Church, Land and Lordship in West Sussex, 680-1200


This thesis contributes to the debate on the nature of Anglo-Saxon minsters and regional variation in the Anglo-Saxon and Norman Church by relating form, setting and endowment of churches to origin and function, examining the relationship between Minster parochiae and estates in contrasting landscapes, and assessing the effects of the Norman Conquest at a local level. Extensive survival of Saxo-Norman churches in western Sussex allows a classification and chronology to be developed, while a systematic approach to topography and records of glebes defines settings, enclosures and endowments. Anglo-Saxon charters, episcopal, capitular and monastic records, manorial documents and state papers are the basis for analysing rights and dues between churches.
High-status churches were frequent, but, except in two cases, probably dating from the ninth or tenth centuries, parochiae were ill-defined. They were smaller than the estates which differed in form between the coastal plain, Downs and Weald and differed from the extensive estates of eastern Sussex and Kent. It is likely that ecclesiastical and lay institutions failed to develop fully, at least in part as a result of exploitation by Wessex. There were probably few churches outside estate centres in 1066, but the types of church built in the period c. 1070 - 1120 reflect the pre-Conquest pattern. Two-cell churches were at small manors on poor land around the compact estates. Centrally-sited unicellular churches on the estates and in large Wealden parishes may be an indication of systematic pastoral provision. Larger churches at known or possible minster sites may be late Anglo-Saxon but are more likely to reflect the post-Conquest importance of collegiate churches.
The form and siting of churches is found to be a helpful method of interpreting the institutional development of the Church, but rights and dues can be traced mainly to c. 1070-1120. The study points to a contrast between marginal areas like western Sussex and the heartlands of the major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.




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Masters, Philip John, “Church, Land and Lordship in West Sussex, 680-1200,” Centre for Regional and Local History Theses and Papers, accessed February 2, 2023,