Tag Archives: font

Wandering: Amberley to Arundel (Part One)

2 Apr

The route from Amberley, West Sussex to Arundel, West Sussex is not a particularly challenging route, it is only about five or six miles and is largely flat following the meandering course of the River Arun.

In contrast to the preceding week the weather on Saturday was quite gloomy. The weather forecast had warned that the warm and sunny weather wouldn’t last until Saturday, and it was right. We saw the sun on a couple of occasions, but most of the time we were blanketed in cloud. If the sun had been shining we would have been pleased with the gentle breeze, but as it was it did nothing to help the situation.

Houghton Bridge

We (my wife and I) began at Amberley railway station, alighting with several other walkers, but whilst they were probably off to join the South Downs Way we followed the road along to Houghton Bridge and headed roughly south along the eastern bank of the river.

It was good to leave the road behind and head into the countryside, we couldn’t leave the railway behind however as the line also follows the river south. Before long we left the river bank and followed a narrow twisting path enclosed on both sides by hedges. Eventually this emerged onto a road, a narrow country road that lead us into North Stoke.

I had never been to the village of North Stoke before, although from the map I knew that it was not really a village, but more a small collection of farmhouses. What I hadn’t realised from the map (I am terrible at noticing the contour lines) was that it was perched on a hill, not that great a hill but enough to raise it above the river’s flood plain.

North Stoke Church

The only public building in the village appeared to be the church. I was glad we decided to make a slight detour down the road to visit the church. It is a real gem, surrounded by a small churchyard and dwarfed by a large yew tree. The church is no longer used as a place of worship and is cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust.

Stepping inside the church for the first time was truly like stepping back in time, so many of the churches I have visited have been “restored” modernised, with the trappings of modern-day worship such as under-floor heating and modern seating, but this was just a plain and simple unadulterated church.

Inside the Church

To my knowledge I have no family connections with North Stoke, but I really felt that this was the closest I have ever come to seeing where and how my ancestors worshipped. This probably over simplifies things, because my ancestry spans four hundred years of evolving religious worship, and ranged from large London churches to small rural churches like this.

North Stoke Font

The first thing that greets you as enter through the south door is the wonderful font. It is a superb example and is perfectly at home in this church. It is so simple in its bulbous shape, with no frills or elaborate carving or decoration, just plain and simple stone. It has obviously seen better days and has been patched up many times, but has no doubt served the purpose for which it was designed with the minimum of fuss.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Four font photos

23 Jul

After showing you the beautifully carved marble font at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to show you a few of the other fonts I have photographed this year.

They are all from rural churches in the counties of Sussex and Hampshire and all have a family connection. As you can see they are not quite as ornate as the one at St James’s and most of them are not as old.

From left to right they are:

Chilcomb, Hampshire – the VCH of Hampshire says that “all the internal fittings are modern, the font, with a small bowl on an octagonal shaft, standing on a marble coffin-lid”.

Exton, Hampshire – this font is not as old as it seems, according to the VCH of Hampshire, “near the south door is the modern octagonal font of thirteenth-century style.”

Singleton, Sussex – described in the VCH of Sussex as being “octagonal, perhaps 15th-century”, not very descriptive really.

West Dean, Sussex – much of this church was destroyed by a fire in 1934 and this is obviously a modern font, which doesn’t even get a mention in the VCH of Sussex.

The font of St James’s Church, Piccadilly

22 Jul

One of the most outstanding features inside St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London was the beautifully carved white marble font.

St James's Church font

The font is said to have been installed in 1686 and to be the work of Grinling Gibbons, and is described on the church website as:

an ovoid bowl raised on a stem realistically carved to represent the Tree of Knowledge, with the serpent entwined about it, Adam standing on one side and Eve on the other. The bowl is decorated with three kidney-shaped panels carved in low relief to represent (a) the Baptism of Christ, (b) St. Philip baptising the Eunuch of Candace, (c) Noah’s Ark afloat

I mentioned yesterday that four of the children of my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN were baptised in this church, they were:

  • 29 Apr 1851 – Eliza KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his second wife Eliza WARREN
  • 30 Jul 1854 – Dorothy Isabella KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM (my 2x great grandmother)
  • 22 Jun 1856 – Abraham Graham KINGHORN son of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM
  • 26 Dec 1858 – Isabella KINGHORN daughter of Thomas and his third wife Isabella GRAHAM

Most of the fonts that I have come across previously have been in country churches, and whilst many of them are a lot older than this one, none of them have been quite so beautifully carved. It is wonderful for me to think that such a beautiful piece of sculpture was probably used during the baptism of my 2x great grandmother and of her siblings.

St Andrew’s Church, Nuthurst, Sussex

19 Apr

Here are a few photos of St Andrew’s Church, Nuthurst, Sussex. I took these on my visit last week, when I passed through the parish on my way to Horsham.

St Andrews Church, Nuthurst

I have previously posted a postcard of Nuthurst Church and as I commented at the time, not a lot has changed, there are of course fewer headstones and fewer trees now in front of it now.

Nuthurst Church

Burials are still taking place in the churchyard, to the west of the church. I found the view of the western end of the church was quite striking, but I am not quite sure why.

Interior Nuthurst Church

The interior of the church was equally striking, I certainly wasn’t expecting to find such a highly decorated interior, although of course my photo doesn’t really do it justice.

Nuthurst Font

I couldn’t leave without getting a photo of the font, my 3x great-grandfather Thomas GASSON was baptised here in May 1831, along with four more of his siblings in subsequent years. According to the church guide and history it is made of Purbeck marble and may date back to Saxon times.

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