After an earlier visit in 2005 when we arrived after the church had been locked, we revisited on a roasting day in June 2010 to explore the interior of the building. We were not disappointed and met a charming local man with whom we discussed various aspects of the church.
This church, originally constructed in the 12th century, has undergone major changes throughout its history - particularly additions in the 15th century when the tower, chancel and north chapel were rebuilt.
Evidence of the change are the remains of the south arcade, now visible on the outside (photos above and below), following removal of the south aisle in the 16th century. Major restoration was performed in the mid 20th century.
The Bishop of Chichester re-opened the nave and consecrated the two altars in November 1964. Just inside the south door is a holy water stoup set into the wall behind the door. Just inside the door is the stone font, its appearance not hugely improved by the plastic Ichthus fish stuck on the front. The nicely carved cover is modern and was made and donated by N H J Payne in 2005.
Opposite the door is the pipe organ, which was built by Norman & Board of Norwich for a church in London. It was brought to Iden in 1906. One rank of pipes has since been changed and for many years the organ was located under the arch between the chancel and north chapel. In the north east corner of the nave is a fine Flemish (16th century) statue of St Christopher with the Christ Child.
The interior of the building is flooded with light as there is very little stained glass fitted. In addition much of the former Victorian embellishment has been removed, and particularly the chancel present a feeling of space and lightness. The interior space comprises the nave, north aisle, chancel and north chapel. There is also a ringing room behind a screen under the tower arch.
A view looking from the north west of the nave, clearly showing the arches of the former south arcade. The pulpit is part of a former three-decker which once stood almost in the centre of the nave. The 18th century sounding board which would have surmounted it now hangs on the south wall at the base of the tower.
Hanging over the pulpit hangs a rare 14th or 15th century crucifix from the collection of Lady Conway's collection at Saltway Castle in Kent. Like the Priest's Stall in the chancel it was anonymously donated in 1953.
Here is a view of the chancel and nave looking from the sanctuary. Notice the brackets under the tower which guide the bell ropes. Apparently the bell ropes here are so long that it makes the bells quite a challenge to ring. At one time the bells were rung as a Carillon - the remains of the connecting ropes still exist in the south west corner of the tower.
Here is a closer view of the tower screen, which was installed as a memorial to those killed in the 1914-18 war. The tower contains a peal of six bells and contains a room below the bell chamber which is equipped with a large 15th/16th century fireplace that may have been a priest's living room.
Hanging on the west wall near the organ is a painting of St Francis of Assisi after the 15th Century Siennese School. The Early English statue of a saint (thought to be possibly St Barbara) stands on a window sill in the north aisle.
An unusual feature beside the turret door is a Maidenhair Fern which has been growing in this location for many years - perhaps since the 18th century! This photo illustrates the reason why - this does seem to be a rather damp corner!
Originally the church would have contained three stone altars (in the chancel, north chapel and at the eastern end of the southern aisle). These were destroyed in 1560, and on the orders of Edward VI they were replaced by wooden tables. Traditionally the old stone slabs were taken outside and used as a path outside the south door so that they were a symbol of contempt for Papal beliefs as people walked over them. The present altar, made of Sussex marble was recovered from the churchyard, reconstituted with a cement mix and installed as in the photograph below in 1959. There is a piscina in the south wall similar to the one in the north chapel.
There is one stained glass window in the chancel in memory of a former Rector of the parish (for 57 years), George Augustus Lamb. He died in 1864. It depicts Christ as the Good Shepherd. Prior to World War II the other southern window had stained glass dedicated to Julia Louise, George Lamb's wife, but it was damaged by enemy action. The chancel lamp was formerly a memorial oil lamp for lighting the church. The Priest's stall with misericord is French, probably 15th and 19th centuries.
The north chapel, like the chancel has no fitted furniture so is light and spacious. The altar was given in memory of Mrs Tudor Hard and the lamp glass in memory of Mrs H Blogg. Candlesticks in painted Sussex wrought iron were stolen in 1996. The replacement copies are now kept in the vestry for security, their place taken by the wooden candlesticks made and donated by Dave Evans of Peasmarsh. Behind the altar hangs a wine-coloured silk composite frontal of 17th century Italian work with appliqué panels of cloth of gold and brown silk velvet. The statue of the Virgin and Child is probably 16th century Spanish.
On the north wall of this chapel is a painting of The Prodigal Son by Hans Feibush; it was exhibited at The Festival of Britain in 1951.
The central column of the north arcade contains some interesting graffiti. Symbols are fairly common in old churches, where they were a way for the largely illiterate parishioners to express their faith. The following photographs have been electronically enhanced to make the images clearer. On the north west face is what is possibly a sacred heart emblem. The south west face shows a depiction of the crucifixion with a large 'M; and a chequered shield. The M probably is for Maria, Queen of Heaven.
Above the crucifixion is the outline of what could be a Levantine sailing vessel.
The chancel was rebuilt in the 13th century, as was the tower, which has also had a stair turret added. Here is a view of the east end of the church.
The final view is of the north side of the church - the hipped end to the north aisle is not common.
Visitors to this album since June 2003
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