The Church of the Good Shepherd in Mannings Heath is also part of the Nuthurst parish.
There has been a church on this site for over a thousand years, although the building here today has been much altered and extended over the centuries. The north chancel wall is 12th century, and the chancel was extended eastwards in the 13th or 14th century, and apparently widened at the same time. The nave dates from the 14th century.
The church of today was originally built in the Decorated style. In 1661 the church in Nuthurst was extended by some 6.5 metres on the western end on the restoration of the monarchy.
During 1856-1860 the sandstone cladding was applied to the exterior of the building to all but the north chancel wall, and the south porch was replaced. Over the same period, the west end was altered and extended by a further 5 metres and the previous squat tower was replaced by the elegant shingled spire which still adorns the building today. The timberwork around the belfry was further altered between 1895 and 1900. To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the church was thoroughly repaired and restored on the inside and out.
Here are two pictures of the interior, the first looking east, the second west.
Here is the lovely modern east window.
Here are the more of the windows in the church.
The window below is a jumble of glass - heads, hooves, bits of lettering and more!
The story is told that this window was buried during the commonwealth period to protect it from damage from soldiers and that when they came to reconstruct the window they had forgotten the how it went together. Although a great story, it is unlikely to be accurate as the glass is thought to be Victorian, however it presumably provides an excellent way to exercise the mind during boring sermons!
This window is at the western end of the northern wall and was installed on the 11th April 1995 to the memory of Alexander Moschini whose life was ended in tragic circumstances when he was 16 years old.
To quote an information panel below the window:
"The window is based on two texts, Luke 10:30-37 and Matthew 25:40. Both of the passages encompass ideas of charity, love and consideration.
The two lights are designed as one in terms of movement of colour and light, the window seen initially purely as colour and light. In this respect too, it is designed to relate comfortably to other windows in the nave. Each light is also a separate entity. On the left is the story of the Good Samaritan, with a sequence of 'chapters' reading from top to bottom. At the top is a glimpse of Jerusalem, with the road descending into a dark glade; here the man lies wounded with the Priest passing by. In the middle section the Samaritan tends the man and in the lower section he caries him towards the inn. The upper scenes are frames by old oak trees, and appropriately Sussex motif.
In the right hand light is a single scene, where the figure comes to to of 'the least of my brethren' offering comfort and love. It is hoped that the simple gesture of the two central figures, taking one another's hands, speaks of the theme of the window. A decrepit arch rises above the figures. One figure sits in the foreground, two others look on. Through the arch a townscape is suggested, and at the top of the light a downland landscape can be discerned.
The figurative elements are 'locked in' to the window as a whole, and perhaps emerge more strongly on contemplation that they do initially. A stained glass window should be rewarding over a long period, with specific details and suggested imagery to be discovered, as well of details of surface and colour to be enjoyed for their own sake.
The window was designed and executed by Thomas Denny. Born in London in 1956, he studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art and has continued to work as a painter as well as a stained-glass artist. Stained glass commissions include: a church full of windows at St. Christopher, Warden Hill, Cheltenham; three windows for Gloucester Cathedral; a window for St. John's, Slimbridge, Gloucester; a window for St. Mary's, Powerstock, Dorset; a window for St. John's, Accrington, Lancashire, and a window for the Diocesan Museum, Regensbury, Germany."
Here are the font and the organ. Until 1961, when the cover was being cleaned and gilded, it was discovered by accident that the font had been covered with a mortar rendering at some time in the past and that it was of ancient origin. The font is believed to be one of the oldest items in the church (perhaps Saxon), and is made of Purbeck marble.
The organ has a matching case on the other side of the chancel, however the pipes are purely decorative as the church was unable to maintain the old pipe organ and instead replaced it with a 30 stop Norwich electronic organ in 1983. It has a detached console and the speakers are located in the old organ cases.
The parish chest, made from one hollowed out log, dates from the 13th century or earlier. It still bears hasps and fastenings of Sussex iron. The heavy security fastenings indicate that it was used to store or carry valuables, and tradition has it that this "treasure chest" took tithes and taxes from the parish across to France in the early part of the 13th century. Up until Palm Sunday 1230, when it passed to the diocese of Chichester, the parish of Nuthurst belonged to and was administered by the Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy. The Abbot would have appointed the parish priests, and they may well have been monks. There would have been regular deputations from the Abbey to collect the tithes and the church tax on land and produce.
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