Sussex

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Churches which still retain west gallery features or connections

Alfriston, St Andrew Known as the Cathedral of the Downs, this handsome flint church stands in the centre of the valley of the River Cuck; it is cruciform, with a central tower and spire. It has a circular churchyard, a Georgian Royal Arms, and a modern (1997) gallery over the west entrance porch. See below .
Arundel, St Nicholas Large church with Perpendicular arcades. New west gallery constructed over church offices and vestry in about 1990.
*Ashburnham, St James A family church next to Ashburnham House, now a Christian Retreat Centre. Parkland adjoining was laid out by Capability Brown, and lies at the centre of the Ashburnham Estate. It was rebuilt in 1663-65 by John Ashburnham, except for the Tudor tower, which is one of those built by the Pelham family in the 15th C.  The Commandments are unusual in that they are painted on canvas in a carved wooden frame with white doves and cherubs. Rare three-sided Communion rails.

There is a Jacobean painted and gilded iron screen, very probably made by the estate blacksmith, Carolean staircase round three sides of the tower leading to the west gallery, where now is situated the organ, and complete 17th C. seating (although theses appear to have been lowered at some time).  There is documentary evidence that the gallery stair was given in 1649. The gallery has been altered to fit.

The Ashburnham family pew, in the south 'transept' is now the vestry. The Ashburnham mausoleum, which forms the north 'transept', had sufficient places to include the last remaining member of the family, but no more, and after she was placed there, the mausoleum was finally sealed. #
Boxgrove, St Mary & St Blaise The relic of an old Benedictine Priory church, with choir and transepts only with what was the central tower. Ruins of old nave. Choir is pure Early English (1235). Each transept has a high oak gallery, similar to those in Spanish convents for lay members to hear Mass. (CEPC)
*Brightling, St Thomas à Becket TQ 683210. 13th and 14th C. church with a Squire's pew (Mad Jack Fuller) and a 18th C. west gallery on Roman Doric columns, with a barrel organ, also given by Mad Jack, which was refurbished in the year 2000. Mad Jack's pyramid tomb in churchyard. #
Chichester, St John Built in 1812-13, it is a parallelogram rather than oblong in shape. Pure Georgian within, it is like the proprietary chapels which once abounded in the Church of England. The three-decker pulpit rises to a great height in front of the Communion table. The lessons and services are read from the second tier; the sermon, for those good at heights, is preached from the pulpit above which commands the galleries. (W S Mitchell and John Betjeman in CEPC, 1958)

The chapel was built because there were insufficient places for worship in existing parish churches; it differs little from non-conformist chapels of the period . . . It is no longer in use, and has been taken over by the Redundant Churches Fund. (Sussex Churches)
Chiddingly, The church has no known dedication Church dates from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, and it has a tall stone spire, one of four in Sussex. The 17th C. west gallery is used by the bellringers as the ringing chamber. (No ref. in Pevsner or CEPC.)
East Guldeford, St Mary The most easterly of all Sussex churches, but still within the Diocese of Chichester. A brick church, which was consecrated in 1505, built of brick on reclaimed marshland. It is a simple rectangle in plan, with roof and windows altered in the 18th C. There are fine box-pews, a high-sided family pew, a three (two?) -decker pulpit, tablets containing the Ten Commandments and the Royal Arms of George IV. (Sussex Churches)
Falmer, dedication not known This small church stands beside the village pond in what originally was an estate village. It has a small west gallery upon which the organ stands.. No further details known.
Folkington, St Peter A small old, church, hidden on the edge of woodland behind parkland. Flint walls with tiled roof, trussed and raftered roof with tie-beams. 18th C. box-pews and pulpit, and two 17th C. wall monuments in chancel.
Frant, dedication not known. The church was built in 1819-22 and is remarkable for the extensive use of iron in its construction. The windows, piers of the arcades and the pillars supporting the west gallery are all of iron. The gallery stretches across the entire nave and both aisles.
Glynde, St Mary the Virgin One of the few churches in Sussex of this date, it was built 1763-65 in Classical style for Richard Trevor, Bishop of Durham, to designs by either Sir Thomas Robinson or Robert Trevor (Richard's brother). It stands close to Glynde Place, and is rectangular in shape, chancel and nave both being under one roof. It has box-pews and a west gallery, although the screen behind the altar is Victorian and out of proportion to the rest of the church. (CEPC) Only the stone belfry shows that this is a church.
Hastings, St Mary in the Castle Built by Sir Joseph Kay 1826-28, this building has an Ionic portico, and opens to a semi-circular galleried interior.
Hove, St Andrew
*Kirdford, St John the Baptist Ringers' gallery rail of turned balusters circa 1600.
Lewes, All Saints

Now the All Saints Arts and Youth Centre, the church has a 16th century tower, a galleried nave built in 1806,  and a Victorian east end built in 1883.  The Georgian box-tombs in the churchyard have been well restored.  

Lewes, St Anne At the head of the High Street this flint-built church contains a small 18th C. minstrels' gallery at the west end.
Lewes, St John-sub-Castro A flint church with brick quoins with galleries on three sides.
Littlehampton, St Mary the Virgin A red-brick church built in the Gothic style by Randolph Blacking in 1935. Although inauspicious externally, the inside is elegant, well furnished, and contains galleries in the north and south aisles as well as at the west end. The pulpit has a tester, and the Royal Arms are of George IV.
Milland, Tuxlith Chapel, Dedication not known SU 825283. Probably dating from the Norman period, this chapel may have been replaced as the parish church in the early 14th century when the new church at Trotton was built. In the 17th century a gallery was added, and although this was removed at a later date the stone stairs by which access was gained still remains outside.  See this chapel on the Friends of Friendless Churches web site at http://www.friendsoffriendlesschurches.org.uk/
Ninfield, St Mary the Virgin Saxon church, mostly rebuilt in 13th C, chancel 17th C. 17th C. minstrels' gallery at west end. Wavy balusters added 1923. The gallery was partitioned to provide the ringing room for the bell turret above. A lower gallery was removed in 1885, when the upper gallery was also boarded up and the timbers of the 14th C roof hidden by the Victorians. Jacobean priest's prayer desk, James I Royal coat of arms,

"A sweet surprise, high up at the west end, with flat wavy balusters, only accessible by using a ladder. It is assigned to the 17th C, but the balusters are by Adrian G. Scott, 1923." (Pevsner.)
Pagham, St Thomas -à-Becket SZ 884975. The west gallery is 17th or 18th C. (Treasures of Sussex Churches)
Parham, St Peter The church stands close by Parham House and in its present form dates from the opening years of the 19th C. Inside, many of the fittings still remain, including a room-like pew with its own fireplace, built for Sir Cecil Bishop of Parham, who paid for the reconstruction. The church has traces of 12th C work in the nave, altered and extended in the 15th and 16th centuries. (Treasures of Sussex Churches)
Rodmell, dedication not known The west gallery is 17th or 18th C. (Treasures of Sussex Churches)
Rotherfield, St Denys The sandstone church has a tall shingled spire, typical of many Sussex churches. Unspoilt after two restorations in the past, it is furnished with deal box-pews throughout, and is slightly raised at the west end. Elaborate Jacobean pulpit which came from the Archbishop of York's private chapel. (CEPC)
Rottingdean, St Margaret This mainly 13th C church has a west gallery which supports the organ. In 1856 the restoration removed the "unsightly wooden gallery, erected in 1818 along the north wall of the nave, together with its outside staircase and doorway . . . " (Church Guide)
Shermanbury, St Giles Rebuilt in the 'churchwarden' style in Shermanbury Park in 1710, the interior remains unspoilt by restoration work. The old pews had still, in 1958, the names of farms and manors painted on them, and in a glass case at the west end were recorders (?) and a viol used by the village quire. (CEPC)
Singleton, St John the Evangelist Saxon church originally, it retains old pews and [an 18th C.] minstrels' gallery under the tower. (CEPC)
Stanmer Village, Brighton, No known dedication Church built in 1838 by the 3rd Earl of Chichester to replace the earlier and smaller ?14th C. church.  West gallery of that date. THIS CHURCH IS THREATENED WITH CLOSURE.
Stopham, St Mary the Virgin An unusual three-cornered pew can be found near the lectern.
Trotton, St George A 14th C. church with nave and chancel under one roof, which contains some box-pews and Jacobean altar rails.
Twineham, St Peter The west gallery is 17th C, and is used as a ringing room for the bellringers.

"Gallery in the tower arch; elementary." (Pevsner.)
Uckfield, Holy Cross The west gallery is 18th C.  According to Pevsner, there are three galleries.
Upmarden, St Michael The chancel, approached through an attractive double pointed arch is very plain, but its clear East window projects a fine sense of lightness. Two rather ramshackle box pews are found there where one would expect to find choir stalls.
Warminghurst, Church of the Holy Sepulchre A remote church, now in the care of the Redundant Church Fund. It was built in the 13th C, but was extensively "remodelled" in the 18th C and left subsequently left untouched by the Victorians. Externally many of the windows were remodelled, including the circular one under the belfry. Inside, all the 18th C fittings remain (no gallery), including a triple arch wooden screen that bears the Arms of Queen Anne. (Sussex Churches)
Warnham, St Margaret Famous for Michael Turner, master fiddler and choirmaster. His manuscript gooks are in Chichester PRO. See his tombstone in the churchyard. The church itself is heavily restored by the Victorians.
Wartling, St Mary Magdalene 13th C nave and chancel, much amended in the 14th and 15th C. Timbered  bell turret.  A full set of box-pews, with individual heating pipes.
West Grinstead, St George
West Itchenor, St Nicholas West Gallery built as a Second World War Memorial.
Worth, St Nicholas This is the only Saxon cruciform church which has an unaltered ground plan. The chancel arch, at 22 ft., is the largest Saxon arch in England. The 17th C gallery at the west end was given in memory of a former rector. The chancel was candle-lit, and there remain good brass 'spiders', (a name still given in Sussex to the iron hooks suspended in the centre of a ringing room for hitching bell-ropes on when not in use).

The gallery is dated 1610, and has vertically symmetrical balusters and moulded rail. It is supported on two turned oak posts. The inscription on the supporting beam records the name of Anthony Lynton, rector, who died 15 June 1610.
   
   

Churches which are known to have had west gallery features or connections

Aldingbourne, , St Mary the Virgin West gallery removed at the Victorian "Restoration". Sign exists stating that gallery only to be used for "Choir and Sunday School".
*Alfriston, St Andrew West gallery removed in 1887. Organ installed 1859, replacing violin, five bassoons and clarinet. See above.
Arlington, St Pancras In very poor state and restored sometime between 1889 and 1918. Gallery under tower, "from which the old men who led the service were forced to retire in bad weather" was taken down and the bell chamber (? ringing room) removed. (Guide Book)
Ashurst, St Pancras The west gallery was still there in a photo taken in 1877; there was extensive restoration in that year
Barcombe, St Mary the Virgin Two photographs in the possession of Tom Reeves (the grandson of Edward Reeves of Lewes who was the earliest recorder of local scenes) show the external gallery staircase. This was immediately to the west of the north porch. They also show the dormer windows on north and south sides of the church which lit the west gallery. Old box-pews and a two-decker pulpit used to exist, but were removed in the 1878 "restoration". The old church guide contained a reproduction of an earlier drawing of the interior from the west end before restoration. The top section of the two-decker has been retrieved from Arlington Church and now stands in the south aisle.

Known to have had a bassoon in the quire. (McDermott 2)
Beckley, All Saints Oldest part of church is the base of the tower, ca. 1100. 13th C. south aisle, chancel rebuilt in 14th C.  The 1850s saw a great "restoration". 

Known to have had a west gallery quire through the presence of a manuscript book which still survives in the Sussex Archaeological Society Library in Lewes.

Bosham, Holy Trinity The oldest seat of Christianity in Sussex, it overlooks Chichester Harbour. Its Saxon tower has a shingled broach spire. The west gallery was removed in the mid-19th C.
Burpham, St Mary A blocked door from the tower stair led to former west gallery.
Cuckfield, Holy Trinity Known to have had a Quire, because a manuscript book from there is now in the library of Sussex Archaeological Society in Lewes. West Gallery demolished about 1855.

Catsfield, St Laurence This small church once had a very active quire, their manuscript books now being in the Library of the Sussex Archaeological Society in Lewes, having been collected together from the Blackman family by Canon McDermott. Extracts from the Quire Books have been printed by Sussed Harmony entitled The Singing Seat, and the music is sung by that quire. There used to be a west gallery, the dormer windows for which can be seen in early prints.
Eastbourne, St Mary The west gallery was removed in 1854 and a new large organ placed under the tower.
Fletching, St Andrew & St Mary the Virgin In the south transept was the Wilson family gallery; an old photo shows an external flight of stone steps which led to a doorway in the west wall. The Sheffield family gallery was in the north aisle.
Hastings, All Saints ?? Gallery in south aisle removed 1870.
Old Heathfield, All Saints 14th C church externally, a singing gallery added at west end in 1745, and in 1820 north and south galleries were also built.  The church census of 1851 shows an average attendance of 180 people in the morning, and 300 in the evening.  All three galleries removed by the Victorians in the 1890s.
Ifield, West Crawley, St Margaret There is still a sideways pew or two on the North side of the nave, with an organ at the West end of them, and there is reference about it being for singers in the leaflet that's available for visitors in the church.
Lewes, St Thomas Becket Over the River Ouse bridge, this little church grew up outside the town walls, and was originally a 12th C Chapel of Ease to the Benedictine college of South Malling.  Enlarged in 14th C and tower added in 15th C.  Gothick porch. It used to contain west and south galleries, but these were removed at some point by the Victorians. Royal Arms of Elizabeth I and George I.
Lurgashall, St Mary Band provided music until 1843 when the west gallery was removed.
Piddinghoe, St John West gallery removed 1882, at which time new organ replaced barrel organ said to have been restored c. 1780..  Old barrel organ still in church, no case or pipes. See Article
Ringmer, St Mary the Virgin Organ gallery built in the 1930s.  Preserved bassoon on the wall of the church from the old village orchestra which is known to have played from a west gallery  prior to the installation of an organ in 1856. 
Rye, St Mary the Virgin "Poor man's gallery" erected on south side in late 16th C. At the end of the 18th C. a west gallery was built for choir and musicians. It subsequently housed a barrel organ, then a pipe organ. In 1811 a "tradesmen's gallery" was erected on the north side. Galleries were all removed in the 1882 "restoration".
Warbleton, St Mary EE chancel, Decorated nave, Perpendicular tower.  Squire's private pew built in 1722, standing on legs and reached by staircase.  Underneath is a 13th C iron-bound parish chest. 
Warnham, dedication not known
West Chiltington, dedication not known The 17th C west and south galleries were removed 1880.
West Tarring, St Andrew The Musicians' Gallery at the west end of the church was removed in 1854. In the early 19th C an orchestra replaced the 18th C organ and there was a west gallery, but new organs were installed in 1854 and 1863. A note at the time said
  "Vicissitudes occurred in the musical portion of the services . . . after the removal of the old 18th century organ, the parishioners from time to time forming bands to supply its place. The orchestra formed in the early part of the last century, consisting of base-viols, bassoons, hautbois, and flutes, was not spoken of in very flattering terms by . . . the then old inhabitants . . . although it appears to have given satisfaction to the performers themselves; as on one occasion when Henry Pelling . . . was conductor, he, at the end of an anthem, struck his baton sharply on some part of the gallery, and shouted out 'Well done, my lads.' This body was eventually broken up, and there was not any instrumental music in the church for several years. Early in the 'thirties, James Newman . . . formed a band consisting of himself as leader, clarionet; Thomas Binstead, base viol; Charles Bushby, trombone; Charles Chipper, bassoon; Thomas Chipper, bassoon; George Chipper, clarionet, and James Chipper, clarionet. This orchestra of farm labourers, wearing pure white smock-frocks, together with the choristers, then called the Psalm singers, who sang the Psalms of David as at the end of the Book of Common Prayer, sat in the gallery, and continued in existence down to within a few years of the restoration of the Church; when this was completed in 1854, an organ was purchased and placed in the tower, a choir formed . . . we sat in the tower, men, women, boys and girls, all singing in unison . . . The organist being away on holiday, and having to sing without musical accompaniment, we thought it a good opportunity to try, at least, one hymn in four parts; the 'Old Hundredth' was selected for the first, and to be sung when the Vicar went into the vestry to change his surplice for his gown, in which to preach the sermon, as was the custom in those days. I was to blow the key note with a 'pitch pipe'; this I did, and all took up and sustained their parts well. The congregation turned round and faced us, en masse. The Vicar came out of the vestry looking with astonishment, and as black (metaphorically) as the gown he had just put on, and immediately dispatched his clerk with a message for our lead, Henry Overington, to attend in the vestry at the close of the service. Seeing that the Vicar was displeased with the innovation, the hymn at the end of the service was, of course, sung in the usual way. Our leader, as desired, went into the vestry, and the rest of the choir awaited the verdict. On his return, he stated that the Vicar asked him what we were singing, our leader said 'I told him we were singing the "Old Hundredth" in four parts, and I thought it went very well'; the Vicar replied, 'I don't profess to know much about music, it might have gone very well, but don't do it again.' Little clusters gathered together on their way home after the service that day, discussing the merits and demerits of the singing. One old man was heard to say to another, 'What was the matter with the singers today then?' the other replied, 'I dun know, some was singen one toon and some was singen another, and Edward Sayers was gwain to play some sort of insterment, but he broke down fust noat.' So we continued in unison with our singing, as well as with our Vicar, a few years longer. Harmony, however, gradually crept in; the organ of 1854 gave way to a more modern instrument placed in the chancel, where the choir now sit, and the musical portion of the service may be considered in unison, as well as in harmony, with the times." (Source ??)  

Westmeston, St Martin

Norman nave and 14th C. porch.  Much mauled by the Victorians who destroyed much of the previously existing wall paintings. in the 1860s "restoration".  Known to have3 been the home of Mr Pennicott, whose portrait whilst playing the clarinet in the church band existed until the early 20th C. Whereabouts not known, but reproduction of it in Macdermott's book on Sussex Church Bands (See Bibliography)

Chapels, etc.,  with west gallery features or connections

Alfriston, St Andrew

Coolhurst, The Blue Idol Friends' Meeting House

The oldest parts of the building are thought to date back to at least 1580. Part of a farmhouse, the timbers of the first floor were removed from the two large store-rooms at the south end in order to make room for a suitable height  for the Meeting House (3), and at the same time leaving a gallery which was reached by the small and narrow flight of stairs which then continued to second floor level. 
Lewes, Jireh Chapel

 

This was a stronghold of the Calvinistic Independents  The building is constructed of red mathematical tiles hung on a wooden frame, with chequered brickwork in places hung slates and under a long slated roof.  Restored in the 1990s.  

The chapel has galleries on three side, the organ having been removed from the central eastern gallery.  There are high-sided pews, and a central pulpit behind the table at the west end. The only Grade I Listed building in Lewes.

   
Asterisks denote churches in preparation

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Edwin and Sheila Macadam,

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