The 16th October, a Monday morning and I got up early as I had an appointment with a fellow ChurchCrawler Tom in Sussex. Why can't I get up and out of the house like this when I go to work? I was heading for the M4 at Bath by 0750, and the weather seemed set fair. High up near Bath and again at Hungerford there was fog, but not too bad. I plunged south to Winchester, turned off the A34 towards Petersfield and drove in the clouds or so it seemed. Signposts suddenly appeared, as did bends in the road, which if it were not for my electronic mate Tim navigating may have been more of a surprise. Rendezvous point South Harting at 1030, I got there at 1001.
|St Mary & St Gabriel,
The church emerged from the mists as I got near to the top of the little High Street. This is supposed to be in the South Downs, a group of hills, but I had not yet seen a hill. I was to discover is a large church by local standards. The fog swirled around the apex of the crossing steeple which oddly has a tiled south face. On this side too ruins of a chapel. Cobwebs were picked out clearly by the water droplets in the mist.
The interior was rather gloomy - the fog wasn't helping here either - but the chancel perverseley seemed to be better lit and has the most amazing Elizabethan roof. Also of note is the Victorian spiral staircase in the north transept which hopefully will not be swept away in the plans which the parish have for meeting rooms etc. although this extension will be in the most prominent of positions externally, facing towards the top of the High Street.
|The monuments in the south
transept hint of former splendour as well as a previous
setting for all. None seem to be in theri original format
and a couple seem to have been outside at some stage -
perhaps in the chapel.
Tom arrived at 1014 and we were then greeted (or made to jump) by the loud bongs on the bells by the clock striking the quarter-hour. I liked his approach as we did not linger as I had "seen it all". I left my car outside for the day as Tom guided me to his personal choice of splendours for the day which I was to adjust ever so slightly. He also knew of a childhood ambition I needed to satisfy.......
|has to be the antithesis of Harting, a Norman single cell building with rounded end, a south porch and a small bell turret. It has an ugly farmyard for company and a narrow path to the churchyard which was very cobwebby for someone of my height.|
is much larger, and a building which seems to have something from every time despite being nearly entirely C13. I am not making sense I feel, but that's just it - the church feels organic, unrestored - yet it has been restored but when needed rather than all at once, repaired, made do and mend. It appears to have a bell turret at the west end of the nave - but no, this is the remains of an actual west tower, or a tower which was never finished.
|St Peter, EAST MARDEN
is everything that Up Marden is not i.e. restored, gone over, and rather anaethestised. Pretty setting, a long single cell EE church which did not detain us long. The best bit is the Organ, from St James Palace and reputedly much played by Prince Albert.
The picture also shows the village well, making a nice group with the church.
St Mary, STOUGHTON
appeared to be back in the fog but was actually being covered like we were when we approached with choking smoke from the neighbouring garden's bonfire. The church was locked but according to the apologetic sign only because of rewiring in progress - workmen nowhere to be seen though! This looked interesting from outside so it was a disappointment for me and I mentally added it to a list to revisit.
We adjourned to the village pub for lunch. The food was not the usual fayre, and was enjoyed by us both along with some excellent ale.
|is uncommonly photogenic, consisting of a nave and lower chancel with low south porch tower, all rather restored sadly but with the most splendid and touching "kneelers" monument of 1635. Husband (Adrian Stoughton) and wife kneel facing each other with a family group below. They had 16 children, two sons and five daughters are shown and named below, four of the girls carrying skulls showing they pre-deceased the parents. The remaining children died in infancy meaning only the two sons and one daughter survived the parents.|
|has been on my list to visit
for over 40 years and it did not disappoint. The first
thing you see is the gaunt ruin of the Guest House, which
along with the frontageentrance to the vanished chapter
house is the only remaining parts of the domestic
buildings. The large (for Sussex) priory church has
lost most of its Norman nave and S aisle, but the
north wall of the nave with blank arcade and much of the
south arcade still stands. What survives as the church in
use today is the east two bays of the nave and aisle, the
crossing, transepts and the sensational EE choir and
aisles. It is in fact smaller than it appeared in photos
to me and is close to prefection in my eyes. I could have
spent two hours here easily - perhaps we were here an
hour or so, Tom waiting patiently as I adsorbed the
building into my mind.
|St Mary, UP WALTHAM
In a day of contrasts it was a return to the humble for the next church. It stands in a field, probably Norman, nave and lower apsidal chancel, south porch. Again zero architecture but great atmosphere. Flowers everywhere, and sadly (?) now with electricity; Nairn - BoE - found only candles. Just installed this year in September (to much fanfare in the porch) the Millenium Window at the west end of nave, Tom and I agreed that whatever it cost it was a disappointing result. Largely plain glass with some butterflies, swallows and flower transfers stuck on (or that's how it appeared). I forget the artist, she is unlikely to get a commission from us I can tell you though! I liked the piscina in the apse, a hollowed-out Norman capital.
Church (Dedication Unknown),BURTON
|Tom was enboldened with me
there to drive up the private drive to seek out a church
he had never been to before. It was well worth the
trespass. A small nave and chancel with turret, the door
opening to reveal a delightful interior packed with
|With light beginning to fail we hurtled onwards to reach Tom's last intended target. Against the escarpment of the South Downs, this is another church which seems to have just evolved. The recent repainting of the exterior is a little harsh but step inside and the church embraces the senses. (And yes smell too, thanks to the Harvest loaves still on display!). The pews are stained black, but parts must be C13. Ancient roof beams and battered font (filled with water!) contrast with the more upmarket Communion Rails and three sided Jacobean pulpit.|