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Three views of Stanmer Church across the Park from the south

 

History of the village, estate and early church

Stanmer is an ancient place, and was first recorded in 765 AD when its lands were given by the then Saxon King of Sussex to endow the monastery of South Malling in Lewes.  By 1086 and the Domesday Survey, the village of Stanmer was still owned by the Church, and was part of the See of Canterbury.

The first record of a church on the site appears in 1232 when Stanmer still belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury.  At this time the Church was attached to the Penitentiary of the Monastic College of South Malling, for which the Stanmer Estate provided an income of 20 hides a year.

Stanmer was surrendered to Henry VIII at the Dissolution, and only the church and the glebe lands were restored to the Archbishop in 1552.  The Crown retained the remainder of the estate until 1615, when this was sold by King James I.  The estate passed through several hands, eventually becoming the seat of the Pelham family (later Earls of Chichester) in 1713.  It was finally purchased by Brighton Corporation in 1947.

The owners immediately before the Pelhams were responsible for bringing together all the small holdings and unifying these with the common lands of the parish, in order to create the Park as we see it today.  In so doing they also demolished the wattle and daub huts and houses of the former village, the foundations of which can still be seen in the field to the west of the present main street.  The Tythe Barn dates from the sixteenth century.

The other village which belonged to the estate was that of Falmer, a few miles distant across the Park, wherein there is also a small gallery.

 

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Two views of the west gallery and organ

 

The present church

The original 14th century church was demolished in 1838, when the present "new" church was constructed.  It was built in the Early English style at a cost of 14,000 by the the 3rd Earl of Chichester, Henry Thomas Pelham.

For the time it was still a small church, and according to the then practice a west gallery was constructed. Upon the gallery are the Royal Coat of Arms of King George III.  The organ uses much of the central space, but there are two rows of benches immediately in front of it.

The east window of stained and painted glass depicts the Ascension, and was installed in 1887 in memory of the 3rd Earl. The memorial to Sir John Pelham dated 1580 came to Stanmer in 1888 from Holy Trinity Church, Minories, in the City of London. The tower contains two bells dated 1791. 

Stanmer Church today

Stanmer Parish is part of the united benefice of Stanmer with Falmer, a union which was first created in 1835, just before the building of the new church. This united Parish, which covers much of the former estate of the Earls of Chichester, includes the villages and farms of Stanmer and Falmer and the Campus sites of the Universities of Sussex and Brighton. The Parish Priest is therefore also Chaplain to the University of Sussex and Associate Anglican Chaplain to Brighton University.

 

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Looking towards the altar from the gallery.

The bells:

Two bells dating from 1791, cast by                                                                                                         

ACCESS

Map reference : 

Usually the church is locked because of local vandalism.

Services are currently -

Sung Eucharist at 6.30 pm every Sunday

Evening Prayer at 4.30 pm on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. 

 

Photpgraphs by Edwin Macadam  

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Edwin Macadam and Sheila Girling Smith, Shelwin, 30, Eynsham Road, Botley,
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July 2001 -
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