Houghton – St Nicholas

A simple church originating in the C13, though virtually rebuilt in 1857.

Houghton stands by a crossing over the Arun at a narrow point in the water meadows.  The church was formerly a chapelry of Amberley (Horsfield II p148), though it had a separate tithe ascertainment in the 1930s (TNA IR 104/68).  The oldest parts are C13, which probably indicates the date of foundation.  The mediaeval church was all but rebuilt in an unpretentious way by ‘Mr Hills [i e G M Hills] architect’ (WSRO Par 107/9/1) in 1856-57, at a cost of £800 (PP 125).  However, in most respects the present appearance of the church varies little from that shown by Adelaide Tracy in 1850 (II p50) and some of the lower walling of flint, especially in the chancel, is original, showing the aisleless plan to be unchanged.

The weathered state of several lancets, including the east triplet, shows they were reset from the old church and the same applies to at least some rere-arches, including possibly that of the round-headed south doorway.  Externally, this has hollowed trefoil-stops which, if original, have been retooled.  The chancel lancets are slightly broader than the nave ones, but it is not clear from the Tracy drawing if this was so before.  The only later window she shows, a square-headed north one, is no longer there.  Hills’s other major changes were the open stone bellcote, replacing a boarded one with a spirelet. and the two-light west window beneath.  The interior has no other reset original features and the chancel arch and roofs are obviously C19.

Fittings and monuments

Brass: (By south doorway) Inscription only to Thomas and Anna Cheyne (d1486).
Font: Large, heavy and octagonal with a coarse moulding at the base of the bowl.  It has been called C15 (Drummond-Roberts p48), but despite its size, is more likely to be later C16 or C17.
Monuments: (In the churchyard) Good C18 tombstones.
Pews and chancel fittings: Simple pitch pine.  Clearly all date from 1857.
Reredos: On the east wall are painted tablets giving the Creed, Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments, a conservative feature by 1857.

My thanks to Richard Standing for the photographs, except that of the west end.