After the various problems of the past year it is nice to have some good news for a change. I was recently elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, specifically in recognition of this website.
Since completing the restoration of the website (both text and images) after the hack last year, I have been working to overcome the backlog of new material that had appeared over the 18 months that I was busy. It’s surprising how quickly new material builds up, some of it of widespread significance and some about individual churches and artists. A particularly valuable addition to the original sources on Sussex churches is the edition recently published by the Sussex Record Society of the church surveys of Chichester Archdeaconry in 1602-03, 1610 and 1636, edited by Joan Barham and Andrew Foster. Much of each of these is taken up with recording deficiencies in arrangements for the liturgy or in service books and fittings, particularly the survey of 1636, and that is outside my area of research. However, there is also much information about structural deficiencies and in some cases there is a direct link between a reported defect and the known dates of repair-work carried out within the next few years. A particularly striking example is the roof at Bury which is dated 1603, just one year after the state of the roof had been roundly condemned in the 1602 survey. That has to be more than co-incidence!
One reason that final progress on the restoration work was rather slow is that I was asked to comment on the entries on churches in the forthcoming volume on West Sussex in the Buildings of England series. After five years of use there will I think be widespread agreement that the volume on East Sussex is a great improvement on the relevant part of its predecessor and I am sure that every user will find the volume on West Sussex well worth the wait. Meanwhile, another valuable book has been published recently, the equivalent volume for South Hampshire and this has provided some valuable new information and insights, both about buildings and artists and architects. County-boundaries are far from impermeable and many of those active in Sussex were also active in at least the adjacent parts of Hampshire, so the new book allows a fuller picture of their activities to be built up.