Horsefield - Shermanbury

Home Cement Works Shermanbury Baybridge Canal Adur Navigation Adur Estuary

From History Of Sussex 2 by Horsefield 1835

This Hundred also lies on the eastern side of the Rape, and contains the parishes of Shermanbury and Cowfold. It has for its boundaries, the Rape of Lewes on the east, the Hundred of Tipnoak on the south, the Hundreds of West Grinstead and Singlecross on the west, and the upper part of the Hundred of Fishersgate on the north ; and has, within these boundaries, 5,720 acres.

The extent of this parish is somewhat more than 2,000 1 acres, nearly two-thirds of which are arable and pasture. On the east and south it is bounded by Woodmancote and Henfield, by West Grinstead on the west, and by Cowfold on the north. The surface is generally flat ; and the soil being favourable for the production of wood, fine timber is grown. The population, in 1831, was 345.

The turnpike road from Brighton to Horsham, with a branch road to the west, intersects the district ; whilst a branch of the Adur fertilizes the southern boundary. It is navigable hither from Shoreham. The springs are strongly impregnated with iron, and there are some of a saline quality.

The village church is within Shermanbury Park, in the south-east division of the parish, and near the banks of the rivulet just mentioned; seven and a half miles north-east by north from Steyning, nine from Horsham, and forty-three from London.

The principal proprietors of estates are, the Rev. John Gratwick Challen, D.D., Sir Timothy Shelley, Bart., and Mr. Faulconer.

The manor of Salmonesberie is surveyed in Doomsday with the hundred of Hamfelt. It was held of William de Braose, by Ralph. It was formerly part of the estate of Earl Harold, when it was assessed at two hides; on its transference at the Conquest, it ceased to be rated at all. There was a small church on the manor, and four serfs. The arable required two ploughs. It was valued at 24s.2
At a very early period of the Norman sway, this small manor was possessed by the family of Bucy, who have left their name attached to another of their manors, Kingston Bowsey or Bucy. In the fourteenth century, the manor passed by an agreement between the sons-in-law of Sir Hugh de Bucy, to Sir William de Fyfhide. The Earl of Nottingham held it as of his castle of Brembre, in 1387. From the families of Comber, Gratwick Lintot, and Farncombe, it descended to John Challen, Esq., the father of the present proprietor, the Rev. John Gratwick Challen, D.D.3
Dr. Challen is also the proprietor of the manor of Ewhurst, extending into the adjoining parishes of Henfield and Cowfold, and containing 305 acres of demesne land.
The manors of Morleia and Sacheham, within this parish, are described in Doomsday. The former, Morley, is now the property of Sir Timothy Shelley ; the latter, Sakeham, of Mr. Faulconer.

Shermanbury Place, was erected by the late John Challen, Esq., upon the scite of an ancient edifice of considerable dimensions, with projecting wings, of the time of Elizabeth. It was in all probability built by one of the family of Comber ; from which family it descended to the Gratwicks, by the marriage of Thomas Gratwick, Esq., with Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of William Comber.

We give a sketch of the old mansion; and, through the liberality of Dr. Challen, an engraving of the new one.

Of the Comber family, there were two eminent divines of the Church of England; Dr. Thomas Comber, Dean of Carlisle; and Dr. John Comber, Dean of Durham.4 Of the former, grandfather of the latter, we extract the following sketch:-

"Doctor Thomas Comber, a man of considerable celebrity in his time, was born about the end of the sixteenth century, at Shermanbury, in this county, the twelfth child of Sir Richard Comber, Clarencieux King at Arms. He laid the foundation of his knowledge in the learned languages, for which he was afterwards so eminent, at Horsham ; from whence he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was recommended to the patronage of Doctor Neville ; by whose interest, and his own reputation as an accomplished grammarian., he was elected master of that college. Being a person of great application, unwearied perseverance, and blessed with an excellent memory, he made himself master of the Greek and Latin languages in an eminent degree, and understood several of the Oriental. He travelled into Italy, Spain, and France, where he was denominated by the literati there 'Vir clarissimus, Thomas Comber, Anglus.' On his return from his travels, about the year 1623, he was appointed the King's chaplain, on the recommendation of the Archbishop Abbot ; and soon after to the deanery of Carlisle, on the promotion of Doctor White to the bishopric of that see; and in the year 1631, was chosen vice-chancellor of Cambridge. On the breaking out of the civil war in England, he attached himself warmly to the royal cause, and endeavoured with all his might to prevail with the other heads of the university to send their plate to his Majesty, whose finances then were in a very low condition. As the doctor's endeavours to aid his royal master were discovered, by some means, to the parliament, in return, they determined to make him feel the weight of their re-venge. They not only stripped him of his all, consisting of his deanery, mastership, and the valuable rectory of Worplesdon, in Surrey, but imprisoned him, A.D. 1642. This hard reverse of fortune, and all the indignities and severities which the Puritans, and afterwards the Independants, could heap upon him, he bore with becoming resignation and exemplary fortitude ; till death, on the 28th of February, 1553, delivered him from the malice and cruelty of his persecutors."1

Click for larger image

A little west of Shermanbury Place stood the ancient mansion of Ewhurst.

" A small enclosure, surrounded by a circular moat, includes the scite of the old mansion house, of which there are no remains, except one chimney. A detached entrance is still standing. It consists of an arched gateway with a groined ceiling, over which is a tower with a high pointed roof. On each side are the porters' lodges, built of ragstone and sandstone. The ancient massy gates, with a small wicket, are still remaining. The style of the building refers it to the time of Edward I., when it was the residence of Thomas Peverel."6

The abbey lands belonging to the prebend of Wyndham are chiefly in this parish.

The living is a rectory in the archdeaconry and deanery of Lewes, valued in the king's books at 4l, 19s. 4d. The Rev. John Gratwick Challen, D. D., is patron and incumbent, to whom belong the great and small tithes of the whole parish. Glebe sixteen acres.

The church, dedicated to St. Giles, is a small building, consisting of a nave with very deep roof, on which is perched, at the west end, a small pointed spire. The ancient lancet windows have been converted into square ones, and filled with modern painted glass.
Mural monuments are preserved for individuals of the families of Lintot and Challen, as also one for John Bear, above fifty years rector.

The font is curious, of the age of Henry III.

Miles Williams, in 1786, left by will 5l. to the poor, which was distributed. Ann Lintott, in 1738, bequeathed 2l. per annum, to be applied to the poor, after paying for cleaning and repairing Mr. Gratwick's grave. It appears that no property is charged with this payment, the real estate being entailed.

The registers commence in 1653.

1 According to the Parliamentary Returns, 1,080. 
2 Doomsday, 28, h l,
3 West. Suss. Vol. III. p.322
Ib. p. 324.
5 Hay's Chichester, p. 510. 
6 West. Suss. Vol. III. p.325.


Copyright Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 09 July 2002