This second of three collections of historic churches in the south east of England includes fifty-six churches with Saxon and/or Norman origins in the Weald.
The Weald, is the area between the two parallel chalk downland ridges, the North and South Downs. It stretches from Kent, through East and West Sussex, Surrey and into the east of Hampshire, an area previously covered by the Forest of Andred, a name derived from Anderida, the Roman name for Pevensey, and known in Anglo-Saxon times as Andredes Weald.
The Weald is actually made up of three geological parts, the High Weald central section of sandstone, bordered by the clay Low Weald, and with the Greensand Ridge around the north of the area from the northern boundary of Romney Marsh through the south of Surrey, to the Petersfield area in Hampshire.
The churches of the Weald were constructed using materials from the local area, thus many have sandstone masonry from the High Weald and oak timbers from the Forest of Andred. Bargate stone, a warm yellow sandstone with a high iron oxide content quarried in the Greensand Ridge, was used for building churches in the west of the area. Sussex or Petworth marble, which occurs in the Wealden clay around Petworth was often used for the church fonts, and Horsham stone slates, also from the Wealden clay in West Sussex was the choice for roof covering on many of these early stone buildings. The Wealden churches do indeed provide a fascinating insight into medieval building work.
A few of the many unusual, interesting, rare or beautiful items at these churches:-
The Squire’s Pew/gallery at St Mary the Virgin, Rolvenden; the Rood staircase at St Nicholas, Sandhurst; the Grofhurst Brass at St Margaret, Horsmonden; the earliest Sussex iron grave slab at St Bartholomew, Burwash; Anne Boleyn’s father’s tomb at St Peters, Hever; the wood carvings at St Peter, Newdigate; the Anchoress of Shere at St James, Shere; the murals at St Botolphs, Hardham; galletting at St Mary and All Saints, Dunsfold; the tree of life vestry screen at St Michael and All Saints, Thursley.
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