Saturday, 27 April 2013

St Mary, Stopham

For almost all of its 900 year history, St Mary's has been associated with the Barttelot family whose monuments fill the church.
The Barttelots are said to have come over with William the Conqueror and owned property in the area by at least 1296, marrying into the de Stopham family to create the local dynasty. At one time, it was said, the Barttelots could ride from Stopham to Horsham without leaving their lands.
The church dates from the late 11th century and is little altered, still showing the remnants of Saxon building styles especially in two very tall arches in the north and south walls of the nave and the triangular arch into the later tower.
The chancel is divided from the nave by a circular Norman arch and is unusual in having another arch at the east end creating a separate sanctuary. 
The east window is much later (15th century) and could have been transferred from the Barttelot's original house nearby when they moved to a much bigger place on the River Arun next to Stopham Bridge. Originally, it is thought, the sanctuary could have been a circular apse.
The stained glass in the east window and the north nave window is a 17th century tribute to the nobility and lineage of the Barttelots. The east window is filled with their armorial bearings, and the nave window with a remarkable picture of Sir Brian de Stopham, who died in 1273, and a 17th century Barttelot. It was made in Flanders and is signed Roelant.
The Barttelots are also memorialised in brass. Brasses cover the aisle from nave to chancel, recording members of the family from John and Joan in 1428 to Richard and his two wives (and nine children!) from 1614.
The Barttelot family still live in the area, but sadly their grand country house has been converted into flats.