Iford Church, to quote the church guide, is "a precious survivor from just after the Norman Conquest". Throughout its life it has been changed and adapted, but the original design is still clear. Not long after the conquest a Norman Knight built the church and gave it to the Priory of St Pancras in Southover (Lewes) which owned some land in Iford.
The first church comprised the current nave, but with the entrance at the west end. Traces of this ancient entrance can still be made out in the wall behind the font. Opposite the current south doorway, three blocked arches are visible opposite. These are also visible outside (shown below) and once gave onto a northern, long vanished, aisle. It was probably removed after the black death around 100 years after it was built.
One of the windows in the North wall contains this lovely depiction of St Nicholas himself.
Here are a couple of pictures of the interior. First, looking east into the chancel (beyond the base of the tower, or first chancel (c.1090)) then west from the chancel back through the tower (which seems to be used as a choir area).
The fine arch seen from the nave is the earliest and is Norman, with a roll and chevron motif. Beyond it, through the tower, is a second arch leading to the present chancel (c. 1100), added by the Priory in the 12th century. The first chancel arch originally had rectangular columns like those of the second, but the present style with nook-shafts and cushion capitals dates from the unfortunate 19th century restoration.
The earlier chancel is now the lower stage of the tower and the tiny round headed windows in he side walls are of the first build set into the thickness of the original walls. The taller round arches were added to support the greater weight of the belfry upper stage of the tower, which twists as it rises to that the walls line up with the nave at the base but with the second chancel at the higher levels. This is visible on the photo at the top of this page.
The tower contains three bells, which are rung from the nave, and which are among the 29 oldest in Sussex. They date from around 1426 and inscribed for the saints Margaret, Katherine and Botolph, and were cast by William Chamberlain.
The present chancel has a pointed arch to the north which leads to the vestry. A stone in the floor would seem to indicate this was once a chapel. The south side of the chancel has two 14th century style windows. The east window is interesting, as the three narrow openings have rounded heads, thus predating pointed lancets. Above these there is a small, round, oculus. Until 1868 these windows had been filled and covered by panelling.
The font, although having a more recent base, has a date not much after 1200. The small pipe organ was given in memory of P.S.F. and is by J W Walker & Sons.
A final interesting point is that the Church is virtually on the Greenwich meridian, which runs about 30 metres to the west being recorded by a tablet set into the wall opposite the entrance to the village hall.
This final picture is taken from the roadway on the south side of the church.
Visitors to this album since June 2003
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