The ancient division of the Diocese into eight large rural deaneries (Arundel, Boxgrove, Midhurst and Storrington in the Chichester Archdeaconry; Dallington, Hastings, Lewes and Pevensey in the Lewes Archdeaconry) appears to have continued until at least 1845. In post-Reformation times, however, the deaneries appear to have lost any functions they previously had, beyond providing a convenient geographical unit for visitations and other activities of the bishops and archdeacons.
In the 1840's the new system was created. The ancient deaneries were divided into smaller units, Rural Deans were appointed and Rural Deanery Chapters set up. The parishes in the exempt jurisdictions, though originally excluded from this re-organised system, appear to be included by 1851. Lay participation was introduced through the formation of Rural Deanery Councils at about the beginning of this century.
For fuller information on the Rural Deaneries 1845-1974, see Ep/I/88/37. For minutes of Lewes (Southover) Ruridecanal Chapter, 1850, see Ep/II/42/6, and for minutes of the Council of Boxgrove Deanery, 1895-1925, see Add.Ms.1733. Clerical Societies were often formed from the clergy of Rural Deanery and records of these have survived for Arundel (Add.Mss.34,777-34, 783) and Midhurst (Par.80/7/9-27).