Church mentioned in Domesday book and rebuilt in 19th century

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Sussex is home to countless churches whose history dates back to the Norman Conquest and the Domesday Book.

Holy Trinity, in Hurstpierpoint, is one such church.

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Parishioner John Norris wrote a history of the church for its website www.hurstpierpointholytrinity.org.uk .

Hurst is a Saxon name and Mr Norris’ research suggested a church may have been erected on the site before the Norman Conquest.

He wrote: “This is conjecture but certainly there was a church here by 1086 when the Domesday Book recorded the fact.”

The church underwent major rebuilding work in the 1840s when little of the original church was left following centuries of additions and alterations.

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Mr Norris said it was difficult now to trace its development from existing records and prints with any accuracy.

He added: “The tower, however, has been generally considered to have been the original Norman tower.

“In its final form, the church consisted of western tower, nave, south aisle and chancel, with south or Danny chapel on its south side.”

West Sussex Library Services records the church was designed in the 1840s in the Early Decorated Style by Sir Charles Barry and was built in 1845 to replace the smaller church of St Lawrence.

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It seems the rebuilding was long overdue.

A letter sent to the churchwardens from the Archdeacon criticised the structure of the building.

He wrote: “It is a miserable piece of patchwork and there is hardly any thing in it worth preserving, except the two old sound pillars.”

A little harsh, perhaps as, inside the Danny chapel lay the stone effigies of two warriors.

One is wearing 14th century plated armour and the Library Service believes it could represent Simon de Pierpoint. The other represents a Knight Templar, wearing chain mail and with a sword and shield.

Urging them to rebuild, the Archdeacon continued: “I would therefore earnestly exhort you to consult your Parishioners on the propriety of building an entirely new Church, 
large enough for your population.

“When God has afforded you such means of spiritual instruction, you ought to be anxious that all the Parishioners should be enabled to benefit by that instruction.”

Sources: Holy Trinity Hurstpierpoint by John Norris, West Sussex Library Services

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