St John's Street, Chichester, PO19 1UR
A rare surviving example of a Georgian evangelical 'preaching house'
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Built in 1812, the delightfully elegant design of St John’s reflects the importance the evangelical movement palced on sermons and scripture reading rather than communion.
Unusually, it was not built as a parish church, but was privately funded and then run by trustees of the evangelical movement of the Church of England.
Ministers were largely paid by the income from renting seats in the church. Pews in the upper gallery, where the rich sat apart from the lower orders, still have their own hire numbers. These originally had separate entrances so that the rich could enter by different doorways from the poor who sat on the benches below.
The church is arranged rather like a theatre, with an impressive triple-decker pulpit with a handsome staircase and elegant handrail taking centre stage with only a small and insignificant chancel behind.
Standing high up in the pulpit, the preacher could be seen and heard by (and could himself see) everyone in the chapel.
St John’s has always been associated with lively musical events and the annual Chichester Festivities now hold a number of concerts in the church.
Opening times on the CCT website
Ford Road, Tortington, Arundel, BN18 0FD
Beware boggle-eyed monsters in this rustic church!
The entrance to this 12th-century flint church looks like something out of a Medieval fantasy – three rows of Norman carvings arch over a thick wooden door set with ornamental hinge straps.
Inside, creatures unlike anything found in nature peer down from the chancel arch. They are called 'beakheads' – boggle-eyed monsters with beaks, tongues and squid-like tentacles that frown and glare at visitors below. Once they would have been painted in bright colours to entertain – or terrify – worshippers.
The 12th-century font is an unusual shape, decorated with arcading and cable moulding round the rim, and in the north aisle are two fine Kempe Studio stained glass windows from 1896.
North Stoke, Arundel, BN18 9LS
A happy ending for a church with no name
In an idyllic rural setting on the South Downs, in a loop of the river Arun, St Mary's is a beautiful place to stumble upon.
The church is in the simple shape of a cross and remains virtually unaltered since Medieval times; its calm and peaceful atmosphere evokes centuries of prayer.
Until recently, the church was known as North Stoke Church. But in 2007, archaeologists researching the church records in the archives at Kew, discovered a letter dated 1275 from a bishop to King Edward I, naming the church as St Mary.
Though not large, its simplicity and elegant proportions give the impression of height and space. Light floods in through the clear glass of the beautiful Medieval windows to illuminate the interior.
Traces of wall paintings dating from the 14th-century include flowers, leaves, and scrolls, showing that the church would have been a blaze of colour and decoration in the Middle Ages.
Some very early and rare stained glass remains from the beginning of the 14th-century, including figures which may represent the Virgin Mary and King David.
There is some intriguing stone carving, including a sheep’s head above a recessed stone seat on the west wall - an appropriate symbol in sheep-rearing country - and a quaint little hand.
On the outside wall, facing south, is carved a medieval mass dial which was used before the days of clocks to calculate when church services should begin.
Church Park Lane, Warminghurst, Ashington, RH20 3AW
Fabulous views, a wonderfully unspoilt 18th-century interior and an intriguing American connection
The setting of this 13th-century sandstone church – with splendid views across to the Iron Age fort of Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs – is lovely, but the building itself surpasses all expectations.
The unspoilt 18th-century interior, which is illuminated by large windows of clear glass contains silvery oak pews, a clerk’s desk, a triple-decker pulpit, an uneven flagstone floor, and a curved brace roof.
There is also an elegant three arched wooden screen. Above the screen is a wonderful painting of the coat of arms of Queen Anne, with theatrical swags of painted drapery surrounding it.
Look for the clerk’s chair – it suggests that one of the old parish officials was very well fed!
On the walls are lovely memorials to the Shelley and Butler families. James Butler bought Warminghurst Park from the Quaker, William Penn - a trustee of the American province of West Jersey (later renamed Pennsylvania).
It is said that Penn wrote the first draft of Pennsylvania's constitution at Warminghurst Park. After buying Warminghurst however, James Butler demolished it, determined to remove all trace of the old Quaker.
The harmonious interior and charm of the setting combine to make a visit to this church an unforgettable experience.
Rectory Lane, Church Norton, Selsey, PO20 9DT
A fascinating blend of ancient and modern in this seaside church
St Wilfrid’s stands in a tranquil corner of a large churchyard, down a little lane beside Pagham Harbour.
At first sight it appears to be a simple cemetery chapel. In fact it is the 13th-century chancel of a large Norman church.
The main part of the church was removed in 1864 and rebuilt in the centre of Selsey to serve the growing population of this seaside resort.
Inside there are a number of things worth seeing, including:
a magnificent monument to John and Agas Lewis, dating from 1537;
vivid carving depicting the gruesome martyrdom of St Agatha;
a modern stained glass window which features a beautiful depiction of a local nature reserve, designed by M C Farrar-Bell in 1982, and includes moles, stoats, foxes, a woodpecker, avocet and shelduck;
another modern stained glass window by Carl Edwards, made in 1969, this is dedicated to the contribution made by women to lessen suffering throughout the world (it includes a picture of Cairo Cathedral, which has now been demolished).
An intriguing combination of ancient and modern makes a visit to this church popular among the walkers and birdwatchers who enjoy the many footpaths and the wildlife around this delightful site.
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