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Parish History

Shipley parish has a long history, dating back to the Domesday Book. The name Shipley comes from a Saxon word meaning ‘the place of pasture’.  It is the second largest parish in Sussex with an area just under 8000 acres and is mentioned in the Domesday book of 1087.

Shipley church is one of the oldest Norman churches in Sussex. It dates from the 12th century, contemporary with Chichester Cathedral, and was built by the Knights Templar on the site of a much earlier church.

Also of importance is Knepp Castle, the ruin of which can be seen from the modern A24. A newer building now exists, where the current family live, but the old castle at Knepp was built by William de Braose on land which was given to him by William the conqueror after the Battle of Hastings. William de Braose and his son participated in the Crusades and were also great benefactors of the church. The son, Philip, passed the estates at Shipley to his nephew, whose brother, Dean of Lincoln, gave them to the Knights Templar.

Shipley’s other great landmark is the windmill, which is much more recent, dating only from 1879, but is of interest because it is the largest, and newest smock mill in Sussex. Unfortunately it is now closed to the public. The mill and accompanying house were owned by the author Hillaire Belloc, who lived there for much of his life. The windmill also had a brief episode of fame on TV as the home of Jonathan Creek.