03 August 2017

St Nicolas Church – Biographical details about some Vicars of Portslade

Judy Middleton 2003 (revised 2024)

copyright © D.Sharp 
St Nicolas Church in the time of the Revd Vicars Armstrong Boyle in the early 1900s

Revd Vicars Armstrong Boyle (1858-1928)

He was born in Dublin, the only son of David Boyle, barrister-at-law. His father decided he should be educated in England and so he attended Uppingham School and later Christ Church, Oxford where he obtained his BA in 1881 and his MA in 1889.

A fascinating sidelight into his time at Oxford was that he was a contemporary of Oscar Wilde and moreover since they were both undergraduates from Dublin, they had something in common. Wilde presented himself as something of an aesthete and he was great company with a terrific sense of humour. But he also worked extremely hard and obviously he would not have been awarded a First in Greats as well as the Newdigate Prize if he had been careless in his work. According to Boyle, Wilde often left social gatherings early in order to continue with his studies.

After university, Boyle seemed all set to follow in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in law and he began to read for the Bar at the Inner Temple, eventually gaining a Batchelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.). But it seemed he had a change of heart and a call to the priesthood when he became one of the first residents at Toynbee Hall. This was a pioneering welfare settlement in the East End of London founded by Revd Samuel Augustus Barnett (1844-1913). It was the first settlement enabling university-educated men to live in close contact with their poor neighbours and work for their welfare.
copyright © G. Osborne
Revd Vicars Armstrong Boyle M.A., B.C.L.
With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting 
permission for the reproduction of the
 above photograph from his private collection.  

Barnett was rector of St Jude’s Church, Whitechapel, from 1873 to 1902 and Boyle was curate there from 1885, the same year he was ordained deacon and the following year he was ordained priest. According to Mrs Barnett, Boyle was much more than a mere curate because he helped her husband as confidential secretary and colleague. She also said Boyle possessed a fine brain and when Barnett wrote Perils of Wealth and Poverty it was the trusted Boyle who acted as editor. Mrs Barnett was none other than Dame Henrietta Barnett, founder of Hampstead Garden Suburb. The Barnetts and the Boyle families became lifelong friends and the Barnetts retired to Hove when Boyle was still vicar of Portslade and rector of Hangleton. The Barnetts and Boyle were even buried in the same churchyard at St Helen’s, Hangleton

In 1891 Boyle made a dramatic change of direction when he became assistant chaplain at St George’s Church, Cannes and no doubt his congregation consisted of wealthy English people enjoying the sun and social life of the French Riviera. It certainly gave him a different perspective; one acquaintance recounted that she was at school in Brussels when Charlotte Bronte was a teacher there and remarked unkindly that Bronte was very ugly. When talking about a recent harsh winter, a luncheon guest called Mrs Ogle stated she remembered very well the dreadful winter of 1812 when she was twelve years old. It was also the year that the weather defeated the ambitions of Napoleon and forced his army to retreat from Moscow. On another occasion at Grasse, Boyle had the nerve-wracking experience of preaching to Queen Victoria and recollected that he made sure his Collect was about duty.

By 1892 Boyle changed tack again and was to be found lecturing at Burton-on-Trent, a town boasting of being home to at least 50 breweries. Boyle stayed there until his move to Portslade.

copyright © D.Sharp
Sophia Courtney Boyle memorial
in St Nicolas Church
Boyle arrived at Portslade with his sister Sophia Courtney Boyle. They were delighted with Portslade, which was then still a rural Sussex village with farmers and shepherds while oxen were used for deep ploughing. Boyle was inducted as vicar of St Nicolas, Portslade and rector of St Helen’s Hangleton in June 1899. In the afternoon before the service Miss Sarah Anne Borrer of Portslade Lodge (now Manor Lodge) threw a reception at her property in honour of the occasion. The Bishop of Chichester attended as well as Lord Sackville (patron) the Archdeacon of Lewes, the Rural Dean, the churchwardens and neighbouring incumbent.

Miss Boyle assisted her brother in ministering to the needs of the parish. He needed all the help he could have because in the 1914 Directory it was noted his responsibilities covered an area of 3,384 acres, consisting of Portslade Village, Portslade-by-Sea, Hangleton and part of Aldrington.

After nine valiant years at Portslade Boyle began to consider it was time for pastures new. But his plans were thrown into confusion by the illness and death of his beloved sister on 14 June 1908 aged 47. He was so touched by the outpouring of affection and sympathy shown by his parishioners during her illness and his bereavement that he decided he could not bear to leave them after all. Her marble memorial states:

She was his constant companion and fellow worker, brave, intelligent, faithful, simple, generous. She gladdened many lives with her continual joy, and inspired them by her high-hearted enthusiasm.

copyright © D.Sharp
This window was in memory of Sophia Courtney Boyle 
and it was stated that ‘330 sorrowing friends’ subscribed to the cost of
 this stained glass window in  St Helen's Hangleton.   
left:- St Helena, centre:- Thou art the King of Glory. O Christ (Tu rex gloriae Christe), 
lower centre:- angel holding an image of first Easter morning, right:- St Nicolas.

In 1909 at the age of 50 Boyle married Ada, younger daughter of Colonel Egerton Todd of the 81st Regiment.

New life was injected into the parish by the arrival of an energetic young curate, Revd Hamblin H. Jones, who served as a Vice-President of the Portslade Allotments Association, organised the St Nicolas Church Men's Club, coached at the Portslade Football Club as well as playing for the Portslade Cricket Club. But when war broke out Revd Jones left to do his bit by becoming an army chaplain and returned to Portslade after the end of the First World War and stayed until 1919.

Locally Revd Boyle was the Chairman of the Portslade Allotments Association and also the Vice-President of the Portslade Football Club.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Herald 10 October 1908
This Public Meeting was held at Brighton's Royal Pavilion on the 6 October 1908.
The Revd V. A. Boyle - Chairman of the Brighton & Hove Women's Franchise Society.
Miss Alice Abadam - Welsh Suffragette and a well known public speaker on social issues.

Revd Boyle served as Chairman of The Brighton & Hove Charity Organization Society, Chairman of The Brighton & Hove Women's Franchise Society (Votes for Women), Chairman of The Brighton & Hove Church League for Women's Suffrage and also campaigned for women to serve on the Church of England's Diocesan Synods.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Herald 4 March 1911
Women's Franchise Society Public Meeting at Hove Town Hall
on 9 March 1911
Miss Agnes Maude Royden (1876-1956) -  Suffragist and
a campaigner for the Ordination of Women.
Cecil Chapman - London Magistrate who was married
to the Suffragist Adeline Chapman.
Miss Celia Burleigh - related to the artists, Charles and
Averil  Burleigh of Wilbury Crescent, Hove.
The Revd V. A. Boyle - Chairman of the
Brighton & Hove Women's Franchise Society.

Boyle and his wife enjoyed entertaining their famous and talented friends at Portslade vicarage; they included such luminaries as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Lord Sackville, the Marquess of Cholmondeley, and Maria and Arthur Patterson. The conversation around the dining table was sparkling and thought-provoking.

copyright © G. Osborne
The old Portslade vicarage (demolished in 1965)
overlooking the Village Green

With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting permission
for the reproduction of the above photograph
  from his private collection.  
We know this from a delightful and unexpected source, namely Bess the parlour maid. As part of her duties Bess had to remain in the dining room until the last course was served and she always said her education started right there. Although Portslade-born Bess must have been a bright child, she was obliged to leave school at the age of twelve to help out her mother with family chores. She was born Annie Elizabeth Passiful (1895-1982) but was called Bess.

Bess started work with the Boyles on 1 June 1913. When she was still new Mrs Boyle told her she was going to have to ‘maid’ a very important guest who suffered from rheumatism and needed help with washing and dressing plus Bess would have to do her hair. Bess had no training in being a lady’s maid and felt daunted by the task. But she need not have worried because she and Henrietta Barnett got along just fine and Mrs Boyle complimented her on her work. In fact Barnett and Bess built up a rapport despite the social divide and when Barnett wanted to know about conditions of the workers at the Portslade Old Village Brewery, it was to Bess she turned for information.

Likewise, Barnett believed in the uplifting power of fine paintings and gave Bess a calendar with a different famous painting for each month. Bess was even invited to take Sunday afternoon tea with Barnett at her home in Hove. Bess admired Barnett the most out of all the guests she encountered at the vicarage. Bess found life with the Boyles so congenial that she stayed with the family for 17 years.

After twenty years at Portslade, Boyle retired in July 1919 citing ill health. Among his leaving presents was a most generous cheque for 100 guineas together with an album containing the names of all the subscribers and a silver-chain purse for his wife.

The front page of Canon S. A. Barnett's Perils of Wealth and Poverty (1920),
which Dame Henrietta entrusted to Vicars Armstrong Boyle to edit before publication

By 1925 Boyle and his wife were living in Menton in the south of France.

 copyright © D.Sharp 
The Cross in St Helen's churchyard, Hangleton 
and surrounding plinth bears the inscription:- 
10th August 1860 Sophia Courtney-Boyle 14th June 1908, 
9th March 1858 Vicars Armstrong Boyle 5th November 1928,  
Domnuis Providebit, they that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
 To the memory of Ada Drummond-Boyle wife of the late 
Revd. Vicars A. Boyle born June 6th 1866 died November 3rd 1953
 “She loved much”. 
the upright gravestone is that of his close friends:-
 Revd Samuel Augustus Barnett & Dame Henrietta Barnett.
(St Nicolas churchyard was closed for burials in 1871)

After Boyle died in 1928, his widow Ada lived for a while with Boyle’s cousin Dr Helen Boyle, the celebrated pioneer woman doctor who founded Lady Chichester Hospital at Aldrington, Hove. Boyle and his wife were sympathetic towards women’s rights, which was not surprising considering the family connection with Dr Helen Boyle.

 copyright © D.Sharp
St Francis stained glass window 
in St Nicolas Church Portslade
 to the memory of 
Vicars Armstrong Boyle

The St Francis window in St Nicolas Church was installed in memory of Revd Boyle.

Revd William Brereton

William Brereton was born in Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland. He was a student at the Church Missionary College, Islington, London. In 1872, after his ordination, William was sent to China. From 1875 to 1880 he served with the Church Missionary Society in Ningbo.

In 1880 he transferred from the Church Missionary Society to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and took the post of Acting Chaplain at the British Legation in Peking (Beijing). From 1890 until 1893 he ran the Mission at Tianjin. He returned to England in 1894 because of ill health. His next appointment was as the Curate of Holy Trinity, Bracknell, Berkshire, before coming to Portslade in 1902 to serve as Curate under the Revd Vicars Armstrong Boyle. He left Portslade in 1908 to take up the post as Rector of St Andrew’s Church, Steeple Gidding in Cambridgeshire.

Revd Donald Campbell

copyright © J.Middleton
The Choir of St Nicolas Church Portslade, c 1924

back row:- Hector Coustick, -?- Grundy, Albert Perry, Alfred Perry, Horace Chandler, Perce Cranham, Jack Rook and Ben Baldock

second row:- Alwyn Hyde, Mr Perry (father of Alfred & Albert) Mr White (organist) Revd Donald Campbell (vicar) Archie Greenyer, Horace Hore,

front row:- Jim Noakes, Henry Clarke, Charles Hickling, George Hammond, Hector Hudson, John Rook (son of Jack)

He was vicar of St Nicolas from 1919 to 1927. His previous parish had been a poverty-stricken area around St John’s Church, Carlton Hill, Brighton.

While he was at Portslade, he managed to raise some £5,000 so that St Nicolas School could be refurbished.

After leaving Portslade he became vicar of Preston and later on he was Archdeacon of Carlisle.

On 24 September 1923 Campbell was on his way to celebrate a Harvest Festival in a car driven by his wife when the car skidded and landed upside down with the sliding roof blown open. Unhappily, he was killed while his wife climbed from the wreckage without a scratch.

 copyright © D.Sharp 
The St Nicolas Church chancel oak floor now partly covered with a red carpet.

Portslade parishioners were shocked by the news and set about raising money to pay for oak flooring in the chancel in his memory.

copyright © D.Sharp 

Revd Peter Campbell

He was ordained priest in 1953 and came to Sussex in 1956 to serve as a curate at St Barnabas’s Church, Hove. Four years later he became vicar of St John’s Church, Brighton and in 1964 he moved to St Mary’s Church, Kemp Town. The longest he stayed anywhere was at Portslade where he was vicar for twelve years. He and his wife Pamela lived in the vicarage with their son and daughter while Mrs Campbell’s mother was ensconced in a bungalow on the corner of High Street and Windlesham Close. When the son got married, a marquee was erected in the vicarage garden for the wedding guests.

On September 1978 Campbell held a special Horseman’s Service on the Downs to which 100 horses and their riders turned up.

Campbell’s utilitarian car was anything but luxurious; in fact it rattled so alarmingly when driven that nervous people feared they might be dumped unceremoniously on the road.
copyright © D.Sharp  
Revd Peter Campbell in 1979

In Campbell’s time St Nicolas had a large congregation on a Sunday morning and when it was church parade for Scouts, Guides and Brownies, the church was packed. At Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve so many people came through the church door that extra chairs had to be fetched from the Parish Centre. Campbell took a keen interest in the church school and every year many children came forward for confirmation. Mrs Campbell would issue the girls with white linen veils for the ceremony. But it was certainly not a case of Ladies First because the boys always headed the queue when it came to kneeling before the bishop.

Remembrance Sunday was celebrated in style at Easthill Park and clergy from all the denominations in Portslade took part. This meant the Roman Catholic priest from Our Lady, Star of the Sea, the minister from the Baptist Church and the priest in charge of the Good Shepherd, Mile Oak.

Campbell left Portslade in 1981 and parishioners presented him with a cheque for £230. He moved to Eastbourne to become vicar of St Mary’s Church. In January 1988, no doubt after a hectic Christmas, he returned home and told his wife he felt tired and would go upstairs to rest. When she went to check on him later, he was dead; he was only aged 60.

The Clutton Priests
 copyright © D.Sharp 
In memory of the Revd Ralph Clutton AM late vicar of 
this parish and rector of Horsted Keynes who departed 
this life8th January 1761 aged 66 years.
 Also of Elizabeth relict of the 
said Revd Ralph Clutton who died 14th May 1785 aged 
79 years. Also of the Revd Ralph Clutton AB rector of 
 Horsted Keynes and Aldrington son of the 
Revd Ralph Clutton and Elizabeth his wife 
who departed this life 13th April 1772 aged 44 years.

The Clutton priests, father and son, served as vicars of Portslade one after the other for a period of 93 years, a record unlikely to be broken. Revd Ralph Clutton was vicar from 1722 to 1761 and Revd John Clutton was vicar from 1761 to 1815.

It is pleasant to record that in 1724 Ralph Clutton was able to make a very satisfactory report about the state of the church and vicarage but the parish still lacked a poor box. There were 24 families in the parish and around 30 communicants and no Dissenters or Papists. Divine Service with Sermon was held every Lord’s Day and Holy Communion was administered at the three solemn festivals and at Michaelmas. No doubt he was pleased the Governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty had augmented the parish income by £200. Clutton was also rector of Horsted Keynes.

On 22 December 1726 Ralph Clutton married Elizabeth Dobson at Falmer. Their children’s baptisms were recorded at Portslade as follows:

Martha 3 January 1729 (buried 18 February 1730)

John 12 August 1731

Owen 25 January 1732

William 29 August 1735

Ralph Clutton died 8 January 1761 aged 66. His son John became the new vicar of Portslade while another Clutton became rector of Horsted Keynes and St Leonard's Church Aldrington.

 copyright © D.Sharp
 Plaque Left:- To the revered memory of the Revd John Clutton MA for more than fifty years the resident vicar of this parish and rector of Hangleton. He died January 5th 1815 aged 83 years. And of his sister Mrs Elizabeth Clutton who resided with him and shared in his labours of love: she was distinguished for kindness of heart and active benevolence, qualities which justly endeared her to her neighbours of all ranks. She died November 25th 1813 aged 85 years.
Plaque Right:- In memory of Owen Clutton Esq third son of the Revd Ralph Clutton late vicar of this parish and Elizabeth his wife who departed this life 3rd December 1796 aged 63 years. Also of Elizabeth his wife (daughter of Isaac Townsend Esq Admiral of the White and Governor of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich) who departed this life 16th November 1802 aged 78 years. 

Elizabeth, widow of Ralph, died 14 May 1785 aged 79. She left to her son William all her property in Berwick but he had to pay an annual allowance of £30 to his sister Elizabeth. The widow left to her son John marshlands at Greengrat, Pevensey Marsh.

In 1780 it appears that John Clutton owned land in Portslade worth £20. His sister Elizabeth ‘resided with him and shared in his labours of love’. She never married but enjoyed the courtesy title of Mrs Clutton. When she died on 25 November 1813 aged 85 she left the interest on her nest egg of £550 to her brother John and when he died the money was to go to the children of the late Owen Clutton at Balcombe. John Clutton died 5 January 1815.

There is an interesting Clutton connection with the planning for a Cathedral at Westminster. The Cathedral’s architect, John F. Bentley, was originally the student and later assistant to the prolific church and country house architect Henry Clutton (a Catholic convert and the son of Owen Clutton). Clutton was an expert in the French-Gothic style, so much so he won the competition to design the new Lille Cathedral, but when the authorities discovered he was not French the contract was cancelled. Two of his most notable projects in Sussex were the rebuilding of Battle Abbey and design of St Mary of the Angels in Worthing.

Henry Clutton submitted the first designs for a Westminster Cathedral in 1867 but due to lack of building funds and support from his brother-in-law Archbishop Manning for a French-Gothic style Cathedral, his designs were abandoned. J.F. Bentley rejected an opportunity to go into partnership with Henry Clutton and submitted his own designs for the Cathedral in the Neo-Byzantine style, which were duly accepted by the later Archbishop of Westminster, Herbert Vaughan.

It is fascinating to note that Revd Clutton’s son William Clutton played a brief part in a revival of the once famous Wealden Iron Industry. This came about because of the Seven Years War (1756-1763) and the desperate need for weapons. William Clutton was only aged 25 when he became an ironmaster and William Norden was his partner in the enterprise; nearly all the ordnance they created went off to Woolwich. During their time some 135 guns were produced at Gravetye, some small while others were 32 pounders. However, the Board of Ordnance had a relaxed attitude towards paying promptly for the guns and this was fatal for a modest business. William Clutton also suffered from a run of bad luck including the furnace blowing in, which meant a costly re-build, and an unfortunate fatality when a worker was poisoned by gas fumes from the furnace. Clutton was declared bankrupt in August 1762 but somehow his partner Norden escaped such a fate.

Another interesting sidelight on the Clutton family is the famous surgeon Henry Clutton, a grandson of Revd Ralph Clutton. He is known in medical histories for being the first to describe a condition where in the cavity of a joint, particularly the knee, there was an accumulation of water, seen in cases of hereditary syphilis. The condition is called Clutton’s joints.

Revd Henry English

Henry English matriculated at Oxford in 1582 and on 6 December 1583 the Bishop of Gloucester ordained him deacon and priest. He was inducted to St Nicolas Church on 4 July 1584 and on 9 November 1584 became rector of St Leonard's Church Aldrington too. The following year he married Joan Slutter of Botolphs. He thus became the first priest of Portslade to enter the married state because all the previous incumbents had been celibate Roman Catholic priests.

In 1586 English wrote a report stating ‘our chancel is not sufficiently repaired or paved’. He laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of Richard Snelling, farmer and patron, who was responsible for the chancel’s upkeep while parishioners had to maintain the nave. English also mentioned that ‘our church is not whited (sic) within and beautified accordingly’. But this lack was surely down to the villagers. English was also unhappy that the churchyard was not fenced properly but it is not clear who had the responsibility for that.

Henry English only stayed at St Nicolas for two years.

Revd Victor Hellaby M.C. (1910-1995)

Hellaby was born in Seaford and after a long, active life he retired there in 1982.

He was always interested in the army and was a member of the Territorial Army while he pursued a career in commerce, travelling to London and back every day, like so many other people.

When he was still a young man Hellaby joined the 5th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment and served with them until the Second World War when he transferred as 2nd Lieutenant to the 57th Anti-Tank Brigade. In 1940 he was promoted to the rank of captain.
copyright © D.Sharp
Fr Hellaby riding around Portslade
on his moped

He served with the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium and on 22 May 1940 he was wounded. He was later captured by the Germans near Oudenarde and initially sent to a hospital to recover. Then he was despatched to a Prisoner of War Camp at Eichstatt in Germany where he remained for five years, finding the separation from his wife Marjorie difficult.

It is surprising the Camp Commandant who operated a strict regime allowed the prisoners to take part in amateur dramatics and moreover the Munich Opera House supplied them with make-up and costumes. Prisoners and local villagers enjoyed the productions very much. Hellaby memorably played the part of Polonius in the camp’s version of Hamlet. But an example of the Commandant’s tough attitude is revealed when he had two RAF officers shot dead because they were outside their hut after curfew.

It is also a revelation that the Commandant allowed Hellaby to receive special parcels of books from England. These came from Bishop George Bell to assist Hellaby in his studies to prepare for ordination. Hellaby’s decision to pursue such a course was not a sudden one because he always had a spiritual side even when engaged in the secular world of commerce. Hellaby had the distinction of being the only prisoner of war to take part in theological examinations while still in captivity. In 1947 Hellaby was ordained.
copyright © D.Sharp
The 'new' 1964 vicarage

Hellaby became vicar of St Nicolas in 1962, having previously been vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Eastbourne. Hellaby was the last priest to occupy the old vicarage at Portslade that boasted such ancient features as wooden pegs in the roof tiles while horsehair had been used in plastering. Although some modernisation had been carried out in 1946 by the 1960s the vicarage was considered too old, too draughty and too large for a modern-day family. The new vicarage was completed in 1964 and the old one demolished the following year.

Although Hellaby was only at Portslade for seven years, he earned the reputation of getting things done; for example during his time the Church of the Good Shepherd, Mile Oak, was built as was a new St Nicolas School not to mention a new Parish Centre and a new vicarage.

copyright © D.Sharp
The Revd Hellaby oversaw the building of  The Church of the Good Shepherd Mile Oak, St Nicolas CofE School and the Parish Centre

He was a down-to-earth man who rode around the parish on a moped and had an endearing trait of singing the Mass slightly off-key. In those days the priest still celebrated Mass facing the high altar with his back to the congregation. When it came to the annual gift day, Hellaby was quite blatant about rattling the collecting tin. He would take up his post outside the newsagent’s in South Street or outside the Stag’s Head where he said he had a ‘second congregation’.

After leaving Portslade, he moved elsewhere in Sussex; he became vicar of Brightling and served as Rural Dean. He died on 14 January 1995.

Revd Noel E.C. Hemsworth

copyright ©  Mr G. Osborne
The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes sitting outside the Old Village's George Pub in the 1930s
With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting permission for the reproduction of the above photograph from his private collection.  

He was vicar of St Nicolas from 1928 to 1933. He was a member of the Windlesham Lodge of Buffaloes. During his ministry the church magazine lamented that ‘a number of gentry who formerly lived here have departed’. This was not so much a snobbish comment as the realisation that local wealthy local families were a thing of the past. Families like the Borrers for instance of Lindfield House had been pillars of the church in several church-related areas. Henceforth, as the numbers of people residing in the parish grew, the upkeep of the church would fall on artisan parishioners. Money problems became the norm and today it is even more crucial.

Revd Frederick John Holbrooke

copyright © J.Middleton
The c1860 sketch of St Nicolas Church by RH Nibbs, drawn when Revd Frederick Holbrooke was the vicar

It is interesting to note that before Holbrooke arrived at Portslade he had served with the Gloucester Militia. This was not surprising seeing as he came from a military background; his father Captain Frederick Holbrooke served with the 13th Foot while in 1759 his grandfather Captain Bernard Holbrooke helped raise the 97th Foot.

Revd F.G. became vicar of St Nicolas in 1859. The 1861 census recorded that Holbrooke was a 35-year old bachelor living in the vicarage with his mother Emma, aged 74, and his sister Mary Augusta, aged 41. It seems the Holbrookes were a wealthy family because his mother was noted as ‘a proprietor of houses’ while his sister was ‘a proprietor of land’. But the family made do with one general servant.

Later on Holbrooke married Barbara Henrietta Louisa who was some 21 years his junior and they went on to have numerous children. Their baptismal dates as recorded in the Parish Register are as follows:

26 May 1867 Gertrude Mary

26 July 1868 Georgina

28 November 1869 Helena Barbara

26 November 1871 Bernard Frederick Roper

30 March 1872 Philip Lancelot

29 November 1874 Francis Lyttleton

30 April 1876 Constance Violet

30 September 1877 Gerald Howard

29 June 1879 Cecil Dacre More.

Their sons continued the family tradition of military service. Lieutenant Colonel Bernard Frederick Roper Holbrooke enlisted at the age of 21 in the Indian Army and joined the 129th Baluchi Regiment. He served in France during the Great War with the Royal Garrison Artillery and was wounded at Ypres. He died in 1948. Major Philip Lancelot Holbrooke was awarded the DSC while fighting in France. The youngest son Captain Cecil Holbrooke died in India. Gerald Howard Holbrooke obviously wanted to see the world because he lived in South Africa, Madagascar, East Africa, India and Canada and it was in the latter country that he joined the Canadian Scottish Regiment as a private because he did not want to waste any time in getting to the Front. He was killed in action in Flanders.

copyright ©  Mr G. Osborne 
St Andrew’s Church in this early 1900s photograph is shown in a semi-rural position surrounded by fields and market gardens had changed little since the Church was built in 1864.
With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting permission for the reproduction of the above photograph from his private collection. 

Meanwhile, their father Revd F.G. Holbrooke was continuing his ministry at Portslade. He was also responsible for the building of St Andrew’s Church, Portslade-by-Sea to serve the growing numbers of people living in the south of the parish.

                                          copyright © J.Middleton                                                                          copyright © D.Sharp 
The Brackenbury Schools (former St Nicolas Church School) in Locks Hill and the Brackenbury Chapel on the north-west corner of St Nicolas Church.

Holbrooke came to know a very wealthy lady by the name of Hannah Brackenbury. It may be that he was a friend of Revd W.H. Rooper, one-time incumbent of St Andrew’s Chapel, Waterloo Street, Hove, who became one of the trustees of Hannah Brackenbury’s will. Hannah Brackenbury paid for the Brackenbury Chapel to be built at the north-west corner of St Nicolas Church, followed shortly afterwards by the erection of the church schools in Lock’s Hill, known as the Brackenbury Schools.

In 1875 Holbrooke was unwittingly embroiled in a controversy as to whether or not the church should lose control of the schools with a School Board taking over the management.

There were heated discussions at meetings and Holbroke and most of his parishioners did not want a School Board foisted on Portslade. In the event nothing came of it.

There was more trouble for Holbrooke regarding the disposal of the old school site in the village. Holbrooke entertained hopes that the profit made from the sale of the site would go towards the running of the new schools. However, it appeared the Hall family actually owned the site, and had only lent it for school purposes, and wanted it back.

Revd Ernest P.W. Holmes

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove                               copyright © D.Sharp 
Revd Ernest P.W Holmes and his gravestone in St Helen's churchyard

He was vicar of St Nicolas during the difficult years of the Thirties and the Second World War. During the latter he kept the church open during the day so that his parishioners could use it as an emergency air-raid shelter if needed.

copyright © Parish of Portslade & Mile Oak
Revd Ernest P.W Holmes was responsible for the erection of the Church of the Good Shepherd's 'Tin Church' at the new Paddocks Estate at Mile Oak in 1936.

His wife Mary took her turn at fire-watching during the night, donning a hard hat for her stint. In later years she became lay chairman of Hove Deanery Synod and like a Madam Speaker she had sufficient authority to keep the most chauvinistic priest in order. Her husband was a quiet, scholarly man who wore a dog collar with a width that would be considered extravagant today.

Revd Henry Hoper (1788-1858)

 copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Henry Earp, senior, painted this delightful picture of Portslade in 1840 when the Revd Henry Hoper was the vicar..
Note St Nicolas Church to the right and the impressive mansion called Portslade House on the left, near the site occupied by King’s School today.

Henry Hoper was born in Lewes. He was ordained deacon on 22 December 1811 and ordained priest on 24 May 1812. He was instituted to St Nicolas on 27 January 1815 – the year of the celebrated Battle of Waterloo. It is interesting to note that George III presented him to the living and on 11 February 1815 the king sent Hoper a letter of dispensation allowing him to become rector of Hangleton as well. It was recorded that Hoper read the Thirty-nine Articles at Hangleton on 12 March 1815 and at Portslade on 12 March 1815.

It seems that Hoper was already interested in fossils before he came to Portslade. In fact he built up a substantial and early collection of fossils. It is to be regretted that what became of this collection is unknown. But Hoper’s knowledge on the subject must have been respected because he was asked by the famous Gideon Mantell to contribute to his book Geology of the South Downs published in 1822.

In 1829 Hoper married Sarah, daughter of Revd Richard Constable of Cowfold. The Constable family were also interested in historic relics but of a much later date than fossils. The family owned a priceless piece of the flag that flew from HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. The old Cornish family of Enys later purchased it. But provenance is everything and when the relic later came up for sale, Bonham’s the auctioneers, included a letter from Revd H. Hoper to Mr J. Enys as proof of authenticity. The letter was dated 9 May 1856 and read ‘The scrap of bunting was part of the Flag borne by the Victory at Trafalgar – afterwards carried by Sailors at Nelson’s funeral – and torn to pieces after the ceremony – and scrambled for by the by-standers – one of whom was my wife’s cousin Mr J. Constable – from whom I obtained the Relic.’

 copyright © D.Sharp
In memory of the Rev Henry Hoper MA 44 years 
vicar of Portslade and rector of Hangleton 
who departed this life on 4th December 1858
 aged 70 years. This tablet was erected
 by his parishioners as a memorial of their
 gratitude to Almighty God,
 for the blessing vouchsafed in giving them
 a pastor, untiring in his exertions for their 
temporal and eternal welfare.
 The love of Christ constraining him. 
We took sweet counsel together and
 walked to the house of God as friends. 
 Psalm 55
Hoper’s eldest son Richard Hoper was born in 1830. He followed law as a career and in 1856 married Kate Anna, youngest daughter of the vicar of Cowfold. In the 1870s a Richard Hoper built the new school at Cowfold.

In 1835 the new Steyning Union Workhouse was opened and Revd Henry Hoper was chaplain for a while. On one occasion, after filling the post temporarily, he was sent a fee of £15, which he refused to accept and returned.

In 1840 it was recorded that Hoper and others owned some land in Cowfold consisting of 16 acres. Indeed the Hoper family were associated with Cowfold Manor, considered to be the family seat. In 1846 Hope purchased Hillfields (7 acres) and in 1850 a property called Graffields for £330.
The 1841 census recorded Henry Hoper living in the vicarage with his wife Sarah, two male servants and three female servants. In the census ten years later it was noted that the Hopers were looking after Mary Constable, a 92-year old relative. The household staff consisted of a footman, a housemaid, an under-housemaid and a cook.

The 1853 questionnaire revealed that St Nicolas Church was not insured and that there were 15 acres of glebe land attached to the benefice.

In 1858 a memorial was sent to the Bishop of Chichester signed by Hoper and several parishioners stating that the present church accommodation was inadequate. But Hoper died on 4 December 1858 and so he never oversaw the building of the north aisle the following year.

In 1860 a volume containing 21 of Hoper’s sermons was published. Presumably, they were not short discourses because the book contained 266 pages.


The Overseers Account Book provides us with the names of three curates because the vicar was happy to hand over supervision of parish relief to them. They were as follows:

Francis Paddey (1768)

Roger Challice (1771)

Charles Pugge (1772)

Revd Richard William Enraght SSC (1837-1898)
Fr. Richard Enraght SSC.
 reproduced by kind permission of the
 Principal & Chapter of Pusey House, Oxford.
(Hall Collection 3/13, Pusey House Oxford)

He was only a curate in Portslade from 1871 to 1874 but he was by far the most interesting character to hold the post. During his time at Portslade he wrote the books Catholic Worship and The Real Presence & Holy Scripture.

Revd Frederick Holbrooke appointed Enraght as a curate in Portslade in 1871, and specifically at the new District Church of St Andrews, which the Rev Holbrooke was the principle driving force for this new church being built in south Portslade.

The appointment of Enraght as Curate in Charge of the new District Church of St Andrew’s Portslade by Sea with St Helen's Hangleton was not without controversy. There was an unsuccessful appeal to the Bishop of Chichester by the Vicar of the neighbouring Parish of Southwick who questioned the authority of the Vicar of Portslade to make the appointment of a priest to this new District Church of Portslade by Sea which did not have a permanent priest.

Enraght lived at 5 Station Road close to Portslade Railway Station, which was very convenient, as well as his Portslade parish duties Enraght also served as the Organising Secretary for the National Association for the Promotion of Freedom of Worship, and campaigned for the abolition of "pew-rents" at various events around England. St Andrew's Portslade was the first church in Sussex to be built free of "pew-rents", which probably drew Enraght to Portslade in the first place.
Enraght was of High Church persuasion and heavily influenced by the Oxford Movement. So many of their practices have become commonplace today that it is difficult to understand the horror and dismay with which such Catholic practices were viewed in Victorian times.

The Brighton Gazette, a newspaper of anti-catholic sentiments, reporting for Thursday 21 May 1874:

 copyright © D.Sharp
Lancing College
"The Revd R. W. Enraght of Portslade has given notice of his intentions to hold a “Retreat”-our readers will not have forgotten what sort of things these “retreats” are - at Lancing College in August next. The rev. gentleman’s name appears in the roll of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament for 1872, so that here we get another peep into the interior economy of those notorious “Woodard Schools”, of which Lancing College is the headquarters."

The Public Worship Regulation Act was passed in 1874 with the intention of stamping out Anglo-Catholic practices. When Enraght was vicar of Holy Trinity, Bordesley, he fell foul of this Act, was convicted and spent a period of 49 days during 1880 and 1881 in Warwick Prison. He became famous as a man of principle ready to endure imprisonment as a result of his sincere beliefs.

Fr. Enraght’s imprisonment became widely known in the USA. On the 19th December 1880 a sermon was preached in St. Ignatius Church in New York, on The Imprisonment of English Priests for Conscience Sake by Revd Dr. Ewer, S.T.D., who praised the English priests stand, as "simply a determined resistance to a violation of Magna Charta, and was proud to make common cause with them, so far as is possible, from this distance, and feeling that when one member of the Catholic Church suffers, all the members suffer with him". the text of this sermon was printed in full in the New York Herald and New York Tribune the following morning,

In England, the Revd Prof. Edward Bouverie Pusey wrote a letter to the editor of The Times defending Richard Enraght, saying, he had not been struggling for himself, but for his people.

The text below is from an 1880 protest poster against the Public Worship Regulation Act
This poster. which mentions the Revd Richard Enraght, was attached to walls and hoardings around England, to express the continuing public opposition to the Public Worship Regulation Act. 
A copy of this poster was also fixed to a wall close to Lambeth Palace, which greatly annoyed the Archbishop of Canterbury

After being released from prison and spending time in the Parish of St Michael and All Angels, Brighton to convalesce, he continued the next 9 years of his ministry in East London, at St Michael Church Bromley by Bow from 1884-1888 and St Gabriel Church Poplar from 1888-1895.

Enraght ended his days at St Swithun’s Church, Bintree, Norfolk. Ironically, it was only fourteen miles away from Walsingham, which is a celebrated shrine to Our Lady venerated by both Roman Catholics and Anglicans to this day.

copyright © D.Sharp
The "Rev Richard Enraght bus"  on the 
Mile Oak 1A bus route in Station Road, Portslade
Fr. Enraght died on St Matthew’s Day, September 21st, 1898 and is buried at the south east end of St Swithun’s churchyard, Bintree. His grave is that of a “Confessor” (someone who suffered for the faith, while not dying for it). Two windows of the Lady Chapel, depicting the Annunciation of Our Lady are dedicated to Fr. Enraght as well as a statue of St. Swithun above the porch, inscribed: “It is placed as a memorial to a great and good priest Richard William Enraght”

In February 2006 The Argus, reported that Brighton & Hove City Council had accepted the name of Fr Richard Enraght, whom they described as a “Priest, fighter for religious freedom”, as a candidate for a Blue Plaque to be erected in his memory on his former home in Station Road, Portslade. The date of its installation is yet to be announced.
In September 2006, Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company honoured Revd Richard Enraght’s memory by naming one of their new fleet buses after him. His name joins the extensive list of locally and nationally famous people who have contributed to the City's life in some way over the past few hundred years with a Brighton and Hove Bus named after them.

To read more on the his life see:-  Revd Richard Enraght

Vicars & Curates of St Nicolas Church, Portslade.

1185 Stephen
1232 Robert
1368 Bernard
1415 Thomas Legger
1415 John Westcote
1419 Thomas Devonshire
1420 Henry Tone
1444 Thomas Thakes
1444 John Dovere
1499 Henry Kentte
1499 John Galthe
1505 John Holforde
1510 Robert Gaston

1526 Henry Honeby, & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton, 1523
Richard Hide. Curate, 1551

1556 John Lowghe (or Loughe)
1562 John Englisshe
1584 Henry Englisshe, & Rector of Aldrington, 1584.
1586 Robert Johnnes M.A.
1598 John Postlethwait A.B. & Rector of St Julian Kingston Buci, Shoreham by Sea, 1605
1607 John Bridge A.M. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton, 1613
1636 Thomas White
1638 Nathaniel Hancock A.M. & Rector of St Michael & All Angels Southwick, 1643
1662 Robert Adams
1669 John Temple, & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton, 1660
1710 John Littlejohn

1722 Ralph Clutton & Rector of St Giles Horsted Keynes
John Osborne. Curate, 1742
Charles Baker. Curate, 1743

1761 John Clutton B.A. & Rector of, St Helen's Hangleton, St Giles Horsted Keynes & Aldrington,
Francis Paddey Curate 1768
Roger Challice Curate 1771
Charles Pugge Curate 1772
John Constable Curate, 1803

1815 Henry Hoper M.A. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton
Thomas Scutt. Curate, 1815
Gilbert Henry Langdon. Curate, 1830
J. W. Peers. Assistant Curate 1841
John Willoughby Hodgson, Curate 1852-1858

1859 Frederick G. Holbrooke, & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton.

1864 St Andrew Church, Portslade by Sea, is built under the direction of the Revd Holbrooke who becomes Priest in Charge of this new District Church.

1864 St. Nicolas Portslade & St Helen's Hangleton united into one Parish by Order in Council

1871-74 Richard Enraght SSC Curate-in-Charge of Portslade-by-Sea with St Helen's Hangleton

1876 The separate Parish of St Andrew is formed and no longer united with St Nicolas Portslade

1880 Charles A.Stevens M.A. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton

1899 Vicars Armstrong Boyle M.A. B.C.L. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton
Andrew E. L. Sayers, Curate, 1900-1902, Portslade with St Helen's Hangleton.
William Brereton, Curate, 1902-1908, (former Missionary in China 1876-1894)
Stuart MacArthur, Curate, 1909-1913 Portslade with St Helen's Hangleton.
V. Howard, Curate, 1914.
Hamblin H. Jones, Curate 1913-1919
William James, Curate 1917
(Alfred Wilkinson Dawes, Chaplain at Portslade Army Camp, 1917-1918).

1919 Donald F. Campbell M.A. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton
Claude B. Prior, Curate, 1919-1923, Portslade with St Helen's Hangleton.
Philip E. Trousdale, Curate 1923-1927, Portslade with St Helen's Hangleton.

1927 Lubin S.Creasey M.A. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton

1928 Noel E.C. Hemsworth M.A. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton

1933 Ernest P.W. Holmes M.A. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton.
Edward H Weston, Curate, 1931-1933, Portslade with St Helen's Hangleton.
1936 The Parish of St Nicolas , erect a temporary "Tin Church" at Mile Oak to cope with the increase in population, this new church is called the Church of the Good Shepherd, Mile Oak, the “Tin Church” was kindly donated to the Parish by The Church of the Good Shepherd, Dyke Road, Brighton.
Stanley R. Goodman, Curate, 1933-1946, Portslade with St Helen's Hangleton,
Peter D. M. O'Beirne, Curate, 1943-1946, Portslade with St Helen's Hangleton,

1946 Roland C.Desch M.B.E. (Military), A.K.S. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton.

1948 Ronald F.G.Adams A.K.C. & Rector of St Helen's Hangleton.
John Boughton Knight, Curate, 1948-1953.
Peter Bide, Curate 1949-1955, Portslade with St Helen's Hangleton.
Christopher J. S. Gill, Curate, 1954-1958.
1955 St Helen's Hangleton becomes a separate Parish and no longer united with St Nicolas Portslade, St Nicolas Church's Curate Peter Bide is appointed Rector of St Helen's.
Michael Tarrant Allen, Curate, 1958-1964

1962 Victor R.D. Hellaby T.D., M.C.
Kenneth Bradshaw, Curate 1965-1967

1967 a new church is built and dedicated at Mile Oak to replace the temporary "Tin Church". Mile Oak becomes a conventional district. In 1994 Parochial Status is granted and The Church of the Good Shepherd is formally consecrated into the Parish Church of Mile Oak, Portslade

1969 Peter D.A. Campbell M.A.

1981 Richard H.Rushforth M.A. & Priest in Charge of St Andrew 1984.
Peter Brooks, Curate, 1983-1986
Graham Whiting, Curate, 1987-1988

1987 St Nicolas Church united with St Andrew Church to form The Parish of St Nicolas & St Andrew.

1981-2012 Richard H. Rushforth M.A., Vicar of the Parish of St Nicolas & St Andrew Portslade

Interregnum 2012-2013

2013-2017 Andrew Perry
Andrew Birks, Licensed Lay-Worker 2014, Deacon 2016, Curate 2017-2019.

2013 The Church of The Good Shepherd Mile Oak unified with the Parish of St Nicolas and St Andrews to form the new Parish of Portslade St Nicolas & St Andrew & Mile Oak The Good Shepherd, a return to Portslade’s pre 1964 Parish boundaries.

Parish renamed 'The Parish of Portslade & Mile Oak'

2017 David Swyer M.A., SSC. (Interrim Vicar)

2022 David Swyer M.A., SSC., (on 28 November 2022, Revd Swyer was licensed and inducted as the Vicar of the Parish of Portslade & Mile Oak by the Bishop of Lewes)


Boyle family reminiscences kindly supplied by Richard Boyle
Census Returns
Hodgkinson, J.S. William Clutton. Internet
Matthews-Jones Dr. L. (Historian, Victorianist & Lecturer)
Middleton J. Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Pelling, George Reminiscences of my Aunt Bess. Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies. Brunel University
Pusey House
St Nicolas Parish Registers, now at The Keep
Sunday Express (18 September 2009) Article about Revd Hellaby
Sussex Archaeological Collections
The Parish of Portslade & Mile Oak
Toynbee Hall

Copyright © J.Middleton 2017
page layout and additonal research by D.Sharp