Sunday, 22 June 2014

St George, Eastergate

Like so many Sussex churches, St George at Eastergate lies outside the village, down a lane and the other side of a farm. 
And like so many Sussex churches, it is very little changed from when it was built just after the Norman Conquest. Unfortunately the walls are pebbledashed which has to be renewed every so often so it looks more modern than it really is, except the chancel where re-used Roman bricks can be seen laid herringbone fashion.
The building is a simple aisle-less nave and chancel. When it was built, all the windows would have been little lancets like the one that survives in the north wall of the chancel, with its simple round top carved out of a solid stone lintel. All the other windows were enlarged later - the nave windows in the 14th century, those in the chancel and the west end in the 15th. 
The last significant alteration was sometime around 1700, when the old, narrow chancel arch was hacked out to its present width. The new arch is a simple semi-circle, with no ornament whatever, and it is surprising that the Victorians resisted the temptation to jazz it up with proper Gothic ornament. They also, happily, spared the pair of clergy stalls under the arch with their frilly canopies.
The other notable feature of the church is the glass. One window has a fragment of medieval glass dating from about 1360 - the coat of arms of a member of the Fitzalan family. Then there is a set of stained glass windows by the firm Heaton, Butler and Bayne installed between 1915 and 1926 to commemorate various war dead. The east window is in memory of Lord Kitchener, paid for by his private secretary's brother-in-law, rather oddly.
But the most charming monument in the church is a slab now in the floor close to the font. It is in memory of John Whitington, who died 1731 at the early age of 35. The inscription reads (the spelling is as on the stone):
All you that are young this do pass by
Greive not to think I here must lie
My married bead is in the dust
Yet Christ will match me with ye Just.