Friday, 29 July 2016
St Mary, Funtington
The church was quite grand, with a long nave with four arches, and big overarching roof that covered both nave and aisles, sweeping down almost to the ground in the way still visible in churches such as Yapton. At the west end the composition was completed in the 15th century by a simple battlemented tower.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell exactly what the medieval church looked like because almost all the old work with the exception of the chancel chapels was swept away in a particularly comprehensive Victorian restoration of 1859.
The north and south aisles were complete rebuilt, being made considerably wider and having their own roofs so they were much taller. Big arches were punched through the walls of the chancel into the chapels.
The whole church was covered in lavish, indeed overpowering carved ornament. Outside, the new aisle windows have extraordinary recessed columns between the lancets, something never seen in medieval churches. The capitals on the columns have 'stiff leaf' ornament but about three times as large as any medieval original. The polished hardwood roof sits on corbels carved with flowers, religious beasts and a couple of heads one of which sports a stylish moustache.
What makes this outbreak of Victorian exuberance so strange is the architect was Benjamin Ferrey, a pupil of Pugin's who is known for solidly constructed but generally uninteresting designs. He was not known for this sort of thing at all.