Tuesday, 8 June 2010

St George, Trotton

Trotton is located on the busy A272 between Petersfield and Midhurst, amidst glorious countryside, the road still crossing the River Rother on the Grade-I listed 16th century bridge.

Just around the bend from the bridge, Trotton’s church is hidden behind a bank and rows of trees. It has an Early English tower, plainly plastered with single lancets and a shingled broach spire. The rest is early Decorated Gothic from the early 1300s; except for the Victorian east window, all its windows are original. It looks much like any other Sussex village church.

Inside, however, is another matter. The first surprise is the space: a single, rather barn-like expanse without aisles or a chancel arch, although it has a splendid original roof with tie-beams, purlins and arched braces.

The second surprise comes by looking west; the walls at the west end of the church, and the adjacent north and south walls, are covered in 14th century wall paintings of astonishing boldness. Best preserved are those on the west wall: a judgement theme of an almost cartoon-like arrangement depicts Christ in the centre, above Moses holding the Ten Commandments. To the right, a clothed Spiritual Man, in an attitude of prayer, is surrounded by oval panels depicting the seven acts of mercy (clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, tending the sick, receiving the stranger, visiting the prisoner, and burying the dead). To the left, a more faded naked Carnal Man is surrounded by similar panels, this time depicting the more familiar seven deadly sins (pride, gluttony, anger, avarice, lust, sloth and envy).

On the north wall, four rather faded armoured figures bear the Camoys Arms on their surcoats, and helms bearing the Camoys crest of a large plume. One of the figures holds a dog by a lead, perhaps indicating that this was intended as a hunting scene. Opposite, St Christopher carries the Christ child, depicted twice (one early 14th century, the other, better preserved, of around 1400). The other images are of the donors (the Poynings and Camoys) surrounded by various heraldic devices.

As if the wall paintings were not enough, the mediaeval riches continue, for Trotton contains two of the best memorial brasses in England. On the aisle floor, a full-length brass to Margaret, Lady Camoys (d. 1310) is the oldest such female brass in England. It shows has her in a full length gown and wimple, a small dog sleeping at her feet. Indents show that the brass once had a canopy and eight shields outside the figure, and a further nine shields within.

In front of the altar, a large 9ft-long tomb chest, its sides carved with shields and quatrefoils, is topped by one of the most magnificent and best preserved brasses in existence. It shows Thomas, Lord Camoys (d. 1421, though the tomb says 1419 – an error?) and his wife, holding hands, he in full 15th century plate-armour sporting the Order of the Garter, she with crespine head-dress, mantle, sideless cote-hardie, and kirtle.

He stands on a lion, while at her feet is the small gowned male figure, probably of her stepson Richard, father of Hugh, second baron. They stand under a sumptuous double-canopy of Ogee aches, with three (originally four) shields above.

Lord Thomas is best known for commanding the left wing of the English Army at the Battle of Agincourt. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1415. He married twice, and is shown here with Lady Elizabeth Mortimer. She was formerly married to Sir Henry Percy, better known as “Harry Hotspur”, and was immortalised as “Gentle Kate” in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1.

Other tombs include the remains of a splendidly carved 15th-century table-tomb set in the south wall; the table-tomb of Sir Roger Lewknor (d. c. 1478) in the north-east corner of the chancel, its sides decorated with repeated trefoiled niches, under swags; and, in the southeast corner, the table tomb of Anthony Foster (d. 1643), with plain pilasters.

Other features of note, besides many later wall monuments, are the delicate and unusual 17th Communion Rails, and a rather plain tub font.

Trotton, on the A272 between Petersfield and Midhurst


  1. We were at our local church,St Mary's in Walthamstow and simultaneously we said out loud the shared thought "Churches are so important, they knit communities together, act as a focal point and connect us to our past.

    They are also so often in such beautiful settings and are gorgeous!!!

  2. I agree completely. Rural counties seem to have such a wealth of fascinating churches - and often amazing repositories of art and history.