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New feature giving first-hand memories of village and villagers life in the past

Church History Index
Archbishop Robert Leighton
Buried before he was Born
Dating The Parts
Early History
Edward Lightmlaker and the School
Giles Moore
Horsted de Cahaignes
Lord Stockton (Harold Macmillan)
Marie de Bradehurste Chapel
Saint Giles
Sussex Iron Industry
The Crusader
The Headless Lady
The Lightmlakers

St. Giles' Church

Horsted Keynes

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Over 1000 Years Of History

There has been a church at Horsted Keynes for well over 1000 years and it is thought that this church may have been built on the site of a prehistoric Dolmen Circle. A board in the church lists Rectors going back to the 10th century which we reproduce below.

Incumbents of Horsted Keynes
(Transcribed from a board in the church)

Richard de Berkyng c.1190
John c.1230
John de Stretton 1340
John de Tricontras 1350
Simon Russell 1373
John Whitetclyve 1380
Walter Oures 1389
William Richard 1391
Nicholas Bury 1397
John Dale 1399
Thomas Leven 1442
Geoffrey Daly 1478
Richard Meryan c.1500
John Clerke 1505
William Draper 1524
John Sympson 1538
David Mychell 1548
Francis Coxe 1560
Roger Hall 1566
Nicholas Rootes 1597
John Wilson 1617
John Skepper 1621
James Pell 1646
Giles Moore 1656
Stephen Pert 1680
John Wood 1681
George Hay 1705
Ralph Clutton 1738
Ralph Clutton (junior) 1761
Richard Williams 1772
Sackville Austen 1785
Thomas Lambard 1786
John Austen 1803
William Austen 1821
William Plucknett 1840
Christopher Rodwell 1868
Henry Green 1889
Joseph Monk 1891
Charles Heald 1895
Francis Smythe 1900
Herbert Maycock 1909
Cuthbert Wigan 1915
Henry Denny 1918
Frank Stenton Eardley 1920
John Eastham 1947
Geoffrey Hadden 1965
Alan McRae 1973
Gavan Gledhill 1979
Mark Hill-Tout 1984
David Stonebanks 1989
Timothy Rawdon-Mogg 2000
John Twisleton 2009


The most famous is almost certainly Giles Moore who wrote a fascinating journal and diary which has been published. Here you will find the trivia of life in a rural village in the 1650s. Well worth reading if you can get hold of a copy. It used to be available on line but when we last checked the site was closed. This can't be for copyright infringement as it's nearly 400 years old! If you find it on line please let the webmasters know.

Saint Giles

    Saint Giles was born in Athens where he lived for years as a hermit and an abbot. Not wanting recognition for his good deeds, Giles went to France and lived again as a hermit at a deserted spot near the mouth of the River Rhone. One day a prince was hunting in the area and a deer, his prey, fled to the saint for protection.

    At another time, the King of France was hunting and accidentally shot Giles in the knee. The saint decided not to tend to his wounded knee and remained a cripple for life. The King of France was greatly pleased with Giles and gave him land to build a monastery. This became a large and popular abbey.

    St. Giles is shown here as an old man with an arrow in his knee with a deer at his side. Because of his injury, he is known as "the patron saint of cripples." There are churches in many countries that are named after Saint Giles.

Early History

    There was some kind of settlement in Horsted Keynes long before the Church was built. Antiquarians believe there once may have been a dolmen circle here where two ancient trackways cross. You can see earthworks in the churchyard itself and around the present school playground to the North of the Church. Christianity came late to Sussex. When St. Wilfred brought the Christian Gospel in AD 681-686, most of the Weald of Sussex was covered by thick forest and travel was difficult. The great forest was known to the Saxons as Andreaswald. Once Christianity had been introduced to the area many churches were built; so much so that Sussex was called "Selig Sussex", that is, Holy Sussex.

Christian missionaries often had churches built on the sites of pagan temples and that is what may have happened here. It is an interesting coincidence that the orientation of the Church is not East and West as is usual, but nearer North-East and South-West; in fact, only a couple of degrees different from Stonehenge. High ground to the East would make sunrise a little later than on the more level area of Salisbury Plain and our Church may well have been built on the site of a pagan temple orientated to receive the rays of the rising sun at the Summer solstice.

    At the time when the people of this settlement adopted Christianity we think the village was a collection of wooden framed, thatched, Saxon huts next to the Church in the place where the school now is. The Church may have been a wooden one with a thatched roof too, but there is some evidence that some of the stonework of the tower and also one of the doorways is of Saxon date. The Saxon name of the place was Horsted - a place where horses are kept.

Archbishop Robert Leighton

    Robert was a member of the Episcopal Church of Scotland and was at one time Bishop of Dunblane and later Archbishop of Glasgow. He was an eminent theologian and his works greatly influenced the Wesleys and other reformers of the Eighteenth Century. Robert's father had been outspoken against the Episcopal Church and had suffered mutilation on that account. However, Robert was a gentle, forgiving man who set a fine example of tolerance in an age of bigotry and he was greatly loved. He spent the last ten years of his life living at Broadhurst in the home of his sister Saphira and greatly influenced the thinking of his nephew, Edward Lightmlaker.

When the Archbishop died in 1684 most of his books were sent by sea in barrels to Dunblane in Scotland, where a library was formed. This library still exists. The remainder of his books were kept by his nephew Edward and later given to the School which he set up. In a case near the font is more information about the Archbishop.  

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