Egdean – St Bartholomew

An early C17 church of brick and rubble with a substantial chancel, largely gothicised in the C19.

The long, narrow parish of Egdean was formed in the C12 from the larger one of Petworth, a mile distant.  In the Middle Ages it was known also as Bleatham and as such was granted to Lewes priory in the late C13 (SAC 40 (1896) pp63-64). Dallaway (II(1) p342) suggests it may also have belonged at some time to Hardham priory. Only a few houses are close to the church and the centre of the parish is at Byworth.

The mediaeval church is said to have had a wooden turret (Dallaway ibid), but everything was rebuilt in 1622 with an aisleless nave and a substantial chancel, which could suggest re-use of the mediaeval foundations. The rubble walls have brick dressings and on the depressed-headed south doorway is the date of construction. The only remaining C17 window externally is a small round-headed one in the west gable, though the brick rere-arches of those in the chancel are of the same date; that of the east window is four-centred. Though the west window resembles a lancet and is definitely pre-C19, it may have been altered. Adelaide Tracy (II p24) in 1848 shows an east window with similar proportions to the then C17 ones with curious tracery of three stepped lights with circles above the side ones, though this was gothicised in the C19. She also shows there was at that time no belfry. The plain round-headed chancel arch of 1622 emerges from the side walls. Except one tiebeam dated 1889, the roof is original.

Alterations to the church in the C19 were extensive, especially outside, starting with a stone belfry, which Quartermain shows ((W) 298) little more than 10 years after Adelaide Tracy’s drawing. It predates the work of L W Ridge, who remodelled the church in 1885 (Clarke Papers) adding a timber south porch. The budget was clearly small, so much that might otherwise have been changed was kept. In 1898 a lean-to north vestry by A H Hoole was added (WSRO Ep I/40/5459) (he had also built one at Fittleworth, which shared an incumbent). Finally, in 1928, F E Howard redesigned the east window again to match those to the west (WSRO Ep I/40/2862).


Communion rails: Early C17, with a battlemented top.
Font: Plain octagonal and probably early C17, to judge from the proportions.
1. (East window) 1894 by Lavers and Westlake (Crucifixion) (CDG 3 (1894) p49).
2. (South nave, first window) Heaton, Butler and Bayne c1907 (, retrieved on 3/7/2017).
Recess: (North chancel) Small triangular-headed recess of uncertain purpose, since it is too small to be an aumbry even had one been needed in the early C17.

My thanks to Richard Standing for the exterior photographs