they could in the Cathedral, they rush out thence and break open a parish church, standing on the north side of the cathedral, called the sub-deanery..” (112).

It is significant that the soldiers headed out of the cathedral into a neighbouring parish church to continue their work of destruction, because it has been suggested that they came on to West Wittering and caused the damage to the Ernley tombs.  Some of the church’s pre-Reformation fleur-de-lis (flower of the lily) pew ends (113) are quite badly damaged and it is possible that this occurred at the same time, perhaps because the lily, symbolising purity, has been identified with the Virgin Mary.  The fleur-de-lis has also been identified with the Holy Trinity (114) because it comprises three segments.

If the damage in West Wittering Church did not follow straight on after the attack on the Cathedral it may have happened a year or so later.  In 1643 the Puritan-controlled Parliament passed an ordinance ordering the destruction of various objects, including “images and superstitious objects related to the Virgin, the persons of the Trinity or the saints” (115).  So far, though, we have found no documentary evidence to verify that Cromwell’s agents were responsible.

After the Restoration

The English monarchy was restored in 1660 when Charles II came to the throne.  The 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer (the one we use today at some services) was published.  Apart from its beautiful language, this Prayer Book provides valuable insights into the things that concerned people in those days.  Thus in The Litany the faithful ask the good Lord to deliver them from: “plague, pestilence, and famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death,” and from “all sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion…” (116).  A whole service is provided for “The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth” also known as “The Churching of Women”.  The introductory prayer reflects a time of high maternal mortality:

“Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of his goodness to give you safe deliverance, and hath preserved you in the great danger of child-birth: You shall therefore give hearty thanks unto God…” (117).

In 1665 two bells were hung in West Wittering Church (118) and in 1687 a Chichester Diocesan Survey includes a snapshot of the condition of West Wittering Church at that time.  It was not good:

“The chancell wants repaire, the arches of the windowes being cracked and stones fallen out; the floor wants paving within the chancell.  There is a vestry, but very undecent.  The chancell wants whiteliming.  The tower of the church wants repairing.

The Communion table is very undecent, and wants railes and a carpet.  There is an ill Comon Prayer booke” (119).

The comment about the absence of altar rails is very interesting.  Our altar rails have been dated as late sixteenth-century or early seventeenth-century (120) or Elizabethan (121) i.e. 1558 – 1603.  The entry in the diocesan survey reveals that the rails were introduced later, at some time after 1687, perhaps as a result of the unsatisfactory report.  The gates of the altar rails are modern, given to the church in 1950 (122).

Eighteenth century

In a record of Sussex apprentices and Masters dated November 7th 1721, we read: “Vin, John, son of Jerromy Vin of Deinngton (sic, ? Donnington), Suss., to John CREE of Westwittering, Suss., cordwainer” (123).  A cordwainer is a shoemaker who only works with new leather, whereas a cobbler works with old leather (124).

We have the record of another Diocesan Survey in 1724 and this time it seems that the situation at West Wittering Church had improved markedly, although the focus of reporting seems to have shifted.  The patron was Dr Woodward, the Prebendary of West Wittering and the Vicar was John Marshall MA of Catherine Hall, Cambridge.  He took one service every Sunday and said prayers and preached a sermon every Ash Wednesday.  There was a Bible and a Common Prayer Book in good condition.  There were about 70 families in the parish and it was noted that they were “All goers to church (except 2 families)”.

It was also reported that there were three bells (125).  This must have been the two installed in 1665 and the repaired or new “greate bell” which John Frye helped pay for in the sixteenth century.

Victorian restoration

During Queen Victoria’s reign (1837–1901) major repairs and restoration work were carried out in the church, mainly from 1874–1875.  The south and east walls were largely rebuilt and the nave completely re-roofed.  The pulpit and eagle lectern were installed, as well as additional clergy stalls.  The chancel floor was re-flagged.  Old box pews were replaced with new oak pews where needed; these were designed to match the medieval fleur-de-lis pew ends.  The stained glass window at the east end of the church was installed in memory of the Revd W.D. Underwood who was Vicar at the time of the major restorations.  An ancient musician’s gallery was removed from the west end of the church (126).

It is interesting to note that when the West Wittering Women’s Institute Book was published in 1930 the church restoration of 1874–1875 was within living memory of some West Wittering people:.

“A gallery occupied by musicians, well-remembered by many old residents of West Wittering, one of whom, Mr. Eli Haskins, used to play one of the wind instruments, was taken down from the West End when the Church was restored in 1875” (127).

In 1845 the No.1 bell had become cracked and was replaced (128).  The No. 1 bell presumably refers to the “greate bell”, which was installed or repaired at some time after 1560.  The stained glass window in the east wall of the Lady Chapel, depicting Christ the Good Shepherd, is in memory of William Snuggs who died in 1861 aged 13.  The window was given by his parents in 1874 (129).

The two-light window next to the chancel arch, showing St Cecilia and St John, is in memory of Charles and Maria Combes who worshipped for many years in West Wittering Church.  The window was given by their children in 1899.  The west end stained glass window is in memory of John Gorham and his family.  It was installed in 1901.

Two World Wars

The war memorials in the chancel bear witness to the sacrifice of West Wittering families during the two World Wars.  The one in the chancel is an early work of the sculptor, Eric Gill (130), and is an example of his letter-cutting skills.  This memorial records that the Kewell family lost four men between 1916 and 1918.  The stained glass window in the south aisle, depicting St George and St Patrick, was given by the widow of Captain Kenneth Carlyle Gill MC who was killed in action in action in France in October 1918.

In 1935, between the two wars, the Lady Chapel was restored (131) and almost completely modernised (132).  Early in the twentieth century the three bells were made stationary and fitted with chiming hammers (133).

New millennium

A yew tree was planted in the churchyard to mark the start of the new millennium in 2001.  In 2005 the existing three bells underwent conservation and two more bells were added.  One, dated 1882, came from a ring of twelve in Kidderminster.  The other was a redundant Trinity House bell buoy, dated 1945, which is now our treble bell.  The existing bells and the new arrivals were all tuned (134) so that they ring out in joyful harmony.

In 2012 the non-functioning heating boiler was replaced with a new air source heat pump heating system, the first of its kind in a church in the Diocese of Chichester.  The choice of installation reflects a growing concern to protect the environment in the face of climate change.

For some years the existing pipe organ had been failing and the professional advice was to replace it.  This happened in 2013.  The organ was a redundant instrument from St Stephen’s Church, Whelley in the Diocese of Liverpool.  It was originally built by J.W. Walker in 1964 for St Stephen’s but was rebuilt to suit West Wittering Church by Andrew Cooper and Co, organ builders based on the Isle of Wight.  The organ consultant was John Norman, BSc, AIOA, BIOS and he designed the stop list, pipes and casing.  The panels between the non-speaking pipes were decorated with fabric collage artwork by Judy Francis, a local artist and member of the church congregation.

At Easter 2016, a multi-functional space at the west end of the church was completed in memory of Oliver Pettinati, a young member of our church family who died in 2006 at the age of three.  The re-ordering of the space was a gift from his family and is intended for use as a crèche during church services and also for choir rehearsals and small meetings.  The glass door, designed by local artist Judy Francis, depicts nymphs and dragonflies which convey a message of hope, symbolising life after death.

So who do we think we are?

We’ve traced the history of the church from that first religious community who worshipped on this site in the eighth century, through Viking raids, famine, invasion, the upheaval of the Reformation, civil war and two World Wars.  Yet despite all their difficulties, in the end those members of our church family who have gone before triumphed – they kept the faith and handed it on to the next generations.  So we have great cause to celebrate them and “dear is the ground where their feet have once trod” (135).  Charles Wesley, the great eighteenth-century hymn writer, expressed very beautifully our affinity in Christ with those who have gone before:

“One family, we dwell in him,

one Church, above, beneath”.

“for all the servants of our King

in earth and heaven are one” (136).

Wesley’s hymn also reminds us that our local church family is only part of who we are because we are all part of the great universal Church Family founded by Christ in the first century.  There is nothing vague or nebulous about this affinity: it is something we live out in acts of worship, shared by countless Christians through the ages.  Thus in the Middle Ages parishioners joined in Palm Sunday processions as we do today.  On Maundy Thursday, after the Mass (Eucharist), they too witnessed the altars being stripped bare in memory of the way Christ was stripped of his garments before his crucifixion (137).  On Good Friday they too knelt before the cross and heard the words, “Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the saviour of the world, come, let us worship” (138).

On Holy Saturday, there would be the blessing of the new fire outside the church.  Then the procession moved inside for the preparation of the Paschal Candle which symbolises the Risen Lord (139).  We still do this today in West Wittering Church on the Saturday evening before Easter Day and as the priest traces the sign of the cross on the candle, the prayer said reminds us of Christ’s unchanging love and faithfulness through all the ages:

“Christ, yesterday and today,

the beginning and the end,

Alpha and Omega,

all time belongs to him,

and all ages;

to him be glory and power,

through every age and for ever. Amen” (140).

 

Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, West Wittering

Easter 2016

References and Notes

1. We are greatly indebted to Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford, for her invaluable personal communication which helped clarify some important issues related to the first religious community in Wittering.

2. Campbell, J. (1991) ‘The end of Roman Britain’ in Campbell, J. (ed) The Anglo-Saxons, London: Penguin Books, pp.8–19 (p.8).

3. Blair, J. (2005) The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.10.

4. Campbell, J. (1991) ‘The lost centuries: 400–600’ in Campbell, J. (ed) The Anglo-Saxons, London: Penguin Books, pp.20–44 (p.20).

5. Blair, J. (2005) The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.10.

6. Hoult, M. (2008–2012) A Short History of Saxon Sussex. Chichester: West Sussex info.  Available from: http://www.westsussex.info/saxon-sussex.shtml  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

7. Blair, J. (2005) The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.151.

8. Bede, the Venerable (673–735) The Ecclesiastical History of the English People edited with introduction and notes by McClure, J. and Collins, R. (1999) Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.192,194.

9. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.4.

10. Blair, J. (2005) The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.3.

11. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.5.

12. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.4.

13. Yorke, B. (2006) The Conversion of Britain 600–800, Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd, p.181.

14. Blair, J. (2005) The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.3.

15. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.6.

16. Yorke, B. (2006) The Conversion of Britain 600–800, Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd, pp.160 – 161.

17. Blair, J. (2005) The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.193, 194.

18. Yorke, B. (2006) The Conversion of Britain 600–800, Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd, p.160.

19. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.160.

20. Barker, E. (1947) ‘Sussex Anglo-Saxon Charters’ in Sussex Archaeological Society Sussex Archaeological Collections relating to the History and Antiquities of the County Vol LXXXVI, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.42,80.

21. Kelly, S.E. (ed) (1998) Anglo-Saxon Charters – VI.  Charters of Selsey, Oxford: Published for The British Academy by Oxford University Press, pp.38,39.

22. Barker, E. (1947) ‘Sussex Anglo-Saxon Charters’ in Sussex Archaeological Society Sussex Archaeological Collections relating to the History and Antiquities of the County Vol LXXXVI, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.80.

23. Kelly, S.E. (ed) (1998) Anglo-Saxon Charters – VI.  Charters of Selsey, Oxford: Published for The British Academy by Oxford University Press, p.38.

24. Barker, E. (1947) ‘Sussex Anglo-Saxon Charters’ in Sussex Archaeological Society Sussex Archaeological Collections relating to the History and Antiquities of the County Vol LXXXVI, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.80.

25. Kelly, S.E. (ed) (1998) Anglo-Saxon Charters – VI.  Charters of Selsey, Oxford: Published for The British Academy by Oxford University Press, pp.38,39.

26. Barker, E. (1947) ‘Sussex Anglo-Saxon Charters’ in Sussex Archaeological Society Sussex Archaeological Collections relating to the History and Antiquities of the County Vol LXXXVI, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.42.

27. Kelly, S.E. (ed) (1998) Anglo-Saxon Charters – VI.  Charters of Selsey, Oxford: Published for The British Academy by Oxford University Press, p.39.

28. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.106.

29. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.167.

30. Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford, personal communication, March 2016.

31. Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford, personal communication, March 2016.

32. Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford, personal communication, March 2016.

33. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.111-112.

34. Foot, S. (2006) Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.115.

35. Johnston, P.M. (1907) ‘Ecclesiastical architecture’ in Page, W. (ed) Victoria History of the County of Sussex Vol. 2, London: Archibald Constable and Company Limited, pp.327–379 (p.362).  Available from: www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol2  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

36. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.4,5.

37. Blair, J. (2005) The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.115.

38. Kelly, S.E. (ed) (1998) Anglo-Saxon Charters – VI.  Charters of Selsey, Oxford: Published for The British Academy by Oxford University Press, pp.39–40.

39. Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford, personal communication, March 2016.

40. Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford, personal communication, March 2016.

41. Sarah Foot, Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, Oxford, personal communication, March 2016.

42. Cox, J.C. (1946-1947) (5th edition) edited with additional chapters by Ford, C.B.

The Parish Churches of England, London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, p.47.

43. Escomb Saxon Church website: http://escombsaxonchurch.co.uk/gallery/  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

44. Rambaran-Olm, M. (2002) The Dream of the Rood: An Electronic Edition.  Available from: http://www.dreamofrood.co.uk/frame_start.htm  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

45. British Library (n.d.) Benedictional of St Aethelwold.  Available from: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/sacredtexts/staethel.html  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

46. British Library (2014) More Unique Than Most: the Benedictional of St Æthelwold.  Available from: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/02/more-unique-than-most-the-benedictional-of-st-%C3%A6thelwold.html  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

47. Wormald, P. (1991) ‘The ninth century’ in Campbell, J. (ed) The Anglo-Saxons, London: Penguin Books, pp.132–159 (pp.132,145).

48. Anglo-Saxon Chronicles translated and edited by Swanton, M. (2000) London: Phoenix, pp.127,129.

49. Anglo-Saxon Chronicles translated and edited by Swanton, M. (2000) London: Phoenix, p.136.

50. Anglo-Saxon Chronicles translated and edited by Swanton, M. (2000) London: Phoenix, p.141.

51. John, E. (1991) ‘The return of the Vikings’ in Campbell, J. (ed) The Anglo-Saxons, London: Penguin Books, pp.192–213 (pp.199–200,212).

52. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.5–6.

53. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.5–6.

54. Watney, S. (2007) 20 Sussex Churches, Alfriston: Snake River Press, p.74.

55. Salzman, L.F. (ed) (1953) ‘West Wittering’ in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, London, pp.217–221.  Available from: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp217-221  (Accessed 6 March 2016) (Internet).

56. Paley, F.A. (1844) Illustrations of Baptismal Fonts, London: John Van Voorst, pp.9,10).

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58. Johnston, P.M. (1907) ‘Ecclesiastical architecture’ in Page, W. (ed) Victoria History of the County of Sussex Vol. 2, London: Archibald Constable and Company Limited, pp.327–379 (pp.334–335).  Available from: www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol2  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

59. Salzmann, L.F. (1907) ‘Ecclesiastical history’ in Page, W. (ed) Victoria History of the County of Sussex Vol. 2, London: Archibald Constable and Company Limited, pp.1–44 (p.5).  Available from: www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol2  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

60. Blair, J. (2005) The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.411,415,416.

61. Nye, T.M. (1965) An Introduction to Parish Church Architecture AD600–1965, London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, p.26.

62. Salzman, L.F. (ed) (1953) ‘West Wittering’ in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, London, pp.217–221.  Available from: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp217-221  (Accessed 6 March 2016) (Internet).

63. Historic England (2015) Strategic Stone Study.  A Building Stone Atlas of West Sussex (including part of the South Downs National Park), p.32.

64. Salzman, L.F. (ed) (1953) ‘West Wittering’ in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, London, pp.217–221.  Available from: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp217-221  (Accessed 6 March 2016) (Internet).

65. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.8.

66. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.8.

67. Nye, T.M. (1965) An Introduction to Parish Church Architecture AD600–1965, London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, p.24.

68. Johnston, P.M. (1907) ‘Ecclesiastical architecture’ in Page, W. (ed) Victoria History of the County of Sussex Vol. 2, London: Archibald Constable and Company Limited, pp.327–379 (p.342).  Available from: www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol2  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

69. Salzman, L.F. (ed) (1953) ‘West Wittering’ in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, London, pp.217–221.  Available from: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp217-221  (Accessed 6 March 2016) (Internet).

70. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.8.

71. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.8.

72. Salzman, L.F. (ed) (1953) ‘West Wittering’ in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, London, pp.217–221.  Available from: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp217-221  (Accessed 6 March 2016) (Internet).

73. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.8.

74. Johnston, P.M. (1907) ‘Ecclesiastical architecture’ in Page, W. (ed) Victoria History of the County of Sussex Vol. 2, London: Archibald Constable and Company Limited, pp.327–379 (p.349).  Available from: www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol2  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

75. Salzman, L.F. (ed) (1953) ‘West Wittering’ in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, London, pp.217–221.  Available from: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp217-221  (Accessed 06 March 2016) (Internet).

76. Johnston, P.M. (1907) ‘Ecclesiastical architecture’ in Page, W. (ed) Victoria History of the County of Sussex Vol. 2, London: Archibald Constable and Company Limited, pp.327–379 (pp.340,351–352).  Available from: www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol2  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

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78. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.21–22.  Note: Done cites Mr G.P. Elphick who stated that he had only found four or five bell winches in over 200 churches and the one in West Wittering church appears to be the oldest.

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104. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.24,26,27.

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109. Strong, R. (2007) A Little History of the English Country Church, London: Jonathan Cape, pp.65,80.

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111. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.20.

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113. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.10,20.

114. Bellew, G. (1951) ‘The Fleur de Lys’, The Heraldry Society.  Available from:

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118. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.22.

119. Ford, W.K. (ed) (1994) Chichester Diocesan Surveys.  1686 and 1724, Lewes: Sussex Record Society Vol. 78, p.29.

120. Salzman, L.F. (ed) (1953) ‘West Wittering’ in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, London, pp.217–221.  Available from: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp217-221  (Accessed 06 March 2016) (Internet).

121. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.14.

122. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.14.

123. Garraway Rice, R. (1922) Sussex Apprentices and Masters–1710 to 1752, Lewes: Sussex Record Society, p.196.  Available from: http://www.sussexrecordsociety.org/olb/srs028/  (Accessed 10 March 2016) (Internet).

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125. Ford, W.K. (ed) (1994) Chichester Diocesan Surveys.  1686 and 1724, Lewes: Sussex Record Society Vol. 78, p.222.

126. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.10,13.

127. Ramsey, L.F. (1930) The West Wittering Women’s Institute Book, Chichester: Moore & Wingham, p.10.

128. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.22,23.

129. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.23.

130. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, pp.13–14.

131. Done, W.E.P. (1965) (revised edition) The Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul West Wittering, West Wittering Parochial Church Council, p.23.

132. Salzman, L.F. (ed) (1953) ‘West Wittering’ in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, London, pp.217–221.  Available from: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol4/pp217-221  (Accessed 06 March 2016) (Internet).

133. Nicholson Engineering Ltd (c.2005) Report on bells of the Church of SS Peter and Paul West Wittering.

134. Nicholson Engineering Ltd (c.2005) Report on bells of the Church of SS Peter and Paul West Wittering.

135. Draper, W.H. (1894) In our day of thanksgiving one psalm let us offer.  Available from: http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/i/i262.html  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

136. Wesley, C. (1759) (and others) Let saints on earth in concert sing.  Available from: http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/l/l064.html  (Accessed 08 March 2016) (Internet).

137. Gasquet, F.A. (1906) Parish Life in Mediaeval England, London: Methuen, pp.172–174,179.

138. Strong, R. (2007) A Little History of the English Country Church, London: Jonathan Cape, p.53.

139. Gasquet, F.A. (1906) Parish Life in Mediaeval England, London: Methuen, p.180,181.

140. ©The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England (2000) The Easter Liturgy, pp.408–409.  Available from:  https://www.churchofengland.org/media/41157/tseasterlit.pdf  (Accessed 10 March 2016) (Internet).

©West Wittering Parochial Church Council 2016

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