Sunday, 19 May 2013

St Nicholas, Poling

From the outside, Poling church looks almost entirely Tudor.
The windows are square with square hood mouldings to keep the rain off, and thin stone mullions. Simple trefoils in the pointed tracery are the only ornaments. The west tower with its prominent stair turret and buttresses is also typical of the 15th century. 
Inside, however, and the church's Saxon and Norman origins are revealed. The Saxon nave is typically tall for its width, and a single round-headed Saxon window with a big splay to increase the amount of light coming in still remains in the north wall. The window was blocked for centuries – when it was reopened a fragment of the original Saxon shutter was discovered and is now displayed below. 
The south aisle was added in about 1200, two simple pointed arches and the chancel rebuilt either at the same time or later in that century. 
The last significant rebuilding gave the church its Tudor trimmings that define its character today. It also added a rood screen of which two beams survive, the lower one with a modern cross. The upper beam is battlemented and pierced with circular quatrefoils – it is not aligned properly and was brought in from somewhere else. 
The final touch was added in the 1830s when the Duck of Norfolk presented the church with six medieval carved bosses, probably from Arundel church, that now adorn the roof and rood beams. 
The setting of the church is a precious survival – one of the few places in the coastal plain that seems untouched by time. It is entirely surrounded by fields – only the roofs of distant warehouses show how close the development that lines the coast from Littlehampton to Eastbourne really is.