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Burton Park

and West Sussex

Information on the earlier period was collected by Joseph Gillow and is published by the Catholic Record Society,
mainly in Volumes 7 and 22. Most of the information here is from the second half of the 19th century.

'Of the parish' refers to local boundaries, historically the Anglican parish, and the administrative district. It is still common practice when moving to another part of the country. Emma's daughter in the 1940s still referred to having lived 'at Petworth'.

These notes are provided as a summary of the background to Emma's story, with links between the two pages, but can also be read independently. More detailed information, including much from other centuries, can be found in the various books and pamphlets listed in the Bibliography at the foot of this page. Photos of the area have been divided between the two pages according to relevance to the text, and repeats of information have been kept to a minimum.


The Catholic population of Arundel was about 70, "all of whom attend occasionally", with a counted congregation of 45 in 1851. The domestic chapel of St George in the castle, built on the site of an earlier one, dates from the 17th century. About 1790 Charles, 11th Duke of Norfolk, 'moved' the chapel, dedicated since 1748 to St Philip Neri, to the old college of the Blessed Trinity founded by Richard, Earl of Arundel in 1380. With some restoration work it was possible to use the ruins of the mediaeval church as a place of worship, though only measuring 42 ft by 20 ft.

In mid-century the congregation was said to be 100. By 1904 it was well over 1200, more than half the population. In 1868 the building of the cathedral church was begun, though not finished until 1875.It was given the same dedication as before and by 1904 was already a cathedral. Eventually, after the canonisation of Philip Howard, one of the English martyrs, the dedication was finally changed to Our Lady and St Philip Howard and it was consecrated in May 1952.


Slindon House, an old red brick mansion belonging to the Kemp family, was once a Palace of the Archbishops of Canterbury, according to Fr Michael Costello, parish priest appointed in 1946 who produced a leaflet on the history of the mission. (He was ordained in 1934 at the church of the English Martyrs, Streatham where Fr Peter Mason, Emma Jackson's son, was parish priest. It had a secret chapel with three secret hiding-places under the roof in penal times, so St Richard’s had long been an active centre for Catholics. In 1834, he said, Fr.J.Silviera was aware of a link with the past in having buried a man who remembered puirsuivants coming to arrest Fr. Molyneux,(1765-1778). Fr Molyneux had however managed to escape.

In the 18th century the house was owned by Anthony Earl of Newburgh, grandson of the Earl of Derwentwater who was executed for taking part in the first Jacobite rebellion in 1715. Anthony died in 1814 but his widow ‘who was greatly beloved of the poor of Slindon for her kindness and active benevolence’ survived until 1861, and was buried there. In 1851 the congregation numbered 95.

When George Mason and Emma Jackson married there the ceremony was performed by Fr John Sheehan, who had been ordained at the English College at Lisbon on 25 Jun 1845 and was appointed parish priest from 1845 until he died in 1869. He wrote a full account of the ceremony when the first stone of a church for 300 was laid on 7 Sep 1864 by Dr Grant, the Bishop of Southwark. The site had been given by the 19th century owner of Slindon House, Col. Leslie. Since 1983 the church has not had a resident priest, being served from Barnham.

Burton Park

View looking north from the road to Barlavington bordering the estate. The big house can be seen among the trees.

This area of Sussex several miles north of Slindon and Arundel - variously known as Lavington, Duncton and Barl'ton - is still a very quiet corner of the world. Duncton Wood is now familiar to many as the title of the best-selling novel and cartoon film about rabbits!

Barlavington, population a mere 128, less than 3 miles to the east of East Lavington, nestles under Barlavington and Duncton Hangers. A ‘hanger’ is a high, densely wooded hill.

The church has a nave only 29 ft nave long. Here lie the remains of some of the Goring and Biddulph ancestors.
There is an old graveyard around the church but not many gravestones. One marks the resting place of John Gerke, a German butler of the Wright-Biddulphs. ( See the church below)
Burton Park is a large estate held first by Gorings. Anne Goring, heiress of Sir Henry, married Richard Biddulph Esq. then Burton eventually passed to a Wright cousin from Essex who added the name Biddulph on inheriting. The house was originally a Tudor mansion but burnt down for the second time in 1826 and rebuilt.

The Catholic Mission

It appears from an interesting account on a website for Findon, which is just north of Worthing, that a marble staircase was removed from the house at Findon Village(and enter 'Michelgrove' or 'Burton' as your search term) to Burton Park at the time of rebuilding. (Or go to and enter 'Michelgrove' or 'Burton' as a search term) This elaborate staircase had a 16 inch high greyhound seated on each side of every step. The article refers to 'St Michael's' rather than to Burton House as it was then.

From about 1950 the house in Burton Park was occupied by St Michael's, a girls’ boarding school. Passing by on the road we saw the board outside which proudly proclaimed ‘founded 1848’ and carried on instead of stopping. This information, also published in the Girls Public Day Schools Year Book, and misleading from the point of view of research, diverted our attention from here but it was the dedication to Hilaire Belloc's The Four Men which finally revealed the location of Burton Park. The school moved again - or perhaps closed - in the 80s and by 1994 when these photos were taken the estate had become a police dog-training centre. The lodges and other houses are now (2003) in the process of development and refurbishment as private dwelling-houses with many applications approved and others awaiting approval. The house itself is said to be divided into flats.

To refer to Burton Park as 'St Michael's' is obviously (to us now) inaccurate but other changes of use since 1904 have also helped to obscure its long and interesting history. The ponds, used originally by the mill, are first recorded in the Domesday Book. The present water-mill which was being restored in 1994 from what appeared to be a rather ruinous condition, was built about 1784 but there must have been one here for much longer.

This corner of the park is now a designated conservation area, and especially a favourite spot for anglers, bird-watchers and anyone interested in wildlife. It is also especially recommended as suitable for people in wheelchairs.

The subsequent history of Burton Park and House has been dealt with at some length by the CRS.

Bishop Challoner confirmed 90 Catholics from Sussex and Hampshire here in the 18th century. As these would probably have been mostly older children the actual attendance at the service would have been considerably more, and also much larger than the normal congregation which is given as 75 in 1749 and 74 in 1753. The parishes named in the baptismal register at that time included Graffham, Duncton, Petworth, Green, Billingshurst, Sutton, Burton, Crouch and Byworth. These are generally described as being 'from a large area' but in fact only three, Graffham, Billingshurst and Byworth are not more or less on the edge of the park, and are too far away for very regular attendance. Green probably refers to Barlavington and the hamlet known as Lodge Green, now being 'redeveloped', Sutton is a village on the eastern side of the park, Sutton End being not far away from Crouch farm.. Burton, the house and not a village, provided a natural centre for local Catholics. It is worth noting that a map even a century later, 1880, shows that there were very few roads in the area; even those that did exist would not be good quality. The easiest way to attend services would be to take a footpath straight across the park, a fairly short and easy walk. A circular walk of the park suggested by ramblers which includes Sutton, is only about six miles in all, ending at the Cricketer's Arms in Duncton (recommended!)

This mission was run by the Jesuits from 1678-1782. A domestic chapel almost certainly inside the house was dedicated to Our Lady from at least 1879 but any trace of it must have disappeared during the two fires, one in 1759 and the last in 1826. There is moreover some dispute about whether the house was rebuilt in a different place or on the same site. A chapel was supposedly built outside the house after 1826, dedicated to St John the Baptist, and blessed in 1831 by Bishop Bramston of the London district, but any record has disappeared along with the chapel and no trace of it has been found, even though it could have been pulled down as late as after 1869 and the building of the new church. All that remains is a hint in the name of a path known as St John's Walk.

Michael Gandy in his Catholic Missions quotes the congregation; as "1851 : 40 : congregation is much scattered over the whole county and includes about 200" Since the names of the parish priests are recorded from 1825 it does seem likely that by then they had some building set aside for worship, however temporary!

Catholic Revival

By mid-century the rapid growth of Catholic populations led to the building of many new churches throughout the country. Many were needed in industrial towns and cities, but also in the more Catholic parts of the countryside. The church of St Francis was opened on November 7th 1869 at Midhurst, a few miles beyond Graffham, to replace the old mission at Cowdray House. In the same year a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart was opened at Petworth which eventually took over from Burton Park though for several years, like Midhurst, it was served from Burton Park. Such occasions might well have been great outings for the Mason family, with large gatherings of Catholics from all over that part of Sussex.

SS Anthony and George at Burton Park, (1869 )
parish priest: Fr Eugene Reardon (1861-1875)
The farmer and farm bailiff at Crouch farm, George Morley, donated the High Altar.

The church of SS Anthony and George was built just inside one of the park entrances, on a bank above the main road from Petworth to Chichester from where it looks across an open space to the house and old church. Its address is sometimes given as Duncton, which is further along the road. It was Anthony George Wright-Biddulph who set the building work in operation in 1863 - and presumably financed much of it - but no doubt some of the inspiration for it came from Fr Eugene Reardon who was parish priest from 1861-1875.

Ironically, when the church was consecrated, on August 18th 1869, the ceremony was performed by Archbishop Manning standing in for bishop Grant of the Catholic diocese of Southwark. Manning had once been an archdeacon of Chichester and minister for Lavington, including Barlavington on the edge of the park. There was a very large crowd present, many from the area but many also who had come down from London by train. The Mason family must have been prominent in the congregation, young George being old enough to be a server at the Mass.

According to Vol. 22 of Recusant History, May 1994, a school was held in the basement of Burton House from about 1869 to 1880. This must be where Emma Mason was a schoolmistress - but in 1861, not 1869! A map of 1880 shows a school next to the new church. According to Kelly’s Directory of 1903 a Catholic school was built in 1873 and a teacher, a Miss Teresa Martin, appointed. It was intended for 40 to 50 children but the average attendance was only 15! The house which can just be glimpsed in the photo above is either a replacement on the same spot or is the original building itself modernised. This map was not known about when the photo was taken!

For the map showing the school go to and search for 'Duncton'. (external link)

Burton Park in the 1890s

Anthony George Wright Biddulph died on 14 Jan 1854, leaving one son, another Anthony, and three daughters. The son, Anthony John Wright Biddulph, born on 27 Jan 1830, married Sarah Anne, daughter of J.Downes. Sarah died in 1886 and the following year Anthony John married Diana, widow of Captain W.Digby-Lloyd, 67th Regiment.

By 1891 the Biddulphs, who owned several other properties, were once more in residence, their only child being the 14 year old daughter of Anthony’s second wife by her earlier marriage. Diana Biddulph was more than twenty years her husband’s junior. Anthony died on August 8th 1895.

Mrs Wright-Biddulph then moved into a house on the northwest corner of the estate known as ‘The Chalet’ - perhaps this one - where George Mason continued to be employed in the capacity of head gardener until his death in 1907.

Across the lane on the north side of the estate, Burton Hill became a rest home for the Jesuits who had never ceased to be associated with the area. A book on the Jesuits shows a picture of Aston Chichester SJ, Bishop of Salisbury, Rhodesia, in the garden there.

Aston Chichester was a grandson of J.C.Nagle (formerly Chichester) and was born, like Albert, in Templeton the village in Devon where George Jackson had been land steward for the Chichester family. Aston died in 1962 on the steps of St Peter's in Rome where he had gone for the Second Vatican Council.

It seems very likely that it was George's connection with this family which had led to Emma moving to Sussex in the fifties though there is no positive evidence.

More on the Chichester family and Templeton are in a separate section based on George Jackson's account book for the Templeton estates. (Use your back arrow to return here.)

Although the parish officially moved to Petworth, many other priests were frequent visitors to ‘Burton Park.’ as it continued to be known. It was while staying with Mrs Wright-Biddulph at the turn of the century that the Catholic writer and poet, Hilaire Belloc wrote his book Four Men, about a rather Pickwickian and rambling journey along the Sussex downs he knew so well. The inscription in the front of the book says:
"To Mrs Wright Biddulph of Burton in the County of Sussex, under whose roof so much of this book was written."

The estate of Burton Park was sold in 1904 and the Lord of the Manor was now Douglas Bernard Hall, Esq., not part of our story.

Henry Manning

Barlavington church, also part of Manning's benefice
In 1840 Manning had become an Archdeacon in the Church of England, having begun as curate of the hamlet of Upwaltham. This was a mile or 2 south over the downs, in 1832 an undistinguished church with neither tower nor spire, and a population under 100. Within a few months of his appointment he had married the Rector’s daughter and in 1833 succeeded as Rector to the combined parishes of East Lavington and Graffham, collectively known as Lavington.

Manning lived in East Lavington, in the old Manor House, This house under the steep slope of Woolavington Down and looking across towards Duncton and Burton Park. Seaford College now occupies land that once belonged to the Manor in the late 18th century.

Manning was ready to convert ‘any Roman that strayed within the pale of Lavington'. Winifred Shirwin of Burton 'came into his parish, and he converted her to Anglicanism before she married Tom Challen.’ Shane Leslie in his book Henry Edward Manning, implies that Tom Challen was Manning's gardener. As a Catholic Archbishop he found him dying in a home at Hoxton and baptised him into the Catholic Faith. He did not manage to re-convert Winifred.

The name ‘Shirwin’ (aka Sherwin) occurs again in this history, a family of them being neighbours of George Jackson in his final years.

By 1851 Manning was still officially Rector, but left his friend Dodsworth in charge. On November 27th 1850 he had preached his last sermon at Lavington; in midsummer 1851 he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood, in 1865 he became an Archbishop and in 1875 a Cardinal. His curate, Laprimaudaye, also became a Catholic.

A few quotes from Shane Leslie’s book bring the area to life. (Leslie knew it personally.) Manning filled his notebooks with his spiritual dealings with “‘mole-catchers, copse-cutters, poachers, and all Cobbett’s ‘leather-legged race.’….In their broidered smocks they offered their prayers in the Sussex dialect in the presence of the ‘Lion and the Unicorn’ or snuffed branches of southern-wood during the sermon, while their wives gossiped lightly in red cloaks and black bonnets in the shadow of the green-baized pews - when hymns were delivered upon the pitch-pipe, and the parish clerk, like some fossilised acolyte, answered the Psalms from the lower tier of the ‘three-decker.’”

[A 3-decker is a pulpit with three levels. Samuel Cobbett is famous for his book of Travels written in the 18th century]


1. Burton Constable, nr Hull, Yorkshire, 1851

The invitation came from Lady Mary Barbara Constable, Miss Chichester's sister, who had married her cousin, Sir Thomas Aston Constable. He belonged to a younger branch of the Clifford family of Ugbrooke but his father had changed his name to Constable as that was a condition of inheriting property through his mother. The Constable line had come to an end - it's said that no line continues by male succession for more than 5 generations - and the extensive properties had to pass to distant cousins. Burton Constable was not the only property. There was also Tixall in Staffs in particular, among others, which could provide a convenient place to break the long journey. Guests usually stayed for weeks or sometimes longer with their relatives because of the difficulties of travel and with such large houses there was plenty of space. This event in 1851 was a house party with a long list of guests. It just happened that they were there on the night of the census or it would never have come to light in the Jackson annals. The question "Where was Emma?" had puzzled us for a long time.

The Chichester family went on frequent trips abroad, on tours around Europe or with their husbands to the American continent both south and north and to the West Indies. It is possible that their (unpublished) diaries may show how far Emma's duties took her if more than this. An afternoon's necessarily cursory reading revealed a mention of George Jackson in 1837, and some years later, to an "Emma" which may, just possibly, refer to her.

See The Chichester family of Calverleigh and the Templeton estates (use your back arrow to return)

Guests at Burton Constable in 1851 (not identified) included:

Major George Chichester, (unattached), widower, 50, of Calverleigh
Charles Middle, 30, b. Storkhill, Yorks
Stephen Jay, 28, b. Middlesex
William F. Webb 25, b. Sowring, Berks
Cuthbert Watson, 73, of Durham
Swinburne R. Berkeley, 25, of Crawford, Middlesex
Edward F. Berkeley, 23, of Crawford, Middlesex
Percival Ratcliff, 26, Campsall Park, Yorks

2. Burton Church
Various parts of the building date from about 1075, others from the 15th and the 17th centuries.

The church was restored in the middle of the 19th century and again in the 1950s 'by Mr Henry Goring as a tribute to his ancestors'.

The congregation was stated to be 11 in 1801, 27 in 1811 and 48 in 1951 (excluding the pupils of St Michael's school). It is 'now merged with Duncton and Barlavington'.

The wall-painting (left) dated 1636, is inside the church above a doorway and shows the Stuart Royal Arms. Above the date it reads:Obey them that have the rule over you. Heb 13.17
and the motto below is CHRISTE AUSPICE REGNO, which was often used on coins of the early 17th century

Two recesses which are described as of unknown usage were almost certainly for the water and wine used in the Mass in pre-Reformation times.

Two graves are clearly marked in the floor just beyond the rood screen:

* John Biddulph d 1720 aged 44 & his wife Mary d. 1744 aged 63

*Sir William Goring d.29 Feb 1723 aged 64 & his brother Henry d.16 May 1683

The rood screen is 15th century with traces of coloured decoration. The table and communion rails, with the gates cut away, are said to date from a restoration about 1636.


Tomb of Sir William Goring, d.1553, and his wife Elizabeth, d.1558.

It is made of Purbeck marble and is claimed to be unique as the only one in England showing a lady in a heraldic tabard, 'an essentially male garment'. The figures of Sir William and of one child, Anne, are missing. Details of their children and grandchildren and their coats of arms are included.

After the death of Sir William his widow retired to a convent at Liege and when she died the estate passed to her Biddulph relations.

(above) A monument in Purbeck marble to John Goring who died in 1520. He married Constance Dyke and both their arms are shown.


Burton Park: CRS - Catholic Record Society in Vols 1 and 22

Arundel: .Records of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials, are held mainly by the Southwark diocese with others in the Westminster diocese and there are copies in Vol 27 of the Catholic Record Society, plus an index in Sussex Record Office.
Slindon: Baptism, confirmation, death and converts' records are held in several places, at Bishop's House, Hove, in the Southwark diocesan Archives and at Westminster. They are also printed in Vol 7 of the Catholic Record Society and copies are held by the Catholic FHS and the Society of Genealogists (SoG).
Burton Park and Burton House: Records of baptisms, marriages, confirmations, and deaths dating from 1721 to 1886 are held by the Southwark Catholic Diocese and are printed by the Catholic Record Society (CRS) in Vol 22, with an indexed transcript in West Sussex Record Office.

A full list of the records of the missions above can be found in Michael Gandy's Catholic Missions and Registers 1700-1800, Vol I, London and the Home Counties,
Historical Notes on English Catholic Missions - by Bernard W.Kelly 1907, reprinted by Michael Gandy in 1995.
Both of these can be bought through the monthly Family Tree Magazine or copies can be consulted in some libraries.

Burton Park: A Centre of Recusancy in Sussex, an article by T.G.Holt S.J. in 1974 in Recusant History, A Journal of Research in Post-Reformation Catholic History in the British Isles, Vol 13, No.2 (published October 1975) This contains a detailed description of the complicated Goring, Biddulph (of Staffs) and Wright (of Essex) genealogy. The illusion of continuity of a name is given by the rule making inheritance dependent on a name change. (Many more sources for information are quoted in the notes to this article which makes a very important contribution to the subject)

Henry Edward Manning, by Shane Leslie, publ.1921 (quoted from p.45)

Guide to Burton Church, prepared by Francis W.Steer, F.S.A. and published by the Sussex Historic Churches Trust, Canongate, Chichester in 1964 for the Diocese of Chichester

St Richard's, Slindon by M.G.Costello, parish priest from 1946. He was asked by the then Bishop of Southwark to write this history, and decided to have it printed (by Jennings of Bognor Regis) to commemorate the consecration of the church and the 700th anniversary of the death of St Richard.