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Tours > Sussex Churches > Boxgrove

Boxgrove - St. Mary and St. Blaise
SU 908075; Four Miles North-East of Chichester

A remarkable and memorable church that started life as a twelfth century Priory founded by Robert de la Haye. His family and their descendants were to remain patrons of the church until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. It then became a parish church and was substantially reduced in size. Today the building represents the eastern arms of the medieval priory, with just a small portion of the original nave surviving.

The main period of work to be seen today is of the early thirteenth century, typified by the pillars of Caen stone and Purbeck Marble Shafts. These support a stone vaulted ceiling which received beautifully painted decoration in the sixteenth century. In the south aisle is the amazing De La Warr Chantry. This 'building within a building' formed a Chantry Chapel where priests prayed for the soul of its builder, Thomas De La Warr. Built in 1532 it only served its original purpose for fifteen years as Chantry Chapels were declared illegal in 1547. Its niches would originally have contained statues which have long since disappeared, but the elaborately carved pillars and coats of arms form an integral part of the building and have survived.

Boxgrove also shows the visitor stained glass by four of the greatest artists of the nineteenth and twentieth century. In the south aisle is a window by the most prolific firm of C. E. Kempe and Co. Ltd., representing St George. The firm's logo of the time, a wheatsheaf with a black tower superimposed on it, may be clearly seen. Another prominent firm to be represented here is that of Alexander Gibbs whose firm inserted two windows here, in 1879 and 1887. There are two windows by O'Connor - one of Christ the King (1871) the other of the Crucifixion (1862) typical of his style. The twentieth century is represented by four windows in the south aisle designed by Mary Lowndes in 1907. These show stiff figures surrounded by a swirling art nouveau background. Lowndes was a leading member of the Arts and Crafts movement and helped establish the 'Glass House' in Fulham which became an influential centre for the art of stained glass design. Her work may also be seen at Sturminster Newton (Dorset) and Henfield (Sussex).

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