St Nicholas Bishop Of Myra, Worth

Dave Godden

Maidstone, United Kingdom

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The church of St Nicholas Bishop Of Myra, Worth, W Sussex.

5 frame panorama each frame a 5 image HDR from Canon EOS1000D processed in PS8.

Experts have dated Worth Church between the years 950 and 1050 AD and perhaps even earlier.

Ninety nine per cent of the walls of the nave, the three great arches and the two transepts which we see today, are original Saxon work. The stonework of the apse is also Saxon. The large chancel is unique in an English church of this age. Over the years, the parish of Worth has covered a very large area, at one time claiming to be the largest parish, geographically, in England.

After the Norman Conquest Worth Church was given by William the Conqueror to his son-in-law, William de Warenne. The arms of the de Warenne family are depicted in stained glass in the north transept.

The church remained in the hands of the de Warenne family until about the middle of the 14th century when the church and lands passed into the Fitzalan family through the marriage of the daughter of the last of the de Warennes to the Earl of Arundel.

It then passed to the Nevills, Earls of Abergavenny on the death of the fifth Earl of Arundel in 1415 and later to Lord Abergavenny (d. 1476).

The style of the church itself is cruciform: the West (entrance) door is 14th century and upon entering the building, one is immediately aware of the huge Saxon arch at the east end of the Nave. At 22 feet high and 14 feet wide this is possibly one of the largest Saxon arches in existence. It is a powerful expression of the faith and dedication of the masons and builders who constructed it, and its companion arches on either side.

The Saxon windows – two on the north side and one on the south side of the church – are unique in that there are no other known examples in the nave of any church… They were set at a great height for a purpose. In the troublesome times through which the church has lived, especially pre-conquest, almost every church was used as a place of safety to which people could flee for sanctuary afforded by solid walls of probably the only stone building in the district. Such high windows offered further protection making it difficult for marauders to gain access.

The very lofty archways of the north and south doorways are characteristic of late Saxon work. Some say that the arches were created in this form so that a horseman could ride into the building, make obeisance to the altar or pray, without dismounting, and then ride straight out of the opposite door without turning his mount. The north (or devil’s) door was filled in many years ago – no doubt to keep out the draughts!

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