Standing in the midst of fields close to Chichester Harbour, this small Grade I listed church is of a simple rectangular design dating from the 12th century. It was almost entirely rebuilt in the 13th century when a south aisle was added to the nave. A south porch was built in the 15th century and a vestry and heating chamber erected on the north side of the nave in the 19th century.
In Saxon times Apuldram was part of the domain of the Manor of Bosham, the property of Earl Godwin, the leading 11th Century Saxon, and father of Harold. The provision of a priest to serve at Apuldram was the responsibility of the Prebendary of Apuldram. Until 1447 the bodies of the Apuldram dead had to be taken to Bosham for burial, usually by boat across the harbour. Eventually the sale of the prebend brought it into the hands of the Dean and Chapter of Chichester Cathedral. Apuldram, for reasons unknown, did not become a Vicarage, as did the other prebends, but was a Donative Curacy, i.e. the Dean and Chapter paid a priest to be the incumbent. In 1755 its status was changed to a Perpetual Curacy, requiring the Bishop’s licence, as it is today. The present Rector of Fishbourne is the Priest-in-Charge as were her three predecessors.
Although of simple design, the church contains several important features. The chancel is an outstanding example of 13th century architecture on a small scale. In the east wall is an arrangement of triple lancet stained glass window, beautifully proportioned, combining Purbeck marble shafts and stone mouldings.
The lowest of the three altar steps is paved with encaustic tiles, probably 14th century, and of two patterns. More may be found in the floor at the west end of the south aisle below the single lancet window. Behind the pulpit are the remains of the stone staircase which led to the rood-loft. The font, a square bowl of Purbeck marble and dating back to the 12th century, stands on five shafts, of which only the central shaft is original. It has suffered from exposure to the weather, perhaps taken outside by the Cromwellian soldiers. It was presumably replaced at the restoration of the monarchy in 1661 and moved to its present position in 1867. The organ was built as a private organ at Windsor for the Prince Consort and after a period came to St Mary’s.
Closing off the east bay of the south aisle is a remarkable 15th century oak screen, made up of three bays, of which the centre forms the door. The tiny chapel formed by the screen has, in the south wall, a 15th century piscina. In the stonework in the north east corner a squint has been cut out, also dating from 15th century.
The 15th century porch contains some interesting graffiti, including, on the sill of the window in the east wall, a scratch dial.
The church was restored in 1803 (when a new pulpit was erected), again in 1845 and 1862. In 1877 an extensive restoration was carried out with a new open timber roof and belfry, a partially new porch and repaving and reseating internally. In 1880 Messrs Minton made the reredos of ornamental tiles, alabaster and mosaic on the eastern wall and 1890 the vestry was added on the north side of the church. The present choir stalls, pews, pulpit and lectern, mostly memorials, were donated in the early years of the 20th Century.
Copies of a “Guide to the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Apuldram” and “A History of Apuldram” are available at the church.
NADFAS recorded the church in 2013. Please contact the Churchwarden or a Deputy Churchwardens to view the Record.
In Memorium1914 – 1918
Alfred Coote – Royal Sussex Regt.
Charles Frederick Coote – Royal Sussex Regt.
Ronald John Land – Yorks and Lancs. Regt.
Algernon J Martin – Royal Field Artillery
Percy Edwin Phillips – Royal Sussex Regt.
John Alfred Poulter – Northumberland Regt.
Algie Atwick Smith – R.N.
Richard R Thomas
1939 – 1945
Leslie W Bridger – R.A.F.
Richard Knight-Eames – R.A.F.
Harold Lewis Seward – R.A.F.
Private Charles (Charlie) Frederick Coote
b. 1892 at Mundham – d. 7 October 1917 aged 25
enlisted at Portsmouth and served in the Royal Artillery Ordnance Corps then the 9th Battalion Devonshire Regiment 25th Division
He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium
Charlie ‘died of wounds’ on the Western European front with the British Expeditionary Forces
He was the second son of George and Alice Coote of Toll Bar Cottage, Apuldram. Before the war he was a Carter on a local farm and was single.
Private Alfred Coote
b. 1893 at Mundham – d. 15 October 1917 aged 24
Enlisted at Chichester serving in the 4th Battalion 39th Division, Royal Sussex Regt.
He died on the Western European front with the British Expeditionary Forces near Ypres in an air raid and he is buried in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium. Alfred was the third son of George and Alice Coote of Toll Bar Cottage, Apuldram. Like his brother he was a Carter on a local farm and was single.
Second Lieutenant Ronald John Land
b. 20 July 1888 in Lowestoft – d. 21 March 1917 aged 29
3rd (Reserve) York & Lancaster Regiment. Attd. Machine Gun Corps.
An Officer wrote these words to his parents:
“…he was as thorough a gentleman … and his men adored him. It may be of some gratification that I applied to go out under him and never regretted doing so …he was one of the few close friends I made …” Ref: De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour
He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France and is buried in the Amiens Cemetery at Arras
Enlisting in June 1915, wounded at the Somme in 1916, he returned to France in 1917 and was killed in action in the March offensive at Lagnicourt whilst holding up the enemy action.
Ronald was the youngest son of Edward (b. Yorkshire) and Alice (b. Oldham) His elder brother was Edward. He was educated at Dulwich College and University College London and in civilian life he was a clerk working in cinematography. He was married in Roker, Sunderland on 9 January 1916 to Gladys Mary Chamberlin.
His parents latterly lived at Mile Cottage, Lakeside, Apuldram
Second Lieutenant Algernon J Martin
b. 1886 – d. 30 July 1918 aged 32
Algernon served in the 70th Brigade Royal Field Artillery attached 15th Scottish Division
Killed in action near Soissons, he is buried in Buzancy Military Cemetery at Aisne.
Son of Mr and Mrs L. Martin of Sidcup Kent and husband of A Martin of Apuldram
He was a chorister at Chichester Cathedral and his name appears on the City’s War Memorial and in Portfield Cemetery.
Private Percy Edwin Phillips
b. 1889 at Lagness, Chichester – d. 20 August 1916 aged 27
2nd battalion Royal Sussex Regiment 1st Division
Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial
Percy was a regular soldier and was killed in action on the Somme near Bazentin le Petit.
Son of Mr and Mrs B Phillips of New Barn Cottages, Apuldram
Private 25436 John Alfred Poulter
b. 30 June 1899 at Waltham Cross, Essex – d. 15 February 1917 aged 17
6th Battalion Northumberland Regiment 18th Division
He died of wounds in base Hospital at Rouen and is buried at St. Sever Cemetery extension. Son of Edward and Alice Poulter
Petty Officer RN, Algie Atwick Smith
b. 24 June 1886 at Earnley – d. 26 August 1920 aged 33
He served on HMS ‘Cleopatra’
He is buried at St Mary the Virgin, Apuldram (Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone)
Son of George and Emily Smith of Earnley, Chichester
Husband of Mabel Kate Smith of New Cottages, Apuldram
As yet we have found no records except that he is on our Memorial plaque in the church and on the War Memorial in the churchyard.
We Will Remember Them
Sgt. Leslie Walter Bridger – Royal Air Force
d. at home on 30 December 1942 aged 31
Leslie was a Navigator (Bomber Command)
A Commonwealth War Grave marks his burial in our churchyard
Son of Walter Sidney James and Blanche Bridger
Pilot Officer Harold Lewis Seward RAF VR
b. 1920 – d. 21st March 1941 aged 20
Served with 240 Flying Boat Squadron, Royal Air Force at Glenade, Co. Antrim, Ireland
Son of Percy and Frances Amelia Seward of Apuldram
He is buried in our churchyard in a family plot
Flight Lieutenant Richard (Dickie) Knight-Eames RAF
b. 1914 – d. 12 December 1944 aged 30
Wireless Operator 106 Squadron, Bomber Pilot 1666 Conv. Unit
Richard’s parents were Sidney James and Ethel Wyles Knight-Eames of Apuldram. He studied at the South Eastern Agricultural College for a Diploma and is buried in our churchyard
FOOTNOTES and extra information on the families found in the BMD’s, the Military sections and the 1891, 1901 & 1911 Census returns: De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour: RN & Marine War Graves Roll: Roll of Honour for Sussex: Commonwealth War Graves Commission: all on the Ancestry.com website Headstones in St Mary’s churchyard: NADFAS publication on St Mary the Virgin Apuldram
The father of Alfred and Charlie was George Coote, 49yrs old, born in Boxgrove, worked on SOBORS / SOBONS? Farm. Their mother was Alice Coote, 45yrs old, born in East Dean. They lived at Toll Bar Cottages (next to Rock House) in the Parish of Donnington and Apuldram and later of Grove Farm, Oving. They had five children, two died in infancy and the three surviving sons were George, Alfred and Charlie. Their brother George Wilfrid was born at Tangmere in 1888 and died 1954 at Midhurst. He worked as a Cowman’s assistant, was single and 23yrs old in 1911.
Edward[Edwin] Land was a Liveryman and member of the Fishmongers Guild in City of London. They lived in Camberwell and Bristol. Latterly at Mile/Mill Cottage Lakeside, Apuldram (we think this is on the Birdham Rd by Mile Pond as the bungalow is called lakeside)
There is a family gravestone in Portfield Cemetery, Chichester with Algernon’s name on it.
In 1891 Benjamin b. 1859 andElizabeth Phillips from Lodsworth, were living at East Lavant with their children, Alice Gertrude 7, Benjamin W. 6, Albert Edward 4 and Percy 1yr. By 1901 the family are living in the Croydon area and still there in 1911. The family has expanded, Percy is now 11 and is a farm boy as are his older brothers Benjamin and Albert. They now have younger siblings, Herbert 8, Winifred 6 born at Climping, Frances 2 at Lancing and Cecil 1 at Chipstead, Surrey. Percy and his brother Albert are working for Richard H. Ide at Lidsey near Bognor in 1911. Albert 23 is a labourer and Percy 21, is a gardener in the Nursery and both are boarders. Benjamin Phillips dies in Chichester in 1941 aged 82 and his son Benjamin W. in 1955. At some point between 1911 and 1916 the Phillips come to Apuldram and live at New Barn Cottage hence Percy being on our War Memorial.
Albert’s baptism was held at St Mary’s Watford in Herts. From the lists of pensions and personal items his widow Ellen B was the recipient on his death. No other dependants. We do not know his connection to Apuldram as yet. His father was Edward Charles and mother Alice.
Lewis and Mary Ann Seward were Gt. Grandparents to Harold Lewis Seward. In 1911 they lived at 38 The Hornet with widowed daughter-in-law Rose Seward and her son Percy Harold, who was a Sadler aged 22. Percy H. [b.1889 d.1967 was baptised at All Saints, Portfield] and married Frances Amelia Lambert in 1914. They had a son Harold Lewis who died at Glenade Lough, Co.Antrim, Ireland.
SMITH family of Earnley West Sussex
1891 census they are living in Somerley Lane, Earnley; George born Westhampnett and his wife Emily born Sidlesham, had 8 children all born in Earnley. Harry 25, Charles 21, Arthur 18, William 16, Annie L. 12, Edith E. 10, Olive F. 8 and Algie 6. By 1901 their mother is a widow with three of the children living at home; Charles 31 a journeyman Flour miller, Edward 20 & Algie 15 both Ag labs. Algie joined the RN and was on HMS Cleopaatra. He died of a Cerebral Tumour leaving a widow Mabel Kate.
We have no information from Naval or army sources at all. The nearest to a Sussex family is that of Margaret and Richard Thomas (41yrs) who was a carpenter at Lewis and whose son was Richard Thomas aged 14 in 1911. Could this be the family?