Saturday, 4 December 2010

Holy Trinity, Ebernoe

Ebernoe church is an oasis of order, calm and rationality in the wild countryside. All around is the wooded Weald, but the neat little church stands precisely in the middle of its exactly square churchyard wall.
It was built in the middle of Queen Victoria’s reign, in 1867, to bring the church to the local population of poor farmers, market gardeners and brickmakers.
Ebernoe then was not at the top of the social tree - a bit like Hogglestock in Anthony Trollope’s Last Chronicle of Barset.
The money was given by Squire Peachey of Ebernoe House, who brought in a London firm of architects, Habersham and Brock, to design it.
The outside is a triumph of polychromatic brickwork, red, yellow and black, in bands along the walls and particularly attractively in the window arches. All the bricks were made locally - a brick kiln of the period still exists.
Inside, everything is white, bright and clean. The broad nave has a simple A-frame timber roof, and the chancel arch is inscribed with the stern injunction from Leviticus: “Ye shall observe my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary.”
The fittings are plain but of good quality, but the pulpit is surprisingly modest - a simple box for the parson to support himself on as he launched into the hour-long sermons that Victorian congregations expected.
All in all, Ebernoe church is the embodiment of the hard Victorian virtues of practical charity, cleanliness, labour and polished boots on Sunday but the polychromatic bricks make it lovable by adding a little touch of Noddy’s house.