The Norman Conquest 1066-1204

We now come to the time which is so directly connected with our own time that its traces can be plainly seen by the interested observer.

Norman Cushion Capital

There is no mention of Ardingly in Domesday, the great book compiled by the order of the Conqueror in 1086, which contains the return of churches, lands and inhabitants in each Hundred, but we know that there was a church here in those days, for it was given by William de Warrenne to the Priory of Lewes before his death in 1088. We know this from documents still in existence; in the Church itself the plain Norman capital bears silent witness to its date.

William de Warrenne was one of the Conqueror’s chief barons, and after the battle of Hastings the Rape of Lewes and much other territory was given him in return for his services. He built his castle at Lewes and founded the great Priory there, while traces of his over-lordship are met with in almost every village within the Rape. Cuckfield, Balcombe and West Hoathly all owe their early Churches to the great Norman Founder, and though we have no proof that our own Church was built by him we know that he gave it, as he did the others, to the Priory at Lewes with the right of presentation to the living, which gift was afterwards confirmed by Seffrid ii., Bp of Chichester 1180-1204, and recorded in the episcopal registers at Chichester. Although the living was given to the Priory it retained its great tithes, and has in consequence remained a Rectory ever since.

Tithe payment is a custom so old that it needs an article to itself, but it may be mentioned here as a factor in defining parish boundaries. As each little cultivated spot spread and enclosed more and more land it paid the tithe due on the new enclosures to the old centre, and so the growth of the parish progressed till it reached the property of another owner who paid to another centre or till it reached some pre-existing boundary such as a river or a road. In cases where a road forms the boundary of a parish it is evidence for the great age of the road. The Ardingly road boundaries exist from Rock Cottage to Pearcelands on the East Grinstead road, and a short length on the road from West Hill to South Hill starting from the monster beech northwards.

Hoad Lane leading from the high road near Slab Castle & Stone Cross to Burstye is also a parish boundary.

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