Ewhurst Green – St James
The nave and south arcade are C12 and at least some of the base of the tower is late C12 with a fine west doorway. The remainder of the tower, the north aisle and chancel are mostly C14
The village is scattered, though there are now many more houses close to the church than 50 years ago. The churchyard is planted with a variety of exotic trees and shrubs.
Built of local sandstone ashlar, the oldest part of the church is the mid-C12 south arcade, with three plain round-headed arches. The slightly chamfered corners of the square piers have stops and all the abaci are moulded, except for a plain one on the east respond. This is probably where work started and the arcade may be inserted in an older wall, though there is no sign as the wall above is rebuilt. The lean-to south aisle with blank ends keeps its original dimensions. Though the present north arcade and aisle are C14, the plain, square east respond of the arcade suggests a predecessor. It is presumably the single lancet that leads the VCH (9 p268) to call the present west wall C12, though the lancet is more likely to be C13, like the east triplet shown on the Burrell Collection drawing (1784), which is no longer there.
The south arcade predates the base of the tower, to judge by the west doorway of light, probably Caen, stone. Its pointed and moulded outer head surrounds a plain round-headed inner one. The shafts with thick rings and foliage capitals on the outer order are definitely late C12. It is handsome and unusual in its state of preservation, as it was protected by a porch until the C19 (Meads). Later changes obscure how much more of the tower is otherwise of this period, though above the tower arch inside the wall becomes visibly thinner; this must mark the top of the late C12 work and it follows that the noticeably off-centre position to the north is original.
The wider, gabled north aisle is early C14, as is shown by the moulded north doorway and windows, the latter with plain quatrefoils in the head. The arcade displays typical C14 characteristics, with octagonal piers and rather flat double-chamfered heads. A corbel on the west respond shows a man holding his ears. The upper part of the south wall was rebuilt with small trefoiled clerestory windows and though the south aisle was not widened, it received new windows that resemble those of the north aisle but are shorter and a doorway. There was also a new nave roof with kingposts and moulded ties.
The sequence of C14 work elsewhere is harder to establish. The heavily restored chancel lacks north windows, and the Burrell drawing shows this was already then the case. Two square-headed south windows have traceried heads. Neither the Burrell nor the Sharpe drawing shows this side and Quartermain ((E) p80) is not very clear, since though the windows he shows look somewhat similar, they are possibly less embellished. Sir Stephen Glynne (probably in 1825) called them ‘rectilinear’ (SNQ 16 (May 1965) p166). Unless they were altered when they were renewed, they look earlier than the panelled tracery of the then east window, which is indistinct on the Burrell drawing but cannot be older than the late C14. Quartermain and the Burrell drawing show what looks like a pair of lancets in the east gable of the nave, off-centre to the north. This no longer exists and the position is quite wrong for lighting a gallery. Conceivably the purpose was to provide light for the rood-loft, though if the lancets were C13 this would be unusually early for this.
The two chamfered orders of the chancel arch die into square responds without abaci and are characteristic of the C14, so there seems no reason to share Meads’s doubts about the age of the arch. The tower arch, now largely concealed by the organ, is similar and is thus also C14, though it retains the position of its presumed predecessor, well off-centre to the north. Though within the C12 part of the tower, its construction is further evidence that the C12 tower was never completed. The present top is certainly C14, as are the diagonal north west buttress and the stair-turret. The west window has two ogee-headed lights and the bell-openings vary; the west one has two cinquefoiled lights under a square head and the side ones are single with pointed hoodmoulds. The Burrell drawing shows a conventional broach spire, which had been replaced by the present bulbous, seemingly truncated, one by 1803, when it is shown on the Sharpe drawing. This followed a lightning strike and the probable date is given by the date of 1792 on the weather-vane (Meads).
The C19 history of the church was unhappy. The spire was never replaced and as well as a new east window in C14 style, the chancel south windows were, as already noted, renewed and possibly altered, whilst the north aisle received a new traceried east window and a panelled roof; the other ones were also replaced. The interior was scraped and the stonework retooled, though it has since been replastered. This work may have been part of that known to have been undertaken by R Wheeler in 1869 (B 27 p372). Harrison mentions a further restoration in 1874 (p63), though Nicholas Antram (BE(E) p378) suggests that this date marks in fact the end of Wheeler’s restoration. Since then, the only significant addition has been a roof over the west doorway to protect it. This may have been added during later repairs to the tower which were carried out both in 1926-27 by R Marchant and again in 1962 when B C G Shore was responsible (ICBS). There were also general repairs in 1950-51 by D Nye (ibid).
Fittings and monuments
Brass: (West wall by north respond) William Crysford (d1520) Small kneeling civilian in prayer, from which the inscription is now missing.
Font: A shallow, square bowl with sloping sides on a large circular base, probably dating from c1200. In the angles of the top there is carved foliage. The base has provision for corner-shafts that are missing and could be later or not made for this font.
1. (Chancel) Three windows by M O’Connor, c1865 (BE(E) ibid).
2. (South aisle, first window) Cox and Sons, c1873 (www.stainedglassrecords.org retrieved on 11/2/2013).
3. (South aisle, second window) Shrigley and Hunt, c1905 (ibid).
4. (South clerestory windows) M May, 1971 (ibid).
5. Glass by I Pocklington stated to be here (Little etc p99), is in fact in Staplecross church, which is in the parish.
1. (South chancel) Restored C14 ogee-headed, with a square hoodmould and shields in the spandrels.
2. (South aisle) C14 ogee-headed.
Sedilia: Apparently all C19, built into the sill of the chancel south east window.
Measured plan in VCH 9 p267
My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the exterior photograph of the church from the south east and also three further ones – they are identifiable by the fuller captions.