Wednesday, 27 January 2016

St Julian, Kingston Buci

St Julian is one of those churches that is made memorable by the fittings inside - the memorials, the pulpit, pews and so on - although the architecture is also unusual.
Even the name is memorable. Not many English churches are dedicated to St Julian, the miracle-working first bishop of Le Mans, but he had a sudden burst of popularity when Henry II, who was born there, came to the throne in 1154. Kingston is a common enough name, but the Buci part came from the surname of the lords of the manor in the 14th century. Amateur etymologists in the 18th century decided it must be a corruption of by-Sea, so the village was renamed Kingston-by-Sea until it became a part of Shoreham-by-Sea, when the original name was reinstated.
The church looks a bit featureless as you approach from the road because the north aisle, added in the early 15th century, has no side windows, only one at the east end. Inside, however, the blank north wall means light comes in only from the south and east for a rather moody, dramatic effect.
The big accent of the interior is the central 13th century tower which is vaulted in stone.
But what makes the interior is the set of box pews, including a two-decker pulpit with linenfold panelling set at the west end of the tower crossing. Originally, the pews in the crossing faced not the altar but the pulpit, reflecting the belief that the word was more important than the ceremony, prevalent in the Georgian period when they were installed. Sadly, six of the pews were removed in 1975, but a rare 17th century singing desk survives.
The other notable fitting is the organ, spectacularly located behind a gallery at the west end. It looks just as if a church band out of a Hardy novel had just left, but the gallery was built in 1924 and the organ is not a church organ at all but was made for the Brighton Aquarium
in 1900 for concerts and to accompany ice skating.
The church was re-ordered in 1988 in a trendy way with a new main altar on the south wall of the nave.
Go east to the original sanctuary and you see the other memorable feature of Kingston Buci church  - the Kingston devil.
A large tomb of 1540 has a lovely canopy over it, with a row of small bosses carved in the vaulting. Most are roses, but if you turn the page upside down you will see an imp sticking his tongue out at you!