St Mary the Virgin

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Brief history of the area

Aldingbourne is one of the larger parishes in England, about 6 miles long and 2 miles wide, and contains Norton, Nyton, part of Fontwell, Westergate, Woodgate, Lidsey and Aldingbourne.   

Aldingbourne, mentioned in the Domesday Book, takes its name from 'Elda' a Saxon Chieftain, and means Elda's home by the stream; it is probable that the Rife which runs up to the back of the Church was originally navigable for Saxon boats.   The Bishop's Palace stood in a large park roughly bounded by Nyton Road and Westergate Street, and included Mill Pond, which was kept well stocked with fish for the clergy.

The Palace was destroyed by Parliamentary Forces in 1642,  but the remaining mound is still visible.

It is evident that there were quite a few houses in the vicinity of the Church but after the Black Death in 1359 the people moved away to the next stream, the Rife, which now acts as the boundary between Eastergate and Westergate.

 

Aldingbourne Church from the south west. The brick-built tower stands a little to one side of the church, and houses a ring of five bells, augmented recently from four. 

 

Aldingbourne Church - the interior looking east.  

 

St.Mary's Church is a Grade I listed building, over 900 years old with an early English chancel;  the aisle was rebuilt in 1868 when the chancel was restored.  The Church has two fonts--the oldest is late Norman, being circular in shape and resting on a large central pillar.  The nave is separated from the south aisle by an arcade consisting of four Early English arches.  There is a side altar on the south side, St.George's Chapel, with a commemorative Roll of Honour.

The window in the south wall of the Church by Christopher Webb is in memory of Admiral Sir Reginald Skelton, who accompanied Scott on his first voyage to the Antarctic. St. Mary's Church has recently been the subject of a survey  by NADFAS (The National and Decorative Fine Arts Society), and a copy of the document is held at the Church.

The Church seats approximately 200 people, and plans are at present in hand for re-ordering the Church, to provide kitchen and toilet facilities, and a 'welcome area' for coffee after services. A booklet "A Brief History of Aldingbourne"  giving more historical details can be obtained by contacting The Parish Office.

(Source of information:  Church web site)

The Gallery

There was a west gallery, but this was removed when the church suffered the usual Victorian "restoration." The gallery was for the use of the Choir and Sunday School only. The Notice to this effect was found in the Tower of the church during the rehanging of the bells in 1997.

 

Dove's reference for the bells:

Aldingbourne, W Sussex, S Mary the Virgin  (GF), 5, 6-1-14. 

ACCESS

Map reference  :  SU923054

The church is situated some distance from the village, and is usually kept locked.

 

 

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