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Saxon Churches in Sussex
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Christianity came late to Sussex (see here ) but many churches have been identified as having some part which is 'Saxon'.

The Saxon period is generally defined as 410 AD to 1066 AD, From the accepted date for the withdrawal of the Romans until the arrival of William the Bastard who declared himself King William. 

Both dates are unlikely to be so clear cut, Roman influence had been declining for some time, it is likely that Angles and Saxons had already been allowed to settle before the Legions left and that the local Romano-Britons would have continued their life style, though with the removal of the Empires forces to back up the administration and collection of taxes that provide for road maintenance, law and order etc, it would not be long before the ordered society decayed.

Likewise though the administration change was fairly abrupt in 1066, the English adopted a policy of passive resistance and assimilation to dilute the hated norman blood. There had been considerable contact with france through religious houses, some land having been granted to foreign foundations in the years leading up to the invasion. 
The top tier of administration changed by land being allocated to William's henchmen as a reward for services rendered. Sussex was divided into six north south regions - Rapes, each with a different overlord. It is uncertain whether the system of Rapes was a norman introduction or if it continued a pre-invasion administration, certainly the Hundred system continued within the Rapes, originally this was a grouping of an area which supported a notional 100 families, this would include several parishes or manors. Law enforcement and taxation was based on these units. 

The Domesday survey of 1086 was a form of census, compiled primarily to control taxation. However its detailed entries for Sussex provide a very valuable snapshot of Sussex post conquest, but also includes information for pre-1066 for comparison.

Not all entries have details for churches, but there are identifiable Saxon churches not mentioned, possibly because of the fiscal nature of the compilation.

While the Saxon times are often referred to as the Dark Ages, once settlement was established, a quite sophisticated society developed, wars between the various local Kingdoms not withstanding. Modern Sussex closely corresponds to the boundaries of the South Saxon Kingdom, Most settlement was along the coastal plain and and on and close to the Downs, the clay and sandstone of the densely wooded Weald initially discouraging little use, with few scattered clearings, other than the iron working areas, which would have continued from the Roman exploitation. 

Though some buildings are readily identifiable as Saxon there is great debate on others.
I have attempted to follow current research thinking which has developed as a result of recent work.

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Christianity comes to Sussex

Saxon Churches in East Sussex Rapes

Saxon Churches in West Sussex Rapes

Minster Churches

Churches in Sussex - Other Periods


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All presented material is for Private Study Only
Copyright 2002-2010 Martin B Snow. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 20, 2010 .