The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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WORTHING                             143
of Saxon work elsewhere, but the great interest of this tower, unique in England, is the four steep gables, from which rises a spire in the manner familiar in many examples on the Rhine. The spire is said to have been lowered between 1760 and 1770, but it is difficult to understand just how, and P. M. Johnston believes the roof timbers to be original. The arch into the church, curiously-placed as far south as was possible, has a round inner order under the flat soffit and caps that bear some resemblance to Corinthian ones. The aisleless nave and chancel with no arch between, only 15 feet wide but over 90 feet long, seem to have been Norman originally, though doubtless some Saxon masonry survives; every period ap­pears to have seen a way to improve them, and in the east wall are four aumbries, two actually over the altar, a most unusual arrangement. They may have formed tabernacles, but it does not seem very probable.
In 1154 the church was given by one Philip of Harcourt, who practically founded the preceptory at Shipley to the Knights Templars. After the dissolution of that Order in the early fourteenth century it passed to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Not very long after the Templars received it the curious transepts were added, giving a most strange ground plan. The north one has two vaulted chapels opening eastward, the round pillar having scallop caps, and details being of "Transition" character. The south transept, about 24 feet square, is out of all proportion to the church, and on a lower level than the rest of the building, as the ground falls rapidly away. An eastward round arch, with foliage caps, opens into a strange little chapel with only a half-vault, a
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