A Gloucester Garden Party

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist

Something light and fluffy this time, a diary entry of sorts of trip north west to some colleagues, catching the last of the good weather and enjoying endless amounts of cake!

Showing the side of the building with assorted car parking spaces. The building is red and grey brick, with large rectangular windows.
Formally Kingsholm School, the Heritage Hub has been updated as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund Project

As some of you may know, I moved from Gloucestershire Archives to West Sussex Record Office in March of this year.  Gloucestershire was my first job after receiving my Archiving and Records Management degree, and when I arrived, it was in the middle of its Heritage Lottery Funded building project – refurbishing the public search room and reception areas, bringing in partners to the one site, doing up the garden and exterior entrances, as well as the necessary extension of three new strong rooms. 

Stairs and a wheelchair lift bring you up to automatic door. The carpets are light grey and teal green. A side door leads to a community centre, and another side door leads to the garden
New front entrance to the Heritage Hub

When I left in March for Chichester, only the front entrance, garden, and the all too necessary car park remained to be done.  Gloucester’s annual history festival results in the Archives (now branded the Heritage Hub with the Family History Society, Constabulary, Victoria County History and the Archives all sharing the building) having a large open day.  This year, with the completion of the garden, it seemed only fitting the open day was based around the new exterior.

Bright new rotating shelf units for the strongrooms, some for boxes, some for rolled up maps
Mmmmm… new clean strongrooms…

I was desperate to see what my old colleagues had been up to in the six months I’d been gone, so I wished to make a visit. Inevitably I was roped (willingly! willingly!) to assist with the ever-important tea and coffee making, and I’d made a point of informing them all that I was going to be generally a nosy guest and wanting to see the new strong rooms.

Fortunately for myself there is one blessed train a day that runs from Brighton up through Southampton, Westbury, Trowbridge, Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, then Worcester and Great Malvern, and there is one blessed train a day that does the same journey in reverse. Excluding Sundays.

Six counties and three and a half hours later, I arrived back in Gloucester. First stop? The Archives? Pfft no. The Cathedral of course.

Sunday was where the action was, so I popped on my blue Heritage Hub t-shirt and got ready to help the other volunteers with the endless streams of tea, coffee and cake. So much cake.

Apples and cakes line two tables. Including brownies, lemon drizzle, victoria sponge, cupcakes, marmalade cake, coffee and walnut, chocolate cake, chocolate and vanilla and fruit cake.
How much cake is too much cake?

The garden had a local community group set up. Pitch Up, who were an accessible and family friendly performance experience inspired by camping. It involved walkabout performances and an interactive performance installation.

There was also a barber surgeon present, in case of any grievous wounds or teeth that needed pulling.

John Putley, resident barber surgeon, talking to the Pitch Up group. He is pointing to the different tools used by surgeons in full 17th Century costume
John Putley, resident barber surgeon, talking to the Pitch Up group

There were also displays showing the building work that the old school had undergone (GA had moved into their current location when Kingsholm School closed in the late 1970s) as well as displays for the 180th and 100th anniversaries of the Constabulary and the Gloucestershire Deaf Association (GDA) respectively (the latter of which’s collection was largely catalogued by yours truly).

Displays from the Taynton Metal Detecting Club showed off 40 years’ worth of collecting coins, artefacts and non-metallic finds (pottery, flint and clay pipes) to link in with the talk on site: the Saxon Warrior of Operation Shallow Grave, which detailed how, in 2016, a high status Saxon burial was found in Gloucestershire and was excavated with the help of the MOD’s Operation Nightingale.

A yellow sign stating bees at work warns of the beehive at the very back of the garden, away from the members of the public
Gloucestershire recently moved in their beehive, Archive Honey on its way soon!

You had the usual guided tours and a Treasures of the Archive talk, and luckily the sun was shining strong on Sunday, so there were nearly 200 visitors in total to feed and water.

Where Gloucestershire exceeds is their relationships with local community groups, and this can be seen with every event they hold, hosting other groups in the Archives. The History Festival, which lasts the first half of September, provides ample opportunity to use the meeting spaces for talks, to have open days, or to hold smaller events for palaeography, conservation and so on.

Visitors enjoy cake and tea, whilst the displays of the GDA and Constabulary bring interested parties over
Visitors enjoy cake and tea, whilst the displays of the GDA and Constabulary bring interested parties over

The five hours passed distressingly quickly, and soon it was time to pack up. One dinner and sound snooze later it was Monday morning, and time for me to get the train back to Chichester. The weather was decidedly less helpful than Sunday, but I managed to get a photo of me and some of my old colleagues in front of one of the landscape photographs spread around the building.  It was wonderful to see many of them once more, and to see what I had missed the past six months.  The building looked incredible. 

And with that, I was back on the train. Two carriages this time, luckily I had a seat the whole way. But still. Squish. Three and a half hours later, I was back in Chichester. First stop? Home. To be blunt the train had been heaving and there was no room to give up your seat, even for a loo break. Certain things must take priority when travelling.

My old team… spot the interloper?

Here at West Sussex, our Open Day will be announced soon in the coming months, so keep an eye out for news at that front, and keep up with us on Social Media, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what Treasures West Sussex has in store.

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William Penn in West Sussex

By Martin Hayes, County Local Studies Librarian

Copy of image of William Penn, wearing a black tricorner hat, white wig and simple 17th Century clothing

William Penn portrait, taken from the Sussex County Magazine, vol 4, 1930, p134

William Penn is best known as the founder of Pennsylvania, among the most successful of all American colonies, and as a leader of the fledgling Society of Friends, better known as Quakers. He was the only man in the 17th century to achieve as much in ‘Olde England’ as in New England. He promoted causes and ideas which were well ahead of their time, notably religious toleration, participatory government, civil liberties, good race relations, international peace and economic enterprise.

Most of Penn’s connections with West Sussex are not generally well known even though he owned a home here for over 30 years. He was involved in many day-to-day Quaker activities in the County and his presence had a life-changing impact on local people as so many emigrated to the New World.  

The 2,600 known individual documents relating to Penn make him one of the best recorded individuals of his time and he appears also in many more general records such as minutes of Quaker meetings. Extracts from these help us understand almost every aspect of his life and in this blog I have included some documents held here at West Sussex Record Office.

This blog summarises his significant connection with over a dozen places in Sussex. My lecture on Tuesday 24th September will use documents to describe Penn’s life and his local links in more detail. Interwoven with the man’s personal life will be the story of his unsuccessful campaign for religious toleration and consequent funding of a place of safety for Quakers and other non-conformists across the Atlantic, finishing with his departure from West Sussex and his final years of suffering, both personal and financial.

Copy of map includes land belonging to William Penn

Warminghurst estate map, 1707, by Francis Hill, © British Library Board Add. Mss. 37420

Warminghurst, near Storrington

In 1676 Penn bought a mansion near the parish church of Warminghurst, located between Thakeham and Ashington. It became his principal family home until 1696, and continued to be lived in by his children William (Billy) junior and Letitia (Tish) and grandchildren, until it was sold in 1707. It was a relatively modern (early 1600s), red brick mansion, with a view of the Downs to the south. The house saw visits by many prominent Quakers such as George Fox the founder, John Burnyeat, George Keith, Isaac Penington and Robert Barclay. Secret illegal Quaker meetings, both for worship and for administrative purposes, were held here and some of the former were large open-air gatherings (see Arundel below).

It was here at Warminghurst between 1680 and 1682 that William worked on the Constitution for Pennsylvania, which was to become, in many respects, the basis for the American Declaration of Independence, and Constitution, a century later.

Most of Penn’s significant family events happened here. Four of Penn’s eight children and two grandchildren were born here, and his wife Gulielma Maria may have died here as did her mother Mary Penington (nee Springett). In early 1696 he took his ailing eldest son Springett on carriage rides in the area, in an unsuccessful attempt to cure of him an illness, probably tuberculosis. Penn’s children William junior (Billy) and Letitia continued to live here from 1696 to 1707 and he was a frequent visitor.

Finally the ultimate irony was that with Penn’s house purchase came an advowson, that is, in this case, the right to appoint the vicar of Warminghurst parish church!


Extract of entry from the Arundal Quarter Sessions of 1685 detailing William Penn's accusations

QR/W173 – Arundel Quarter Sessions for 1685

Magistrates at the Court of Quarter Sessions held here on 13th/14th January 1685 ordered Penn’s arrest as a “factious and seditious person……[who] doth frequently entertain and keep unlawful assembly and Conventicles in his Dwelling House….usually….assembled to the terror of ye King’s Liege people and in contempt of ye King and his laws…. ”


Here in 1679 Penn campaigned unsuccessfully for the election to Parliament of his friend and republican Algernon Sydney, part of an ineffective attempt to achieve religious toleration.


Drawing of the Thakeham Blue Idol Meeting House

Thakeham Blue Idol Meeting House, drawing taken from Some Records of the Early Friends in Surrey and Sussex by T.W. Marsh (1886)

It was here that Penn, with Benjamin Hayler, oversaw the conversion of John Shaw’s timber-framed house, Little Slatter, into a permanent Quaker meeting house between 1691 and 1694. William and his family were regular worshippers here, being located in Oldhouse Lane, near the hamlet of Coolham, at the northern end of Thakeham parish and only around 4 miles from his home. His daughter Letitia was married here on 20th August 1702 and laid to rest in the burial ground in 1746. Penn’s unnamed daughter who died soon after birth on 26th March 1683, may have been buried here too. This is now better known as the Blue Idol, so named after the blue wash on the plaster infill and its period of inactivity (idle-ness) in the 18th/19th centuries. It is still used by the Society of Friends as a meeting house.

East Grinstead

In a warrant for his arrest from the Assize Court held at East Grinstead on 20th March 1682 Penn was charged with trespass and contempt against the statute for discovering, and repression of, Popish recusants. The charges were dropped when he convinced the authorities that he wasn’t a Catholic.

Long strip of paper written in old handwriting for the arrest of William Penn

Add Mss 37,103 – Number 8, the East Grinstead arrest warrant from 1682


George Keith, former head of the Quaker School founded by Penn in Philadelphia, split with the Quakers, returned to England and became rector of Edburton parish church from 1705 to 1716.


Founder of the Quakers, George Fox was imprisoned here for non-conformity between April and July 1655. Penn first stayed in the town on 1st October 1672 during his missionary ‘Journey on Truth’s Account Through Kent, Sussex and the Skirt of Surrey’. He attended the Quaker Horsham Men’s Monthly Meeting at least four times in the 1670s-80s and his Declaration to marry second wife Hannah Callowhill was heard before them on 11th December 1695. Penn’s daughter Letitia made her Declaration to marry William Aubrey, a London merchant, before the same body 0n 8th July 1702 and the Horsham Women’s Monthly Meeting were given a letter about the same.

Ifield near Crawley

Ifield Meeting House, drawing taken from Some Records of the Early Friends in Surrey and Sussex by T.W. Marsh (1886)

Ifield Meeting House, drawing taken from Some Records of the Early Friends in Surrey and Sussex by T.W. Marsh (1886)

This was the location of the County’s very first Quaker meeting for worship in 1655 and where the earliest permanent meeting house was built in 1674/75. Penn attended at least one ceremony here: the wedding of Edward Blackfan and Rebecca Crispin in October 1688.


William stayed with Briant Wilkinson at Sedgewick Park, or Nuthurst Lodge, during his missionary ‘Journey on Truth’s Account Through Kent, Sussex and the Skirt of Surrey’ in 1672.


Penn owned part of the manor of Kingston Bowsey (Bucci) near Shoreham through his marriage to Gulielma Maria Penington in 1672. Some land in the area was sold by the couple on 3rd June 1676 probably to fund their purchase of Warminghurst. It was from Shoreham Harbour that William sailed into a three year period of exile from February 1691 following the issuing of arrest warrants for treason.


In 1678 a Quaker meeting house and burial ground was established here, in Horsham Road opposite the junction with Mouse Lane. Penn is known to have preached here in 1678. Sir John Fagg of Wiston House (see below) may have helped fund the purchase and conversion of the building which has reverted to a private home named Penn House.


See also ‘Coolham’ above.

At least 16 Friends (Quakers) from the Thakeham area emigrated to Pennsylvania with William aboard the ‘Welcome’ in 1682.

Penn is reputed to have preached from a large prominent stone on the green near the pond adjacent to Abingworth Hall [now Hotel].


Wiston House was the home of Sir John Fagg, prominent Parliamentarian soldier  during the Civil War, MP for Steyning 1660-1701 and a non-conformist. He protected a small Quaker community (at least 4 people in 1676) and became friends with Penn who lived only 4 miles away at Warminghurst. William was a regular guest at Wiston House, particularly during the Sidney election campaign in 1679 (see also Bramber above).


Estate map shows William Penn's home, with little chimney pots and a front gate

Close up of the Warminghurst estate map, 1707, © British Library Board Add. Mss. 37420

In September 1682 before crossing the Atlantic to America, the ‘Welcome’, with Penn already aboard, hove to off Worthing to collect at least 16 Sussex emigrants and further supplies.

On his return, Penn landed on 3rd October 1684 “within 7 miles of my home at Warminghurst”, probably off Worthing or Shoreham.

Our new project Transatlantic Ties, funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation in New York, offers us the opportunity to explore in detail the many America related documents held at the Record Office including some records involving William Penn and local Quakers.



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Historic records and architectural histories: Selsey Maps

By Tim Hudson (guest blogger)

What types of historic documents do architectural historians use? Continuing with our guest written series, the once Editor of the Sussex Victoria County History and co author of the updated Pevsner guide to West Sussex, Tim Hudson, will be exploring the types of records used when researching built heritage. Each blog, Tim will look at a significant West Sussex building through a variety of historic documents available at the Record Office.

Today we look at the maps of Selsey.

Architectural historians regularly use old maps, of which the Record Office has a fine collection.  The small town and seaside resort of Selsey south of Chichester, not usually much noticed for its historic buildings, provides an example.

Estate plan of land at Selsey, it includes drawings of roads and plots belonging to Mary Penfold, and includes a list of references
Add Mss 2051 – Plan of Land late the property of Miss Mary Penfold in Selsey, by J. Butler

Estate maps often give outline plans of buildings, yielding termini ante and post for extensions and demolitions.  Sometimes there may be a vignette of a building itself.  Add MS 2051 shows the junction of Selsey’s High Street with East Street and West Street.  The building described as ‘Homestead’ survives just north of where the One-Stop shop is today, and intriguingly is called …The Homestead.

Homestead House is a red brick thatch cottage with white framed windows and front door. The front garden is exceptionally well maintained.
Homestead House, photograph courtesy of Tim Hudson

Inclosure of open fields and commons was accompanied by maps showing the allotments made and new roads created.  The latter were often straight and are sometimes taken to be Roman roads.  Hillfield Road in Selsey, laid out at inclosure in 1821, aims directly for the Bill.  Big houses were later put up alongside it and in streets to east and west. 

An excerpt of an inclosure map of Selsey, with Hillfield Road running through the centre straight to sea.
Par 166/20/2 – Section of the inclosure map of Selsey, 1821, featuring Hillfield Road
A clear blue sky and neatly pebbled road lead to Bill House, a white home in Selsey, featuring diamond tile design above the first floor windows
Photograph of Bill House in Selsey, photograph couresty of Tim Hudson

One of these specially featured in the recent revision of Pevsner’s Buildings of England, Sussex West, is The Bill House in Grafton Road of 1906-7 by the important Arts and Crafts architect M H Baillie Scott. [image]  Since it’s now a care home its internal courtyard isn’t accessible, but the building with its quirky off-centre lookout tower can be admired from the street.

OS 6” and 25” maps in their successive editions show how places developed.  The 6” map of 1912 has the line of the eccentric Chichester – Selsey tramway, with its three stations in the town that brought visitors to the seaside. The route can be hard to trace today.  For the history of the tramway see the WSCC publication Going off the Rails: The Country Railway in West Sussex, by Bill Gage and others (1997).

Two sections of the 6" 1911 edition O.S. Map for Selsey, with the tram/rail line running through the upper middle to the coats.
Two sections of the 6″ 1911 edition O.S. Map for Selsey, with the tram/rail line running through the upper middle to the coats.

If you would like to see more of West Sussex Record Office’s records, give us a follow on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

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West Sussex and its London Evacuees

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist

It is nearly 80 years since the start of the Second World War.  West Sussex played a central role, not only in the preparation for the D-Day landings – which were commemorated earlier this Summer – but also in being a destination for many London schools during the initial evacuation efforts.

Garland N18721 - Evacuees arriving September 1939

Garland N18721 – Evacuees arriving September 1939

On the 1st September 1939, the Littlehampton Gazette released an article describing the arrival of 2,200 mothers, children, teachers and helpers to the town, 700 at a time by train.  More were expected over the next several days to make their way south from London.

Upon arrival, it seemed all unaccompanied children had somewhere to go, but appeals to house mothers with young children went out.  The demands were “reasonable shelter, access to water supply and sanitary conveniences… It is hoped that, in addition, householders will provide facilities for cooking.”  In other words: a bed, a sink, and a toilet were required; a cooker was optional.  It seemed lucrative to house evacuees, with households getting 10s 6d a week for one unaccompanied child (8s 6d per child if you took in two or more) or 8s a week for a mum and a child.

At the Record Office, the County and District Council records give us a remarkably complete view of the intense planning that went into arranging the evacuation of school children, whilst private recollections held here bring the stories to a more personal level, like adjusting to a new home, and integrating (or lack of integrating) with local children.

In the Summer of 1938, an official government committee laid down the basic principles under which evacuation would take place, and from January to August 1939 intense planning began to determine how many children would be evacuated, and to where.  This included taking stock of available billets in the area, meetings of the ARP and Evacuation Sub Committee concerning accommodation and education concerns, West Sussex being divided into 17 districts with a special liaison officer (aka a teacher)… it all took a lot of planning, to say nothing of the actual transport of the children.  Getting them to Sussex seemed to be the easy part!

Garland N18713 - Evacuees arriving September 1939

Garland N18713 – Evacuees arriving September 1939

By August it was estimated that, on the outbreak of war, up to 27,960 unaccompanied children and 2,970 teachers would be making their way to West Sussex.  It seemed by the 5th of August war was inevitable, as a provision made by the Emergency Executive Committee for the recall of teachers in the event of an emergency was made.  It stated that teachers were to be available at their respective schools on the 28th of August.  When this day came, the Clerk of the County Council received a letter from the Ministry of Health authorising all preparatory measures to be carried out, and on the 31st the Ministry of Health declared that the evacuation arrangements were ready to be carried out at a moment’s notice.

That moment came the very next day, when, with the invasion of Poland and a declaration of war days away, thousands of children and their teachers were taken from London, Croydon, Wimbledon, and Surrey to West Sussex.  Eleven West Sussex Rail Heads were involved in total.  Over the next two days more children were taken south when war was declared.  Only 50% of the expected number came (a percentage higher than the average for the nation) and Head Teachers began meeting to figure out how teaching and recreational activities were going to work.  By the 11th of September the majority of higher level issues had been ironed out, and local schools began to open up for the new term and their new students.

FBP 1 21 12

FBP 1 21 12 – Marjorie Burden with Annie and Daphne, two evacuees, in her garden

However, it became apparent that issues remained, and on the 23rd of September a meeting of the Liaison Officers was held to try and fix any problems.  The biggest difficulties were the poor distribution of children in relation to educational facilities.  A further meeting on the 7th of October revealed concerns that the London schools were making accommodation and plans for the students independently, causing friction and confusion over who was housing the children. It was quickly resolved, as by the 9th of October the duties of the liaison officers were considered complete.

Interviews held with evacuees revealed how tricky it could be to adjust to the new life.  Some came from relatively new and nice housing in Peckham.  They therefore struggled to deal with having “external toilet facilities consisting of a bucket” and the home being lit purely by candlelight.  Others had the opposite problems, coming from run down London slums to larger open air properties, with too much space and not enough neighbours. From those that housed the children, the transition was also not always smooth, and there were often instances of people insisting that the children be moved to another home for one reason or another.  In a few cases, some were even using the billeting money to try to pay for train tickets to send the children home!

Garland N18719 - Evacuees picking blackberries at the Virgin Mary Spring, Petworth

Garland N18719 – Evacuees picking blackberries at the Virgin Mary Spring, Petworth

The rest of autumn passed by, with the children adjusting to rural life (some better than others).  Plans for Christmas fast approached, with the government advising children not to be returned home.  They were given a week’s break for Christmas itself, but by the New Year many of the children had returned home regardless, as the first months of the war were not as intense as initially feared.  It seemed that the London parents felt the government had over-reacted to the threat of bombing, and many of the children could just not adapt to being away from home and family.  Though the first months of the war within the UK was not as fierce as first thought, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz the following year would bring a chunk of these children back out to West Sussex.

If you would like to get stuck in with our records, we’d recommend starting with MP 7410, a compilation of source material and notes on evacuation in West Sussex, compiled by Alan Readman.  From there, you can jump to:

  • AM 733/1 – Domestic journal of the war years 1 September 1939 – 10 May 1945, compiled by C. F. Harriss
  • AM 1034 – Billeting Records (WW2) kept by Mrs Ethel Talbot of Billingshurst
  • Garland N18703-22 – Photos of evacuees
  • BO/AR/21/1/12-15 – Arundel Borough letter books
  • BO/AR/24/3/1 – Arundel Borough Register of evacuee accommodation;
  • UD/HO/3/15/1 – Horsham Urban District Council Evacuation Committee Minutes;
  • UD/HO/1/47-50 – Horsham Urban District Council Minutes
  • UD/SH/24/13 – Papers concerning the return of evacuees to London
  • And then onwards and onwards until you have done enough research for a thesis!

If you would like to see more of West Sussex Record Office’s records, give us a follow on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.






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Historic records and architectural histories: Arundel Castle

By Tim Hudson (guest blogger)

What types of historic documents do architectural historians use? Over the next few months the once Editor of the Sussex Victoria County History and co author of the updated Pevsner guide to West Sussex, Tim Hudson, will be exploring the types of records used when researching built heritage. Each blog, Tim will look at a significant West Sussex building through a variety of historic documents available at the Record Office.

His first blog takes a closer look at Arundel Castle.

The launch party for the revised Pevsner volume The Buildings of England: Sussex West, was held on 11 June in the Barons’ Hall at Arundel Castle by kind permission of the Duke of Norfolk.  The County Archivist Wendy Walker can be glimpsed among the numerous guests. 

Ian Nairn in the original edition of Pevsner’s Sussex (1965) was dismissive of this room (‘quite dead’), and of the late-C19 reconstruction of the Castle generally.  The new edition of the book is much more appreciative of both, describing the Barons’ Hall as ‘huge and spectacular; … light and colourful’.  It certainly seemed so on 11 June.

Arundel: The East View of Arundel Castle, in the County of Sussex, by Samuel & Nathaniel Buck, 1737.

The Castle’s building history is exceptionally complicated, with three major C19 rebuildings.  One essential source for architectural historians is contemporary prints, of which the Record Office has a very rich collection.  Here Buck’s view of 1737 [above] shows well the Castle’s setting and the medieval keep and curtain wall, mostly surviving today.  However, the range facing the Arun valley that contains the state rooms has been largely altered since.

The New Gateway of Arundel Castle, 25 March 1870.
(reference: F/PD 203/11)

Old prints can also depict buildings or parts of a building that have completely vanished.  An example is a mid-C19 image [above] taken from a viewpoint just inside the present Gate and Lodge at the top of Arundel’s High Street.  This shows the grand entrance to the south bailey of the Castle as then recently constructed to the designs of M E Hadfield of Sheffield.  Everything seen in this view was replaced later in the century – in fact by the present Barons’ Hall (venue for the Pevsner party) and the Duke of Norfolk’s private Chapel, both highlights of today’s Castle tour.

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Chichester Cathedral Archives Reach New Audiences in Sweden

By Peter Wilkinson, Kim Fleming, Wendy Walker and Abigail Hartley

In 2017 the Sussex Record Society published a fascinating volume of church court proceedings taken from the Diocesan Archives held at the Record Office. Depositions, which can be found in the Ep/I/11 series, are the accounts of cases held at the Bishop of Chichester’s Consistory Court. These courts covered a plethora of local issues and disputes including quarrels over wills, tithe disputes, matrimonial disagreements, and the ever amusing defamation cases.  However they can be difficult to read and interpret for the modern reader, which is where the Sussex Record Society and Peter Wilkinson got involved.

Kim and Peter

Kim Fleming and Peter Wilkinson in the Humanities building at Mittuniversitetet, Sundsvall

Chichester Archdeaconry Depositions 1603-1608 edited by Peter Wilkinson, a former deputy county archivist, gives us an intriguing insight into the life, loves and behaviour of everyday people in the early 17th century.  Peter’s earlier blog about his work describes how these cases were brought to trial in Chichester. They include vivid eye-witness accounts of incidents and events in rural Sussex and paint a unique picture of everyday life at that time.

Since then Peter and his colleague, Kim Fleming, have been busy working on more of these records.  The Sussex Record Society will be publishing Kim Fleming’s Witness Depositions of the Chichester Archdeaconry 1599-1603 on its website later this year and Peter’s article, Love Lost and Found, is already available online.

Chichester Archdeanery Depositions 1603-1608 Book Cover

The book is currently available to view at the Record Office

A couple of months ago Peter and Kim were invited to give a research seminar for the academic staff of the English department at the Mid Sweden University’s campus at Sundsvall.  The three hour session on 22 May presented material from the extensive holdings on the Bishop of Chichester’s Consistory Court from the 16th and 17th centuries.  The context and operation of the court, and analyses of the 1599-1603 volume of depositions, were discussed.

The speakers were invited by Professor Terry Walker, who at Kim’s suggestion had visited the Record Office last July to view the deposition manuscripts.

Professor Walker’s research is particularly concerned with the recording of actual English vernacular speech (and Latin) of the period.  Together with colleagues from Uppsala and Kansas universities she has published a major study of the Latin and English used in both secular and church courts in England in the period, but had not until last year come across the Chichester sources.

This new collaboration between Sweden and Chichester holds out the promise of more of the consistory court material being published and of further international interest in these important records.

About the Sussex Record Society:

Founded in 1901, Sussex Record Society publishes the transcribed records of the county’s history from documents found in local and national archives. The Society is due to launch its 100th volume later this year and also publishes a growing series of Online Records including databases, archives, images and texts covering many aspects of historic Sussex. You can find out more about the work and publications of the Sussex Record Society at www.sussexrecordsociety.org.

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2018/2019 Accessions

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist

One of the most crucial aspects that our volunteers tirelessly work towards is the accessioning of our smaller collections.  AM (Additional Manuscripts) contain some of our most visually interesting and varied documents.  Within the last 12 months, here is a quick overview of just some of the items we have added to our collections:

AM 1260 Certificate

AM 1260/6/1 – Certificate of the founding of the Bognor Branch of the Royal British Legion Women’s Section

  • AM 1213 – Additional Bousefield Family papers, 20th century.
  • AM 1263 – Records of the Sparkes Family, horticulturalists in West Sussex and Malta, 1960s-1980s.
  • AM 1254 – Deeds of North Pallant.
  • AM 1258 – Deeds for properties on Western Terrace, Worthing.
  • AM 1259 and AM 1261 – Deeds for properties in Hurstpierpoint.
  • AM 1260 – Royal British Legion Women’s Section Bognor Branch, late 20th century.
  • AM 1266 – Chichester Mission Support minutes, 1995-2016.
  • AM 1284 – Deeds for property in Worthing, Southwick and Horsham.
  • AM 1335 – Southern Home Counties Industrial Council minutes, 1929-1989.
  • AM 1358 – Mr Searle’s West Sussex research, with articles and photographs re Chichester, in part based on sources at WSRO, 1970’s.
  • AM 1362 – Tangmere Chronicles, a history of the village in photographs, pamphlets and notes, 20th century.

    AM 1374_2_1

    AM 1374/2/1 – Newsletters of the West Sussex Organists’ Accociation

  • AM 1371 – Drawings and sketches of architect Charles Dicker, 1855-1912.
  • AM 1374 – West Sussex Organist Association, 1959-2018.
  • AM 1380 – West Sussex Market Account books, 1943-1998.
  • AM 1382 – Blackmore family of Chichester, family scrapbooks featuring RAF and professional football refereeing career of members, 1904-1960.


Isn’t the variety of records fascinating?  From drawings to account books to local history research to deeds.  Also the colours!  Who said paper documents are all black and white?  We are currently in the process of updating our catalogues, so whilst some of these items aren’t searchable to the general public just yet, we hope to have it updated soon.  National Volunteer week was only a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean our appreciation for their hard work begins and ends with a hashtag.  A massive thank you as always to our volunteers; Nick, our archivist who juggles them all; and, of course, to our depositors, who choose us as a home for their records.

AM 1382_1_2 1

AM 1382/1/2/1 – Blackmore family of Chichester, scrapbook of refereeing career across Sussex

If you would like to see more of the variety of records held at West Sussex Record Office, check out our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, where we often share some our more interesting items, as well as provide updates for upcoming events or (un)expected closures.


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