St Andrew's Ford
St Andrew-by-the-Ford is a tiny church of Saxon origin, at the end of a small gravel path, close to the bank of the River Arun and surrounded by a copse of trees. The church originally served a small community which was abandoned in 1608.
The church is a simple, two-cell structure, with a nave and chancel, and a porch added in 1637 in the Dutch style. The interior is dark - especially so since there is no electricity here (there is a small generator to provide limited lighting for the choir). It is dominated by the Norman chancel arch, which has mouldings with a simple X-shape decoration. The walls are pierced by small Norman windows, although the Chancel has a fine decorated window of about 1320. In the vestry are the remains of a Saxon arch, dated from around the turn of the 10th-11th centuries.
The walls show traces - although rather indistinct - of extensive wall paintings. Those above the chancel arch show the Doom painting (The Last Judgement), with the remains of devils (their feet, actually) forcing the damned into the mouth of a great red beast.
The church was restored in 1899 by Phillip Johnston, Diocesan architect, who has left a very detailed account of the work in the Sussex Archaeological Collection.
One hundred years later the church underwent major restoration work with the help of a substantial grant from English Heritage and charitable trusts along with private donations. The Diocesan architect Richard Meynell was awarded the King of Prussia gold medal for his outstanding work.
Seven styles of architecture are represented in this tiny Saxon church which has had a chequered history of fire, restoration and extension.
The fine roof has oak and chestnut timbers; one was dated 1363 during the 1999 restoration work.
The font bowl is made from a large square limestone block. It was thrown out during the works in 1865 and retrieved from a farmyard in 1899.
The bell chamber contains two bells; the treble bell is inscribed ‘+ROBERT RIDRE ME FECIT’; Robert Rider worked between 1351-86. The second bell was possibly made in the 17th century but has no markings.
St Mary's Yapton
St Mary’s Church is an example of an Early English Church dating from circa 1180. It is noted for its column capitals, the bell tower and its Saxon font. “Although there was a church on the site in the Saxon period, all that remains of this is the lower part of the tower: the north wall is the south wall of the Saxon nave. Most of the structure dates from 1180-1220; the nave and tower date from 1180-1200 and the chancel from 1200-1220. The pretty porch was added some time after 1400, along with the west window. The additional buttressing of the tower to counter evident subsidence may also have been added in this period.” David J. ‘Churches to Visit in the UK’ (online publication)
The external walls are constructed mainly with typical Sussex flint facing with some rendering. The interior of the church features an unusual Saxon font with arcaded decoration, exposed beams in the chancel. The chancel arch rests on two fluted corbels, and the chancel has pairs of lancets to north and south. There are two small side aisles, north and south, with three small windows in the south aisle, two of which contain early plain glass. Two of these windows have a quatrefoil shape. The Early English window at the east end was replaced with a triple window in 1909. The stained glass depicts the life of Christ and is dedicated to the memory of John Boniface and his wife, Sarah Baker Collins.
The chancel walls are covered with beautiful marble memorial tablets associated with the wealthy Thomas and Edmonds families, who numbered amongst them high ranking government officials and owned plantations in the West Indies. Above the pulpit is a memorial tablet with a poem in honour of Stephen Roe, who established a charity in the 1760s for educating a number of boys and girls in the parish and for giving to the poor. The charity still exists to this day. The church is entered through a flint and timber porch. The church organ is now situated on the right of the entrance door and was restored in 1984.
The bell tower, which was a later addition to the church, houses 6 bells. It is joined to the main church but now leans at an angle, supported by the brick buttresses. A massive original oak frame supports the bells.
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