St Mary the Virgin, Ninfield, Sussex - 26th July 2003

A church on the present site is likely to have been built in the eighth century, although the only material evidence for this early building is three ancient stone blocks , now built into the exterior of the modern north wall. They were taken from a doorway in the old north wall when it was removed to add the north aisle in 1885.

The earliest written record of the church is in the Domesday survey of 1086, and the earliest structural work now remaining is the thirteenth century stonework in the south and east walls of the nave.

Sadly, the restorations of 1885 has destroyed or overlaid much that would be of interest, however the church is still a fascinating and beautiful building.

The bell tower, contains a single bell which was cast about 1395, and is inscribed to St Martin of Tours thus: "Hic Est Martinus Quem Salvet Trimus et Unus" ~ This is Martin, ,may the trinity save him. 

It is fascinating to think that his bell has been heard by the villagers of Ninfield since before the time of the Battle of Agincourt, 1415.

Ninfield Church, 26th July 2003 - MTC

Here is the inside, looking towards the chancel and east window.  The chancel arch was built in the 1885 restoration, replacing the original Norman arch which "consisted of a central opening no larger than a good-sized doorway, with two small recesses or openings one on each side, and in front of these smaller arches there stood in Norman times side altars", (Mr. George Gilbert Scott writing in 1874).

Inside Ninfield Church - 26th July 2003

Here is the organ which according to the guidebook is of exceptional quality for a village church and was built by Henry Jones and rebuilt in 1987 by John Males

At the west end of the church are the remains of the minstrel's gallery. This was constructed in the seventeenth century , but was closed and boarded up in the 1885 restoration.  It was reopened in 1923, and can be seen in the photo below.  Church records tell that the music was led by a flautist and later a harmonium from the gallery.  Today there is no direct access.

Ninfield church, organ, 26th July 2003 - MTCNinfield church, looking west with gallery, 26th July 2003 - MTC

This final view is from the north, looking from the graveyard.  The three ancient stones mentioned above can just be seen between the most westerly of the three windows.

Ninfield Church, 26th July 2003 - MTC

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