About St Giles Church

 Our Church & Churchyard

 

In 1938,the then Rector, Frank Stenton Eardley, wrote a book "The Church and Parish of St Giles" in which he said: "I cannot help envying the man who may record the sequel to this book in the year 2038, when the dark shadows will have passed and everything and everybody will wear a happier aspect than is possible today."
 
What would he think today, nearly 75 years on? The tower and steeple of St Giles Church stands as the landmark it always was, and life in the village is as closely tied to the church through its links with the school and its regular services. The fabric of the building would be completely familiar to him, though he might appreciate the heating and the new internal glass doors. 

The small doorway in the north wall and chiselmarks on the tower arches are the oldest elements of the building, dating from the Saxon period. But it is thought there may have been an earlier place of worship here at the crossing of important Sussex pathways.
 
The Normans largely rebuilt St Giles. Remains of the Norman windows can be found in the south walls. The new church was of cruciform plan with a central tower and transepts to north and south (now the vestry), a nave to the west and a chancel to the east.
 
The Norman design was modified by the addition of the Marie de Bradehurst chapel on the south side (demolished around 1850, though traces are still visible) and the existing Lady Chapel on the north side of the nave. The south porch was added some time in the 1600s.

 

 
The Norman tower with its later spire is perhaps the most loved feature, being visible from many miles away. It leans to the west and is buttressed on two sides as well as being tied. Its roof is shingled with cedar and was last replaced during the 1960s. There are three bells, with the oldest dating back to 1604.
 
Within the church there is an interesting memorial in the figure of a little Crusader in the north wall of the chancel. The effigy is that of a recumbent Crusader with a lion at his feet. It represents a knight of the reign of Henry III or Edward I and is probably a heart shrine. Stained glass windows by C.E. Kemp are to be found in both the east and west walls of the church.
 
The churchyard is a part of daily life for many as it offers a safe and friendly route to school. It is also a resting place for many villagers and a quick look around reveals many familiar names. Additionally, there is one very famous name to be found, that of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who is buried with members of his family in the eastern section of the churchyard.