Monday, 11 May 2009

St Margaret, Ditchling

Ditchling is an attractive little village, built on a cross-roads in the shadow of the South Downs, with narrow streets which would be lovely were it not for the volume of traffic. But standing above all this is the large and handsome church of St Margaret, situated on a rise above the village green, duck pond and next to the little museum.

The present church was built on the site of a Saxon church mentioned in the Domesday Book, the remains of which have been found in parts of the lower walls of the nave. The earliest dateable part of the church is the South Aisle, built by Cluniac monks from the Priory in Lewes in the 12th century, which suggests that the present Nave must have already have been there. The chancel dates from around 1260, the tower later on in the 13th century, and the south chapel – called the Abergavenny chapel – from the 14th century.

Although the arches of the very modest south aisle arcade are simple and plain, the Early English Gothic in the Chancel is unusually rich: the single lancet windows all have shafts with stiff-leaf capitals, and have hoods with human heads at the ends, which may represent Henry III and Queen Eleanor. The crossing arches are later – around 1300 – but equally rich in style, with more stiff-leaf carving and clustered shafts. The chapel has Decorated Gothic windows, but again with shafts and hoods which may have been re-used from the chancel.

The main furnishing of note is the monument to Henry Poole (d. 1580), moved in 1863 from the North Transept to its present position in the Abergavenny Chapel. It originally had four shields, but one was knocked out to 'admit a stove pipe’ in Victorian times. Official vandalism is nothing new!

West Street, Ditchling, East Sussex BN6 8TB

No comments:

Post a Comment