Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Saint Andrew, Beddingham

Beddingham is today known best - and rather unfortunately - as being the junction (and a major source of congestion) on the A27 from Lewes to Eastbourne where it meets the A26 from Newhaven.

However, scattered about are the houses of the tiny village and, mercifully hidden from the roads by trees, is the substantial and interesting parish church, dedicated to St Andrew. The village dates to Saxon times (there are references to it in 801AD) and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

The church itself has a Norman nave, although only a single, blocked window above the north arcade now remains as evidence: the two aisles and arcades were added around 1200, but were substantially rebuilt when the Chapel was added, sometime later in the 13th century or early in the 14th. The tower was added in 1541-59, the gift of one Thomas Goodwyn.

The south aisle has two round piers and one octagonal pier, all with plain capitals, but two also have interesting corbels, in the form of heads and - unusually - chalices (or possibly censers). There is a fragment of 13th wall painting on the easternmost arch, showing foliage and a female figure.

The north aisle is plain, and notable for its remarkably short piers. The Decorated clerestory windows are particularly interesting, of an unusual cinquefoil ogee design. The Chancel is lit be a magnificent decorated Gothic east window, with trefoil lancets to north and south, and the large tower window is a handsome Perpendicular design.

Furnishings are a little limited. Of most interest is a memorial in the north aisle, to the family of Sir Thomas Carr. He was Sheriff of Sussex in 1801, and knighted after giving an address of congratulation to George III, on his escape from an assassination attempt at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1800. (The King insisted calmly that the play should continue - and even fell asleep later in the performance!).

The font, with its elaborately carved cover, is Victorian, as is the porch and the chancel arch: parts of the aisles were also rebuilt in the 19th century. Back outside, the churchyard has fine views down the Ouse valley and northwards to the impressive Iron-Age known as The Caburn.

Beddingham, off the A26, near Lewes in East Sussex BN8 6JY

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