Thursday, 28 May 2009

Alciston Church

Alciston is a Domesday Village whose name derives from the Anglo-Saxon “Aelfsige’s Tun” (Aelfsige’s Place). As well as several farms and a good pub, the Grade-I listed church is adjacent to a fine 14th century tithe barn and mediaeval dovecote.

The church dates back at least as far as the Norman period, but excavations have revealed remains of an Anglo-Saxon apse beneath the east end. The chancel was rebuilt in the 12th or 13th century and shortened in the 15th century - the remains of a third lancet window, chopped in half, are visible outside. The porch was added in the 15th century, though its outer doorway is a fine 13th century example of Early English Gothic. It was rebuilt in 1951.

Inside, the chancel has a single, small Norman window, but there are Early English lancets and a trefoil-headed lancet, as well as later Victorian additions. The chancel has a blocked priest’s door, visible inside and out. The exterior walls have a number of mediaeval scratch sundials - used to determine the times of the Mass. The impressive kingpost roof was rebuilt in 1898.

The fittings are spartan: there is a 15th century font, and an unusual free-standing organ (in need, apparently, of repair), an 18th century altar table and 16th century chair. But it’s still an atmospheric place in a wonderfully rural setting.

The Village, Aciston, East Sussex

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