Hunston – St Leodegar

Hunston church stands away from the village, by a now overgrown pond near the late C17 manor house.  The unusual dedication may derive from its association with Lessay abbey in Normandy, which acquired it in 1105 (VCH 4 p158).   St Leodegar, a C7 French bishop, is better known in England as St Leger, though his connection with the turf is obscure.

There has been a church since at least the C12, though the present one by Sir A W Blomfield dates from 1885 (WSRO Par 108/4/3).  Its predecessor is well recorded.  Nibbs (c1851) shows a tumbledown nave, south aisle and chancel, with some indications of a former tower.  An engraving in The Gentleman’s Magazine (1792 Part II opp p805) shows a blank west wall except for a plain square-headed doorway.  This looks post-Reformation and, in view of the evidence of a tower, so probably was the plain double belfry shown by Quartermain ((W) p116).  He also depicts a south doorway with a head with chevron mouldings, reset in a C13 aisle with lancets, which suggests the nave was C12, as does a distorted plain round-headed chancel arch with square abaci, shown in an undated sketch by Adelaide Tracy (on the back of her drawing of St Clement, Hastings).   A three-bay arcade with pointed arches (GM ibid p805) was no doubt contemporary with the aisle.  Charles Covert, rector from 1719 to 1759, rebuilt the chancel (Dallaway I p805) and though there is no evidence, this would be a plausible date for the other post-Reformation alterations.

Blomfield probably owed his commission to his restoration two years earlier of North Mundham church since the two livings had been united in 1851.  He omitted the aisle, but his design otherwise departs from the previous rustic simplicity, for his budget of £4,500 (KD 1899) was quite generous for such a relatively modest church.  Thus, whilst repeating a double belfry, the new one has gargoyles as well as a small further tier above and the south nave windows consist of paired lancets with large cinquefoils over.  Otherwise he used simple lancets, but they seem rather at odds with the spiky, even fussy overall design.  Inside, the chancel arch is enriched with stumpy shafts and the east triplet is contained in a rere-arch with marble shafts that undulates round the outline of the head.  Two west lancets are contained in a tall single arch.


Brass: (Concealed in the dark coloured surround of the tiled floor of the sanctuary) Inscription only to John Playstoo, vicar (d1497) (My thanks to Martin Jones who spotted this).
C19.  Round with neo-Norman details.
Glass: (All) J Powell and Sons.
1. (East window) designed by C Hardgrave, 1885.
2. (chancel north), E Penwarden, 1891.
3. (chancel south) — Fripps, 1891.
4. (chancel south) G Hutchinson, 1891.
5. (chancel south) E Penwarden, 1892.
6. (north windows) — Duthie  (All Hadley list).
Piscina: (Chancel) C19 except for a projecting bowl carved with foliage, which looks C13 and may be from the old church.
Reredos: Mosaic by J Powell and Sons, designed by G Parlby, 1885 (Hadley list).