St Peter’s, Hamsey was the parish church until the new church, St Peter’s Offham, was built in 1860. The burial ground, however, remained at Hamsey and is used to the present day. An extension was added to the east of the old graveyard in the 1890s/1900s. Plans of both graveyards can be seen below.
An average figure of four burials per year for 834 years gives a conservative estimate of 3,336 burials between 1066, when it was stated that there was a church at Hamsey, and 1900.
Stone memorials were generally not introduced until the early 1700s – the earliest identifiable at Hamsey is that of Jane, wife of Thomas Verrall who died in 1712. There are only 103 gravestones still standing in the old churchyard so there must be several layers of burials.
Transcriptions of the visible graves in 1865 were published by Robert Chapman in The Parochial History of Hamsey (SAC 17) and further studies were undertaken in 1888 by Alfred Ridley Bax in Inscriptions from Various Churchyards of Sussex (SAS. 9295/MI(i) Vol 1). The Sussex Family History Group recorded the inscriptions in 1976 and in 1988 the E.S.A.P. surveyed and produced a plan of the old graveyard under the direction of Tristan Bareham.