top of page

1909: The ancient parish churches of Mid Sussex

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 20 July 1909



Mr. James North, of Brighton, has written a deeply interesting article descriptive of the ancient parish churches near the river Ouse, and from it we cull the following:- 

The tall shingled spire of 


forms a beautiful object in the landscape. The building was originally a Norman cruciform building. (1) The chancel contains one of the most remarkable and interesting monuments in England—a miniature effigy (27 inches long) of a knight in armour with a lion at his feet. It belongs to the latter part of the reign Henry III. 


is mainly Decorated. It is one of the few old churches in the county built of stone. It has a low side window divided by transom. (2) The fine old wooden porch is worthy of attention. The piscina (3) and aumbry (4) have hood mouldings, and the chancel windows have hood mouldings of oak. There are many memorials to the dead in the chancel, one by the north wall of the chancel with recumbent female figure; on the altar tomb is the fine brass to Richard and Elizabeth Wakehurst, 1457 and 1464. The fine Perpendicular screen was found in the tower at the restoration. It has been placed at the west entrance and not in its proper place at the entrance of the chancel. 

BALCOMBE CHURCH was restored in 1873. 


is situated at the back of a public-house. At the end of the south aisle, level with the chancel, is the Covert chapel. It contains a fine monument to Richard Covert, dated 1579. He is represented in effigy, together with his two wives, seven sons and seven daughters. Over each figure is the initial letter of the Christian name. It was carved by one Flynton, at the cost of £30. On the cast wall is a brass to John Covert, dated 1503. His will was approved 20th March, 1503. He desires that “he should be buried in the chancel of the church at Slaugham and leaves to moder (cathedral) church xxs., to the high altar of Slaugham xvs., to the curate of the same church xxs., to the high altar of Slaugham xvs., which I ought to the old parson, to the churchwardens 10s., which I owe them for the the church.” Nelson’s sister is buried in churchyard in the vault of the Matchams

CUCKFIELD CHURCH. The tower has unusual trefoiled corbel tables. It is disfigured by the necessary

addition of buttresses on its west and south side. The nave has Early English windows. The first Cuckfield man whose name has come down to us was named Adam de Cukufeld. There are twenty eight places in North Sussex the names of which are compounded “field,” first “clearing” in the wood; in the 12th century it was called Cucufeld, in the 14th Cokefeld, and in Ihe 17th century an attempt was made to change the name to Cockfield. Some of the pre-Reformation wills are interesting; "In the yere of our Lorde God 1545 the 26 day of June, I, Thomas Gaston, of the pish of Cukefelde, syke in body, hole and of ppt (perfect) memorie, ordene and make this my last will and test, and forme folling; First I bequethe my sowle to Alymyghly God or (our) lady St, Mary and all the holy company of heyvying, my bodie to be buried in the church yarde of Cukefeld: it. to the Mother Church of Chichester 4l.; it. to the hye alter of Cuckfield 4l.” Another Cuckfield testator in 1539 left to the high altar "for tythes and oblacions negligently fogetten vi pence.” 

LINDFIELD has a graceful Early English Church, with a slender shingled spire. Over the south porch is a parvise, a name given in modern times to the room often found over porches and used sometimes as a library. This one is used as a ringing chamber. The following extracts from the churchwardens' accounts are interesting:—

1580 Item Paid for 46 holes mended with old glass 1 11

1582 Item Laid out in taking down the rood loft 3 0

1587 Item Laid out for expenses for the Day of Praise (? Spanish Armada) 1 4

1595 Item Laid out for to make the Ringers Dryncke (Drunk) upon the Coronation Day 2  2

WIVELSFIELD has a doorway of early date. It is thought to be to be coeval with King Alfred. 

DITCHLING is a fine specimen of Early English style. The east window has three lights, separated by slender shafts, and on either side is a niche, which would in pre- Reformation days contain a figure. In the south wall of chancel are a piscina, credence table (5) and sedile. 

WESTMESTON has a picturesque wooden porch, and there is a fine old yew tree in the churchyard. Many writers explain that yew trees were planted in our churchyards as an emblem of immortality


(1) shaped like a cross

(2) a strengthening crossbar, in particular one set above a window or door.

(3) a stone basin near the altar in Catholic and pre-Reformation churches for draining water used in the Mass.

(4) a small recess or cupboard in the wall of a church.

(5) a small side table in the sanctuary of a Christian church which is used in the celebration of the Eucharist.

(6) a group of stone seats for clergy in the south chancel wall of a church, usually three in number and often canopied and decorated.



bottom of page