Poynings

 

Poynings

Holy Trinity Church

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Description and History

 

 

The current church dates from the fourteenth century, although there was almost certainly a Saxon place of worship on the site as well as a Norman church which was noted in the Doomsday Survey of 1087, and stood for 300 years.  This was a rectangular windowless stone building and the tiles at the base of the altar of the current church are from this Norman building.

 

The church we see today dates from shortly after 1369, when the then Lord of the Manor - Michael of Poynings - died at the age of 51, and left some money for a new church to be built on the site of this existing Norman Church. The building was supervised by Michael’s eldest son Thomas. It is in the Perpendicular style and much of the old is incorporated in it. For example, the unusual width of the south transept reflects the desire to include the founder’s grave.

In form the church resembles that at Alfriston. It is near to equi-cruciform, or Greek Cross, in design. The height is enhanced by the fact that it stands on a mound; the tower is 58 feet high. The church is 90 feet long and 70 feet wide across the transepts. Four columns support a tower containing three bells. The roof is largely covered in Horsham stone - it underwent major repairs in 1993. Substantial restoration had previously also been carried out in the early 1800s. This was when the chancel screen was erected at the entrance to the South transept.

 

The north transept contains the vestry and the organ and a fragment of painted glass from 1421, showing the Annunciation. Apart from a few pieces in the north window, other glass in the church is clear, giving the whole building a great deal of light. The East window is a good example of a five light window and is facsimile of those at Alfriston in east Sussex and Tarring in West Sussex.

 

There are traces on the south wall opposite the North door of a medieval mural over which the Ten Commandments have been painted.

 

The porch was built over the grave of Michael of Poynings’ grandson Richard who died in 1430 – the Poynings coat of arms can be seen in the gable. The West door is dated 1608. It was at one time blocked to allow entry to a gallery.

 

In the chancel there is a triple sedilia, a piscina from the Norman Church and a priest’s door. The altar rails are from1640 when the Archbishop of Canterbury declared that holy tables should be ‘fenced’. The carved angels are much later – given in memory of an airman killed in World War II, and the work of Sussex Sculptor William Court. Information taken from the Guide for Visitors to the Church, in which additional details can be found.