The other two West Sussex churches

So having got to West Sussex with a camera that didn’t work, I decided I might as well continue on my planned route and visit the other two Churches Conservation Trust churches that I had set out to see for the Fifty Before Fifty challenge: St Mary Magdalene at Tortington and the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Warminghurst.

Like the church with no name at North Stoke, a church at Warminghurst is in the Doomsday Book but the church of the Holy Sepulchre was rebuilt totally in about 1220.


Here it is, iPhone photos I’m afraid owing to broken camera.

Now this church featured one of my favourite churchy things …

IMG_8205… a three deck pulpit. I love these. You get a real feeling of the power of the clergy when you are standing in one of these looking down on where your congregation would be sitting (yes I did try it out for size). It also had box pews which, as I’ve said before, I just don’t get. But the pulpit was lovely.

IMG_8201Now in this church the box pews were rented out to the congregation according to their social status. The pews without the doors towards the back of the church were the free seats for the poor members of the community.

The Butler family owned the Warminghurst estate throughout the 1700s. In 1707 James Butler had the church remodeled. One of the additions was this painting on plaster..


It is the Royal Coat of Arms of Queen Anne and, repainted in 1845, it is still in remarkable condition.

There are other famous people connected with the church too. William Penn, Quaker after whom Pennsylvania takes its name, lived at Warminghurst and worshipped here and Henry Shelley, ancestor of Percy Bysshe Shelley, built the burial chapel now used as a vestry.


And there is a memorial to George Freeman, founder of the Times Educational Supplement.

IMG_8215You can also still see the base of a 13th century double piscina. There are memorials on the wall above it and the piscina was probably filled in when those were erected.

But the most interesting feature (at least as far as I was concerned) was the brass dedicated to Edward Shelley (another Percy relative?)

IMG_8212Here he is alongside his seven sons. On the other side of the brass is his wife with their three daughters. You can see that son number seven has lost his head. This is deliberate and it is because in reality son number seven really did lose his head. Edward Shelley junior brought disgrace on the family when in 1588 he was executed for harboring a Catholic priest and so his head was removed from the brass memorial as well. Now I think that’s a little harsh (but a nice quirky little story).

IMG_8198Now this pretty little place is the Church of St Mary Magdelene at Tortington. Not in the Doomsday Book, it is thought to have been built about 1140 and this is another church faced in the local flint.

But just look at that archway. It’s glorious.

IMG_8183It’s Norman, estimated at 11th or 12th century and, according to experts on this church, because of the changes over the years this archway must have been taken apart and rebuilt three times in its history. It’s in beautiful condition though, and I love the door.

IMG_8190Inside the church is another great archway carved in Caen stone. It’s got those funny beaked creatures on it like the church we found in Tutbury in Staffordshire. I love these things but now I really need to buy a book on church architecture so I can find out what they mean.


This church is also famous for its stained glass. This is a depiction of St Richard, Bishop of Chichester and it is late 19th century and created by Charles Kempe, famed in stained glass circles. The bottom left had corner of the window features his trademark wheatsheaf.

One of the other things I really liked about this church was this.

IMG_8187A list of the Vicars of Tortington. Now, quite apart from the names, which I love (Wylli, Ballinghall Beath, Duncomb et al)  dear old Robert Bartlett appears to have lived for a very long time :)

  1. Wow another Norman arch and as you say with the funny beaky things, what an earth do they mean. Not bad photos from phone and a great one of the 3 decker :)

    • They’re weird aren’t they … let me know if you discover what they mean :)

  2. Robert Bartlot was clearly one of the first undead vicars…..

  3. Regardless of how they were taken, they are beautiful photos, and lovely subtle light.. Lovely post Dory..always so much history and human detail… that poor boy losing his head… every way …

  4. Thanks Valerie, it’s the human detail that makes history so fascinating to me. I do love a good story :)

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