Chailey – St Mary

The parish of Chailey consists of several hamlets, of which the largest is North Chailey or Chailey Common, at the crossroads of the turnpike, now the A272, and the road from Lewes to East Grinstead.   Until 1875-76 the people of this hamlet used the parish church of St Peter.  A new church was then opened for the hamlet, designed by J O Scott (B 33 p672) on land given by the Earl of Abergavenny.  A plaque in the church records that it was built as a memorial to Robert Willis Blencowe (1792-1874), a well known antiquary and his wife Charlotte.

Scott produced one of his better designs for a small church, built of local sandstone in late C13 style and costing around £3000 (CDK 1876 pt 2 p86).  Unusually, it has an axial-tower plan and the tower has a saddle-back top.  Inside, the big tower arches dominate, though there is also a lean-to south aisle with a chapel beyond.  The west end is also novel, with two relatively small two-light windows separated by a buttress.  The east window with five uncusped lights is a more elaborate version of that at St Peter’s.

In the C20 use of St Mary’s declined and from the 1970s until 1991 it was used by the Roman Catholics, who replanned the interior to fit a different liturgy with a central altar.  After that time it stood empty until it was sold for conversion as a house.  The division into nave and aisle has been kept internally, though the west end is divided by a mezzanine.  The glass by Powell’s has also been kept.


1. (West and east windows and over font) J Powell and Sons, designed by H Holiday, 1876-77 (BA 6 p264 and Hadley).  They comprise single figures in light surrounds.
2.   (South chancel) St Michael, C E Kempe, 1903.

My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the photograph and the information about the recent conversion of the church.