Alciston is a Norman church of unknown dedication. It is part of a group of buildings formed by Court House Farm, a large tithe barn and an early clergy house (to the north of the church) and a medieval dove cot and fishponds. In "The Chronicles of Battel Abbey", held in the British Museum, mention is made of King William the Conqueror giving to the abbey of Battel "a manor in Sussex called Alsitona with all its appendages. 43 hides and a half, which he had hitherto held in domain, with all the liberties and royal customs aforesaid."
After the dissolution, the manor passed to Sir John Gage, whose lineal descendant, Viscount Gage, now possesses the estate, but the church forms part of the United Benefice of Selmeston with Alciston and the living is in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Chichester Cathedral.
Here is a view of the nave looking east into the chancel. There is no stained glass in this church which makes the building feel light and airy - added to by the lack of choir stalls in the chancel (they were removed in 1973).
Compare the view with this photo, hanging on the wall in the church, of the appearance of the building in the past.
Recent (1984) excavations have found the remains of an apse of finely cut chalk blocks under the east window belonging to an earlier, pre-conquest, church. This was destroyed when the present chancel was built, which was in turn modified in the 12th century and shortened (witnessed by the bisected window arch at the east end) in the 15th.
The nave looking west showing the attractive roof and light fittings.
The original church was altered in the 13th century and 'restored' in 1853 and the porch rebuilt in 1951.
The organ carries three plaques:
"This organ was originally provided by Mrs Maude Walker (1836-1937), patron for the living. The electric blower was added in 1951 in her memory." ~ "This organ was restored in 1951 in memory of Harold Matthews incumbent of this parish, 1898 - 1942) and of Mabel, his wife." ~ "This organ was brought from Berwick to Alciston Church in 1987 through the generosity of Sir Anthony and Lady Lloyd of L???ay in this parish. The bench was added as a gift from the family of the late Helena and Alan Calver formerly of Old Postmans Cottage and churchwardens of this parish."
The belfry, which was reconstructed in pine in 1853, was restored in oak in 1985/86, to a design as close as possible to the original 14th century design. The two bells, one of which was cast in 1380 (Carrying the inscription "Sancta Agatha Ora Pro Nobis", Holy Agatha sing for us), were restored and re-hung in 1985. The weather vane is in the form of a fish, much like the one at Piddinghoe.
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