St Nicholas, Worth
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Worth Church dates from about A.D.950 and was constructed in a clearing of the Great Forest of Anderida [or Anderedes Weald] within one of the king’s royal manors. The church may well have been in the possession of Saxon kings for many generations, and it is often described as the most perfect specimen of a Saxon cruciform church in England. The large chancel is unique in an English church of this age and, given the church’s secluded location in a forest clearing, it would have been much too large to serve purely local needs. An Ordnance Survey publication denotes Worth as a pre-Conquest minster [a principal church], the nearest other minsters being in London, Guildford, Cuckfield, and Otford in Kent. It is also quite possible that Worth was the spiritual home of a college of secular or monastic clergy. The religious activities of Saint Edward the Confessor [the last Saxon King of England] lend support to this view, as he is reputed to have established a number of such colleges throughout England.
After the Norman Conquest in A.D.1066, the church was given by William the Conqueror to his son-in-law, William de Warenne. The de Warenne family arms are depicted in the stained glass window in the north porticus. The church remained in the hands of the de Warenne family until the middle of the fourteenth century, when it passed into the Fitzalan family through the marriage of the daughter of the last of the de Warennes to the Earl of Arundel. On the death of the fifth Earl of Arundel in A.D.1415, the church then passed to the Nevills, Earls of Abergavenny, and continued to serve its spiritual charge to this part of the county.
In A.D.1986 a fire destroyed the nineteenth century roof of the nave, and the church needed extensive renovation which took nearly two years to complete. This work allowed a team of archaeologists to examine normally inaccessible parts of the structure, and to confirm the dating of the church’s original construction.
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