The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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148                  THE SUSSEX COAST
honeycomb for want of another name. It is sup­posed to have been invented to comply with the Moslem injunction that corresponds with the Second Commandment. But while the nave of Steyning church slightly recalls a Levantine mosque, it does no more. It was only a recollec­tion, not accurate drawings, of Saracenic forms that the returning Crusaders brought home, and the heavy Norman style disdained to be influenced in anything beyond a few details by the light and airy, not to say somewhat rickety, form of build­ing that the Arabs loved.
During the fifteenth century, at different times, a large south porch was added, new windows were inserted in the aisles, and the nave was shortened to four bays. In 1569 we learn from the Arch­bishop's Visitation : " The chancel of the church of Steyning, which is like a collegiate church, is in great decay, and the parish and the farmer there, Mr. Pellett, be at great contention for the same ; but nothing is done, and the church is like to fall to ruin, which is in a great market town, and there is no more but that same there." Eight years later it had fallen still further into decay, and it was proposed to destroy part in order to rebuild the rest. This was evidently done; the aisles of the chancel (which itself is modern, on the site of the central tower and part of the quire) are of Elizabethan character, as also is the fine west tower with great diagonal buttresses and flint and ashlar work in squares, an admirable piece of work belonging to a period but slightly represented in English ecclesiastical architecture. It is rather too low for its position, and this has been accentuated by the lofty modern wooden roof of the nave. The tower is clearly built largely of
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