St Nicholas Bishop of Myra, Worth - Sanctuary

Dave Godden

Maidstone, United Kingdom

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The Sanctuary of the church of St Nicholas Bishop of Myra, Worth, West Sussex, UK.

5 image HDR from a Canon EOS1000D processed in PS8.

Hidden in the outskirts of modern Crawley this church is possibly the oldest still functioning in England.

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.

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