Little Horsted – St Michael
The wall arches in the chancel north wall show the church originated in the C12, but except the C15 tower, everything else was rebuilt in 1863.
Little Horsted is a scattered village with a few cottages and the mid-C19 Horsted Place, now a hotel and hidden behind banks of rhododendrons, near the church.
The C12 rubble-built north wall of the chancel has four plain wall-arches, externally and towards the east end, two of which contain small round-headed windows. Their position shows the chancel was long for the C12, but the Sharpe Collection drawing (1803) confirms the arrangement is original. This also shows the late C13 trefoil-headed lowside in the length of wall to the west, which is still there, and Nibbs shows an east triplet, which would have been of similar date. There may have been at least one further wall-arch here. The aisleless nave is slightly out of line with the chancel, which suggests its plan may also be early, though probably not earlier than the C12 in an inland area such as this.
Inside the chancel is a low C14 moulded tomb-recess to the north with head-stops, restored after being found in 1863 (3 p197). The Sharpe drawing and Adelaide Tracy (IV p25) (c1850) show more C15 detail, including a segment-headed three-light east window with cusped lights. No representation of the south side is known and all that can be seen of the north side of the nave on the Sharpe drawing is a two-light square-headed window, also C15 and resembling the C19 one there today.
For such a modest church, the C15 west tower is tall. It has diagonal buttresses, conventional two-light bell-openings and a west doorway with a square hoodmould and carved spandrels, one with a lively depiction of a Green Man. The window has original head-stops on the hoodmould and accurately renewed panelled tracery. The battlements are unchanged, but in 1863 the north east stair-turret, previously level with the battlements, was heightened and given a conical top. The tall and broad tower arch has semi-octagonal responds for the inner order of the double-chamfered head.
Nibbs (1851) shows the east window partially blocked with three single lights, an arrangement said to date from c1800. Other alterations probably made then include the entrance to a gallery at the north west corner of the nave that Adelaide Tracy shows. At Sir George G Scott‘s restoration in 1862-63 (WSRO Ep II/27/161) only the tower and the wall arches were retained. Everything else was rebuilt in ashlar on the old foundations with mostly C14 details, including an east window with geometrical tracery. The total cost of all restoration work to the church up to 1875 was £3,500 (PP 125), though Scott’s actual restoration is said to have cost only £2271 (1). In view of the thorough nature of this, it is hard to see what the rest of the money could have been spent on, unless there had been earlier work which has now gone.
Fittings and Monument
Font: 1863 (BN 10 p477), with an octagonal bowl and variegated marble shafts on the stem. It was carved by ‘Farmer’ (1), i e Farmer and Brindley) who did much work for Scott. The previous font is said to have borne the date 1666 (Horsfield I p374).
1. (East, three north and first south chancel windows) E F Brickdale, 1934, made by Burlison and Grylls. The colouring is subdued and there is much use of uncoloured glass. (www.stainedglassrecords.org retrieved on 11/3/2013).
2. (South nave, first window and west window) Clayton and Bell, c1866 (KD 1866). According to the same source, the then east window was also by Clayton and Bell.
3. (South nave, second window) R de Montmorency, 1960 (signed).
Monument: (Recess in chancel) Incised tomb-slab of c1500 with a cross and an inscription to a member of the Delves family, yeomen in the parish. It was found in fragments in the north wall in 1863 (2 p216). Memorials of stone to those neither noble nor priest are rare at this time.
Pulpit, reredos and lectern: Also by ‘Farmer’ (1).
1. C Brent: Visit to Little Horsted Church of St Michael, NFSHCT 2005 p3
2. E H W Dunkin: On an Incised Memorial Slab in Little Horsted Churchyard, SAC 26 (1875) pp216-18
3. M A Lower: Parochial Notices of Horsted-Parva, SAC 21 (1869) pp191-201
My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the photographs.