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                OLD SHOREHAM CHURCH    
                         
            the dependent Priory of Sele, except in time of war with France when the King of England exercised the right of presentation. By a Letter Patent, dated 21 Richard II. (1398), the Church of Old Shoreham was appropriated to the Priory of Sele and confirmation of this was given by another Letter Patent, 1 Henry IV. (1399), "provided that a competent sum from the fruits and profits of the church be yearly paid to the poor parishioners and the vicarage sufficiently endowed." In 1459 Sele Priory was granted to Magdalen College, Oxford, which thus became and still remains the Patron of both livings.
  CHAPTER XIII.    
           
THE CHURCHES OF SHOREHAM-SCANTY DOCUMENTARY HISTORYST. NICHOLAS, OLD SHOREHAM--SAINTS IN A WINDOW-AN ELIZABETHAN CAPTAIN AND HIS FAMILY-" RIZPAH "-THE PARISH CLERK: AND THE SAILOR KING-THE CHURCH OF ST. MARY DE HAURA-THE " ATONEMENT " OF WILLIAM DE BRAOSE-THE RUINED NAVECHANTRY PROPERTY-MEMORIAL INSCRIPTIONS-VICARS OF OLD AND NEW SHOREHAM-LANCING COLLEGE-THE FREE CHURCHES-THE CHURCH OF ST. PETER (R.C.).  
               
    THE CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS, OLD SHOREHAM,  
            is one of the most interesting in Sussex and is well known to all who love the study of the past. It is of Saxon foundation, the masonry of that period being yet in evidence in the long-and-short quoins at the north-west angle of the nave and also in the blocked doorway in the north wall near the west end.
THE earliest mention of a Church at Shoreham appears in the year 1073, when "William de Braose crossed the sea and went to Maine in the army of William, King of the English." He then gave to St. Nicholas of Bramber, " the tithes of the Church of Sorham," obviously St. Nicholas, Old Shoreham.Some two years later,when de Braose founded the Priory of Sele, he bestowed St. Nicholas, Old Shoreham, together with other churches and property in the neighbourhood, upon the Abbey of St. Florent of Saumur, near Fecamp. Domesday Book (A.D. 1086) has the usual brief notice, " there is a church."  
  The Saxon building consisted of chancel, nave, and western tower. The Norman builders considerably enlarged the fabric and gave it the present cruciform plan, by erecting a tower in place of the Saxon chancel, and building north and south transepts, with an apse to each-and an apsidal chancel in characteristic Norman style. They lengthened the nave by including in it the space formerly occupied by the Saxon tower, and the curious " off-set" in the north wall is probably due to this alteration. The very beautiful Norman doorway in the south transept is
Philip de Braose, a crusader, confirmed to the foreign Abbey, the grant made by his predecessor Returning from the Holy Land after the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, between that date and 1103, he also conceded and confirmed to the Abbey, " the Church of St. Mary de Haura, Sorham, because their right thereto existed." This is the earliest reference to the latter church.  
  worthy of particular notice. It appears that the nave had formerly two entrances, which are now blocked up.
  The tower is a very striking feature. It is a " lantern " in two stages, the lower one ornamented with Norman arcading, three arches on each side. The upper stage is pierced with eight circular openings, two on each face, and it is capped by a low pyramidal spire. It is said to resemble the towers of many churches in Picardy.
A Bull of Pope Eugenius III., dated 14th April, 1146, one of Adrian IV., 9th February, 1157, and another of Urban III., 28th December, 1186, confer to the Abbey of St. - Florent, the Church of St. Nicholas of Shoreham, "with the Chapel of St. Mary of the Port of Shoreham," but in the last-named document St. Mary is described as " the Church " of the Port of Shoreham.  
               
  The interior affords a fine example of Norman architecture. 'The piers and four semi-circular arches which support the tower are very beautiful, displaying a richness of detail seldom surpassed in village churches. The arches are adorned with a variety of carvings and mouldings. You will observe the imitation of the seashore product in the limpet. The wealth of the Norman mason's art is seen in cushion capitals, square abaci
The taxation of Pope Nicholas IV. (A.D. 1291), to whose predecessors in the See of Rome, the first fruits and tenths of all Ecclesiastical benefices had for a long time been paid, values the Church of Old Shoreham at £24, and New Shoreham at £10.  
Although the patronage of the two churches was in the hands of the Abbot of St. Florent, it was usually exercised through  
           
                         
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002