Southwater – Holy Innocents

Though the name occurs in the Middle Ages, a substantial village only developed at Southwater in the C18, along the road to Worthing from Horsham.  It grew substantially after the establishment of a brickworks in 1890 (now defunct) and has become a residential suburb of Horsham.

The church was built in 1848 to 1850 and assigned a parish in 1853, formed from parts of Horsham and Shipley (VCH 6(2) p145).  The architect was J P Harrison (ICBS) and it is built of reddish brown sandstone, which was quarried locally.  Though it has no tower, just a small bell-turret with fretted openings and a shingled spirelet, it is substantial, with a north aisle and a big south porch of stone.  The cost of £2000 (PP125) was well above what was needed for a modest village church.  The main windows have curvilinear tracery of some complexity, contrasting with the four-bay arcade which has octagonal piers and double-chamfered arches.  The decoration on the chancel arch is limited to a moulded head and foliage corbels on the responds.  The roofs are more elaborate, especially the aisle one, which has cusped braces.  That of the chancel is ceiled with wooden strips imitating vaulting ribs.

When built, the church was liturgically in the van, with a long chancel, for Harrison had worked for Tractarians like John Henry Newman and Henry Manning.  Later alterations have included an enlarged nave window in 1860 (B 18 p370) which, though not specified, was presumably one of those on the south side.  In 1909-10 a south vestry was added by F Wheeler and C R B Godman at a cost of £280 (church website).  There were further repairs in 1974-75 by L H Parsons of the same practice (ICBS), now known as Godman and Kay, which followed previous repairs in 1952 by S Roth (ibid).


Font: Carved and octagonal with a quatrefoil with pointed lobes on each side. The base is covered in tiles made by the Ceramic Tile Works, Worcester (BE(W) p621).
1. (North aisle, west window) Clayton and Bell, 1860 (B 18 p353).
2. (South nave, first and second, north chancel and north aisle first to third windows) H Thompson, 1981-86 (one signed).  These are like no other glass of the period in Sussex, for they have no immediately obvious religious function.  Those to the south depict rural occupations and crafts and in the north aisle are various depictions of Christ’s Hospital, its history and its pupils.. The depictions are brightly coloured and even naive in character, but those to the south in particular are arranged asymmetrically within each window.

My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the photographs