Our Building and its History

 

It is difficult to know with certainty how old our church is and how long it has been a site of worship.  The oldest part of the present church is the chancel, which is mostly C13th and has been dated to the time of Edward I (1272 - 1307). The first recorded Vicar was William in 1232 during the reign of Henry III (1216 - 1272).

 

Of note are the three original lancet windows which are characteristic of the simple early English architecture of the period.  They are decorated with cowslips.  In the centre is a tiny crucifix, which may be even earlier.

The church we see today was completed in the reign of Henry VIII.  More recent work was undertaken by the Victorians who were responsible for the stained glass including work by C.E. Kempe, one of the finest of Victorian stained glass artists. More history of the Parish of Cowfold may be found from British History Online.


One of our greatest treasures is the Brass to Thomas Nelond measuring 3.1m x 1.3m.  Thomas Nelond was the 26th prior of the Cluniac Priory of St. Pancras at Southover, Lewes.  He died during the reign of Henry VI, on the 14th May 1432.

The figure of the prior measures 1.8m (5'10").  He is represented tonsured and wearing the monastic habit of his order.  He is flanked on one side by St. Thomas à Beckett, the patron saint of the Prior and on the other by St. Pancras, the patron saint of the Priory.  Above his head sits enthroned Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the Christ Child standing on her lap.  Short petitions to each saint rise in scrolls from his praying hands.

It is thought that his memorial was removed during the dissolution of the Priory in 1537.  How and why it came to Cowfold is something of a mystery. Further information is available from Lewes Priory Trust.

The brass may be viewed on certain open days, or by appointment with the Churchwarden at a mutually convenient time.

 


Stained Glass

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a gallery of our stained glass

Church Organ

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Church Bells

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Brass to Thomas Nelond

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