Sunday, 9 August 2015

St Mary, Selborne

St John the Baptist, Greatham

Old Church of St John, Greatham

Greatham is a comfortable little village with two churches: one mediaeval one, part ruin, which is no longer in use as a church and now maintained by the village; and a short distance away, an imposing Victorian replacement.

The old church had an aiseless nave and chancel. The nave is now ruinous and roofless, though the walls survive to sufficient height to get an idea of the arrangement. The west window as attractive Y-tracery.

The chancel has a tiled roof and cement-rendered walls (on malmstone and ironstone),
and an 18th century chancel arch. Items of interest include a  Jacobean communion rail, an old font bowl, and 18th and 19th century wall monuments. But the prize is a lovely classical table tomb, dedicated to Dame Marjory Caryll (d. 1632), surmounted by a delightful recumbent effigy.

A key to the chancel may be obtained from local villagers - details on the noticeboard.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

St Mary, Bepton

St Andrew, Didling

Situated high up on the northern slopes of the South Downs, Didling is well-known as the "Shepherd's Church". It lies at the end of a lane, quite isolated, surrounded by fields and trees.

The building is a simple 13th cell, with the nave and chancel without aisles or a chancel arch. The joy lies not just in its location, but in its unrestored feel, with rustic mediaeval pews and Jacobean altar rail, and a simple 12th century tub font. The church has no electricity and is candle-lit in winter, with candle-holders on the pew ends and simple candle holders hanging from the ceiling - chandelier isn't really the right word here.

The churchyard has a great yew, axe recalling an attempt to fell it in the 19th century. It was saved by the intervention of a passing parishioner.

St Andrew, Bugshill Lane, Didling, West Sussex, GU29 0LG

St Paul, Elsted

Sunday, 17 May 2015

St Nicholas, New Romney

St Clement, Old Romnery

St George, Ivychurch

St Mary & All Saints, Dunsfold

Dunsfold's church is a rare thing - a largely untouched 13th century parish church built all in one go, and (even rarer) ancient pews. Getting there is a delight in itself, down a narrow and heavily wooded lane to a small hamlet of houses, half a mile from the village common. The churchyard has a 1500 year-old yew, and yew bowers across the pathways as you enter.

The church was built on a site close to a holy well. The mineral-rich waters still run and are reputed to heal eye infections. The church was built c. 1270-1290, with the addition of a bell cote in the 15th century and a large vestry in the 19th. There is evidence it was built by royal masons because of the quality and resemblance of the style to contemporary elements of Westminster Abbey. The exterior walls are decorated with a technique known as galleting - little pieces of ironstone pushed into the mortar to give a mottled effect.

The plan is an aisleless nave, with transepts and a chancel. Although the chancel arch was enlarged, the rest is a text-book of the Decorated Gothic style - particularly in the windows, where trefoils abound in the delicate tracery. There are piscinas in both transept chapels as well as a fine piscina and sedilia in the chancel. The only puzzle is that the south transept arch was clearly meant to be part of a south aisle, apparently never built.

The pews are wonderful: they date from the late 13th century and represent among the earliest survivors from a period when pews were first being introduced. The design of the bench-ends - knobs rising from a deep cusp - is both distinctive and playful. The same cannot be said of the oppressive Victorian stained glass, which makes the interior gloomy, even on a sunny day.

The church still has regular services and is clearly much loved.

St Mary & All Saints, Church Green, Dunsfold, Surrey GU8 4LT

St Eanswith, Brenzett

St Peter, Newenden