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Photos and information about Saxon and Norman churches in Kent, Sussex and Surrey
The Weald and Downland churches featured on this site have been selected primarily for their early build date, the majority being of either Saxon or Norman origin. Most are relatively small churches, in or near villages where there have not been large population increases, as in the larger towns where the churches have, necessarily, been extended to accommodate the burgeoning numbers of worshippers, thereby losing some of their medieval charm.
There is no pre-requisite for any religious commitment to be able to appreciate some of the architecture and history associated with these buildings, a respect for the focus of others’ religious beliefs being all that is required.
The church architecture itself is inextricably linked with the history of our country from before the Conquest, through medieval times, to the present day. Tall Saxon doorways allowed the passage of processions with banners held high, whilst being narrow to prevent evil spirits entering the building. After the Conquest, the Normans brought their own Romanesque architectural style, characterised by rounded arches, barrel vaults and massively thick masonry. The Norman era finished circa 1180, giving way to English Gothic architecture with its trademark pointed arches.
The churches featured on the website are ordered in three* sections, the South Downs, the Weald, and the North Downs and Surrey Hills. A glossary section is included to explain some of the more obscure architectural and religious terms used in the text.
I hope that the descriptions and information contained on the pages, enhanced by the extensive number of photographs, will inspire you to visit and enjoy some of the churches, and that, that in itself, will help to preserve the buildings for future generations.
*PS. A fourth section has been added to describe the churches of the Romney Marsh.