A village history in West Sussex


Westbourne History Group

Bygone Series

No1. Trades People 1845-1938

No2. Village Schools 1819-1984

No4. Westbourne Then & Now

No5. Westbourne Union Life

No6. Westbourne Church Guide

No7. Cleaning up Westbourne        

No8. Westbourne Worthies

No9. The Bastards of  Westbourne

No10. Westbourne’s War 1939-1945

No11. A Millenium in Tandem

No12. Sindles Farm

No13. Westbourne Memorials

No14. Cottage Economy

No15. The Village Schools 1810-2011

No16. Westbourne and the Great War

No17. Tradespeople of Westbourne

Bourne in the Past

Other Publications

Sindles Farm

The River Ems

The Westbourne Story

Any Comments?

Numbers 1 to 5 inclusive out of print, further information on details and costs visit:


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The civil parish of Westbourne, or Bourne, is on the south-western confines of Sussex, and includes the hamlets of Westbourne, Nutbourne, Prinsted, Aldsworth and Woodmancote. The southern portion was, in 1878, formed into a separate ecclesiastical parish, Southbourne, with church of St. John the Evangelist, consecrated in 1876. In 1957 further areas were detached and the present ecclesiastical parish of Westbourne includes only that place, Woodmancote, Aldsworth and neighbourhood. The incumbent of Westbourne also has charge of a mission room, founded 1892, at Woodmancote. There were medieval chapels at Prinsted, Hermitage and Nutbourne.

The patronage of the Rectory of Westbourne was attached to the manor until 1829, thus belonging formerly to the Earls of Arundel. In recent years the advowson has had different owners. The present patron is the Bishop of Chichester.


This Parish Church is dedicated to St. John Baptist, and his Beheading, 29th August, is observed as the festival. The church is prominently situated in the ancient township of Westbourne (Plates I and II). The evidence of Domesday Book, 1086, for a Saxon or Norman foundation is inconclusive. In the description of the place given therein, no church is mentioned; though in the adjoining parish, Warblington, Hampshire, then linked with the manor of Westbourne, were two churches, and it is possible that one of these was on the site of Westbourne church, if the boundary between the two parishes then followed a different line.

During the restoration of the church, about 1865, the Rev. John Hanson Sperling claimed ‘that he saw below the present flooring large square bases of early Norman pillars’, on which the later pillars had been  built. The irregular spacing of these suggests that there may originally have been a Norman aisleless nave.

The stages in the church’s evolution, of which there is evidence to-day, began in the early 13th century, with a church consisting of nave flanked by north and south aisles, and chancel. In the late 14th century, by the collaboration, it has been surmised, of Richard FitzAlan, 6th Earl of Arundel (c. 1346—1397), and Robert Pubelowe (Rector from 1390-97 and 1399-1415 or later) there were considerable alterations: nave and aisles were extended to the west, new windows inserted in nave and chancel, north and south doors replaced (assuming these usual features already existed), a vestry added to the chancel, and, perhaps, a tower erected in the south-west corner.

Early in the 16th century, again, it seems likely, by inspiration of an Earl of Arundel (William FitzAlan, 11th Earl of Arundel, c. 1476-1543/4), occurred a further transformation; the tower was built or acquired its present form, the nave arcades were re-fashioned, the chancel arch raised and widened to accommodate a new rood loft, and the north porch built.

Published 1992 ISBN 0 9507496 5 6