Sunday 29 July 2018

Prints and Drawings of the Anglican parish churches of Sussex c1795-1900 on line

Many old parish churches have been altered, some have been demolished and rebuilt, new ones added. Family historians, archaeologists, historians of the landscape and its buildings should look at these free and easily accessible scans.

Littlington Church by Petrie
(c) Sussex Archaeological Society 
Download and take images with you when you look at a church. Has it altered? Probably, because many have.  The Sussex Archaeological Society is one of several bodies which owns a rich collection of images.  The Society's collection is especially rich in images of churches.
A team of volunteers has been adding copies of those owned by the Society onto the website If you look for you will soon see the helpful introductory page which tells you how to link in.  Go to the on-line resources button.

So if your ancestor lived in a Sussex parish, there may be scans of the church as it looked when they were alive, baptised, married or buried unless they were non-conformists - Quakers or Presbyterians and preferred to have such events recorded in their registers.

Some of the drawings of the interiors of the churches also show how they looked in the 1700s and earlier 1800s when the service was based on the sermon, the altar was not significant and often out of the line of sight of the congregation and the better off owned or rented pews to sit in whilst the sermon was given.  From the mid 1800s, the Victorians began to re-order the interiors of churches and change the services.  The pulpit was moved to the side, box pews began to disappear, replaced by benches and the altar reinstated.

Look at the water colour of the inside of Litlington Church by Petrie in the Sharpe Collection and probably painted in 1804 (the date he wrote on his view of the exterior below). In the interior view (see above) the box pews and the pulpit dominate the church. 
Littlington Church 1804 by Petrie

Litlington Church by Quartermain  1859

W T Quartermain drew the church in 1859 and from the same angle that Petrie chose over fifty years before.  It seems similar.  Helpfully, Mr Saunders painted a different view a year later (below).  This view is on the Society's website in the Quartermain collection of churches.
10th September 1860. The Saunders Churches are also on the Society's website and you will find them again through the Library page as described above.

Littlington Church by Saunders 10 Sept 1860 

Take a look at the site and see if your church is there - if not in these three collections then try the Nibbs churches which are also uploaded.  

For information on the history of  parish churches in Sussex see Sussex Parish Churches