Treyford – St Mary (old and new)

Treyford has had two churches, of which the older is now a ruin and the C19 replacement has gone.  The tiny parish was united with Elsted in 1485 and Didling was added by 1535 (VCH 4 p7), but all three churches remained in use until a large new one was built at Treyford in 1849.

New Church

The architect was B Ferrey (B 7 p559), using stone found on the spot.  This weathered badly (it was probably a form of clunch) and by 1888 the roof and aisle needed repairs, which were carried out by J T Christopher and E E White (CDK 1888 pt 2 p139).  Adelaide Tracy (1849) (I p34) shows a large aisled church with Decorated tracery and a north west tower and stone spire.  The cost is variously stated to have been £20,000 (PP 125) or £30,000 (KD 1899), either way a substantial sum for the period, and the church must have seemed quite out of place here.  The deterioration continued until it was blown up in 1951 (BE p355).  All that is left is the enclosed churchyard at the edge of Treyford on the road to Elsted.  This continued to be used after the demolition of the church and, now largely wooded, is maintained as a nature reserve.  The actual site of the church is an open area of grass amid the trees and among the surviving graves is an iron marker dated 1875 of the type noticed by Ian Nairn at Bepton (BE p101), where none survives.

Old Church

Of the three old churches, Didling was never given up and though Elsted was partially ruined, it was repaired and taken back into use in 1951.  By then the old church of Treyford was past rebuilding and continued to decay, though it was only declared redundant formally in 1986; it was then seriously  overgrown, but the ruins were cleared and consolidated in 2009.  All the tombs visible in church and churchyard in 1923 (1 p179) were later smashed; the ruin stands on an overgrown mound near the C17 manor and its west end is best preserved, with a single lancet.  The east end had three slightly stepped lancets and smaller south ones confirm that the chancel was rebuilt or extended in the C13.  An old photograph of the interior (VCH 4 opp p28) shows a string-course at sill-level and a timber and plaster division instead of a chancel arch.  Parts of at least the nave may be C12, though the round-headed north doorway and concentric splays of the surviving lancets look early C13 (see the west one).  The same photograph shows an arch with semi-octagonal responds, which led originally to a late C14 or C15 north chapel.  This was blocked by the C16, though the projecting in-filling was still visible in the 1930s (ibid p32).  Enough of the south wall survives to show that it was thinner and largely rebuilt with brick quoins and window-openings.  This rebuilding probably took place in the earlier C19.  The date and form of the roof are not known and the Sharpe collection drawing (1805) shows there was then no belfry.

(As recorded in the old church)

Aumbries: (Chancel) The photograph shows two square-headed ones, probably C13.
Font: A plain square C12 or C13 font was removed to the new church, where it was put under a 14ft high cover (see 2) and not preserved in 1951.
1.  (Chancel) In 1900 traces of a Doom on the east wall and ‘marbling’ were said to have been visible (SAC 43 (1900) p245), though no date is stated.  J L André in the same year (1900 ) p298) makes no mention of s Doom but records diamond-shaped patterns on the rere-arches of the east lancets which by implication were C13.  Above the lancets was scrollwork of the same period.
2.  (Partition between nave and chancel) C16 decorative work (SAC 43 ibid).
3.  Remains of consecration crosses were still visible in the late 1970s (vidi).
Piscina: (Chancel) Apparently square-headed and C13.


1.  R C Troke: Old Treyford Church, SNQ 10 (Nov 1945) pp179-81
2.                   : A Lost Font (Treyford) and Window (Elsted), SNQ 13 (Nov 1953) pp316-17


Measured plan by W H Godfrey in VCH 4 p32

My thanks to Richard Standing for the four photographs of the old church after the work of 2009